Leonhard Graf von Blumenthal

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Generalfeldmarschall Dr. phil. h. c. Leonhard Graf von Blumenthal (here still General der Infanterie) with Pour le Mérite and Iron Cross

Karl Konstantin Albrecht Leonhard von Blumenthal auf Gottschalk und Donastedt, since 1883 Graf[1] von Blumenthal (b. 20 July 1810 in Schwedt an der Oder; d. 21 December 1900 on Estate Quellendorf by Köthen), was a German officer and Prussian Generalfeldmarschall, chiefly remembered for his decisive intervention at the Battle of Königgrätz in 1866 during the Austro-Prussian War, his victories at Wörth and Weissenburg, and above all his refusal in the Franco-Prussian War to bombard Paris in 1870 during the siege, which he directed.

His family held considerable estates in Pomerania and he grew up on his grandfather's estate at Reddentin, near Stolp.


He was noted (among others by the English journalist William Howard Russell[2] who followed him during the Franco-Prussian War) for his kindliness and sense of humour. Like the Crown Prince Frederick III, Helmuth von Moltke[3] and other key Prussian leaders, he had an English wife, Delicia Vyner 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.


  • 28 July 1827 Sekondelieutenant
    • Coming from the cadet corps (since 1820, when he was 10 years old, first in the Culmer Voranstalt, then in the Berlin Hauptanstalt) he was transferred to the Garde Reserve Infantry Regiment (later the Garde Fusilier Regiment).
    • Allgemeine Kriegsschule, language studies in Belgium and France, after his marriage he soon became fluent in English
    • 1837 to 1845 Adjutant and Rechnungsführer in the Garde-Landwehr-Bataillon Koblenz
  • 14 January 1844 Premierlieutenant (after nearly seventeen years of service)
  • 6 January 1849 Hauptmann (in the Generalstab der Armee)
  • 8 June 1853 Major
  • 22 May 1858 Oberstlieutenant
  • 1 July 1860 Oberst
  • 25 June 1864 Generalmajor
  • 30 October 1866 Generalleutnant
  • 22 March 1873 General der Infanterie
  • 15 March 1888 General-Feldmarschall (for the 60th anniversary of service)

Awards, decorations and honors (excerpt)

Rangliste 1896
Awards, decorations and honors (in German)
  • Prussia:
    • Knight of the Red Eagle
      • 4th Class with Swords, 1853
      • 3rd Class with the Ribbon
      • 2nd Class with Oak Leaves, 1864
      • 1st Class with with Oak Leaves, 1871
      • Grand Cross with Swords on Ring, 13 September 1876
      • Crown to Grand Cross, 12 June 1892
    • Knight of the Royal Crown Order
      • 2nd Class, 22 September 1863
      • with Swords, 1864
    • Pour le Mérite (military) with Oak Leaves and Diamonds
      • Pour le Mérite, 22 April 1864
      • Oak Leaves, 17 September 1866
      • Diamonds, 22 April 1898
    • Kriegsdenkmünze für 1864 (Preußen)
    • Prussian Long Service Cross for 25 years (Preußisches Dienstauszeichnungskreuz)
    • Commander's Cross of the Royal House Order of Hohenzollern, with Star and Swords, 20 September 1866
    • Erinnerungs-Kreuz für den Feldzug von 1866
    • Iron Cross (1870), 2nd and 1st Class
    • Kaiserliche Kriegsdenkmünze 1870/71
    • Knight of the Black Eagle, 21 July 1877; with Collar, 1878; in Diamonds
    • Jubiläums-Eichenlaub „25“ 1870/1895 to the Iron Cross 2nd Class
  • Hohenzollern:
    • Cross of Honour of the Princely House Order of Hohenzollern, 1st Class with Swords
  • Anhalt:
    • Grand Cross of the Order of Albert the Bear, 1872
  • Austrian Empire / Kingdom of Hungary Austria-Hungary:
    • Grand Cross of the Imperial Order of Leopold, with War Decoration, 1875
    • Grand Cross of the Royal Hungarian Order of St. Stephen, 1889
  • Baden:
    • Commander of the Military Karl-Friedrich Merit Order, 1870
  • Bavaria:
    • Commander of the Military Order of Max Joseph, 18 October 1870
    • Knight of St. Hubert
    • Grand Cross of the Military Merit Order
  • Brunswick:
    • Grand Cross of the Order of Henry the Lion, with Swords, 1892
  • Saxe-Coburg and Gotha Duchy of Saxe-Altenburg / Saxe-Meiningen Ernestine duchies:
    • Grand Cross of the Saxe-Ernestine House Order, with Swords, 1877
  • France:
  • Hanover:
    • Commander of the Royal Guelphic Order, 2nd Class, 1861[15]
  • Italy:
    • Grand Cross of Saints Maurice and Lazarus
    • Grand Cross of the Military Order of Savoy
  • Mecklenburg:
    • Grand Cross of the Wendish Crown, with Golden Crown
    • Military Merit Cross, 1st Class (Schwerin)
  • Oldenburg:
    • Grand Cross of the Order of Duke Peter Friedrich Ludwig with Swords and Golden Crown and Swords on Ring
      • with Swords, 31 December 1870
      • Golden Crown and Swords on Ring
  • Reuss:
    • Cross of Honour, 1st Class with Crown
  • Russia:
    • Knight of St. George, 4th Class, 27 December 1870
    • Knight of St. Alexander Nevsky, 1876
  • Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach:
    • Grand Cross of the White Falcon, with Swords, 1870
  • Saxony:
    • Grand Cross of the Order of Merit, 1876
    • Grand Cross of the Albert Order, with Golden Star, 1883
    • Knight of the Rue Crown, 1884
  • Schaumburg-Lippe:
    • Military Merit Medal, with Swords
  • Schwarzburg:
    • Princely Schwarzburg Cross of Honour, 1st Class with Swords and in Diamonds
  • Spain:
    • Grand Cross of the Order of Charles III, with Collar, 3 December 1883
  • Sweden-Norway:
    • Knight of the Seraphim, 12 May 1873
    • Commander of the Sword, 2nd Class, 16 January 1862
  • Württemberg:
    • Grand Cross of the Military Merit Order, 30 December 1870
    • Grand Cross of the Württemberg Crown, 1893


  • Honorary Citizen
    • Erfurt, 1871
    • Düsseldorf, 1871
    • Magdeburg, 1877
    • Halle (Saale)
  • Fort No. XII of the Straßburg Fortress, a military barracks in Halle, and a colliery in Recklinghausen, named in his honour, 2 September 1873
  • Honorary Member of the Swedish Academy of Sciences, 1 April 1876
  • Dr. h. c. (Ehrendoktorwürde) of the Universität Halle-Wittenberg, 1877
  • Granted the noble title of Count (Graf) on 19 September 1883
  • Many streets in Germany carried his name.


  1. Graf = Count
  2. William Howard Russell (28 March 1820 - 11 February 1907) was born in Tallaght, Co. Dublin. He was an British-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.
  3. Helmuth Karl Bernhard Graf von Moltke (26 October 1800, Parchim, Mecklenburg-Schwerin – 24 April 1891) was a German Field Marshal. The chief of staff of the Prussian Army for thirty years, he is regarded as one of the great strategists of the latter 19th century, and the creator of a new, more modern method of directing armies in the field. He is often referred to as Moltke the Elder to distinguish him from his nephew Helmuth Johann Ludwig von Moltke, who commanded the German Army at the outbreak of World War I.
  • Moltke, Field Marshall Count Helmuth von, The Franco-German War of 187-71, London, 1893.
  • Allinson, A.R., The War Diary of the Emperor Frederick III 1870-1871, London, 1927, see index for multiple entries of von Blumenthal.