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-