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TODLEBEN (or TOTLEBEN), FRANZ EDUARD ...

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Originally appearing in Volume V26, Page 1045 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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TODLEBEN (or TOTLEBEN), FRANZ EDUARD IVANOVICH, COUNT (1818-1884), Russian engineer general, was born at Mittau in Courland, on the 2oth of May 1818. His parents were of German descent, and of the mercantile class, and he himself was intended for commerce, but a strong instinct led him to seek the career of a military engineer. He entered the school of engineers at St Petersburg, and passed into the army in 1836. In 1848 and the two following years he was employed, as captain of engineers, in the campaigns against Schamyl in the Caucasus. On the outbreak of war between Russia and Turkey in 1853, he served in the siege of Silistria, and after the siege was raised was transferred to the Crimea (see CRIMEAN WAR). Sevastopol, while strongly fortified toward the sea, was almost unprotected on the land side. Todleben, though still a junior field officer, became the animating genius of the defence. By his advice the fleet was sunk, in order to blockade the mouth of the harbour, and the deficiency of fortifications on the land side was made good before the allies could take advantage of it. The construction of earthworks and redoubts was carried on with extreme rapidity, and to these was transferred, in great part, the artillery that had belonged to the fleet. It was in the ceaseless improvisation of defensive works and offensive counterworks to meet every changing phase of the enemy's attack that Todleben's peculiar power and originality showed itself. He never commanded a large army in the open field, nor was he the creator of a great permanent system of defence like Vauban. But he may justly be called the originator of the idea that a fortress is to be considered, not as a walled town but as an entrenched position, intimately connected with the offensive and defensive capacities of an army and as susceptible of alteration as the formation of troops in battle or manoeuvre. Until the 2oth of June 1855 he conducted the operations of defence at Sevastopol in person; he was then wounded in the foot, and at the operations which immediately preceded the fall of the fortress he was not present. In the course of the siege he had risen from the rank of lieutenant-colonel to that of lieutenant-general, and had also been made aide-de-camp to the tsar. When he recovered he was employed in strengthening the fortifications at the mouth of the Dnieper, and also those of Cronstadt. In 1856 he visited England, where his merits were well understood. In 1860 he was appointed assistant to the grand-duke Nicholas, and he became subsequently chief of the department of engineers with the full rank of general. He was given no command when war with Turkey began in 1877. It was not until after the early reverses before Plevna (q.v.) that the soldier of Sevastopol was called to the front. Todleben saw that it would be necessary to draw works round Osman Pasha, and cut him off from communication with the other Turkish commanders. In due time Plevna fell. Todleben then undertook the siege of the Bulgarian fortresses. After the conclusion of preliminaries of peace, he was placed in command of the whole Russian army. When the war was over he became governor of Odessa and hereditary count. But his 'health was broken, though for some time after 188o he held the post of governor of Vilna, and after much suffering he died at Bad Soden near Frankfort-on-Main, on the 1st of July 1884. His great work on the defence of Sevastopol appeared in Russian, French and German (5 vols. 1864-1872). Besides this, he wrote a letter to General Brialmont on the operations around Plevna; this was printed in the Russian engineer journal, and in German in the Archie fur preussische Artillerie-offiziere (1878). See Brialmont, Le General comte Todleben (Brussels, 1884) ; Rieger, " Todleben u. seines Wirkens Bedeutung fur die Kriegskunst der Zukunft " (in Mittheilungen fiber Gegenstande des Artillerie- and Geniewesens, Vienna, 1885) ; Witzleben, in Internationale Revue uber die gesammten Armeen and Flotten (1879); Schroder, in Archiv fur Artillerie- and Ingenieur-Offiziere (Berlin, 1888) ; Life by Schilder (in Russian, St Petersburg, 1885–1887) ; Krahmer, General-Adjutant Graf Todleben (Berlin, 1888).
End of Article: TODLEBEN (or TOTLEBEN), FRANZ EDUARD IVANOVICH, COUNT (1818-1884)
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