Battle of Breitenfeld (1642)

Battle of Breitenfeld
Part of the Thirty Years' War
Slaget vid Leipzig 1642 SP244.jpg
Contemporary engraving depicting the battle
Date23 October 1642
Breitenfeld, Saxony (present-day Germany)
ResultDecisive Swedish victory
Flag of Sweden.svg Sweden Holy Roman Empire
Commanders and leaders
Flag of Sweden.svg Lennart TorstenssonHoly Roman Empire Archduke Leopold Wilhelm
Holy Roman Empire Ottavio Piccolomini

20,000 men

  • 10,000 infantry
  • 10,000 cavalry
70 guns

26,000 men

  • 10,000 infantry
  • 16,000 cavalry
46 guns
Casualties and losses

4,000 men

  • 2,000 killed
  • 2,000 wounded

9,500 men

  • 5,000 dead or wounded
  • 4,500 captured
46 guns

The Second Battle of Breitenfeld, also known as the First Battle of Leipzig, took place on 23 October 1642 at Breitenfeld, some 7.5 kilometres (4.7 mi) north-east of Leipzig, Germany, during the Thirty Years' War. The battle was a decisive victory for the Swedish army under the command of Field Marshal Lennart Torstenson over an Imperial Army of the Holy Roman Empire under the command of Archduke Leopold Wilhelm of Austria and his deputy, Prince-General Ottavio Piccolomini, Duke of Amalfi.[1]

The battle

Map of the battle.

In this second clash between ideologies for the prized Saxon city of Leipzig, the Protestant allied forces, led by Torstensson, defeated an army of the Holy Roman Empire, led by Leopold and his deputy, Prince-General Piccolomini. The Imperials had 26,000 men and 46 guns, the Swedes 20,000 men and 70 guns.[2]

Like the first battle, the second was a decisive victory for Swedish-led forces who had intervened in the Thirty Years' War on behalf of various Protestant princes of the generally small German states against the German Catholic League formed to resist Protestant expansion in Central Europe.

The Imperial army suffered 9,500 casualties, including 4,500 taken prisoner.[3] The victors captured 46 guns. Killed or wounded were 4,000 Swedes; among them, General Torsten Stålhandske, who led the Finnish Hakkapeliitta Cavalry, received a serious wound.