From 1842 to 1846, Frederick Charles was under the military tutelage of then major
Albrecht von Roon, who accompanied the Prince to the
University of Bonn in 1846. After his studies, the Prince served as a captain on
Wrangel's staff during the
Schleswig campaign of 1848. Promoted to major on the general staff, he partook in a campaign in
Baden during which he was wounded. During the following peace years he was promoted to colonel in 1852, major general in 1854 and lieutenant general in 1856. In 1860, the Prince published a military book, titled, "Eine militärische Denkschrift von P. F. K.". Promoted to General der Kavallerie, the Prince took part in the
Second Schleswig War of 1864 against
Denmark, where he held command over the Prussian troops in the Austro-Prussian expeditionary force but interfered in the plans of his chief of staff,
von Blumenthal, who turned to
Crown Prince Frederick William for support.
He served with distinction in the
Austro-Prussian War, where he commanded the First Army; consisting of
4th corps. Arriving first at
Königgrätz, he held the numerically superior Austrians at bay until his cousin the Crown Prince (who now had General von Blumenthal as his Chief of Staff) and his Second army came up and attacked the Austrians in the flank.
At the outbreak of the
Franco-Prussian War, the Prince was given command of the Second Army, with which he distinguished himself at the
Battle of Spicheren and the battles of
Vionville-Mars la Tour and
Gravelotte-St.Privat and the following
Siege of Metz. After the fall of
Metz, his army was sent to the
Loire to clear the area around
Orléans, where French troops, first under
Aurelle de Paladines, then under
Chanzy, were trying to march north to relieve
Paris. He won battles at Orleans and
Le Mans. 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.
In 1878 he was created an honorary Knight Grand Cross of the
Order of the Bath.
He died at