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GUSTAV EDUARD VON HINDERSIN (1804-1872)

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Originally appearing in Volume V13, Page 478 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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GUSTAV EDUARD VON HINDERSIN (1804-1872), Prussian general, was born at Wernigerode near Halberstadt on the 18th of July 1804. He was the son of a priest and received a good education. His earlier life was spent in great poverty, and the struggle for existence developed in him an iron strength of character. Entering the Prussian artillery in 1820 he became an officer in 1825. From 1830 to 1837 he attended the Allgemeine Kriegsakademie at Berlin, and in 1841, while still a subaltern, he was posted to the great General Staff, in which he afterwards directed the topographical section. In 1849 he served with the rank of major on the staff of General Peucker, who commanded a federal corps in the suppression of the Baden insurrection. He fell into the hands of the insurgents at the action of Ladenburg, but was released just before the fall of Rastadt. In the Danish war of 1864 Hindersin, now lieutenant-general, directed the artillery operations against the lines of Diippel, and for his services was ennobled by the king of Prussia. Soon afterwards he became inspector-general of artillery. His experience at Duppel had convinced him that the days of the smooth-bore gun were past, and he now devoted himself with unremitting zeal to the rearmament and reorganization of the Prussian artillery. The available funds were small, and grudginglyvoted by the parliament. There was a strong feeling moreover that the smooth-bore was still tactically superior to its rival (see ARTILLERY, ยง 19). There was no practical training for war in either the field or the fortress artillery units. The latter had made scarcely any progress since the days of Frederick the Great, and before von Hindersin's appointment had practised with the same guns in the same bastion year after year. All this was altered, the whole " foot-artillery " was reorganized, manoeuvres were instituted, and the smooth-bores were, except for ditch defence, eliminated from the armament of the Prussian fortresses. But far more important was his work in connexion with the field and horse batteries. In 1864 only one battery in four had rifled guns, but by the unrelenting energy of von Hindersin the outbreak of war with Austria one and a half years later found the Prussians with ten in every sixteen batteries armed with the new weapon. But the battles of 1866 showed, besides the superiority of the rifled gun, a very marked absence of tactical efficiency in the Prussian artillery, which was almost always outmatched by that of the enemy. Von Hindersin had pleaded, in season and out of season, for the establishment of a school of gunnery; and in spite of want of funds, such a school had already been established. After 1866, however, more support was obtained, and the improvement in the Prussian field artillery between 1866 and 1870 was extraordinary, even though there had not been time for the work of the school', to leaven the whole arm. Indeed, the German artillery played by far the most important part in the victories of the Franco-German war. Von Hindersin accompanied the king's headquarters as chief of artillery, as he had done in 1866, and was present at Gravelotte, Sedan and the siege of Paris. But his work, which was now accomplished, had worn out his physical powers, and he died on the 23rd of January 1872 at Berlin. See Bartholomaus, Der General der Infanterie von Hindersin (Berlin, 1895), and Prince Kraft zu Hohenlohe-Ingelfingen, Letters on Artillery (translated by Major Walford, R.A.), No.. xi.
End of Article: GUSTAV EDUARD VON HINDERSIN (1804-1872)
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