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Generalfeldmarschall Friedrich von Wrangel

Photo of Friedrich von Wrangel, 1877.

Friedrich Heinrich Ernst Graf von Wrangel (April 13, 1784 – November 2, 1877) was a Generalfeldmarschall of the Prussian Army. He was nicknamed Papa Wrangel.

Wrangel was born in Stettin (now Szczecin, Poland) in Pomerania. He entered a dragoon regiment in 1796 and became second lieutenant in 1798. He fought as a subaltern during the Napoleonic Wars, especially distinguishing himself at Heilsberg in 1807, and receiving the order pour le mérite. In the reorganization of the army, Wrangel became successively first lieutenant and captain, and won distinction and promotion to lieutenant-colonel in the War of Liberation in 1813, won the Iron Cross at Wachau near Leipzig, and became colonel in 1815.

Wrangel commanded a cavalry brigade in 1821, and two years later was promoted major-general. He commanded the 13th Division, with headquarters at Münster in Westphalia, in 1834, when riots occurred owing to differences between the Archbishop of Cologne and the crown, and the determination and resolution with which he treated the clerical party prevented serious trouble. He was promoted to Lieutenant-General, received many honours from the court, enjoyed the confidence of the Junker party, and commanded successively at Königsberg and Stettin.

In 1848 Wrangel commanded the II Corps of the army of the German Confederation in the First Schleswig War, was promoted to General of Cavalry, and won several confrontations. However, the other European powers pressured Prussia to withdraw its forces, and King Frederick William IV accordingly ordered Wrangel to withdraw his troops from the duchies. Wrangel refused, asserting that he was under the command not of the king of Prussia but of the regent of Germany. He proposed that, at the very least, any treaty concluded should be presented for ratification to the Frankfurt Parliament, dominated by the Liberals - giving Liberals the rather mistaken idea that Wrangel was on their side. However, the Danes rejected this proposal and negotiations were broken off, and after painful hesitation, Prussia signed a convention at Malmö which yielded to practically all the Danish demands on 26 August 1848.

Wrangel's insubordination was not counted against him, when in the autumn he was summoned to Berlin to suppress the riots there during the Revolutions of 1848 in the German states. As governor of Berlin and commander-in-chief of Brandenburg (appointments which he held till his death) he proclaimed a state of siege, and ejected the Liberal president and members of the Chamber. Thus on two occasions in the troubled history of Prussian revival Wrangel's uncompromising sternness achieved its object without bloodshed.

From this time onwards Wrangel was most prominent in connection with the revival of the Prussian cavalry from the neglect and inefficiency into which it had fallen during the years of peace and poverty after 1815. In 1856, having then seen sixty years' service, he was made a field marshal. At the age of eighty he commanded the Austro-Prussian army in the Second Schleswig War with Denmark in 1864. Wrangel was too old for active work and often issued vague or impracticable orders; he had always desired that the young and brilliant "Red Prince", Prince Frederick Charles of Prussia, should have the command. However, the prestige of Wrangel's name, and the leadership of Frederick Charles, Helmuth von Moltke the Elder, Eduard Vogel von Falckenstein, and Ludwig Karl Wilhelm von Gablenz made the campaign an overwhelming success.

After the Battle of Düppel, Wrangel resigned his command, was created a graf (count), and received other honours. In 1866 "Papa" Wrangel assisted in the Austro-Prussian War, but without a command on account of his great age. He took a keen interest in the second reorganization of the cavalry arm 1866-1870, and in the Franco-Prussian War in 1870-71. He died at Berlin in 1877. On the seventieth anniversary of his entering the army, Wrangel's regiment, the 3rd Cuirassiers, was given the title Graf Wrangel.

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Regarding personal names: Graf was a title, before 1919, but now is regarded as part of the surname. It is translated as Count. Before the August 1919 abolition of nobility as a separate estate, titles preceded the full name when given (Prinz Otto von Bismarck). After 1919, these titles, along with any nobiliary prefix (von, zu, etc.), could be used, but were regarded as part of the surname, and thus came after a first name (Otto Prinz von Bismarck). The feminine form is Gräfin.

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