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Karl Friedrich von Steinmetz

karl friedrich franziskus von steinmetz
Karl Friedrich von Steinmetz 27 December 1796 – 2 August 1877 was a Prussian Generalfeldmarschall He was born at Eisenach and joined the army of Prussia during the War of Liberation Over the Seven Weeks' War he led the V Corps against Austria and became known as the Lion of Nachod for his victories as the Battles of Nachod, Skalitz, and Schweinschädel Steinmetz commanded one of three armies assembled on the Rhine for the Franco-Prussian War, during which he quarreled with Prince Friedrich Karl After the war he retired

Contents

  • 1 Early life and Napoleonic Wars
  • 2 Service in Prussia
    • 21 Character and marriage
    • 22 Garrison duty
  • 3 General officer
    • 31 1854-1864
    • 32 Austro-Prussian War
    • 33 Franco-Prussian War
  • 4 Promotion to field marshal and later life
  • 5 Note
  • 6 References

Early life and Napoleonic Wars

Steinmetz was born at Eisenach on 27 December 1796 and was educated at the cadet school of Stolp in Pomerania from 1807 to 1811, in the midst of the misery and poverty caused by the French occupation At the outbreak of the War of Liberation he and his elder brother made their way through the French positions to Breslau, where they were at once appointed to the army, the elder as ensign on probation, the younger to the substantive rank of second lieutenant After a vain attempt to transfer to the Blücher Hussars, a regiment he had an intense boyish admiration for when it was quartered at Stolp, he was ordered to report to General Yorck, who treated him and the other officers from Breslau with coldness, until Steinmetz asked about returning to the king who had sent him[1]

The brothers were in the hardest fighting of the campaign of 1813, the elder being killed at the Battle of Leipzig and the younger being wounded more than once During the short halt on the Rhine he improved his military and general education In the battles in France, he won the Iron Cross, Second Class After the peace, he entered Paris only once, fearing to spend the ten ducats that sent monthly to his mother For the same reason, he did not take part in the pleasures of his better-off comrades[1]

Service in Prussia

Character and marriage

Steinmetz's avoidance of youthful excesses helped him overcome bad health and become physically vigorous, which he was to the end of his military career His character as well as his physique was strengthened by his Spartan way of life, but his temperament was embittered by the circumstances which imposed this self-restraint His poverty and want of influence were the more obvious as he was, shortly after the wars, assigned to the lowly 2nd Foot Guards, stationed in Berlin[1]

He rigorously devoted himself to study and his professional duties From 1820 to 1824 he studied at the General War Academy, graduating from the course with distinction, and so was appointed to the topographical section of the general staff General von Müffling reported that he was arrogant and resented encouragement, which he probably regarded as patronising, but that his ability would outdistance his comrades Steinmetz was too poor to buy a good horse or a house, and he had to live in his regimental quarters However, shortly after his marriage to his cousin Julie, the daughter of Lieutenant-General KKF von Steinmetz 1768–1837, gave him enough money to temper his resentment, since his father-in-law was generous to the young couple, and helped him get an appointment as captain at the Landwehr Guard at Potsdam His brigade commander, General von Röder, was an excellent soldier, and Steinmetz often spoke of the thorough training he received[1]

Garrison duty

From 1830 his regimental work went on without incident in various garrisons, until in 1839 he was promoted to major given command of a battalion In this position he had many differences with his superiors, for he urged strenuous training for the troops, in all seasons However, his off-duty relationships were extremely cordial, thanks chiefly to the social gifts of his wife[1]

In 1848, he commanded a guard battalion during the disturbances in Berlin, but was not involved The same year, he was sent to fight in the First Schleswig War After the Battle of Schleswig, Wrangel, the commander-in-chief, told him that he had decided the battle He distinguished himself again at Düppel, and Prince Wilhelm decorated him with the order Pour le Mérite[2]

On returning to Germany, he was given the difficult command of troops at Brandenburg during the sitting of a democratic popular convention there, troops known to be affected by the revolution During the Olmütz-Bronnzell incident of 1850, he was military governor of Cassel In 1851, he became colonel commandant of the cadet school of Berlin, where he reformed the prevailing system of instruction, the defects of which he had condemned as early as 1820 Though more than fifty years of age, he learned Latin and English to be a more competent instructor[3]

General officer

1854-1864

In 1854, after forty-one years of active service, he was promoted major-general At Magdeburg, as at Berlin, his reforming zeal made him many enemies, and in October his youngest and only surviving child died at twenty-six, which affected him deeply In 1857, he was posted to the command of a guard brigade at Berlin, and thence almost immediately to a divisional command in the I Corps Early in 1858 he was promoted lieutenant-general, and for the five years that he held this command he devoted himself to cavalry In 1863, learning that Adolf von Bonin, his senior by date of rank, but his junior in age and length of service, was to be appointed to the command of the I Corps, he considered retirement However, when Bonin took command, Steinmetz was given command of the II Corps Shortly afterwards, the crown prince of Prussia Frederick William took over II Corps and Steinmetz went to command the V Corps at Posen Soon after this his wife died[3]

Austro-Prussian War

He was promoted general of infantry in 1864, and led the V Corps in the Austro-Prussian War of 1866 His skillful and resolute leadership was displayed in three battles on three successive days, the Battle of Nachod, Skalitz and Schweinschädel, and opened the way through the mountains in spite of Bonin's defeat at Trautenau In 1867, the "Lion of Nachod", as he was popularly called, married Elise von Krosigk who after his death married Count Bruhl He was now, for the first time in his life, a fairly wealthy man, having been awarded a money grant for his brilliant services in 1866 About this time he was elected a member of the North German Confederation parliament[3]

Franco-Prussian War

At the outbreak of the Franco-Prussian War in 1870, Steinmetz was appointed to command one of the three armies assembled on the Rhine, the others being led by Prince Frederick Charles and the crown prince It was not long before serious differences arose between Steinmetz and Prince Frederick Charles Steinmetz, embittered by his lifelong struggle against the influences of wealth and position, saw an order to clear the roads for the prince's army as an attempt to crowd a humbler comrade out of the fighting, and various incidents[3]

On 6 August he led the I army south from his position on the Moselle and moved straight toward the town of Spicheren, cutting off Prince Frederick Charles from his forward cavalry units in the process There he encountered the French 2nd Corps under Frossard, which was fortified between Spicheren and Forbach and was able to stall him until the German II Army came to the aid of their compatriots and routed the French[citation needed]

Eight days later he again encountered the French army at Borny-Colombey[citation needed] At the Battle of Gravelotte he lost his temper and wasted his troops against a French superior position, nearly causing the defeat of the Prussian armies After this he was made to sing the national anthem, relieved of command and sent home as governor-general of the V and VI Army Corps districts[3]

As a commander in Franco-Prussian War and Battle of Gravelotte, Steinmetz was mentioned a few times in Chapter IV of anti-war short story entitled "Bartek The winner",[4] written by polish Nobel-awarded writer Henryk Sienkiewicz

Promotion to field marshal and later life

In April 1871, he retired at his own request, but his great services were not forgotten when victory had softened animosities, and he was promoted to field marshal, given a pension of 2000 thalers and made a member of the upper chamber In the spirit of loyalty which had guided his whole career, he made no attempt to justify his conduct in 1870 His life in retirement was quiet and happy, and he remained healthy to the last He died at Bad Landeck on 2 August 1877 The 37th Fusiliers of the German army bore his name as part of their regimental title[3]

Note

  1. ^ a b c d e Chisholm 1911, p 874
  2. ^ Chisholm 1911, p 874–875
  3. ^ a b c d e f Chisholm 1911, p 875
  4. ^ Original story by Henryk Sienkiewicz available in Polish at WikiSource Archived 2014-11-26 at the Wayback Machine

References

  •  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed 1911 "Steinmetz, Karl Friedrich von" Encyclopædia Britannica 25 11th ed Cambridge University Press pp 874–875mw-parser-output citecitationmw-parser-output citation qmw-parser-output id-lock-free a,mw-parser-output citation cs1-lock-free amw-parser-output id-lock-limited a,mw-parser-output id-lock-registration a,mw-parser-output citation cs1-lock-limited a,mw-parser-output citation cs1-lock-registration amw-parser-output id-lock-subscription a,mw-parser-output citation cs1-lock-subscription amw-parser-output cs1-subscription,mw-parser-output cs1-registrationmw-parser-output cs1-subscription span,mw-parser-output cs1-registration spanmw-parser-output cs1-ws-icon amw-parser-output codecs1-codemw-parser-output cs1-hidden-errormw-parser-output cs1-visible-errormw-parser-output cs1-maintmw-parser-output cs1-subscription,mw-parser-output cs1-registration,mw-parser-output cs1-formatmw-parser-output cs1-kern-left,mw-parser-output cs1-kern-wl-leftmw-parser-output cs1-kern-right,mw-parser-output cs1-kern-wl-rightmw-parser-output citation mw-selflink Endnote:
    • See supplement of Militär Wochenblatt 1877 and 1878

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