Original photograph of Helmuth Karl Bernhard Graf von Möltke. Photo by J. C. Schaarwachter

Original photograph of Helmuth Karl Bernhard Graf von Möltke. Photo by J. C. Schaarwachter

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HELMUTH KARL BERNHARD GRAF VON MÖLTKE, (Prussian field marshal), (1800-1891).

 

J. C. Schaarwachter, Berlin, 1879.

 

Original sepia-toned cabinet photograph taken by J. C. Schaarwachter. 17x11 cm. Original photograph of Helmuth Karl Bernhard Graf von Möltke. Photo by J. C. Schaarwachter.

Moltke was a Prussian field marshal. The chief of staff of the Prussian Army for thirty years, he is regarded as the creator of a new, more modern method of directing armies in the field. He commanded troops in Europe and the Middle East, commanding during the Second Schleswig War, Austro-Prussian War, and the Franco-Prussian War. He is described as embodying "Prussian military organization and tactical genius.". He was fascinated with railways and pioneered their military usage. He is often referred to as Moltke the Elder to distinguish him from his nephew Helmuth Johann Ludwig von Moltke, who commanded the German Army at the outbreak of World War I. In 1835 on his promotion as captain, Moltke obtained six months leave to travel in south-eastern Europe. After a short stay in Constantinople he was requested by the Sultan Mahmud II to help modernize the Ottoman Empire army, and being duly authorized from Berlin he accepted the offer. He remained two years at Constantinople, learned Turkish, and surveyed the city of Constantinople, the Bosphorus, and the Dardanelles. He traveled through Wallachia, Bulgaria, and Rumelia, and made many other journeys on both sides of the Strait. In 1838 Moltke was sent as an adviser to the Ottoman general commanding the troops in Anatolia, who was to carry on a campaign against Muhammad Ali of Egypt. During the summer Moltke made extensive reconnaissances and surveys, riding several thousand miles in the course of his journey. He navigated the rapids of the Euphrates and visited and mapped many parts of the Ottoman Empire. In 1839 the army moved south to fight the Egyptians, but upon the approach of the enemy, the general refused to listen to Moltke's advice. Moltke resigned from his post of staff officer and took charge of the artillery. In the Battle of Nezib (modern-day Nisibis) on 24 June 1839, the Ottoman army was beaten. With great difficulty, Moltke made his way back to the Black Sea, and thence to Constantinople. His patron, Sultan Mahmud II, was dead, so he returned to Berlin where he arrived, broken in health, in December 1839. Once home Moltke published some of the letters he had written as Letters on Conditions and Events in Turkey in the Years 1835 to 1839. This book was well-received at the time. Early the next year he married a young English woman, Maria Bertha Helena Burt, the daughter of John Heyliger Burt Esq. of St. Croix in the Danish West Indies, who married his sister Augusta. It was a happy union, though there were no children. 

Photography Helmut von Möltke, (1800-1891) German military staff The Ottoman Empire