Prussian Generals of the Napoleonic Wars  1793-1815

Prussian Generals of the Napoleonic Wars  1793-1815: Dobschütz, Leopold Wilhelm von

By: Digby Smith

Dobschütz, Leopold Wilhelm von (1237)

Born on 1 January 1763 in Brieg (now Brzeg), Silesia into an old military family; his father was a Prussian civil servant, but exact details of his parents are unclear. Entered Prussian military service on 10 May 1777 as Junker, in the DragR von Mitzlaff Nr 11; his squadron commander, von Steinmann, was Turkish by birth and a great student of the legendary von Seydlitz as well as an excellent tactician and commanding officer. On 26 December 1778 he was commissioned as Frch; he served in the War of the Bavarian Succession in 1778/9. On 24 August 1785 he became a Sklt, in the DragR von Bosse Nr 11. On 30 May 1791 he was promoted to Prlt and on 13 January 1793 to Stkpt. In the war against France on the Rhine from 1793 – 1795 he fought with distinction at the battle of Kaiserslautern and the clash at Trippstadt. He came to the king`s attention and as a reward for his services, Friedrich Wilhelm III gave him the expectancy of a prebendary in the monastry of St Nikolas in Magdeburg and gave him permission to wear the cross of the order. On 20 November 1797 he was promoted to Maj, in the DragR von Voss Nr 11. On 14 March 1799 he became ChEs; on 5 June 1805 he was promoted to Obstlt, and on 15 June 1806 to Obst. In the war of 1806 he was captured in Silesia and was subsequently on the inactive list. He applied for a new post in December 1808 but there were none available so he went to his estate in Zölling and concentrated on farming. He re-applied for a military post in January 1810 but the answer was the same. His third application in March 1813 was successful and he was made GOC of a division of Silesian LW in the counties of Glogau, Sagan, Sprottau and Schwiebus on 6 May 1813. On 23 May he was ordered to take his division to Crossen (now Krosno, Poland) at all speed and to join up with GM von Hinrich`s Neumark LWC Division there to oppose any enemy attempt to invade Silesia by crossing the River Oder there. They were to come under GL von Bülow`s command. On 4 August 1813, during the armistice,  he was appointed governor of Berlin and GOC of the Reserve of Tauentzien`s IV Corps there. During the 1813 campaign he fought in the clashes at Blankenfelde (awarded the EK II), Zahna, Mühlberg, Dessau, at the battle of Dennewitz (awarded the EK I), the siege of Wittenberg and the blockade of Erfurt. The action at Mühlberg, on 19 September, was a special day of honour. Here, with one squadron of the Schwarze-Husaren, two of Pommeranian LWC and two Pulks of cossacks under Gen Illowaisky, he destroyed three regiments of French Chasseurs-a-Cheval (including the 8e and 9e) and took their commander, Col Tallyrand, prisoner. The enemy were completely surprised and there was practically no fight. He also captured all the warlike stores in the town and two barges of clothing on the Elbe, that were destined for the French garrison in Magdeburg. On 8 October  Napoleon made a thrust designed to split the  Army of the North from the Army of Silesia. General von Tauentzien at Dessau, wrongly believing that there was a threat to Berlin, made a forced march back to the city, stayed one day, realised his error and marched for the great battle that was to be fought at Leipzig; due to his diversion, he was too late for the combat. Tauentzien`s corps then went to blockade Wittenberg. This was too tame for von Dobschütz and he applied to the king for another command but was refused. On 8 December 1813 he was appointed GOC 2. Brigade, IV Corps. Dobschütz led the successful storm of Wittenberg on 12 January 1814. On 26 January he received the RAO III for this action and was given an honorary PhD by the university of that city. The twin fortresses of Erfurt (Petersberg and Cyriaksburg), held out against his blockade until 26 April 1814, when hostilities ceased. The city`s university gave honorary doctorates in all its faculties to von Dobschütz. On 27 August 1814 he was appointed GOC of a Silesian LWC division. On 5 September 1814 he was permitted to wear the insignia of the Swedish Order of the Sword and the Russian OstA I. On 19 October 1814 he was appointed commandant of Dresden; on 3 April 1815 he was appointed GOC of a cavalry brigade in III Corps On 8 April 1815 this was changed and he was appointed military governor of the Rhineland provinces. On 2 October 1815 he was awarded the RAO II with oakleaves. On 25 October 1815 he was appointed GOC of a brigade in Glogau. On 30 March 1817 he was promoted GL and made GOC 12. Division. On 18 January 1824 he was awarded the RAO I with oakleaves and on 18 June 1825 he was appointed governor of Breslau. On 19 August 1825 he was awarded the Dienstkreuz. On 29 May 1827 he retired as GdK and died on 3 February 1836 on his farm at Zölling , Kreis Freistadt, Silesia.


Placed on the Napoleon Series: July 2010


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