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CARL VON CLAUSEWITZ

1780-1831
German

"War is not an independent phenomenon, but the continuation of politics by different means. "

Carl von Clausewitz was born on 1st June, 1780 in Burg bei Magdeburg, Prussia, the fourth and youngest son of a lower middle-class family. His grandfather, the son of a Lutheran pastor, had been a professor of theology. Clausewitz's father was once a lieutenant in the Prussian army and held a minor post in the Prussian internal revenue service.

Clausewitz entered the Prussian military service at the age of twelve as a Lance-Corporal, eventually attaining the rank of Major-General. Clausewitz served in the Rhine Campaigns (1793–1794), when the Prussian army invaded France during the French Revolution, and later served in the Napoleonic Wars from 1806 to 1815.

He entered the Kriegsakademie in Berlin in 1801 (age 21 years), studied the writings of the philosopher Immanuel Kant, and won the regard of General Gerhard von Scharnhorst, the future first chief of staff of the new Prussian Army. Clausewitz, along with Hermann von Boyen and Karl von Grolman, were Scharnhorst's primary allies in his efforts to reform the Prussian army between 1807 and 1814.

Clausewitz served during the Jena Campaign as aide-de-camp to Prince August. At the Battle of Jena-Auerstedt on October 14, 1806 – when Napoleon invaded Prussia and defeated the massed Prussian-Saxon army commanded by Karl Wilhelm Ferdinand, Duke of Brunswick, he was captured, one of 25,000 prisoners captured that day as the Prussian army disintegrated. Clausewitz was held prisoner in France from 1807 to 1808. Returning to Prussia, he assisted in the reform of the Prussian army and state. He also married the socially prominent Countess Marie von Brühl and socialized with Berlin's literary and intellectual elite.

Opposed to Prussia's enforced alliance to Napoleon, he left the Prussian army and subsequently served in the Russian army from 1812 to 1813 during the Russian Campaign including at the Battle of Borodino. Like many Prussian officers living in Russia, he joined the Russian-German Legion in 1813.

Although Clausewitz participated in numerous military campaigns, he was primarily a military theorist interested in the examination of war. He wrote a careful, systematic, philosophical examination of war in all its aspects as he saw and taught it. The result was his principal work, On War, premier work on the philosophy of war in the West. His examination of warfare was so carefully considered that it was only partially completed by the time of his death. Clausewitz sought to revise the text in 1827, just before his death, to include more material on counter-insurgency and forms of war other than between states, but these revisions were never included in the published document.

He died on 16th November 1831 after a cholera outbreak at the Polish border.

TITLES BY CARL VON CLAUSEWITZ

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