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 Evacuation of the Dannevirke Stronghold.

There was among the Danish public a strong nationalism that spurred the political system to demand a "Denmark to thr Eider" demand.
 This meant, that the Danish boarder should be drawn along the river Eider, and thereby south of the duchy Schleswig. In that way the
 duchy skould belong to Danish crown. Also there was a hope for a Scandinavian political  and military alliance.
In 1863 the Danish
 government chose an irreversible course towards "Denmark to the Eider"

 It presented a proposal for a common constitution for both Denmark and the Duchy of Schleswig, which was adopted by the Danish
parliament November 13th 1863. This would actually be a Denmark to the Eider.
 The Danish policy was dominated by wishful thinking. It was considered Denmark would get military assistance from Sweden, if it
come to a war with the German states. At the same time the Danish Duchy Holstein, neighbour of Schleswig, had a strong
 belief that if such a situation would
appear, they would get military support from the German Confederation. The German states were
 not yet a united country untill 1871.
Holstein therefore refused any compromise on a common constitution, which did not make each of the 3 Danish duchies of Schleswig,
 Holstein and
the small Lauenburg full equality with the Danish kingdom, when it came to the ability of making decisions .

 At the same time Denmark's former allied Russia was weakened after the Crimean War 1854-56, and Prussia were now
 unequivocally the strongest power on the continent,
political ably led by Chancellor Bismarck.  He aimed at a military confrontation
Denmark to withdraw from international agreements that limited the Prussian military and political maneuvers.

The Danish army began mobilizing in the fall of 1863 and the 72-year-old General Christian de Meza was put in charge of the Army as
 commanding general.
Denmark was badly prepared  for war. The army was being reorganized and had poorly trained sergeants and
 too few officers. Also there were also problems with the transport - and supply units, The Danish position at the Dannevirke had
 been improved, while the positions of Dybboel and Fredericia was far from being upgraded and
ready for war.
Simultaneously, there
 was an exaggerated faith in the Danish military capability both in the public and among the politicians and even by
the military
 commander, General de Meza.

 The stronghold at Dannevirke was seen as a safe guard against the
Germans, but it was 85 kilometers long and 40,000 Danish
 soldiers  were too few to effectively defend a position of this length.
Furthermore froze the flooded areas on the flanks of  the position
 in the extreme winter this year, and therefore the Prussian troops were able to surround the position over the ice.
The German Army
 expected to face a Danish army of 43,000 men and possibly 25,000 Swedish volunteers.

 The Federal army consisted of 6000  from Saxony, 6000 from Hannover, 35.000 Prussians and 35.000 Austrians.

                                                                                        The Danish-Prussian Wars 1864. Danish General Christian de Meza
                                                                                     Danish General Christian de Meza

 The Austrian and Prussian troops  crossed the river  Eider with 57,000 men February 1th 1864. On  February 2th and 3th thefirst
 German a
ttacks on  the Dannevirke outposts were launched, but were repulsed. However, it was clear that the situation was
 untenable for  the Danish army.
The Danish army  had 4 injured, 7 captured and 3 missing after this first collision.
 The attacking Austrians and Prussians
suffered no losses.
 The Prussian (General Moltke) master plan was to surround the entire Danisah army at the Dannevirke and end the war in only three days.

 The evacution of the Dannevirke stronghold

 The Danish outposts withdrew to the Dannevirke position. General de Meza realized that the stronghold, which for 8 centuries had
 been the Danish
protection towards the south, could not be defended under the present conditions. The Danish army was short of
 20.000 soldiers to man the position effectively, and because the fjord Slien
and the flooded marsh meadows to the west froze, the
 enemy could move around the Danish positions, surround them and attack the defenders from the back.

  The Danish-Prussian Wars 1864. map over the stronghold "Dannevirke"
                 The stronghold Dannevirke
        The Danish-Prussian Wars 1864. The Prussian plan for surrounding of the Dannevirke
The planned surroundings

 On February 5th the order to vacate Dannevirke was issued, and during the night between february 5th and 6th the Danes started
 a successful and
coordinated retreat. They retreated through a fierce snowstorm and along frost hard roads back to the fortified
 positions by
Dybboel near Soenderborg and to the fortress Fredericia without the enemy noticed that the Dannevirke was vacated.
 The secret retreat thwarted the German plans to destroy the Danish army by encircling it with a flank attack over the fjord Slien,
 a maneuver the Prussians were just about to perform that night, the Danes cleared the post.
This was much to the dismay of both
 Kaiser Wilhelm, Bismarck and the Prussian army leadership, which had predicted the outcome of
a decisive battle around

                               The retreat from the Dannevirke The Danish-Prussian Wars 1864. The retreat from the stronghold Dannevirke The Danish-Prussian Wars 1864. The retreat from Dannevirke to Dybboel

 The Danish public had, in a very romantic way, seen Dannevirke as an almost impregnable fortress, and the evacuation hit the
population as a shock. Both the public, and press were perceived as a betrayal of General de Meza, leader of the government
 Monrad and the King.
Riots took place in Copenhagen, and Monrad sacrificed the general as a scapegoat. General de Meza was
 forced to resign.

 Posterity has completely absolved the Meza. It was the only sensible action he could undertake from the present  lying circum-
General de Meza never recovered over the resignation he had received and he died, disappointed, sick and broken the
 year after.

                                                                                                             Dannevirke 2010

  The Danish-Prussian Wars 1864. The Ramparts of Dannevirke
           The Dannevirke 2010
The Danish-Prussian Wars 1864. The Ramparts of Dannevirke
                The Ramparts
The Danish-Prussian Wars 1864. Redoubt XIV at the Dannevirke
           Redoubt XIV 2010
  The Danish-Prussian Wars 1864. A Battery at Redoubt XIV at the Dannevirke
           Artillery positions
The Danish-Prussian Wars 1864. Redoubt XIV at the Dannevirke
    Traverse between the guns
The Danish-Prussian Wars 1864.The entrance to the  Redoubt XIV at the Dannevirke
      Entrance to the redoubt
  The Danish-Prussian Wars 1864. Artillery from the Redoubts at the Dannevirke
          Gun from redoubt     
    Danewerk Museum 2010
       The Danish-Prussian Wars 1864. Part of gun from the Redoubts at the Dannevirke The Danish-Prussian Wars 1864. The Barrel from a gun at the Redoubts at the Dannevirke