Thursday, December 11, 2008

A Pfight at Pfaffenhofen!

The protagonists...

Now you may well be asking yourselves; "Pfaffen-who? Wasn't she on John McCain's campaign team?"

Which is what I first thought after coming across- quite by chance- a reference to this 1745 battle between the Austrians under Karl Josef Batthyány on one side, and the Bavarians, French and Hessians led by a French General, Henri François de Ségur on the other.

This seems to be an intriguing engagement in many respects.
  • First of all, this was a major victory with remarkable strategic consequence- it had the effect of knocking the Bavarians out of the war completely.
  • Secondly, you had a Franco-Bavarian army with Hessian allies- we usually think of Hessians being allied against the French in the 18th C., so here is a chance for an army with a difference! On the Austrian side, it features derring-do by the hussars and pandours (Croats?)
  • Next, it fulfils my interest in obscure battles- and I mean obscure; I have found very little on the battle at all, let alone any detailed order of battle. You can read about it here, and it represents the sum total of what I know about the engagement.
  • Finally, one just has to love that name- Pfaffenhofen!

References are tantalizingly few. Even the revered Christopher Duffy glosses it over in his The Army of Maria Theresa. Reed Browning does have this to say about the campaign and battle;

"In April 1745 Austria celebrated a glorious triumph. Vienna had responded to the accession of Max Joseph [the new Elector of Bavaria] in Munich by offering both peace and a restoration of territory to the young elector.

Count Seckendorff urged Max Joseph to accept; Count Törring urged him to resist.
[Seckendorff was a Bavarian minister and Törring a general]. The elector hesitated between the two camps, immobile and hence at war. Maria Theresa finally lost patience and authorized the application of pressure: "it is not to be doubted that...Bavaria will be brought to peaceloving thoughts all the more quickly"

On 21 March 1745, Batthyány launched a blitzkrieg, assisted by Bernklau and Browne [both Austrian generals]. All the Bavarian garrisions in the east fled, Törring's army sat divided and paralyzed, and the French army under Count Ségur engaged Batthyány at Pfaffenhofen only to lose. Max Joseph abandoned Munich for the imperial city of Augsburg, and Batthyany marched his army to the edge of the capital."

Reed Browning,
The War of the Austrian Succession
p. 203

And that is about it! Not exactly teeming with information, considering that Bavaria and Austria would, as a result of the ensuing Treaty of Füssen (made possible by Batthyány's victory) bury the hatchet until Napoleonic times.

If anyone out there has any more information on this enigmatic campaign that they'd be willing to share, please let do me know! I've exhausted my "Google-foo", and I doubt I'll find out much about it any public libraries here in Tokyo!


Bluebear Jeff said...

I've never heard of it either . . . but then I'm no student of the WAS . . . but it is an intriguing conflict.

-- Jeff

Bluebear Jeff said...

Actually a thought DOES occur to me . . . you might try searches using just the date OR alternate spellings of Pfaffenhofen OR the generals.

You might find that the battle is known under a different name (not uncommon depending upon who wrote about it) . . . or background on one of the key players might have something.

A thought anyway.

-- Jeff

Bluebear Jeff said...

I'm afraid that I don't read French . . . but if you do, this website might be of use to you:

-- Jeff

Robert said...

A great link, Jeff- I have known about that site for a while but it had completely slipped my mind! Thanks for the timely reminder about that one.

I'll search it for any information on Pfaffenhofen, but even having just glanced through it quickly, I have already found a lot of great articles on other WAS battles that could benefit from being translated.

My French is rusty, but given a good dictionary and some time I'll see what I can put up.

Love your army's new flags, by the way!

pastprologue said...

Hi, there,

A quarter of my ancestry is from Pfaffenhofen (there are several towns with that name in Germany - the one my family is from and the site of the battle is Pfaffehnofen an der Ilm). I have not been able to find much either, though I do have several paragraphs from the town history book. If you can read German, I can send it to you. I can not, and I am trying to get someone to translate it for me. What interests me is the apparent house-to-house combat that took place...since my ancestors were there, I want to hear more about the residents' role in it as well as the military.


pastprologue said...

I tried my best at translating the book I have, and this is my story of the Battle of Pfaffenhofen here