On the 6th of May 1757, a defeated Prince Charles fled behind the walls of Prague and much to Frederick’s surprise, with only a small number escaping to the south and surrounding countryside the majority of the Austrian army were pinned. Within days, Frederick knew Daun would be assembling a relief force and so measures were taken to begin the formal siege of Prague and more importantly, establish a screening force to delay Daun’s arrival. Bevern was given that task.
His first priority was to clear the Elbe region of Croats, who were known to be operating between Brandeis and Kolin and prohibit the scattered remnants of Charles’s defeated army from reassembling. Unknown to the Prussians, these numbers totaled nearly 16,000 men.
Of the modern sources, this is about all that is recorded of the period between Prague and Kolin. What is definite, Frederick moved from his siege of Prague to reinforce Bevern on the 12th of June. Six days later, the Bohemian campaign reached a climax on the hills to the west of Kolin.
Phase two of our Bohemian campaign opens with Bevern assembling his command and setting out to fulfill his first priority, to clear both banks of the Elbe of Croats located between Brandeis and Kolin. Setting out from Anwal, outside Prague Bevern marches to the Elbe.
First reports give the impression that the fugitives have truly scattered. After a short war council, Bevern divides his force into two columns and proceeds on the 12th to Nunbung and Bolin Brod.
Fugitives of Prague
Of the two objectives, dealing with the Croats was a higher priority. Their presence was more a nuisance value as they could easily disrupt the supply lines and tie down troops which were needed elsewhere. After the Battle of Prague, the light corps of Croats and Grenzer Hussars had scattered toward the east along the Elbe river offering suitable protection among the foothills and forest areas.
In six independent columns, their goal was to rendezvous with other fugitives and eventually make contact with any armies coming from Vienna. Among the senior officers of the various columns, they did agree to a common goal of creating as much mayhem in the rear and lead the Prussians on a merry chase away other fugitives of Charles’ original army also trying to escape.