Anton Wilhelm von L'Estocq
(16 August 1738 – 5 January 1815) was a Prussian cavalry general best known for his command of the Prussian
troops at the Battle of
Anton Wilhelm von L'Estocq.
was born in Celle, the son of
a Huguenot Prussian officer.
In 1757 he
became a cadet officer of the Gensd'armes regiment of Berlin.
During the Seven Years' War
participated in the battles of Zorndorf
, and Torgau
. After a battle near Langensalza, he received the Pour le Mérite.
In 1768 L'Estocq became first lieutenant and served in the hussar
regiment of General Hans Joachim von Zieten
Zieten's adjutant, he was promoted successively to cavalry captain,
major, lieutenant colonel, and colonel. In 1790 King Frederick William II of
named L'Estocq battalion commander of the Regiment von
Eben (2nd Hussar Regiment).
During the First Coalition
participated in the battles of Kaiserslautern
, and Trippstadt
. In 1794 he took command of
the 2nd Hussar Regiment, which was stationed in Westphalia
to guard the border with France after
the 1795 Peace of Basel
Promoted to major-general, L'Estocq was stationed in New East Prussia
in 1803, commanding all
troops in the province as head of the 9th Hussar Regiment. In 1805
he was promoted to lieutenant-general.
War of the Fourth
Coalition, L'Estocq and his chief of staff, Gerhard von Scharnhorst, commanded
some 15,000 troops based at Thorn in December
1806 and at Freystadt in January 1807.
Harassed by Marshal
, L'Estocq marched his troops from
– February 8
through snowy and forested East Prussia
; it has been described as "a model
of the way in which a flank march in the face of a near and
powerful adversary should be conducted".
Russian troops of
hard-pressed by Marshal Davout in the
Battle of Eylau (February 7-February
Leading the last operational unit in the Prussian
army, L'Estocq was only able to bring eight battalions,
twenty-eight squadrons, and two horse artillery batteries
(estimated at 7,000-9,000 men) to the battle; the rest of his
soldiers were defending against Ney. Upon the small
Prussian contingent's arrival at Preußisch Eylau, Bennigsen wanted it split up to reinforce his
weakened Russian troops.
Scharnhorst, however, advised
L'Estocq to strike with his cavalry around the Russian lines at
Davout's exhausted troops; the sudden attack threw the French into
disarray. Following the battle, L'Estocq's corps
retreated to Preußisch
Friedland to maintain coalition communications with
For their leadership in the battle, L'Estocq received the Order of the Black Eagle
Scharhorst the Pour le Mérite
While the Prussian Army
crushed at Jena-Auerstedt
L'Estocq's troops restored honor to the demoralized military.
Colmar Freiherr von der
wrote, "it was at Eylau in 1807, and not the War of Liberation
in 1813, that
the old army vindicated itself before the tribunal of history". Von
der Goltz attributed the success to Scharnhorst's planning and
L'Estocq's initiative and willingness to attack.
coalition defeat in the Battle of Friedland and the humiliating Treaties of Tilsit, L'Estocq was part of
an investigatory commission into the causes of Prussia's defeat in
the Fourth Coalition.
Because of his successful cooperation
with L'Estocq, Scharnhorst successfully lobbied for attaching a
chief of staff to each field commander in 1813.
became Governor of Berlin on 12
November 1808, and of Breslau in 1814.
After his death in Berlin on 5
January 1815, L'Estocq was buried in the cemetery of the city's
garrison church three days later.
- Eduard Höpfner, Der Krieg von 1806 und 1807 (1855), in
Citino, p. 125
- Citino, p. 124
- Colmar Freiherr von der Goltz,
Jena to Weimar: The Disgrace and the Redemption of the
Old-Prussian Army (1913), in Citino, p. 127
- Citino, p. 131