The New International Encyclopædia/Scharnhorst, Gerhard Johann David von

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The New International Encyclopædia
Scharnhorst, Gerhard Johann David von
Edition of 1905. See also Gerhard von Scharnhorst on Wikipedia, and the disclaimer.

SCHARNHORST, schärn'hōrst, Gerhard Johann David von (1755-1813). A Prussian general, founder of the modern Prussian military system. He was born in Hanover. He entered the military service of his native State in 1778, was teacher in the artillery school of Hanover about 1780, and was engaged in the campaigns in Flanders in 1793-95. In 1801 he was called into the Prussian service and became director of the Prussian military school. He served in the field in the disastrous campaigns of 1806-07, and was then made president of the commission charged with the reorganization of the Prussian army and head of the War Department. Working in harmony with the other regenerators who came to Prussia in her need, he accomplished this in spite of the distrust and opposition of the old-time Prussians. Universal service was not secured until his death, but he laid down the principles and prepared the way for its adoption. Enrollments of foreigners were abolished, corporal punishments were limited to flagrant cases of insubordination, promotion for merit was established, and the military administration organized and simplified. The organization of the Landwehr or reserve was begun. So promptly were the results of this work seen that the Prussian army, which had been so ineffective before Tilsit, was able to play an important part in the final campaigns against Napoleon. Scharnhorst was wounded in the battle at Grossgörschen May 2, 1813, and died at Prague June 28th. Consult his biography by Klippel (3 vols., Leipzig, 1869-71), which is devoted especially to his reforms and their results.