Battle of Werben

The Battle of Werben was a battle of the Thirty Years' War, fought on July 22, 1631, between the Swedish Empire and the Holy Roman Empire.

The Swedes had 16,000 soldiers and were led by Gustavus Adolphus, while the Imperialists had 23,000 soldiers and were led by Field-Marshal Count Tilly. Tilly's troops attacked Gustavus' entrenchments in front of Werben (Elbe), but Swedish batteries and the cavalry under Wolf Heinrich von Baudissin forced them to retreat. The Imperial attack was renewed a few days later; this time, the Swedish forces suffered a defeat and a loss of 6,000 soldiers.

Tilly, in contrast, seemed almost stunned by the enormity of the destruction. He lingered immobile in the smoking ruins of Magdeburg until the end of June.

Then he marched west to Swabia and Franconia to join with the Imperial troops newly released from service in Italy. There the Protestant states had raised armies as they had agreed at the Leipzig Colloquy. Bernard of Saxe-Weimar’s army was occupying the Bishopric of Fulda, and Gustavus’s ally Wilhelm of Hesse-Cassel was also in arms.

The western expedition succeeded in cowing the Protestants into submission, except for Hesse-Cassel, who was driven to refuge in his fortresses.

The Swedes, encouraged by Tilly’s absence, had overrun Wallenstein’s Duchy of Mecklenburg and re-installed the ousted dukes. They had also moved forward to the Elbe, taking Werben threatening the Imperial forces. To deal with this threat to his rear in August, 1631, Tilly turned his forces eastward.