Moltke and his Generals

A Study in Leadership

Quintin Barry

When Helmuth von Moltke took over as Chief of the Prussian General Staff, the Prussian army had not fought for more than forty years. Yet within a decade and a half he had brought it to the point where it was the strongest in Europe. His success was not only due to far sighted strategic planning, the comprehensive reorganization of the General Staf
Date Published :
June 2015
Publisher :
Helion and Company
Language:
English
Illustration :
20 b/w illustrations, 7 maps
Format Available    QuantityPrice
Hardback
ISBN : 9781910294413
Pages : 256
Dimensions : 9 X 6 inches
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Available
$69.95
Paperback
ISBN : 9781912174768
Pages : 256
Dimensions : 9 X 6 inches
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In stock
$32.95

Overview
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When Helmuth von Moltke took over as Chief of the Prussian General Staff, the Prussian army had not fought for more than forty years. Yet within a decade and a half he had brought it to the point where it was the strongest in Europe. His successes on the battle field led to his methods being painstakingly analyzed by commentators and slavishly imitated by Western armies.

His success was not only due to far sighted strategic planning, the comprehensive reorganization of the General Staff and his grasp of new technologies; it was also due to his leadership of a talented, if disparate, group of subordinates, even if some of them sometimes failed to grasp his overall intentions.

This book examines these key relationships. Foremost among these was his collaboration with the able though choleric Karl Leonhard von Blumenthal; their correspondence reflected every aspect of their campaigns. He was also close to the Crown Prince, whose aide de camp he had been. Moltke was Chief of Staff to Prince Frederick Charles in Denmark in 1864; his admiration for the ‘Red Prince’ was perhaps not maintained when the latter’s caution caused problems. Albrecht von Stosch, Intendant General in 1870–1871, proved brilliantly successful when he had the chance to demonstrate his talents in the field. Edwin von Manteuffel, on whose recommendation Moltke was appointed, was at the centre of Prussian politics for a decade and a half before becoming a successful army commander in 1866, and 1870–1871. Perhaps the most talented of Moltke's subordinates was August von Goeben, a successful commander in all three wars of German unification. August von Werder never enjoyed Moltke's confidence to the same extent, but was extremely reliable. On the other hand both Eduard Vogel von Falckenstein and Karl von Steinmetz caused Moltke considerable difficulty by their stubborn disobedience of his explicit orders.

Behind these relationships there existed the vital rapport which Moltke had with their Chiefs of Staff and his own general staff officers. It was on his ability to rely on these men to execute his intentions that his success ultimately depended. Theophil von Podbielski, Julius Verdy du Vernois and Paul Bronsart von Schellendorf were some of the brilliant individuals who constituted one of the most powerful teams in military history.

About The Author
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Quintin Barry is a solicitor and retired Employment Judge. He has also held a wide varirty of offices in both the public sectors, including the NHS and local radio. Following a lifelong interest in military and naval history, he is the author of a number of books in both fields. These include an acclaimed two volume history of the Franco Prussian War of 1870-1871; a history of the Austro Prussian War of 1866; and the first modern history of the Russo Turkish War of 1877-1878. He has also written a number of books of naval history, including a well reviewed account of the war in the North Sea in 1914-1918.

REVIEWS
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“ … This work is an excellent analysis of the personality and impact that Moltke’s initiatives brought to the German General staff. Beyond that, it discusses at length the methodologies needed to build and lead the command environment created by this decentralized style. Moltke’s confidence in his subordinates and his innate ability to understand when to not intervene are traits modern commanders should be striving to emulate. This book is both an insightful and worthwhile read; interesting while avoiding the pitfalls of an excessive ‘academic’ style.”

- Canadian Army Journal

“The author provides an accessible, solid account of command realities in the German armies during the Wars of Unification, with valuable, straightforward, if compartmentalized, investigations of Moltke's dealings with his leading subordinates.”

- Michigan War Studies Review

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