German Plans

By January 1919, the insurgents had made gains across certain parts of the region while the Germans retained control of others. On the Northern Front, the Germans held strong positions in Leszno, Rawicz and Bydgoszcz and made an attempt to capture the town of Osieczna.

The Germans dispatched 60 men from Leszno and approached from the south. In Osieczna itself, a Polish unit led by Sergeant Franciszek Muszyński detected the Germans approaching and rather than wait in the town to be attacked, elected instead to split his men into two groups and take the fight to the Germans.

Map of the skirmish near Osieczna,

Greater Poland Uprising 1918-1919

Polish countermeasures

One of the Polish groups managed to distract the Germans, placing them under heavy fire, while the other group worked its way towards them. At that point, further Polish reinforcements – alerted by the sounds of gunfire - arrived from nearby Kakolewo – 35 insurgents led by a Sergeant Ignacy Talarczyk. The combined and strengthened Polish forces them attacked the Germans, forcing them into a retreat and abandoning some equipment and ammunition which the Poles gladly commandeered.

Despite being forced to retreat, the Germans quickly planned another assault, bringing in more soldiers for the task. The Poles too – expecting another attack – prepared and strengthened their defences, setting up outposts outside the town to help guard against any German incursions.


Further Polish reinforcements arrived in the evening of 10th January: 150 insurgents from Poznań led by Second Lieutenant Jan Namysł and around 130 from Śmigiel, led by Second Lieutenant Józef Łukomski. Their arrival was timely as the next day, the Germans attacked once again, using an armoured train to help oust 100 insurgents from nearby Kąkolewo, leaving the Germans able to attack Osieczna without risk of a Polish counterattack from the south.

Polish soldiers during the uprising.

Powstanie wielkopolskie | Tumblr

German Forces

The Germans mustered the following units for the assault on Osieczna, under the command of a Lieutenant Von Bismarck.

  • 1st company of the 37th Infantry Regiment,
  • 1st company of the 11th Grenadier Regiment
  • a half-battery of field artillery
  • mine launchers and heavy and light machine guns.

The Germans moved their forces to the west of Osieczna, near Wyciążkowo and formed a line outside the town of Jeziorki. Once again though, the Polish defender chose to meet the German’s out in the open rather than allow the to try and enter Osieczna, placing their forces in hills southwest of the town.

Despite heavy fire from the Germans and even the use of nerve gas, the Poles not only repulsed the German efforts but managed to launch an audacious counterattack, which drove the Germans all the way back to Gronówek.


The failure of the German plans came as a surprise to them, the fierce and aggressive actions of the Poles proving to be a huge blow and causing dismay amongst many of the German defenders in Leszno who expected the Poles to maintain their successful momentum and launch an attack there.

However, the Poles shrewdly declined to push their luck, knowing that even had they been successful in taking Leszno, the 250 men they had would have been unlikely to hold on to the town, should the Germans launch a counterattack from nearby Kąkolewo.

As for the clashes at Osieczna, while the Poles displayed their usual bravery and initiative in aggressively defending their positions, much of the blame for the German failure can be placed on their commander and the relatively poor quality of the German units. 

Further reading



Maps – source materials:

1) Cartography*:

Atlas ziem polskich, tom I, Wielkie Księstwo Poznańskie, Zygmunt Światopełk Słupski, Poznań 1911.

Wielkie Księstwo Poznańskie, 1 300 000, pod red. Józefa Górskiego, Poznań 1919.

Posen, 1 : 10 000, Pharus, Berlin 1911.

Plan miasta Poznania, 1 : 15 000, pod kier. Eugeniusza Romera, Lwów 1922.

Mapa Szczegółowa Polski, 1 : 25 000, WIG, Warszawa 1920 – 1929.

Mapa Taktyczna Polski, 1 : 100 000, WIG, Warszawa 1924 – 1939.

Messtischblatt, 1 : 25 000, Königlich Preussische Landesaufnahme, Berlin 1889 – 1919.

2) Bibliography**:

Powstanie Wielkopolskie 1919, Bogusław Polak, Warszawa 2015.

Śladami Powstania Wielkopolskiego, Paweł Anders., Poznań 2008.

Encyklopedia Powstania Wielkopolskiego, pod red. Janusza Karwata i Marka Rezlera, Poznań 2018.

Ziemia gnieźnieńska w Powstaniu Wielkopolskim 1918/1919, Janusz Karwat, Poznań 2018.

Bój o Szubin, Włodzimierz Lewandowski, Aleksander Załęski, Poznań 1937.

Gemeindelexikon fur die Regierungsbezirke Allenstein, Danzig, Marienwerder, Posen, Bromberg und Oppeln, Verlag des Koniglichen Statistischen Landesamts, Berlin 1912.