Wedel, Carl Heinrich von

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Wedel, Carl Heinrich von

Prussian Major-General (1757-59), Lieutenant-General (1759-60) Minister of War (1761-79)

born July 12, 1712, Estate of Göritz near Prenzlau in the Uckermark, Prussia

died April 2, 1782, Estate of Göritz near Prenzlau in the Uckermark, Prussia

Description

Carl Heinrich von Wedel was born in a family of the old Pomeranian nobility. His father was Georg Wilhelm von Wedel, the Administrator of the District of Uckermark; his mother was Marie Salome von Eickstedt.

In 1727, Wedel joined the King’s Regiment in Potsdam as an officer cadet.

On November 1, 1730, Wedel was promoted to ensign in the King’s Regiment; and on March 1, 1734, to lieutenant.

On June 23, 1740, Wedel was promoted to captain in the recently renamed Grenadier Garde Battalion. He then took part in the First Silesian War (1740-42) at the head of a company of the Grenadier Garde Battalion.

On August 14, 1743, after the Treaty of Breslau, Wedel was promoted to major in the Infantry Regiment Kleist. He took part in the Second Silesian War (1744-45) with this regiment. On September 30, 1745, Wedel took part in the Battle of Soor where he was wounded.

In 1747, Wedel married Friederike Auguste von Broecker with whom he had four daughters and one son.

On September 8, 1751, King Frederick II promoted Wedel to lieutenant-colonel; and on June 17, 1755, to colonel.

On May 6, 1757, during the invasion of Bohemia, Wedel fought in the Battle of Prague. On November 5, was present at the Battle of Rossbach, but saw no action. On December 5, he distinguished himself in the Battle of Leuthen. On December 6, he was promoted to major-general (retroactively to the end of November) for his conduct.

On January 5, 1758, Frederick II appointed Wedel as Chef of the former Schultze Infantry. On April 3, he exchanged this regiment for the former Meyerinck Infantry. The same year, he took part in the invasion of Moravia and in the unsuccessful Siege of Olmütz where he was charged to supervise the troops surrounding the fortress. On June 20 near Littau and on June 28 near Gundersdorf, Wedel repelled Loudon’s attacks. When Frederick went to fight the Russians, Wedel remained in Silesia under the command of Margrave Carl. In September when the Swedes advanced on Berlin, Frederick instructed Wedel to cover the Prussian capital with 6,000 men. He dutifully accomplished his mission, and Frederick let him know in appreciative words of his great satisfaction. However, another was task waiting for him. When Austrian parties appeared to endanger the Mark, Wedel and his troops were assigned to the army of Dohna, which took over the protection of the region. As General Hadik was threatening Torgau, Wedel rushed to the relief of the place.

During the winter of 1758-59, Frederick charged Wedel to raise money and recruits in the Principality of Anhalt. He also performed this task to the complete satisfaction of his king.

On February 26, 1759, Frederick promoted Wedel to lieutenant-general. In July, as Dohna<s Army was slowly retiring in front of a Russian army, Frederick sent Wedel, with the title of “dictator” to replace Dohna at the head of the Prussian army operating in Brandenburg. On July 23, Wedel was defeated in the Battle of Paltzig. Frederick then withheld his admission in the Military Order of the Black Eagle, contrarily to the tradition, since all lieutenant-general were usually admitted soon after their promotion. On August 12, Wedel commanded the left wing of the first line of infantry at the sanguinary Battle of Kunersdorf. However, he was wounded early and had to leave the battlefield unable to fight. In October, after his recovery, Frederick assigned him to the army of Prince Heinrich in Saxony.

In the first months of 1760, Wedel proved once more his value. When Prince Heinrich had to leave the army for a long time and was replaced by Margrave Carl, Frederick assigned him as advisor to the new commander. On August 15, Wedel commanded the the right wing of the first line of infantry at the Battle of Liegnitz. After this engagement, his dwindling health forced him to resign. However, on December 11, Frederick called him to replace the deceased Budget Minister and General War Commissioner von Katte at to the top of the army administration.

On January 25, 1761, Frederick appointed Wedel as Minister of War. He retained this charge until September 4, 1779 when he retired to his estates.

Wedel died on April 2, 1782 in his estates of Göritz.

References

Grosser Generalstab Kriegsgeschichtliche Abteilung II: Die Kriege Friedrichs des Grossen, Part 3 Der siebenjährige Krieg 1756-1763, Vol. 10 Kunersdorf, Berlin, 1912, Anhang 4

Other sources

German Wikipedia - Carl Heinrich von Wedel