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In 1800 the population of Prussia was 10.5 million.

At first Prussia attempted to pursue a policy of neutrality in the Napoleonic Wars. Although they succeeded in keeping out of the Third Coalition in 1805, eventually King Frederick William was swayed by the belligerent attitude of the queen, who led Prussia's pro-war party, and entered into war in October 1806. On 14 October 1806, at the Battle of Jena-Auerstädt, the French totally defeated the Prussian army and Napoleon inflicted very harsh surrender conditions.

In 1813, following Napoleon's defeat in Russia, Frederick William turned against France and signed an alliance with Russia. Prussian troops played a key part in the victories of the allies during ‘The Wars of Liberation’ in 1813 and 1814.

In June 1813 their army totalled 150,000 men. The Battle of Leipzig on 16-19 October 1813 was the largest battle of the Napoleonic Wars, pitting 225,000 French with their allies against the coalition armies of Russia, Austria, Prussia and Sweden amounting to 380,000 – the Prussian Field Army was 90,000.

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König Friedrich Wilhelm III von Preußen

König Friedrich Wilhelm III von Preußen

Facing Napoleon’s Army of 126.2k men was Field Marshal Gebhard Leberecht von Blücher with four corps of the Army of the Rhine totalling around 121.2k. He was supported by a further 25.0k of The North German Federal Army under General Friedrich Graf Kleist von Nollendorf. These, however, were not Prussia’s finest troops as a large proportion of Blücher’s army was composed of Landwehr (Militiamen), whilst Kliest’s was composed of contingents from 14 nations of the German Confederation. The Prussian Reserve Army, with the best troops, was comprised of V & VI Corps; these were stationed in the south of their territory to defend the border from any incursion by their Austrian allies! There was also The Royal Guard (VII Corps) which stayed safely in Berlin.

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