Minden, Battle of
Minden, Battle of
MINDEN, BATTLE OF. 1 August 1759. Britain sent an expeditionary force to the continent in August 1758 as part of an Anglo-Hanoverian-Prussian army to defend George II's beloved electorate of Hanover against France. The decisive action took place a year later on the plain outside the Westphalian fortress of Minden, for which the battle was named. Six British infantry battalions, three of which had been part of the column at Fontenoy fourteen years earlier, advanced by mistake from the allied center toward the French lines. Although exposed on three sides, this force—reinforced by three Hanoverian battalions and supported by the superb allied field artillery—shattered more than fifty squadrons of French cavalry and thirty-one battalions of French infantry sent against it in a display of controlled fire discipline (rolling volleys by platoons) of which there were few peers in the eighteenth century. With a gaping hole torn in their center, the French retreated and never menaced Hanover again for the remainder of the war. Controversy swirled around the battle because the senior British officer present, George Sackville (later George Germain), was alleged to have disobeyed the orders of the army commander, Ferdinand, duke of Brunswick, to bring his right wing cavalry to the timely support of the advancing infantry. A cloud hung over Sackville for the rest of his life, including during his service as principal architect of the military response to the American rebellion. Many other veterans of the battle also played prominent roles in the war of American independence. Among those who distinguished themselves at Minden were William Phillips (commander of the artillery), Friedrich von Riedesel, Charles Grey, and Hugh Percy. The father of the marquis de Lafayette was killed leading the Touraine Regiment, which subsequently took part in the Yorktown Campaign.
Mackesy, Piers. The Coward of Minden: The Affair of Lord George Sackville. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1979.
revised by Harold E. Selesky