Place: At the junction of the Rhine and the Lippe Rivers
in North West Germany.
Combatants: British, Prussian, Hanover, Brunswick and
Hessen troops against the French.
Generals: The Hereditary Prince (the Erbprinz) of
Brunswick against Lieutenant General the Marquis de Castries.
Size of the armies: 20,000 in the allied army: 25,000 in
Uniforms, arms and equipment: All regular European soldiers of this time fought in a knee
length uniform coat, turned back at the skirt, cuffs and lapels to
reveal a distinctive regimental lining colour. Headgear was a black
tricorne hat with a lace brim, except for grenadiers who wore a tall
mitre cap. In some armies the grenadier mitre was giving way to a
bearskin cap. The uniform was white for the majority of French
regiments, blue for the Prussians and German armies that followed
the Prussian tradition, like Hesse-Darmstadt, and red for the
British and Hanoverians. There were exceptions within every army.
The French Royal Household troops wore a variety of coats. The
foreign mercenary regiments in the French service wore red. The
Hanoverian and Hessen horse wore white. The British Royal Artillery
and Royal Horse Guards wore blue coats.
Winner: The battle is considered a qualified victory for
1st Royal Dragoons; now the Blues and Royals.
6th Inniskilling Dragoons; later the 5th Inniskilling Dragoon Guards
and now the Royal Dragoon Guards.
10th Dragoons; later the Royal Hussars and now the King’s Royal
11th Foot; later the Devonshire Regiment and now the Devon and
23rd Royal Welch Fusiliers.
20th Foot; later the Lancashire Fusiliers and now the Royal Regiment
25th Foot; now the King’s Own Scottish Borders.
33rd Foot; now the Duke of Wellington’s Regiment.
51st Foot; later the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry and now the
87th Highlanders; disbanded after the war.
88th Highlanders; disbanded after the war.
Kloster Kamp is not a British battle honour.
Battle of Kloster Kamp
Account: In the early autumn of 1760 the Archduke
Ferdinand of Brunswick, the commander in chief of the allied army,
lay behind the line of the River Diemel with his army. The French
threatened Hanover. To create a diversion and draw the French armies
to the West, the Archduke dispatched an army of some 20,000 men
under the command of the Erbprinz to seize Wesel on the lower Rhine.
Hanoverian Regiment of Horse Grenadiers
The fortified town of Wesel lies at the junction of the River
Lippe and the Rhine. The French commander prepared the town to
resist attack, destroying the bridge across the Rhine at the mouth
of the Lippe. French forces under the Lieutenant Genearl the Marquis
de Castries hurried from the South East to relieve the garrison.
The Erbprinz invested Wesel and finding that the town could not
be taken by storm prepared for a formal siege. Heavy siege artillery
was brought down from Holland with bridging equipment. Crossings
were established above and below the town and the Erbprinz’s army
moved to the west bank to block the advancing French forces.
Castries’ troops took up positions behind the Fossa Eugenica, an
abandonned section of canal running from Rheinberg to the hilltop
convent of Kloster Kamp. Castries intended to await the arrival of
further French forces before beginning the assault on the lines of
the besiegers around Wesel.
The Erbprinz resolved to attack Castries’ army with a movement
round the French left flank at Kloster Kamp. His force began its
approach march late in the evening of 15th October 1760. The Major
General George Augustus Eliott commanded the advance party, two
squadrons of Prussian Hussars, the Royal Dragoons, the Inniskilling
Dragoons and the 87th and 88th Highlanders.
The main attacking force comprised 2 battalions of
grenadiers, the 20th Foot, 23rd Royal Welch Fusiliers, the 25th
Foot, 2 battalions of Hanoverians and 2 battalions of Hessians,
commanded by Lieutenant General Waldegrave. Behind came a force
of cavalry, the 10th Dragoons and 10 squadrons of Hanoverian and
A reserve under Major General Howard lay some miles back with the
11th, 33rd and 51st Foot and 5 Hessian battalions.
Beginning the assault in the middle of the night Eliott’s force
drove the French out of Kloster Kamp convent and took the bridge
over the canal. The sounds of firing alerted the main French army
and senior officers moved forward to reconnoitre. All these officers
were captured. One, the Chevalier D’Assas, a captain in the Regiment
of Auvergne, shouted to his soldiers before being bayoneted. The
Auvergne Regiment rushed to arms and more French regiments came up.
Hanoverian Regiment of
Horse von Walthausen
Dawn broke as the British and German foot went into the attack, the
Highland regiments spilling around the French flank. The assault was
successful, driving the French back and capturing the village of
Kamperbruch on the canal.
The Marquis de Castries, an energetic young general, brought up
his reserves and, rallying the retreating regiments, attacked the
allied foot. The countryside was divided into small hedged fields,
making movement of formed regiments difficult. The success of the
assault broke up the formations of the British and German regiments.
The soldiers expended their battlefield issue of 24 rounds, with no
method for resupplying them with ammunition. The French counter
attack drove the allied foot back and across the canal. At this
critical point in the battle the Erbprinz was injured falling from
his wounded horse, putting him out of action for a time. Once
recovered he sent an aide de camp to bring forward Howard’s reserve.
This took time and in the meanwhile the French pressed their attack.
At the western end of the canal General Eliott took the
initiative, leading the three British cavalry regiments, the Royals,
the Inniskillings and the 10th Dragoons, in a charge along the south
bank of the canal. Eliott’s charge disrupted the French advance and
enabled the allied foot to regain the north bank. Howard’s regiments
coming up from the rear formed a cordon which enabled the retreating
foot to be stopped and reformed. The Erbprinz, recovered from his
fall, ordered his troops to fall back towards the Rhine.
He there found that the bridge of boats had been swept away by
the fast flowing river, stranding his army on the west bank for two
Fortunately for the allies Castries failed to follow up his
success, choosing to wait in his positions behind the canal for
reinforcements to come up.
Casualties: The French suffered 3,123 casualties. The allies suffered 1,615,
mostly from the British regiments.
The casualties in the British Regiments were:
Royal Dragoons: 38
6th Inniskilling Dragoons: 12
10th Dragoons: 42
2 Grenadier battalions: 265
20th Foot: 209
Royal Welch Fusiliers: 175
25th Foot: 184
87th and 88th Highlanders: 77
Follow-up: During the following days the allies were permitted to cross
back over the Rhine and to withdraw from the siege of Wesel.
Castries’ attacks were too late to impede the retreat.
The allied expedition to capture Wesel had been a failure but the
French enabled it to escape.
Anecdotes: Lieutenant General George Augustus Eliott went
on to command the garrison in the siege of Gibraltar in the Bourbon
War (the American Revolutionary War) 1775 to 1779. Eliott was
created Baron Heathfield for his success in resisting the Spanish
and French assaults.
References: His Britannic Majesty’s Army in Germany during the Seven Year
War by Savory
Fortescue’s History of the British Army