Edwin Freiherr von Manteuffel

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Edwin von Manteuffel
Edwin Freiherr von Manteuffel by Adolphe Braun.png
Edwin von Manteuffel, photo by Adolphe Braun
Born (1809-02-24)24 February 1809
Dresden
Died 17 June 1885(1885-06-17) (aged 76)
Karlsbad, Bohemia
Allegiance Kingdom of Prussia Prussia
German Empire Imperial Germany
Service/branch Prussian Army
Years of service 1827–1885
Rank generalfeldmarschall
Commands held IX (Schleswig-Holstein) Corps
I Corps
I Army
Army of the South
Army of Occupation
Battles/wars Austro-Prussian War
Franco-Prussian War
Awards Grand Cross of the Iron Cross
Pour le Mérite
Order of the Black Eagle

Edwin Freiherr von Manteuffel (24 February 1809 – 17 June 1885) was a German Generalfeldmarschall noted for his victories in the Franco-Prussian War.

Son of the president of the superior court of Magdeburg, he was born at Dresden, and brought up with his cousin, Otto von Manteuffel (1805–1882), the Prussian statesman, entered the guard cavalry at Berlin in 1827, and became an officer in 1828. After attending the War Academy for two years, and serving successively as aide-de-camp to General von Müffling and to Prince Albert of Prussia, he was promoted captain in 1843 and major in 1848, when he became aide-de-camp to Frederick William IV, whose confidence he had gained during the revolutionary movement in Berlin.

Promoted lieutenant-colonel in 1852, and colonel (and commanding officer of the 5th Uhlans) in 1853, he was sent on important diplomatic missions to Vienna and St Petersburg. In 1857 he was promoted to major-general and chief of the Prussian Military Cabinet (the King's military advisers). He gave strong support to the Prince Regent's plans for the reorganization of the army. In 1861 he was violently attacked in a pamphlet by Karl Twesten (1820–1870), a Liberal leader, whom he wounded in a duel, for which Manteuffel insisted in being briefly imprisoned. He served as lieutenant-general (to which rank he was promoted on the coronation of William I, on 18 October 1861) in the Danish war of 1864, and at its conclusion was appointed civil and military governor of Schleswig. In the Austrian War of 1866 he first occupied Holstein and afterwards commanded a division under Vogel von Falkenstein in the Hanoverian campaign, and succeeded him, in July, in command of the Army of the Main (see Seven Weeks' War).

His successful operations ended with the occupation of Würzburg, and be received the order pour le mérite. However, on account of his monarchist political views throughout the political crises of the 1860s, and of his almost bigoted Roman Catholicism, he was regarded by Liberal politicians as a reactionary, and, unlike the other army commanders, he was not granted a money reward for his services. He then went on a diplomatic mission to St Petersburg, where he was persona grata, and gained Russia's acquiescence to Prussia's domination of north Germany. On his return he was gazetted to the colonelcy of the 5th Dragoons. He was appointed to the command of the IX (Schleswig-Holstein) Corps in 1866. But having formerly exercised both civil and military control in the Elbe duchies he was unwilling to be a purely military commander under one of his late civil subordinates, and retired from the army for a year.

Manteuffel's signature on a document from 20 July 1866: Frankfurt has to pay 25 million gulden war contribution within 24 hours.

In 1868, however, he returned to active service. In the Franco-Prussian War of 1870–71 he commanded the I Corps under Steinmetz, distinguishing himself in the Battle of Borny-Colombey, and in the repulse of Bazaine at Noisseville (see Franco-German War). He succeeded Steinmetz in October in the command of the I. army, won the battle of Amiens against General Jean Joseph Farre, and occupied Rouen, but was less fortunate against Faidherbe at Pont Noyelles and Bapaume.

In January 1871 he commanded the newly formed Army of the South, which he led, in spite of hard frost, through the Côte-d'Or and over the plateau of Langres, cut off Bourbaki's Army of the East (80,000 men), and, after the action of Pontarlier, compelled it to cross the Swiss frontier, where it was disarmed. His immediate reward was the Grand Cross of the order of the Iron Cross, and at the conclusion of peace he received the Black Eagle. When the Southern Army was disbanded Manteuffel commanded first the II. army, and, from June 1871 until 1873, the army of occupation left in France, showing great tact in a difficult position.

At the close of the occupation, the Emperor promoted Manteuffel to the rank of Field Marshal and awarded him a large financial grant, and about the same time Alexander II of Russia gave him the Order of St. Andrew. After this he was employed on several diplomatic missions, was for a time Governor of Berlin, and in 1879 – perhaps, as was commonly reported, because he was considered by Bismarck as a formidable rival – he was appointed Governor-General of occupied Alsace-Lorraine. He is remembered in Alsace-Lorraine as a very human, cultivated man, and as a conciliator whose fairness was often abused by some dominant figures. Opening the first session of the Landesausschuss (the regional assembly of Alsace-Lorraine), he announced his firm intention to gain full autonomy for Alsace-Lorraine, so that she could become a fully-fledged state of the German Reich. He died at Carlsbad, Bohemia in 1885, still in office but without having achieved his aim.

Notes[edit]

Regarding personal names: Freiherr is a title, translated as Baron, not a first or middle name. The female forms are Freifrau and Freiin.

1911 Britannica references[edit]

References[edit]

  • Public Domain This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. 
  • Pierre Zind, Elsass Lothringen/Alsace Lorraine une nation interdite, 1870–1940, Paris: Copernic, 1979. (French)