Battle of Rheinfelden

Battle of Rheinfelden
Part of Thirty Years' War
Date1st Battle: 28 February 1638
2nd Battle: 3 March 1638
1st Battle: North of river Rhine, NE of Rheinfelden, near Basel (present-day Germany)
2nd Battle: S of Rhine, E of Rheinfelden (present day Switzerland)
ResultWeimar victory
Electorate of Saxony Saxe-Weimar
 Holy Roman Empire
Commanders and leaders
Electorate of Saxony Bernhard of Saxe-WeimarHoly Roman Empire Federico Savelli  POW)
Electorate of Bavaria Johann von Werth  POW) [1]
6,000 men
14 guns
4,000–7,000 men
Casualties and losses


500 killed
3,000 captured

The Battle of Rheinfelden (28 February and 3 March 1638) was a military event in the course of the Thirty Years' War, consisting in fact of two battles to the north and south of the present-day town of Rheinfelden. On one side was a French-allied mercenary army led by Bernhard of Saxe-Weimar while the other side consisted of a joint Bavarian and Holy Roman Empire army and led by Johann von Werth and Federico Savelli. Bernhard was beaten in the first battle but managed to defeat and capture Werth and Savelli in the second.


Following the Swedish defeat at the Battle of Nördlingen in 1634, Bernhard's mercenary army had come under the pay of France. Having been pushed to the west bank of the Rhine by the Imperial advance, Bernhard's army had settled in Alsace during 1635 and had done little except help repulse the Imperial invasion of France under the Cardinal-Infante Ferdinand and Matthias Gallas in 1636.

Early in February 1638, having been prodded by the French government, Bernhard advanced his army of 6,000 men and 14 guns[2] to the Rhine in order to find a crossing. Arriving at an important crossing point at the town of Rheinfelden, Bernhard prepared to invest the town from the south. Meanwhile, he would use the ferry at Beuggen to throw troops across the river in order to complete the investment from the north. The attack on the town was to be made on 1 March.

In order to prevent this, the Imperialists, under the Italian mercenary Count Federico Savelli and German general Johann von Werth, moved through the Black Forest to attack Bernhard's army and relieve the town.