After the Austrian War of Succession and the cession of Silesia to Prussia, Austria continued pursuing the goal of conquering this area back. For this purpose, Maria Theresa Archduchess of Austria formed an alliance with France and Russia in order to conduct a new war against Prussia.
The Austrian War of Succession ended in 1748 with the Peace of Aachen. In this Austria had to cede Silesia to Prussia. The Austrian Archduchess Maria Theresia then pursued the goal of isolating Prussia politically in order to have a free hand for a war. For this purpose, she forged an alliance with Tsarina Elizabeth of Russia, who wished to expand westward and with Louis XV. of France, however, who saw his main opponent in England and was barely prepared for a new war.
Frederick II of Prussia saw a new war in the alliance between Austria and France and felt his country threatened. But instead of waiting, he mobilized his army and marched in 1756 in Saxony, a close ally of Austria. This started the Seven Years European War.
The course of the war:
Without declaration of war Frederick marched on August 29, 1756 with his troops in Saxony. Surprised by the invasion, the Saxons could not mobilize their soldiers fast enough, which gave the Prussian troops fast and wide territorial conquests. So on 9 September could already be taken Dresden and the Saxon army are encircled in Pirna. With the hope of the Austrian relief army, the Saxons and hard hid themselves. Although the Austrian army came, the Prussians were able to push back on 1 October 1756 at the Battle of Lobositz in Bohemia. The Saxons capitulated then.
In 1757, the Holy Roman Empire and Sweden joined the alliance with Austria and Prussia faced other enemies. In order to oppose an attack by the French on Hanover, the German principalities set up an observation army, since neither Prussia nor the Hanoverian protective power could send England own troops.
Meanwhile, Friedrich marched with his troops in Bohemia towards Prague. There it came before the gates of the city on May 6 to a battle with the Austrians, this could indeed decide the Prussians, but the Austrian troops retreated into the Prague fortress, so that Frederick had to besiege them. Under the leadership of Field Marshal Count Daun, the Austrian relief army marched from Prague to Prague to help the troops there. Frederick marched against them and on 18 June 1757 the battle of Kolin took place. The Prussian army had to take a defeat and pull back together with the siege troops back to Saxony. When the imperial army of the Holy Roman Empire invaded Thuringia, Frederick had to send most of his troops there. The Austrians seized the opportunity and moved with their troops against the weakened Prussian troops. On the 7th of September, they were able to beat them at the Battle of Moys and push them back. While pursuing the Austrians could take the fortresses Schweidnitz and Wroclaw, bringing the end of November 1757, the largest part of Silesia was again under Austrian control.
On November 5, 1757 Frederick could beat the invading imperial army at the Battle of Roßbach. After this defeat, this could no longer recover and actively participate in the fighting. Immediately afterwards Frederick had his troops march back to the south against the Austrians, whom he beat on 5 December at the Battle of Leuthen. Until April 1758 Frederick was able to recapture the lost territories in Silesia.
In East Prussia Field Marshal Johann von Lehwaldt was charged with an army of 30,000 with the defense against the Russians. These attacked on July 1 with about 100,000 men and conquered on July 5, the fortress Memel. On August 30, the Russians were able to beat the advancing Prussians in the Battle of Gross-Jägersdorf, but due to the poor supply they had to withdraw from East Prussia. Only the fortress Memel remained occupied by the Russians.
On September 12, the Swedes also attacked Prussian territory from Stralsund. After the Russians had retired, Field Marshal Johann von Lehwaldt was charged with the repatriation of the Swedes. By the end of Lehwaldt could push back the enemy from the areas, only Stralsund remained in Swedish hands.
In 1758 Frederick tried to break through the conquest of Olomouc a way into the Austrian heartland. However, after Domstadtl attacked and destroyed a large supply convoy for the Prussians, the Prussians had to stop their campaign and withdraw from Moravia.
At the same time, the Russians invaded East Prussia again and tried to unite their army with the Austrians who were to march from Bohemia. In the Battle of Zorndorf the union could be prevented by the Prussians and the Russians had to withdraw behind the Vistula, but continued to occupy parts of East Prussia. In addition, the Austrians used the fight between the Prussians and the Russians to take again large parts of Silesia. In late summer, Austrian troops and the leadership of Count Leopold Joseph von Daun attacked the Prussian troops in the south of Saxony, defeated them in the Battle of Hochkirch and retired back to Bohemia at the end of November.
In 1759, the high losses of the last battles were noticeable and Prussia could no longer start its own campaigns but kept his army on the defensive and could only respond to attacks. So the Austrians and Russians tried again to unite their armies, which they succeeded this time east of Frankfurt on the Oder. Frederick tried to attack with the rest of his army, the combined forces of the enemy, but suffered at the Battle of Kunersdorf but a heavy defeat, with his army even temporarily dissolved. Because of occurring internal disputes of the allies, these then did not use the opportunity to march unhindered to Berlin, which Frederick later described in a letter to his brother Henry as the miracle of the House of Brandenburg. At the end of the year, the Russians retreated as did the Austrians.
In the meantime, the newly established Reichsarmee of the Holy Roman Empire occupied large parts of Saxony and Dresden in the summer of 1759. During the retreat of the Austrians, these armies united and could still include a Prussian contingent under the leadership of General von Finck in the Battle of Maxen and force them to surrender. Here went to the 14,000 Prussian soldiers in captivity.
In 1760, the Austrians began again with the campaign in Silesia from Laudon and occupied important fortresses. At Landeshut also a Prussian corps could be destroyed. Meanwhile, Frederick marched on Dresden to recapture the city again. Immediately an Austrian relief army, under the leadership of Daun, marched on and pursued the Prussians when they withdrew there after the invasion of Silesia by the Austrians. On August 15, 1760 Frederick attacked the two Austrian armies at Liegnitz. The Prussians succeeded here again a victory and the union with the troops of Prince Henry, which the Russians could be prevented, also to invade again.
Meanwhile, the Reichs Army conquered the rest of Saxony, and Berlin too fell briefly into Russian hands. In the Battle of Torgau on 3 November Friedrich was able to defeat the troops of Daun again and push back to Saxony. At the end of the year, East Prussia, Saxony and Silesia were still in enemy hands and some parts of Pomerania were occupied by the Swedes.
1761 was the focus of the war again in Silesia, where Friedrich with nearly 50,000 men moved to a fortified camp near Bunzelwitz and successfully defended against the 132,000-strong army of Russians and Austrians. Since the Russians had to struggle with supply difficulties, they retired in September, shortly afterwards the Prussians. The Austrians continued and conquered the fortress Schweidnitz and Upper Silesia. In the north, the Prussians successfully defended themselves against the Swedes.
The year 1762 began with the death of Russian Tsarina Elisabeth on 5 January. Her successor was the Prussian nephew Peter III. which concluded a peace and pact with Prussia in the peace of Saint Petersburg on 5 May. On May 22, the peace agreement with Sweden followed. Shortly thereafter, Peter III. Victim of a coup in Russia. His wife and co-founder of the coup Katharina the Great then acted as his successor. Although it dissolved the alliance with Prussia, but adhered to the peace treaty.
By the now released troops Friedrich could concentrate entirely on the Austrians. At Burkersdorf he managed to beat the troops of Daun and retake the fortress Schweidnitz. At Freiberg, Prince Henry was able to win a victory in the last battle against the Austrians and reconquer Saxony.
On February 15, 1763, the Peace of Hubertusburg was closed, which restored the pre-war status between Prussia and Austria.
Despite the multiple opportunities to beat and occupy Prussia completely, internal disputes of the alliance between Russia, Austria and France prevented this step. Thus, Prussia did not succeed in winning the war, but it emerged strengthened from the conflict and established itself as the 5th great power in Europe.
At 7, the war was not particularly long, but the losses were enormous in the war zone. Prussia alone lost around 180,000, Austria around 140,000 and Russia 120,000. The civilian casualties alone in Prussia amounted to about 320,000 and in Austria to 160,000 dead, for those circumstances, these numbers had catastrophic consequences.
You can find the right literature here:
Prussia and the Seven Years' War 1756-1763
The Seven Years War, 1754-62, shaped the modern world. It was a truly global conflict fought in India, America and Europe, as Britain struggled for dominance in trade, colonisation and culture with its principal rival, Bourbon France. European nations formed alliances dependent on need, sentiment or necessity in their relationships with the great powers. The German states of varying sizes and influence were subject to dominant neighbours, and Prussia despite her relatively large size remained surrounded by substantially more powerful and hostile states including Russia, Sweden, Austria and France. Prussia’s monarch, Frederick, earned his epithet ‘the Great’ as much for his tenacity and ability to avert national defeat as for his skill as a strategist and battlefield tactician. This book, written by one of Frederick’s own officers combines first hand, eyewitness experience with an historical narrative of Prussia’s struggle to assert itself as a major power in Europe. Detail of campaigns, battles and anecdotes of major and minor characters from the perspective of a Prussian military man combine to deliver a rewarding book for modern readers. This edition offers an unparalleled and immediate account of these momentous times as Frederick fought for survival and, by example, laid the foundations for a unified Germany. Includes useful maps.
The Seven Years' War
The closest thing to total war before World War One, the Seven Years' War was fought in North America, Europe, the Caribbean and India with major consequences for all parties involved. This fascinating book is the first to truly review the grand strategies of the combatants and examine the differing styles of warfare used in the many campaigns. These ranged from the large-scale battles and sieges of the European front to the ambush and skirmish tactics used in the forests of North America. Daniel Marston's engaging narrative is supported by official war papers, personal diaries and memoirs, and official reports.
The Seven Years War in Europe
In this pioneering new work, based on a thorough re-reading of primary sources and new research in the Austrian State Archives, Franz Szabo presents a fascinating reassessment of the continental war.
Professor Szabo challenges the well-established myth that the Seven Years War was won through the military skill and tenacity of the King of Prussia, often styled Frederick “the Great”. Instead he argues that Prussia did not win, but merely survived the Seven Years War and did so despite and not because of the actions and decisions of its king.
With balanced attention to all the major participants and to all conflict zones on the European continent, the book describes the strategies and tactics of the military leaders on all sides, analyzes the major battles of the war and illuminates the diplomatic, political and financial aspects of the conflict.
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