39. Born In One State, Fighting For Another, and Switching to a Third
Gebhard Leberecht von Blucher (1742 – 1819) was born in the Duchy of Mecklenburg-Schwerin in northern Germany into a noble family with aristocratic roots going back to the thirteenth century. At age sixteen, he went off to soldier, and became a hussar in the Swedish Army. Sweden fought against Prussia in the Seven Years War (1756 – 1763), and in a 1760 skirmish, Blucher was captured by the Prussians.
Luckily for him, the colonel of the Prussian regiment that took him prisoner was a distant relative. Impressed by Blucher, he invited the young man to join his regiment. Blucher accepted the offer, switched teams, and fought the rest of the war on the Prussian side. He remained in Prussian service – with one long spell of forced retirement between duty stints, caused by his being a lunatic – for the rest of his life.