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Niklaus Franz von Bachmann (1740 – 1831)

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.

11.02.2020 | Communication Defence

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Niklaus Franz von Bachmann was born in Näfels on 27 March 1740 into a Glarus family with a strong military tradition (his ancestors included the first and fourth commanders of the King of France's Swiss guard regiment). After studying at the Jesuit College in Feldkirch and the Nazarene College in Rome, he joined his brother Charles Joseph Anton Leodegar's company as an ensign in the service of France in 1756. In 1759 he was appointed commander of his own company, in 1768 he was promoted to major, and in 1773 he became a lieutenant colonel. Five years later he trained the infantry troops in Brittany for their deployment to America and was appointed colonel in 1779.

After the fall of the monarchy, he served as regiment commander in 1793 and the following year as lieutenant general in the service of the Kingdom of Sardinia. With the proclamation of the Cisalpine Republic in 1797, he returned to Switzerland as a prisoner of war and was placed under house arrest by the Helvetic Directorate. In the Second Coalition War he commanded the Swiss emigrant regiments in the service of Austria and Great Britain. In the spring of 1800, for the first time since the Middle Ages, he presented his troops with the standard with the white cross on the red background.

During the Stecklikrieg in 1802, the Federal Diet made Niklaus Franz von Bachmann the supreme commander of the federalist troops who went on to defeat the Helvetic Republic's army. On 12 March 1815, during Napoleon's Hundred Days, the Federal Diet ordered partial mobilisation of the army. Their assignment was to guard the borders. After being appointed supreme commander eight days later, von Bachmann returned to Switzerland on 23 March from his service as a lieutenant general for the Bourbons in Paris. During the mobilisation, he was the first Swiss commander not to deploy his troops along the border but to concentrate them in the area between Lake Neuchâtel, Solothurn and Aarberg, thus laying the foundations for the national "réduit" strategy. In order to protect the border, he led his troops into Franche-Comté, and thus was the last Swiss general to invade foreign territory. However, he had to abandon the offensive because of insubordination, food supply difficulties and disagreements within the Federal Diet (which he then complained about in his final report). At the end of the conflict, after a busy life that earned him several honours and titles (including a ceremonial sword with a golden hilt from the Swiss Diet, which did not award medals). At the age of 75, he retired to his house in Näfels. Louis XVIII offered him the post of inspector general for all Swiss regiments in France, but he declined because of his advanced age. In 1819 he was a guest of honour at the inauguration of the Lion Monument in Lucerne, which commemorates the sacrifice of the Swiss guard. His brother's name is inscribed in second place on the list of fallen soldiers. Niklaus Franz von Bachmann died at the age of 91 on 11 February 1831.

 

 

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François Pierre Félix von der Weid
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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.

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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.

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Wilhelm Bernhard von Muralt
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Andermatt

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Sebastian Peregrin Zwyer of Evibach
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Johann Ulrich von Salis Soglio
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Ulrich of Hohensax
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Keller

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Johann Ludwig von Erlach
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Ulrich Wille
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