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43 min
Seven Years' War
1756 - 1763

Seven Years' War

Words: nono umasy


The Seven Years' War (1756–1763) was a global conflict between Great Britain and France for global pre-eminence. Britain, France and Spain fought both in Europe and overseas with land-based armies and naval forces, while Prussia sought territorial expansion in Europe and consolidation of its power. Long-standing colonial rivalries pitting Britain against France and Spain in North America and the West Indies were fought on a grand scale with consequential results. In Europe, the conflict arose from issues left unresolved by the War of the Austrian Succession (1740–1748). Prussia sought greater influence in the German states, while Austria wanted to regain Silesia, captured by Prussia in the previous war, and to contain Prussian influence.


In a realignment of traditional alliances, known as the Diplomatic Revolution of 1756, Prussia became part of a coalition led by Britain, which also included long-time Prussian competitor Hanover, at the time in personal union with Britain. At the same time, Austria ended centuries of conflict between the Bourbon and Habsburg families by allying with France, along with Saxony, Sweden and Russia. Spain aligned formally with France in 1762. Spain unsuccessfully attempted to invade Britain's ally Portugal, attacking with their forces facing British troops in Iberia. Smaller German states either joined the Seven Years' War or supplied mercenaries to the parties involved in the conflict.


Anglo-French conflict over their colonies in North America had begun in 1754 in what became known in the United States as the French and Indian War (1754–63), which became a theatre of the Seven Years' War, and ended France's presence as a land power on that continent. It was "the most important event to occur in eighteenth-century North America" prior to the American Revolution. Spain entered the war in 1761, joining France in the Third Family Compact between the two Bourbon monarchies. The alliance with France was a disaster for Spain, with the loss to Britain of two major ports, Havana in the West Indies and Manila in the Philippines, returned in the 1763 Treaty of Paris between France, Spain and Great Britain. In Europe, the large-scale conflict that drew in most of the European powers was centered on the desire of Austria (long the political centre of the Holy Roman Empire of the German nation) to recover Silesia from Prussia. The Treaty of Hubertusburg ended the war between Saxony, Austria and Prussia, in 1763. Britain began its rise as the world's predominant colonial and naval power. France's supremacy in Europe was halted until after the French Revolution and the emergence of Napoleon Bonaparte. Prussia confirmed its status as a great power, challenging Austria for dominance within the German states, thus altering the European balance of power.






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1754 May 28

Prologue

Farmington, Pennsylvania, USA


Prologue
Portrait of George Washington by Charles Willson Peale, 1772


The boundary between British and French possessions in North America was largely undefined in the 1750s. France had long claimed the entire Mississippi River basin. This was disputed by Britain. In the early 1750s the French began constructing a chain of forts in the Ohio River Valley to assert their claim and shield the Native American population from increasing British influence.


The most important French fort planned was intended to occupy a position at "the Forks" where the Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers meet to form the Ohio River (present-day Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania). Peaceful British attempts to halt this fort construction were unsuccessful, and the French proceeded to build the fort they named Fort Duquesne. British colonial militia from Virginia accompanied by Chief Tanacharison and small number of Mingo warriors were then sent to drive them out. Led by George Washington, they ambushed a small French force at Jumonville Glen on 28 May 1754 killing ten, including commander Jumonville. The French retaliated by attacking Washington's army at Fort Necessity on 3 July 1754 and forced Washington to surrender. These were the first engagements of what would become the worldwide Seven Years' War.


News of this arrived in Europe, where Britain and France unsuccessfully attempted to negotiate a solution. The two nations eventually dispatched regular troops to North America to enforce their claims. The first British action was the assault on Acadia on 16 June 1755 in the Battle of Fort Beauséjour, which was immediately followed by their expulsion of the Acadians. In July British Major General Edward Braddock led about 2,000 army troops and provincial militia on an expedition to retake Fort Duquesne, but the expedition ended in disastrous defeat. In further action, Admiral Edward Boscawen fired on the French ship Alcide on 8 June 1755, capturing it and two troop ships. In September 1755, British colonial and French troops met in the inconclusive Battle of Lake George.


The British also harassed French shipping beginning in August 1755, seizing hundreds of ships and capturing thousands of merchant seamen while the two nations were nominally at peace. Incensed, France prepared to attack Hanover, whose prince-elector was also the King of Great Britain and Menorca. Britain concluded a treaty whereby Prussia agreed to protect Hanover. In response France concluded an alliance with its long-time enemy Austria, an event known as the Diplomatic Revolution.


1756 Jan 1

Diplomatic Revolution

Central Europe


Diplomatic Revolution
Maria Theresa of Austria | ©Martin van Meytens
Diplomatic Revolution


The Diplomatic Revolution of 1756 was the reversal of longstanding alliances in Europe between the War of the Austrian Succession and the Seven Years' War. Austria went from an ally of Britain to an ally of France, while Prussia became an ally of Britain. The most influential diplomat involved was an Austrian statesman, Wenzel Anton von Kaunitz.


The change was part of the stately quadrille, a constantly shifting pattern of alliances throughout the 18th century in efforts to preserve or upset the European balance of power.


The diplomatic change was triggered by a separation of interests among Austria, Britain, and France. The Peace of Aix-la-Chapelle, after the War of the Austrian Succession in 1748, left Austria aware of the high price it paid in having Britain as an ally. Maria Theresa of Austria had defended her claim to the Habsburg throne and had her husband, Francis Stephen, crowned Emperor in 1745. However, she had been forced to relinquish valuable territory in the process. Under British diplomatic pressure, Maria Theresa had given up most of Lombardy and occupied Bavaria. The British also forced her to cede Parma to Spain and, more importantly, to abandon the valuable state of Silesia to Prussian occupation.


During the war, Frederick II ("the Great") of Prussia had seized Silesia, one of the Bohemian crown lands. That acquisition had further advanced Prussia as a great European power, which now posed an increasing threat to Austria's German lands and to Central Europe as a whole. The growth of Prussia, dangerous to Austria, was welcomed by the British, who saw it as a means of balancing French power and reducing French influence in Germany, which might otherwise have grown in response to Austria's weakness.


1756 May 20

Opening Salvos: Battle of Minorca

Minorca, Spain


Opening Salvos: Battle of Minorca
The departure of the French squadron on 10 April 1756 for the attack against Port Mahon | ©Nicolas Ozanne


The Battle of Minorca (20 May 1756) was a naval battle between French and British fleets. It was the opening sea battle of the Seven Years' War in the European theatre. Shortly after the war began British and French squadrons met off the Mediterranean island of Minorca. The French won the battle. The subsequent decision by the British to withdraw to Gibraltar handed France a strategic victory and led directly to the Fall of Minorca.


The British failure to save Minorca led to the controversial court-martial and execution of the British commander, Admiral John Byng, for "failure to do his utmost" to relieve the siege of the British garrison on Minorca.


1756 Aug 29

Anglo-Prussian Alliance

Saxony, Germany


Anglo-Prussian Alliance
Frederick the Great, King of Prussia during the alliance. He was the nephew of George II and first cousin once removed of George III, the respective sovereigns of Great Britain and Hanover.


The Anglo-Prussian Alliance was a military alliance created by the Westminster Convention between Great Britain and Prussia that lasted formally between 1756 and 1762, during the Seven Years' War. The alliance allowed Britain to concentrate most of its efforts against the colonial possessions of the French-led coalition while Prussia was bearing the brunt of the fighting in Europe. It ended in the final months of the conflict, but strong ties between both kingdoms remained.


On 29 August 1756, he led Prussian troops across the border of Saxony, one of the small German states in league with Austria. He intended this as a bold pre-emption of an anticipated Austro-French invasion of Silesia. He had three goals in his new war on Austria. First, he would seize Saxony and eliminate it as a threat to Prussia, then use the Saxon army and treasury to aid the Prussian war effort. His second goal was to advance into Bohemia, where he might set up winter quarters at Austria's expense. Thirdly, he wanted to invade Moravia from Silesia, seize the fortress at Olmütz, and advance on Vienna to force an end to the war.


1756 Oct 1

Frederick moves on Saxony

Lovosice, Czechia


Battle of Lobositz | ©House of History
Frederick moves on Saxony


Accordingly, leaving Field Marshal Count Kurt von Schwerin in Silesia with 25,000 soldiers to guard against incursions from Moravia and Hungary, and leaving Field Marshal Hans von Lehwaldt in East Prussia to guard against Russian invasion from the east, Frederick set off with his army for Saxony. The Prussian army marched in three columns. On the right was a column of about 15,000 men under the command of Prince Ferdinand of Brunswick. On the left was a column of 18,000 men under the command of the Duke of Brunswick-Bevern. In the centre was Frederick II, himself with Field Marshal James Keith commanding a corps of 30,000 troops. Ferdinand of Brunswick was to close in on the town of Chemnitz. The Duke of Brunswick-Bevern was to traverse Lusatia to close in on Bautzen. Meanwhile, Frederick and Keith would make for Dresden.


The Saxon and Austrian armies were unprepared, and their forces were scattered. Frederick occupied Dresden with little or no opposition from the Saxons. At the Battle of Lobositz on 1 October 1756, Frederick stumbled into one of the embarrassments of his career. Severely underestimating a reformed Austrian army under General Maximilian Ulysses Browne, he found himself outmanoeuvred and outgunned, and at one point in the confusion even ordered his troops to fire on retreating Prussian cavalry. Frederick actually fled the field of battle, leaving Field Marshall Keith in command. Browne, however, also left the field, in a vain attempt to meet up with an isolated Saxon army holed up in the fortress at Pirna. As the Prussians technically remained in control of the field of battle, Frederick, in a masterful coverup, claimed Lobositz as a Prussian victory.


1756 Oct 14

Saxon army surrenders

Pirna, Saxony, Germany


Saxon army surrenders
Siege of Pirna


Following the occupation of the capital Dresden by Frederick the Great on 9 September the Saxon army had withdrawn south and taken up position at the fortress of Pirna under Frederick von Rutowski. The Saxons hoped to receive relief from the Austrian army which was across the border in neighbouring Bohemia under Marshal Browne. Following the Battle of Lobositz the Austrians withdrew, and tried to approach Pirna by a different route but they failed to make contact with the defenders. Despite a Saxon attempt to escape by crossing the River Elbe, it soon became apparent that their position was hopeless. On 14 October Rutowski concluded a capitulation with Frederick.


In total 18,000 troops surrendered. They were swiftly and forcibly incorporated into the Prussian forces, an act which caused widespread protest even from Prussians. Many of them later deserted and fought with the Austrians against the Prussian forces - with whole regiments changing sides at the Battle of Prague.


1757 May 6

Bloody affair at Prague

Prague, Czechia


Battle of Prague | ©House of History
Bloody affair at Prague


After Frederick had forced the surrender of Saxony in the 1756 campaign, he spent the winter devising new plans for a defence of his small kingdom. It was not in his nature, nor in his military strategy, simply to sit back and defend. He began drawing up plans for another bold stroke against Austria.


In early spring the Prussian army marched in four columns over the mountain passes separating Saxony and Silesia from Bohemia. The four corps would unite at the Bohemian capital of Prague. Though risky, because it exposed the Prussian army to a defeat in detail, the plan succeeded. After Frederick's corps united with a corps under Prince Moritz, and General Bevern joined up with Schwerin, both armies converged near Prague.


Meanwhile, the Austrians had not been idle. Though initially surprised by the early Prussian attack, the able Austrian Field Marshal Maximilian Ulysses Count Browne had been retreating skillfully and concentrating his armed forces towards Prague. Here he established a fortified position to the east of the town, and an additional army under Prince Charles of Lorraine arrived swelling the Austrian numbers to 60,000. The prince now took command.


Frederick the Great's 64,000 Prussians forced 61,000 Austrians to retreat. The Prussian victory was at a high cost; Frederick lost over 14,000 men. Prince Charles had also suffered heavily, losing 8,900 men killed or wounded and 4,500 prisoners. Given the high casualties he had suffered, Frederick decided to lay siege rather than launch a direct assault on the walls of Prague.


1757 Jun 1 - 1757 Sep

Invasion of Hanover

Hanover, Germany


Invasion of Hanover
Ferdinand of Brunswick who in late 1757 took command of the re-formed Army of Observation and pushed the French back across the Rhine, liberating Hanover.


In early June 1757, the French army began to advance towards Hanover once it became clear that there was to be no negotiated agreement. The first skirmish between the two forces had taken place on 3 May. Part of the French army was delayed by the Siege of Geldern which took three months to capture from its Prussian garrison of 800. The bulk of the French army advanced across the Rhine, advancing slowly because of the difficulties of logistics for moving an army estimated at around 100,000.


In the face of this advance, the smaller German Army of Observation retreated back across the River Weser into the territory of the Electorate of Hanover itself, while Cumberland tried to ready his troops. On July 2,the Prussian port of Emden fell to the French before a Royal Navy squadron sent to relieve it could reach there. This cut Hanover off from the Dutch Republic meaning that supplies from Britain could now only be shipped direct by sea. The French followed this up by seizing Cassel, securing their right flank.


1757 Jun 1

Russians attack East Prussia

Klaipėda, Lithuania


Russians attack East Prussia
Cossacks and Kalmuks attack Lehwaldt's army. | ©Alexander von Kotzebue
Russians attack East Prussia


Later that summer, the Russians under Field Marshal Stepan Fyodorovich Apraksin besieged Memel with 75,000 troops. Memel had one of the strongest fortresses in Prussia. However, after five days of artillery bombardment the Russian army was able to storm it. The Russians then used Memel as a base to invade East Prussia and defeated a smaller Prussian force in the fiercely contested Battle of Gross-Jägersdorf on 30 August 1757. However, the Russians were not yet able to take Königsberg after using up their supplies of cannonballs at Memel and Gross-Jägersdorf and retreated soon afterwards.


Logistics was a recurring problem for the Russians throughout the war. The Russians lacked a quartermaster's department capable of keeping armies operating in Central Europe properly supplied over the primitive mud roads of eastern Europe. The tendency of Russian armies to break off operations after fighting a major battle, even when they were not defeated, was less about their casualties and more about their supply lines; after expending much of their munitions in a battle, Russian generals did not wish to risk another battle knowing resupply would be a long time coming. This long-standing weakness was evident in the Russian-Ottoman War of 1735–1739, where Russian battle victories led to only modest war gains due to problems supplying their armies. The Russian quartermasters department had not improved, so the same problems reoccurred in Prussia. Still, the Imperial Russian Army was a new threat to Prussia. Not only was Frederick forced to break off his invasion of Bohemia, he was now forced to withdraw further into Prussian-controlled territory. His defeats on the battlefield brought still more opportunistic nations into the war. Sweden declared war on Prussia and invaded Pomerania with 17,000 men. Sweden felt this small army was all that was needed to occupy Pomerania and felt the Swedish army would not need to engage with the Prussians because the Prussians were occupied on so many other fronts.


1757 Jun 18

Fredericks suffers first defeat in the war

Kolin, Czechia


Fredericks suffers first defeat in the war
Frederick II after the Battle of Kolin


Frederick II of Prussia had won the bloody battle of Prague against Austria on 6 May 1757 and was besieging the city. Austrian Marshal Daun arrived too late to fight, but picked up 16,000 men who escaped from the battle. With this army he slowly moved to relieve Prague. Frederick stopped the bombardment of Prague and maintained the siege under Duke Ferdinand of Brunswick, while the king marched against the Austrians on 13 June along with Prince Moritz of Anhalt-Dessau's troops.


Frederick took 34,000 men to intercept Daun. Daun knew that the Prussian forces were too weak to both besiege Prague and keep him away from Prague for a longer time (or to fight the Austrian army reinforced by the Prague garrison), so his Austrian forces took defensive positions on hills near Kolín on the night of 17 June. At noon on 18 June, Frederick attacked the Austrians, who were waiting on the defensive with a force of 35,160 infantry, 18,630 cavalry and 154 guns. The battlefield of Kolín consisted of gently rolling hill slopes.


Frederick's main force turned toward the Austrians too early and attacked their defensive positions frontally instead of outflanking them. Austrian Croatian light infantry (Grenzers) played an important role in this. Austrian musket and artillery fire stopped Frederick's advance. A counterattack by the Austrian right was defeated by Prussian cavalry and Frederick poured more troops into the ensuing gap in the enemy line. This new assault was first halted and then crushed by Austrian cavalry. By afternoon, after about five hours of fighting, the Prussians were disoriented and Daun's troops were driving them back.


The battle was Frederick's first defeat in this war, and forced him to abandon his intended march on Vienna, raise his siege of Prague on 20 June, and fall back on Litoměřice. The Austrians, reinforced by the 48,000 troops in Prague, followed them, 100,000 strong, and, falling on Prince August Wilhelm of Prussia, who was retreating eccentrically (for commissariat reasons) at Zittau, inflicted a severe check upon him. The king retreated from Bohemia to Saxony.


1757 Jun 23

Seven Years' War in India

Palashi, West Bengal, India


Battle of Plassey | ©Kings and Generals


William Pitt the Elder, who entered the cabinet in 1756, had a grand vision for the war that made it entirely different from previous wars with France. As prime minister, Pitt committed Britain to a grand strategy of seizing the entire French Empire, especially its possessions in North America and India. Britain's main weapon was the Royal Navy, which could control the seas and bring as many invasion troops as were needed.


In India, the outbreak of the Seven Years' War in Europe renewed the long running conflict between the French and the British trading companies for influence on the subcontinent. The French allied themselves with the Mughal Empire to resist British expansion. The war began in Southern India but spread into Bengal, where British forces under Robert Clive recaptured Calcutta from the Nawab Siraj ud-Daulah, a French ally, and ousted him from his throne at the Battle of Plassey in 1757.


This is judged to be one of the pivotal battles in the control of Indian subcontinent by the colonial powers. The British now wielded enormous influence over the Nawab, Mir Jafar and consequently acquired significant concessions for previous losses and revenue from trade. The British further used this revenue to increase their military might and push the other European colonial powers such as the Dutch and the French out of South Asia, thus expanding the British Empire.


In the same year, the British also captured Chandernagar, the French settlement in Bengal.


1757 Jul 26

Battle of Hastenbeck

Hastenbeck, Hamelin, Germany


Battle of Hastenbeck
Battle of Hastenbeck


By late July, Cumberland believed his army was ready for battle and adopted a defensive position around the village of Hastenbeck. The French won a narrow victory over him there, but as Cumberland retreated his force began to disintegrate as morale collapsed. Despite his victory, d'Estrées was shortly afterwards replaced as commander of the French army by the Duc de Richelieu, who had recently distinguished himself leading the French forces that had captured Minorca. Richelieu's orders followed the original strategy of taking total control of Hanover, and then turning west to offer assistance to the Austrians attacking Prussia.


Cumberland's forces continued to withdraw northwards. The French pursuit was slowed by further problems with supplies, but they continued to steadily pursue the retreating Army of Observation. In an effort to cause a diversion and provide some relief to Cumberland, the British planned an expedition to raid the French coastal town of Rochefort – hoping that the sudden threat would compel the French to withdraw troops from Germany to protect the French coast against further attacks. Under Richelieu the French continued their drive, taking Minden and then capturing the city of Hanover on 11 August.


1757 Sep 10

Convention of Klosterzeven

Zeven, Germany


Convention of Klosterzeven


Frederick V King of Denmark was obligated by treaty to send troops to defend the Duchies of Bremen and Verden, both ruled in personal union with Britain and Hanover, if they were threatened by a foreign power. As he was eager to preserve his country's neutrality, he attempted to broker an agreement between the two commanders. Richelieu, not believing his army was in any condition to attack Klosterzeven, was receptive to the proposal as was Cumberland who was not optimistic about his own prospects.


On 10 September at Klosterzeven the British and French signed the Convention of Klosterzeven which secured the immediate end of hostilities and led to Hanover's withdrawal from the war and partial occupation by French forces.


The agreement was deeply unpopular with Hanover's ally Prussia, whose western frontier was severely weakened by the agreement. After the Prussian victory at Rossbach on 5 November 1757, King George II was encouraged to disavow the treaty. Under pressure from Frederick the Great and William Pitt, the convention was subsequently revoked and Hanover re-entered the war the following year. The Duke of Cumberland was replaced as commander by Duke Ferdinand of Brunswick.


1757 Sep 13 - 1762 May 22

Pomeranian War

Stralsund, Germany


Pomeranian War


Frederick's defeats on the battlefield brought still more opportunistic nations into the war. Sweden declared war on Prussia and invaded Pomerania with 17,000 men. Sweden felt this small army was all that was needed to occupy Pomerania and felt the Swedish army would not need to engage with the Prussians because the Prussians were occupied on so many other fronts.


The Pomeranian War was characterized by a back-and-forth movement of the Swedish and Prussian armies, neither of whom would score a decisive victory. It started when Swedish forces advanced into Prussian territory in 1757, but were repelled and blockaded at Stralsund until their relief by a Russian force in 1758. In the course of the following, renewed Swedish incursion into Prussian territory, the small Prussian fleet was destroyed and areas as far south as Neuruppin were occupied, yet the campaign was aborted in late 1759 when the undersupplied Swedish forces succeeded neither in taking the major Prussian fortress of Stettin (now Szczecin) nor in combining with their Russian allies.


A Prussian counter-attack of Swedish Pomerania in January 1760 was repelled, and throughout the year Swedish forces again advanced into Prussian territory as far south as Prenzlau before again withdrawing to Swedish Pomerania in the winter. Another Swedish campaign into Prussia started in the summer of 1761, but was soon aborted due to shortage of supplies and equipment. The final encounters of the war took place in the winter of 1761/62 near Malchin and Neukalen in Mecklenburg, just across the Swedish Pomeranian border, before the parties agreed on the Truce of Ribnitz on 7 April 1762. When on 5 May a Russo-Prussian alliance eliminated Swedish hopes for future Russian assistance, and instead posed the threat of a Russian intervention on the Prussian side, Sweden was forced to make peace.


The war was formally ended on 22 May 1762 by the Peace of Hamburg between Prussia, Mecklenburg and Sweden.


1757 Nov 1

Prussia fortune changes

Roßbach, Germany


Prussia fortune changes
Frederick the Great and staff at Leuthen | ©Hugo Ungewitter


Things were looking grim for Prussia now, with the Austrians mobilising to attack Prussian-controlled soil and a combined French and Reichsarmee army under Prince Soubise approaching from the west. The Reichsarmee was a collection of armies from the smaller German states that had banded together to heed the appeal of the Holy Roman Emperor Franz I of Austria against Frederick. However, in November and December 1757, the whole situation in Germany was reversed. First, Frederick devastated Soubise's forces at the Battle of Rossbach on 5 November 1757 and then routed a vastly superior Austrian force at the Battle of Leuthen on 5 December 1757.


With these victories, Frederick once again established himself as Europe's premier general and his men as Europe's most accomplished soldiers. However, Frederick missed an opportunity to completely destroy the Austrian army at Leuthen; although depleted, it escaped back into Bohemia. He hoped the two smashing victories would bring Maria Theresa to the peace table, but she was determined not to negotiate until she had re-taken Silesia. Maria Theresa also improved the Austrians' command after Leuthen by replacing her incompetent brother-in-law, Charles of Lorraine, with von Daun, who was now a field marshal.


1757 Nov 5

Prussian crushes the French at Rossbach

Roßbach, Germany


Battle of Rossbach | © House of History


The Battle of Rossbach marked a turning point in the Seven Years' War, not only for its stunning Prussian victory, but because France refused to send troops against Prussia again and Britain, noting Prussia's military success, increased its financial support for Frederick. Rossbach was the only battle between the French and the Prussians during the entire war.


Rossbach is considered one of Frederick's greatest strategic masterpieces. He crippled an enemy army twice the size of the Prussian force while suffering negligible casualties. His artillery also played a critical role in the victory, based on its ability to reposition itself rapidly responding to changing circumstances on the battlefield. Finally, his cavalry contributed decisively to the outcome of the battle, justifying his investment of resources into its training during the eight-year interim between the conclusion of the War of Austrian Succession and the outbreak of the Seven Years' War.


1757 Dec 1 - 1758 Jun

Blockade of Stralsund

Stralsund, Germany


Blockade of Stralsund


Sweden had entered the Seven Years' War in 1757, joining France, Russia, Austria and Saxony in their alliance against the Prussians. During Autumn 1757, with Prussian forces tied up elsewhere, the Swedes had been able to move south and occupy a large portion Pomerania. Following the retreat of the Russians from East Prussia, after the Battle of Gross-Jägersdorf, Frederick the Great ordered his General Hans von Lehwaldt to move west to Stettin to confront the Swedes. The Prussian troops proved to be better equipped and trained than the Swedes, and were soon able to push them back into Swedish Pomerania. The Prussians pressed home their advance, taking over Anklam and Demmin. The Swedes were left at the stronghold of Stralsund and the island of Rügen.


As Stralsund was not about to surrender it became apparent that the Prussians required naval support if they were to force it to yield. In light of this Frederick repeatedly requested that his British allies send a fleet into the Baltic Sea. Wary of being drawn into conflict with Sweden and Russia, with whom they were not at war, the British declined. They justified their decision by explaining their ships were needed elsewhere. The failure of Frederick to gain fleet support from the Royal Navy was a major factor in the failure of the Prussians to take Stralsund.


1757 Dec 1

Hanoverian counter-attack

Emden, Germany


Hanoverian counter-attack


Following Frederick the Great's victory over the French at Rossbach,  George II of Great Britain, on the advice of his British ministers after the battle of Rossbach, revoked the Convention of Klosterzeven, and Hanover reentered the war. Ferdinand of Brunswick launched a winter campaign – an unusual strategy at the time – against the French occupiers. The condition of the French forces had deteriorated by this point and Richelieu began to withdraw rather than face a major battle. Shortly afterwards he resigned his post and was replaced by Louis, Count of Clermont. Clermont wrote to Louis XV describing the poor conditions of his army, which he claimed was made up of looters and casualties. Richelieu was accused of various misdemeanours including stealing the pay of his own soldiers.


Ferdinand's counterattack saw the Allied forces re-capture the port of Emden and drive the French back across the River Rhine so that by the spring Hanover had been liberated. Despite the French having been seemingly close to their goal of total victory in Europe by late 1757 – early 1758 began to reveal a shift in the overall fortunes of the war as Britain and its allies began to have more success around the globe.


1757 Dec 5

Frederick the Great's greatest victory

Lutynia, Środa Śląska County,


Battle of Leuthen | © House of History


Frederick the Great's Prussian Army, using maneuver warfare and terrain, routs a larger Austrian force completely.

The victory ensured Prussian control of Silesia during the Third Silesian War, which was part of the Seven Years' War.


By exploiting the training of his troops and his superior knowledge of the terrain, Frederick created a diversion at one end of the battlefield and moved most of his smaller army behind a series of low hillocks. The surprise attack in oblique order on the unsuspecting Austrian flank baffled Prince Charles, who took several hours to realize that the main action was to his left, not his right. Within seven hours, the Prussians had destroyed the Austrians and erased any advantage that the Austrians had gained throughout the campaigning in the preceding summer and autumn. Within 48 hours, Frederick had laid siege to Breslau, which resulted in the city's surrender on 19–20 December.


The battle also established beyond doubt Frederick's military reputation in European circles and was arguably his greatest tactical victory. After the Battle of Rossbach on 5 November, the French had refused to participate further in Austria's war with Prussia, and after Leuthen (5 December), Austria could not continue the war by itself.


1758 Apr 1

Hanover drive the French behind the Rhine

Krefeld, Germany


Hanover drive the French behind the Rhine


In April 1758, the British concluded the Anglo-Prussian Convention with Frederick in which they committed to pay him an annual subsidy of £670,000. Britain also dispatched 9,000 troops to reinforce Ferdinand's Hanoverian army, the first British troop commitment on the continent and a reversal in the policy of Pitt. Ferdinand's Hanoverian army, supplemented by some Prussian troops, had succeeded in driving the French from Hanover and Westphalia and re-captured the port of Emden in March 1758 before crossing the Rhine with his own forces, which caused alarm in France. Despite Ferdinand's victory over the French at the Battle of Krefeld and the brief occupation of Düsseldorf, he was compelled by the successful manoeuvering of larger French forces to withdraw across the Rhine.


1758 Jun 30

Prussian invasion of Moravia

Domašov, Czechia


Prussian invasion of Moravia


In early 1758, Frederick launched an invasion of Moravia and laid siege to Olmütz (now Olomouc, Czech Republic). Following an Austrian victory at the Battle of Domstadtl that wiped out a supply convoy destined for Olmütz, Frederick broke off the siege and withdrew from Moravia. It marked the end of his final attempt to launch a major invasion of Austrian territory.


1758 Aug 25

Stalemate at Zorndorf

Sarbinowo, Poland


Stalemate at Zorndorf
Painting depicting the Battle of Zorndorf, by Wojciech Kossak, 1899


By this point Frederick was increasingly concerned by the Russian advance from the east and marched to counter it. Just east of the Oder in Brandenburg-Neumark, at the Battle of Zorndorf (now Sarbinowo, Poland), a Prussian army of 35,000 men under Frederick on 25 August 1758, fought a Russian army of 43,000 commanded by Count William Fermor. Both sides suffered heavy casualties—the Prussians 12,800, the Russians 18,000—but the Russians withdrew, and Frederick claimed victory.


1758 Sep 11

Britain's failed raids on the French coast

Saint-Cast-le-Guildo, France


Britain's failed raids on the French coast
A landing boat sinks as the British retreat


The Battle of Saint Cast was a military engagement during the Seven Years' War on the French coast between British naval and land expeditionary forces and French coastal defence forces. Fought on 11 September 1758, it was won by the French. During the Seven Years' War, Britain mounted numerous amphibious expeditions against France and French possessions around the world. In 1758 a number of expeditions, then called Descents, were made against the northern coast of France. The military objectives of the descents were to capture and destroy French ports, divert French land forces from Germany, and suppress privateers operating from the French coast. The battle of Saint Cast was the final engagement of a descent in force that ended in a French victory.


While the British continued such expeditions against French colonies and islands beyond the reach of the French land forces, this was the last attempt by an amphibious expedition in force against the coast of France during the Seven Years' War. The fiasco of the embarcation from Saint Cast helped convince British Prime Minister Pitt to send instead military aid and troops to fight alongside Ferdinand and Frederick the Great on the continent of Europe. The negative potential for another disaster and expense of expeditions this size was considered to outweigh the temporary gain of the raids.


1758 Sep 26

Battle of Tornow

Tornow, Teupitz, Germany


Battle of Tornow


The Prussians sent 6,000 men, led by General Carl Heinrich von Wedel, to protect Berlin. Wedel attacked aggressively and ordered his cavalry to attack a Swedish force of some 600 men at Tornow. The Swedes bravely fought off six assaults, but the majority of the Swedish cavalry was lost, and the Swedish infantry had to retreat before the stronger Prussian forces.


1758 Sep 28

Battle of Fehrbellin

Fehrbellin, Germany


Battle of Fehrbellin


The Prussian forces under General Carl Heinrich von Wedel were attempting to stop the Swedish offensive into Brandenburg. The Swedish forces held the town, with one gun at each of the three gates. The Prussians arrived first and managed to break through at the western (Mühlenthor) gate, driving the outnumbered Swedes in disarray through the streets. However, reinforcements arrived, and the Prussians, who had failed to burn the bridge, were forced to retreat. The Swedes lost 23 officers and 322 privates in the battle. Prussian casualties were significant; the Prussians reportedly took with them 15 wagons loaded with dead and wounded soldiers when they retreated.


1758 Oct 4 - 1758 Nov 1

Russians take Eastern Prussia

Kolberg, Poland


Russians take Eastern Prussia
The capture of the Prussian fortress of Kolberg on 16 December 1761 (Third Silesian War/Seven Years' War) by Russian troops | ©Alexander von Kotzebue


During the Seven Years' War, the Prussian-held town of Kolberg in Brandenburg-Prussian Pomerania (now Kołobrzeg) was besieged by Russian forces three times. The first two sieges, in late 1758 and from 26 August to 18 September 1760, were unsuccessful. A final and successful siege took place from August to December 1761. In the sieges of 1760 and 1761, the Russian forces were supported by Swedish auxiliaries.As a consequence of the fall of the city, Prussia lost its last major port on the Baltic Coast, while at the same time the Russian forces were able to take winter quarters in Pomerania. However, when Empress Elizabeth of Russia died only weeks after the Russian victory, her successor, Peter III of Russia, made peace and returned Kolberg to Prussia.


1758 Oct 14

Austrians surprise Prussians at Hochkirch

Hochkirch, Germany


Austrians surprise Prussians at Hochkirch
Der Überfall bei Hochkirch am 14


The war was continuing indecisively when on 14 October Marshal Daun's Austrians surprised the main Prussian army at the Battle of Hochkirch in Saxony. Frederick lost much of his artillery but retreated in good order, helped by dense woods. The Austrians had ultimately made little progress in the campaign in Saxony despite Hochkirch and had failed to achieve a decisive breakthrough. After a thwarted attempt to take Dresden, Daun's troops were forced to withdraw to Austrian territory for the winter, so that Saxony remained under Prussian occupation. At the same time, the Russians failed in an attempt to take Kolberg in Pomerania (now Kołobrzeg, Poland) from the Prussians.


1758 Dec 1 - 1759 Feb

French fail to take Madras

Madras, Tamil Nadu, India


French fail to take Madras
William Draper who commanded the British defenders during the siege.


By 1757 Britain held the upper hand in India after several victories by Robert Clive. In 1758, French reinforcements under Lally had arrived in Pondicherry and set about advancing France's position on the Coromandel Coast, notably capturing Fort St. David. This caused alarm to the British, most of whose troops were with Clive in Bengal. Lally was poised to strike against Madras in June 1758, but short of money, he launched an unsuccessful attack on Tanjore hoping to raise revenue there. By the time he was ready to launch his assault on Madras it was December before the first French troops reached Madras, delayed partly by the onset of the monsoon season. This gave the British extra time to prepare their defences, and withdraw their outposts - boosting the garrison to nearly 4,000 troops.


After several weeks of heavy bombardment, the French were at last starting to make headway against the town's defences. The main bastion had been destroyed, and a breach opened in the walls. The heavy exchange of fire had flattened much of Madras, with most of the town's houses gutted by shells.


On 30 January a Royal Navy frigate ran the French blockade and carried a large sum of money and a company of reinforcements into Madras. Significantly they brought the news that the British fleet under Admiral George Pocock was on its way from Calcutta. When Lally discovered this news he became aware that he would have to launch an all-or-nothing assault to storm the fortress before Pocock arrived. He convened a council of war, where it was agreed to launch an intense bombardment on the British guns, to knock them out of action.


On 16 February, six British vessels carrying 600 troops arrived off Madras. Faced with this added threat, Lally took the immediate decision to break off the siege and withdraw south.


1759 Jul 23

Missed Opportunity for the Russians and Austrians

Kije, Lubusz Voivodeship, Pola


Missed Opportunity for the Russians and Austrians


By 1759, Prussia had reached a strategic defensive position in the war. Upon leaving winter quarters in April 1759, Frederick assembled his army in Lower Silesia; this forced the main Habsburg army to remain in its winter staging position in Bohemia. The Russians, however, shifted their forces into western Poland and marched westward toward the Oder river, a move that threatened the Prussian heartland, Brandenburg, and potentially Berlin itself. Frederick countered by sending an army corps commanded by Friedrich August von Finck to contain the Russians; he sent a second column commanded by Christoph II von Dohna to support Finck.


General Carl Heinrich von Wedel, the commander of the Prussian army of 26,000 men, attacked a larger Russian army of 41,000 men commanded by Count Pyotr Saltykov. The Prussians lost 6,800–8,300 men; the Russians lost 4,804.


The loss at Kay laid open the road to the Oder river and by 28 July Saltykov's troops had reached Crossen. He did not enter Prussia at this point, though, largely due to his problematic relationship with the Austrians. Neither Saltykov or Daun trusted one another; Saltykov neither spoke German nor trusted the translator. On 3 August, the Russians occupied Frankfurt, while the main army camped outside the city on the east bank, and began constructing field fortifications, in preparation for Frederick's eventual arrival. By the following week, Daun's reinforcements joined forces with Saltykov at Kunersdorf.


1759 Aug 1

End French threat to Hanover

Minden, Germany


End French threat to Hanover
The Battle of Minden


After a Prussian victory at Rossbach, and under pressure from Frederick the Great and William Pitt, King George II disavowed the treaty. In 1758, the allies launched a counter-offensive against the French and Saxon forces and drove them back across the Rhine. After the allies failed to defeat the French before reinforcements swelled their retreating army, the French launched a fresh offensive, capturing the fortress of Minden on 10 July. Believing Ferdinand's forces to be over-extended, Contades abandoned his strong positions around the Weser and advanced to meet the Allied forces in battle. The decisive action of the battle came when six regiments of British and two of Hanoverian infantry, in line formation, repelled repeated French cavalry attacks; contrary to all fears that the regiments would be broken. The Allied line advanced in the wake of the failed cavalry attack, sending the French army reeling from the field, ending all French designs upon Hanover for the remainder of the year. In Britain, the victory is celebrated as contributing to the Annus Mirabilis of 1759.


1759 Aug 12

Battle of Kunersdorf

Kunowice, Poland


Battle of Kunersdorf | ©edhaje


The Battle of Kunersdorf involved over 100,000 men. An Allied army commanded by Pyotr Saltykov and Ernst Gideon von Laudon that included 41,000 Russians and 18,500 Austrians defeated Frederick the Great's army of 50,900 Prussians.


The terrain complicated battle tactics for both sides, but the Russians and the Austrians, having arrived in the area first, were able to overcome many of its difficulties by strengthening a causeway between two small ponds. They had also devised a solution to Frederick's deadly modus operandi, the oblique order. Although Frederick's troops initially gained the upper hand in the battle, the sheer number of Allied troops gave the Russians and Austrians an advantage. By afternoon, when the combatants were exhausted, fresh Austrian troops thrown into the fray secured the Allied victory.


This was the only time in the Seven Years' War that the Prussian Army, under Frederick's direct command, disintegrated into an undisciplined mass. With this loss, Berlin, only 80 kilometers (50 mi) away, lay open to assault by the Russians and Austrians. However, Saltykov and Laudon did not follow up on the victory due to disagreement.


1759 Aug 18 - 1759 Aug 19

French invasion of Britain prevented

Strait of Gibraltar


French invasion of Britain prevented
The British Royal Navy defeats the French Mediterranean Fleet at the Battle of Lagos | ©Richard Paton


The French planned to invade the British Isles during 1759 by accumulating troops near the mouth of the Loire and concentrating their Brest and Toulon fleets. However, two sea defeats prevented this. In August, the Mediterranean fleet under Jean-François de La Clue-Sabran was scattered by a larger British fleet under Edward Boscawen at the Battle of Lagos.


La Clue was attempting to evade Boscawen and bring the French Mediterranean Fleet into the Atlantic, avoiding battle if possible; he was then under orders to sail for the West Indies. Boscawen was under orders to prevent a French breakout into the Atlantic, and to pursue and fight the French if they did. During the evening of 17 August the French fleet successfully passed through the Strait of Gibraltar, but was sighted by a British ship shortly after it entered the Atlantic. The British fleet was in nearby Gibraltar, undergoing a major refit. It left port amidst great confusion, most ships not having their refurbishments completed, with many delayed and sailing in a second squadron. Aware that he was pursued, La Clue altered his plan and changed course; half his ships failed to follow him in the dark, but the British did.


The British caught up with the French on the 18th and fierce fighting ensued, during which several ships were badly damaged and one French ship was captured. The British, who greatly outnumbered the remaining six French ships, pursued them through the moonlit night of 18–19 August, during which a further two French ships made their escape. On the 19th the remnants of the French fleet attempted to shelter in neutral Portuguese waters near Lagos, but Boscawen violated that neutrality, capturing a further two French ships and destroying the other two.


1759 Sep 10

Battle of Frisches Haff

Szczecin Lagoon


Battle of Frisches Haff
Battle of Frisches Haff


The Battle of Frisches Haff or Battle of Stettiner Haff was a naval battle between Sweden and Prussia that took place 10 September 1759 as part of the ongoing Seven Years' War. The battle took place in the Szczecin Lagoon between Neuwarp and Usedom, and is named after an ambiguous earlier name for the Lagoon, Frisches Haff, which later exclusively denoted the Vistula Lagoon.


Swedish naval forces consisting of 28 vessels and 2,250 men under Captain Lieutenant Carl Rutensparre and Wilhelm von Carpelan destroyed a Prussian force of 13 vessels and 700 men under captain von Köller. The consequence of the battle was that the small fleet Prussia had at its disposal ceased to exist. The loss of naval supremacy meant also that the Prussian positions at Usedom and Wollin became untenable and were occupied by Swedish troops.


1759 Nov 20

British gains naval supremacy

Bay of Biscay


British gains naval supremacy
Battle of Quiberon Bay: the Day After Richard Wright 1760


The battle was the culmination of British efforts to eliminate French naval superiority, which could have given the French the ability to carry out their planned invasion of Great Britain. A British fleet of 24 ships of the line under Sir Edward Hawke tracked down and engaged a French fleet of 21 ships of the line under Marshal de Conflans. After hard fighting, the British fleet sank or ran aground six French ships, captured one and scattered the rest, giving the Royal Navy one of its greatest victories, and ending the threat of French invasion for good.


The battle signalled the rise of the Royal Navy in becoming the world's foremost naval power, and, for the British, was part of the Annus Mirabilis of 1759.


1759 Nov 20

Battle of Maxen

Maxen, Müglitztal, Germany


Battle of Maxen
Franz Paul Findenigg | ©Franz Paul Findenigg


The Prussian corps of 14,000 men, commanded by Friedrich August von Finck, was sent to threaten lines of communication between the Austrian army at Dresden and Bohemia. Field Marshal Count Daun attacked and defeated Finck's isolated corps on 20 November 1759 with his army of 40,000 men. The next day Finck decided to surrender.


Finck's entire Prussian force was lost in the battle, leaving 3,000 dead and wounded on the ground as well as 11,000 prisoners of war; the booty fallen into the hands of the Austrians also included 71 artillery pieces, 96 flags and 44 ammunition wagons. The success cost Daun's forces only 934 casualties including dead and wounded. The defeat at Maxen was another blow to the decimated ranks of the Prussian army, and infuriated Frederick to such an extent that General Finck was court-martialed and sentenced to two years in prison after the war. However, Daun decided not to exploit the success in the slightest to attempt offensive maneuvers and retired to his winter quarters near Dresden, marking the conclusion of the war operations for 1759.


1760 Jun 23

Battle of Landeshut

Kamienna Góra, Poland


Battle of Landeshut


The year 1760 brought yet more Prussian disasters. The general Fouqué was defeated by the Austrians in the Battle of Landeshut. A Prussian army of 12,000 men under General Heinrich August de la Motte Fouqué fought an Austrian army of over 28,000 men under Ernst Gideon von Laudon and suffered a defeat, with its commander wounded and taken prisoner. The Prussians fought with resolution, surrendering after running out of ammunition.


1760 Jul 31

British and Hanoverians defend Westphalia

Warburg, Germany


British and Hanoverians defend Westphalia


The Battle of Warburg was a victory for the Hanoverians and the British against a slightly larger French army. The victory meant the Anglo-German allies had successfully defended Westphalia from the French by preventing a crossing of the Diemel River, but were forced to abandon the allied state of Hesse-Kassel to the south. The fortress of Kassel ultimately fell, and would remain in French hands until the final months of the war, when it was finally recaptured by the Anglo-German allies in late 1762.


1760 Aug 15

Battle of Liegnitz

Liegnitz, Poland


Battle of Liegnitz


The Battle of Liegnitz on 15 August 1760 saw Frederick the Great's Prussian Army defeat the Austrian army under Ernst von Laudon despite being outnumbered three to one.


The armies collided around the town of Liegnitz (now Legnica, Poland) in Lower Silesia. Laudon's Austrian cavalry attacked the Prussian position in the early morning but were beaten back by General Zieten's Hussars. An artillery duel emerged which was eventually won for the Prussians when a shell hit an Austrian powder wagon. The Austrian infantry then proceeded to attack the Prussian line, but was met with concentrated artillery fire. A Prussian infantry counter-attack led by the Regiment Anhalt-Bernburg on the left forced the Austrians into retreat. Notably, the Anhalt-Bernburgers charged Austrian cavalry with bayonets, a rare example of infantry assaulting cavalry.


Shortly after dawn the major action was over but Prussian artillery fire continued to harass the Austrians. General Leopold von Daun arrived and, learning of Laudon's defeat, decided not to attack despite his soldiers being fresh.


1760 Sep 4 - 1761 Jan 15

Siege of Pondicherry

Pondicherry, Puducherry, India


Siege of Pondicherry


The siege of Pondicherry in 1760-1761, was a conflict in the Third Carnatic War, as part of the global Seven Years' War. Lasting from 4 September 1760 to 15 January 1761, British land and naval forces besieged and eventually compelled the French garrison defending the French colonial outpost of Pondicherry to surrender. The city was running low on supplies and ammunitions when French commander Lally surrendered. It was the third British victory in the region that was under the command of Robert Clive.


1760 Nov 3

Battle of Torgau

Torgau, Germany


Battle of Torgau


The Russians under General Saltykov and Austrians under General Lacy briefly occupied his capital, Berlin, in October, but could not hold it for long. Still, the loss of Berlin to the Russians and Austrians was a great blow to Frederick's prestige as many pointed out that the Prussians had no hope of occupying temporarily or otherwise St. Petersburg or Vienna. In November 1760 Frederick was once more victorious, defeating the able Daun in the Battle of Torgau, but he suffered very heavy casualties, and the Austrians retreated in good order.


1761 Mar 21

Battle of Grünberg

Grünberg, Hessen, Germany


Battle of Grünberg


The Battle of Grünberg was fought between French and allied Prussian and Hanoverian troops in the Seven Years' War at village of Grünberg, Hesse, near Stangenrod. The French, led by the duc de Broglie, inflicted a significant defeat on the allies, taking several thousand prisoners, and capturing 18 military standards. The allied loss prompted Duke Ferdinand of Brunswick to lift the siege of Cassel and retreat.


1761 Jul 15 - 1761 Jul 16

Battle of Villinghausen

Welver, Germany


Battle of Villinghausen


At the Battle of Villinghausen, forces under Ferdinand defeated a 92,000-man French army. News of the battle provoked euphoria in Britain, and led William Pitt to take a much tougher line in the ongoing peace negotiations with France. Despite the defeat the French still had a significant superiority in numbers and continued their offensive, although the two armies split again and operated independently. Despite further attempts to push an offensive strategy in Germany, the French were pushed back and finished the war in 1762 having lost the strategic post of Cassel.


1761 Dec 16

Russians take Kolberg

Kołobrzeg, Poland


Russians take Kolberg


The Russians under Zakhar Chernyshev and Pyotr Rumyantsev stormed Kolberg in Pomerania, while the Austrians captured Schweidnitz. The loss of Kolberg cost Prussia its last port on the Baltic Sea. A major problem for the Russians throughout the war had always been their weak logistics, which prevented their generals from following up their victories, and now with the fall of Kolberg, the Russians could at long last supply their armies in Central Europe via the sea. The fact that the Russians could now supply their armies over the sea, which was considerably faster and safer (Prussian cavalry could not intercept Russian ships in the Baltic) than over the land threatened to swing the balance of power decisively against Prussia, as Frederick could not spare any troops to protect his capital. In Britain, it was speculated that a total Prussian collapse was now imminent.


1762 Jan 1 - 1763

Spain and Portugal enters the war

Havana, Cuba


Spain and Portugal enters the war
The Captured Spanish Fleet at Havana


For most of the Seven Years' War, Spain remained neutral, turning down offers from the French to join the war on their side. During the war's latter stages, however, with mounting French losses to the British leaving the Spanish Empire vulnerable, King Charles III signaled his intention to enter the war on the side of France. This alliance became the third Family Compact between the two Bourbon kingdoms. After Charles had signed the agreement with France and seized British shipping alongside expelling British merchants, Britain declared war on Spain.


In August 1762, a British expedition captured Havana, then a month later capturing Manila as well. The loss of the colonial capitals in the Spanish West Indies and East Indies was a huge blow to Spanish prestige and its ability to defend its empire. Between May and November, three major Franco-Spanish invasions of Portugal, Britain's long time Iberian ally, were defeated. They were forced to withdraw with significant losses inflicted by the Portuguese (with significant British assistance). By the Treaty of Paris, Spain handed over Florida and Menorca to Britain and returned territories in Portugal and Brazil to Portugal in exchange for the British handing back Havana and Manila. As compensation for their ally's losses, the French ceded Louisiana to Spain by the Treaty of Fontainebleau.


1762 Jan 1 - 1763

Fantastic War

Portugal


Fantastic War


The Spanish–Portuguese War between 1762 and 1763 was fought as part of the Seven Years' War. Because no major battles were fought, even though there were numerous movements of troops and heavy losses among the Spanish invaders—decisively defeated in the end—the war is known in the Portuguese historiography as the Fantastic War (Portuguese and Spanish: Guerra Fantástica).


1762 Jan 5

Russia switches sides, truce with Sweden

St Petersburg, Russia


Russia switches sides, truce with Sweden
Coronation portrait of Peter III of Russia -1761 | ©Lucas Conrad Pfandzelt


Britain now threatened to withdraw its subsidies if Frederick did not consider offering concessions to secure peace. As the Prussian armies had dwindled to just 60,000 men and with Berlin itself about to come under siege, the survival of both Prussia and its king was severely threatened.


Then on 5 January 1762 the Russian Empress Elizabeth died. Her Prussophile successor, Peter III, at once ended the Russian occupation of East Prussia and Pomerania and mediated Frederick's truce with Sweden. He also placed a corps of his own troops under Frederick's command. Frederick was then able to muster a larger army, of 120,000 men, and concentrate it against Austria. He drove them from much of Silesia after recapturing Schweidnitz, while his brother Henry won a victory in Saxony in the Battle of Freiberg (29 October 1762). At the same time, his Brunswick allies captured the key town of Göttingen and compounded this by taking Cassel.


1762 Jun 24

Battle of Wilhelmsthal

Wilhelmsthal, Germany


Battle of Wilhelmsthal


The Battle of Wilhelmsthal was fought on 24 June 1762 during the Seven Years' War between the allied forces of Britain, Prussia, Hanover, Brunswick and Hesse under the command of the Duke of Brunswick against France. Once again, the French threatened Hanover, so the Allies manoeuvered around the French, surrounded the invasion force, and forced them to retreat. It was the last major action fought by Brunswick's force before the Peace of Paris brought an end to the war.


1762 Aug 27

Second invasion of Portugal

Valencia de Alcántara, Spain


Second invasion of Portugal
John Burgoyne | ©Joshua Reynolds


Spain, aided by the French, launched an invasion of Portugal and succeeded in capturing Almeida. The arrival of British reinforcements stalled a further Spanish advance, and in the Battle of Valencia de Alcántara British-Portuguese forces overran a major Spanish supply base. The invaders were stopped on the heights in front of Abrantes (called the pass to Lisbon) where the Anglo-Portuguese were entrenched. Eventually the Anglo-Portuguese army, aided by guerrillas and practicing a scorched earth strategy, chased the greatly reduced Franco-Spanish army back to Spain, recovering almost all the lost towns, among them the Spanish headquarters in Castelo Branco full of wounded and sick that had been left behind.


The Franco-Spanish army (which had their supply lines from Spain cut off by the guerrillas) was virtually destroyed by a deadly scorched earth strategy. Peasants abandoned all nearby villages and took with them or destroyed the crops, food and all else that could be used by the invaders, including the roads and houses.


1762 Sep 15

French involvement in war ends

France


French involvement in war ends


The long British naval blockade of French ports had sapped the morale of the French populace. Morale declined further when news of defeat in the Battle of Signal Hill in Newfoundland reached Paris. After Russia's about-face, Sweden's withdrawal and Prussia's two victories against Austria, Louis XV became convinced that Austria would be unable to re-conquer Silesia (the condition for which France would receive the Austrian Netherlands) without financial and material subsidies, which Louis was no longer willing to provide. He therefore made peace with Frederick and evacuated Prussia's Rhineland territories, ending France's involvement in the war in Germany.


1762 Oct 29

Battle of Freiberg

Freiberg, Germany


Battle of Freiberg
Battle of Freiberg, 29 October, 1762


This battle is often confused with the Battle of Freiburg, 1644. The Battle of Freiberg was fought on 29 October 1762 and was the last great battle of the Third Silesian War.


1762 Nov 9

Third invasion of Portugal

Marvão, Portugal


Third invasion of Portugal


During the third invasion of Portugal, the Spaniards attacked Marvão and Ouguela but were defeated with casualties. The allies left their winter quarters and chased the retreating Spaniards. They took some prisoners, and a Portuguese corps entered Spain took more prisoners at La Codosera.


On 24 November, Aranda asked for a truce which was accepted and signed by Lippe on 1 December 1762.


1763 Feb 10

Treaty of Paris

Paris, France


Treaty of Paris


The Treaty of Paris was signed on 10 February 1763 by the kingdoms of Great Britain, France and Spain, with Portugal in agreement, after Great Britain and Prussia's victory over France and Spain during the Seven Years' War. The signing of the treaty formally ended conflict between France and Great Britain over control of North America (the Seven Years' War, known as the French and Indian War in the United States), and marked the beginning of an era of British dominance outside Europe. Great Britain and France each returned much of the territory that they had captured during the war, but Great Britain gained much of France's possessions in North America. Additionally, Great Britain agreed to protect Roman Catholicism in the New World. The treaty did not involve Prussia and Austria as they signed a separate agreement, the Treaty of Hubertusburg, five days later.


1763 Feb 15

War ends in Central Europe

Hubertusburg, Wermsdorf, Germa


War ends in Central Europe
Hubertusburg about 1763


By 1763, the war in central Europe was essentially a stalemate between Prussia and Austria. Prussia had retaken nearly all of Silesia from the Austrians after Frederick's narrow victory over Daun at the Battle of Burkersdorf. After his brother Henry's 1762 victory at the Battle of Freiberg, Frederick held most of Saxony but not its capital, Dresden. His financial situation was not dire, but his kingdom was devastated and his army severely weakened. His manpower had dramatically decreased, and he had lost so many effective officers and generals that an offensive against Dresden seemed impossible. British subsidies had been stopped by the new prime minister, Lord Bute, and the Russian emperor had been overthrown by his wife, Catherine, who ended Russia's alliance with Prussia and withdrew from the war. Austria, however, like most participants, was facing a severe financial crisis and had to decrease the size of its army, which greatly affected its offensive power. Indeed, after having effectively sustained a long war, its administration was in disarray. By that time, it still held Dresden, the southeastern parts of Saxony, and the county of Glatz in southern Silesia, but the prospect of victory was dim without Russian support, and Maria Theresa had largely given up her hopes of re-conquering Silesia; her Chancellor, husband and eldest son were all urging her to make peace, while Daun was hesitant to attack Frederick. In 1763 a peace settlement was reached at the Treaty of Hubertusburg, in which Glatz was returned to Prussia in exchange for the Prussian evacuation of Saxony. This ended the war in central Europe.


1764 Jan 1

Epilogue

Central Europe


Epilogue


Effects of the Seven Year's War:


  • The Seven Years’ War changed the balance of power among the belligerents in Europe.
  • Under the Treaty of Paris the French lost nearly all their land claims in North America and their trading interests in India. Great Britain gained Canada, all lands east of the Mississippi, and Florida. France ceded Louisiana to Spain and evacuated Hanover.
  • Under the Treaty of Hubertusburg all boundaries of the signees (Prussia, Austria, and Saxony) were returned to their 1748 status. Frederick retained Silesia.
  • Great Britain emerged from the war a world power. Prussia and Russia became major powers in Europe. In contrast, the influence of France, Austria, and Spain was greatly reduced.




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