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Johann Ludwig von Erlach (1595 – 1650)

The first Battle of Rheinfelden took place on 28 February 1638, during the Thirty Years' War. On one side of the field was the Bernese Johann Ludwig von Erlach, the Chief of Staff to Duke Bernard of Saxe-Weimar and organiser of the High Rhine campaign, which ended with the cession of Alsace to France. Johann Ludwig von Erlach ended his career as Marshal of France, and is regarded as one of the greatest generals in the mercenary service of the 17th century.

28.02.2019 | Communication Defence

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Johann Ludwig von Erlach was born in Bern on 30 October 1595. At the age of 13, he was sent to Geneva to learn French. From 1614 to 1615, he served as a page at the courts of several German princes and the Prince of Orange in Holland. In 1617, he volunteered to join Hercules von Salis' regiment in Friuli, and later that of his uncle Anton von Erlach in the service of the House of Savoy, where he was promoted to captain in 1618, to major in 1622 and to lieutenant colonel in 1623. During the Thirty Years' War, from 1618 to 1625, he served as an officer in Anhalt, Brandenburg and Brunswick. In 1624, he took part in the Livonia campaign as quartermaster general (chief of general staff) to the Swedish military forces under the command of King Gustav Adolf of Sweden.

He returned to Bern in 1625, where he was responsible for the Bernese military reform of 1628 and was promoted to lieutenant colonel of the Bernese militia in 1629. Concerned by the unrest within the Confederation he realised that weakened national sentiment was a threat to the military and drew up plans for a federal military organisation, known as the Defensionale of Wil (which was implemented in 1647). In the Thirty Years' War, Swiss neutrality was repeatedly disregarded by the warring powers, and between 1628 and 1638 partial mobilisations took place almost continuously. However, in September 1633, the Tagsatzung, (the Confederation's legislative and executive council) decided to mobilise detachments of the cantonal militias and appointed Colonel Freiherr von Erlach supreme commander with the rank of lieutenant general (the second supreme commander in the history of the Confederation). In 1635, von Erlach rebuilt the artillery of the cantons by standardising calibres so that the same type of ammunition could be used. In 1636, he again commanded the federal forces that were set up to guard the Fricktal border. After the situation on the Swiss border had calmed down in 1638, he resigned.

As a lieutenant general under Louis XIV, von Erlach decisively contributed to the victory in the Battle of Lens, which ended the Thirty Years' War. On 26 January 1650, a few days after his appointment to Marshal of France, Johann Ludwig von Erlach died in Breisach where he was governor.

04.11.2019

Guillaume Henri Dufour
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On 4 November 1847, General Dufour, commander-in-chief of the Swiss army, fully aware of Switzerland's difficult situation, (the day after the cantons of the Sonderbund had attacked the Canton of Ticino and triggered hostilities) urged his division commanders to curb their feelings of hatred towards the Sonderbund cantons in order to avoid compromising the future cohesion of the Confederation. The Confederation's last civil war ended 25 days later, leaving less than 100 casualties on the battlefield and laying the foundations for a new constitution.

28.10.2019

Hans Herzog
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200 years ago, on 28 October 1819, Hans Herzog, the son of Johann and Franziska Salomea Herosé, was born in Aarau, Switzerland. During the Franco-Prussian War, he exercised supreme command over the Swiss army from 19 July 1870 to 15 July 1871. Hans Herzog was the second general of modern Switzerland, and the 15th in the history of the Swiss Confederation.

25.09.2019

Wilhelm Bernhard von Muralt
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On 25 September 1792, Wilhelm Bernhard von Muralt of Bern was appointed commander-in-chief of the Swiss army, which included troops from all the cantons. Stationed at headquarters in Nyon, von Muralt prepared to defend Geneva from the French threat with 20,000 deployed soldiers and 12,000 reservists under his command. On 27 October, after long negotiations, the French agreed that they would not attack Geneva and withdrew their troops. The last Bernese garrison was able to leave the city on 30 November and the Swiss army was demobilised in December.

30.08.2019

Joseph Leonz Andermatt
Andermatt

On 31 August 1790, a mutiny within the garrison of Nancy in France was crushed. The uprising broke out on 5 August because the soldiers were convinced that their officers had made unfair deductions from their pay. For his role in suppressing the revolt, Joseph Leonz Andermatt, an officer in the Swiss Châteauvieux regiment that was part of the Nancy garrison, was awarded the title of knight of the Order of Saint Louis.

25.07.2019

Henri Guisan
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On 25 July 1940 General Henri Guisan summoned all Switzerland's military commanders with the rank of major or higher to the Rutli meadow, where he informed them about the military's National Redoubt strategy. France had been defeated in June and Switzerland was surrounded by the Axis powers. In his radio address on 25 June, Marcel Pilet-Golaz, the President of the Confederation at the time, caused confusion among the population by mentioning the New European Order. General Guisan emphasised in his speech the army's willingness to offer unconditional resistance.

27.06.2019

Sebastian Peregrin Zwyer of Evibach
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At the end of June 1630, during the War of the Mantuan Succession, the imperial army besieged the capital city Mantua, which was eventually seized and plundered on 18 July. Lieutenant Colonel Sebastian Peregrin Zwyer of Evibach fought under the imperial ensign as one of commander Matthias Gallas's men.

22.05.2019

Johann Ulrich von Salis Soglio
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On 22 May 1844 Johann Ulrich von Salis-Soglio, colonel in the Swiss General Staff, was in the Valais, where a faction of the Young Europe association was causing unrest. The Federal Council had appointed him commander of the troops and tasked him with disarming Young Switzerland, which was a revolutionary liberal group modelled on the Young Italy movement founded by Giuseppe Mazzini. In August 1847 Johann Ulrich von Salis-Soglio was released from the service on account of his conservative views. Shortly thereafter, however, he was back in military uniform again, having reluctantly accepted his appointment as supreme commander of the Sonderbund army.

18.04.2019

Ulrich of Hohensax
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On 19 April 1512, the Swiss Tagsatzung, the legislative and executive council of the Swiss Confederacy, appointed Ulrich of Hohensax supreme commander of the confederate army, which was preparing to enter Lombardy. The Council of War confirmed the Tagsatzung order on 30 May, making Ulrich of Hohensax the first commander-in-chief in Swiss history. The campaign ended on 31 December, when Ulrich of Hohensax led the Swiss army into Milano and restored Massimiliano Sforza to the throne. With the success of this operation, the Confederates strengthened their position, becoming equal partners with other European powers.

28.03.2019

Augustin Keller
Keller

On 28 March 1799, in the midst of a period of upheaval the commander of the Helvetic Legion, Colonel Augustin Keller, was promoted to brigadier general and appointed commander-in-chief of the Helvetic Republic's army. However, the hurriedly assembled troops proved completely incapable of fighting a battle. Augustin Keller was released from his duties on 24 May 1799 due to failure and the militia army was disbanded on 12 August of the same year.

28.02.2019

Johann Ludwig von Erlach
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The first Battle of Rheinfelden took place on 28 February 1638, during the Thirty Years' War. On one side of the field was the Bernese Johann Ludwig von Erlach, the Chief of Staff to Duke Bernard of Saxe-Weimar and organiser of the High Rhine campaign, which ended with the cession of Alsace to France. Johann Ludwig von Erlach ended his career as Marshal of France, and is regarded as one of the greatest generals in the mercenary service of the 17th century.

24.01.2019

Charles-Jules Guiguer de Prangins
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On 24 January 1798, the national representatives declared the Pays de Vaud's independence from Bern. Charles-Jules Guiguer de Prangins enlisted in the Vaud military forces as a lieutenant to join the liberation struggle alongside the French forces. He was promoted to captain within a year, and later, as a general, commanded the Swiss forces in 1831 and 1838.

11.12.2018

Ulrich Wille
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On 11 November 1918, World War I ended when the armistice of Compiègne came into force. Fears sparked by the first general strike from 12 to 14 November, however, led to an extension of mobilisation in Switzerland. Finally, on 11 December 1918, General Wille, commander-in-chief of the Swiss military, handed over command and was discharged from his duties.