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On 18 July 1838 Denmark entered war with Germany. Almost immediately a large force of over 50,000 German soldiers entered the peninsula, with the goal of taking the heavily fortified Dannevirke. Danish forces remaining at Kiel were quickly overtaken by the main German force.
On 30 July the siege began. Much of the garrison in the city had already fallen back to the defenses in the north. Much of the defending force contained armed citizens and militia. By the third day the Germans had taken most of the city and the remaining defenders fled or surrendered.