Leopold I, Prince of Anhalt-Dessau was a German prince of the House of Ascania and ruler of the principality of Anhalt-Dessau from 1693 to 1747. He was also a Generalfeldmarschall in the Prussian army, nicknamed the Old Dessauer, he possessed good abilities as a field commander, but was mainly remembered as a talented drillmaster who modernized the Prussian infantry. Elected by Frederick I to the rank of marshal in 1712. He was later appointed the commander of the Prussian-Saxon army during the Great Northern War against Sweden, Leopold was a personal friend of Frederick William I. The last great achievement of his career was commanding the Prussian troops to victory over the Saxons at the Battle of Kesselsdorf in 1745 during the Second Silesian War. Leopold was born in Dessau as the ninth of ten children of John George II, Prince of Anhalt-Dessau, by his wife Henriette Catherine, daughter of Frederick Henry, an older brother had died well before Leopold was born. From his earliest youth he devoted himself to military pursuits, for which he educated himself both physically and mentally, Leopolds first campaign was that of 1695 in the Netherlands, in which he was present at the Siege of Namur. He remained in the field to the end of the war of 1697, the affairs of the principality being managed chiefly by his mother, Leopolds career as a soldier in important commands began with the outbreak of the War of the Spanish Succession in 1701. In the campaign of 1704 the Prussian contingent served first under Louis William, Margrave of Baden-Baden, then Prince Eugene of Savoy, in 1705 Leopold was sent with a Prussian corps to join Prince Eugene in Italy, and on 6 August fought at the Battle of Cassano. In the Battle of Turin, he was the first to enter the hostile entrenchments and he served in one more campaign in Italy, and then served under Eugene to join Marlborough in the Netherlands, being present in 1709 at the siege of Tournai and the Battle of Malplaquet. Shortly before this he had executed a coup de main on the castle of Mors, the operation was effected with absolute precision and the castle was seized without a shot being fired. In the earlier part of the reign of Frederick William I, although Prussia was hostile to Sweden, the Prussians were reluctant to participate in the Great Northern War. Only after the Russians destroyed most of the Swedish army did Prussia enter the war in 1715, in peacetime, and especially after a court quarrel and duel with General Friedrich Wilhelm von Grumbkow in 1725, he devoted himself to the training of the Prussian army. Leopolds outstanding achievement just before time was his training of the Prussian infantry. The prince himself was not often employed in the kings own army, the king, indeed, found Leopold somewhat difficult to manage, and the prince spent most of the campaigning years up to 1745 in command of an army of observation on the Saxon frontier. Early in that year his wife died, Leopold was now over seventy, but his last campaign was destined to be the most successful of his long career. A combined effort of the Austrians and Saxons to retrieve the disasters of the summer by a campaign towards Berlin itself led to a hurried concentration of the Prussians. Frederick from Silesia checked the Austrian main army and hastened towards Dresden, but before Frederick arrived, Leopold had decided the war by means of his overwhelming victory over Saxons at Kesselsdorf on 14 December 1745
Image: 1676 Leopold 2
Leopold I, Prince of Anhalt-Dessau
"The Old Dessauer" (German: der alte Dessauer), was a minor field commander but a talented drill master who modernized the Prussian infantry.