Rudolf III, the man who would defy Bernard’s plans. Portrait by a 19th century painter.
A History of Baden
From the Reign of Bernard I to the Present Day
Chapter 1-The acquisition of Baden-Sausenberg, Part 3
Bernard I was making a terrific gamble by mobilizing his army and embarking upon a campaign in the middle of winter. Generals of the time almost always waited until at least March, and usually May to begin offensive operations. Normally, their simply wasn’t enough food in winter to support such an army. However, here Bernard had a critical advantage; the Rhine River. It and its tributaries dominated Baden, and gave any army in it an infinitely better supply line than an overland one. So long as he stuck to the Rhine, Bernard’s troops would be fed. However, there was a second, far more important reason to be launching a campaign now than “because I can.” Rudolf’s army wasn’t in Baden, it was in Tyrol, besieging Fredrick’s castles. If Bernard moved fast, he could catch Rudolf with his pants down. Thus, the objective of his campaign was to seize Freiburg, and with it much of Southern Baden, without a fight.
He got off to a bad start. On January 2nd and 3rd, a massive blizzard stopped Baden’s army in its tracks, barley miles from where it had started. However, on the 4th, good progress was made; the army was now at the Erz River, a tributary of the Rhine. The fifth day saw a march down the Elz, however the negotiations for the surrender of the castles at Teningen and Emmendingen lasted through the sixth. However, on the seventh movement was again drawn to a halt by heavy snowfall. That night, Bernard resolved to ignore the fortifications at Denzilgen and Gundelfingen and proceed directly to the prize, Freiburg.
However, the accumulated delays had allowed Rudolf to extricate his army from Tyrol and move it into Baden. When, on the morning of the 8th, the army reached the ford at Altdorf, they found 2,000 enemy soldiers awaiting them. In his initial objective of capturing Freiburg before engaging enemy armies, Bernard had failed. However, he had not failed totally; this was only the Baden- Sausenbergen vanguard. The main army was still two days march away. If Bernard moved quickly, he could still seize Freiburg before the main heretical army arrived.
In this too, he would fail.