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François Pierre Félix von der Weid (1766 – 1810)

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.

31.05.2020 | Communication Defence

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François Pierre Félix von der Weid was born on 31 May 1766 in Fribourg. At the age of eight, he entered the service of France as a cadet in his father’s company of the Waldner von Freundstein regiment. He there earned the title of lieutenant on 20 July 1781 and of first lieutenant on 26 October 1788. On 31 August 1790, he became involved in the Nancy Mutiny . He went on to serve with the Rhine Army in his first campaigns of the French Revolution. He was discharged with this unit on 7 October 1792, and was appointed commander of the National Guard of Toul in 1793.

As a member of the Council of Two Hundred of Fribourg (from 1794), he supported bringing his city closer to revolutionary France. He was already the militia inspector for the canton of Fribourg, when he was appointed colonel commandant of the brigade by the French General Brune on 6 March 1798. In 1799, he was charged with the organisation of two battalions of volunteers from Fribourg. On 28 March, he was appointed adjutant general by the Directory of the Helvetic Republic, and went on to take part in the battles of Frauenfeld, Winterthur and on the Simplon Pass.

He was reformed on 31 January 1800, and on 26 October of the same year, he took command of the 1st Line Infantry Battalion. On 3 October 1802, he was promoted commander-in-chief of the Swiss troops with the rank of general. On 17 May 1803, after the Act of Mediation, he returned to the service of France and was appointed brigadier general by the First Consul; he was also made knight of the Legion of Honour. He was made commander of the Order of the Legion of Honour in 1804. On 22 September 1805, he was put in command of the 2nd Brigade of the Dragoon Division, and on 3 October of the same year, he joined the Grande Armée and took part in the Wars of the Third and Fourth Coalition. In 1806, Pierre von der Weid was given the title of Baron of the Empire.

On 9 October 1808, he was assigned to take part in the 3rd Infantry Division of the Army of Spain. During the campaign, he was taken prisoner in Cartagena on 5 April 1809 while escorting a column of prisoners. He died in Cartagena on 23 October 1810 following the outbreak of an epidemic in the city’s prisons.


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