The period between 1864 and 1871 saw three wars that resulted in the unification of Germany. In essence, this period saw the formation of a German state under the influence of Prussia, guided by its chief minister, Otto von Bismarck. The start of this unification began with the Schleswig-Holstein War of 1864, the Austro-Prussian War of 1866 and ending with the unification of the German states after the Franco-Prussian War of 1870.
The Austro-Prussian War was a war fought in 1866 between the German Confederation under the leadership of the Austrian Empire and its German allies on one side and the Kingdom of Prussia with its German allies on the other, that resulted in Prussian dominance over the German states. This conflict also paralleled the Third Independence War of Italian unification. The major result of the war was a shift in power among the German states away from Austria and saw the abolition of the German Confederation and its partial replacement by a North German Confederation that excluded Austria and the other South German states. The war also resulted in the Italian annexation of the Austrian province of Venetia.
The mobilization of the Bavarian army in 1866 was only concluded on 22 June, by which time the Prussian army was almost in Bohemia. The war went very badly for the Bavarians as Prince Karl, who was hurrying to the aid of the Kingdom of Hanover when he heard of the Hanoverians' defeat at the Battle of Langensalza, was subsequently unable to link up with the western forces of the Confederation under Prince Alexander of Hesse. As a result, the Bavarian troops withdrew to Bad Kissingen, before withdrawing to Schweinfurt and Würzburg.
The difficulties of the Bavarian army were attributed mainly to the Bavarian parliament who did not see itself as being able to accomplish manoeuvres above the brigade level. As a result, King Ludwig II appointed veteran General Siegmund von Pranckh as the new War Minister whose contributions were crucial to the modernization of the Bavarian Army. When relations worsened between Prussia and France in 1870, von Prankh mobilized the two Bavarian army corps to fight with the Prussians. They stormed Wissembourg and took part in the Battles of Wörth, Beaumont, Sedan and the Siege of Paris.
This range covers the Danish troops for the Second Schleswig War, beginning on 1 February 1864, when Prussian forces crossed the border into Schleswig. Like the First Schleswig War (1848–51), it was fought for control of the duchies of Holstein and Lauenburg, due to the succession disputes concerning them when the Danish king died without an heir acceptable to the German Confederation. The war ended on 30 October 1864, when the Treaty of Vienna caused Denmark's cession of the Duchies of Schleswig, Holstein, and Saxe-Lauenburg to Prussia and Austria. This range is one of our oldest now and will be replaced at some point in the future.
The Franco-Prussian War took place from 19 July 1870 – 10 May 1871, and saw the Second French Empire of Napoleon III attempt to halt German plans for unification due to a fear of the shift in the European balance of power that would result if the Prussians succeeded. Despite the initial French declaration of war, the German coalition were able to mobilize quicker, in greater numbers and with better equipment. The French armies were defeated and in May 1871 the war ended with a German victory, cementing the new German union and ceding Alsace-Lorraine to German control. This would be a factor in the impending Great War.
During the Austro-Prussian War, Hanover attempted to maintain a neutral position, along with some other member states of the German Confederation. However, Hanover's vote in favour of the mobilisation of Confederation troops against Prussia on 14 June 1866 prompted Prussia to declare war. George V fled Hanover, managing to raise forces loyal to him in the Netherlands, called the Guelphic Legion, but they were eventually disbanded in 1870. Nevertheless, George refused to accept the Prussian takeover of his realm and claimed he was still the legitimate king of Hanover. The outcome of the war led to the dissolution of Hanover as an independent kingdom and it was annexed by the Kingdom of Prussia, becoming the Prussian Province of Hanover. Along with the rest of Prussia, it became part of the German Empire in 1871.
The Austro-Prussian war of 1866 saw Austria fighting Prussia, each with supporting German states backing them up. A Prussian victory cemented Prussia as the major power in the region and moved the region closer to a unified Germany. Moving forward, the following Franco-Prussian War (19 July 1870 – 10 May 1871) saw the French Empire of Napoleon III attempt to halt these German plans for unification due to a fear of the shift in the European balance of power that would result if the Prussians succeeded. After a French declaration of war, the German coalition mobilised quickly, in greater numbers and with better equipment than the French, resulting in a German victory, and cementing the new German union.
Saxony provided the fourth largest contingent to the Armed Forces of the German Confederation, after Austria, Prussia and Bavaria. The Saxon troops, together with the quotas from Hesse-Kassel and Nassau, formed the mixed IX. Army Corps. When the Austro-Prussian War in 1866 began, Saxony supported Austria and mobilized its 32,000-strong army around Dresden under the command of Crown Prince Albert. After the declaration of war the Prussian Army crossed the border on 16 July 1866 near Strehla and Löbau. Saxony unsuccessfully called for support from their allies but the Saxon army was forced to pull back into Bohemia. The Saxon army took part in several battles including the Battle of Ji?ín and a had a prominent role in the Battle of Königgrätz (3 July 1866) where they held the extreme left of the Austrian position. The Saxons maintained their post with great tenacity, but were involved in the disastrous defeat of their allies.
In 1866, Württemberg took up arms on behalf of Austria in the Austro-Prussian War, but three weeks after the Battle of Königgrätz on 3 July 1866, her troops suffered a comprehensive defeat at Tauberbischofsheim and the country lay at the mercy of Prussia. The Prussians occupied the northern part of Württemberg and negotiated a peace in August 1866 forcing Württemberg to pay an indemnity of 8,000,000 gulden, but they immediately formed a secret treaty with their conqueror. The end of the hostilities allowed a renewal of democratic agitation in Württemberg, but this soon stopped when the war between France and Prussia broke out in 1870. Although Württemberg had continued to be antagonistic to Prussia, the kingdom shared in the national enthusiasm which swept over Germany, and its troops took a creditable part in the Battle of Wörth and in other operations of the war. In 1871, Württemberg became a member of the new German Empire.