Seven Years War - Further Reading on Der Alte Fritz

By Bill Gray 24 Oct 2018 3

Seven Years War (SYW) is a recent offering from John Tiller Software, covering battles of that global European squabble, particularly those involving Frederick II, King of Prussia. Now known as “the Great” (in his day der alte Fritz, Old Fritz), Frederick makes for good reading in the wargaming community because his greatness always concerned Pomeranian Grenadiers putting volley fire rounds down range at somebody somewhere. No socio-economic analysis necessary, we’re talking battles, lots of them.

I’m primarily a pewter pusher, so putting togeher a reading list of this game was no-problem. Playing the period and historical research is a mandatory and enjoyable part of this wing of the hobby. I mean really, where do you think we get those hyper detailed OoBs (orders of battle), spiffy uniforms and whacked out flags?

The Army of Frederick the Great (1997)

Author: Dr Christopher Duffy, RMA Sandhurst
Pages: 360
Buy:  Amazon

SYWbook3I have spoken with Professor Duffy on several occasions and can confirm a wealth of knowledge down to the gaiter button level. His works are very wargamer friendly as he himself plays and has also penned several background pieces for related games by Clash of Arms. Here he explores the tactics, organization and different military branches using very readable but well researched prose.

Read this book and you will discover why battles looked so geometric, why breaking formation was never done and why Prussian generals loathed using the King’s favorite formation, the infantry square. The book contains Frederick’s regimental list where he rated the units using a star system, so maybe the King was a gamer as well.  Duffy also published 2003’s Prussia’s Glory - Rossbach and Leuthen which details those battles specifically.

The Army of Maria Theresa (1977)

Author: Dr Christopher Duffy, RMA Sandhurst
Pages: 232
Buy:  Amazon

As Prussia, so Austria. Duffy revised his research and in 2000 with a two-volume set called The Austrian Army in the Seven Years War with Vol 1 Instrument of War and in 2008 Vol 2 by Force of Arms, both very detailed and quite expensive.

Russia’s Military Way to the West - Origins and Nature of Russian Military Power 1700-1800 (2017)

Author: Dr Christopher Duffy, RMA Sandhurst
Pages: 272
Buy:  Amazon

Republished in 2017 and like the Austrian book, this is the Army of Frederick the Great for the Russians. It differs by tracing the development of the Russian Army prior to the SYW up to and thru the French Revolutionary Wars where Marshal Suvorov made a name for himself. However, the bulk and main focus of the book is on the Russian participation in the SYW.


The French Army of Louis XV: In the War of the Austrian Succession and Seven Years War (2005)

Author: Lucien Moulliard, Captain (Ret) George Nafziger, USN, translator
Pages: 181
Buy:  Direct from the Nafziger Collection

Duffy never wrote a companion volume on the French army, but friend and colleague George Nafziger translated Lucien Moulliard’s 1882 classic as a dynamite substitute. Expensive, but it does pretty much for the French everything Duffy does for the three armies above and includes 57 color plates displaying the uniform and flag of every regiment in the French army. 

Frederick the Great – A Military History (2013)

Author: Professor Dennis Showalter, Colorado College
Pages: 372
Buy: Amazon

SYWBook10This is one of the better biographies of Old Fritz, written by an acknowledged expert in the field. The pace is lively, but the prose a bit more complex than other popular histories. Of note is how Showalter uses Frederick as the platform by which the rest of Europe is explained, the learning curve the King went thru for success, how and why myths surrounding him began, and whether they were at all relavent.

Though even handed, the reader may question how “Great” Frederick actually was. For detail overkill, Thomas Carlyle’s 1858, massive 22 volume biography History of Friedrich II of Prussia, Called Frederick the Great is available for free download on Project Gutenberg and elsewhere.

Frederick the Great on the Art of War (2009)

Author: Dr Jay Luvaas, US Army War College
Pages: 414
Buy:  Amazon

SYW Book3The late Dr Luvaas was a colleague (yes, I get around) at the College and I understudied him as a military Staff Ride Instructor. Jay was the real deal. Here, rather than Frederick’s entire Instructions for His Generals, Luvaas presents a balanced selection on a variety of topics, then punctuates them with his own concise but easily understandable analysis.

For those who don’t think in 18th Century, this book is probably better than the original. Nevertheless, LTC T Foster’s 1797 raw translationis available for a mere 99 cents US on Amazon for Kindle.

Osprey Men-at-Arms for the SYW (various dates)

Author: Various
Pages: 48
Buy:  Osprey Direct, 18th Century MAA List

SYW Book4Osprey Publishing produces short, detailed military history books that are not only good, legitimate history, but specifically support wargaming, particular miniatures. Yes, there are uniforms and color plates, but also solid information on training, tactics, weaponry, organization and more.

I’ve provided a link to Osprey direct, as Amazon’s collection is somewhat dicey, and because Osprey offers a pdf option. Current Kindle software allows import of PDF these days, another plus. Here is the lineup:

  • Prussia - Frederick the Great’s Army, Vol 1 (Infantry), Vol 2 (Cavalry), Vol 3 (Specialist Troops), all 2012 by Philip Haythornthwaite and Bryon Fosten, Frederick the Great’s Allies by Stuart Reid and Gerry Embleton 2013.
  • Austria - Austrian Army 1740 – 80, Vol 1 (Cavalry), Vol 2 (Infantry), Vol 3 (Specialist Troops), 1994 and 1995 by Philip Haythornthwaite and Bill Younghusband and in 2005, Austrian Frontier Troops 1740 – 1798 by David Hollins and Darko Pavolic.
  • Russia - Russian Army of the Seven Years War, Vol 1 (Infantry) and Vol 2 (Cavalry and Specialist Troops), published in 1996 by Angus Konstam and Bill Younghusband.
  • France - Louis XV’s Army, Vol 1 (Cavalry and Dragoons), Vol 2 (French Infantry), Vol 3 (Foreign Infantry and Artillery), Vol 4 (Light and Specialist Troops) and Vol 5 (Colonial Troops and Marines) published 1996 – 1998 by René Chartrand and Eugene Leliepvre.
  • BritainKing George’s Army 1740 – 93, Vol 1 (Infantry), Vol 2 (Infantry continued), Vol 3 (Cavalry and Artillery), published 1995 – 96, by Stuart Reid and Martin Chappell.

Osprey Campaign Series for the SYW (various dates)

Author: Various
Pages: 96
Buy:  Osprey Direct, 18th Century Campaign Series List

What the Men at Arms series does for the soldiers and armies, this series does for the battles they fought. Each book discusses the campaign in question, then provides a detailed look at the battle itself, to include mini-bios of the commanders, deployment schemes, detailed battle narrative, all backed by profuse illustrations and maps. The selections include Kolin 1757 – Frederick the Great’s First Defeat published 2001, Rossbach and Leuthen 1757 – Prussia’s Eagle Resurgent in 2002, Zorndorf 1758 – Frederick faces Holy Mother Russia in 2003 all by Simon Millar and Adam Hook.

Kronoskaf Seven Years War (2018)

Author: Various
Pages: NA
Buy: NA

This Website is the ultimate online SYW Wiki. Well organized, with hundreds of detailed, hyper researched entries on people, campaigns, battles, regiments and God knows what else. Its eBook pages offer direct links to hundreds of free, public domain information in English, French, German and Russian. For example, in the eBooks Campaigns section sits Grosser Generalstab, Die Kriege Friedrichs des Grossen, Berlin, 1901-1914, Part 3 – Der Siebenjährige Krieg 1756-1763, all 13 volumes. It’s in German and Fraktur script is daunting, but the ungodly detailed digitized maps are worth the price of admission, which is free. This site is YUGE so if the prices of the works above is an issue, seriously, go here.

I’ll close for now, but hopefully this is a good start, though let the buyer beware as regards pricing. If anyone out there has some other recommendations, by all means contact me. Good reading!



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