Christian Gottreich Alexander Graf Falke von Falkenhorst was born on 25 April 1833 at the Hohenfalkenhorst castle in Ruritania. The son of Konrad August Graf Falke von Falkenhorst (1791 - 1866) and Alexandra Maria Gräfin Falke von Falkenhorst, née Alexandra Maria Freiin Freyser von Lohenberg (1808 - 1903). Falkenhorst entered the Kadettenschule (cadet school) at Hallstätte in 1843, where he undertook his introductory military training and education prior to being promoted to the Königlich Ruritanische Hauptkadettenanstalt (Royal Ruritanian Main Cadet School) at Staackau, which he attended from 1848 to 1851. He then entered active service with the army as a subaltern assigned to the Leibgarde-Husaren-Regiment (Life Guard Hussar Regiment).
Reaching the rank of Rittmeister (captain of cavalry) in 1858, he was gazetted to the Königliche Militärakademie (Royal Military Academy) in Strelsau for three years of study. In 1860 he married Charlotte Sophia Freiin von Hohenbühl (b. 1842). In 1861, Falkenhorst was sent to the United States of America to act as a military observer, arriving on 4 July. On 11 September, he arrived in Cairo, Illinois, and was soon attached to the headquarters of the commander the District of Southeast Missouri, Brigadier General Ulysses S Grant and would go on to accompany Grant in his subsequent career during the American Civil War, observing, studying, and reporting on military operations. In the ensuing years, Falkenhorst made the acquaintance of many prominent American generals, including: William Tecumseh Sherman, George Henry Thomas, and Philip Henry Sheridan. His reports and those of other Ruritanian observers were studied by the Ruritanian General Staff and used to supplement the army’s battle doctrine. After attending the Grand Review of the Armies in Washington, D.C., on 23 and 24 May 1865, Falkenhorst returned to Ruritania, arriving on 24 June. He then rejoined his regiment as a squadron commander.
With the outbreak of the Austro-Prussian War on 14 June 1866, Ruritania’s attempt to remain neutral was unsuccessful as several Prussian columns attempted to march through Ruritania as part of a larger sweep into Bohemia to the south. One column was repeatedly harried by Ruritanian cavalry using tactics reminiscent of those used by American cavalry commanders such as Sheridan and Grierson. Finally brought to bay, the Prussians were decisively defeated at the Battle of Teufelskessel on 29 June. Falkenhorst was cited for his role in these operations. Although the Prussians were ultimately victorious in the war against Austria, they suffered serious defeats in their Ruritanian incursions and were forced to withdraw their surviving forces.
With the end of the war on 23 August, Falkenhorst was detailed as a military adviser to the commission negotiating the peace treaty with the Kingdom of Prussia, which was subsequently signed on 29 August. After the war, Falkenhorst served on a number of staff appointments including time spent as an instructor at the Royal Military Academy in Strelsau. He also frequently served as one of the military escorts of the young Princess Flavia (b. 1858) of the cadet Elphberg-Schönhausen branch of the royal family. During this time, he and Charlotte had three children, Viktoria Elisabeth (b. 1866), Karl Flavius (b. 1874), and Sebastian Gottreich Karl (b. 1877). Falkenhorst was subsequently promoted to Oberstwachtmeister (major of cavalry) in 1870.
In the autumn of 1870, Falkenhorst again traveled to the United States as part of a joint American-Ruritanian venture conducting a secret expedition to the South Pacific Ocean. In late November, he reached the Point Discovery shipyards owned by Barbour & Canaan Co., near Seattle, Washington and boarded a new ship built there for the expedition, the S.S. Southern Star. Setting sail on 7 December, the expedition conducted a series of experiments and surveys of various parts of the South Pacific. The details of the voyage have remained highly classified to this day and little is known of it. S.S. Southern Star returned to the United States on 5 February 1872. Falkenhorst and the Ruritanian members of the expedition subsequently returned to Ruritania, arriving on 25 March. By the time Falkenhorst returned, his regiment had come under the influence of Herzog (Duke) Michael von Strelsau, the King’s second and morganatic son, who has been appointed as Oberstinhaber (colonel-proprietor or honorary colonel). Falkenhorst found himself being marginalized, despite being appointed Regimentsadjutant (regimental adjutant), as the Duke filled as many regimental vacancies as he could with favorites brought in from outside. This unhappy state of affairs continued for four years until Falkenhorst was promoted to Oberstleutnant (lieutenant-colonel) in 1876, at which time he requested reassignment out of the regiment. He was appointed Chef der Aufmarschabteilung (Chief of the Deployment Section) of the General Staff. Later that year, while serving in that capacity, Falkenhorst observed a number of suspicious movements and training exercises involving regiments under Duke Michael’s influence. Quietly bringing this to the attention of Feldmarschall Leopold Karl Gerhardt Freiherr von Strakencz und Franzenhof, the Chef des Generalstabes der Armee (Chief of the Army General Staff), he was asked to secretly prepare plans for suppressing a possible coup d’état. He didn’t realize at the time that this was a response to what later became known as the Zenda Incident. In the end the coup was put down by other means and no major military operations were required. He was able to deduce some of what had transpired, but kept what he had learned to himself. Afterwards, he was asked to serve as the commander of the Life Guard Hussar Regiment, some officers of which were implicated in the Zenda Incident. During his tenure as regimental commander, Falkenhorst quietly purged the regiment of the late Duke’s favorites and restored the regiment, whose reputation has been stained by the affair, to its pride of place.
Between 14 and 22 September 1878, Ruritania was honored by a visit by former American President Ulysses S Grant and his wife, Julia Boggs Dent Grant, as part of their world tour. Falkenhorst and his wife took the opportunity to host the Grants at his Falkengard estate. This, sadly, would be the last time Falkenhorst and his wife were able to take part in public ceremonies, as Charlotte Sophia Gräfin von Falkenhorst would die shortly after falling from her horse at the Falkengard lodge on 13 October. It was later determined that she had suffered a debilitating stroke, causing her fall. Stricken by grief, Falkenhorst withdrew from society as much as possible and concentrated entirely on his duties.
Promoted to Oberst (colonel) in 1879, his last official duty as commander of the Life Guard Hussars was to lead the Guard cavalry escort for the funeral and subsequent burial ceremonies for the assassinated King Rudolf V. He was then appointed by Queen Flavia as Diensttuende Flügeladjutant Ihrer Majestät der Königin (Aide-de-Camp in Waiting of Her Majesty the Queen). By now, he had largely retired to his estates to work on various papers and histories, which were published under various pseudonyms. At the queen’s request, he would occasionally emerge for various court functions and other duties that might be required.
In 1880, at the behest of Feldmarschall-Leutnant a.D. Professor Doktor Diplom-Ingenieur Friedrich Leopold Graf von Zerneck, Ruritania’s most noted scientist and head of the Zerneck Zentrum für Theoretische und Angewandte Wißenschaften (Zerneck Center for Theoretical and Applied Sciences), Falkenhorst arranged for the enrolment of Nikola Tesla, a former Austro-Hungarian national of Serbian extraction, who had recently immigrated to Ruritania, in the Albrecht-Karls-Universität (Albrecht Karl University). In 1881, Queen Flavia appointed Falkenhorst commander of the newly raised Ordonnanz-Gendarmen der Königin (Queen’s Orderly Gendarmes), a officer-only corps of nobles serving as orderly officers and aides-de-camp performing special duties on behalf of the Queen. In subsequent years he was given honorary colonelcies in a number of regiments, while engaging in several foreign and overseas missions.
At the end of 1882, the Queen asked Falkenhorst to undertake his most unusual and far-ranging mission yet, a survey of the situation on Mars, which was being increasingly colonized by the United Kingdom and the other Powers. Departing Ruritania on 14 December, Falkenhorst, accompanied by a small part including Nikola Tesla, first traveled to the United States. There he attended a number of diplomatic functions and visited with former President Ulysses S Grant and his wife, Julia Dent Boggs Grant. Falkenhorst and his party then boarded the American commercial æther ship, A.S. Shenandoah, and set sail for Mars on 11 January 1883. Arriving at the Martian city of Tossia, the center of the largest and most powerful independent Martian state, Falkenhorst initiated a series of informal, but highly productive, meetings with various members of the Tossian government, including the Tossian Emperor, Krahaanik IV.
Upon his return to Ruritania on 24 March 1883, Falkenhorst delivered a report containing important information regarding events on Mars and the relations between the various Martian governments and the colonial administrations being established on the planet. He also carried a “letter of understanding” from Emperor Krahaanik IV that would form the basis of future relations between Ruritania and the Tossian Empire.
In February 1885, learning of the declining health and financial difficulties experienced by former American president Ulysses S Grant, Falkenhorst arranged to have an official gift of money awarded to Grant by the Königlich Ruritanische Gesellschaft (Royal Ruritanian Society) in recognition of his role in the promotion of freedom and the dignity and equality of people of all races. He made plans to visit Grant in America, but the former President died on 23 July. Along with his friend Markgraf Bernard Heinrich von Ahrenheim, Freiherr Derhake, Falkenhorst traveled to the United States and took part in the funeral procession in New York City on 8 August.