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Blucher

Blucher

 

 

BlucherBlucher shares with Wellington the honors of the triumph at Waterloo-a victory more far-reaching and important in its consequences than any other recorded in history, resulting in the overthrow of Napoleon and the system for which his name stood, the establishment of peace throughout Europe and, in large measure, the restoration of the map to its original tines.

 

Marshal Blucher is one of the few generals whose fame belongs entirely to their old age. He was a bold fighter rather than a master of strategy. Gebhard Lebrecht Von Blucher was born at Rostod, Mecklenburg-Schwerin, December 16th, 1742. His father was an officer in the service of Hesse-Cassel, and at the age of fifteen the son, against the wishes of his parents, became a comet in a Swedish regiment of hussars. His first campaign was against the Prussians, and he was taken prisoner by the very regiment of hussars which he afterwards himself commanded. Ere long Blucher entered the army of Prussia, the country which he was destined to serve so ably. He was present in some of the battles of the Seven Years' War, and acquired a reputation as a daring and resolute soldier, though his coarse and violent temper brought him into frequent difficulties, and impeded his promotion.

 

At the age of twenty-eight Blucher retired from the service, in anger at a slight from the great Frederic, who had promoted another officer over him. He did not return to the army until 1786, after the death of his first wife. During this period of sixteen years he devoted himself to agriculture with great success. When the wars of the French Revolution commenced, Blucher was colonel of a regiment of Black Hussars. He commanded the left wing of the Duke of Brunswick's army in 1793. gaining credit for skill as well as courage. He particularly distinguished himself at the battle of Leystadt, September 18th, 1794, and was, in consequence, ap.pointed major-general of the army of observation stationed on the Lower Rhine. After his second marriage, he was made lieutenant-general, and was employed as governor of some districts of Prussia. In the second war between France and Prussia, 1806, he was commander of the Prussian cavalry. After the disasters of Jena and Auerstadt, Blucher signalized himself by the ability of his retreat, and by his desperate resistance at Lubeck before he capitulated to his pursuers.

 

Another period of retirement from military life lasted from 1806 to 1813, during which Blucher was deprived of command in obedience to Napoleon's requirement. The brave general watched eagerly for Prussia's opportunity of rising against her French oppressors. This came finally after Napoleon's Russian campaign of 1812. Blucher was now seventy years old, but his spirit was as fiery as ever, and there was no general in the war of German Liberation who was followed with more enthusiasm, or who did more for the rescue of the Fatherland. His army, called the army of Silesia, was composed partly or Prussians and partly of Russians. From the latter he earned his well-known title of "Marshal Forward," that being his favorite word of encouragement to his troops. On August 26th, 1812, he routed and nearly destroyed the French army under Marshal Macdonald, at the Katzbach; a victory that partly redeemed the reverses of Liitzen and Bautzen. Blucher was, by Napoleon's own confession, the keenest, the most indomitable, and the most formidable of the foes who now drove the French back across the Rhine. No reverses disheartened him, no difficulties appalled him and he was only held back by the more cautious policy of other chiefs of the Allies.

 

In 1814. when the A:lies entered France, Blucher was again the fiercest and foremost among Napoleon's assailants. He had the advantage over him at Brienne and though be was surprised and severely punished by the emperor at Montereau, he was soon pressing forward again upon Paris, fought desperately at Craon, was victorious at Laon, and finally joined in the attack upon Paris on the 30th of Match, 1814, which caused the surrender of the French capital, and the end of the war. Blucher was now made Prince of Wahlstadt, and proceeded in June with the allied monarchs to London, where be was received by the English people with enthusiasm.

 

When Napoleon returned from Elba in 1815. Blucher commanded the Prussian army in Belgium, which, in conjunction with the British army under Wellington, fought the campaign of Waterloo. Blucher's army was the first the French emperor attacked an the 16th of June the obstinate battle of Ligny took place, in which, as Blucher himself remarked, the Prussians lost the day but not their honor. Though forced to retreat in consequence or this defeat, Blucher had his army rallied and ready for action again before a day was over, a result on which Napoleon had certainly not calculated. On the 18th Blucher marched, according to promise, to aid Wellington at Waterloo. He came on the field in force towards the evening of that ever-memorable day, leading his columns on Napoleon's right Rank and rear, with the intention or not only succoring the almost defeated English, but of utterly crushing the French. His success is well known. Often repulsed, and at last fiercely charged in front by Wellington's army, the French were unable to hold back Blucher on their right, and were swept from the field in irretrievable ruin. After this finally decisive battle Blucher advanced into France in conjunction with Wellington, and was present at a second surrender of Paris.

 

Blucher's fierce animosity against the French made him wish to storm their capital, and he expressed a purpose of shooting Napoleon himself on the very spot, in the ditch at Vincennes, where the Due D' Enghien had been murdered. He yielded, however, though sullenly and reluctantly, to the sage advice of his English colleague. He returned to his country to enjoy well-earned repose after his toils. This brave veteran died at his estate of Keiblowitz, in Silesia, September 12th, 1819. at the age of seventy-seven.

 

Blucher was almost idolized by the Prussian nation, who justly looked upon him as the savior of their country. Like :Marshal Ney and some other brave generals, he knew little of strategy, but had Ole good sense to be aware of bis own deficiency, and to follow in military plans and maneuvers the able advice of General Gneiseunau, to whom he always frankly expressed his obligation.

 

THE CAMPAIGN OF WATERLOO.

 

Stripped of superfluous ornament, and of the mass or fiction wherewith national vanity has obscured it, the story of Waterloo becomes clear and simple enough. On the one side is an army taking the offensive under the most renowned leader of the world, itself formidable by tradition, training, and devotion to its chief: compact in organization, and complete in all its parts, moving by the volition of a single will, and with the political circumstances subordinated to the military, it must be regarded as the most formidable instrument of war which the age could produce. Opposed stand two Allies, each commanding a force ready equal to the French, each honored and trusted by his soldiers, but each aware that the composition of his troops was inferior to that of the foe. Faithful co-operation to the common end was their reliance to maintain the superiority promised by their numbers: meanwhile, for conveniency's sake, their armies lie scattered over a front of more than 100 miles, and that, although they knew the enemy to be threatening a decisive blow. He advances with a sudden spring across the frontier, aiming straight at the point where their cantonments meet upon his shortest road to Brussels his speed and earnestness show his resolve to be either to thrust his army between them, or to strike a deadly blow at him who should most quickly gather for the encounter. The Allies have provided beforehand, in their councils, for this very case, resolved to fight side by side, the one ready to support the other; but Napoleon's prompt advance anticipates their design, and on the first day the mass of his army is upon the ground laid out for their junction, whilst Blucher can only gain its vicinity next morning with three~fourth s of his force, and 'Wellington with a mere fraction of the British. The second day finds the Allied commanders in personal council at Ligny, whilst Napoleon prepares to thrust the Prussians out of his way. Wellington promises them his support, being unaware that Napoleon has placed a strong left wing before the British, as though anticipating the attempt to unite on this new line.

 

Attacked by Ney, the British commander has full occupation for the rest of the day, and, though successful himself, can furnish no succour to Blucher, who suffers a sharp defeat. Thus far matters seem to have prospered with Napoleon, but from this night his star of destiny wanes sensibly each hour. Whilst the Allies, firm to their original resolve, fall back on the 17th on lines as nearly parallel as the circumstances permit, to seek a new point of junction at Waterloo, he overrates his own advantage, mistakes the direction of retreat taken by the Prussians, and instead of following hotly from early daylight on their track, or marching instantly with all his force on Wellington's flank, he loses half the day before his decision is made, and then takes the intermediate measure of sending a large detachment after the Prussians, and of following Wellington with the rest. From his hour his fate is sealed for complete and sudden victory, bis one hope of safety from threatened ruin, has become henceforth impossible.

 

Calm in the coming certainty of success., the British general, without even calling in all troops available for the battle, turns to face his renowned adversary at the chosen post of Waterloo, where cross-roads from Blucher's rallying point at Wavre afford the means of the union twice before prevented. Napoleon, on the morning of the 18th, remains utterly ignorant of their design, believing the army before him the only obstacle to his entry into Brussels, and the Prussians still retreating before Grouchy. If any part or their dispersed force has got to Wavre, as is reported, Grouchy can push it off with ease, and is directed that way. The momentous battle is deferred from hour to hour until the ground shall be conveniently dry, and the magnificent array of the French be displayed fully to the enemy in all its imposing proportions. This ruinous delay, which proves him 50 ignorant of his true danger, brings the Prussians, though slow at first, within sight of his Bank before the battle is well opened and the terrible truth bursts upon him. With hot. headed courage, but ill.judged tactics, his lieutenants make a series of attacks, which once only, and that for a brief space, shake the firm line of Wellington: but the British leader owes to the 6rst appearance of Blucher the advantage that the Emperor strips himself of the greater part of bis formidable reserves.

 

Meanwhile the intended junction of the Allies draws on, and detailed arrangements of the most exact kind are made to ensure that the co--operation of the Prussians may be the most effective possible. Grouchy, following them steadily but slowly, refuses to turn aside from his line of march to the distant firing, since he knows that the Emperor had not counted on him for the battle with Wellington : and that his task is solely with the Prussians, whom he believes still to be near Wavre. Here he finds and attacks their rearguard but Blucher, with glorious hardihood, leaves it to its fate, caring only for what is to be done in front at Waterloo. His troops once fairly on the fatal ground, the object of the campaign on the part of the Allies is at last accomplished, and a victory, complete beyond all precedent, rewards their combination.

 

The strategy to which Napoleon bad looked to atone, as in his early glories, for inferiority of numbers, fails him utterly in face of the firm, compact, and mutual trust of Wellington and Blucher. The sword to which he loved to appeal, is stricken from his grasp for ever.-C. C. CHESNEY.

 

BLUCHER'S BALL.

 

In the battle of Katzbach, on the 26th of August, 1813, the Russians and Prussians, under field· Marshal Bucher, defeated the French, who were led by Macdonald and Ney, and were driven pell.mell into the Kaubach. The day of the battle Will rainy and the solldiers fought with clubbed muskets.

 

By the Katzbach, by the Katzbach, ha! there was a merry dance; Wild and weird and whirling waltzes skipped ye through, ye knaves of France!

 

For there struck the great bass-viol an old German master famed Marshal Forward, Prince of Wahlstadt, Gebhardt Lebetecht Blucher named.

 

Up! the Blucher hath the ball'room lighted with the cannon's glare! Spread yourselves, ye gay, green carpets, that the dancing moistens therel And his fiddle·bow at first he waxed with Goldberg and with Jauer; '

 

Whew! he's drawn it now full length, his play a stormy northern shower Ha! the dance went briskly onward, tingling madness seized them all; As when howling, mighty tempests on the arms of windmills fall. But the old man wants it cheery, wants a pleasant dancing chime; And with gun-stocks clearly, loudly, beats the old Teutonic time. Say, who, standing by the old man, strikes so hard the kettle. drum,

 

And, with crushing strength of arm, down lets the thundering hammer come? Gueisenau, the gallant champion: Alemannia's envious foes Smites the mighty pair, her living double.eagle, shivering blows.

 

And the old man scrapes the sweep-out hapless Franks and hapless trulls ! Now what dancers leads the graybeard? Ha ! ha ! ha! 't in dead men's skulls! But, as ye too much were heated in the sultriness of hell, Tilt ye sweated blood and brains, he made the Katzbach cool ye well. From the Katzbach, while ye stiffen, hear the ancient proverb say. " Wanton varlets, venal blockheads, must with clubs be beat away !" -A. L. FOLLEN. ·

 

The Rehraus, or sweep-out, was formerly the concluding dance at ball, and parties in Germany. All the company headed by the musician danced. up and down every staircase, and through every room in the house.

 

Blucher

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