Combat of Deining, 22 August 1796

The combat of Deining (22 August 1796) was the first of two delaying actions fought by General Bernadotte which gave General Jourdan and the Army of the Sambre-and-Meuse a chance to escape from a dangerous position on the River Naab. Jourdan had crossed the Rhine in July 1796 and had followed the retreating Austrian army of General Wartensleben up the Main, then to Nuremburg and finally east to the banks of the River Naab. Wartensleben had been retreating in order to give the Archduke Charles, the overall Austrian commander, a chance to combine his armies and defeat the two French armies invading Germany one by one. In late August the Archduke's plan began to pay off. On 16 August he left the Danube at Neuburg and Ingolstadt and moved north towards Neumarkt.

War of the First Coalition - Rhine Front 1796
War of the First Coalition
Rhine Front 1796

When Jourdan advanced east to the Naab he left General Bernadotte to guard his right-rear at Neumarkt. As the Archduke approached his position, Bernadotte realised that he was badly outnumbered – the Archduke left the Rhine with 24 battalions of infantry and 50 squadrons of cavalry, while Bernadotte only had 6,000 infantry and 1,200 cavalry. Despite this weakness he decided to conduct a fighting retreat in an attempt to give Jourdan a chance to retreat from the Naab along the best route, which led back to Nuremburg. On 21 August Jourdan was sixty miles east of Nuremburg, while Bernadotte was only twenty file miles south east of the city.

Bernadotte took up a position at Deining, where the road from Regensburg to Neumarkt crosses the White Laber (a small river that flows south from Neumarkt, joining the Altmühl at Dietfurt. At Deining the Laber runs through a steep sided but fairly shallow valley giving the French a good defensive position. The village of Deining is on the eastern bank of the Laber, while the French took up a position on the hills to the west.

The Archduke advanced carefully towards the French position. On 22 August the French were pushed out of their advance posts in Deining quite easily, and the Archduke then ordered General Hotze to cross the Laber. At this point Bernadotte launched a counterattack, and pushed the Austrians back out of the village.

This French success was short-lived. The Archduke called up reinforcements, and then pushed Bernadotte's division back out of the village and the valley. Bernadotte then retreated north-west to Neumarkt and took up a new defensive position on the wooded hills north of the town. On the following day the Austrians forced him to retreat again (combat of Neumarkt, 23 August 1796). On the same day Jourdan began his retreat from the Naab, but despite Bernadotte's efforts the Archduke was able to catch the French close to the Naab (battle of Amberg, 24 August 1796), inflicting the first of a series of defeats that forced Jourdan to retreat back to the Rhine.

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (19 February 2009), Combat of Deining, 22 August 1796 , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/combat_deining.html

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