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Augustin Keller (1754 – 1799!)

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.

28.03.2019 | Communication Defence

Keller

Augustin Keller was born in Solothurn on 22 August 1754. After studying at the Jesuit school in Solothurn (1766-1770), he enlisted in a regiment in the service of France. He first served as an NCO and thanks to his zeal was soon promoted to officer. In 1798, he took over the local command of Bruges, where he stood out for his courage in defending the city. Meanwhile, supported by France and its French troops, the Helvetic Revolution had broken out. On 12 April 1798, the new Constitution came into force and the old Confederation was replaced by the Helvetic Republic, a sister republic – in reality a satellite state - of France. On 19 August, an offensive and defensive alliance was signed, which put an end to the war with France, and the Helvetic Republic lost its independence in foreign policy affairs and its neutrality.

On 27 August 1798, Augustin Keller was appointed Helvetic minister of war but did not take office because of the veto of the French Directorate. The Helvetic Republic's dependence on France sparked new protests that were stifled in blood by French troops. In their attempt to maintain order the central authorities pushed ahead with the establishment of a military organisation, and on 4 September, decided to form the Helvetic Legion, a permanent intervention force of 1,500 men serving on a voluntary basis for the protection of internal order. Colonel Augustin Keller, who was entrusted with organising the legion, was appointed their commander in September 1798.

On 13 December 1798, the act on the organisation of military conscription for the purpose of creating a Helvetic army came into force. Because of the unstable political situation throughout Europe acting quickly became crucial. On 24 February 1799, when a conflict with the allied powers seemed inevitable, the government mobilised 20,000 men to defend the borders. Four days later a general staff was created and on 28 March Augustin Keller was appointed general.

As his failures led the Directorate to relieve him of his duties on 24 May 1799, Augustin Keller fled to Paris and was convicted by a court martial on 24 July 1799. That was the last time he was mentioned in historical documents. It is believed that he served under the French colours again and probably ended his career as captain in Batavia, present-day Jakarta.

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.