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Frederick the Great's Prussian Potzdam Infantry Musket 1740 - 1815

Wars of the Austrian Succession - Seven Years War - American Revolution - Napoleonic Wars - Waterloo

Historical Background

The year 1740 marked the crowning of a new king for Prussia: Frederick II. Potzdam had been Frederick's favourite place of residence and it is only fitting the musket to be used by his army would be developed there that same year. Indeed "Potzdamn" had already made a name for itself previous in 1723 for manufacturing the first standard German-made musket and the 1740 model further solidified Potsdam as the key arsenal for the country. Also in 1740 war had broken out when Frederick moved to take control of the Austrian province of Sileria. Arms had to be quickly manufactured and rushed to his infantry regiments. The following year, Sileria fell to Prussia after the Battle of Mollwitz. Unwilling to leave Sileria in Prussian hands, Austria struck back in 1745. On June 4, the Battle of Hohenfriedberg determined the fate of Sileria and it was there the 28-year old Frederick was offered his moment to shine. His brilliant defeat of the Austro-Saxon Army at Hohenfriedberg left him with instant fame and he became known as Frederick the Great.

Attack of the Prussian Infantry at the Battle of Hohenfriedberg, 1745 (Carl Rochling)

Steeled by an alliance with France and Russia, Austria was again challenging Frederick the Great in the battlefield during the Seven Years War (1756-1763). By this point, the 1740 model muskets were in ready supply and Prussia turned to supplying other allied German states. Often outnumbered, the Prussian army fought ferociously throughout the war. Even in Frederick's first defeat at Kolin in 1757, the Prussian Infantry showed great heroism. Protecting the army's retreat, the Guards (Leibgarde) held the enemy cavalry at bay - at one point firing volleys back-to-back (see image below). Encouraging his Guards, Frederick the Great commented: "Rascals, would you live forever?"

Leibgarde Battalion covering the Prussian retreat at the Battle of Kolin in 1757 (R. Knotel)

While Prussia lost land in the war, the 1740 model became cemented as the weapon of choice for the country's infantry. This would not change until 1809, making this musket one of the longest running national models of small arms in history. It is indeed Germany's most famous flintlock musket.

Prussian Infantry skirmishing with Russian Cossacks in the battle of Zorndorf, 1758 (Emil Hunter)


North America would also see this weapon in action. To answer the rebellion in the thirteen colonies, Great Britain deployed mercenary German regiments. The surrender of a number of German units at the Battles of Trenton and Saratoga, brought thousands of 1740 model Potsdam muskets into the hands of American troops fighting for independence.

Back in Europe, war again broke out in 1793 with the Flanders Campaign against Revolutionary France. Use of the 1740 model by Prussian infantry would continue throughout the Napoleonic Wars. After being humiliated by Napoleon, a new model of Prussian Musket was finally authorized in 1809(seen here). Still seven decades of manufacturing the 1740 model made sure that it was still in use when the Prussian Army arrived to save the day at the Battle of Waterloo, resulting in the downfall of Napoleon.

Prussian Infantry at the Village of Plancenoit during the Battle of Waterloo, 1815


The reproduction offered here is a faithful copy of the original 1740 model complete with Frederick the Great's royal cypher and "Potzdamn" inspector and manufacturer markings. With a 41-inch long (.75 calibre) steel barrel, this musket seems to have found the optimum point between ease of use and maximum accuracy. No wonder its use historically was so long. The Prussians were famous for polishing their barrels bright, so much so as to weaken their integrity. Of course they did not have the benefit of tempered seamless modern steel (type:BS970 no.080M40) like this reproduction is made from. The breach is of course threaded.

The lock is made with strong durable springs and has a case-hardened frizzen (hammer) that throws good sparks (our new process of cyanide hardening has made this even more durable). We use a cyanide case-hardening factory process that makes sparking both more reliable and longer lasting. Presently no other musket provider uses this technique.

As with all our other flintlocks, the vent is not drilled so we can ship easily to your door throughout North America and to Europe. Aside from that they are exactly like the originals. A fine addition to any collection.

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Prussian 1740 Potzdam Musket: 549.00 699.00 (MTS-035)

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For shipping costs and other details see our Muskets section

Our Guarantee

If upon receiving your musket you are not completely happy with your purchase, you may return it for a refund. All we ask is you cover the shipping costs. It has to be returned in two weeks of receipt and be in its original state (unaltered and unmodified).

Non-Firing State

We sell historically accurate muskets as a non-firing state. This allows us to comply with local, state, national and international firearms regulations. A certified gunsmith may alter this musket to a firing state by drilling the vent hole and test firing it. We are not legally responsible for any alteration from its present non-firing state.

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