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eMedals-The Military General Service Medal to Johann Georg Gellrich

Item: EU7132

The Military General Service Medal to Johann Georg Gellrich

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The Military General Service Medal to Johann Georg Gellrich

The Military General Service Medal to Johann Georg Gellrich-  FUENTES D'ONOR (JOHN GELLRICH, SERGt BRUNSWICK OELS Lt INFANTRY.). Near extremely fine. Accompanied by the Prize Roll of the Brunswick Light Infantry from the National Archives and extensive documentation from Germany.  Footnote: Johann Georg Gellrich was born in 1779 in Burg, near Magdeburg, the son of a Prussian soldier. Burg is 90 km from Braunschweig (Brunswick.) Pursuing the same career as his father, in 1797 at the age of 18 he joined the Prussian army. In the same year the Crown Prince Friedrich Wilhelm ascended to the Prussian throne as King Friedrich Wilhelm III after the death of his royal father. His inheritance was poor. Though Prussia had expanded her borders, the situation of domestic affairs was precarious. Not only was the treasury reserve of 55 million Taler left by Friedrich the Great spent within 2 years, they also faced a sovereign debt of 30 million. The army was also losing prestige. Friedrich Wilhelm III. had strong personal traits, but because of his indecisiveness he failed to set right the problems of his realm. Even after the peace of Campo Formio between France and the Empire of Austria, when England, Russia, Austria and the German Reich formed the second coalition of 1798, the King of Prussia chose to remain neutral. Friedrich Wilhelm thought to maintain his kingdom through peace, but Napoleon could no longer be resisted. August 10th, 1806, the King finally ordered the mobilization of the army, except now Prussia stood alone with 93,000 men (to be bolstered by 20,000 Saxons,) against a battle hardened French army 193,000 strong. The campaign ended with defeat at Saalfeld, Jena, and Auerstedt. This catastrophic defeat led to the capitulation of the forts of Erfurt, Magdeburg, Stettin, Spandau, Prenzlau, and Luebeck. The director of the Braunschweig Archive wrote on Jan. 12 1939 about Johann Gellrich:  “From 1797 to 1808 served as a soldier and Lieutenant of the Prussian Army, participated in manoeuvres in 1806 against the French and earned the Golden Merit Medal for his conduct in the defence of the fortress of Glatz.” Georg Ortenburg in his work “With God for King and Fatherland[1]” 1979: “the Military Merit Medal was established in 1793, and was the first medal for lower ranking officers and enlisted men. Until then they were rewarded with cash.” The Peace of Tilsit in 1807 ended open conflict, and Napoleon was free to begin reshuffling Europe. Prussia was to relinquish claims to all territory west of the Elbe River, to reduce her army to 42,000 men, and to pay indemnities to the order of 120 million francs. Because of the reduction in personnel, Johann Gellrich was without a job. Duke Friedrich Wilhelm of Braunschweig-Luneburg-Oels, son of the Duke Karl Wilhelm Ferdinand who was fatally wounded at the battle of Auerstedt, founded what was known as the Black Band[2] in Bohemia early in 1809. Johann Georg Gellrich was keen to join as an infantry lieutenant in the service of the Black Duke. They began the march “from Bohemia to the North Sea.” They ended at the mouth of the Weser River and from there they sailed to England, to whom they would swear allegiance in the war with Napoleon. In 1810 the men of Braunschweig joined in the long Peninsular War. The Braunschweig archives say of Johann Gellrich: “in 1810 he went with the English Braunschweig regiment to Spain, where he was engaged from 1810 to 1814. He was wounded at the battle of Enentes de Quoro, and promoted to the rank of Sergeant Major…” His way home to Germany took him across southern France to England via the Isle of Wight. November 10th November he arrived back in Braunschweig to an impassioned welcome. On December 1st, Duke Friedrich Wilhelm returned from the Congress of Vienna, Johann Gellrich was promoted to officer cadet of the third line battalion the next day. His return home would be short-lived. In 1815 Napoleon returned from exile to the jubilation of his old troops and countrymen. His old enemies banded together in another coalition. In April of 1815, in accordance with the wishes of the Duke of Braunschweig, the Black Band joined the ranks of the British and Dutch armies. On the 16th of June, in the battle of Quatre Bras, Friedrich Wilhelm, the Black Duke of Braunschweig died. It was a terrible blow for the men of Braunschweig, who held their captain in high regard. They would go on to join the Battle of Waterloo, before returning to Braunschweig in 1816. In 1818 the Brunswick (Braunschweig) Waterloo Medal was established by the Prince-Regent George; Johann Gellrich received this medal. His medal is currently in the WILKE-Braunschweig collection. Johann Georg Gellrich retired with his pension while holding the rank of Lieutenant. He died on September 24, 1849 in Wenzen. [1] Original: Mit Gott fur Koenig und Vaterland [2] Original: Schwarze Schar
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