Friday, 17 September 2010

Marshals and Generals


Prince Frederick William, Duke of Brunswick

Born: 1771 Brunswick, Germany

Died: 1815 Quatre Bras, Belgium

RANK: Lieutenant General

Prince Frederick William-Wolfenbuttel was born on 9 October 1771 in Braunschweig as the fourth son to Charles William Fredinand, Duke of Brunswick-Luneburg, and Princess Augusta of Great Britain.

Not much is known of the Prince early life or education but he joined the Prussian Army in 1789 as a captain and fought in battles against Revolutionary France.
On November 1802, in Karlsruhe, Frederick William married Princess Marie Elisabeth of Baden, daughter of Charles Louis, Hereditary Prince of Baden. The couple had three children before Marie died of puerperal fever four days after giving birth to a stillborn daughter on the 20 April 1808.

In 1805 after his uncle, Frederick Augustus, Duke of Olesnica had died and having no offspring, Frederick William inherited the Duchy of Olesnica.
In October 1806, Frederick William took part in the Battle of Jena-Auerstadt as a major general of the Prussian Army, to which his father was the field marshal. In this battle his father died from his wound he received and Frederick William inherited Brunswick-Wolfenbuttel, as his eldest brother had died childless two months earlier. His other two brothers were mentally retarded.
After the defeat of Prussian in the Fourth Coalition, his state remained under the control of France, and was formally made part of the short-lived Napoleonic Kingdom of Westphalia in 1807. Frederick William fled to his in-laws in Bruchsal in the Grand Duchy of Baden, which had remained a sovereign state with the dissolution of the Holly Roman Empire in 1806 by Francis II, where he lived for the next few years.
In 1809 when the War of the Fifth Coalition broke out, Frederick William used this opportunity to create a corps of partisans with the support of the Austrian Empire.
This new corps was called the Black Brunswickers because they wore black uniforms and adopted the skull-and-crossbones as his badge in mourning of their occupied country. The Duke then became known as "Der Schwarzer Herog" The Black Duke. He financed this corps from his own pocket by mortgaging his property in Oels, and made his way from Austrian Bohemia through the French-allied states of Saxony and Westphalia to the North Sea coast.

Frederick William briefly managed to retake control of the city of Braunschweig in August 1809, which gained him status of a local folk hero. He then fled to England to join forces with his brother-in-law, later to be King George IV. His corps of originally 2,300 men was largely destroyed in battles in Spain and Portugal during the Peninsular war.

In December 1813, Frederick William returned to Braunschweig, after Prussia had ended French domination in Braunschweig-Luneburg. When Napoleon returned to France in 1815, Frederick William raised fresh troops including Infantry, Cavalry and Artillery for the Hundred Days campaign. The Brunswick corps was organised in two Infantry brigades, an advance guard of light Infantry, one battery of foot and one horse artillery, one regiment of Hussars and a squadron of Uhlans (lancers).

On the 16 June 1815 at 3.30 pm, Frederick William arrived at Quatre Bras and was immediately pushed forward into Bossu wood. Around the same time Lieutenant General Reille’s 16,000 Frenchmen began to advance. In their densely packed columns the French moved forward using the Charleroi to Brussels road as their axis. Opposing them was the Prince of Orange's 7,000 and the newly arrived 6,000 men of the Brunswick Corps. After a long fight, the Brunswickers were pushed back in some disorder. The Duke himself led a charge with his Uhlan squadron to cover the withdrawal of his men. While trying to rally one of his Infantry battalions the Duke was shot through the body and was killed by a musket-ball aged just 43. The Brunswick corps suffered 1,500 casualties.

The British Army nicknamed them the "Death and Glory Men"