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Johann Weber (1752 – 1799)

On the battlefield of Neuenegg, on 5 March 1798, Major and Adjutant-General Johann Weber made a decisive contribution to the victory of the Bernese troops over the troops of the newly founded French Republic. It was only the announcement of the Bernese defeat at Grauholz on the same day that forced him to retreat. The war was lost, but the honour of the troops remained intact.

05.03.2020 | Communication Defence

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Johann Weber was born on 12 November 1752 in Brüttelen in the Bernese Seeland. His father Abraham was a first lieutenant in the service of France and a mayor. At the age of 16, Johann entered the service of Samuel von Graffenried, a member of the governing council of Erlach, and at the age of 18 he followed in his father’s footsteps and entered the foreign legion. In 1770, he enlisted in the Bernese regiment von May serving in Holland. Six years later, he entered the Dutch regiment van Dopff where, in 1790, he was promoted to captain and, four years later, to lieutenant quartermaster general and assistant to the Prince of Orange. In the latter capacity, he found himself fighting two campaigns against the French armies in the French Revolutionary Wars. After the defeat of the Netherlands, faced with the choice of either submitting to the pro-French regime or giving up his military career, he decided, out of a sense of loyalty, to return home to Switzerland.

In Switzerland, with the rank of major, he served as adjutant-general (Chief of Staff) and made a decisive contribution to the victory of the Bernese troops over the French troops on 5 March 1798, at the battle of Neuenegg. On the same day, however, the victory of the French over the Bernese at Grauholz marked the final defeat of Bern and the end of the Ancien Régime in Switzerland.

During the war between France and Austria in Eastern Switzerland, when Napoleon ordered the Directory to mobilise Swiss troops to support the French Republic, Johann Weber was one of the three adjutant-generals to the Swiss army under the orders of General Augustin Keller. On 25 May 1799, the Swiss Legion was incorporated into General Oudinot’s French Division. Johann Weber led two battalions and a company of marksmen. In an initial attack on the town of Frauenfeld, Weber had managed to push back the Austrians, and then led the attack against the troops of Austrian General Hotzes. While he was advancing in an attempt to see the enemy’s positions, the bullet of an Austrian sharpshooter hit him behind his right ear. Johann Weber was carried back to Frauenfeld, and died after a long agony, unaware that General Keller had been relieved of his post that same day, and that the Directory had appointed Johann Weber himself as commander in chief of the troops of the Helvetic Republic.

31.05.2020

François Pierre Félix von der Weid
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François Pierre Félix von der Weid, born on 31 May 1766 in Fribourg, was the fourth and last general of the Helvetic Republic and the ninth commander-in-chief of the Swiss troops.

12.04.2020

Karl Ludwig von Erlach
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On 12 April 1798 the canton of Léman was established and its authorities took office. The people of the Pays de Vaud had already adopted Switzerland’s first Constitution ever on 15 February 1798. This had been given to them by the French generals who had invaded the Pays de Vaud on 24 January. Karl Ludwig von Erlach was entrusted with the supreme command of the troops called upon to defend the Confederacy against the French. However, von Erlach was unable to prevent the defeat of Bern, which lead to the fall of the Old Swiss Confederacy in less than three months.

05.03.2020

Johann Weber
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On the battlefield of Neuenegg, on 5 March 1798, Major and Adjutant-General Johann Weber made a decisive contribution to the victory of the Bernese troops over the troops of the newly founded French Republic. It was only the announcement of the Bernese defeat at Grauholz on the same day that forced him to retreat. The war was lost, but the honour of the troops remained intact.

11.02.2020

Niklaus Franz von Bachmann
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Niklaus Franz von Bachmann, former soldier in the service of the monarchs of France, Sardinia and Austria, died on 11 February 1831 at the age of 91 in his house in Näfels. In 1800, he presented his troops with the red flag with the white cross, last used in the Middle Ages, which became the symbol of the Swiss Confederation. In 1815, he was appointed supreme commander of the federal troops, and went to invade Franche-Comté, the last Swiss general to enter foreign territory.

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.

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
Wille

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.