Fermor, Count Villim Vilimovich

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Fermor, Count Villim Vilimovich

Commander-in-chief of the Russian army in East Prussia, Pomerania and Brandenburg (1758 and 1760)

born September 28, 1704

died February 8, 1771


Fermor entered the Russian military service in 1720.

In 1734, during the War of the Polish Succession, Major Fermor distinguished himself at the Siege of Danzig (present-day Gdańsk).

From 1736 to 1739, Fermor served under the command of Field-Marshal Munnich in the war against the Turks.

In 1740, Fermor became commander of Vyborg and, from 1741 to 1743, took part to all the operations against the Swedes in Finland.

In 1746, Fermor was promoted to lieutenant-general. He was also chairman of the construction chancery and directed the construction of the imperial palace in Saint-Petersburg.

In 1751, Fermor was named general commander of Saint-Petersburg, Finland and government of Novgorod.

In 1756, at the beginning of the Seven Years' War, Fermor was placed at the head of a support corps in Apraxin's army.

On August 30 1757, Fermor fought under Apraxin at the Battle of Gross-Jägersdorf, leading the 1st Division. On October 28, when Apraxin was removed from command, Fermor was promoted commander-in-chief of the Russian army.

In March 1758, after the capture of Elbing (present-day Elbląg) and Thorn (present-day Toruń), Fermor was designated as Governor-General of East Prussia. In July, his army advanced into Brandenburg and, in August, laid Siege to Cüstrin. Frederick II relieved the fortress and on August 25 fought the bloody and inconclusive Battle of Zorndorf against Fermor's army. After this battle, Fermor progressively retired towards Poland and East Prussia. For his conduct at the Battle of Zorndorf, Elizabeth Petrovna awarded Fermor the title of count.

For the campaign of 1759, Fermor was demoted to the rank of general for hesitance and irresolution, ceding overall command of the Russian army to Count Piotr Semionovitch Saltykov. On July 27, Fermor took part in the Battle of Paltzig where he led the first line of infantry of the centre. On August 12, at the Battle of Kunersdorf, Fermor was at the head of the 1st Divison deployed in the centre of the Russian line of battle.

In 1760, when Saltykov was removed from command, Fermor briefly assumed the role of commander-in-chief before being replaced by Alexander Borissovitch Buturlin.

After the death of Empress Elizabeth Petrovna (1762), Fermor was named Governor-General of Smolensk (1763) and member of the senate (1764) by Catherine II.

Fermor died on February 8 1771.


Mitchell, James J., Villim Vilimovich Fermor - A Brief Biography, Seven Years War Association Journal Vol. XII No. 1

German Wikipedia – Wilhelm von Fermor