1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Bennigsen, Levin August

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BENNIGSEN, LEVIN AUGUST, Count von (1745-1826), Russian general, of Hanoverian family, was born on the 10th of February 1745 in Brunswick, and served successively as a page at the Hanoverian court and as an officer of foot-guards. He retired from the Hanoverian army in 1764, and in 1773 entered the Russian service as a field officer. He fought against the Turks in 1774 and in 1778, becoming lieutenant-colonel in the latter year. In 1787 his conduct at the storming of Oczakov won him promotion to the rank of brigadier, and he distinguished himself repeatedly in the Polish War of 1793-1794 and in the Persian War of 1796. The part played by Bennigsen in the actual assassination of the tsar Paul I. is not fully known, but he took a most active share in the formation and conduct of the conspiracy. Alexander I. made him governor-general of Lithuania in 1801, and in 1802 a general of cavalry. In 1806 he was in command of one of the Russian armies operating against Napoleon, when he fought the battle of Pultusk and met the emperor in person in the sanguinary battle of Eylau (8th of February 1807). Here he could claim to have inflicted the first reverse suffered by Napoleon, but six months later Bennigsen met with the crushing defeat of Friedland (14th of June 1807) the direct consequence of which was the treaty of Tilsit. Bennigsen now retired for some years, but in the campaign of 1812 he reappeared in the army in various responsible positions. He was present at Borodino, and defeated Murat in the engagement of Tarutino, but on account of a quarrel with Marshal Kutusov, the Russian commander-in-chief, he was compelled to retire from active military employment. After the death of Kutusov he was recalled and placed at the head of an army. Bennigsen led one of the columns which made the decisive attack on the last day of the battle of Leipzig (16th-19th of October 1813). On the same evening he was made a count by the emperor Alexander I., and he afterwards commanded the forces which operated against Marshal Davout in North Germany. After the general peace he held a command from 1815 to 1818, when he retired from active service and settled on his Hanoverian estate of Banteln near Hildesheim. Count Bennigsen died on the 3rd of December 1826. His son, Alexander Levin, count von Bennigsen (1809-1893), was a distinguished Hanoverian statesman.