Portal:Military history of Germany

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The military history of Germany spans the period from ancient times to the present. (Full article...)

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Friedrich Wilhelm von Seydlitz

Friedrich Wilhelm Freiherr von Seydlitz (3 February 1721 – 8 November 1773) was a Prussian officer, lieutenant general, and among the greatest of the Prussian cavalry generals. He is usually credited with developing the Hussar regiments of Frederick the Great's Army; he was one of the first company commanders of a Hussar unit. Born to a cavalry captain, his father died when he was young. He was mentored by the Margrave of Brandenburg-Schwedt, also known as the "Mad" Margrave. His superb horsemanship and his recklessness combined to make him a stand-out subaltern, however, and Seydlitz emerged as a redoubtable Rittmeister (cavalry captain) in the War of Austrian Succession (1740–1748), also known as the Silesian Wars.

Seydlitz become legendary throughout the Prussian Army both for his leadership skills and for his sometimes reckless courage. During the Seven Years' War, he came into his own as a cavalry general, known for his coup d'œil, his ability to assess at a glance the entire battlefield situation and to understand intuitively what needed to be done: he excelled at converting the King's directives into flexible tactics. At the Battle of Rossbach, his cavalry was instrumental in routing the French and Austrian armies. He subsequently played an important role in crushing the Austrian left flank at the Battle of Leuthen. Seydlitz was wounded in battle several times. Badly wounded at the Battle of Kunersdorf in August 1759, he semi-retired, charged with the protection of the city of Berlin. He was not well enough to participate in the annual campaigns until 1761 and even then his fellow officers questioned his physical fitness.

Frederick rewarded him with Order of the Black Eagle, the Pour le Mérite. Seydlitz died in 1773, and Frederick's heirs included his name on the Equestrian statue of Frederick the Great in Berlin. (Read more)

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The Prussian 7th Cuirassiers charge the French guns at the Battle of Mars-La-Tour, August 16, 1870

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