Johann Conrad (Freidrich), Freiherr von Hotze (1739-99)

Johann Conrad (Freidrich), Freiherr von Hotze (1739-99) was a Swiss officer who served in the Württemburg, Russian and Austrian armies, and who was killed while campaigning in Switzerland in the Austrian service.

Hotze was born at Richterswil near Zurich. He studied at Tübingen university, and then left Switzerland to join the Württemburg von Phul cavalry regiment, part of the army of the Duchy of Württemburg. Although he rose to the rank of Rittmeister, he felt he was under-paid, and after applying to  join the Prussian army, ended up in the Russian service. He began as a Leutnant in the Ingermanland Carabinier Regiment, but was soon promoted back to Rittmeister. He fought against the Turks in the 1770s, serving under Kutuzov, but then returned to Switzerland in 1776.

In 1777 he presented himself to the Emperor Joseph II at Huningen, and entered the Austrian service as a major in the Berlichingen Kurassiers. He was promoted to Oberstleutnant in 1786, and in 1788 to Oberst, in command of a volunteer Uhlan unit in Galicia. He then served in the Austro-Turkish War.

In 1793 Hotze was promoted to Major General, served under Wurmser. He took part in the storming of the lines of Weissenburg and of Lauterburg, and as a result was awarded the Maria Theresa Order.

In 1794 he served under Hohenlohe, and forced Desaix's advance back towards the Rhine. He was promoted to FML, captured Mannheim and fought at the battles of Cannstadt and Esslingen. He then commanded the left wing of the Allied army at Neresheim (1-3 August 1794), where his troops helped to break the French right. He also fought at Newmarkt, and commanded Charles's left at Wurzburg. After that battle he was awarded the Commander Cross of the Maria Theresa Order.

War of the First Coalition - Rhine Front 1796
War of the First Coalition
Rhine Front 1796

In 1796 he fought on the Rhine front. On 22 August he took part in the combat of Deining, a delaying action fought by Bernadotte as Jourdan was attempting to escape from a dangerous position on the Naab. On 23 August he took part in the similar combat of Neumarkt,. Hotze attacked the French positions in Neumarkt under the cover of an artillery bombardment, and forced Bernadotte to retreat to the heights of Berg. He was then able to escape overnight. Hotze was then given six battalions and eleven squadrons and ordered to follow Bernadotte.

As Jourdan moved west/ north-west after suffered a defeat at Amberg (24 August), Hotze moved to Burgebrach. On 29 August he was attacked by Bernadotte (combat of Burgebrach), but although the French attack failed, it also forced Hotze to call for help from General Lichtenstein, opening up the French route along the Main. Even so, by the end of the campaign the French were back where they had started.

Early in 1798 the French invaded Switzerland, overthrew the 'Old Swiss Confederation' and created the Helvetic Republic. Later in the year Hotze was used to help convince the inhabitants of the eastern canton of the Graubunden to ask for Austrian support. Hotze commanded the force that was sent into Switzerland, and early in 1799 he defended Feldkirch against the French and then recaptured Luzeinsteig. He then defeated Massena at Winterthur. He was replaced as overall commander by the Archduke Charles, but stayed on to command the left wing at the first battle of Zurich (4 June 1799). He then helped clear the way for Suvarov to advance into Switzerland, and served with Korsakov's advance guard. Hotze was killed on 25 September 1799 while scouting out the enemy positions. Soon afterwards the Allied position in Switzerland was shaken by defeat in the second battle of Zurich.

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (31 October 2017), Johann Conrad (Freidrich), Freiherr von Hotze (1739-99) ,

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