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Helmuth Karl Bernhard Moltke, Graf von

Moltke, Helmuth Karl Bernhard, Graf von, 1800–1891, Prussian field marshal. Following his graduation from the Royal Military Academy of Denmark, he entered the Danish service, but resigned his commission in 1822 to join the Prussian army. He became (1833) a member of the general staff, and three years later with official sanction he entered the service of the Ottoman sultan as military adviser. His advice was not followed in the campaign against Muhammad Ali of Egypt, and he returned (1839) to Prussia, where he advanced rapidly and was made chief of the general staff in 1858. He worked tirelessly to mold the Prussian army into a formidable war machine. The successful completion of the Danish War (1864) and of the Austro-Prussian War (1866) was due to his tactics, and in the Franco-Prussian War (1870–71) Moltke's genius, evinced especially in his plan of mobilization, led to complete Prussian victory. On receiving news of the fall of Metz, William I made him a count. Moltke owed many of his military successes to the elasticity of his strategy. Unlike Napoleon, he gave his subleaders liberty in making decisions. When he resigned as chief of staff in 1888, he was made chairman of the committee for national defense. Moltke was a member of the diet of the North German Confederation (1867–71) and of the Reichstag (1871–91). He wrote noteworthy books on tactics, including The Franco-German War of 1870–71 (tr. 1892).

See his Essays, Speeches, and Memoirs (tr., 2 vol., 1893).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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