Leonhard Graf von Blumenthal
Leonhard Graf von Blumenthal (July 20, 1810 – December 21, 1900) was a Prussian
Kingdom of Prussia
The Kingdom of Prussia was a German kingdom from 1701 to 1918. Until the defeat of Germany in World War I, it comprised almost two-thirds of the area of the German Empire...

Field Marshal or Generalfeldmarschall in German, was a rank in the armies of several German states and the Holy Roman Empire; in the Austrian Empire, the rank Feldmarschall was used...

. He was a member of the von Blumenthal
Von Blumenthal
The von Blumenthal family are German nobility from Brandenburg-Prussia. Other, unrelated, families of this name exist in Switzerland and formerly in Russia, and many unrelated families called "Blumenthal" without "von" are to be found worldwide.The family was already noble from earliest times ,...



Blumenthal was born in Schwedt
Schwedt is a city in Brandenburg, Germany. It is the largest city of the district Uckermark near the Oder river on the border with Poland.-Overview:...

, Brandenburg
Province of Brandenburg
The Province of Brandenburg was a province of the Kingdom of Prussia and the Free State of Prussia from 1815 to 1946.-History:The first people who are known to have inhabited Brandenburg were the Suevi. They were succeeded by the Slavonians, whom Henry II conquered and converted to Christianity in...

 on July 20, 1810. He was the son of Captain Ludwig von Blumenthal, who was killed in 1813 at the Battle of Dennewitz
Battle of Dennewitz
The Battle of Dennewitz took place on 6 September 1813 between the forces of the First French Empire and an army of Prussians and Russians of the Sixth Coalition. It occurred in Dennewitz, a village of Germany, in the Prussian province of Brandenburg, near Jüterbog, 40 km. S.W...


Brought up on his grandfather's estate at Reddenthin, where his uncle Gustav von Below
Gustav von Below
Gustav Ernst Anton Wilhelm von Below was the son of Livonian born Prussian hauptmann Karl Gustav von Below and Charlotte Wilhelmine von Woedtke , one of three brothers and two sisters. The family owned several estates in Pomerania, including Gatz, where Gustav was born, and Reddenthin where he died...

 was founding what would become the Pentecostal movement, Blumenthal was educated at the military schools of Culm and Berlin
Berlin is the capital city of Germany and is one of the 16 states of Germany. With a population of 3.45 million people, Berlin is Germany's largest city. It is the second most populous city proper and the seventh most populous urban area in the European Union...

. He entered the Guards as 2nd lieutenant in 1827. He studied at the Berlin General War School (later called the Prussian Military Academy). After serving in the Rhine Province
Rhine Province
The Rhine Province , also known as Rhenish Prussia or synonymous to the Rhineland , was the westernmost province of the Kingdom of Prussia and the Free State of Prussia, within the German Reich, from 1822-1946. It was created from the provinces of the Lower Rhine and Jülich-Cleves-Berg...

, he joined the topographical
Topography is the study of Earth's surface shape and features or those ofplanets, moons, and asteroids...

 division of the general staff
General Staff
A military staff, often referred to as General Staff, Army Staff, Navy Staff or Air Staff within the individual services, is a group of officers and enlisted personnel that provides a bi-directional flow of information between a commanding officer and subordinate military units...

 in 1846. As lieutenant of the 31st foot, he took part in 1848 in the suppression of the Berlin riots
Revolutions of 1848 in the German states
The Revolutions of 1848 in the German states, also called the March Revolution – part of the Revolutions of 1848 that broke out in many countries of Europe – were a series of loosely coordinated protests and rebellions in the states of the German Confederation, including the Austrian Empire...

, and in 1849 was promoted captain on the general staff. The same year he served on the staff of General Eduard von Bonin
Eduard von Bonin
Eduard von Bonin was a Prussian general who served as Prussian Minister of War from 1852–54 and 1858-59.-Life:...

 in the First Schleswig War, and so distinguished himself, particularly at Fredericia
Battle of Fredericia
The Battle of Fredericia was fought between soldiers of Schleswig-Holstein and Denmark on July 6, 1849 at Fredericia in Denmark. The battle was a part of the First Schleswig War, which was a conflict between Schleswig-Holstein, supported by several German states, and Denmark...

, that he was appointed chief of the staff of the Schleswig-Holstein army when the previous chief of staff, Captain von Delius, was killed.

In 1850 Blumenthal was general staff officer of the mobile division under Tietzen in Hesse-Kassel
The Landgraviate of Hesse-Kassel or Hesse-Cassel was a state in the Holy Roman Empire under Imperial immediacy that came into existence when the Landgraviate of Hesse was divided in 1567 upon the death of Philip I, Landgrave of Hesse. His eldest son William IV inherited the northern half and the...

 (or Hesse-Cassel). He was sent on a mission to England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

 in that year (4th class of Red Eagle
Order of the Red Eagle
The Order of the Red Eagle was an order of chivalry of the Kingdom of Prussia. It was awarded to both military personnel and civilians, to recognize valor in combat, excellence in military leadership, long and faithful service to the kingdom, or other achievements...

), and on several subsequent occasions. Having attained the rank of lieutenant-colonel, he was appointed personal adjutant to Prince Frederick Charles in 1859. In 1860 he became colonel of the 31st, and later of the 71st, regiment. He was chief of the staff of the III. army corps when, on the outbreak of the Second Schleswig War of 1864, he was nominated chief of the general staff of the army against Denmark
Denmark is a Scandinavian country in Northern Europe. The countries of Denmark and Greenland, as well as the Faroe Islands, constitute the Kingdom of Denmark . It is the southernmost of the Nordic countries, southwest of Sweden and south of Norway, and bordered to the south by Germany. Denmark...

, and displayed so much ability, particularly at Dybbøl
Battle of Dybbøl
The Battle of Dybbøl was the key battle of the Second War of Schleswig and occurred on the morning of 18 April 1864 following a siege lasting from 7 April. Denmark suffered a severe defeat against the German Confederation which decided the war...

 and the night attack on the island Als, which he masterminded and which ended the war, that he was promoted major-general and given the order Pour le Mérite
Pour le Mérite
The Pour le Mérite, known informally as the Blue Max , was the Kingdom of Prussia's highest military order for German soldiers until the end of World War I....

, only its 50th recipient.

In the Austro-Prussian War
Austro-Prussian War
The Austro-Prussian War was a war fought in 1866 between the German Confederation under the leadership of the Austrian Empire and its German allies on one side and the Kingdom of Prussia with its German allies and Italy on the...

 of 1866, Blumenthal was chief of the general staff to the crown prince of Prussia, commanding the 2nd army. It was upon this army that the brunt of the fighting fell, and its arrival at Königgratz
Battle of Königgrätz
The Battle of Königgrätz , also known as the Battle of Sadowa, Sadová, or Hradec Králové, was the decisive battle of the Austro-Prussian War, in which the Kingdom of Prussia defeated the Austrian Empire...

 saved the day. Blumenthal's own part in these battles and in the campaign generally was most conspicuous. On the field of Königgratz the crown prince said to his chief of staff, "I know to whom I owe the conduct of my army", and Blumenthal soon received promotion to lieutenant-general and the oak-leaf of the order pour le mérite
Pour le Mérite
The Pour le Mérite, known informally as the Blue Max , was the Kingdom of Prussia's highest military order for German soldiers until the end of World War I....

. He was also made a knight of the Hohenzollern Order. From 1866 to 1870 he commanded the 14th division at Düsseldorf
Düsseldorf is the capital city of the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia and centre of the Rhine-Ruhr metropolitan region.Düsseldorf is an important international business and financial centre and renowned for its fashion and trade fairs. Located centrally within the European Megalopolis, the...


In the Franco-Prussian War
Franco-Prussian War
The Franco-Prussian War or Franco-German War, often referred to in France as the 1870 War was a conflict between the Second French Empire and the Kingdom of Prussia. Prussia was aided by the North German Confederation, of which it was a member, and the South German states of Baden, Württemberg and...

 of 1870-71, Blumenthal was chief of staff of the 3rd army under the crown prince. Eighteen other members of his family also fought in this war, including both his sons and three nephews, of whom two were killed. Blumenthal's soldierly qualities and talent were never more conspicuous than in the critical days preceding the battle of Sedan
Battle of Sedan
The Battle of Sedan was fought during the Franco-Prussian War on 1 September 1870. It resulted in the capture of Emperor Napoleon III and large numbers of his troops and for all intents and purposes decided the war in favour of Prussia and its allies, though fighting continued under a new French...

, and his services in the war have been considered as scarcely less valuable and important than those of Moltke himself. Bismarck said "He won the battles of Wörth
Wörth may refer to:*places in Germany:**Wörth am Main, Miltenberg district, Bavaria**Wörth am Rhein, Germersheim district, Rhineland-Palatinate**Wörth an der Donau, Regensburg district, Bavaria**Wörth an der Isar, Landshut district, Bavaria...

 and Wissembourg
Wissembourg is a commune in the Bas-Rhin department in Alsace in northeastern France.It is situated on the little River Lauter close to the border between France and Germany approximately north of Strasbourg and west of Karlsruhe. Wissembourg is a sub-prefecture of the department...

, and after that of Sedan." He directed the Siege of Paris
Siege of Paris
The Siege of Paris, lasting from September 19, 1870 – January 28, 1871, and the consequent capture of the city by Prussian forces led to French defeat in the Franco-Prussian War and the establishment of the German Empire as well as the Paris Commune....

 and resisted calls to bombard it: we owe the Paris of today to this civilised act. He also directed the operations conducted by General von der Tann
Ludwig Freiherr von und zu der Tann-Rathsamhausen
Ludwig Samson Arthur Freiherr von und zu der Tann-Rathsamhausen was a Bavarian general.-Early life:Born at Darmstadt, on the day of Waterloo, Ludwig von der Tann was descended from the old family of von der Tann, which had branches in Bavaria, the Alsace and the Rhine provinces, and attached his...

 around Orleans, and defended the Grand Duke of Mecklenburg from interference by Moltke. In 1871 Blumenthal represented Germany at the British manoeuvres at Chobham
Chobham may mean:* Chobham, Surrey, a town in Surrey, England* Chobham Common, located near Chobham, Surrey, location of a British tank research centre* Chobham armour, composite armour for tanksSee also:* Cobham...

, and was given the command of the IV. army corps at Magdeburg
Magdeburg , is the largest city and the capital city of the Bundesland of Saxony-Anhalt, Germany. Magdeburg is situated on the Elbe River and was one of the most important medieval cities of Europe....

. In 1873 he became a general of infantry, and ten years later he was made a count. In 1888 he was made a general field marshal, after which he was in command of the 4th and 3rd army inspections. He retired in 1896, and died at Quellendorf near Köthen on the 21 December 1900.


He was noted (among others by the English journalist William Howard Russell
William Howard Russell
William Howard Russell was an Irish reporter with The Times, and is considered to have been one of the first modern war correspondents, after he spent 22 months covering the Crimean War including the Charge of the Light Brigade.-Career:As a young reporter, Russell reported on a brief military...

 who followed him during the Franco-Prussian War) for his kindliness and sense of humour. Like the Crown Prince, Moltke and other key Prussian leaders, he had an English wife (Delicia Vyner
The Vyner Baronetcy, of London, was a title in the Baronetage of England. It was created on 18 June 1661 for Thomas Vyner, Lord Mayor of London in 1653. The title became extinct on the early death of the third Baronet in 1683....

) and it was widely thought in conservative circles that this was the basis of a liberal Prussian clique. His least appreciated but arguably most important work was the development of the doctrine of Fire and Infiltration, the basis of Blitzkrieg
For other uses of the word, see: Blitzkrieg Blitzkrieg is an anglicized word describing all-motorised force concentration of tanks, infantry, artillery, combat engineers and air power, concentrating overwhelming force at high speed to break through enemy lines, and, once the lines are broken,...


Further reading

  • Journals of Field Marshal Count von Blumenthal for 1866 and 1870-71, edited by his son, Count Albrecht von Blumenthal, translated by Major Gillespie-Addison, published by Edward Arnold (publisher)
    Edward Arnold (publisher)
    Edward Arnold Publishers Ltd is a British publishing house with its head office in London. The firm has been publishing books for over 100 years. It is a member of the Hodder Education group. Edward Arnold publishes books and journals for students, academics and professionals.-Bibliography:*...

    , 1903.
  • Bismarck, Some Secret Pages of His History - the diary of Dr. Moritz Busch published by Macmillan & Co, 1898
  • The War Diary of Emperor Frederick III 1870-1871 translated and edited by A. R. Allinson, published by Stanley Paul & Co, 1927

Terminology note

  • Regarding personal names, Graf
    Graf is a historical German noble title equal in rank to a count or a British earl...

    is a German title, translated as Count
    A count or countess is an aristocratic nobleman in European countries. The word count came into English from the French comte, itself from Latin comes—in its accusative comitem—meaning "companion", and later "companion of the emperor, delegate of the emperor". The adjective form of the word is...

    , not a first or middle name. The feminine form is Gräfin.

External links

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