From Spear to Flintlock: A History of War in Europe and the Middle East to the French Revolution

By Frederic J. Baumgartner | Go to book overview

22
The Wars of Frederick the Great

The greatest force of the Prussian army resides in their wonderful regularity of formation, which long custom has made a habit; in exact obedience and in the bravery of the troops. The discipline of these troops...has such effect that amidst the greatest confusion of an action and the most evident perils their disorder still is more orderly than the good order of their enemies. Consequently, small confusions are redressed and all evolutions made promptly. A general of other troops could be surprised in circumstances in which he would not be if commanding Prussians, since he will find resources in the speed with which they form and maneuver in the presence of the enemy. Prussians' discipline renders these troops capable of executing the most difficult maneuvers, such as traversing a wood in battle without losing their files or distances, advancing in close order at double time, forming with promptness, reversing their direction suddenly to fall on the flank of the enemy, gaining an advantage by a forced march, and in surpassing the enemy in constancy and fortitude.

Frederick II, Instructions for his Generals, trans. Thomas Phillips ( Harrisburg, Penn., 1960), p. 22. Frederick wrote these instructions in 1747 intending to keep them secret. The Austrians captured a copy and published them in 1761.

The modernization of the Russian army became an increasingly important factor in the European balance of power after 1750. Yet even this development was overshadowed by the stupendous rise of the Prussian military. The real heart of the state called the kingdom of Prussia was the duchy of Brandenburg, centered around Berlin in eastern Germany. Through inheritance and successful alliances in the wars of the seventeenth century, Brandenburg's ruling family, the Hohenzollerns, gained lands to the east (the duchy of East Prussia), to the west (several small principalities on the lower Rhine and the Dutch border), and to the north (western Pomerania on the Baltic coast). Except for Pomerania, these lands were widely separated from Brandenburg itself. The Hohenzollerns were eager to win con-

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From Spear to Flintlock: A History of War in Europe and the Middle East to the French Revolution
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Illustrations vii
  • Maps ix
  • Preface xi
  • 1 - Introduction 1
  • 2 - The Greek Phalanx 7
  • 3 - The Roman Legion 25
  • 4 - The Fall of the Roman Empire 43
  • 5 - The Byzantine and the Arab Empires 55
  • 6 - The Early Middle Ages in Western Europe 67
  • 7 - Feudalism 79
  • 8 - Holy War in the Middle East 93
  • 9 - Castles and Siegecraft 111
  • 10 - War in the High Middle Ages 125
  • 11 - The End of the Medieval Military 141
  • 12 - The Fifteenth Century: Pikes and Guns 157
  • 13 - War in the Renaissance 171
  • 14 - Naval War in the Mediterranean 187
  • 15 - The Rise of the Atlantic Fleets 203
  • 16 - The Sixteenth Century 219
  • 17 - The Dutch Revolt 231
  • 18 - The Thirty Years War 245
  • 19 - The New Model Army and Navy 263
  • 20 - The Wars of Louis XIV 275
  • 21 - War in the Early Eighteenth Century 291
  • 22 - The Wars of Frederick the Great 307
  • 23 - The French Revolution 321
  • Suggested Readings 329
  • Index 337
  • About the Author *
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