Blücher, Gebhard Leberecht von

Blücher, Gebhard Leberecht von gĕpˈhärt lāˈbərĕkht fən blüˈkhər [key], 1742–1819, Prussian field marshal, an outstanding military opponent of Napoleon I. An officer in the army of King Frederick II from 1760, he incurred royal displeasure when, believing himself passed over for promotion, he abruptly resigned in the early 1770s. He returned to service only in 1787 after Frederick's death. He fought well in the disastrous campaign of 1806 against the French and surrendered with honor near Lübeck. In the dark days that followed he helped Karl vom und zum Stein, K. A. von Hardenberg, and General Scharnhorst recreate the Prussian opposition to Napoleon. He was a leader in the War of Liberation (1813–14). Although ill and subject to delusions, he won brilliant victories at Wahlstatt and Möckern and played a part in the defeat of the French at Leipzig. Crossing the Rhine, he led his army to Paris. In the Waterloo campaign of 1815, he was defeated at Ligny but arrived at the battle of Waterloo in time to make it a victory. In 1814 he was made prince of Wahlstatt.

See study by E. F. Henderson (1911).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2024, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

See more Encyclopedia articles on: German History: Biographies