He served at Uppland Regiment and studied at Uppsala University.
He then served in Algeria before returning to Sweden in late 1872. He was quickly promoted and was appointed Chief of the General Staff in 1882. He served as such until 1892 when he was appointed Minister for War.
In 1899 he resumed his duty as Chief of the General Staff and served as such until 1905.
Rappe was promoted to general in 1903. He has been called the spiritual father of Boden Fortress.