Sunday, April 03, 2011

Battle of Jankau (Jankov, Jankow) 1645

So a taster of things to come. Spring finally sprung in Bohemia, and myself and Wife decided to decamp from Prague for the day and visit the family country cottage down south (it’s called “chalupa” in Czech). Now for a history buff like myself, it’s an absolute joy as it stands right in the middle of the battlefield of Jankov (Jankow, Jankau), allegedly the bloodiest battle of the Thirty years War, where the Swedish Army under Tortenson, annihilated the main Imperial army (including all the Bavarian cavalry) under Hatzfeld. The dramatic change in strategic strength of the Swedes vis-à-vis the Hapsburgs certainly helped set in motion renewed efforts to end the conflict, which concluded with the Treaty and Peace of Westphalia three years later in 1648.

Our route took us along the first phase of the battle from Broumovice, along the road parallel to "Chapel Hill", towards Ceckov and past where the main body of fighting in the first phase of the battle took place in Nosakov, and the hill where the Swedes stationed their large artillery train. (The picture above is of Jankov in the distance from the flanking route of the Swedish Army. The picture below is looking up towards "Chapel Hill" where the first early morning encounter occured).

The Swedes attempted what was probably one of the first flank marches in early modern warfare. Seeking a way around the Imperial left wing the Swedes came down from the ridge to the west of Jankow, and followed a South-Easterly route concealed by a number of low lying ridges and forests. Unfortunately for them they crashed into Imperial pickets stationed far to the south of the Imperial left flank. The Imperials alerted, began to change position to meet the early morning attack and the battle was begun.

Below, from a point on the Swedish Flanking march, looking towards Jankov to the North-East. The dark area on the middle horizon is the Hartmany forest. In 1645 this would have been much larger. This is where the main Swedish and Imperial forces crashed into each other by mid morning, and where half the fighting took place (phase 2 as marked on the map above). The Imperials then retired to a final position on a low ridge just behind Jankov village.

As the area has never really been developed, the battlfield is almost intact, and also makes for an excellent cycling trip.I will be paying a longer visit to Jankov in the coming weeks, and will provide a more detailed photo journal.


This is a blog that is dedicated to my interest in Military history, and in particular, walks, impressions and photos of various battlefields and museums both near (to Bohemia) and afar. Given my base in Bohemia (that's Czech Republic to the uninitiated) I’m quite spoilt for choice when it comes to some major armed altercations between various Emperor’s, Winter Kings and other downright chancers (the battles of Austerlitz, White Mountain, Jankau, Prague, Kolin and Konigratz to name but a few), while various museums and country Chateaus in and around Prague are stuffed to the gills with Military memorabilia, flags, banners and weapons from the Hussite wars right through to WW2. Very much the crossroads of Europe with all its attendant wars.

The title of this blog and the picture above are of course related. Maximillian Ulysses, Reichsgraf Von Browne, a member of the "Wild Geese" those Irish professional soldiers, exiled from their homeland, and in the service of the Sovereigns of Continental Europe. I have alot of time for this particular historical figure, and like the Empress he served, was notable for his integrity and humanity, in contrast to his opponent Frederick of Prussia. This particular Goose was probably one of the more famous and accomplished; ending his days as the commander of the Austrian Army of Empress Maria Theresa, battling and outmanoeuvring Frederick the Great at the Battle of Lobositz (today Lovosice in the Czech republic), and finally dying of his wounds after the battle of Prague in 1757. He is still buried in the Loreto Chapel in Prague. Anyway, he is appropriate motif for the blog. There will be more about this extraordinary gentleman in future posts.

Originally I had toyed with the idea of dedicating this blog to a particular period, but as my interest spans a diverse number of wars and conflicts, I thought it better to keep the focus a bit broader (though it is fair to say that to a large degree it will involve the horse and musket period, and one or two defenestrations).

Apart from the history bug, I was also infected at an early age with the wargaming bug, so will also be posting titbits from various games, rules we have tried (mostly General De Brigade and its variants), figures I like and pictures of those that I have painted. That is to say, a lot of Napoleonic’s, more Seven year’s War, some Thirty Year’s War, and new forays into the worlds of American War of Independence, Napoleonic Skirmish, First Carlist War and 28mm English Civil War. I hope to be able to post something each week and photos of games or figures every other week.

Given that I should have started this blog a least a year ago, I have a backlog of items that I will start posting quite soon. So please read on….