Tuesday, 10 February 2015

3rd Guards Battalion & the Battle of Leuthen 1757

The 3rd Guards Battalion advancing under Hauptmann von Möllendorff. 
Miniatures are from the Minden range.

One of my most memorable summer holidays as a youth was spent in the shades, reading about Frederic the Great and the Seven Years War. While my buddies from school was hanging around at the local football ground or at the beach, I was parked in a comfy chair working my way through the dramatic life story of this young poet turned warrior king.

The 3rd Guards Battalion closing in on the fortified Austrians.

Frederic’s actions would affirm Prussia’s entitlement to European grand politics, after coining the concept of, and later fighting out a typical “German” two front war, building a legacy as the greatest of the enlightened monarchs.

GMB offers spectacular flags for the Seven Years War.

Frederic’s most perfectly executed battle has always, in my opinion, been Leuthen on the 5th Dec 1757, where a force of 36.000 Prussians flanked and beat 80.000 Austrians. Feats like Leuthen echoed greatness, and left subsequent leaders as Napoleon inspired, while offering tactical blue prints of mastery for warfare textbooks used in the 19th Century’s military academies in both Europe and the USA. 

3rd Guards Battalion trying to breach the gate into the churchyard.

I imagine that, as young cadets at West Point, great commanders like Lee and Grant would have studies and admired Frederic’s skilled use of the terrain at Leuthen, dreaming of one day copying such a feat…

Careful usage of terrain helped Frederic deceive the Austrians,
keeping his flanking march masked until the very last moment. 

Leuthen was the stuff of legends, and greatly helped to ad the prefix of “Great” to Frederic’s name and memory, but Frederic did not do it alone. Like his father before him, and like later great German commanders like Moltke the Elder, he enjoyed one of Europe’s most perfectly drilled armies. Perhaps the finest regiment of his army was the Guard.

Frederic presses forward, forcing the Austrian line to turn, 
with battle converging at Leuthen.

The Prussian Guard Regiment was first formed in 1688 as Regiment No 15, with the main part of the soldiers being protestant, or Huguenots, who had fled Catholic France after the revocation of the Edict of Nantes three years earlier. The regiment saw action during the Spanish War of Succession and took part in the famous battles of Blenheim and Malplaquet. 

The battalion marches forward, 
perhaps flanking the Austrians yet again...

As Crown Prince, Frederic was given the grade of colonel at the 15th infantry regiment, and thus when he later became king in 1740, the regiment was garrisoned at Potsdam and raised to the position of Guards, with First Battalion acting as Life Guards to Frederic, sorting under his direct command. 

Carl Röchling's amazing painting of the 3rd,
storming the Austrian position in the churchyard.

3rd Battalion of the Guards took part in the battles of Roßbach, Leuthen, Hochkirch, Liegnitz, Torgau, Burkersdorf and Reichenbach along with a series of sieges during the Seven Years Wars, but their charge at Leuthen was epic. Immortalized in paintings by artist Carl Röchling, the 2nd and 3rd battalion of the Guards stormed a cemetery in Leuthen held by the Austrians. Eventually committing his entire left wing, Frederic and the Prussian army carried the town, and the day at Leuthen.

Frederic joins the Guards, thanking them for the successful outcome of the battle.
Allegedly a soldier then started singing "Nun danket alle Gott",
resulting in 25.000 troops joining in.

The Guard regiment’s history stretches through the 19th Century, past the world wars, and all the way up to this day, where it acts as “Wachtbatallion” in Berlin. It seemed a very fitting unit to start off my Seven Years War collection with.

Thank you very much for reading!

19 comments:

  1. Stunning brushwork, Soren! One day, I may get around to painting a few of my Mindens.

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    1. Thanks Jonathan - they were a treat to paint, so be all means join in! I'm thinking about getting a bunch of the black hussars next. Still get nostalgic when thinking about the Revell 1/72 package of this cavalry unit, so I have to redo them in 28!

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    1. Cheers Micke, appreciate the comment!

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  3. Lovely Prussians, Soren. Great mini-history lesson too. Minden are marvelously sculpted for the period, and your brushwork brings out the best of them.

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    1. I'm happy you think so Dean. The Minden range offers a different, but in many ways more natural look to the more bulky alternatives on the market. I love them, and I hear rumors of firing line poses to be on the working table, which will add a lot to the range in terms of animation! Glad you liked the little write up on Leuthen, it's one of my favorite battles from a tactical perspective.

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  4. A high quality post, as always : great historical background with nice maps, and splendid figures, most impressive Prussians...and flags!

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    1. Thank you very much Phil - I love those flags too, GMB is the stuff! Will try out some of their cavalry flags for the SYW now, and get on with adding to this collection! In other words, more to come :0)

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    2. Can't wait to look at your future projects!

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  5. Lovely painting on these soldiers of Prussia!

    Christopher

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    1. The boys in blue :0) It was nice to return to the SYW after boxing up my Revell 1/72 collection in the attic as a teenager. Now, Frederic is back, and I look forward to add more units to this collection. It's such a wonderful and visually appealing period to paint.

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    1. You're very kind Steve, thanks a lot - hope to get more SYW on the painting table soon!

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  7. Great painting, and informative read as always.

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    1. Glad you liked the little write up - it's Frederic the Great and the Battle of Leuthen, so I find it quite hard to stay on a short blog format and not get carried away. Good to know someone appreciates all my mumblings :0)

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  8. Lovely brush-work Sören. The miniatures looks like they've just stepped out of that Röchling painting!

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    1. Cheers Jonas, that's about the best compliment a Röchling admirer can get!

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  9. Needless to say, your brushwork is outstanding (and the figures are nice too :) )

    Could you tell us which paints you used for the grenadiers' breeches? You really nailed the color correctly.

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    1. They were a joy to paint, and I do look very much forward to any coming firing line poses :0) I planning to add the Black "Death Skull" hussars during the wait.
      Colors used for the Prussian breeches: Base color is GW Steel Legion Drab. Mid tone is Valljo 913 yellow ocre. Then I trace edges etc with GW wash "gryphonne sepia", and high light with Vallejo 913 again, mixed with a little (ratio 2 to 10) beige/sand color.

      Thanks for dropping by for a comment, it's an honor for the Guard to have such a prominent guest :0)

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