Friedrich Wilhelm Graf Bülow von Dennewitz, (1755-1816)


General Friedrich Graf Bülow von Dennewitz, a capable Prussian corps commander who in the campaign of 1813, defeated the French at Grossbeeren and Dennewitz. He also played a prominent part at Waterloo in 1815.

The Prussian general Friedrich Wilhelm Graf Bülow, as commander of III Corps in the battles of Grossbeeren (23 August 1813) and Dennewitz (6 September 1813), saved Berlin twice from the threat of a French attack. He was made Graf Bülow von Dennewitz on 3 June 1814. At the Battle of Waterloo (18 June 1815), IV Corps under his command bore the main burden of the successful attack on the village of Plancenoit.

Bülow entered military service (2 April 1768) as a corporal. On 24 December 1772 he became an ensign, followed by promotion to second lieutenant (1 April 1778), first lieutenant (26 May 1786), captain second class (2 March 1790), captain (10 February 1793), major (3 April 1794), lieutenant colonel (23 June 1803), colonel (23 May 1806), and major general (25 November 1808) (the patent being antedated to 21 November, which made him senior to Major General Friedrich von Kleist). On 14 March 1813 he was promoted to lieutenant general (the patent being postdated to 21 March, which made him junior to Lieutenant General von Kleist and Princes Heinrich, Wilhelm, and August of Prussia).His final promotion came on 30 May 1814, as a general of infantry (the patent being antedated to 4 April). He served in the campaigns of 1778-1779 in the Bavarian Succession war in 1793-1794 on the Rhine, in 1806-1807 in East Prussia, and in 1813-1815 in Pomerania.

Born 16 February 1755, like many other noblemen destined for military service, Bülow entered the Prussian army at a young age. Intelligent and witty, he used his free time for historical, geographical, and mathematical studies. His regiment being garrisoned in Berlin, his great musical talent, as a composer as well as a player, helped introduce him to the royal court. On 10 February 1793 he was attached as governor to Prince Louis Ferdinand of Prussia, whom he accompanied in the campaigns of 1793-1794. After the campaigns, keen on active service, he declined the offer to become the adjutant of Prince Heinrich of Prussia and was transferred to a fusilier battalion instead. On 12 September 1797 he became chief of the newly raised Fusilier Battalion no. 16.

With his battalion, Bülow took part in the campaign of 1806-1807 in East Prussia, but he was transferred to the army corps commanded by Gebhard von Blücher, under whom he became a brigadier on 23 May 1807. In the following years, Bülow served as a commander of different brigades. Having become provisional governor-general of East Prussia in place of General Johann von Yorck on 24 March 1812, in the winter of 1812- 1813 Bülow showed great skill and diplomatic talent in organizing a Prussian reserve corps under the difficult prevailing political circumstances.

Acting independently in northern Germany in spring 1813, on 12 July his units became III Corps, and on 16 July it was assigned to the Army of the North under the command of the Sweden’s Crown Prince Bernadotte. After the Battle of Leipzig (16-19 October 1813), his corps helped drive the French out of northern and western Germany and invaded the Netherlands. On 25 February 1814 Bülow’s corps was transferred to (now Field Marshal) Blücher’s Army of Silesia, joining it in northern France. After the campaign, on 18 June 1814, he became commander of the Prussian troops in East and West Prussia.

On 1 March 1815 Bülow was appointed commander of IV Corps in the Army of the Lower Rhine under Blücher’s command, returning after the Waterloo campaign to his command in East and West Prussia. There he died after a short period of illness on 25 February 1816.

References and further reading Leggiere, Michael. 1997. “The Life, Letters and Campaigns of Friedrich Wilhelm Graf Bülow Von Dennewitz, 1755-1816.” 2 vols. Ph. D. diss., Florida State University. —.2002. Napoleon and Berlin: The Franco-Prussian War in North Germany, 1813. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press. Priesdorff, Kurt von. 1937-1942. “Friedrich Wilhelm Graf Bülow von Dennewitz.” In Soldatisches Führertum [Military Leadership], 3:294-306. Hamburg: Hanseatische Verlagsanstalt.

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