Prince Frederick Charles of Prussia
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Prince Frederick Charles of Prussia

Prince Friedrich Karl of Prussia (20 March 1828 - 15 June 1885) was the son of Prince Charles of Prussia (1801-1883) and his wife, Princess Marie of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach (1808-1877). Prince Friedrich Karl was a grandson of King Frederick William III of Prussia and a nephew of Frederick William IV and William I. He was born at Schloss Klein in Berlin.

As a military commander, the Prince had a major influence on the Royal Prussian Army's advances in training and tactics in the 1850s and 1860s. He defeated the Austrian army at the Battle of Königgrätz in 1866 and the French Army of the Rhine at the Battle of Mars-la-Tour, overseeing the extinction of the Army of the Rhine at the Siege of Metz in 1870.


Friedrich Karl was born on 20 March 1828 as the only son of Prince Charles of Prussia, the brother of future Prussian king William I. From 1842 to 1846, Frederick Charles was under the military tutelage of then major Albrecht von Roon. In 1845, the Prince joined the army and was sent to an infantry company. Roon accompanied the Prince to the University of Bonn in 1846. He was the first Hohenzollern prince to study in a university. He became a member of the Corps Borussia Bonn in 1847 and was awarded Prussia's Lifesaving Medal for rescuing a child from the Rhine the same year. After his studies, the Prince went back to his regiment in 1848, where he was promoted to captain. His company was issued the breech-loading Dreyse needle gun and the Prince produced an article on its probable future impact, writing that the troops could be prevented from firing off all their ammunition through good training and discipline. He served on Friedrich Graf von Wrangel's staff during the First Schleswig War of 1848. He shifted to the cavalry branch in October 1848 and was promoted to major in June 1849. He partook in a campaign in the Baden Revolution of 1849, during which he was wounded twice while leading a Guards Hussar squadron at the battle of Wiesenthal against Baden rebels. He continued to lead his squadron up till 1852.

In 1851, the Prince wrote a radical field manual for light troops, underlining the importance of training individual soldiers to take the initiative and not wait for orders. During the following peace years he was promoted to colonel in 1852 and granted the command of the Guards Dragoon Regiment, where he introduced realistic field exercises and insisted on combat readiness. He became major general and commander of the 1st Guards Cavalry Brigade in 1854 and lieutenant general in 1856. He commanded the 1st Guards Infantry Division from 19 February to 18 September 1857, but resigned after encountering significant opposition to his approach on training. In 1859, he published the study On French Tactics, which highlighted the decisiveness of troop morale. In 1860, the Prince published a military book, titled, "Eine militärische Denkschrift von P. F. K.", which contained a series of reform proposals. As commander of III Army Corps from 1 July 1860 to 17 July 1870, the Prince implemented his reforms and turned his corps into a leader in Prussian military innovation.

Promoted to General der Kavallerie, the Prince took part in the Second Schleswig War of 1864 against Denmark, where he held command over the Prussian troops in the Austro-Prussian expeditionary force and defeated the Danes at the Battle of Dybbøl. In May 1864, he became supreme commander of the Austro-Prussian allied army and conquered Jutland.

He served with distinction in the Austro-Prussian War, where he commanded the First Army; consisting of the II, III and IV corps. Arriving first at Königgrätz, the First Army single-handedly held the numerically superior Austrians at bay for seven hours from 08:00 to 15:00, inflicting such massive casualties on the Austrians that it took the arrival of just one division from his cousin the Crown Prince Frederick William's Second Army to complete the victory and cause the Austrians to order a general withdrawal at 15:00. The First Army then marched on Vienna.

He was elected to the North German Reichstag in the 1867 North German federal election, representing the East Prussian constituency of Labiau-Wehlau.

At the outbreak of the Franco-Prussian War, the Prince was given command of the Second Army, and defeated the French Army of the Rhine at the Battle of Mars-la-Tour on 16 August 1870, cutting off its escape route to the west. The battle was followed by another victory at Gravelotte-St.Privat on 18 August and the encirclement and annihilation of the Army of the Rhine at the Siege of Metz. After the fall of Metz on 27 October, his army was sent to the Loire to clear the area around Orléans, where French armies, first under Aurelle de Paladines, then under Chanzy, were trying to march north to relieve Paris. He won battles at Orléans on 2 December and Le Mans from 10-12 January 1871. For his services he was promoted to the rank of Generalfeldmarschall. After the war, the Prince was made Inspector-General and was given the rank of Field Marshal of Russia by Alexander II of Russia.

He died of a heart attack at Jagdschloss Glienicke on 15 June 1885.

Family and Children

On 29 November 1854 at Dessau he married Princess Maria Anna of Anhalt-Dessau (1837-1906), daughter of Leopold IV, Duke of Anhalt. He had met her at a hunt. They had five children:

Name Birth Death Notes
Princess Marie Elisabeth Luise Friederike of Prussia 14 September 1855 20 June 1888 married twice (1) Prince Henry of the Netherlands; (2) Prince Albert of Saxe-Altenburg
Princess Elisabeth Anna of Prussia 8 February 1857 28 August 1895 married Frederick Augustus II, Grand Duke of Oldenburg
Princess Anna Victoria Charlotte Augusta Adelheid of Prussia 26 February 1858[1] 6 May 1858[1]
Princess Luise Margarete Alexandra Victoria Agnes of Prussia 25 July 1860 14 March 1917 married Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught and Strathearn
Prince Joachim Karl Wilhelm Friedrich Leopold of Prussia 14 November 1865 13 September 1931 married Princess Louise Sophie of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Augustenburg


He received the following decorations and awards:[2]

German honours
Foreign honours


Portrayal in media


  1. ^ a b "Anna Victoria Charlotte Auguste Adelheid von Preussen". Find A Grave. 13 November 2007. Retrieved 2019.
  2. ^ Hof- und Staats-Handbuch des Königreich Preußen (1884-85), Genealogy p. 2.
  3. ^ Hof- und Staats-Handbuch für des Herzogtum Anhalt (1883), "Herzoglicher Haus-Orden Albrecht des Bären" p. 15
  4. ^ Hof- und Staats-Handbuch des Großherzogtum Baden (1862), "Großherzogliche Orden" pp. 32, 37, 44
  5. ^ Hof- und Staats ... Baden (1873), "Großherzogliche Orden", p. 63
  6. ^ Staatshandbücher für das Herzogtum Sachsen-Coburg und Gotha (1884), "Herzogliche Sachsen-Ernestinischer Hausorden" p. 30
  7. ^ Staat Hannover (1865). Hof- und Staatshandbuch für das Königreich Hannover: 1865. Berenberg. p. 38.
  8. ^ Kurfürstlich Hessisches Hof- und Staatshandbuch: 1855. Waisenhaus. 1855. p. 12.
  9. ^ Hof- und Staats-Handbuch des Großherzogtum Hessen (1879), "Großherzogliche Orden und Ehrenzeichen" p. 10
  10. ^ Hof- und Staatshandbuch des Großherzogtums Oldenburg: für das Jahr 1872/73, "Der Großherzogliche Haus-und Verdienst Orden" p. 31
  11. ^ Staatshandbuch für das Großherzogtum Sachsen / Sachsen-Weimar-Eisenach (1880), "Großherzogliche Hausorden" p. 13
  12. ^ "A Szent István Rend tagjai" Archived 22 December 2010 at the Wayback Machine
  13. ^ Kalakaua to his sister, 4 August 1881, quoted in Greer, Richard A. (editor, 1967) "The Royal Tourist--Kalakaua's Letters Home from Tokio to London", Hawaiian Journal of History, vol. 5, p. 104
  14. ^ "Hohenzollern Principe Federico Carlo" (in Italian), Il sito ufficiale della Presidenza della Repubblica. Retrieved 2018-08-14.
  15. ^ Boettger, T. F. "Chevaliers de la Toisón d'Or - Knights of the Golden Fleece". La Confrérie Amicale. Retrieved 2019.
  16. ^ Sveriges statskalender (in Swedish), 1877, p. 369 – via
  17. ^ "Prince Frederick Charles of Prussia", The Irish Times, 27 July 1878
  18. ^ Shaw, Wm. A. (1906) The Knights of England, I, London, p. 197

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