The Battle of Mollwitz occurred on 10 April 1741 between Prussia and Austria. At this point, Austria was in the beginning stages of the War of the Austrian Succession. It took place in Mollowitz, Silesia, which is modern day Małujowice, Poland. Prussia’s King Frederick II, who came to the throne just three months before Maria Theresa, fought his first battle here and would come out victorious.
However, it was only after Maria Theresa came to the throne in the Kingdoms of Bohemia and Hungary, King Frederick elected to invade the province of Silesia, which had a large population of 1.5 million. Undoubtedly, since she was a woman, Frederick thought it was the perfect time to attempt to capture the land. Unfortunately, the resources left by her father were minimal due to the previous wars. Maria Theresa was low on money and resources for her military to succeed. Maria Theresa called in her father’s advisors to see what to do about the advancing Prussians. She was told to resist would be hopeless and that she needed to make sacrifices with the enemy as soon as possible to keep from battle. This angered her that they would suggest they give in from the beginning. Her goal was to send her enemies away and create a government that would not have to suffer any further humiliation after this Prussian campaign.
King Frederick had success from the beginning and was able to conquer almost the entire province, but not before Maria Theresa sent 20,000 men to take back the land. They were led by the Austrian general, Wilhelm Reinhard von Neipperg. What King Frederick and his troops thought would be an easy feat in taking all of Silesia proved to be wrong. Maria Theresa was determined to prove herself as a powerful monarch for her people.
Prussia was fully prepared for their attack due to extensive preparing, but they had help from captured Austrian soldiers who told the King of the whereabouts of the military of Neipperg. The weather was also on their side as the fog and snow shielded them as they made their approach that morning. In totally, they were able to advance 2000 steps into the territory before being detected. Frederick then elected to have his men line up in a battle line as opposed to a straight attack on Neipperg’s camp. His planning and invasion were not without error, however. He had ordered some of his men behind the bend of a river, which kept them from fighting in the battle. This was due to a miscalculation of the location of the river to where they were.
Austria was not in any way prepared for the invasion by Prussia. It was said that Wilhelm Reinhard von Neipperg’s troops were sleeping when he discovered the Prussians entering their land; they were located around the village of Mollwitz. His camp was also facing away from the invasion which resulted in the Austrian soldiers in a mad dash to gather their weapons to begin the fight. It was 1 pm that both sides were lined up and ready to fight. Unfortunately, the Austrians were surrounded on all sides leaving all communication and supply cut off. One soldier would later say that the advancing Prussian military was “like an advancing wall.”
King Frederick would show his true colours by fleeing the battlefield when he thought the Prussians were going to lose. However, he later vowed to never leave his troops in battle and did keep his word until his death.
By the end of the campaign, Prussia would be the victors but would lose some 4,800 men to injury and death. On the other hand, the Austrians would lose close to 4,500 through death, injury, or prisoners of war. The Prussian victory was thanks to the Field Marshal Schwerin, who remained with the troops until the bitter end of the battle after he urged King Frederick to leave his troops behind.