Saturday, December 10, 2011

Battle of Prague (1757)

One of the major battles fought during the Seven Years' War was Frederick the Great's bold attempt to capture the city of Prague. Known as the
Battle of Prague or Battle of Štěrboholy, the engagement took place on May 6, 1757. Considered by some to be the first true world war, the European battles during the Seven Years' War centered around Prussia. Beset on all sides by Austrian, French, Russian, Saxon, and Swedish forces, Frederick managed not only to survive but to lead tiny Prussia to victory over its foes.

In early spring Frederick divided his forces into four groups which converged on the city of Prague. The Austrians, under Field Marshal Maximilian Ulysses Count Brown, had spent the winter constructing fortifications east of the city. With 60,000 troops and a position protected by a swamp to the west, the town to the east and a steep ravine to the north, the Austrians were confident of victory.

Though typically outnumbered during the war, the Prussians boasted over 100,000 men. 30,000 were dispatched to cut off the Austrian retreat route. 67,000 were ordered to attack the Austrian positions. Attacking from the southeast, Frederick's men soon found themselves struggling to work their way through marshy ground. The Austrians pressed the attack but in doing so opened up a hole in their line. Seeing the hole, generals Hautcharmoy and Bevern filled the hole with Prussian infantry. The tide of battle turned to the Prussian's advantage. Mortally wounded by Prussian fire, Brown and his troops retreated into the city of Prague.

Austrian losses were 12,000; Prussian were 14,000. With a much smaller population Prussia could ill-afford heavy losses. Though Prussia had won the battle, Frederick decided against an assault on the city. An Austrian force under Count von Daun would relieve the besieged city the following month.


  1. Hi. I was wondering if I could use this image for a project. Is there a primary source I could site for it?

    1. Sorry I did not see this sooner. The map is from the G.A. Henty book "With Frederick the Great." It is in the public domain. It is on page 146, available from Google books.