- Gneisenau, August Wilhelm von
- (1760–1831)A Prussian field marshal and German nationalist hero, August Wilhelm von Gneisenau gained early experience serving in a mercenary regiment of the Margrave of Bayreuth Ansbach in the pay of Britain during the American Revolution. In 1786, Frederick the Great commissioned him as a first-lieutenant in the Prussian Army. Gneisenau fought against Napoleon at Jena in 1806 and as a major was awarded the coveted pour le mérite for his defense of Colberg in 1807. He then worked with Scharnhorst in reorganizing the Prussian Army to meet the Napoleonic challenge, introducing among other reforms the revolutionary concept of the general staff. As an aide to Blücher, Gneisenau distinguished himself at Leipzig and Waterloo. After retirement to his Silesian estate in 1816, he became governor of Berlin and a member of the Council State. During the Polish Revolution of 1831, Gneisenau came briefly out of retirement as a field marshal and commanded an army of observation on the Polish border with Carl von Clausewitz as his chief of staff. After his death, his name entered the pantheon of Junker resistance to Napoleon, the promotion Prussian professional militarism, and German nationalism.FURTHER READING:Citino, Robert M. The German Way of War. Lawrence: University of Kansas Press, 2005;Craig, Gordon A. The Politics of the Prussian Army, 1640-1945. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1955;Rothenberg, Gunther E. The Art of Warfare in the Age of Napoleon Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1978.CARL CAVANAGH HODGE
Encyclopedia of the Age of Imperialism, 1800–1914. 2014.