Paid Advertisement
Historynet/feed historynet feedback facebook link Weider History Group RSS feed Weider Subscriptions Historynet Home page

Book Review: Blücher, by Michael V. Leggiere

By HistoryNet Staff 
Originally published by Military History magazine. Published Online: August 28, 2014 
Print Friendly
0 comments FONT +  FONT -

Blücher: Scourge of Napoléon, by Michael V. Leggiere, University of Oklahoma Press, Norman, 2014, $34.95

On Aug. 29, 1760, the official report made to Frederick the Great by Maj. Gen. Joachim Friedrich von Stutterheim stated the day's catch to be 10 prisoners, including a French lieutenant and an ensign in the Swedish hussars. The latter was 17-year-old Gebhard Leberecht von Blücher. So, as a Prussian prisoner, began the military career of the future marshal and national hero of Prussia.

Subscribe Today

Subscribe to Military History magazine

In Vol. 41 of the University of Oklahoma Press' Campaigns and Commanders series, Michael V. Leggiere, author of Napoléon and Berlin and The Fall of Napoléon, provides a full biography of the commander who, alongside Arthur Wellesley, Duke of Wellington, defeated Napoléon Bonaparte at Waterloo. Leggiere relied on writings and letters by Blücher himself, as well as the archives of the Prussian General Staff, previously believed lost during World War II. What emerges—sometimes counter to Blücher's popular image as the quintessentially relentless, hardheaded Prussian—is a portrait of a thoughtful, loving family man, who personally hated war. Regardless, Blücher was indeed the implacable enemy of Napoléon.

Blücher's rise was attended by a constant learning curve. During the Saxony campaign of 1813 the man whom Prussian troops would call "Marshal Forward" retreated before Napoléon on four occasions. Knowing the Sixth Coalition could only overcome the French emperor through mutual support, Blücher and his staff were instrumental in setting the stage for victory at Leipzig. In the campaign of 1814 he assumed that the level of cooperation between him and Austrian Field Marshal Karl Phillip, Prince of Schwarzenberg, would continue. He was wrong and paid for that mistake by suffering five defeats over a period of six days. Those lessons taught Blücher not to wait on others to create the conditions for a decisive battle. Thus in 1815 Blücher saw no other choice but to stand at Ligny and then, despite his defeat, regroup and march to Wellington's aid at Waterloo.

Among the strange facts Leggiere unearthed: It was East Germany that created the Blücher Order—which it never awarded, as the Nationale Volksarmee never fought a war; it also established the Scharnhorst Order, in honor of Blücher's chief of staff. In another irony, a German landlord who had fought under Blücher bestowed his surname on a Russian peasant family in his employ, one of whose descendants became Soviet Marshal Vasily Konstantinovich Blyukher.

—Thomas Zacharis


Recommended


Leave a Reply

Human Verification: In order to verify that you are a human and not a spam bot, please enter the answer into the following box below based on the instructions contained in the graphic.


Related Articles


History Net Images Spacer
Paid Advertisement
Paid Advertisement
History Net Daily Activities
History net Spacer
History net Spacer
Historynet Spacer
HISTORYNET READERS' POLL

Which of these wars resulted in the most surprising underdog upset?

View Results | See previous polls

Loading ... Loading ...
History net Spacer
STAY CONNECTED WITH US
RSS Feed Daily Email Update
History net Spacer History net Spacer
Paid Advertisement

Paid Advertisement
What is HistoryNet?

The HistoryNet.com is brought to you by Weider History, the world's largest publisher of history magazines. HistoryNet.com contains daily features, photo galleries and over 5,000 articles originally published in our various magazines.

If you are interested in a specific history subject, try searching our archives, you are bound to find something to pique your interest.

From Our Magazines
Weider History

Weider History Network:  HistoryNet | Armchair General | Achtung Panzer! | StreamHistory.com
Today in History | Ask Mr. History | Picture of the Day | Daily History Quiz | Contact Us

Copyright © 2014 Weider History. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.
Advertise With Us | Subscription Help | Privacy Policy