Portrait of Ferdinand of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel (1721-1792), Prince of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel; Field Marshal of Prussia (1758-1766)
Ferdinand, Prince of Brunswick-Lüneburg (12 January 1721, Wolfenbüttel – 3 July 1792, Vechelde), was a German-Prussian field marshal (1758–1766) known for his participation in the Seven Years' War. From 1757 to 1762 he led an Anglo-German army in Western Germany which successfully repelled French attempts to occupy Hanover. The fourth son of Ferdinand Albert II, Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg, Ferdinand joined the Prussian army as a colonel in 1740. He was present in the battles of Mollwitz and Chotusitz. After Margrave Wilhelm of Brandenburg was killed at Prague in 1744, Ferdinand received command of Frederick the Great's Leibgarde battalion, and at the Battle of Soor (1745) he distinguished himself greatly, especially in the assault of a steep hill, that incidentally was defended by his older brother duke Louis Ernest of Brunswick-Lüneburg. He took part in the Second Silesian War before leading part of the invasion of Saxony and Bohemia in 1756 during the Seven Years' War. He participated in the Battle of Rossbach, and then became commander of the allied Hanoverian army. During ten years of peace, he was in the closest touch with the military work of Frederick the Great, who supervised the instruction of the guard battalion, and sought to make it a model of the whole Prussian army. Ferdinand was, moreover, one of the most intimate friends of the king, and thus he was peculiarly fitted for the tasks which afterwards fell to his lot. In this time, he was promoted to major-general and then lieutenant-general. In the first campaign of the Seven Years' War, Ferdinand commanded one of the Prussian columns which converged upon Dresden, and in the operations which led up to the surrender of the Saxon army at Pirna (1756). At the Battle of Lobositz, he led the right wing of the Prussian infantry. In 1757, he distinguished himself at Prague, and served also in the Rossbach campaign. Shortly after this, he was appointed to command the Hanoverian Army of Observation which had been raised and funded by Britain to protect western Germany, but had recently failed to prevent the French Invasion of Hanover under the previous commander the Duke of Cumberland. Ferdinand accepted this appointment on the condition that he would have direct access to George II ruler of Hanover and Britain. His new commission placed him in Hanoverian service, rather than Prussian or British. By spring 1758 he had driven the French out of Hanover and back across the River Rhine which gave him a reputation in Britain as a talented General, and helped boost support for British involvement in the German war. From June 1758, following the Capture of Emden, British troops arrived on the continent and directly added to Ferdinand's forces. The amount of British troops was increased throughout the war. The estrangement of Frederick and Ferdinand in 1766 led to the duke's retirement from Prussian service, but there was no open breach between the old friends, and Ferdinand visited the king in 1772, 1777, 1779 and 1782. Ferdinand retired to Brunswick and his castle of Vechelde, where he occupied himself in building and other improvements. He became a patron of learning and art, and a great benefactor of the poor. He died on 3 July 1792.
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