Loudon, Baron Ernst Gideon

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Loudon (aka Laudon), Gideon Ernst Baron von

Austrian Lieutenant-Colonel (1756-57), Colonel (1757-58), General Feldwachtmeister (1757-58), Feldmarshall Lieutenant (1758-59), Feldzeugmeister (1759-78)

born February 2, 1717, Tootzen, Livonia

died July 14, 1790, Neutitschein, Moravia


Painting of Ernst Gideon Freiherr von Loudon

Loudon was the son of Gerhard Otto von Loudon, a lieutenant-colonel, retired from the Swedish service and of Sophie Eleonore von Bornemann auf Treppenhof. His family was of Scottish origin and had settled in Livonia in 1374 when Matthäus von Loudon entered in the service of the Brothers of the Sword, an autonomous branch of the Teutonic Order.

At an early age, Gideon showed interest in military matters. Accordingly, his father made sure that he was taught mathematics, drawing, and geography as well as other sciences necessary for an officer.

In 1732, Gideon was sent into the Russian army (Livonia was by then a Russian territory) as a cadet in Pskovskiy Infantry. His father died the same year.

In 1733, Pskovskiy Infantry was sent to Poland where riots had broken out.

In 1734, during the War of the Polish Succession, Loudon took part in the siege of Danzig by Field Marshal Münnich at the head of a Russo-Saxon force. During this siege, Loudon distinguished himself in the storming of the Stolzenberg.

In 1735, Loudon accompanied the Russian corps who marched to the Rhine to support the Imperial Army against the French. After the peace agreement, his regiment was ordered to force march to Bessarabia to fight the Crimean Tatars.

From 1736 to 1739, Loudon participated in the war against Turkey.

On May 20 1736, the Russian Dnieper Army (62,000 men) under the command of Field Marshal Burkhard Christoph von Münnich took by storm the Turkish fortifications at Perekop. On June 17, he occupied Bakhchisaray. However, lack of supplies coupled with the outbreak of an epidemic forced the Russian Army to retreat to Ukraine.

In July 1737, Münnich's Army took by storm the Turkish fortress of Ochakov. Loudon had taken part in the siege.

In 1738, after a brief sojourn in his estates of Tootzen, Loudon rejoined his regiment for the incoming campaign in Moldavia.

In August 1739, during the operations against Khotyn, Loudon was promoted to first lieutenant.

After the Russo-Turkish War, in 1740, dissatisfied with his prospects in the Russian army, Loudon resigned from the Russian service and sought military employment elsewhere. He first visited his uncle, the Swedish Colonel of the King's Life Guard. The latter tried without success to convince Loudon to enter in the Swedish service. Because of this disagreement, Loudon was forced to leave his uncle's house and to find an accomodation in a coffee house in Stockholm.

In the Spring of 1741, Loudon returned to Riga and then spent a few days at Tootzen before heading towards Berlinlin. There, he applied to Frederick II of Prussia who declined his services (supposedly Frederick was "..uncomfortable with the physiognomy of this man"...). Loudon stayed for some time in Berlin, making a second unsuccessful attempt with Frederick.

In 1744, Loudon, who was running out of money, left for Vienna with the support of the Imperial envoy Count Philipp von Ursini and Rosenberg. He arrived in the capital of the Habsburg in April. While waiting for his audience with Maria Theresa, he met an unknown nobleman in the hall and candidly described his previous experiences to him. To his surprise, during his audience, he saw this man at the side of Maria Theresa. It was her husband Franz Stephan! Thanks to his intercession, Loudon obtained a captaincy at the Austrian Army. Shortly thereafter, Loudon met Lieutenant-Colonel Franz von der Trenck, the famous light troops leader, in the theater. The latter was at that time looking for officers for his Pandour Corps. Trenck offered to Loudon an officer position in his corps. Loudon immediately accepted and started his travel to join his company currently operating in Upper Palatinate. On June 30, Loudon took part in the crossing of the Rhine at Schreck with Trenck's Pandour Corps. He was among the first to reach the opposite bank. Prince Charles of Lorraine praised the Pandours and Treck was promoted to colonel. Loudon then took part in all actions of Trenck's Padour Corps. While conducting raids in Alsace, Loudon was wounded by a musket ball (incidentally, the sole injury he suffered in his entire life) in the upper right part of the chest. The wound was quite severe and Loudon fell to the ground unconscious, his friend Captain Matthesen brought him to a farmhouse. Soon afterwards, French troops occupied the farmhouse and a French surgeon looked after Loudon. A party of Pandours then recaptured the farmhouse and freed Loudon. In August, when Frederick reopened hostilities in Bohemia, the army of Charles of Lorraine marched from the Rhine towards Bohemia. Because of his wound, which had not yet completely healed, Loudon did not take part in other actions that year.

At the beginning of 1745, Loudon rejoined Trenck's Pandour Corps which had by then been made a regular regiment and served in FML Esterházy's Corps. At the end of May, Esterházy resolved to make an attempt against the Fortress of Cosel in Silesia. Loudon had to reconnoitre the neighbourhood. He asked to Colonel Buccow for his authorisation to make an attack on Cosel. The raid was conducted at night and Loudon was the first to pass the moat and to climb the wall. The Pandours made themselves master of a bastion and redirected its six artillery pieces on the town. Other units stormed the town gate and the garrison surrendered at mercy. Loudon then took part in various small actions, greatly distinguishing himself as leader of light troops. On September 30, he was present at the Battle of Soor where his unit was attached to Nádasdy's Corps who stormed the Prussian camp. Disobeying their orders, the pandours and hussars then started to plunder the camp. This was one of the reason why the Prussians managed to win this battle. Franz von der Trenck was court-martialed for his conduct and Loudon had to testify during his trial. Loudon too was initially considered responsible for the misconduct of the Pandours at Soor but could prove his innocence. Nevertheless, these events put a stop to Loudon's progress in the military career for a long time. After Trenck's trial, Loudon advised him to come to an amicable agreement with one of his accusers. Trenck was so infuriated by this proposal that he insulted Loudon during a representation at the theatre and provoked him in duel. However, this duel never took place since Trenck was arrested and imprisoned shortly thereafter. Loudon then tried unsuccessfully to get a new appointment in the Austrian Army. His financial resources were exhausted and he considered to leave Austria. His friends finally convinced him to stay. Salviatti, a well-known musician in Vienna, supported Loudon financially.

In 1746, Loudon finally obtained a captaincy in the Karlstädter-Lykaner Grenzer, a unit of frontier light troops. Soon afterwards, Loudon married Clara von Hagen, a relation of the Salviatti family, in Bösing (present-day Pezinok/SK). He had to abduct his future wife, then chambermaid to a Count Seilern, because the family opposed the match. The couple spent the next 10 years at Bunic (in Croatia, ca. 30 km to the south-west of Bihác) in the Carlstadt District where Loudon's company was stationed. During this period, Loudon kept himself busy, studying military matters, geography and geometry. He obtained a large supply of maps and military plans, which he studied intensively. According to some historians, during these 10 years, Loudon planted a 230 ha oak forest (now known by his name) not far from Bunic. The plantation was modelled on a standard order of battle with a vanguard, main body and rearguard. The general disposition of this forest can still be seen on aerial photographs. Loudon also built a church.

After the Peace of Aix-la-Chapelle, in 1748, the Grenzer troops were reorganised and formed into regular regiments. Loudon also had to face problems in his own company. Using a heavy hand, he soon re-established order (seven of the ringleaders were convicted by a court martial and executed). His superior, General Petazzi, praised him for his conduct but this in turn provoked the envy of his fellow officers. The situation escalated and Loudon wanted to personally complain to Vienna. However, he was dissuaded to do so.

During a sojourn in Vienna, Loudon abandoned his Protestant faith and became Catholic. After the participation of his regiment to a training camp near Pest, he was promoted to major.

On October 28 1752, Anton Petrus, Loudon's first son died.

In 1753, Loudon was promoted to lieutenant-colonel. On September 9, Leopold Franz, Loudon's second son died.

At the outbreak of the Seven Years' War, in 1756, Loudon's name was not present in the list of officers called to the field. Surprisingly, he owed his exclusion to General Petazzi who had often praised him in previous years. It seems that their relationship had seriously deteriorated since then. Loudon went to Vienna to obtain an appointment in the field army. He managed to get an audience with State Chancellor Kaunitz who had a long conversation with him. Kaunitz then decided to give marching orders to Loudon for the II./Karlstädter-Lykaner Grenzer, a very ill-equipped battalion. Loudon made representations to the Vice-President of the Imperial War Council, Count Neipperg, to receive new equipment but his request was harshly rejected. Once more, Kaunitz interceded for Loudon and Neipperg received instructions from Maria Theresa to equip Loudon's unit correctly. At the end of September, Loudon and his battalion joined Browne's Army at the camp of Budin. Loudon took part in the Battle of Lobositz (present-day Lovosic/CZ)) and in the ensuing unsuccessful attempt to relieve the Saxon Army encircled at Pirna. During these actions, FM Browne soon appreciated Loudon's qualities and entrusted him with several independent commands. Loudon and his Grenzers occupied Gabel (present-day Jablonne v. P./CZ) and then roamed the country up to Zittau. Loudon and his battalion took their winter-quarters in Grottau (present-day Hrádek n. N./CZ). At the end of December, Loudon, at the head of a few companies of Grenzers and 200 Karlstädter Grenz-Hussars, conducted a raid across the Neisse, driving the Prussians out of several posts and reaching Ostritz (some sources attribute this action to Count Lacy).

In February 1757, he distinguished himself once more under the command of FML Maquire and Löwenstein in the attack on Hirschfeld near Zittau. In this action he stormed a large entrenchment at the head of his Grenzers Shortly afterwards, Loudon he also took part in the assault on Herwigsdorf. After these action, the Austrian army retired on Reichenberg (present-day Liberec/CZ). FML Daun developed a very good opinion of Loudon and consulted him in some occasions. On March 17, Loudon was promoted to colonel. After Königsegg's defeat in the Battle of Reichenberg, at the beginning of the retreat from Bohemia, Loudon made a junction with Königsegg's Corps which was retiring towards Prague. On May 3, their combined forces reached Prague where Loudon was posted near Troja (now part of Prague). On May 6, he took part in the Battle of Prague where he defended the Ziskaberg for three hours before retiring within the city gates. During the ensuing Siege of Prague, Loudon was posted in vineyards on the Laurenziberg (present day Petřín) from where he made several sorties. After Daun's victory in the Battle of Kolin, the Prussians lifted the siege of Prague. Prince Charles of Lorraine had developed such a good opinion of Loudon during the siege that he entrusted him with the command of an entire detachment (4 grenadier coys, 600 hussars and 2,000 Grenzers). At the head of this detachment, Loudon followed the retiring Prussians up to Welwarn (present-day Velvary/CZ). When the Austrian Main Army started its advance, Loudon's detachment marched at the forefront of General Nádasdy's vanguard. On Sunday July 24, a battalion of Karlstädter-Lykaner Grenzer, led by Loudon, attacked a Prussian convoy escorted by 200 recruits near Welmina (present-day Velemín/CZ). The wagons of the convoy were quickly formed in a wagenburg. A wagon transported General Mannstein who had been wounded at Kolin. Mannstein bravely defended himself, refusing to surrender, and was killed during the fight. The rest of the defenders finally surrendered as prisoners of war (Colonel Kleist and Marquise de Varenne, along with 8 other officers and 146 privates). After several additional successful actions, Prince Charles rewarded him with a pension of 1,500 fl. Loudon also received 200 men of Hadik Hussars as reinforcement. Loudon's Corps (now consisting of 4,000 Grenzers, 2 hussar regiments and 2 grenadier battalions) was sent to assist the Reichsarmee for the planned reconquest of Saxony. In August. Loudon attacked a Prussian force led by General Itzenplitz near Gottleuben, taking many prisoners and capturing 4 pieces. As Itzenplitz arrived with reinforcements, Loudon's troops withdrew. Loudon than conducted several raids against smaller Prussian units. On August 20, Loudon was nearly captured when he bumped into a Prussian patrol in the fog. A hussar warned him (at the cost of his own life) just in time to allow him to escape. On August 25 in Vienna, Empress Maria Theresia issued a decree to promote Loudon to General-Feldwachtmeister (major-general). Unfortunately the courier carrying this document was later intercepted by a Prussian patrol. However, Frederick II sent a trumpeter to transmit the document to Loudon with his personal congratulations (!). His corps was then ordered to march to Erfurt to make a junction with a French force under Comte Lancelot Comte Turpin de Crissé. However, Loudon did not find Turpin's force at their assigned rendez-vous and placed himself under the command of the Prince of Hildburghausen, commanding the Reichsarmee. On November 5, Loudon and his corps were at the Battle of Rossbach where they were posted on the left wing of the Franco-Imperial Army. The French were so rapidly routed that Loudon's Corps had not time to be engaged. Prince Charles of Lorraine then recalled Loudon's Corps to the Austrian Main Army and confided him the guard of the passes in the Erzgebirge. On November 23, Loudon applied for the new Military Order of Maria Theresa. By the end of November, Loudon was at Komotau (present-day Chomutov/CZ), his corps reduced to a mere 1,100 men. Loudon then asked for the authorisation to raise a grenadier battalion but his request was rejected. After the disastrous defeat of Leuthen (in which Loudon did not take part), Loudon's Corps was forced to retire on Prague in front of Prussian forces advancing on Budin.

On March 8 1758, Loudon became a knight of the newly founded Order of Maria Theresa. During the Prussian invasion of Moravia, he got his first opportunity to act as commander of a large Austrian corps (4,294 German foot, 6,056 Grenzers and 424 hussars). On June 30, by his action in the Combat of Domstadl where he destroyed a Prussian supply convoy of 4,000 wagons, he forced Frederick II to abandon the Siege of Olmütz and to retire into Bohemia. Loudon's Corps followed up and harassed the Prussian during its retreat towards Silesia by Königgrätz (present-day Hradec Králové/CZ), Opotschno (present-day Opočno/CZ) and Gießhübel (present-day Olešnice/CZ). On July 27, Loudon was rewarded with the grade of Feldmarshall Lieutenant (roughly equivalent to lieutenant-general). Loudon was then charged to make a foray into Mark and to make a junction with the Russian Auxiliary Corps. He marched by Reichenberg to Saxony, then by Spremberg to the Fortress of Peiz whose small garrison capitulated in exchange for free withdrawal. In this fortress, Loudon captured a large quantity of ammunition and 40 small pieces. Meanwhile, on August 25, the Russians had fought the inconclusive Battle of Zorndorf and the planned junction became meaningless. Accordingly, Loudon marched back to Hoyerswerda. Upon the approach of Frederick's Army, Loudon first retired to Radeberg and then to Langenbrück. Frederick took position in a fortified camp near Stolpen and resolved to destroy Loudon's Corps with superior forces. However, Loudon managed to escape a pincer attack near Fischbach and to move closer to Daun's Main Army. He then blocked the road to Bautzen. Frederick still planned to attack Loudon. However, the latter realized that he could not oppose such a large force, abandoned his positions and made a junction with d'Ayassasa's Corps. The tactical manoeuvres of both armies lasted till mid-October, when Frederick finally encamped in a bad position near Hochkirch. In the night of October 13 to 14, Loudon took part in the Battle of Hochkirch where he showed himself an active and daring commander. After this battle till October 24, both armies encamped in fortified positions near Bautzen. Loudon fell sick and did not participate in the pursuit of the retreating Prussians. By the end of October, he was back at the head of his troops who had followed up the Prussian rearguard led by Prince Henri. The two corps came to grip near Ober-Schönbrunn, the Prussians losing 500 men, Loudon 300. Frederick's Army then encamped near Löwenberg and Loudon took position in the immediate vicinity. On November 2, when Frederick broke camp, Loudon occupied Löwenberg where a hundred Prussians lay in ambush to hinder the advance of the Austrian Main Army. Loudon continued to follow up Frederick's Army. Near Pilgramsdorf, he engaged a Prussian force, capturing 400 pack horses and 15 pontoons; and taking Lieutenant-Colonel Zastrow and 120 men prisoners. Loudon then took his winter-quarters on the Bohemian border. On December 4, the third promotion of the Maria Theresa Order took place in Prague where Loudon received Great Cross of this order. At the end of the year, Loudon repeated his request to raise an independent battalion of grenadiers to support Grenzers in combat.

On March 5 1759, Loudon was created a Freiherr (baron) in the Austrian nobility by Maria Theresa and, on March 10, admitted in the peerage of the Holy Roman Empire by her husband the Emperor Francis. Furthermore, Maria Theresa gave him the estate of Klein-Betschwar near Kuttenberg (present-day Bečváry/CZ) in Bohemia. On March 13, the War Council finally authorised Loudon to raise a grenadier regiment, the so-called Grün Loudon Grenadiers. For the incoming campaign, Loudon was placed in command of the Austrian contingent (30,000 men) sent to join the Russians on the Oder. At the beginning of April, Loudon was at Trautenau (present-day Trutnov/CZ) with 10 bns, 8 grenadier coys, 2 free bns, 5,700 Grenzers and 20 sqns. At the end of June, Loudon marched towards Saxony. By July 27, he was at Görlitz (present-day Zgorzelec/PL). In early August, the Russians were approaching Guben and Loudon established communications with General Saltykov. On August 12, they both won the bloody Battle of Kunersdorf but failed to pursue the Prussians. After long arguments with Saltykov, who was not inclined to take further actions against the Prussians, Loudon finally decided to march back to Bohemia with his corps. The march lasted 25 days under very unfavourable weather conditions, proceeding through Poland to Bohemia where the corps arrived in mid-December in a deplorable state. Loudon established his headquarters in Kremsier (present day Kroměříž/CZ) and then went to Vienna to buy new uniforms for his corps. Due to the victory at Kunersdorf, Loudon was promoted on November 20 to Feldzeugmeiser (general of infantry). For her part, Empress Elizabeth sent him a magnificent sword of honour decorated with diamonds. On December 25, Loudon was made commander-in-chief of all troops in Bohemia, Moravia and Silesia. In a rescript of the War Council, Loudon was guaranteed full autonomy to take further action. For his part, FM Daun remained commander-in-chief of the Austrian Army of Saxony.

Loudon's tireless activity was in conspicuous contrast with the temporizing strategy of Daun and Lacy. The last three years of the war were marked by an ever increasing friction between Daun and Loudon.

At the beginning of 1760, Loudon spent his time mostly in Prague or with his troops in Northern Bohemia. Vienna did not count on the help of the Russians for this campaign and the Council suggested to Loudon not to rely on them. He then confided command of his troops stationed in Bohemia to FML Campitelli and joined his units posted in Moravia and Silesia. On March 5, he arrived in Brünn. Shortly before, he had been appointed owner of the former Alt-Wolfenbüttel Infantry who soon became known as “Blau Loudon”. On March 15, Loudon's Corps marched towards Silesia in four columns. On their way, at Leobschütz and Glogau, they met small Prussian detachments who retired at their approach. At the end of April, Loudon received orders to march towards Lusatia with the 10,000 men who were still under his command. Loudon went to Vienna to obtain reinforcements while his second-in-command, Campitelli, marched to Zittau. Loudon also took part in a council of war in Dresden with Daun and Lacy. By the end of May, the reinforcements that he requested had assembled at Kosteletz (present-day Kostelec n. Orlici/CZ). His corps then counted 34 bns, 33 grenadier coys, 75 sqns and 44 artillery pieces. Loudon then launched operations in Silesia, trying to confuse his opponents by frequent manoeuvres. On June 23, he attacked Fouqué's Corps, winning the Battle of Landeshut and capturing most of this Prussian corps along with generals Fouqué, Malachowski and Schenckendorff. The town of Landshut was plundered by his troops. Loudon deplored these excesses and ordered the punishment of the culprits. Now at the head of some 50,000, Loudon had to make a junction with Daun's Army who had moved into Silesia. However, when Frederick laid siege to Dresden, Daun marched back to Saxony with his own army. Loudon was instructed to capture the Fortress of Glatz (present-day Kłodzko/PL). The siege itself was entrusted FCM Harsch, the siege troops to FML Drašković. On July 26, Loudon stormed and captured the Fortress of Glatz. He then laid siege to Breslau from July 30 to August 3 where he was supposed to make a junction with the Russian Army. However, the Russians being late, he was forced to abandon the siege. On August 15, he sustained a reverse at Frederick's hands in the Battle of Liegnitz, which action led to bitter controversy with Daun and Lacy, the commanders of the main army, who, Loudon claimed, had left his corps unsupported. Loudon then encamped at Striegau. Vienna considered to lay siege to Glogau with the assistance of the Russians but the latter rejected the plan. There were no other major actions in Silesia till the end of the year. In mid-December, Loudon concluded a truce with General Goltz and his troops took their winter-quarters in the area of Glatz and Königgrätz. Loudon then went to Vienna to discuss the plans for the next campaign.

In 1761, Loudon (60,000 men) was instructed to wait for the arrival of a Russian corps before launching his campaign in Silesia. However, due to the rigid attitude of the Russian commander-in-chief, there was no joint operation. Loudon vainly presented a well conceived plan which was rejected. Meanwhile, Frederick had established his army in a strongly fortified camp at Bunzelwitz. General Buturlin to march back to the Oder and then towards Berlin with his main army, leaving only Tchernichev's Corps to assist Loudon. All attempts against Frederick's entrenched camp of Bunzelwitz failed. At the end of September, the Prussians finally set off from their camp and marched in the direction of Neisse. Loudon immediately seized this opportunity and, on the night of September 30 to October 1, he succeeded in the storming of Schweidnitz. After the capture of the fortress, Loudon sent Lieutenant-Colonel de Vins to Vienna to bring the good news. Surprisingly, the War Council complained that Loudon had acted arbitrarily and demanded his punishment! State Chancellor Kaunitz and the Emperor himself had to intercede with Maria Theresa on behalf of Loudon. On October 10, Loudon finally received a letter thanking him for the capture of the fortress. Furthermore, he was granted 3,000 ducats to distribute to the Russian grenadiers who had participated in the storm. A third letter from Maria Theresa was accompanied by a Great Cross of the Maria-Theresia-Order decorated with brilliants which was formerly the posession of Prince Charles de Lorraine. For his part, Frederick II realized that Major-General von Zastrow could not hold a fortress like Schweidnitz with such a small garrison and praised his commitment to the defence of the place. Winter came early that year and Loudon's troops took their winter-quarters in Silesia. Loudon then handed over command to FML d'Argenteau and left for his estate of Betschwar in Bohemia.

In 1762, both sides were exhausted and wished to put an end to the conflict. In February, Loudon received a letter from Maria Theresa entrusting him with the command of all troops in Silesia. In March, the general plan was changed. Now the main army, led by Field-Marshal Daun would operate in Silesia and Loudon was placed at the head of a corps under Daun's overall command. On March 28, Loudon set off from Vienna and rejoined his corps at Waldenburg, acting as "ad interim" commander-in-chief. In mid-May, Daun finally arrived in Silesia and assumed supreme command. On July 21, Loudon took part in the Battle of Burkersdorf (present-day Burkatów/PL) where he commanded part of the centre. After their victory, the Prussians laid siege to Schweidnitz. On August 16, a relief attempt by Lacy, Brentano, O'Donell and Beck failed when they were repulsed in the Battle of Reichenbach. On October 11, Schweidnitz finally surrendered after a siege of 63 days. When Daun moved back to Saxony, Loudon asked to accompany the main army but had to remain in Silesia. In October he fell ill. He was not able to assume command again before the end of November.

In 1763, after the peace, when Daun became the virtual commander-in-chief of the army, Loudon fell into the background. Offers were made, by Frederick II amongst others, to induce Loudon to transfer his services elsewhere. Loudon did not entertain these proposals. When Lacy succeeded Daun as President of War Council, on March 24 1766, Loudon was made inspector-general of infantry. Dissensions, however, continued between Loudon and Lacy, and on the accession of Joseph II, who was intimate with Lacy, Loudon retired to his estate near Kuttenberg.

In August 1769, Loudon accompanied Emperor Joseph II, Lacy and some other generals to a meeting with Frederick II in Neisse where the latter repeatedly declared his admiration for Loudon's achievements in the Seven Years' War. On November 13 of the same year, under the influence of Maria Theresa and Kaunitz, Loudon was appointed commander-in-chief in Bohemia and Moravia. He assumed this function for three years.

In 1770, Loudon took part in a second meeting with Frederick during manoeuvres of the Austrian Army in Neustadt in Moravia.

After the peasant unrest of 1775, Loudon wanted to sell his estate of Betschwar near Kuttenberg and to move to Vienna. Maria Theresa repurchased his estate on generous terms and he installed himself in the former house of Liechtenstein in Hernals in Vienna.

In 1776, Loudon bought the estate of Hadersdorf near Vienna and built a castle there.

On February 27, 1778, Loudon was finally appointed Feldmarshall. He also became commander of the Kingdom of Bohemia and commander of the city of Brünn. However, he soon resigned from the latter function. At the outbreak of the War of the Bavarian Succession, Emperor Joseph and Lacy reconciled to Loudon. Lacy and Loudon then commanded the two armies in the field. Loudon's Corps (circa 72,000 men) covered the Bohemian frontier between Reichenberg and the Elbe River. While his army concentrated in Bohemia and Moravia, Loudon remained in Vienna. On April 4, he finally arrived in Prague where he represented Emperor Joseph II until his arrival to assume overall command. Preparations for the campaign lasted until July, then the Prussian and Austrian armies manoeuvred in Bohemia, Moravia and Silesia, but no major battle took place. Nevertheless, Emperor Joseph II, supported by Loudon, sought an engagement against Frederick II in the region of Leitmeritz-Saaz (present-day Litomerice and Zatec/CZ). However, Maria Theresa did not want to disrupt the impending peace negotiations and instructed her son to avoid battle. On May 13 1779, peace was finally concluded at Teschen (present-day Tesin/CZ). The performance of Loudon during this war did not stand to his reputation.

Meanwhile, in 1778, a new conflict against the Ottoman Empire, where Austria and Russia sided together, had broken out and Loudon had applied for a field command. Emperor Joseph II, who had assumed command of the army (236,000 men), initially declined Loudon's request due to his age. However, other Austrian generals having suffered important reverses against the Turks and the Prince of Liechtenstein having fallen ill, Loudon was called for the last time into the field to take command of the army standing in Croatia and Slavonia. On August 12, he set off from Hadersdorf and reached the camp in front of Dubica on August 18 where his troops jubilantly welcome him. The city was encircled by the Austrians since a long time. Loudon immediately began the necessary works and vainly summoned the small garrison to surrender. On August 26, after several days of bombardment, causing multiple fires, the garrison finally surrendered. Loudon's next goal was the capture of the Fortress of Novi. On September 6, he established his headquarters near the fortress. Immediately on September 7, with the 8,900 foot already arrived, Loudon started siege works. In the following days, he opened a lively bombardment of the fortress. When Loudon was informed that a Turkish relief army was on the march, he strengthened the rear of his positions. On September 20, some 7,000 Turks attacked Loudon's positions but were soon put to flight. On September 21, Loudon tried to storm the fortress but the courageous defenders repulsed the assault. On October 3, after further bombardment and mining, Loudon launched a second assault and succeeded in capturing the place. The garrison (591 men) surrendered as prisoners of war and Loudon immediately put his troops at work to repair the fortress. He then left a garrison in Novi and marched on the town of Berbir, intending to capture it. However, due to rain and snow, he had to abandon this enterprise and sent his troops into winter-quarters. He then went to Alt-Gradiska where he transferred command to FZM de Vins before returning to Vienna where he arrived on December 9, under the acclamations of the population.

During the Winter of 1778-79, Emperor Joseph II fell seriously ill and it soon became evident that he could not assume overall command for the incoming campaign. It was expected that Loudon would be commander-in-chief but the function was rather confided to FM Andreas Hadik. Both men were good friends and Hadik's nomination did not create any animosity between them. Loudon received command of the corps which would operate in Croatia.

On May 4 1779 at Laibach (present-day Ljubljana/SL), during his travel to join his army, he awarded to the Croatian estates the dignity of being “krainerischen estates”. On May 8, he reached Alt-Gradiska where he joined his army (34,500 men including 3,000 horse). FZM Rouvroy commanded the artillery. Loudon wanted to start his campaign with the capture of Berbir whose siege had been interrupted at the end of the previous year. On June 22 and 23, his troops passed the Save. On June 24, they started to bombard the town. However, Loudon had not enough troops to completely surround the place. In early July, a relief army arrived in the vicinity but did not date to attack the besiegers. The fortifications of the town were now largely in ruins and the garrison now had the choice between capitulation or a hopeless defence. Finally, it found a third alternative and, on July 8 at 5:00 a.m., the garrison managed to evacuate the town and to rejoin the Turkish relief force posted in a neighbouring forest. The Austrians shot at the fugitives but could not stop them. They immediately took possession of the deserted town. After only 17 days, Loudon was master of Berbir. On July 12, a detachment reconnoitred the area of Banjaluka, finding no trace of the enemy. FM Andreas Hadik, who had now reached the age of 79, wanted to crown his military career with the capture of Belgrade. Circumstances did not allow him to fulfil his dream. Emperor Joseph II considered that Hadik was not suited for such a huge endeavour and removed him from command. At the end of July, the emperor appointed FM Loudon commander-in-chief and gave him the task to capture Belgrade. On August 13, Loudon arrived in Mitrowitz (present-day Sremska Mitrovica/SR). On August 18, he discussed the plan designed by Hadik with his generals. On August 30, his troops set off for Belgrade. Loudon's army consisted of some 120,000 men. However, only 72,957 men, including 12,381 horse, were used in front of Belgrade. Most of his losses (32,000) were attributable to illness. The garrison of Belgrade consisted of 9,000 elite troops under Osman Pacha. Furthermore, 456 pieces of various calibres defended the walls of the city. Loudon reused as much as possible the same dispositions as Prince Eugène had in 1717, even planting his tent on the same spot previously occupied by Prince Eugène's tent. On September 13, siege works began: trenches were dug or renewed, batteries put in place and bombardment then began. Slowly the Austrians got closer to the walls of the fortress. At the end of September, heavy rain began, spoiling earthworks. A relief army under the command of the Seraskier of Serbia, Abdy-Pacha, was approaching Belgrade. On September 30, Loudon decided to storm the place, supported by warships anchored on the Danube. The Turks fought back fiercely, but by the end of the day, the Austrians had made themselves masters of the suburbs, the Turks had lost about 800 men. In the evening, FZM Rouvroy died of rheumatic fever. Loudon, whom Rouvroy had faithfully assisted for many years, deplored his death. As Loudon was visiting the conquered suburbs, he was violently kicked by a horse and had to be carried on a stretcher to his quarters. The news spread quickly in the camp but, when the soldiers were informed that the injury was not serious, they calmed down. On October 1, Osman-Pacha was summoned but he refused to surrender. Meanwhile, the news that a relief force was approaching got worrisome. Loudon took dispositions to defend against an attack coming from the exterior and intensified the bombardment (on October 17, within 17 hours, 37,000 cannonballs and 150,000 shots were fired). On October 7, Osman-Pacha asked for a 15 days ceasefire to consult his men. Loudon granted him only 6 hours to freely leave the fortress. Shortly after the expiration of the ceasefire, three noble Turks came out of Belgrade to negotiate the capitulation of the city which was signed on October 8. Some 25,000 of its inhabitants and the garrison (7,000 men including 1,000 wounded) marched out of the city. At noon, Osman Pacha and 30 of his officers were invited to Loudon's table. During the siege of Belgrade, the Austrians had lost 300 men killed and 760 wounded. Loudon sent his nephew, Colonel Klebeck, to Vienna with the news of the capture of Belgrade. His victory was celebrated in all parts of the Habsburg domain. Meanwhile, towards the end of the year, Loudon laid siege to Orsova. However, bad weather forced him to abandon formal siege and his troops just blockaded the fortress which was located on an island.

Loudon then set off for Vienna. On his way, he participated in festivities in his honours at Pest. He finally reached Vienna at night and went unnoticed to his estate of Hadersdorf. In the following days, Loudon visited Emperor Joseph II who warmly greeted him. In December, the chapter of the Maria Theresa Order was held under the chairmanship FM Loudon and Klebeck received the Commander Cross of the Order. Furthermore, Emperor Joseph II honoured his field marshal, who had already received all military honours, in a special way. He gave Loudon a star decorated with diamond which could only be worn by the Grandmaster of the Maria Theresa Order.

In April 1780, the Fortress of Orsova was captured.

In 1790, Prussia concluded an alliance with the Ottoman Empire, a war with Prussia was therefore to be expected. Very rapidly an army of 150,000 men was assembled and, for a third time Loudon became commander-in-chief of an Austrian army against Prussia. He attended all conferences taking place in Vienna. On January 18, Emperor Joseph II, who was seriously ill, received Loudon on his death-bed to say goodbye to the aged marshal. On February 13 Joseph II died. His successor, Leopold II, confirmed Loudon in all his functions. On May 11, Loudon set off from Vienna to join his army in Moravia. On May 28, he returned to Vienna to take care of his affairs. He then took the road again and, by June 21, was back to his headquarters at Neustadt in Moravia. Between June 24 and 26, accompanied by his generals, he inspected the positions of his army on the border with Silesia. He then took a break at Prince Lichnowsky's place. There for the first time Loudon suffered a malaise. Nevertheless, on the following day, went up on his horse and rode on. His adjutant-general, Colonel Mack von Leiberich noticed that the marshal hardly held on his horse. At Neutitschein (present-day Novy Jicin/CZ), Leiberich had Loudon transferred to his coach. On June 29, Loudon was examined by his personal physician, Dr. Göpfert. In the next few days, Loudon felt a little better and, on July 5, decided to ride out. However, on July 8, his condition was so bad that he had to stay in bed. Finally, a tumour was detected in a groin. It enlarged rapidly and soon Loudon could not urinate nor defecate. Several famous doctors were summoned to his camp but they could only alleviate his pain. Loudon struggled for several days with death, temporarily losing consciousness, then awakening and clearly talking to people surrounding him. On July 14 around 7:00 p.m., Loudon died at Neutitschein, his Moravian headquarters, while still on duty. The news of his death caused great consternation.

His body was laid out in full uniform and with all his medals the Church of Neutitschein and then brought to Hadersdorf. Over his simple grave, his wife and his heirs later erected a mausoleum.


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Harald Skala for a major overhaul of this article