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Saldern, Friedrich Christoph Von

SALDERN, FRIEDRICH CHRISTOPH VON (1719-1785), Prussian soldier and military writer, entered the army in 1735, and (on account of his great stature) was transferred to the Guards in 1739. As one of Frederick's aides-de-camp he was the first to discover the approach of Neipperg's Austrians at Mollwitz. He commanded a guard battalion at Leuthen, again distinguished himself at Hochkirch and was promoted majorgeneral. In 1760 at Liegnitz Frederick gave him four hours in which to collect, arrange and despatch the spoils of the battle, 6000 prisoners, 100 wagons, 82 guns and 5000 muskets. His complete success made him a marked man even in Frederick's army. At Torgau, Saldern and Mollendorf (q.v.) with their brigades converted a lost battle into a great victory by their desperate assault on the Siptitz Heights. The manoeuvring skill, as well as the iron resolution, of the attack, has excited the wonder of modern critics, and after Torgau Saldern was accounted the " completest general of infantry alive " (Carlyle). In the following winter, however, being ordered by Frederick to sack Hubertusburg, Saldern refused on the ground of conscience. Nothing was left for him but to retire, but Frederick was well aware that he needed Saldern's experience and organizing ability, and after the peace the general was at once made inspector of the troops at Magdeburg. In 1766 he became lieutenantgeneral. The remainder of his life was spent in the study of military sciences in which he became a pedant of the most pronounced type. In one of his works he discussed at great length the question between 76 and 75 paces to the minute as the proper cadence of infantry. There can be no question that " Saldern-tactics " were the most extreme form of pedantry to which troops were ever subjected, and contributed powerfully to the disaster of Jena in 1806. His works included Taklik der Infanlerie (Dresden, 1784) and Taklische Grundsdlze (Dresden, 1786), and were the basis of the British " Dundas " drill-book.

See Ktister, Charakterzuge des Generalleutenants von Saldern (Berlin, 1792).

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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