Friday 10 October 2014

Prince Louis Ferdinand of Prussia: A Fatality at the Battle of Saalfeld

Prince Louis Ferdinand of Prussia (Friedrich Ludwig Christian, Berlin, Prussia, 18th November 1772 – Saalfield, Prussia, 10th October 1806)

Prince Louis Ferdinand of Prussia

Today we mark the death of a young Prince whose passing was strongly felt by his comrades. Born the son of Prince August Ferdinand and Elisabeth Louise of Brandenburg-Schwedt, Prince Louis Ferdinand of Prussia was a gifted and brave soldier as well as highly respected musician and composer, lauded by the musical cognoscenti for his skills at the piano.

No doubt the remembered sounds of his celebrated musical improvisations were naught but a distant memory when the Prince went to fight in the French Revolutionary Wars. Wounded at the Siege of Mainz, he nevertheless returned to the field to take up arms against Napoleon in the War of the Fourth Coalition, a conflict that that he was passionate about winning.

In fact, Prince Louis Ferdinand did not only not live to see the outcome of the War of the Fourth Coalition, he did not even make it past the opening battle. At the Battle of Saalfeld, the Prince led over eight thousand men against an opposing French army that was far superior in terms of numbers, though he had no doubt in his ability to triumph in this fiercely fought battle. With their backs to the river and no hope of retreat, Prince Louis Ferdinand gave the order to charge the French cavalry, ideally ensconced on the high ground, but the effort proved futile. 

Guindet, a Quartermaster with the 10th Hussars, offered Louis Ferdinand one last chance to surrender and, unsurprisingly, he turned the offer down. Guindet's response was swift and simple, he killed Louis Ferdinand there and then.

The Prussian defeat at the battle was devastating, as was the loss of the young prince. He was later memorialised in music by Franz Liszt and his own compositions live on to this very day.

Life in the Georgian Court, true tales of 18th century royalty, is available at the links below.

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Queen of Snark said...

He was young, he was dashing, and he was dumber than a box of rocks. But Luisa of Prussia ad whipped up the Prussian "War Party" to such an extent that they all thought they were invincible. My Jean and his V Corps at Saalfeld --and later at Jena--showed them otherwise.

Catherine Curzon said...

They were certainly far from immortal!