KLEIST VON NOLLENDORF, Friedrich (Friedrich Heinrich Ferdinand Emil Graf Kleist von Nollendorf)
A Prussian officer, and later Generalfeldmarschall. He was born in Berlin on 9 April, 1763 and died on 17 February, 1823. He took part in the 1793-95 campaign against France at the rank of captain in the infantry, winning the Pour le Mérite medal in 1793.
After this he commanded an Infantry Battalion in the "von Arnim" No. 13 Infantry Regiment for a few years. In the period 1803-1807 he was the Prussian King's Generaladjutant. At the end of 1808 he was appointed Generalmajor of the Lower Silesian Brigade in Frankfurt (Oder) and in 1809, when Chazot stepped down von Kleist became Military Governor of Berlin. In the Russian Campaign, von Kleist commanded an infantry expeditionary corps under Yorck, and when the latter changed sides von Kleist followed him reaching the Russian headquarters on 4 January, 1813.
After participating in the initial part of the 1813 Campaign, von Kleist took part in the Battle of Bautzen (20-21 May, 1813) and managed to defend the crossing of the Spree, near Burk, thus enabling the Russian General Miloradovich to exit Bautzen without loss. As Prussian plenipotentiary, he signed the armistice of Pleiswitz on 4 June. On the restart of hostilities, von Kleist commanded the second corps of the Prussian Army, and the Battle of Dresden commanded the second attack column.
In the retreat from Dresden, von Kleist led his men over the exceedingly difficult terrain of the high wooded valleys and hills of the Erzegebirge (Bohemia), pursued by Saint-Cyr. His timely arrival and initiative on the second day of the Battle of Kulm allowed him to attack Vandamme's rear, thus deciding the allied victory. In recognition of von Kleist's military achievements at Kulm and Nollendorf, Frederick William III (on 4 June, 1814) awarded to the former and to his descendents the noble title ‘von Nollendorf'. Von Kleist distinguished himself at the Battle of Leipzig on the left wing near Markkleeberg and took part in the pursuit of the French Army as it retreated out of Germany. During the French Campaign in early 1814 he played a decisive role in the allied victory at the Battle of Laon (9-10 March, 1814).
After 1815, von Kleist was appointed military commander of the military province of Sachsen in Merseburg. He was granted land near Halberstadt and in 1821 on his retirement he was given the title Feldmarschall shortly before his death in 1823.
- Von Kleist, Georg, ‘Das Leben des Generalfeldmarschalls Grafen Kleist von Nollendorf', Geschichte des Geschlechts v. Kleist, (3rd part of the Biographen bis 1880, first ed. 1887) new edition, ed. Sigurd von Kleist, Bergisch Gladbach 2013, online version (consulted 26 September, 2013)
- Meerheimb, Ferdinand Freiherr von, Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie, vol. 16 (1882), ‘Kleist von Nollendorf', Leipzig: Bayerische Akademie der Wissenschaften