Prussian Generals of the Napoleonic Wars  1793-1815

Prussian Generals of the Napoleonic Wars  1793-1815: Boyen, Leopold Hermann Ludwig von

By: Digby Smith


Boyen, Leopold Hermann Ludwig von. Chief of Staff, III Corps in 1813.

Leopold Hermann Ludwig von Boyen Born in Kreuzburg (now Slavskoye), East Prussia (now Russia) on 23 June 1771. He joined the Prussian army in 1784 in Königsberg (now Kaliningrad), in IR von Anhalt Nr 2. In 1787 he transferred to IR Nr 14 von Wildau, in Bartenstein (now Bartoszyce, northern Poland) as Frch. In 1788, he was promoted to second lieutenant. From 1794-96, Boyen took part in the campaign in Poland as Adjt to General Heinrich Johann Freiherr von Günther. In 1796, he was promoted to Captain in Gumbinnen (now Gusev, east of Kaliningrad). He served in the war of 1806 on the General Staff of the Duke of Brunswick, and was wounded at Auerstädt on 14 October. After the Treaty of Tilsit (July 1807) he was promoted to Major and became a member of Gerhard von Scharnhorst's Commission for Military Re-organisation and soon became his most diligent disciple. By 1810 Boyen was appointed Director of the Military Cabinet. Following the conclusion of the alliance between Prussia and France in 1812, he resigned his commission as a Colonel and traveled to Vienna and St Petersburg. The events of 1813 saw him recalled to the Prussian service as a colonel; he accompanied the Russian army from its base in Kalisz to Saxony. After the Battle of Lützen on 2 May, he was given command of the border guards and ultimately the defence of Berlin. During the truce that summer, the King named him Chief of General Staff of the III Army Corps. As such, Boyen participated in the battles and skirmishes of 1813 and 1814 and gained promotion to Major-General. After the first Peace of Paris (30 May 1814) he was appointed War Minister. He completed the organization of the Landwehr reserve, which had begun during the war and in 1818 he was promoted to LG. He struggled in vain against growing reactionary forces which endangered the broad popular base of the Landwehr, and resigned in 1819. For 21 years he lived in retirement, occupying himself with historical studies, until King Frederick William IV, immediately after ascending the throne, recalled him to active service, and promoted him to GoI. In March 1841 he once again took over the War Ministry, but had little influence on general politicy. He resigned again in November 1847, with the rank of FM, and died on 15 February 1848.


Placed on the Napoleon Series: April 2010


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