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Niklaus Rudolf von Wattenwyl (1760 – 1832)

Niklaus Rudolf von Wattenwyl was born on 3 January 1760 in Bern. His family was one of Bern's largest patrician families and represented in the city's government. Niklaus Rudolf von Wattenwyl was an officer in the foreign service, a member of the provisional government and of the Consulta in Paris, president of the Cantonal Council of Bern, Landammann (chief political officer) of Switzerland and President of the Federal Diet that appointed him Supreme Commander of the Army in 1805, 1809 and 1816.

03.01.2020 | Communication Defence

Wattenwyl

 

Niklaus Rudolf von Wattenwyl was educated by private tutors and at an institute in Strasbourg. At the beginning of his military career from 1776 to 1784, he was officer of the Bern Stürler Regiment in the service of the Netherlands, where he was promoted to grenadier captain. When he returned to Switzerland in 1795, he began his political career as a member of the Bern city parliament. He was also a militia commander in the Thun cantonal regiment and, with his troops, stopped the advance of the French army at Neuenegg in 1798. During the Stöckli War in 1802, he commanded a battalion in the Berner Oberland. In 1803 he was sent as a deputy from Bern to the Paris Consulta, and became a member of the Bern Scholastic Council; in 1804 he was appointed Landammann of Switzerland (a position he would hold again in 1810). The general military regulations for the Swiss Confederation, which he drew up with the aim of reorganising the Swiss army after the dissolution of the Helvetic Republic, were adopted by the Diet on 22 June 1804.

When the war broke out between France and the Third Coalition in 1805, Switzerland, situated between the two adversaries, had to defend its neutrality. On 21 September, after von Wattenwyl had joined the federal staff that he had helped to create, the Diet mobilised four divisions and appointed him general. Following Napoleon's victory at Austerlitz on 2 December, the Swiss army was disbanded (on 10 December 1805). No violation of Swiss territory had occurred in that war but in March 1809 hostilities between Austria and France began with an incursion over the Swiss border. In April, the Diet ordered the mobilisation of a third of the cantonal contingents under the command of General von Wattenwyl, and placed another third on standby. With the signing of the Schönbrunn Treaty on 14 October 1809, the federal army was demobilised in late autumn. On 19 October 1813, following Napoleon's defeat in Leipzig, the fighting came closer to Switzerland again and, on 18 November the Diet ordered the third mobilisation under Niklaus Rudolf von Wattenwyl's command. On 19 December 1813, the Prince of Schwarzenberg, commander of the troops of the Sixth Coalition, informed von Wattenwyl of his intention to enter Switzerland with the Austrian army. On 21 December, despite the general's opposition, the Austrians entered Switzerland without the Swiss army being able to oppose them due to their inadequate, undisciplined and uneducated staff and a lack of equipment.

Von Wattenwyl was held in high regard within the Federal Diet and served as its president after the Restoration in 1817, 1823 and 1829. As the head of the reformist party (from 1827), he worked closely with the liberals in 1830, offering them freedom of trade, tax breaks and the abolition of censorship. Niklaus Rudolf von Wattenwyl can to be credited with allowing the transformation of the patrician regime in Bern into a democratic state without bloodshed. He died on 10 August 1832 in Aarburg.

 

 

12.04.2020

Karl Ludwig von Erlach
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Niklaus Franz von Bachmann
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03.01.2020

Niklaus Rudolf von Wattenwyl
Wattenwyl

Niklaus Rudolf von Wattenwyl was born on 3 January 1760 in Bern. His family was one of Bern's largest patrician families and represented in the city's government. Niklaus Rudolf von Wattenwyl was an officer in the foreign service, a member of the provisional government and of the Consulta in Paris, president of the Cantonal Council of Bern, Landammann (chief political officer) of Switzerland and President of the Federal Diet that appointed him Supreme Commander of the Army in 1805, 1809 and 1816.

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.

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.

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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.

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Joseph Leonz Andermatt
Andermatt

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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.

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Sebastian Peregrin Zwyer of Evibach
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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.

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Ulrich of Hohensax
B5M5N8

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Augustin Keller
Keller

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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.

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Charles-Jules Guiguer de Prangins
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Ulrich Wille
Wille

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