“In accordance with the treaty signed January 6th, 1844, in the year of the Lord, the Kingdom of Prussia and the Ottoman Empire are hereby bound to the defense of each other. The call from Constantinople has arrived in Berlin. The Russian Empire in a vicious act and disregard for the balance of power that has found itself in play since the downfall of Napoleon, has declared war against the Ottoman Empire. Thus, as of June 17th, the Kingdom of Prussia finds itself at war with the Russian Empire in accordance to the previously mentioned treaty with the Ottoman Empire.” The message that had been released by the court of King Frederick Wilhelm IV ran throughout all the newspapers of the nation. The provinces most direly affected by this announcement of a state of war were those in the east, West, East, South (Royal) Prussia, and Warsaw.
Prussia would not be alone in the defense of the sick man of the Great Powers. The United Kingdom, who had previously fought with the Prussians against the last years of Napoleon in 1809 and 1810, had joined the war against ambitious czar. With Britain came additional smaller states within the grasp of the Empire, mostly the Princely States. Nonetheless, all military experts agreed that Russia most likely stood no chance. Though Prussia found itself in a precarious situation, France and Austria had remained neutral; yet Austria was seriously considering assisting the Russians. As a precaution, several thousands of troops were left behind to protect against possible French and Austrian aggression.
Months would pass as troops moved into position along the border before the first battle of the war would occur. Between the dates of October 7th to October 10th, the Battle of Kielce, an initially outnumbered Prussian cavalry corps battled a force one and a half times its strength. Arrival of the reinforcements in the form of 24,000 soldiers would push the battle in favor of Berlin. Causalities were relatively high for the amount of soldiers involved, with the Russians sustaining close to 8,000 compared to the Prussian’s 4,600.
At the battle of Przemysl, occurring between October 21st and October 25th, another cavalry corps would find itself hard pressed. Before the 21st, 18,000 troopers had arrived outside of Przemysl and spotted a small garrison within the town and expected to capture the town next morning. However, Russian reinforcements had arrived to the tune of about 28,000 soldiers. The initial Prussian assaults repelled with heavy losses. The Russians counter-attacked and added insult to injury. The field was about to be claimed by the Russians before the arrival of a reinforcement cavalry corps, that helped stem the tide and force a tactical victory for Berlin. Causalities were embarrassing, with the nearly 15,000 Prussians against 10,500 Russians.
Shortly following the battle of Przemysl, another victory would be scored by the Prussian army at Kattowitz. An advancing Russian corps would be ambushed by a larger Prussian group. Though numerically superior, the Prussians initially failed to sweep the field due to dire needs elsewhere. Success was accomplished by the end of October 31st. Of the 24,000 Prussians involved, causalities reached into the low 3,000s, while the Russians suffered mid-7,000s.
The three previous campaigns would prove to be miniscule compared to what ended on November 10th. Outside the town of Lozma (Poland), a series of battles had been occurring between numbers of troops not seen since the Napoleonic Wars. The Russians under one of their best generals had gathered just shy of 100,000 soldiers to invade East Prussia. As it moved across the country side the Russians were expertly tracked and forced into battle by a Prussian corps of 24,000. Knowing the defenders would most likely not be able to hold, all available reinforcements were sent to Lozma. From the October 29th to November 10th the forces waged a series of skirmishes and battles before the Russians were forced to retreat out of East Prussia.
Critics throughout Europe had doubted the strength of Prussia’s military. After inflicting a devastating defeat, if there were any doubters nobody spoke up. Of Russia’s numbers of close to 100,000 nearly half the force at 45,000 had been claimed as causalities. Meanwhile, of the eventual 72,000 soldiers who would take up arms to defend Prussia, just over 14,000 would be marked as causalities. There was without a doubt now, that Prussia would one day rule over the German states.