Gottfried Heinrich, count of Pappenheim (d.1632)
Imperial general during the Thirty Years War, trained in Spanish Service. In 1626 a peasant's revolt erupted in Upper Austria, provoked by the harsh rule of Maximilian of Bavaria and his governor Herbersdorf. Pappenheim was Herbersdorf's son in law, and he commanded the army that crushed the peasants at Gmunden, Vocklabruck and Wolfsegg. By 1630 he was second in command of the Imperial army led by Tilly, and the main motivating factor behind the siege of Magdeburg. On 20 May 1631 he led the final attack on Magdeburg, without orders from Tilly who he suspected of losing enthusiasm for the siege. This was typical of his career. Although a good cavalry officer, he did not have the temperament for a subordinate command, or the attention to detail and patience required for overall command, and to make things worse he disliked Tilly, who he felt to be incompetent and had no time for Tilly's patient approach to warfare. His flaws came to a head in September 1631. The destruction of Magdeburg by fire after it's capture had left Tilly in a very weak position, and by September he had fallen back on Liepzig, where he hoped to hold out against Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden until reinforcements arrived. Pappenheim had different ideas, and on 16 September 1631 led what should have been a simple reconnaissance mission into a position where battle was unavoidable, forcing Tilly to come to his support. On 18 September, the two armies met at Breitenfeld. Pappenheim commanded the imperial left, and started the fighting with a good flanking attack on the Swedes, which would have caused considerable damage to any other contemporary army. However, the Swedes were the best trained army of the period, and were able to resist this attack, forcing Pappenheim to retreat. Despite other successes on the day, the Imperial army was unable to resist the superior training of the Swedes, and was eventually forced into retreat, leaving some 7,000 dead and as many more prisoners. Injuries to Tilly left Pappenheim in command of the retreat, where he added to his reputation by fighting personally in the rearguard. After the battle, which he had caused, he was clear that Tilly was responsible for the defeat, and he wrote to Wallenstein in the hope that he would resume command of the Imperial armies. In the meantime, Pappenheim was sent with his own army to the Weser, to guard against another Swedish army on the north coast, where he remained until late in 1632, when he was recalled by Wallenstein, now in command, for an attack on Saxony. He rejoined Wallenstein on 6 November, but mislead by false reports, Wallenstein sent him ahead of the main army on 15 November, and so Pappenheim missed the start of the battle of Lutzen (16 November). He returned to the field late in the day, and lead a valiant cavalry charge that threw the Swedes back for some time. However, during the charge Pappenheim took a fatal bullet wound in the lungs. Despite his failings, Pappenheim enjoyed a great reputation at the time. He was the most dashing of the Imperial generals, and a legend even before his death. His death removed one of the props by which Wallenstein controlled his army.
The Thirty Years War , C.V.Wedgewood. Despite its age (first published in 1938), this is still one of the best english language narratives of this most complex of wars, tracing the intricate dance of diplomacy and combat that involved all of Europe in the fate of Germany.
How to cite this article: Rickard, J. (3 December 2000), Gottfried Heinrich, count of Pappenheim (d.1632), http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/people_pappenheim.html
Contact Us -
About Us -
Subscribe in a reader