Prehistoric Dybbøl Banke
Dybbøl Banke is a plateau rising more than 60 meters above sea level. The heights make up the northern part of a glacial landscape of margin moraine hills around Vemmingbund, which is the innermost part of Sønderborg Fjord. Along the coast are steep, high cliffs.
The area around Dybbøl has been inhabited since the Stone Age. There are several grave mounds in the forests of Østerskoven and Bøffelkobbelskov, south-west of Dybbøl village. Dybbøl village has roots back in the Iron Age. In 1352 it was referred to as Duttebul.
A typical village in Schleswig
Up to the mid-1800s Dybbøl was a Schleswig village like many others, with half-timbered houses, and a white-chalked church with a red-tiled roof. The oldest parts of the church around the choir stem from the 1100s. The peasants of Dybbøl were tied to Sandbjerg Castle on the Sundved side of Als Sund. In 1673, the King sold the Castle and land to Conrad Reventlow, who was a high-standing local landowner in Haderslev.
When it was owned by the Reventlow family, the estate was something of a pioneer in agricultural history. When the ties were repealed in 1788, the owner of the estate, Conrad Georg Reventlow, was the first in Denmark to sell the tied farms to the peasants and divide the land up into independent farms. This meant he went even further than his more famous elder brother, who is regarded as the father of agricultural reform in Denmark. The subdivisions are still run as farms to this day.
The three-year war on Dybbøl Banke
During the three-year war, Dybbøl Banke and Als were flank positions for the Danish army. These were good positions from which to attack enemies from the south. On 5 June 1848, Prussian troops were beaten back by the Danish army at Dybbøl and in April the following year there was a full-out battle at Dybbøl Banke. The mill was burnt down during the fighting and was not in operation again until four years later.
In 1861-62 Danish engineers built ten redoubts at the Dybbøl position in a three-kilometre-long crescent from Vemmingbund to Als Sund. The redoubts were small earth redoubts with concrete powder magazines and wooden blockhouses for the soldiers.
Read more (in Danish) at grænseforeningen.dk
From Dannevirke to Dybbøl
On 1 February 1864, war broke out between Denmark and Prussia/Austria. On 5 February the Danish forces evacuated the southern defensive position at Dannevirke. They retreated to the positions at Dybbøl, which had been hastily completed.
On 15 March, the Prussian forces commenced firing from their batteries at Gammelmark on Broager. The Prussians had rifled cannon, giving them a greater range than the Danish cannon. The Prussians could shoot the Danish positions across Vemmingbund without any real resistance.
Over the following month, the main Prussian force worked themselves close to the Danish redoubts through trenches, while at the same time keeping up a massive bombardment of the Danish positions.
The storming of Dybbøl, 18 April 1864
On 18 April 1864 at 10.00 am, the Prussian forces attacked the Danish redoubts. The redoubts had been shot to pieces after a six-hour bombardment with more than 8,000 shells. The central and southern parts of the Danish line of redoubts fell after just half-an-hour.
The Danish 8th brigade led a counter attack. After heavy losses they had fought their way forward to Dybbøl Mill. After 90 minutes the counter attack fell apart and the remains of the Danish army were forced to retreat to Als.
About 1,800 Danish soldiers had been killed, wounded or missing after the Battle of Dybbøl, while a further 3,000 had been taken prisoner. The total Prussian losses were about 1,200 dead, wounded or missing.