Marshal Blucher

(Gebhard Leberecht von Blucher)


Gebhard Leberecht von Blucher was a Prussian field marshal who led his army against Napoleon during the Battle of the Nations at Leipzig and the Battle of Waterloo. He is honored with a statue in the German Walhalla Temple, and his name inspired the phrase ďon it like Blucher,Ē to imply the taking of direct or decisive action.

Von Blucher joined the Swedish Army as a Hussar at the age of sixteen, but after he was captured during battle, he began serving under the Prussian regiment. He took part in the Seven Year's War and was much admired for his skill, but away from the front line he was better known for his poor moral character and crude antics. After his excessive behavior led him to be denied a promotion, Blucher wrote an angry letter of resignation and retired to the countryside. He took up farming and remained out of the limelight for fifteen years, until the death of Frederick the Great allowed him to return to the army. He was reinstated to his old regiment, and after a successful expedition to the Netherlands he was promoted to lieutenant colonel. Blucher went on to achieve the rank of major general of the cavalry shortly before the start of the Napoleonic Wars.

In 1805, Blucher led the Prussian army during a battle against Napoleon, and even after his surrender at Ratekau he was allowed to keep his weapons and move freely throughout the country. After the war, he was greatly admired as the leader of the Prussian Patriot Party, but his hopes for an alliance with Austria fell through, and he was banished from the court after he openly expressed his disgust at a possible Russo-French alliance. Returning to a position of power in 1813, Blucher fought at Lutzen and Leipzig, taking the second city for himself after a decisive battle against Napoleon. Following the French emperorís exile, Blucher was made Prince of Wahlstatt before retiring to Silesia.

His services to Prussia were not yet complete, however, and he was called back into battle during Napoleonís return to France and Hundred Days campaign. He led his army on a torturous march through the French countryside before arriving at Waterloo, where the arrival of much-needed backup won the war for Napoleonís enemies. The emperor was exiled a second time, and Blucher remained in Paris for a time before returning to his Silesian estate, where he passed away at the age of 76.

Key events during the life of Gebhard Leberecht von Blucher:

Born in Northern Germany
Joined the Swedish Army but aligned with the Prussian army after he was captured
Wrote a rude letter of resignation after he was denied a promotion
Reinstated as a major in his old regiment, the Red Hussars
Took part in an expedition to the Netherlands
Became colonel of the Red Hussars
Was made general of the cavalry
Defeated Napoleon at the Battle of the Nations in Leipzig
Defeated Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo

Other Resources

Story Links
Book Links
Waterloo  in  The Hanoverians  by  C. J. B. Gaskoin
Batttle of Waterloo  in  The Story of France  by  Mary Macgregor
Downfall of Napoleon  in  The History of Germany  by  Henrietta Elizabeth Marshall
Fall of the Empire  in  The Struggle for Sea Power  by  M. B. Synge
Eve of Waterloo  in  The Struggle for Sea Power  by  M. B. Synge
Waterloo  in  The Boy's Book of Battles  by  Eric Wood

Image Links

Heroes of Waterloo
 in The Hanoverians

The Meeting of Wellington and Blucher
 in  The Story of the English

Not till after the battle did Blucher and Wellington meet.
 in Our Island Story

Short Biography
Napoleon Victorious general who rose to power during the French Revolution. Crowned himself Emperor and restored France to greatness.
Michel Ney One of Napoleon's most trusted generals and hero of many French battles. Executed for treason after Waterloo.
Andreas Hofer Patriot of the Austrian Tyrol who held Austria for the Hapsburgs against Napoleon's allies.
Robespierre Key figure of the French Revolution. Leader of the Reign of Terror.
Jean-Paul Marat Radical Doctor who became Leader of the Reign of Terror during the French Revolution.