Friedrich Leopold von Gessler

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Friedrich Leopold Graf von Gessler (or Geßler; (24 June 1688 – 22 August 1762) was a Prussian Generalfeldmarschall and one of Frederick the Great's most famous cavalry generals.

Gessler was born in Schwarzenau in the Duchy of Prussia. He entered an infantry regiment in Königsberg in 1703, becoming a cadet on 6 June. He fought under Leopold I, Prince of Anhalt-Dessau, in the War of the Spanish Succession. After ten years of service for the Holy Roman Emperors, Gessler returned to the Prussian Army in 1713 as Rittmeister in the Regiment Pannwitz zu Pferde.

On 21 January 1714, Gessler was promoted to Major and transferred to a dragoon regiment. Gessler was successively promoted: Oberstleutnant on 1 May 1720; commander of the Regiment Schulenburg Grenadiere zu Pferde on 16 August 1726; Oberst on 21 September 1729; commander of the 4th Cuirassier Regiment on 3 May 1733; Generalmajor on 14 July 1739; and Generalleutnant on 17 May 1742.

During the First Silesian War, Gessler distinguished himself at Mollwitz and at Chotusitz, in which he led the cavalry of Wilhelm Dietrich von Buddenbrock's left wing. After the battle, Gessler was promoted to Generalleutnant and awarded the Order of the Black Eagle. In the Battle of Hohenfriedberg, his ride with the Bayreuth Dragoon Regiment, in which 67 standards were captured, became one of the most storied attacks of the Prussian cavalry. In the Battle of Kesselsdorf on 15 December 1745, Gessler led the cavalry of the right wing.

Gessler was promoted to General der Kavallerie on 26 May 1747 and to Generalfeldmarschall on 21 December 1751. The last battle he participated in was the Battle of Lobositz on 1 October 1756. He tried to campaign in 1757, but reluctantly retired because of physical ailments on 10 January 1758.

The general, who had been admitted to the Order of Saint John in 1735, owned numerous estates in Silesia. He was married to Eleonore Gräfin von Stanislawsky-Seeguth, with whom he had twelve children. Gessler died in Brieg, where he was buried. His tomb, designed by Carl Gotthard Langhans in the Church of St. Nicholas, was completed in 1790.


Regarding personal names: Graf was a title before 1919, but now is regarded as part of the surname. It is translated as Count. Before the August 1919 abolition of nobility as a legal class, titles preceded the full name when given (Graf Helmuth James von Moltke). Since 1919, these titles, along with any nobiliary prefix (von, zu, etc.), can be used, but are regarded as a dependent part of the surname, and thus come after any given names (Helmuth James Graf von Moltke). Titles and all dependent parts of surnames are ignored in alphabetical sorting. The feminine form is Gräfin.