|Battle of Ostra|
|Part of the USE civil conflict|
|Third Division, USE Army||Swedish mercenary forces|
|Commanders and leaders|
|Michael Stearns||Johan Banér|
The Battle of Ostra was the name given to the battle fought near the town of Ostra, which was near Dresden, between the Third Division of the USE Army under Michael Stearns and Swedish[n 1] mercenary forces under Johan Banér. The battle took place on February 26, 1636, because Stearns chose to attack in a snowstorm, hoping to offset Banér's advantages in numbers and experience and to take advantage of the Third Division having proper winter gear, which many of Banér's mercenaries would not have.
The start of the battle not only took Banér by surprise, it woke him up, as Stearns launched his attack at first light. Banér had not expected an attack in a snowstorm, and initially thought the gunfire was from a brawl between some his own troops. However, the storm caused both forces to become disorganized. Even though all regiments of the Third Division remained intact as individual units, none were quite sure where any of the others were, and individual companies occasionally became temporarily separated from their regiments. In one such case, Thorsten Engler's volley gun company encountered the Östergötland Horsemen and routed them, causing Banér's center to unravel.
As a result of the poor visibility, the battle was essentially a brawl, with USE regiments fighting whatever Swedish units they happened to encounter, and not always recognizing which units they were fighting. In fact, when Jeff Higgins' Hangman Regiment encountered a Swedish regiment and Engler's guns fired on a group of nearby horsemen, they did not know that one of those horsemen was Banér himself. Banér was decapitated by this fire, though it was not known that he had died until one of his adjutants identified the body.
Surviving Swedish forces retreated to their siege lines around Dresden, but the city's defenders had been able to take the inner lines, and a stalemate ensued until volley gun units showed up and began firing down the trenches. After that, the surviving mercenaries began surrendering, and the battle was over.
The Battle of Ostra was one of the few armed clashes in the USE's civil conflict, and the only one that was actually a battle between armies.
Even though most of Banér's troops and officers were German mercenaries, and relatively few were actually Swedes, the Battle of Ostra was seen as a German army successfully defending a German city against a foreign army.
Many of the German and Scadinavian officers and men from the remnants of Banér's army joined Mike's Third Division.
This battle solidifed Stearns' reputation as an unconventional but dangerous general.
- As was common during the Thirty Years' War, most of Banér's mercenary troops were Germans.
1636: The Saxon Uprising, ch. 46-47 for the battle; ch. 50 for the aftermath.