The battle opened with a cavalry melee.
As 1st Prussian corps approached Steinhorst, their march was covered by their hussar brigade. 5th French cuirassier brigade had withdrawn throughout the morning, and the hussars were not prepared for their sudden charge. They received the charge at the halt, were overthrown and routed back through the corps column strung out on the road behind them.
Fortunately the cuirassiers failed to make their morale to pursue. This gave the leading Prussian infantry brigade time to form square, in case the French cavalry should attempt to follow up their advantage. The hussars were withdrawn behind the square and the gunners unlimbered their guns.
Faced with artillery supported by a steady infantry square, the cuirassiers withdrew towards Steinhorst. As they did so the Prussian artillery opened fire, causing casualties to the French cavalry.
The outcome of the melee was that both sides lost the use of their cavalry for the whole morning. It also caused 1st Prussian corps to deploy much sooner than intended, and delayed the whole attack by four hours. This allowed V French corps to move clear of Steinhorst and deploy ready to meet the Prussian attack.
By late afternoon general Yorck was ready to order the attack. But time was no longer on his side, and he would have to press home his attack if he were to stand any chance of taking Steinhorst by nightfall.Table mid afternoon