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General Bülow, a capable Prussian corps commander who, in the campaign of 1813, defeated the French at Großbeeren and Dennewitz. He also played a prominent part at Waterloo in 1815.

Friedrich Wilhelm Freiherr[1] von Bülow, Graf[2] von Dennewitz (February 16, 1755 – February 25, 1816) was a Prussian general of the Napoleonic Wars.


Early life

Bülow was born in Falkenberg (Wische) in the Altmark and was the elder brother of Freiherr Dietrich Heinrich von Bülow. He received an excellent education, and entered the Prussian army in 1768, becoming ensign in 1772, and second lieutenant in 1775. He took part in the Potato War of 1778, and subsequently devoted himself to the study of his profession and of the sciences and arts.

Throughout his life Bülow was devoted to music, his great musical ability bringing him to the notice of King Frederick William II of Prussia, and ca. 1790 he was conspicuous in the most fashionable circles of Berlin. He did not, however, neglect his military studies, and in 1792 he was made military instructor to the young Prince Louis Ferdinand of Prussia, becoming at the same time full captain. He took part in the campaigns of 1792-94 on the Rhine, and received for signal courage during the siege of Mainz the order Pour le Mérite and promotion to the rank of major.

Statue of von Bülow, on the Unter den Linden, Berlin. (note the spelling "Buelow" on the plinth)

After this Bülow went to garrison duty at Soldau. In 1802 he married the daughter of Colonel von Auer, and in the following year he became lieutenant-colonel, remaining at Soldau with his corps. The vagaries and misfortunes of his brother Dietrich affected his happiness as well as his fortune. The loss of two of his children was followed in 1806 by the death of his wife, and a further source of disappointment was the exclusion of his regiment from the field army sent against Napoleon in 1806. The disasters of the campaign aroused his energies. He did excellent service under Anton Wilhelm von L'Estocq's command in the latter part of the war, was wounded in action, and finally designated for a brigade command in Field Marshal Gebhard Leberecht von Blücher's force.

In 1808 Bülow married the sister of his first wife, a girl of eighteen. He was made a major-general in the same year, and henceforward he devoted himself wholly to the regeneration of Prussia. The intensity of his patriotism threw him into conflict even with Blücher and led to his temporary retirement; in 1811, however, he was again employed.

War of Liberation



Bülow memorial in Dennewitz

In the critical days preceding the War of Liberation, Bülow kept his troops in hand without committing himself to any irrevocable step until the decision was made. On 14 March 1813 he was made a lieutenant-general. He fought against Oudinot in defence of Berlin, and in the summer came under the command of Bernadotte, crown prince of Sweden. At the head of an army corps Bülow distinguished himself greatly in the Battle of Grossbeeren, a victory which was attributed almost entirely to his leadership. A little later he won the great victory at the Battle of Dennewitz, which for the second time checked Napoleon's advance on Berlin. This inspired the greatest enthusiasm in Prussia, as being won by mainly Prussian forces, and rendered Bülow's popularity almost equal to that of Blücher. Bülow's corps played a conspicuous part in the final overthrow of Napoleon at Leipzig, and he was then entrusted with the task of evicting the French from Holland and Belgium. In an almost uniformly successful campaign he won a signal victory at Hoogstraten although he was fortunate to be supported, often very significantly, by the British General Thomas Graham, second in command to Lord Wellington. In the campaign of 1814 he invaded France from the north-west, joined Blücher, and took part in the brilliant victory of Laon in March. He was made general of infantry and received the title of Count Bülow von Dennewitz. He also took part in the Allied sovereigns' visit to England in June 1814.

Hundred Days

In the short peace of 1814-1815 Bülow was at Königsberg as commander-in-chief in Prussia proper. He was soon called to the field again, and in the Waterloo campaign commanded the IV Corps of Blücher's army. He was not present at Ligny, but his corps headed the flank attack upon Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo, and bore the heaviest part in the fighting of the Prussian troops around Plancenoit. He took part in the invasion of France, but died suddenly on 25 February 1816, a month after his return to the Königsberg command.


  1. ^ Regarding personal names: Freiherr is a title, translated as Baron, not a first or middle name. The female forms are Freifrau and Freiin.
  2. ^ Regarding personal names: Graf is a title, translated as Count, not a first or middle name. The female form is Gräfin.



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