Prince Friedrich Hohenzollern-Hechingen, 1757-1844

Prince Friedrich Hohenzollern-Hechingen (1757-1844) was an Austrian general who was undefeated in independent command, with a reputation for leading his men from the front.

Prince Friedrich was born near Maastricht in 1844 and was a member of the vast Hohenzollern family. He joined the Dutch Army, but then moved to the Austrian army in 1776 when he joined the Hohenzollern Kurassiers as an Unterleutnant (his uncle was the honorary colonel, or inhaber of the regiment). He fought in the War of the Bavarian Succession (1778-1792), then as a major in the Nassau Kurassiers  during the Austro-Turkish War of 1788-91.

In 1793, at the start of the Revolutionary Wars, he was commanding colonel (oberst) of the Kavanagh Kurassiers. He led this unit for much of the campaign in the Low Countries at the start of the War of the First Coalition, including at Neerwinden, the defence of the camp at Tournai and leading the advance guard at Wattignes.

Freidrich was promoted to Major General, and early in 1796 joined Beaulieu's army in Italy. He then fell ill, so didn't serve under Wurmser, but recovered in time to serve under Alvinczy, returning to the army in October. He played an important role in the Austrian victory at the first battle of Caldiero (12 November 1796). Early in 1797 he commanded Provera's advance guard during an attempt to raise the siege of Mantua. He managed to reach the San Giogrio suburb, but the main Austrian armies were defeated at Rivoli, and Friedrich was forced to surrender.

Friedrich was considered to be a master of 'small War', with a good eye for ground and experience of cavalry and outpost war. Although he was involved in several defeats, they always came when he was under someone else's command. Friedrich was forced to surrender, but he was awarded the Maria Theresa Order as a reward for his efforts.

In 1799 he served in Italy once again, this time under Kray. He led from the front during the Austrian victory at Magnano (5 April 1799), and was then given the task of besieging the citadel of Milan. He then had to leave Milan to block the advance of General MacDonald, defeating him at Modena in June. This gave the main Allied armies time to defeat Moreau at Cassano, in a campaign that undid most of Napoleon's famous conquests in Italy.

In 1800 Friedrich advanced through the Bocchetta Pass and besieged Genoa, although Massena was able to hold out until 4 June. Freidrich then became governor of Genoa, but he soon had to evacuate the city after Napoleon's victory at Marengo. He was able to extract his troops intact, and performed well at Pozzolo (December 1800).

After the end of the War of the Second Coalition, Friedrich was moved to Krakow to command a cavalry division. In 1804 he was made General Commandant of West Galicia.

In 1805 he commanded Werneck's advance guard during the disastrous advance to Ulm. He managed to break out of the trap, and rejoined the army in time to take part in the battle of Stecken (5 December 1805), a victory over the Bavarians.

In 1806 he commanded the defenders of the Neutrality Line in Bohemia, and then returned to his post at Krakow.

During the Austro-French War of 1809 he commanded III Corps, fighting at the battle of Teugen-Hausen (19 April 1809), where on three occasions he picked up flags to lead his men in person. His corps played the major part on the Austrian side, but he was unable to take a chance to defeat Davout's isolated corps. Afterwards he was given the Commander Cross of the Maria Theresa Order. He was then given command of II Corps, fighting at Aspern, where he led the attacks on Aspern village, and once again led from the front in clashes with French cavalry. At Wagram (5-6 July) he held the centre of the Russbach ridge around Baumersdorf, and then managed to retreat in good order. His was the first part of the main Austrian army to reach the battlefield at Znaim (10-11 July 1809)

He was then promoted to General of Cavalry, and Military Commandant of Inner Austria,. In 1812 he commanded the Reserve Corps in Galicia. In 1815 he blockaded General Rapp in Strassbourg.

In 1825 he was appointed President of the Hofkriegsrat. In 1830 he retired with the rank of Field Marshal .

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (31 October 2017), Prince Friedrich Hohenzollern-Hechingen, 1757-1844 ,

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