§720

19th century:

§720 William I, Bismarck and Moltke (1861-1871): V-84.

 

V-84:

An immeasurable city shall be born of the gulf,

And the offspring of the obscure and tenebrous parents:

Who shall wish to destroy the power of the reverend

Great king in Rouen and Evreux.

(Naistra du goulphre & cité immesuree,

Nay de parents obscurs & tenebreux:

Qui la puissance du grand roy reveree,

Vouldra destruire par Rouan & Evreux.)

NOTES: An immeasurable city shall be born of the gulf [of numerous small states]: Berlin made the capital of the German Empire: « The accession of William I (1861 A.D.) Meantime, on the 2nd of January, 1861, Frederick William IV died, and in October the coronation took place. The new elections, in which the newly formed party of progress for the first time came into prominence, were in favour of the opposition; after a short session the house was dissolved and a change of ministry ensued. The elections of the 6th of May, 1862, furnished another defeat to the government; the house refused the whole cost of the organisation, and the king now sent for Bismarck, who, after the close of the session, formed a new ministry…» (HH, XV, p.481). « The unification of Germany [1866-1871 A.D.] The unity of the greater part of Germany has been secured, and, by a pardonable confusion of ideas, the Imperial title has been assumed by the chief of the united nation. I need not show that such a title is in strictness inaccurate, but it would be hard to find a title more appropriate than that of Emperor for the head of a confederation of kings and other princes. The new German Empire is a fair revival of the old German Kingdom, but it must be borne in mind that it is in no sense a revival of the Holy Roman Empire. That has passed away forever. Freeman.» (HH, XV, p.496).

« So that all that great Germany which extends from the Kongs-Aa to the Alps rose up and sang the Wacht am Rhein. And it did not stop at singing. The most decisive steps followed one after the other. As early as the 12th of July Bismarck and Moltke came to Berlin and conferred with the ministers…On the 19th of July King William opened the north German diet. The speech from the throne was full of lofty patriotism, boldness, and confidence: “ If in former centuries Germany has borne in silence such violations of her rights and her honour, she did so only because in her distracted state she knew not how strong she was. To-day when the bond of spiritual and legal unity, which the wars of liberation began to twine, is ever drawing the German races more closely together; to-day when Germany's armour no longer offers a weak spot to the enemy, Germany bears within herself the will and the power to cope with new acts of French violence.» (HH, XV, p.520).

The obscure and tenebrous parents: The two distinguished Germans, one in politics and the other in army, who helped the King of Prussia become the Emperor of Germany, Bismarck and Moltke.

« Moltke, Helmuth von (1800-91), German Field-Marshal; entered the Prussian Army in 1822 and served in it for 66 years, although from 1835 to 1839 he was seconded as adviser to the Turks. Moltke became Chief of the Prussian General Staff in 1857 and, in collaboration with Bismarck and General von  Roon (1803-79, Prussian Minister of War 1859-73), completely re-organized the Prussian Army. He was responsible for the strategic planning that defeated Denmark in 1864, Austria in 1866 and France in 1870. From 1870 to 1888 he was the first Chief of the Great German General Staff.» (Palmer, p.187-188). « Great events were now at hand, for by April 1839 the time had come when some decision must be arrived at in the struggle between the Sultan and the Viceroy of Egypt. The continuous state of military preparation was a severe drain on Turkish finances, and the Turkish troops were being wasted by sickness, and were deserting freely. The Porte had 70,000 men under arms in Asia Minor, but they were split up into three main groups, whereas the Egyptian forces, which lay at that time in the neighbourhood of Aleppo, were under the single command of Ibrahim Pasha — Mehemet Ali's son. The question to be decided was whether Ibrahim would make a dash for Constantinople or turn upon Hafiz Pasha in Malatia and attack him. Moltke held that the former course was the one the enemy was more likely to adopt, and to counter it recommended that Hafiz should take up a position menacing the Egyptian commander's right flank. This move would probably have the effect of compelling Ibrahim to suspend his march to deal with the threat against his flank, and it was advisable that all the available Turkish troops should be concentrated at Biradschik, on the left bank of the Euphrates. They were then to move forward to the right bank and dig themselves in, in which position the flanks of the Turkish force would be secured by the winding course of the river. It was true that an unbridged river would then be in the Turkish rear, but Moltke looked upon this circumstance as a positive advantage, for, as he shrewdly remarked, “ a bridge would only be useful for deserters, but as matters now stand every man must hold his ground or perish.” Broadly speaking, Moltke's plan was a combination of the strategic offensive with a tactical defensive, and it promised good results, but it was wrecked by the impatience and superstition of Hafiz. While Ibrahim's army was as yet some distance off, the Mollahs induced the pasha to leave his stronghold at Biradschik, and advance to Nisib, where the flanks of his army would be completely in the air. Ibrahim, indeed, was at first inclined to play a cautious game, and showed no inclination to deal with Hafiz, but the pinpricks of several minor Turkish raids stung him into action, and on June 20 he advanced to the attack. For a moment, while his forces were temporarily divided by a manoeuvre leading up to an attack on Hafiz's left flank, there was a possibility of a Turkish victory, for a bold stroke launched by the whole Turkish force might have led to a defeat in detail of the Egyptian army. Moltke strenuously urged this step, but Hafiz was not equal to the task, and contented himself with a useless exhibition of his miserable cavalry. With this favourable opportunity let slip there remained but one course, namely, to fall back while there was yet time to the entrenched position at Biradschik, where it was impossible to be surrounded, and where the Turkish troops would have no choice but between death and glory. Moltke pointed this out with emphasis to Hafiz, but the vacillating mind of the Turkish commander could not be stiffened into soldierly resolution. Again and again Moltke reiterated his advice, but even when it was clear that Ibrahim was rapidly outflanking him on both sides, Hafiz would not move. Priestly exhortations had outweighed the advice of the professional soldier, and Moltke had to content himself with the prophecy, " By to-morrow at sundown you will know what it is to be a commander without an army." Not even the Witch of Endor had been a truer seer. Ibrahim advanced in three columns and placed himself between the Turkish camp at Nisib and their magazine at Biradschik. Moltke had by now ceased to be the official adviser of the pasha, for he had formally resigned that position when his advice had been neglected. But he was not the man to leave a commander in the lurch at a critical moment. He threw himself heart and soul into the fight, giving every assistance he could, but the Turkish soldiers, outnumbered, out-generalled and out-gunned, made but a sorry resistance. The left wing speedily retired and could on no account be induced to advance, while the reserve divisions made several attempts to get out of the line of fire, and whole battalions stood with hands uplifted, crying aloud to Allah. Finally the cavalry left their position among the reserves and advanced to the attack. But the first few shells threw them into the wildest confusion, and in their flight they dragged the terrified infantry with them in wild disarray. All was now over, and in the frightful confusion it was a case of every man for himself. Making his way through the mob Moltke met the other two Prussian officers — for another had been sent out in addition to Moltke and von Muhlbach — and they had no choice but to join in the sauve qui peut. That night they reached Aintab, and from there they pushed on, without food for themselves or their horses, to Marasch, a ride of ninety miles. Later the Prussian officers rejoined their now armyless general, and were met with the news of the death of the Sultan Mahmoud, and their own letter of recall. They rode back to the coast — shouting, like the Ten Thousand of old, " Thalatta ! Thalatta ! " at the first glimpse of the sea — and on August 3 embarked for Constantinople. Moltke' s stay at Constantinople was marked chiefly by a narrative of his adventures in Turkish — which he could now speak fluently — to his old patron Chosref, and by his successful intercession for the unfortunate Hafiz Pasha. " It was hardly his fault,” said Moltke, " if instead of giving him 80,000 men he was allowed only half that number, and the various corps were not placed under one general, as we had repeatedly advised in our despatches. Nor could the faulty arrangement of the army, formed as it was of two-thirds Kurdish troops, be set down to him — troops who were loth to remain in the service and who turned tail and fled when it came to the point." On the 9th of September 1839, Moltke and his companions embarked and steamed along the coast of the Black Sea, and up the Danube, whence he proceeded overland to Berlin, and once more resumed his position as a captain of the General Staff. (Whitton, 1921, p.35-38).

« Although Moltke's experience in the East had been associated with defeat, and although like Frederick and Peter the Great he had galloped off from his first battlefield — in his case, however, with the amplest justification — the campaign he had made was of infinite service to him. He had left the General Staff at Berlin just at the time when the wave of military reform which had burst forth after Jena had begun to subside, and when the lessons learnt in war were in danger of being forgotten in the post-Waterloo era of peace. Further, he had left it at that critical period of a soldier's life when notions acquired from arduous theoretical study alone are apt to petrify. This danger was particularly likely to affect a student like Moltke, whose higher military education had been received at the feet of the philosophical Clausewitz. Not that Clausewitz was merely a theorist of war. Far from it; his practical experience of warfare both in defeat and victory was of an extraordinarily wide range. But its very extent had led his systematic and logical mind to endeavour to construct a framework of theory on to which he could fit his wide and varied experiences of the field. With such experience behind him it was impossible for a man like Clausewitz ever to develop into a mere academic student of war. With a pupil not so favoured with reminiscences of active service the case was widely different. A staff officer reared in the school, whose great text-book was On War, would, unless such theory were seasoned with practical experience, run a very serious risk of developing into a military pedant. From the possibility of such untoward fate Moltke was saved by a rough-and-tumble campaign in a semi-civilized country, where half-trained and, in some cases, wholly unwilling soldiers were led by unpractical and unskilled commanders. It was an invaluable revelation for a Moltke to discover that the subtleties of an appreciation elaborately prepared can be wrecked in a moment by the incapacity or inexperience of the instrument for whom it is devised. That human element which can never be properly appreciated at a desk becomes startlingly apparent in action in the field, and few staff officers in preparing a tactical project could have foreseen that the niceties of their plan could be set aside by a deference to fanatical priests. Yet that was what happened at Nisib, and led to Moltke's first and only defeat. Though such a perversion of warfare was unlikely ever to occur in Western Europe, the lesson was probably not lost upon Moltke that there are conditions which limit the power of the strongest will, and that such conditions must be taken into account. The four years spent in the East, monotonous, laborious and unfortunate though they were, were thus a fine school in which to gain practical experience, and to develop the initiative and acceptance of responsibility required of a commander in the field.» (Whitton, 1921, p.38-40).

« Napoleon III could surrender his person - he was no longer a general; it was not his work to surrender the army. Another was to be entrusted with this mission. Wimpffen, with despair at his heart, was obliged to submit to it. He went over to the enemy's headquarters, to the castle of Bellevue, near Donchery. For three long hours Wimpffen struggled in vain to obtain some modification of the conditions which Moltke had fixed. This cold and inflexible calculator, who had reduced war to mathematical formulas, was as incapable of generosity as of anger. He had decided that the entire army, with arms and baggage, should be prisoners.» (HH, XIII, p.160).

« Bismarck, Otto von (1815-98, created a prince 1871), ... In September 1862, he was appointed chief minister of Prussia with the immediate task of completing army reforms despite parliamentary refusal of a grant; characteristically he solved this problem by governing without a budget. Bismarck’s policy was ruthlessly realistic and opportunist; he believed in the inevitable unification of Germany but was determined that it should be done under Prussian Junker leadership. With his Eastern frontier secure through a friendly understanding with Russia, he sought the elimination of Austria as a Germanic state and the replacement of France by Prussia as the arbiter of Europe. To achieve these ends he fought three wars; with Denmark (1864) over Schleswig-Holstein; with Austria and the other German states (1866); and the Franco-Prussian War of 1870. On the proclamation of the German Empire at Versailles in January 1871 he became Imperial Chancellor and dominated European diplomacy for nineteen years.» (Palmer, p.31-32).

Remember that Moltke, a sheer calculator with contingencies in consideration, and Bismarck, a ruthless realist and opportunist, can be obscure and tenebrous for the third person who cannot grip the overview of their own whole strategical or political planning with an inevitable factor of contingencies, with which they themselves alone can deal in their most intimate perception. 

Who shall wish to destroy the power of the reverend Great king [of France]  in Rouen and Evreux: = Rouen, Evreux shall not escape the King [of Prussia] (§694, IV-100): « … while Prince Frederick Charles menaced Chanzy's front, two columns were sent in a northerly direction under the command of the Grand Duke of Mecklenburg, with orders to disperse the Francs-tireurs in the department of the Eure [Evreux], and prevent the Armies of the North and West from establishing communications. There was, in consequence, some fighting at Orbec and Bernay (January 21st and 22nd [1871]), and everywhere as the Duke advanced the retreating French were driven right and left in a panic. On the 26th the two columns arrived at Rouen [Rouen], and effected a junction with the forces of Goeben, fresh from the action of St. Quentin [ Rouen, Evreux shall not escape the King]…The positions to which he retired were in front of Poitiers, (where Chanzy now established his head-quarters,) south of the Loire, and west of its tributary, the Creuse…The history of the Second Army of the Loire is terminated when we add that it furnished twenty-one regiments of infantry, three battalions of chasseurs, nine regiments of cavalry, and fourteen batteries to the Army of Versailles, which crushed the Commune of Paris.» (Rich, II, p.537).

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Author:Koji Nihei Daijyo
We have covered 143 quatrains (§588-§730) concerning the World Events in the 19th century after Napoleonic ages [1821-1900] in the Prophecies of Nostradamus, and 219 in the 20th [1901-2000] (§731-§949).

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