RUDOLF VON BENNIGSEN (1824-1902), German politician, was born at Luneburg on the 10th of July 1824.
He was descended from an old Hanoverian family, his father, Karl von Bennigsen, being an officer in the Hanoverian army, who rose to the rank of general and also held diplomatic appointments.
Bennigsen, having studied at the university of Gottingen, entered the Hanoverian civil service.
He at once became the recognized leader of the Liberal opposition to the reactionary government, but must be distinguished from Count Bennigsen, a member of the same family, and son of the distinguished Russian general, who was also one of the parliamentary leaders at the time.
What gave Bennigsen his importance not only in Hanover, but throughout the whole of Germany, was the foundation of the National Verein, which was due to him, and of which he was president.
In 1866 Bennigsen used all his influence to keep Hanover neutral in the conflict between Prussia and Austria, but in vain.
The National Verein, its work being done, was now dissolved; but Bennigsen was chiefly instrumental in founding a new political party - the National Liberals, - who, while they supported Bismarck's national policy, hoped to secure the constitutional development of the country.
The Russians meanwhile had been moving slowly forward in two bodies, one under Bennigsen (50,000), the other under Buxhowden (25,000), and the French being at this time in Warsaw, they took up threatening positions about Pultusk, Plock and Prassnitz.
Bennigsen, now commanding the whole Russian army which with Lestocq's Prussians amounted to 100,000, also moved into winter quarters in the triangle Deutsch-Eylau-Osterode-Allenstein, and had every intention of remaining there, for a fresh army was already gathering in Russia, the 1st corps of which had reached Nur about 50 m.
Apparently seeing in this movement a recommencement of hostilities, Bennigsen concentrated his troops towards his right and commenced an advance westwards.
This time, however, Bennigsen, with over 60,000 men in position and 15,000 Prussians expected to arrive next morning, had no desire to avoid a battle, and deployed for action, his front protected by great batteries of guns, many of them of heavy calibre, numbering some 200 in all.
Bennigsen, however, drew off on Ney's arrival, and the French were too much exhausted to pursue him.
Meanwhile Bennigsen had prepared for a fresh undertaking, and leaving Lestocq with 20,000 Prussians and Russians to contain Bernadotte, who lay between Braunsberg and Spandau on the Passarge, he moved southwards on the 2nd, and on the 3rd and 4th of June he fell upon Ney, driving him back towards Guttstadt, whilst with the bulk of his force he moved towards Heilsberg, where he threw up an entrenched position.
Corps, and cut Bennigsen off from Konigsberg and the sea.
Bennigsen, however, learning that his right was threatened by the III.
And Guard corps followed the main road towards Konigsberg, and the former had reached Miihlhausen, the remainder were about Preussisch-Eylau, when Latour Maubourg's dragoons sent in intelligence which pointed to the presence of Bennigsen about Friedland.
Bonnal, La Manoeuvre d'Rita (Paris, 1904); Memoirs of Bennigsen (trans.
This "Puttkammer regime" was intensely unpopular; it was attacked in the Reichstag not only by Radicals like Richter and Rickert, but by National Liberals like Bennigsen, and when the emperor Frederick III., whose Liberal tendencies were notorious, succeeded to the throne, it was clear that it could not last.
Bismarck remained in retirement at S~arzin for nearly a year; before he returned to Berlin, at the end of 1877, he was visited by Bennigsen, and the Liberal leader was offered the post of vice-president of the Prussian ministry and vice-president of the Bundesrat.
The negotiations broke down, apparently because Bennigsen refused to accept office unless he received a guarantee that the constitutional rights of the Reichstag should be respected, and unless two other members of the party, Forckenbeck and Stauffenberg, were given office.
From the beginning the negotiations were indeed doomed to failure, for what Bismarck appears to have aimed at was to detach Bennigsen from the rest of his party and win his support for an anti-Liberal policy.
The remainder of the National Liberals only won forty-five seats in 1881, and during the next three years they were without influence on the government; and even Bennigsen, unable to follow Bismarck in his new policy, disgusted at the proposals for biennial budgets and the misuse of government influence at the elections, retired from political life.
No great parliamentary leader took the place of Windthorst, Lasker and Bennigsen; the extra - parliamentary societies, less responsible and more violent, grew in influence.
On the night of the 11th of March 1801 Paul was murdered in his bedroom in the St Michael Palace by a band of dismissed officers headed by General Bennigsen, a Hanoverian in the Russian service.
In August 1806 he received a commission to travel in South Germany to report on the French troops; he was then attached as diplomatic secretary to Generals Kamenski, Buxhoewden and Bennigsen in succession.
Bennigsen seems to have obtained a complete victory over Buonaparte at Eylau.
Buxhowden is commander-in-chief by seniority, but General Bennigsen does not quite see it; more particularly as it is he and his corps who are within sight of the enemy and he wishes to profit by the opportunity to fight a battle 'on his own hand' as the Germans say.
In short, we retreat after the battle but send a courier to Petersburg with news of a victory, and General Bennigsen, hoping to receive from Petersburg the post of commander in chief as a reward for his victory, does not give up the command of the army to General Buxhowden.
Stein, a traitor expelled from his own country; Armfeldt, a rake and an intriguer; Wintzingerode, a fugitive French subject; Bennigsen, rather more of a soldier than the others, but all the same an incompetent who was unable to do anything in 1807 and who should awaken terrible memories in the Emperor Alexander's mind....
Besides these, there were in attendance on the Emperor without any definite appointments: Arakcheev, the ex-Minister of War; Count Bennigsen, the senior general in rank; the Grand Duke Tsarevich Constantine Pavlovich; Count Rumyantsev, the Chancellor; Stein, a former Prussian minister; Armfeldt, a Swedish general; Pfuel, the chief author of the plan of campaign; Paulucci, an adjutant general and Sardinian emigre; Wolzogen--and many others.
Though these men had no military appointment in the army, their position gave them influence, and often a corps commander, or even the commander-in-chief, did not know in what capacity he was questioned by Bennigsen, the Grand Duke, Arakcheev, or Prince Volkonski, or was given this or that advice and did not know whether a certain order received in the form of advice emanated from the man who gave it or from the Emperor and whether it had to be executed or not.
Bennigsen was a landlord in the Vilna province who appeared to be doing the honors of the district, but was in reality a good general, useful as an adviser and ready at hand to replace Barclay.
If Barclay is now to be superseded by Bennigsen all will be lost, for Bennigsen showed his incapacity already in 1807.
The sixth party, the Bennigsenites, said, on the contrary, that at any rate there was no one more active and experienced than Bennigsen: and twist about as you may, you will have to come to Bennigsen eventually.
What is wanted is not some Barclay or other, but a man like Bennigsen, who made his mark in 1807, and to whom Napoleon himself did justice--a man whose authority would be willingly recognized, and Bennigsen is the only such man.
The eighth and largest group, which in its enormous numbers was to the others as ninety-nine to one, consisted of men who desired neither peace nor war, neither an advance nor a defensive camp at the Drissa or anywhere else, neither Barclay nor the Emperor, neither Pfuel nor Bennigsen, but only the one most essential thing--as much advantage and pleasure for themselves as possible.
Neither Bennigsen nor the Emperor was there, but Chernyshev, the Emperor's aide- de-camp, received Bolkonski and informed him that the Emperor, accompanied by General Bennigsen and Marquis Paulucci, had gone a second time that day to inspect the fortifications of the Drissa camp, of the suitability of which serious doubts were beginning to be felt.
Prince Andrew's eyes were still following Pfuel out of the room when Count Bennigsen entered hurriedly, and nodding to Bolkonski, but not pausing, went into the study, giving instructions to his adjutant as he went.
The Emperor was following him, and Bennigsen had hastened on to make some preparations and to be ready to receive the sovereign.
Bennigsen, the Tsarevich, and a swarm of adjutants general remained with the army to keep the commander-in-chief under observation and arouse his energy, and Barclay, feeling less free than ever under the observation of all these "eyes of the Emperor," became still more cautious of undertaking any decisive action and avoided giving battle.
Lubomirski, Bronnitski, Wlocki, and the others of that group stirred up so much trouble that Barclay, under pretext of sending papers to the Emperor, dispatched these Polish adjutants general to Petersburg and plunged into an open struggle with Bennigsen and the Tsarevich.
Bennigsen should have advanced into Prussia sooner, then things would have taken a different turn...
Behind Kutuzov was Bennigsen and the suite.
You will see everything best from where Count Bennigsen will be.
It is not at all what Count Bennigsen intended.
He had established himself with Count Bennigsen, who, like all on whom Boris had been in attendance, considered young Prince Drubetskoy an invaluable man.
In the higher command there were two sharply defined parties: Kutuzov's party and that of Bennigsen, the chief of staff.
Boris belonged to the latter and no one else, while showing servile respect to Kutuzov, could so create an impression that the old fellow was not much good and that Bennigsen managed everything.
Now the decisive moment of battle had come when Kutuzov would be destroyed and the power pass to Bennigsen, or even if Kutuzov won the battle it would be felt that everything was done by Bennigsen.
Boris said a few words to his general, and Count Bennigsen turned to Pierre and proposed that he should ride with him along the line.