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Baron von Müffling was an eye-witness to some of the most decisive events of the Napoleonic Wars, born into a noble family he went into the Prussian service, and saw action in the early campaigns of the Revolutionary wars in Holland and Belgium, during which he said he learned very little. He was party to the birth of the famed Prussian General staff and comments of the different personalities such as Scharnhorst, Gneisenau and to a lesser extent Massenbach. On a less happy note he was also a member of the Prussian army that was destroyed by Napoleon in 1806, and notes with some regret of the bumbling planning, ancient commanders and ineffective tactics used.
After spending some time kicking his heels away from Prussia, where he might be a liability due to his anti-French views, the collapse of the Grande Armée in 1812 offers a chance for further service and liberation of his country. Attached to the army of Silesia and Blücher for the campaigns of 1813 and 1814, during which he and his countrymen fight their way across Europe into the heart of France. He comments on the battles of Lützen, Bautzen, and the battle of Nations at Leipzig, the strained relationships within the allied headquarters and the deeds of hard fighting and long marches that the Russian and Prussian soldiers make under Blücher. His comments on the 1814 campaign in France are particularly interesting as he was at the heart of the action, and at the side of the conductors of the campaign from the Allied side. He is quick to take issue with erroneous statements made at the time, and by later commentators as to the decisions made and the actions taken.
Müffling was allowed little respite after the peace of 1814, plunging back into the fray in 1815 as the Prussian liaison officer at the Duke of Wellington’s headquarters. Vivid details and important facts are recounted with extreme modesty, and unlike staff-officers of later years his place on the battlefield at the Duke’s side was one of grave danger as the Anglo-Dutch army struggled to hold on to the ridge at Waterloo. His own action was indeed decisive, in two incidents, the first in directing the Prussian reinforcements to the right of the hard-pressed allied line, and secondly in bringing up two British cavalry brigades to take part in the final assault on the French lines. He was appointed the Governor of Paris, a particularly tricky job given the recent struggles and the large numbers of armed men roaming the city, which he dispatched with aplomb. Müffling would go on to many important postings in the Prussian army, and even as an international mediator.
An excellent read, full of details of how the Napoleonic Wars was fought and the personalities that bought down the Napoleonic colossus.
Author – General Baron Friedrich Karl Ferdinand von Müffling - (1775-1851)
Editor – Colonel Philip Yorke (1799-1874)
Text taken, whole and complete, from the edition published in 1853, London, by Richard Bentley Original – 520 pages.