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Peter Ludwig von Donatz (1782 – 1849)

8 December 1844 saw the first of two attempts to overthrow the cantonal government of Lucerne. The campaigns by the volunteer military units known as Freischarenzüge followed the decision of the Lucerne government to entrust secondary school teaching to the Jesuits and led to the establishment of the Sonderbund. A series of riots followed, prompting the Federal Diet to mobilise its troops under the command of General Peter Ludwig von Donatz.

08.12.2019 | Communication Defence

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Peter Ludwig von Donatz, from Ils in Domleschg (GR), was born on 20 September 1782 in Valenza, Piedmont. His father Brigadier General Peter Konrad von Donatz was in the service of the Kingdom of Sardinia. Peter Ludwig von Donatz completed his scholastic education in Jenins and Reichenau at the age of sixteen and, following the family's military tradition, joined the Swiss Salis-Marschlins regiment in the service of England. He was promoted to lieutenant in 1800, and from 1806 to 1830 he served France in the Swiss Castella, Graffenried and May regiments.

He was taken prisoner by the British but returned to France and was assigned to the 3rd Regiment of the Swiss Division of Napoleon's Great Army. As a grenadier major he fought courageously at Polozk and after the Battle of Beresina, although wounded, led the remaining Swiss units to Vilnius. After his return from Russia, the 3rd regiment comprised no more than 4 officers and 60 men, so that a new Swiss brigade was set up, in which Donatz, who fought in Holland, on the Rhine, near Bremen and Wesel, was incorporated. After his return from Paris, he was promoted to lieutenant colonel and commander of the Salis regiment in 1816.

After the July Revolution in 1830 Peter Ludwig von Donatz returned to Switzerland where he was promoted to federal colonel in 1831. After the Federal Treaty of 1815 abolished many freedoms from the Napoleonic area, Switzerland was shaken by civil and religious uprisings. In order to suppress the unrest caused by the Freischarenzüge, the Federal Diet met in Zurich on 30 March 1845, and ordered the mobilisation of an army corps (consisting of the 1st and 2nd divisions). Colonel Peter Ludwig von Donatz was promoted to general and appointed supreme commander of the Swiss army. The military intervention quickly ended the conflict and the army was demobilised in May.

Two years later, during the Sonderbund War, General Dufour named Peter Ludwig von Donatz commander of the 3rd Division. For thirteen years, the little-known Swiss general was a member of the central military surveillance committee and in charge of the Wettingen training camp. With his thirty years of experience in foreign services, he shaped the Swiss military, mainly through his skills as an instructor. Peter Ludwig von Donatz died in Chur on 12 August 1849.

 

 

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08.12.2019

Peter Ludwig von Donatz
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8 December 1844 saw the first of two attempts to overthrow the cantonal government of Lucerne. The campaigns by the volunteer military units known as Freischarenzüge followed the decision of the Lucerne government to entrust secondary school teaching to the Jesuits and led to the establishment of the Sonderbund. A series of riots followed, prompting the Federal Diet to mobilise its troops under the command of General Peter Ludwig von Donatz.

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