Definitions

Scharnhorst

Scharnhorst

[shahrn-hawrst]
Scharnhorst, Gerhard Johann David von, 1755-1813, Prussian general. A Hanoverian army officer, military writer, and director of the war college, he entered Prussian service in 1801. He fought in the disastrous war (1806-7) against Napoleon I, headed the commission for reorganizing the army, and controlled the war ministry from 1807. He resigned his posts early in 1812, when Prussia was forced into an alliance with Napoleon I against Russia. When the French defeat in Russia enabled Prussia to break its alliance with France and join the anti-French coalition (1813), Scharnhorst served as chief of staff to the commander of the army, Field Marshal Blücher. Scharnhorst transformed the Prussian army from a mercenary force into a people's army. Since the introduction of general conscription was impossible under Napoleonic rule, Scharnhorst invented the Krümpersystem under which a larger number of men than that allowed to Prussia could be trained in the use of arms; citizens were called to service for a short training period to be then replaced by another group. Although the system was highly acclaimed, in reality only a small number exceeding the 42,000 man limit were trained. The abolition of physical punishment and the admission of nonnobles into the officers' corps further helped to popularize the army's cause. General conscription, however, was introduced formally only in 1814 after Scharnhorst's death. His military reforms were aided by August Neithhardt von Gneisenau and Karl vom und zum Stein.

(born Nov. 12, 1755, Bordenau, Hanover—died June 28, 1813, Prague, Bohemia) Prussian general. He joined the Hanoverian army in 1778 and served with distinction in Belgium against the French in the 1790s. An officer in the Prussian army from 1801, he taught at the war academy and became chief of staff in the war against Napoleon (1806). As head of the army reform commission (from 1807), he developed the modern general staff system and reorganized the Prussian army; with August von Gneisenau he devised the system of rapid military training and use of army reserves. After a forced retirement, he became chief of staff to Gebhard von Blücher (1813) and died of a wound received in the Battle of Lützen.

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(born Nov. 12, 1755, Bordenau, Hanover—died June 28, 1813, Prague, Bohemia) Prussian general. He joined the Hanoverian army in 1778 and served with distinction in Belgium against the French in the 1790s. An officer in the Prussian army from 1801, he taught at the war academy and became chief of staff in the war against Napoleon (1806). As head of the army reform commission (from 1807), he developed the modern general staff system and reorganized the Prussian army; with August von Gneisenau he devised the system of rapid military training and use of army reserves. After a forced retirement, he became chief of staff to Gebhard von Blücher (1813) and died of a wound received in the Battle of Lützen.

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