Post by damnitz on Mar 15, 2019 14:32:24 GMT
As I don't find the SYW really exciting I will Focus myself on commanders of the War of the Polish Succession and on the leaders of the War of the Austrian Succession. Naturaly some of these were still in service during the SYW-period.
I will try to post one commander per week and rate him.
One of my favourite Generals is Friedrich Heinrich von Seckendorff (1673-1763). the field marshall
YES! Many People never heard of him and Yes he never won a battle against Frederick the Great or another Military Genius.
But I like him nevertheless.
In my opinion he maybe was not a great tactican but a great strategist. The only fact which puzzles me is: why did he left the Austrian army to serve in the Bavarian army? He would have been the greatest Austrian commander of the WAS perhaps if he...
First he fought for the Emperor at many battles of the War of the Spanish Succession, where he probably got the experience of a great leader. After the war he became a Major General in the Saxon army, despite the poor reputation of that army. He was present at Stralsund. Later he changed his Service again, when he was needed to lead Austrian forces during the war against the Turks. In 1717 he had the rank of fieldmarshall-lieutenant in the Imperial army. He had some success during a campaign in Scilly against the Spanish, but lost the battle of Francavilla as a subcommander under Count Mercy. Later in the war they defeated the Spanish at Milazzo and occupied Messina. After that war he had a good Reputation and was the imperial ambassador to Berlin. For this part of his career he is well known, because princess Wilhelmine, Frederick's older sister, mentioned him and his tricks often in her memoirs.
During the War of the Polish Succession he was one of the most able Austrian commanders at the Rhine river. His maneuvre strategy was just perfect and prince Eugene admired his conduct. The French army lost the initiative and was pesued by Seckendorff. All French plans to get the initiative again were destroyed by their defeat at Clausen, where Seckendorff blocked their advance masterfully.
His conduct during the next war against the Turks was not too bad, but he was blamed for his retreat behind the Save and was punished by Charles VI. because he just had too many enemies at the Austrian court.
He was a old soldier when the War of the Austrian Succession broke out and he was upset. The Austrian government did him no credit for all his work before the desaster of the last war. He was asked by the new emperor Charles VII. and got the rank of field marshal in the imperial army. He took command and learned early in the war, that the Bavarian army was not able to follow his plans. Soon the French were defeated in Bohemia and the Bavarians suffered a lot at the battle of Simbach in spring 1743. FZM Minuzzi had completely ignored the orders of the commander in chief and fought a battle he could not win and which destroyed halve of the whole Bavarian army on one fatal day.
Although Louis XV promised Charles VII. to defend Bavaria, Seckendorf recognized that there was no chance to stop the Austrian advance. Therefore he began negotiations which resultet in the armistice. Field marshall Seckendorff had the chance to save the remnants of the Bavarian army. He could transfer them to Philippsburg, where he hoped to rejoin the war when the situation was more promising. Seckendorff's letters of this time to prince Charles of Lorraine and other Austrian leaders are interesting. Surely he noticed at the first stage of the war, that the Bavarian forces were not fit to face such a professional army like the Austrian. Most times they were defeated even if outnumbering there enemies. In 1743/44 he managed to save the army from complete destruction and had to operate along with the new French commander in this area, the maréchal de Coigny. The situation was difficult as the Hessians acted more or less like a independent ally and not as a part of the Imperial army (Seckendoff surely didn't missed the similarities with the unwillingness of the Prussians in the 1735-campaign!). Nevertheless his conduct at the encounter of Wissembourg in July 1744 was excellent. He decided to send in a feint attack. That didn't work really and finally the descipline and conduct of the Hessian army, which suffered highly, gave the chance to storm the cemetery of Altstadt before Nadásdy retreated.
Seckendorff had no influence on the further campaign, which ended in the disastrous try by the maréchal de Noailles and de Coigny to catch prince Charles of Lorraine when he crossed the river Rhine near Auenheim and Suffelnheim. That was a missed oportunity and Seckendorff was clever enough to recognize that it would have a great influence on the war for Bavaria. Seckendorff had to persue the retreating Austrians cautiously, because the French switched their attention from Bavaria to Freiburg and later to Flanders where the most known large battles were to take place.
In 1745 Seckendorff saw no chance to advance in Austrian territory, but the Bavarian warparty had success and could convince the young elector Max to continue the war. Törring worked out a plan for the next campaign which ignored the fact that the numerous Hessian troops had no inclination to seriously serve the Bavarians in their fighting. When the Situation became more and more desperate and many Hessians and serveral Bavarian towns were captured, Seckendorff started to negotiate with the Austrians to finally end the disastrous war for Bavaria. That decission was later blamed by Ségur, who had a last small force of French and Palatine troops to support the Bavarian forces. At that moment no French were willing to fight the Austrians in Upper Germany and therefor Ségur's army included foreign units only. What ever the case, the treaty of Füssen mostly was Seckendorff's project and had the idea to help the Young elector to save his country from more years to come of Austrian occupation (some may know the bloody Bavarian peasants revolt during the WSS!).
After the war the 72 years old war horse retired to his estrate in Thuringia, where he was captured during the Seven Years war by the infamous Prussians who were so cruel to bring the nearly 90 years old veteran to Magdeburg! The poor old widower died soon after release in 1763.
I think that some aspects of Seckendorffs career are very interesting.
First: he never missed a chance to serve in the field, when war was a real challenge.
Second: he was a statesman and a general and never seperated both jobs, although he normaly was not in the council and worked on politics without offical orders by his sovreign.
It's most showy when we look at the treaty of Füssen. He simply had no benefit from that treaty. He was not the commander in chief of the Bavarians and could go home to Meuselwitz if he wished. But in my opinion he just saw a opportunity to be of some use.
His behiavour to leave Saxon service just at the time when Friedrich August I. negotiated for peace with Sweden is especially exciting.
I believe, that Seckendorff was too clever to miss the Observation that Friedrich August I. was a complete desaster for Saxony.
In the 17th century Saxony was the most powerfull protestant country in Germany, but after 1748 and especially after 1763 it lost most of the former influence over Northern Europe and was ruined by the politics by only two electors: Friedrich August I. and Friedrich August II.. They gambled away the wealth of the Wettin-heritage in a very silly manner looking for the glory of the useless Polish crown. Both rulers were unable as commanders in the field payed no attention to the benefit of Saxony as a state in it's own right. Friedrich August I. commenced his reign with the sold out of many important and promising countries, giving them to the most notorious rival in the conflict over influence over Northern Germany: Brandenburg (Prussia). The Great Northern war ruined the Country and when victory was imminent, August II. used the chance to get his throne again but that deal was to no benefit for Saxony, which had to further pay for the Polish adventure of the Saxon elector.