Wars and battles involving Prussia

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Prussia and its predecessor, Brandenburg-Prussia, were involved in numerous conflicts during their existence as nation-states. During their military engagements they often fulfilled the role of a supporting power, especially in the 17th century. In the 18th century Prussia began to adopt an independent role in the conflicts of that time; at the latest by the time of the Silesian Wars.

Prussia's Army won major victories, for example, in the Battle of Leuthen, Battle of Leipzig or Battle of Königgrätz, but suffered devastating defeats, for example, in the Battle of Jena-Auerstedt.

This article lists all the wars and battles in which Brandenburg-Prussia and the Kingdom of Prussia were militarily engaged in, covering the period from 1618 to 1871.

Wars[edit]

First Northern War (1656–1660)[edit]

The First Northern War (also Second or Little Northern War) was a conflict that took place from 1655 to 1661 between Poland, Sweden and Russia for supremacy in the Baltic states. Brandenburg fought initially on the side of Sweden against Poland, but changed sides, after Poland granted its prince-elector sovereignty over the Duchy of Prussia in the Treaty of Wehlau on 19 September 1657. Brandenburg succeeded in gaining ultimate sovereignty over the Duchy of Prussia and proved itself during the war as an important military and political power.

Battle Date Remarks
Battle of Warsaw 28–30 July 1656 In this battle the Brandenburg army, together with Sweden, defeated the far larger Polish–Crimean Tartar army.

Swedish-Brandenburg War (1674–1679)[edit]

The Swedish-Brandenburg War was part of the Franco-Dutch War, and was a conflict between the Electorate of Brandenburg and Kingdom of Sweden for the domination of Pomerania. In this war, Sweden was an ally of France, whilst Brandenburg-Prussia, together with Austria, Denmark and Spain, fought on the side of the Dutch. At the end of 1674, Swedish troops invaded Brandenburg, but were successfully repulsed by the Brandenburg army.

Battle Date Remarks
Battle of Rathenow 15 June 1675 Brandenburg troops won the first battle of the Swedish-Brandenburg War by ousting the Swedish garrison at Rathenow.
Battle of Nauen 17 June 1675 The Battle of Nauen was fought between the Brandenburg-Prussian vanguard and Swedish rearguard on the assembly areas of the Battle of Fehrbellin that took place the following day.
Battle of Fehrbellin 18 June 1675 The battle was a rearguard action, in which Brandenburg decisively defeated the Swedish army.
Great Sleigh Drive Winter 1678 A clever manoeuvre by Frederick William, which drove Sweden out of Brandenburg-Prussia again.

Great Turkish War (1683–1699)[edit]

Battle Date Remarks
Siege of Buda mid-June – 2 September 1686 A 74,000 man Christian force (including 8,000 Brandenburg troops) besieged the (Turkish) Hungarian capital of Buda (German: Ofen) in mid-June 1686. A Turkish Army came to relieve Buda in mid-August, but its commander shied away from a major attack on the victorious army. As a result, on 2 September 1686, the fortifications were successfully stormed.

Spanish War of Succession (1701–1714)[edit]

In a treaty signed on 16 November 1700, Elector Frederick III had undertaken to provide a body of 8,000 men for the impending Spanish War of Succession for Emperor Leopold I. In return, the emperor promised that Frederick's future self-coronation as "King in Prussia" would be recognised across Europe and the Holy Roman Empire. The coronation took place on 18 January 1701 in Königsberg and from April 1701 the now entitled Royal Prussian Contingent deployed to the Lower Rhine at Wesel. In April 1702 it took part in hostilities for the first time at the Siege of Kaiserswerth.

Battle Date Remarks
First Battle of Höchstädt 20 September 1703 French and Bavarian troops won a convincing victory over a force of Austrian and imperial troops under Count Styrum. Only the resistance of Prussian units (6,000 men) under Leopold I of Anhalt-Dessau prevented the complete disintegration of the Austrian and imperial formations.
Second Battle of Höchstädt 13 August 1704 Units of the Prussian Army (9,000 men) fought successfully in the imperial army under the command of Louis William of Baden together with allied English-Dutch troops against the French army.
Battle of Cassano 16 August 1705 A French army defeated an Austrian–Prussian force. The Prussian contingent was badly decimated in this battle by the actions of the Austrians, nevertheless Prussia was able to ease the pressured on the besieged city of Turin, enabling the city to hold out until it was relieved.
Battle of Turin 7 September 1706 An allied Army, consisting of Austrians, Prussian (under the leadership of Leopold I of Anhalt-Dessau) and Italians, broke the Siege of Turin by the French and forced the French to withdraw fully from North Italy.
Battle of Oudenaarde 11 July 1708 A 70,000 strong army from Prussia, Britain and Holland, under the command of Eugen of Savoy and the Duke of Marlborough defeated the French at Oudenaarde in Belgium.
Battle of Malplaquet 11 September 1709 Prussian troops fought and were victorious as part of an allied army, consisting of Austrians, Dutch and British, against the French. This battle resulted in very high losses for the allies.

Great Northern War (1700–1721)[edit]

After the death of his father, King Frederick William I joined the coalition against the Swedish king, Charles XII, with the aim of capturing the Swedish territories in Pomerania. As a result, the Prussian occupied Stettin in 1713. In November 1714, when Charles XII took personal command of Swedish Pomerania, the Prussian Army, together with the Saxons and Danes, was able to force him back to Stralsund in 1715–16 during the Pomeranian campaign and besiege him there. After the end of the war Prussia gained Stettin, Usedom and all territories south of the Peene.

Battle Date Remarks
Pomeranian Campaign (1711–15) 1 May 1715 – 19 April 1716 An allied army consisting of Prussia, Denmark and Saxony conquered all of Swedish-Pomerania

Austrian War of Succession (1740–1748)[edit]

First Silesian War (1740–1742)[edit]

In 1740, in the first year of his reign and shortly after his coronation Frederick II sent the Prussian Army to invade Austrian-ruled Silesia and so precipitated the First Silesian War and, in its broader sense, the Austrian War of Succession. Because Prussia allied itself with Bavaria, France, Saxony, the Electorate of Cologne, Spain, Sweden and Naples, whilst Prussia's main enemy, Austria allied itself with Great Britain, Sardinia, the Netherlands and Russia. For Prussia, the war was restricted to Silesia, and was able to capture the province after several victories.

Battle Date Remarks
Storming of Glogau 8 February 1741
Battle of Baumgarten 27 February 1741
Battle of Mollwitz 10 April 1741 The battle took place between a 24,000 strong Prussian army under Frederick II and a 20,000 strong Austrian army. Although both sides made serious military blunders in the course of the battle (it was Frederick's first), Frederick II succeeded in gaining victory.
Battle of Lesch 16 February 1742
Battle of Chotusitz 17 May 1742 In this battle on 17 May 1742, 23,500 Prussians under Frederick II were victorious over 28,000 Austrians under Prince Charles of Lorraine. The latter wanted to ambush the Prussians, but found them in battle formation. His left flank was attacked by Frederick II and beaten. This battle immediately led to the Treaty of Breslau.

Second Silesian War (1744–1745)[edit]

The Second Silesian War was also part of the Austrian War of Succession, but also a war fought for supremacy in Silesia between Prussia and Austria. Frederick II had allied himself at that time with France. Austria formed an alliance with Saxony, Great Britain and the Netherlands. In August 1744, Prussia ambushed Bohemia with 80,000 soldiers and thereby opened the Second Silesian War. After several hard battles, it was agreed in the Treaty of Dresden that Silesia would always remain in Prussian hands.

Battle Date Remarks
Battle of Teltschitz 19 November 1744
Battle of Pless 27 November 1744
Battle of Ratibor 9 February 1745
Battle of Hohenfriedeberg 4 June 1745 In this battle in Silesia, Prussian troops under the leadership of Frederick II won a decisive victory against an equally strong army from Austria and Saxony.
Battle of Soor 30 September 1745 The Prussians, with 19,000 men under Frederick II, defeated Austria and Saxony with 32,000 men commanded by Prince Charles of Lorraine.
Battle of Hennersdorf 23 November 1745 A Prussian Army under command of Frederick the Great defeated a Saxon army led by General Buchner.
Battle of Zittau 27 November 1745
Battle of Kesselsdorf 15 December 1745 A Prussian army under command of Leopold I of Dessau defeated the allied Austrians and Saxons under Field Marshal Rutowski. The Battle of Kesselsdorf was the last victory by the Old Dessauer and decided the war in favour of Prussia.

Seven Years' War (1756–1763)[edit]

The Seven Years' War fought between Prussia and Great Britain on one side and Austria, France, Russia on the other, involved all the great European powers of the time. Austria's goal was the reconquest of Silesia, but Frederick II pre-empted his enemies, and on 29 August 1756 crossed the border of Saxony without a prior declaration of war. Military success alternated and the Prussian army faced defeat in the end, in spite of major victories. On 15 February 1763 the Peace of Hubertusburg was signed between Prussia and its opponents. The status quo ante was restored. The war established Prussia as the fifth major power in Europe, but Prussia lost 180,000 soldiers during the war.

First Partition of Poland (1772)[edit]

Overall, Prussia gained 36,000 km2 and about 600,000 people. According to Jerzy Surdykowski Frederick the Great soon introduced German colonists on territories he conquered and engaged in Germanization of Polish territories.

War of the Bavarian Succession (1778–1779)[edit]

The War of the Bavarian Succession was fought between Prussia, Saxony and Bavaria on one side and Austria on the other.

Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars (1792–1815)[edit]

The Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars were a series of conflicts in the late 18th and early 19th centuries between Revolutionary France and later the French Empire and coalitions of various European states. Prussia was a member of three of the six anti-French coalitions.

War of the First Coalition (1792-1795)[edit]

The War of the First Coalition saw the monarchies of Europe, led by Austria, opposed to revolutionary France. It lasted from 1793 to 1797, though Prussia made peace in 1795.

Battle Date Remarks
Battle of Valmy 20 September 1792 A French army defeated a 35,000 strong Prussian force. The French went onto the offensive in the first coalition war. The strategically rather unimportant battle is of historical significance because the revolutionary soldiers of France withstood for the first time a massive onslaught by opposing troops and saved the revolution.
Siege of Mainz 14 April – 23 July 1793 Prussian troops and allied German troops besieged the French-occupied town. At the end, 19,000 French soldiers surrendered to the allies and withdrew.
Battle of Pirmasens 14 September 1793 was a battle between French troops on the one hand and Prussian and Austrian troops on the other, which ended in victory for the allies. After heavy fighting, the battle was decided by attacking Prussian troops under the command of Lieutenant General William de Courbière.

War of the Fourth Coalition (1806-1807)[edit]

The War of the Fourth Coalition saw Prussia and her allies in conflict with France over concerns about the formation of the Confederation of the Rhine and the expansion of Napoleon’s influence into Germany. It ended with the defeat of the coalition a year later.

Battle Date Remarks
Battle of Saalfeld 10 October 1806 The battle took place between a French and a Prussian-Saxon army and ended with the defeat of the Prussians. The battle had no strategic influence on the course of the campaign, but the effect of the battle on the morale of the Prussians was considerable. In the night of 10–11 October 1806 disorder and panic broke out amongst the troops. Saxon and Prussian troops of the Hohenlohe Corps mistook each other for French troops and shot at one another.
Battle of Jena and Auerstedt 14 October 1806 One of the most devastating defeats of the Prussian army. Over 10,000 Prussian and Saxon soldiers lost their lives. The defeat was a bitter blow to the Prussian-Saxon army, but the battle itself did not lead to a disaster. Not until the retreat did the troops get into such confusion that they could no longer be controlled in an orderly way and a large number of troops deserted.
Battle of Lübeck 6 November 1806 French troops under Nicolas-Jean de Dieu Soult were victorious against a 21,000 strong Prussian army under the command of von Blücher. He had to surrender with 8,000 remaining soldiers on 7 November.
Battle of Eylau 7–8 February 1807 Was a battle between the French and the allies, Prussia and Russia. The battle ended indecisively. As the fight appeared to be going in favour of the French, the Prussian corps under Colonel Scharnhorst with 8,000 men entered the fray, following a forced march on Preußisch Eylau, and struck the right flank of the French units. As a result, the Russian left flank was able to hold, and the French had to pull back.
Siege of Kolberg 14 March – 2 July 1807 was one of the biggest Prussia victories of the war. The fortress was able to hold out until the armistice. As a result, the names of Gneisenau, Schill and Nettelbeck became famous. This celebrated event was used by Prussian reformers as an argument for the necessity of involving ordinary citizens in the affairs of the state.
Battle of Heilsberg 10 June 1807
Battle of Friedland 14 June 1807

War of the Sixth Coalition (1813–1814)[edit]

The War of the Sixth Coalition saw a re-vitalized Prussia join the allies against the French in 1813, resulting in France’s defeat in 1814. The German campaign covers all the military engagements that took place from 1813 to 1815 between the troops of Napoleonic France and the allies, consisting of Prussia, Austria, Russia and Great Britain. After the liberation of the German nations, the winter campaign of 1814 ended with the abdication of Napoleon and the First Treaty of Paris.

Battle Date Remarks
Battle of Lützen 2 May 1813 Napoleon lured the Prussian and Russian armies in this battle into a trap. The Prussians and Russians had to retreat after a day of heavy fighting.
Battle of Bautzen 20–21 May 1813 During the retreat of the Prussian-Russian army Napoleon attacked again at Bautzen. Although the French were only able to win terrain, this battle is seen as a victory for Napoleon.
Battle of Großbeeren 23 August 1813 The Prussian army under the command of Blücher defeated a French army under the command of Marshals Reynier and Oudinot. After this defeat, Reynier and Oudinot decided to retreat to Wittenberg. The attack by Napoleon's forces on Berlin had failed; the Prussian capital escaped being conquered by the enemy.
Battle of Katzbach 26 August 1813 The battle was an accidental encounter between French forces under the command of Marshal MacDonald and Prussian forces under Blücher. It ended in victory for the Prussian army.
Battle of Dresden 26–27 August 1813 The outcome of the battle was a French victory under Napoleon against the allied forces of the Austrians, Russians and Prussians under the command of Field Marshal Schwarzenberg.
Battle of Hagelberg 27 August 1813 The battle took place as a consequence of the Battle of Großbeeren. A Prussian contingent (3,500 regular soldiers, 8,000 militia) under General von Hirschfeld defeated a French corps (about 10,000 men strong). Only about 3,000 Frenchmen reached Magdeburg. The battle, actually just a skirmish, was one of the first times the newly formed militia was deployed, and confirmed the value of this force.
Battle of Kulm 29–30 August 1813 A 32,000-strong army of French, under command of General Vandamme, lost to an allied army of Austrians, Prussians and Russians.
Battle of Dennewitz 6 September 1813 In this battle, Prussian troops of the Northern Army, which was under the command of the Swedish Crown Prince, Charles XIV John, defeated the French army and their allies, the Saxons. The victory prevented Napoleon finally from escaping to Berlin, and was an important precursor to the Battle of Leipzig.
Battle of the Göhrde 16 September 1813 A Prussian contingent (12,300 men) defeated a 3,000-strong French unit under the command of General Pécheux.
Battle of Leipzig 16–19 October 1813 In this battle, the troops of Emperor Napoleon fought the allies: Russia, Prussia and Austria. Napoleon's defeat marked the end of French rule in Germany. The Prussian army suffered 17,200 dead and wounded, in the battle.
Battle of Brienne 29 January 1814 The battle was a victory by the French against a Prussian–Russian army under Blücher.
Battle of La Rothière 1 February 1814 A 110,000 strong Prussian army defeated a 40,000 strong French army under Napoleon.
Battle of Montmirail 11 February 1814 A 20,000 strong French army under Napoleon won against the Russian and Prussian troops.
Battle of Château Thierry 12 February 1814 The Prussian–Russian troops lost this battle to French troops under Napoleon.
Battle of Vauchamps 14 February 1814 18,000 French under Napoleon defeated a 30,000 strong army under Blücher.
Battle of Craonne 7 March 1814 The French troops won a victory against the Prussian and Russian armies.
Battle of Laon 9–10 March 1814 The Battle of Laon was a victory by the Prussian Army under Blücher against the French Army of the North in France.
Battle of Paris 30–31 March 1814 The defeat of the French against Prussian, Austrian and Russian armies in this battle led to Napoleon's immediate abdication.

War of the Seventh Coalition (1815)[edit]

The War of the Seventh Coalition, also called the Hundred Days, occurred in the summer of 1815. Following the short-lived return of Napoleon, his reign was finally ended following his defeat against Great Britain and their Prussian allies in the Waterloo Campaign.

Battle Date Remarks
Battle of Ligny 16 June 1815 Ligny was Napoleon's last victory. He was able to defeat Blücher's Prussian troops, but not completely destroy them. This was to have fatal consequences for him at Waterloo.
Battle of Waterloo 18 June 1815 The battle was the last and decisive battle of the Napoleonic Wars and ended in a victory for the allied Anglo–Prussian force under Blücher and Wellington. Napoleon Bonaparte had to resign as a result and was exiled to St. Helena. As a result, this battle is one of the most important battles in world history.
Battle of Wavre 18–19 June 1815 This battle marked the end of the Napoleonic Wars and was fought between the Prussian rearguard under Johann von Thielmann and three French corps under Emmanuel de Grouchy. This fighting successfully prevented the intervention of these French units in the battle of Waterloo which might have been helped Napoleon to avoid defeat.

First Schleswig War (1848–1851)[edit]

The First Schleswig War was the first military conflict over the Schleswig-Holstein question, which was about who should rule over the Duchy of Schleswig. The warring parties were, on the one hand the German movement in the duchies of Schleswig and Holstein in conjunction with the majority of nations in the German Confederation (including Prussia), and on the other hand the State of Denmark. The war was indecisive, so that, 13 years later, the next war broke out.

Battle Date Remarks
Battle of Schleswig 23 April 1848

Second Schleswig War (1864)[edit]

The Second Schleswig War (also the German-Danish War) was a military conflict for the Duchy of Schleswig between the German Confederation and the Kingdom of Denmark. The war ended with the defeat of the Danes. The two victorious powers, Austria and Prussia, initially owned and ruled jointly over the duchies of Schleswig, Holstein and Lauenburg. The strained relationship between the two states worsened however in the period that followed, until finally the Austro-Prussian War broke out in 1866.

Battle Date Remarks
Battle of Dybbøl 18 April 1864 The battle was the decisive engagement of the Second Schleswig War. The ten fieldworks at Dybbøl were stormed after a siege of almost five weeks on 18 April 1864 by Prussia under Prince Frederick Charles.
Battle of Alsen 29 June 1864 Prussia under Herwarth von Bittenfeld conquered Alsen after a night attack against the Danish army. The battle was the last major event of this war. The Danish army lost 3,000 dead, wounded and captured.
Battle of Lundby 23 July 1864 The battle was the last in the Second Schleswig War. The result was a clear defeat for Denmark. The Danish side lost 32 dead, 44 wounded and 20 prisoners, whilst Prussian losses were only three wounded.

Austro-Prussian War (1866)[edit]

The Austro-Prussian War was a military conflict between Austria and Prussia. The war was fought for supremacy in the German lands. It ended with a victory for Prussia (and its allies) over Austria (and its allies) and resulted in the German Confederation. Prussia thereby assumed political supremacy over Austria amongst the German nations and founded the North German Confederation.

Battle Date Remarks
Battle of Hühnerwasser 27 June 1866 The Battle of Hühnerwasser was the first battle of the Austro-Prussian War between Prussia and Austria on 27 June 1866. Prussia was victorious.
Battle of Podol 27 June 1866 Podol was the site of a battle in the Austro-Prussian War between Prussia and Austria. Prussia was victorious.
Battle of Trautenau 27–28 June 1866 In the first Battle of Trautenau an Austrian corps forced Prussia onto the retreat. On the following day, it was defeated by the Prussian Guard. Striking were the much higher losses of the Austrians, with over 8,000 dead - four times that of Prussia - due to the use by the Prussian army of breech-loading weapons.
Battle of Nachod 27 June 1866 Was a battle in Bohemia, in which the Prussian army defeated the Austrian army.
Battle of Langensalza 27 June 1866 The Battle of Langensalza was the first major battle on the western theatre of the Austro-Prussian War. In this theatre, Prussia faced the Kingdom of Hanover. The Hanoverian army won this battle; but it did not significantly alter their unfavourable situation overall, and Hanoverian army surrendered as early as 29 June.
Battle of Skalitz 28 June 1866 This was a battle in Bohemia between Prussia and Austria in the Austro-Prussian War which ended in victory for the Prussians.
Battle of Münchengrätz 28 June 1866 The battle took place between Prussia and Austria in Bohemia, which Prussia won.
Battle of Gitschin 29 June 1866 The Battle of Gitschin was a battle in the Austro-Prussian War, which took place in Bohemia between Prussia on the one hand and Austria and Saxony on the other. It ended in victory by the Prussian army
Battle of Königinhof 29 June 1866
Battle of Schweinschädel 29 June 1866 The battle took place in Bohemia between Prussia and Austria. In spite of fierce resistance by the Austrians, they were defeated in the fighting. Losses on the Austrian side were 1750 deaths, the number of Prussian dead was 394.
Battle of Königgrätz 3 July 1866 In the Battle of Königgrätz, Prussian troops encountered the Austrian army. It was the decisive battle of the war, in which the Austrians were resoundingly defeated.
Battle of Dermbach 4 July 1866 The Battle of Dermbach refers to the first clash between Prussian and Bavarian troops in the Austro-Prussian War and took place on 4 July 1866 at Dermbach in Thuringia. The battle ended with a victory by the Prussians.
Battle of Kissingen 10 July 1866 The Battle of Bad Kissingen took place between Prussia and the army of the German Confederation, consisting of South German and Austrian troops. It ended in a Prussian victory.
Battle of Frohnhofen 13 July 1866 The Battle of Frohnhofen in Bavaria, ended with a victory by Prussia over the confederation troops.
Battle of Aschaffenburg 14 July 1866 The battle took place between Prussia and the German federal army consisting of South German and Austrian troops, in which Prussia was victorious.
Battle of Lamacs 22 July 1866 The battle was the last battle of the Austro-Prussian War between Prussia and Austria, in which Prussia was successful.
Battle of Hundheim 23 July 1866
Battle of Tauberbischofsheim 24 July 1866 The battle took place between Prussia and the German federal army in Baden and ended with a Prussian victory.
Battle of Werbach 24 July 1866
Battles of Helmstadt 25 July 1866 This was a series of battles in the Austro-Prussian War, that was fought between Prussia and the German federal army, in which Prussia was also successful.
Battle of Uettingen 26 July 1866 The battle took place between Prussian troops and troops of the federal army in Bavaria. Prussia won.

Franco-Prussian War (1870–1871)[edit]

Main article: Franco-Prussian War
Battle Date Remarks
Battle of Wissembourg 4 August 1870
Battle of Spicheren 6 August 1870
Battle of Wörth 6 August 1870
Battle of Colombey 14 August 1870
Battle of Vionville 16 August 1870
Battle of Mars-la-Tour 16 August 1870
Battle of Gravelotte 18 August 1870
Siege of Metz 20 August – 27 October 1870
Battle of Beaumont 30 August 1870
Battle of Noisseville 31 August – 1 September 1870
Battle of Sedan 1–2 September 1870
Battle of Bellevue 18 October 1870
Battle of Beaune-la-Rolande 28 November 1870
Battle of Hallue 23–24 December 1870
Battle of Bapaume 3 January 1871
Battle of Buzenval 19–20 January 1871
Siege of Paris 19 September 1870 – 28 January 1871

See also[edit]

Literature[edit]

  • Curt Jany: Geschichte of the Preußischen Armyvom 15.Jahrhundert bis 1914. Biblio Verlag, Osnabrück, 1967.
  • O. Büsch, W. Neugebauer: Moderne Preußische Geschichte 1648–1947. Vol. 2, 4th Pt. Militärsystem and Gesellschaftsordnung. Verlag de Gruyter, 1981, p. 749–871, ISBN 3-11-008324-8.
  • Martin Guddat: Handbuch zur Prussian Militärgeschichte 1701–1786. Verlag Mittler, Hamburg, 2001, ISBN 3-8132-0732-3.
  • Karl-Volker Neugebauer: Grundzüge of the German Militärgeschichte. Band 1: Historischer Überblick. 1st edition, Rombach Verlag, Freiburg, 1993, ISBN 3-7930-0662-6.

External links[edit]