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Prince Friedrich Charles of Prussia (March 20, 1828 – June 15, 1885) was the son of Prince Charles of Prussia (1801–1883) and his wife, Princess Marie of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach (1808–1877), the eldest daughter of Grand Duke, Charles Friedrich of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach and his wife, Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna, the sister of Emperor Alexander I of Russia. Prince Friedrich Charles was a grandson of King Friedrich Wilhelm III of Prussia and a nephew of Frederich Wilhelm IV of Prussia and German Emperor Wilhelm I. He was born at Schloss Klein in Berlin.

In 1845, the Prince joined the army and was sent to an infantry company. Roon accompanied the Prince to the University of Bonn in 1846. He was the first Hohenzollern prince to study in a university. He became a member of the Corps Borussia Bonn in 1847 and was awarded Prussia’s Lifesaving Medal for rescuing a child from the Rhine the same year. After his studies, the Prince went back to his regiment in 1848, where he was promoted to captain. His company was issued the breech-loading Dreyse needle gun and the Prince produced an article on its probable future impact, writing that the troops could be prevented from firing off all their ammunition through good training and discipline.

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Prince Friedrich Charles of Prussia

On November 29, 1854 at Dessau he married his second cousin Princess Maria Anna of Anhalt-Dessau (1837–1906), daughter of Leopold IV, Duke of Anhalt and his wife Princess Frederica of Prussia (1796–1850) the youngest child and only daughter of Prince Ludwig Charles of Prussia and his wife Frederica of Mecklenburg-Strelitz. Princess Frederica’s father was a younger son of Friedrich Wilhelm II of Prussia. Due to her mother’s later marriages, Frederica would have many half-siblings, including Georg V of Hanover.

They had met at a hunt. Their marriage was unhappy. After the birth of their fourth daughter, Prince Friedrich Charles reportedly beat his wife for not producing a son. According to one source, it was only by the entreaties of Emperor Wilhelm I that a separation never occurred.

Maria Anna was considered by contemporaries to be one of the loveliest women of her generation. She possessed a remarkable talent for music and painting, and often advised young girls when they first entered society.

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Princess Maria Anna of Anhalt-Dessau

They had five children:

1. Princess Marie (1855-1888)
married twice (1) Prince Henry of the Netherlands (1820–1879); (2) Prince Albert of Saxe-Altenburg

2. Princess Elisabeth (1857-1895)
married Friedrich August II, Grand Duke of Oldenburg

3. Princess Anna Victoria (1859-1859)

4. Princess Louise Margarete (1860-1917)
married Prince Arthur of the United Kingdom Duke of Connaught and Strathear

5. Prince Friedrich Leopold (1865-1931)
Married Princess Louise Sophie of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Augustenburg (younger sister of Augusta Viktoria, wife of German Emperor Wilhelm II).

Prince Friedrich Charles served with distinction in the Austro-Prussian War, where he commanded the First Army; consisting of the II, III and IV corps. Arriving first at Königgrätz, the First Army single-handedly held the numerically superior Austrians at bay for seven hours from 08:00 to 15:00, inflicting such massive casualties on the Austrians that it took the arrival of just one division from his cousin the Crown Prince Friedrich Wilhelm’s Second Army (future Emperor Friedrich III) to complete the victory and cause the Austrians to order a general withdrawal at 15:00.

At the outbreak of the Franco-Prussian War, the Prince was given command of the Second Army, and defeated the French Army of the Rhine at the Battle of Mars-la-Tour on August 16, 1870, cutting off its escape route to the west. The battle was followed by another victory at Gravelotte-St.Privat on 18 August and the encirclement and annihilation of the Army of the Rhine at the Siege of Metz. After the fall of Metz on October 27, his army was sent to the Loire to clear the area around Orléans, where French armies, first under Aurelle de Paladines, then under Chanzy, were trying to march north to relieve Paris. He won battles at Orléans on December 2, and Le Mans from January 10-12, 1871. For his services he was promoted to the rank of Generalfeldmarschall. After the war, the Prince was made Inspector-General and was given the rank of Field Marshal of Russia by Alexander II of Russia.

Friedrich Charles died of a heart attack at Jagdschloss Glienicke on June 15, 1885.