Prussian Generals of the Napoleonic Wars  1793-1815

Prussian Generals of the Napoleonic Wars  1793-1815: Massenbach, Eberhard Friedrich Fabian, Freiherr von

By: Digby Smith

Massenbach, Eberhard Friedrich Fabian, Freiherr von (1121)

Born on 3 May 1753 in Bladiau, Kreis Heiligenbeil, East Prussia (now Mamonovo, south of Kaliningrad, Russia). His father, Friedrich Fabian, was a retired cavalry captain who had last served in the Kür R von Bornstedt Nr 9, a Landesdirektor and Herr auf Stuttehmen. On 3 April 1766, Eberhard entered Prussian military service as Junker, in the DragR von Meier Nr 6. On 3 December 1767, he was commissioned Frch, and on 3 July 1771, promoted to Sklt. He served in the War of the Bavarian Succession 1778/9 and on 30 April 1783 was promoted to Prlt, Drag R Graf Posadowski Nr 6. On 8 April 1788, he was promoted to Stkpt and 21 June 1790, to Maj, apparently without serving any time as a captain. He fought in the war in Poland in 1794/5, in the clashes at Gabnicki and Plonsk; he was repeatedly distinguished. On 17 July 1798, he was promoted to Obstlt and on 31 May 1800, Obst. On 15 December 1801, he was given command of the newly-raised DragR von Roquette Nr 13. On 21 June 1802, he was awarded the PLM. Von Massenbach was a talented cavalry commander.  In the war of 1806/7 he took part in the defence of Danzig. He mounted several successful sorties, particularly that on 26 March 1807. On 8 April 1807, he was promoted to brigadier; and on 19 June of that year, to GM as a reward for his part in the defence of Danzig. On 25 November 1807, he was given the task of organizing the new Ostpr KürR from the remnants of the old Kürassier regiments von Waagenfeld Nr 4 and von Roquette Nr 13. He was also a member of Scharnhorst`s Kommission für den Neuaufbau der Armee. Von Massenbach considered that Fürst Hohenlohe was responsible for the debacle of 1806 and conducted a whispering campaign against him which destroyed his reputation. On 7 December 1808, he was given command of the Westpr cavalry brigade with a salary of Thlr 3,000, Tafelgeld (entertainment allowance) of Thlr 1,200 (less one third) and 8 rations of fodder and food for his horses.

On 21 March 1811, he was appointed commander of the Ostpr cavalry in Königsberg. On 24 March 1812, he was promoted to GL and appointed GOC of the cavalry corps mobilised for the Russian campaign. On 4 September 1812, he was permitted to wear the cross of the LdH Ch, which he won for his action in the clash at Eckau (27 September). On 19 October 1812, he was awarded the RAO III for his actions in the clashes at Eckau and the Garosse River (10 October). The king also sent his condolences to Massenbach at the death of his son in action at Riga. Von Yorck`s Convention of Tauroggen (30 December 1812) with the Russians put von Massenbach in a difficult position; he commanded six battalions, ten squadrons and two batteries of artillery who were directly under Marshal Macdonald`s orders. Von Yorck sent him secret orders to abandon the French and to join him; on the morning of 31 December 1812, von Massenbach slipped away with his men over the river Memel and into Russian lines. On 28 February 1813, he was appointed military governor of the area between the Russian border and the River Vistula. On the 8 April 1813 he was ordered to join Prince Alexander von Württemberg at the siege of Danzig with 8,000 Landwehr troops, but was prevented from doing so by ill health. On 3 June 1813 – now governor of Ostpreussen with a salary of Thlr 4,000 p.a. and allowances of Thlr 2,000. 8 June 1813 – Massenbach retired due to ill health with a pension of Thlr 1,200 p.a. On 22 June 1813, he was awarded a gift of Thlr 1,000 by the king. On 21 August 1813, he was awarded the RAO I, and on 17 December 1813 – appointed governor of Danzig, but Prince Alexander of Württemberg refused to hand the place over to him until 2 February 1814. On 31 March 1815, he was awarded the EK II on a white ribbon. On 3 October 1815, he was promoted GdK with a pension of Thlr 2,000 p.a. He died on 3 June 1819 in Schrengen, Kreis Rastenburg, in East Prussia, now Gierloz, in Poland.


Placed on the Napoleon Series: June 2011


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