Danish Version    

 The Author of This Site

  The Prelude to the Wars

 
The First  War 1848-51

 
The Battles 1848-51

 
The Siege of Fredericia

 
The Second  War 1864

 Dannevirke  Stronghold

 The Siege of Dybboel

 
The Attack on Fredericia

 
The Attack on Dybboel

 
The Attack on the Als
        

 
The Peace

 
The Consequences

 Dybboel 2010

 Als 2010
 

























































































The Two Danish-Prussian Wars 1848-50 and 1864

The Siege of the Dybböl Stronghold


 In 1862-63 the Danish engineering troops constructed 10 redoubts at Dybbøl west of the city Sønderborg, in a semicircle from Vemming-
 bund to Als Sund. The redoubts were, because of savings, with heavy wooden houses as shelter for the crew, instead of concrete
 buildings. Only the ammunition magazines were built of concrete. Later this would cost a lot of lives.
 On  February 7´th 1864 arrived the Danish army after having been withdrawn from Dannevirke. This to prevent the allied Prussian and
 Austrian army to encircle and destroy the army. After an exhausting march and a bloody battle fought rearguard, reached 20,000 men,
 500 cavalrymen, 80 field guns and 1,100 fortress artillerymen the Dybbøl redoubts.

                                        The Danish-Prussian Wars. The retreat from Dannevirke to he stronghold of Dybboel       The withdrawal
                                                                                                from  Dannevirke
The Danish-Prussian Wars 1864. Danish troops between the Dannevirke and the stronghold of Dybboel

 The enemy forces were just as exhausted as the Danes, and followed slowly after. However the Prussian avantgarde arrived at Dybbøl
 already February 8´th. Slowly the Prussians  were reinforced. The withdrawal from Dannevirke was considered a castastrophy in the
 public, and General de Meza´s military reasons were ignored by the politicians in Copenhagen who  still rode on the mood of Isted.
 General de Meza was removed as commanding general and replaced with General Gerlach.
 At aproximately February 20´th the Prussians had  20,000 men, 1,200 cavalry and 88 guns in front of the stronghold of Dybbøl. The
 Prussians established their artillery with the most dangerous batteries at Broager on the other side of the fjord  Vemmingbund. From
 there, they were able to maintain a bombardement of the Danish redoubts (specially the redoubts I and II) on the Danish left flank. Due
 to elder guns, the Danish artillery was not able to reach the Prusssian batteries.
 Meanwhile the Danes were preparing to defend the stronghold and the redoubts and took position in the terrain in front of them.
 February 17´th the Prussian attack began, and during the following week, a tough battle in the outpost terrain forced the Danes to slowly
 retreat to the redoubts by the Prussian superior strength.
 

  The Danish-Prussian Wars. Danish General GerlachGeneral Gerlach

 On March 17th a Danish counterattack against the little town Ragebøl was repulsed, and the army was now forced back to the redoubts
 and behind the palisades and moats.

 Now the siege of Dybbøl stronghold began. The Prussians had collected 126 guns and mortars, and now they started the heavyest
 bombardment in the history of war. For weeks, thousands of artillery shells rained down on the Danish positions, and the Danish
artillery
 was unable to respond effectively. The Danish soldiers could only take cover in simple redoubts and watch while the Prussian artillery
 gradually pushed the stronghold to  to pieces.
Meanwhile enemy engineer troops, covered by the barrage, dug their trenches closer and
 closer to the redoubts.
 To stay in the redoubts during a prolonged artillery bombardment was a meaningless senseless slaughter and would end up destroying
 the Danish army, and the leading Danish officers were therefore initially agreed that the position should be vacated.
 But the Generals also knew, how much importance the government placed on retaining a symbolic foothold in the Schleswig area.


 The British government had invited to a peace conference in London that was to begin on April 12th. The Danish Chief of Government,
 Bishop Monrad, was of the view that it could have great political significance in the negotiations if the Danish army still stood in Schleswig.
 Therefore he would not allow the army to vacate Dybbøl. Conversely, the Prussian Government and Otto von Bismarck, has no plans to
 begin peace negotiations before Dybbøl was conquered. The situation became increasingly untenable. On april 9th, the new commanding
 general Gerlach telegraphed to the war departtment, giving them two alternatives.
 Would they keep the Dybbøl stronghold or prefer having a combative army ?
 The response from Secretary of War Lundbye was clear enough: The post would be kept "to the utmost." Everyone in the officers corps
 knew that the Prussians would soon attack, and that it would be a pure killing field.
General Gerlach telegraphed back to Copenhagen -
 this time on behalf of all the commanders. Now Dybbøl should be vacated, everything else were indefensible.
 The Secretary of war Lundbye wavered. He dared not take this responsibility, but Monrad  did. He insisted that it was crucial the army
 remained in the Dybbøl position and beat the attack back.

                                                  Prussian battery at Broager The Danish-Prussian Wars 1864. Prussian siege artillery at Broager

 During this bombardement guns and fortifications were destoyed and soldiers by the hundreds were killed or wounded. The wooden
 houses that were made to protect the
soldiers, were easily pierced by the 12 and 15 cm shells. In one case a grenade penetrated a
 wooden house, exploded on the inside and killed
and wounded 42 Danish soldiers.
 In the daytime, the soldiers sought cover in their shelters and tried to get some rest, while at evening they desperately tried to repair the
 
damage caused by today's bombardment.
The Danish force dwindled day by day, but the spirit was still high given the hardships the
 Danish soldiers were exposed.

 On March 28th the Prussians tried to atack the redoubts. The attack was rejected by the Danes using both the Army and the Navy  (the
 armoured naval battery
Rolf Krake).

                                                                                             The Danish-Prussian Wars 1864. The Ironclad "Rolf Krake"
                     Ironclad  Rolf Krake
 

 On april 2th an 3th The city Sønderborg was shelled, and many buildingscaught fire. The center of the city was destroyed and many
 civilians were killed.

           The destroyed center of 
                  Sönderborg

 
The Danish-Prussian Wars. The center of Soenderborg destroyed under the Prussian bombardment  1864       The Danish-Prussian Wars. The City Hall of Soenderborg destroyed under the Prussian bombardment  1864
The city hall of Sönderborg.

 From April 7th  the decisive artillery battle began, in which the stronghold was shelled for the final attack. This bombardment lasted untill
 April 18th, when the Prussians in four hours shot 7900 shells at the redoubts.
They were now reduced to gravel and grass
piles and a few
 functioning guns.

 While the Prussian cannons thundered against the redoubts, the Prussian infantry were digging themselves ever closer to the Danish
 positions. A minor attack were rejected by the Danes om April 5th but on April 18th the Prussian enemy was ready for the final attack.