infantry went into the Revolutionary
Wars with a fearsome reputation that dated back to the
Seven Years' War.
its early tactics hadn't changed much, neither had its reliance
upon foreign soldiers or mercenaries to bolster its ranks.
performed averagely against France's revolutionary armies
and, after a period of prestige-losing neutrality, slumped
to its lowest point in the Campaign
of 1806, which it had largely provoked.
Bonaparte had moved against Prussia in response to Berlin
joining the Fourth Coalition against France and unleashed
his Grande Armee with lightning speed.
French caught the Prussians off guard and smashed them at
Saalfield, Jena and then Marshal
Davout completed the humiliation at Auerstadt.
army was now effectively destroyed and in the conditions of
peace the victorious French limited it to just over 40,000
men, one-fifth of its previous size.
from the ashes of abject defeat came the need to reform the
military and the next years saw a new, revitalised army begin
to take shape.
would be seven years before Prussian swords met French blades
- Prussia having avoided the war in 1809
and assisted France by sending troops into Russia - and the
1813 Campaign saw its army
proud, confident and in large, well-trained numbers.
soldiery also had a loathing for the French that added steel
to its performance and the battles, culminating in the defeat
of Bonaparte at Waterloo,