Carl von Clausewitz Additional Biography


(Comprehensive Guide to Military History)

Article abstract: Military significance: Clausewitz’s book Vom Kriege (1832-1834; On War, 1873) has had a profound influence on military strategy especially since the Franco-Prussian War (1870-1871). The concepts contained in On War are found in the operations manual of the U.S. Army, taught at West Point, the War College, and other military institutions throughout the world.

Carl von Clausewitz was born into a middle-class family, entered the army in 1792, and was commissioned during the 1793-1794 Rhineland Campaign. Following this, he spent a number of years in garrison duty, where he studied Hegelian philosophy and military science. He entered the War College in Berlin in 1801 and studied under Gerhard Johann David von Scharnhorst. While in Berlin, Scharnhorst introduced Clausewitz at court, where he met his future wife, Countess Marie von Brühl. Scharnhorst secured an appointment for him as an aide to Prince August. When Napoleon I invaded Russia (1812), Clausewitz resigned his commission to enter the Russian army, where he distinguished himself. After the campaign of 1813-1814, he returned to Prussian service and was appointed chief of staff during the Waterloo campaign in 1815. In 1818, he attained the rank of general and was appointed administrative head of the Berlin War College. In 1830, he was transferred to Breslau and assigned to observe the Polish Revolution of 1830, where he contracted cholera and died.

When Clausewitz died, On War had not yet been completed. His widow used his notes to complete the book. In addition to On War, he wrote a number of histories of the Napoleonic campaigns that are of technical interest only.

The first English translation of On War appeared in 1873. It has been translated into many languages. His influence in the United States and Japan did not occur until the end of the...

(The entire section is 775 words.)