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Extracts from Armies of the Seven Years War. Due to be published by The History Press on the 8th July 2012.


Up to 1740, Prussia was a second-rate state within Europe, but in that year her new king Friedrich II (Frederick the Great as he came to be known) attacked Austria in the opening round of the Wars of the Austrian Succession. The struggle took its name from the failure of Carl VI, Holy Roman Emperor (1711–1740), to father a male heir. Under Salic Law a woman could not rule the Empire, which had been in Habsburg hands since the fifteenth century and was seen in Vienna as a hereditary title. The succession of Carl VI’s eldest surviving daughter, Maria Theresa, to the family possessions (principally the Austrian provinces, the Bohemian crown lands and the kingdom of Hungary, together with the outlying territories of the Duchy of Milan and the Austrian (southern) Netherlands) was provided for by a family agreement, the so-called Pragmatic Sanction, which had been agreed to by the other crowned heads of Europe in 1713. Two middle-sized German states, Bavaria and Saxony, had their own claims to the Holy Roman Empire’s throne, but when Carl VI died suddenly in October 1740, Maria Theresa took the throne on 20 October. An unexpected challenge to Maria Theresia’s accession swiftly came from the new, ambitious Prussian king, who harboured years of resentment against Austria’s power and unwelcome influence in Prussian domestic affairs. He also coveted the wealth of the Austrian province of Silesia; it was rich in coal, copper, silver, cadmium, zinc and lead, and had a thriving agricultural industry, watered and powered by the river Oder. Frederick invaded Silesia in 1740; the war lasted for two years. Austrian efforts to recover the northern parts of the province failed and the war was ended by the Peace of Breslau (now Wroclow), signed in Berlin on 11 June 1742. Based on the terms of the treaty, Maria Theresa ceded most of the Silesian duchies to Prussia except for the Duchy of Teschen, the districts of Troppau and Krnov south of the Opava river as well as the southern part of the Duchy of Nysa (Neisse), that were all to become the province of Austrian Silesia. Furthermore Frederick annexed the Bohemian county of Kladsko. In the Second Silesian War (1744–1745), Austria attempted – and failed – to recover Silesia. The conflict was ended by the Peace of Dresden on 25 December 1745. By the terms of the treaty, Frederick the Great acknowledged Franz I – husband of Maria Theresa – as Holy Roman Emperor. In return, he maintained control over Silesia. The real loser was Saxony, who had to 3

pay Prussia one million Thaler in reparations. The Third Silesian (Seven Years’) War, completed the Wars of the Austrian Succession and confirmed Prussia as one of the most powerful nations in Europe. But it was not only in Europe that this conflict was played out. The old enemies, Britain and France, were at this time engaged in a race to establish colonial empires, mainly in North America and India, where both had existing footholds. This meant that much of their ‘private war’ was carried out by their respective fleets, who fought for control of the oceans and carried their armies, supplies and settlers to the territories in contention. It was during this war that Britain grasped the importance of command of the seas. Once that lesson had been well and truly learned, it was to shape her strategy for centuries to come. Through the Napoleonic era and two world wars, Britain’s primary defence strategy was to maintain the supremacy of the Royal Navy.

Privates of Austrian infantry regiments, 1762. Left to right: Karl von Lothringen (standing), Lascy, de Ligne, SachsenGotha (background), Wied (foreground) and Arhemberg. (Knötel, VI, 12)








Left to right: trooper of Trenck’s Pandurs,







1769. Note the gilt peak at the top-front of

infantryman, 1756. Both uniforms reflect

the officer’s cuirass. (Rudolf von Ottenfeld)

the national costumes of the border regions of that time. (Rudolf von Ottenfeld)

Left to right: grenadiers from Austrian infantry regiments Haller, Bethlen and an unidentified regiment. (David Morier, the Royal Collection)


Austrian hussar troopers, 1762. Left to right: Splenyi, Kaiser (Nr 1), Baranyay (Nr 30), Bethlen (Nr 35, background) EsterhĂ zy (foreground), Haddik. Note the various designs on the lids of the sabretasches (decoration was left to the regimental Chefs) and the fact that the sabres were worn inside the slings of the sabretasche. (KnĂśtel, V 51)


These actions have been selected not because of their magnitude, but because of the impact that they had on subsequent events. Thus, Plassey, Quebec and Wandewash, which were at best relatively minor tactical events, are included because of their historical importance, which was much greater than that of other battles involving tens of thousands of men. This war took place in several theatres in Europe, North America, India and on the high seas. Each action entry includes the date, nature and location of the action, with a brief description of the significant geographical surroundings to aid location on a map, the names of the rival commanders involved, the rough numbers of combatants, the outcome of that action and details of the previous and subsequent actions in that theatre. As many place names have changed in the intervening years, the old name and the new names are included. In the case of naval ships, the number of guns carried is provided in brackets after the name. Sometimes details of numbers of engaged battalions/squadrons from a particular regiment are not available; absence of the information does not imply that the entire regiment was present. Similarly details of brigade commanders has often been lost, in which case regiments belonging to an unnamed brigade are just listed under ‘Brigade:’. Battle of Minorca, 20 May 1756 Location Off the eastern end of the island of Minorca, in the western Mediterranean Sea. In March 1756, the Admiralty, panic-stricken by the news that the French were preparing to invade British-held Minorca, ordered Admiral Byng in Gibraltar to prepare to do battle with the French force. The main fortress of Minorca, Fort St Philip, was chronically undermanned after years of inactivity, and the naval force in the harbour inadequate to fend off any serious enemy naval threat. Although his ships were very limited in number and many were in unseaworthy condition and undermanned, Admiral Byng was not allowed to draw on any of the resources available to repair, refit and reinforce his command before the action. Rear Admiral Temple West was appointed as Byng’s second-in-command. On 10 April the French squadron (twelve ships of the line and five frigates) left Toulon escorting 7

198 transports carrying 16,000 men with regimental artillery and 36 field guns under the Duc de Richelieu. On 18 April, the French began to disembark, unopposed, at Ciutadella on Minorca and in two days the operation was completed. On 23 April, Commodore Edgcumbe’s small squadron of Princess Louisa (60), Portland (50), the frigates Chesterfield (44), Dolphin (24) and the sloop Porcupine (16), escaped from Port Mahon and sailed for Gibraltar. The battle between the fleets took place on 20 May and was inconclusive, but the state of Byng’s ships was cause for concern. He held a council of war on Ramillies on 24 May; the unanimous decision was taken to return to Gibraltar. Byng sent off his report to the Admiralty. The failure to hold Fort St Philip and Minorca caused public outrage amongst Byng’s fellow officers and the country at large. Byng was ordered to return to England. Upon landing on 19 August, Byng was sent to Greenwich. Here, he remained in confinement until 23 December, when he was transferred to Portsmouth. On 27 December 1756, Byng’s trial began on board the St George (96) in the harbour; it continued until 27 January 1757, when he was pronounced guilty of a breach of the Articles of War, which had recently been revised to mandate capital punishment for officers who did not do their utmost against the enemy, either in battle or pursuit. The Admiral was transferred to the Monarch (74), also in the harbour. On 14 March 1757, Byng was executed at Portsmouth, aboard that ship. The loss of Minorca gave control of the Mediterranean to France until 1763. British Order of Battle Admiral John Byng with eleven ships of the line and seven frigates. In order of their place in the line of battle: Defiance (60), Portland (50), Lancaster (66), Buckingham (68/70), Captain (64), Intrepid (64), Revenge (64), Princess Louisa (60), Trident (64), Ramillies (90) (flagship), Culloden (74), Kingston (60), Deptford (48), Phoenix (24), Fortune (14), Experiment (24) and Dolphin (22) Losses: 43 killed, 68 wounded French Order of Battle Marquis de la Galissonière with twelve ships of the line and five frigates. In order of their place in the line of battle: Orphée (64), Hippopotame (50), Redoutable (74), Sage (64), Guerrier (74), Fier (50), Foudroyant (80, flagship), Téméraire (74), Content (64), Lion (64), Couronne (74), Triton (64), Junon (42), Rose (30), Gracieuse (24), Topaze (24) and Nymphe (20) Losses: 38 killed, 115 wounded 8

Trooper of Prussian hussars, Freikorps von

Russian cavalry 1756–1762. Those from 1762

Kleist, 1760. This unit operated together with

bear the name of their regimental colonel, rather

the 1st (Green) Hussars, whose Chef (Colonel-

than the geographical names used during the

in-Chief) was von Friedrich Wilhelm Gottfried

war. Left to right: grenadier, Prinz Georg

Arnd von Kleist. (Knötel, VI 43)

Ludwig Dragoons; officer, Leib Cuirassiers of Her Majesty; grenadier officer, Leib Dragoons (previously Vladimirsky); trooper and officer, Lomza Cuirassiers (previously Rizhsky); trooper, Slobotzky Hussars. The style of the hussar’s 9

mirliton is unique to Russia. (Knötel, III 21)

Information Armies of the Seven Years War Commanders, Equipment, Uniforms and Strategies of the ‘First World War’ Digby Smith To be released 8th July 2012 at £30.00 Hardback, ISBN: 978-0-7524-5923-3 The first title to cover the commanders, uniforms, weapons, tactics and battles of ALL the armies involved in the conflict Drawn from many international sources, many not seen before in English-language publications, Armies of the Seven Years War is the definitive reference work for students, readers and enthusiasts of the period. It details the senior commanders, uniforms, weapons, equipment, artillery, strategy, tactics and combat involvement (military and naval) of the forces that fought for survival and world supremacy from 1756 to 1763. States covered include Austria, Bavaria, Britain, Brunswick, Denmark, Hanover, Hessen-Darmstadt, Hessen-Kassel, Holland, France, the Palatinate, Portugal, Prussia, Russia, Spain, Sweden, Württemberg and the minor contingents of the Holy Roman Empire. The colonial struggle in North America is included. Coverage of the intricacies of the uniforms, colours and standards is in unprecedented depth, many details of which are previously unpublished. The tactics of the ‘horse and musket’ era are examined, as is Frederick the Great’s abilities as a war leader who led his armies against the rest of Europe. With over 280 illustrations and maps and drawn from wide-ranging research, Armies of the Seven Years War is an invaluable resource. • • • •

previously unpublished material comprehensive inclusion of all minor states involved full order of battle, logistics and casualties strategic overview and detailed tactical coverage

Digby Smith was born in Aldershot in 1935. At the age of 16 he joined the British Army and was commissioned in 1961. He studied at the Federal German Armed Forces Command and Staff College in Hamburg, resigning from the service in 1979. He is well known to students of the Napoleonic era as Otto von Pivka, his pen name for over twenty years. Among his major works are Armies of the Napoleonic Era, Navies of the Napoleonic Era, Armies of the Middle East, The Greenhill Napoleonic Wars Data Book, Napoleon’s Regiments, 1813 Leipzig and Borodino. He lives in Norfolk. Available from all good bookshops,, or from Marston Book Services, tel: 01235 465577. The History Press, The Mill, Brimscombe Port, Stroud, Glos GL5 2QG,Tel+44(0)1453 883300 Fax+44(0)1453 883233

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Armies of the 7 Years War  
Armies of the 7 Years War  

Drawn from many international sources, many not seen before in English-language publications, Armies of the Seven Years War is the definitiv...