Julius von Verdy du Vernois (19 July 1832 – 30 September 1910) was a German general and staff officer, chiefly noted both for his military writings and his service on Graf Moltke's staff during the Franco-Prussian War.
Life and career
He was born in Freystadt, Silesia, and entered the Prussian infantry in 1850. After some years of regimental service he came to the attention of Moltke, the newly appointed Chief of the Prussian General Staff, and at the outbreak of the Austro-Prussian War (1866) he was appointed major on the staff of the Second Army (commanded by Crown Prince Frederick). He took part in the campaign on the upper Elbe and participated in the Battle of Königgratz, which saw the defeat of the Austrians. Promoted shortly after this to the rank of lieutenant-colonel, in 1867 he was placed at the head of the intelligence section of the general staff, becoming thereby one of Moltke's principal confidential assistants. In this capacity he served at the headquarters of the German army throughout the Franco-Prussian War (1870–71), and became known as one of Moltke's famed "demigods."
At the close of the war he continued to serve on the general staff, and also lectured at the War Academy (Kriegsakademie). It was in the latter position that he developed the system of thorough tactical education which is considered the abiding result of his work. His method may be studied in English translations of his Studies in Troop-leading, and may be summarized as the assumption of an actual military situation on the actual ground, followed by critical discussion of the successive measures that a commander, whether of a brigade, division or larger force, should take in the sequel, given his orders and his knowledge of the general situation. Moltke's own series of tactical problems, extending from 1859 to 1889, contributed very powerfully, of course, to the education of the selected young officers who passed through Verdy's hands, but Moltke dealt rather with a great number of separate problems, while Verdy developed in detail the successive events and ruling ideas of a whole day's or week's work in the same units. Moltke therefore may be said to have developed the art of forming correct ideas and plans, Verdy that of applying them, but these are after all merely tendencies, not sharply divided schemes, in the teaching of Prussian staff officers during the years of intellectual development between 1870 and 1888. In all this Moltke, Verdy and Bronsart von Schellendorf worked in close co-operation. In 1876 Verdy was promoted to Generalmajor, from 1879-1883 he held an important position in the ministry of war, and in 1881 he was promoted lieutenant-general. In 1887 he became governor of Strasbourg, in 1888 was promoted to General of the Infantry. From 1889 to 1890 he served as Prussian Minister of War, after which he retired from the active list. In 1894 the University of Königsberg made him a Dr. Phil, honoris causa.
Julius von Verdy du Vernois died in 1910.
- Dupuy, Trevor N. A Genius for War.
Paul Bronsart von Schellendorf
|Prussian Minister of War
Hans von Kaltenborn-Stachau
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