War of the Austrian Succession

Prussia, with France, Spain, Bavaria — versus — Austria with Britain, Holland

War of Jenkin's Ear — 1739-1748      Austria vs. Prussia — 1740-1745     
Austria, Britain, Holland vs. France, Spain — 1743-1748     

The cause of the War of the Austrian Succession was a dispute between Prussia, a militaristic and upcoming German province, and Austria, the seat of the Hapsburg Empire. The emperor of Austria had died without a son, and so left his kingdom in the hands of his daughter Maria Theresa. Frederick II of Prussia saw this as an opportunity, and invaded Silesia. Because of complicated pre-existing alliances, nearly every state in Europe was involved. In particular, France and Britain eagerly jumped into the fray, less to help their respective allies than to fight each other for dominance in their American and Asian Colonies. The Indo-Asian campaign in this war is also called the First Carnatic War. The North American Campaign in this war was called King Georges' War, and is dealt with as one of the French Indian Wars

War of Jenkin's Ear : 1739-1748

The War of Jenkin's Ear began as a dispute between Spain and Britain regarding control of commerce in Latin America. The first several battles were all fought in the West Indies, and on the northern coast of South America. After the War of the Austrian Succession broke out, Spain and Britain took different sides, so the local war merged into the broader dispute.

DateBattle Summary
Battle of Porto Bello (Jenkin's Ear ) British victory
This place was captured from the Spaniards, November 21, 1740, by a British fleet of 6 ships, under Admiral Vernon. The British loss was trifling.
Battle of Carthagena (Jenkin's Ear ) Spanish victory
This port was blockaded March 9, 1741, by a British fleet under Admiral Vernon. An unsuccessful attack was made upon the forts, and eventually Vernon, having lost 3,000 men during the operations, withdrew April 9.
Battle of Havana (Jenkin's Ear ) drawn battle victory
Fought October 12, 1748, between a British squadron of seven ships, under Admiral Knowles, and a Spanish squadron of equal strength. The action was fought with little determination, and though the British captured one ship, the result was far from decisive. The Spaniards lost 298, the British 179 killed and wounded.

Austria vs. Prussia : 1740-1745

Austrian success
The war of the Austrian succession was greatly complicated by the fact that almost all of the contenders were fighting for their own interests rather than for a unified cause. In Europe, the primary contention was between Austria and Prussia, and the secondary contention was between France and Austria. In the Asian and American colonies, the primary contention was between Britain and France.

Most of the battles between Austrian and Prussia were fought during 1742 or 1745 over the German region of Silesia. In 1740 Frederick the Great sought to occupy the region and after failing to drive him out in 1742, Maria Theresa made peace so she could fight her other enemies, France and Spain. After winning a few important victories over her rivals however, she resumed her war with Frederick II. After three decisive battles fought in 1745 however, she made peace with her rival, and resumed the war with France.

DateBattle Summary
Battle of Molwitz (Austria vs. Prussia ) Prussians victory
Fought April 8, 1741, between the Prussians, 30,000 strong, under Frederick the Great, and the Austrians, under Marshal Neuperg. Frederick surprised the Austrian general, and, after severe fighting, drove him from his entrenchments, with a loss of about 5,000 killed, wounded and prisoners. The Prussians lost 2,500.
Battle of Czaslau (Austria vs. Prussia ) Prussians victory
Fought 1742, between the Prussians under Frederic the Great, and the Austrians under Prince Charles of Lorraine. The Prussians were driven from the field, but the Austrians abandoned the pursuit to plunder, and the king, rallying his troops, broke the Austrian main body, and defeated them with a loss of 4,000 men.
Battle of Chotusitz (Austria vs. Prussia ) Prussians victory
Fought May 17, 1742, between the Austrians under Prince Charles of Lorraine, and the Prussians under Frederick the Great. The numbers were about equal, but the steadiness of the Prussian infantry eventually wore down the Austrians, and they were forced to retreat, though in good order, leaving behind them 18 guns and 12,000 prisoners. The killed and wounded numbered about 7,000 on each side, and the Austrians made 1,000 prisoners. The Prussian cavalry delivered several desperate and unsuccessful charges, and were almost destroyed.
Battle of Hohenfriedberg (Austria vs. Prussia ) Prussians victory
Fought June 3, 1745, between the Austrians and Saxons, under Charles of Lorraine, and the Prussians, under Frederick the Great. The Saxons, who were encamped at Strigau, were attacked in the early morning, and defeated before the Austrians could come to their aid. Frederick then turned upon the Austrians, and routed them, after desperate fighting. The Austrians and Saxons lost 4,000 killed and wounded, 7,000 prisoners, including 4 generals, and 66 guns. The Prussians lost 2,000.
Battle of Sohr (Austria vs. Prussia ) Prussians victory
Fought September 30, 1745, between 18,000 Prussians, under Frederick the Great, and 35,000 Austrians, under Prince Charles of Lorraine. The Prussians attacked the Austrian position and the Austrians, failing to display their usual courage made no stand against the steady advance of the Prussian infantry, and were driven back in confusion, with a loss of 6,000 killed, wounded and prisoners, and 22 guns. The Prussians lost between three and four thousand men.
Battle of Hennersdorf (Austria vs. Prussia ) Prussians victory
Fought November, 1745, between 60,000 Prussians, under Frederick the Great, and 40,000 Austrians and Saxons, under Prince Charles of Lorraine. Frederick surprised Prince Charles on the march, and utterly routed his vanguard, comprised of Saxons, with enormous loss. The Austrians were compelled in consequence to retire into Bohemia.

Short Biography
Frederick the Great Great Prussian military leader in the War of the Austrian Succession and Seven Years War.
Prince Charles of Lorraine Brother-in-law of Maria Theresa and commander of Austrian forces in War of Austrian Succession.
Maria Theresa Head of Hapsburg Dynasty. Ruled over much of Eastern Europe. Opposed Frederick the Great.

Story Links
Book Links
Frederick the Great  in  Germany: Peeps at History  by  John Finnemore
First Struggle  in  The Hanoverians  by  C. J. B. Gaskoin
Frederick the Great  in  Famous Men of Modern Times  by  John H. Haaren
Charles VII  in  The History of Germany  by  Henrietta Elizabeth Marshall
Maria Theresa  in  The Awakening of Europe  by  M. B. Synge

Austria, Britain, Holland vs. France, Spain : 1743-1748

France entered into the war between Austria and Prussia as an opportunistic venture. She was the largest European rival of the Hapsburg empire, and had opposed Austria in every war for the last century. When the French entered on the side of Prussia, Britain, who desired an opportunity to fight France, entered on the side of Austria, along with the Dutch, who also disputed territory with France. In the early fighting the Austrian cause was carried primarily by the Hungarians, a nation of ferocious mountain fighters who had long been subjects of the Austrian Empire, but in later battles, the contest was largely between France and the Dutch and British allies. After several French victories in the Netherlands, all sides wearied of the war, and peace was signed at Aix-la-Chapelle. All the conquests that had been made during the war were given up, while Maria Theresa was recognized as Queen of Hungary.

DateBattle Summary
Battle of Campo Santo (Austrian allies vs. France ) Austrians victory
Fought February 8, 1743, between the Spaniards under Mortemar, and the Imperialists under Count Traum. Mortemar was endeavoring to effect a junction with the army of the Prince de Conti, and though the action was undecided, its results were in favour of the Imperialists, who prevented the two armies from joining hands.
Battle of Dettingen (Austrian allies vs. France ) British victory
Fought June 27, 1743, between the British, 40,000 strong, under George II, and 60,000 French under the Duc de Noailles. The British, who were retiring upon Hanau from Aschaffenburg, found their retreat cut off by the French, Dettingen being held by 23,000 men under de Grammont, while the main body was on the opposite bank of the Maine. De Grammont left his lines to attack the British, whereupon George II put himself at the head of his troops, and led a charge which broke the French and drove them headlong into the river. Their losses in crossing were heavy, and they left 6,000 killed and wounded on the field. This is the last occasion on which the Sovereign has led British troops in battle.
Battle of Toulon (Austrian allies vs. France ) French-Spanish victory
Fought February 21, 1744, between a British fleet of 27 sail of the line, and 8 frigates, under Admiral Matthews, and a combined French and Spanish fleet of 28 line-of-battle ships. The British fleet suffered a serious reverse, in consequence of which the Admiral and four captains were tried by court-martial and cashiered. The British lost 274 killed and wounded, the allies about 1,000.
Battle of Madonna dell' Oleno (Austrian allies vs. France ) Austrians victory
Fought September 30, 1744, between the French and Spaniards, under Prince Louis de Conti and Don Philip of Spain, and the Imperialists, under the King of Sardinia. With a view of relieving Cuneo, which the allies were besieging, the King attacked their lines, and though he was defeated in the battle, he gained his object, for Conti was compelled by lack of supplies to raise the siege, October 22, having suffered heavy losses from famine, flood and battle.
Battle of Fontenoy (Austrian allies vs. France ) French victory
Fought May I1, 1745, between 50,000 British, Dutch and Austrian troops, under the Duke of Cumberland, and the French, under Marshal Saxe. The Duke endeavored to relieve Tournay, which the French were besieging, and the British troops captured the heights on which the French were posted. The Prince of Waldeck, however, who commanded the Dutch, failed to support the Duke, and the French being reinforced, the trenches were retaken, and the British beaten back. Tournay fell shortly afterwards,
Battle of Rotto Freddo (Austrian allies vs. France ) Austrians victory
Fought July, 1746, when the rearguard of the retreating French army, under Marshal Maillebois, was attacked by the Austrians, under Prince Lichtenstein, and after a gallant resistance defeated with heavy loss, In consequence of this defeat the French garrison of Placentia, 4,000 strong, surrendered to the Imperialists.
Battle of San Lazaro (Austrian allies vs. France ) Austrians victory
Fought June, 1746, between the Austrians, 40,000 strong, under Prince Lichtenstein, and the French and Spaniards, under Marshal Maillebois. The allies attacked the Austrian entrenched camp, and after an obstinate conflict, lasting nine hours, were repulsed with a loss of 10,000 killed and wounded.
Battle of Negapatam (First ) drawn battle victory
Fought 1746, off the Coromandel coast between a British squadron of 6 ships, under Captain Peyton, and 9 French ships, under Labourdonnais. The fight was conducted almost entirely at long range, and was indecisive, but after the action Peyton sheered off and made for Trincomalee, thus practically admitting defeat, though the French had in fact suffered the heavier loss.
Battle of Cape Finisterre (Austrian allies vs. France ) British victory
Fought May 3, 1747, between a British fleet of 16 sail under Admiral Anson, and a French fleet of 38 sail under Admiral de la Jonquiere. The French were completely defeated, losing 10 ships and nearly 3,000 prisoners.
Battle of Lawfeldt (Austrian allies vs. France ) drawn battle victory
Fought July 2, 1747, between the allied Austrians and British, under the Duke of Cumberland, and the French, under Marshal Saxe. The village of Lawfeldt was thrice carried by the French and thrice recaptured, but about noon the British centre was driven in, and defeat was imminent, when a cavalry charge, headed by Sir John Ligonier, saved the day, and enabled the Duke to retire in good order. The allies lost 5,620 killed and wounded, the French about 10,000.
Siege of Bergen-op-Zoom (Austrian allies vs. France ) French victory
This fortress, held by a garrison of Dutch and English under Cronstrun, was besieged July 15, 1747, by 25,000 French under Count Lowendahl. The besieged made numerous vigorous sorties, inflicting heavy losses upon the French, but on September 17 the besiegers, by an unexpected assault, effected a lodgment, and after severe fighting captured the place. The French lost 22,000 men during the siege; the garrison 4,000. A Scottish brigade in the Dutch service specially distinguished itself, losing 1,120 out of a strength of 1,450.
Battle of Cape Finisterre (Austrian allies vs. France ) British victory
Fought October 14, 1747, when a British fleet of 14 ships under Admiral Hawke attacked a French fleet of 9 battleships under Admiral de Letendeur. The French were signally defeated, losing four ships. The British lost 598 killed and wounded.
Battle of Rocoux (Austrian allies vs. France ) French victory
Fought 1747, between the French, under Maurice de Saxe, and the Imperialists, under Charles of Lorraine. The French won a signal victory, as the result of which they occupied Brabant.

Short Biography
George II Second Hanoverian Monarch of Britain.
Prince Louis de Conti French General during the War of the Austrian Succession.
Duke of Cumberland Younger Son of George II of England and a military leader in Rebellion of '45 and War of Austrian Succesion.
Lord Anson British naval hero who circumnavigated the globe and wrote a diary about his journey.
Marshall Saxe French General during the War of the Austrian Succession.
Lord Edward Hawke Hero of the naval Battle of Quiberon during the Seven Years War.

Image Links

The plucky little Prussian King made all Europe stare at his soldiery
 in The History of Germany