The 250th Year of the Victories: The Battles of Minden and Québec
The Seven Years War took place from 1756 to 1763. England and Prussia were allied against France and Austria. On the 1st of August 1759 the allied Forces of some 41,000 men under the command of a Prussian, Prince Ferdinand, Duke of Brunswick, assembled in the vicinity of Minden, Germany. Outnumbered and outgunned, British, Prussian, Hanoverian and Hessian regiments fought against some 51,000 French troops under the command of Marshal Contades near the River Weser, in an effort to reopen lines of communication with Hanover.
The Allied victory was only achieved thanks to a confusion in orders which resulted in a brigade of British and Hanoverian infantry marching forward into a hail of fire and attacking the French cavalry - the first recorded incident of this kind in military history. By rights, the infantry attack should have ended in disaster, but their discipline and courage won the day, repelling three cavalry charges. Despite very heavy losses, the infantry, supported by two batteries of Artillery, continued their attack and forced the French to retreat. The victory was marred by the refusal of Lord George Sackville to lead the British cavalry in an attack that would have turned the French retreat into a rout; he was subsequently court-martialled and dismissed from the Army.
The fields and hedgerows on that day near Minden were full of wild red and yellow roses, which the British soldiers picked and placed on their hats after the victory. All "Minden Regiments" still celebrate the 1st of August by wearing roses in their regimental headdress, and have the word "Minden" embroidered on their Colours and Battle Honour. "The Battle of the Roses" or "Minden Day" is still celebrated in Great Britain and North America and the tradition is kept alive in various ways. Numerous places with the name Minden in Canada and the United States show the enduring significance of this victorious battle on North American - and indeed, world - history.