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The fight at Lottorf 24th November 1850
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by Stuart Penhall
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After their defeat at Isted the Insurgent army withdrew behind the fortress of Rensborg and rebuilt its strength. General Willisen, the Insurgent commander, adopted a policy of trying to draw the Danes south in Holstein. He hoped that a Danish incursion into this German province would draw the German states back into the war. It would also, he hoped create circumstances favourable enough to allow him to defeat the Danes in detail.

The Schleswig Holstein leadership soon became dissatisfied by the lack of action this policy produced and General Willisen was forced to take the offensive. Such an offensive was difficult in the extreme as the Danes were protected by their defensive works (the Danewerk) which extended across the central part of the Jutland peninsula and by rivers and swamp elsewhere.

General Willisen decided that the defences around the town of Schleswig were to strong for direct attack so he determined to attack Mysunde to the east on the 12th of September. The Danes beat off this attack without much trouble Latter in the same month he tried again, this time at Friedrickstadt to the west. Once again the Schleswig Holstein army was repulsed.

In addition to these larger actions there had been, since just after the battle of Isted, a continuous series of minor (and not so minor) skirmishes in the area between the two front lines especially to the north of Rendsburg and to the east around Eckernforde. Almost every village in this area saw some fighting often on several different occasions

Oprørshærens chef general Willisen
General Willisen, the Insurgent commander

Lottorf was one such village that saw clashes on at leat four occasions between August and November. On the 24th of November the last of these skirmishes occurred when two Companies of the Schleswig?Holstein 11th Infantry Battalion attacked the Danish outpost in the village. The Insurgent plan kept one company in reserve to the south of the village while the other Company, dividing into two parts, was to attack the village from both the front and the western side.

Having reached these positions after leaving Brekendorf on the evening of the 23rd they commenced their attack on the Danish garrison (drawn from the 3rd Reserve Jager Corps) at 3.30 am. Despite the darkness the Insurgents advance was quickly detected by the Danish sentries who raised the alarm. This gave the small garrison sufficient time to organise a defence. As there were to few men to prevent the insurgents from entering the village defensive positions were established in a farm on the northern outskirts of the village.

These positions were soon under attack by the insurgents and were only abandoned when the farmhouse was set on fire by the gunfire. Resistance was then continued from behind fences and other cover to the north of Lottorf where the defenders were soon joined by two more sentries.

The situation was now very serious for the Danes. They were heavily outnumbered, they had lost the village and had behind them only open country. Fortunately reinforcements were on the way. News of the attack had reached the village of Over Selk soon after the attack began and a detachment of 50 men had been dispatched to assist the defence.

As soon as they arrived a counter attack was launched against the Insurgents in the town. Despite heavy fire the attack was pressed home and the Danes entered the now burning village. With the Danes advancing against them and fires burning all around the insurgent companies withdrew to Brekendorf. The Danes made no attempt to pursue and by 4.30 am it was all over. The Danish pickets once again at there posts around the town.

Given the brief duration of the action and the fact that the darkness and the smoke of the burning buildings limited visibility and confused the fighting it is not surprising that casualties were light. The Danes reported no losses at all while the insurgents had one soldier killed and one wounded.

As with numerous other similar actions nothing was achieved by the skirmish other than to prolong the conflict. The end was, however, in sight and by the beginning of 1851 the Schleswig Holstein Government had admitted defeat.

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