1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Verdy du Vernois, Julius von

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VERDY DU VERNOIS, JULIUS VON (1832–), German general and military writer, was born in 1832 and entered the Prussian infantry in 1850. After some years of regimental service he came under the notice of Moltke, the newly appointed chief of the general staff, as an exceptionally gifted soldier, and at the outbreak of the war against Austria in 1866 he was appointed major on the staff of the II. Army (crown prince of Prussia). In this capacity he took part in the campaign on the upper Elbe and in the battle of Koniggratz. Promoted shortly after this to the rank of lieutenant-colonel, he was in 1867 placed at the head of a section of the general staff, becoming thereby one of Moltke’s principal confidential assistants. In this capacity he served at the headquarters of the German army throughout the war of 1870–71, and he was frequently employed in the most important missions, as for instance on the 2nd of August, when he was sent to impress upon the III. Army headquarters the necessity of a prompt advancing into Alsace, and on the 26th of the same month, when he was sent to advise the crown prince of Saxony as to the strategical intentions of the supreme command at the crisis of the Sedan campaign. At the close of the war he continued to serve in the office of the general staff, and also lectured at the War Academy. It was in the latter position that he developed the system of thorough tactical education which is the abiding result of his work. His method may be studied in English translations of his Studies in Troop-leading, and may be summarized as the assumption of an actual military situation on the actual ground, followed by critical discussion of the successive measures that a commander, whether of a brigade, division or larger force, should take in the sequel, given his orders and his knowledge of the general situation. Moltke’s own series of tactical problems, extending from 1859 to 1889, contributed very powerfully, of course, to the education of the selected young officers who passed through Verdy’s hands, but Moltke dealt rather with a great number of separate problems, while Verdy developed in detail the successive events and ruling ideas of a whole day’s or week’s work in the same units. Moltke therefore may be said to have developed the art of forming correct ideas and plans, Verdy that of applying them, but these are after all merely tendencies, not sharply divided schemes, in the teaching of Prussian staff officers during the years of intellectual development between 1870 and 1888. In all this Moltke, Verdy and Bronsart von Schellendorf worked in close co-operation. In 1876 Verdy became a major-general, from 1879–1883 he held an important position in the ministry of war, and in 1881 he was promoted lieutenant-general. In 1887 he became governor of Strassburg, in 1888 general of infantry and in 1889 minister of war. He retired from the active list in 1890. In 1894 the university of Konigsberg made him a Dr. Phil, honoris causa.

General von Verdy du Vernois’s principal writings are: Thielnahme der II. Armee am Feldzuge 1866 (Berlin, 1866); Im Hauptquartier der II. Armee 1866 (Berlin, 1900); Studien über den Krieg auf Grundlage . . . 1870/1 (Berlin, 1892–96); Im grossen Hauptquartier 1870/1 (Berlin, 1895; English translation); Studien über Truppenführung (Berlin, 1870; new edition, 1892, English translation) and Studien über den Krieg (Berlin, 1901–1906).