Phull, Karl Ludwig August von

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Phull, Karl Ludwig August von


(Karl Ludwig August von Pfuel). Born 1757 in Stuttgart; died there Apr. 13, 1826. Prussian military theorist. Baron.

As a colonel in the Prussian army, Phull served on the General Staff. After the defeat of Prussia in 1806 he entered the Russian military service as a major general at Emperor Alexander I’s invitation. He soon became the tsar’s closest military adviser. A follower of A. H. D. von Biilow and a “pure” theorist lacking combat experience, Phull believed that it was maneuvering rather than fighting that decided the outcome of a military action. In 1811 he was asked to draw up a strategic plan of war against Napoleonic France. He proposed a defensive war based on the coordination of two armies, one of which—the First Army, based at the Drissa camp—was to hold the enemy in check and the other of which—the Second Army—was to attack the enemy’s rear. This theoretical plan was implemented after the beginning of the Patriotic War of 1812. It soon became clear, however, that it was inappropriate for the conditions that developed and could only lead to the utter if separate defeat of both armies. Phull’s plan was therefore rejected at a military council on July 1 (13). His authority undermined, Phull was recalled to St. Petersburg. He subsequently left for England.

In 1814, Phull was again invited by Alexander into the service of Russia. He was promoted to lieutenant general and was appointed Russia’s envoy to the Netherlands, where he served until 1821. There he wrote a memorandum in which he tried to justify his plan, alleging that its failure was due to the inept actions of the Russian generals.


Kharkevich, V. Voina 1812 g.: Ot Nemana do Smolenska. Vil’na, 1901.
Omel’ianovich. Plan Pfulia: Etiud iz istorii Otechestvennoi voiny. St. Petersburg, 1898.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.