Battle of Rain | tactics

Tactics

The battle is, however, more interesting from a tactical point of view rather than from its outcome, as the elaborate plan of Gustavus Adolphus to catch the entire Imperial army by complex maneuvering was prevented when Tilly was mortally wounded in the battle, resulting in the early retreat of the Imperial army. The Swedish battle plan consisted of two major elements:

1. A strong feint attack by a portion of the Swedish infantry with heavy artillery support against Tilly's strongly fortified center behind the Lech. The intended effect was to attract the full attention of the Imperial army and its reserve. The Swedish force succeeded in establishing and fortifying its position on a small island or peninsula close to the Imperial side of the river. From this position, it was able to repel a series of fierce Imperial counterattacks despite being outnumbered.

2. As the Imperial army got tied up in desperate attempts to eliminate the Swedish bridgehead, the Swedish cavalry with no opposition or attention from the enemy was able to cross the river 10 km south of the Imperial left wing. From this position they intended to outflank the entire Imperial army and thus catch it in a position with the river and the Swedish infantry at its front and the Swedish cavalry in its rear and on its flanks.

With Tilly mortally wounded, the morale of the Imperial army quickly dissolved and the army withdrew before the arrival of the Swedish cavalry. Thus, Tilly's death possibly saved his army from annihilation. Nonetheless, both armies suffered considerable losses (3,000 on the Imperial side, 2,000 on the Swedish), mostly due to frontal attacks and counterattacks against fortified positions with strong natural defenses.

The battle of Lech proves more than the Battle of Breitenfeld the innovation of Gustavus Adolphus' tactical imagination. His daring frontal attack in combination with the deployment of a large part of his army for the flanking movement has similarities with the tactics of John Churchill, Duke of Marlborough at the Blenheim battlefield, (situated in the very neighborhood of Rain) or of Frederick the Great at Leuthen. The disciple of Gustavus Adolphus, Johan Banér, also employed a similar battle plan four years later in the battle of Wittstock.

Other Languages