Marschall von Burgholzhausen, Ernst Dietrich

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Hierarchical Path: Seven Years War (Main Page) >> Personalities >> Marschall von Burgholzhausen, Ernst Dietrich

Marschall von Burgholzhausen1, Tromsdorf und Pauscha, Ernst Dietrich

Austrian General-Feldwachtmeister (1739-45), Feldmarschall-Lieutenant (1745-54), Feldzeugmeister (1754-58), Field-Marshall (1758-71)

Great-Cross of the Maria-Theresia-Orden, Count of the Empire and member of the Imperial Privy Council

born October 31, 1692, Burgholzhausen, Thuringia, Germany

died August 31 1771, Altenburg, Thuringia, Germany


Portrait of Ernst Dietrich Marschall von Burgholzhausen - Collection of the Museum of Olomouc in the Czech Republic, photo by Pavel Rozsival

Ernst Dietrich originated from an old Thuringian lineage whose family estates were the Castle of Ebersburg not far from Sömmerda. The name “Marschall” is derived from the function of Erbmarschall of the Landgrave of Thuringia. The title was associated to the family in the XIIth century, its first member to bear the title being Heinrich von Eckertsberg in 1190. During the XIIth and XIIIth centuries, the family gradually subdivided itself into various branches (Guthmannshausen, Eckertsberg, Trebra, Burgholzhausen, Altengotten and so on). During the XIIth century, the family held the “officium palatinum”.

Ernst Dietrich was born on October 31 1692 in the family estates of Burgholzhausen. He was the only child of his parents Georg Caspar Baron von Burgholzhausen (February 22, 1653 – May 2, 1691) and Elisabeth born Baroness von Werthern-Beichlingen (January 15, 1662 – October 27, 1739).

During the War of the Spanish Succession, in 1709, although he was an only child, Ernst Dietrich chose the military career and, at the age of 17, joined one of the Saxon infantry regiments2 forming part of the Allied Army under Eugène de Savoie and the Duke of Marlborough who was campaigning in Flanders against the French. Ernst Dietrich started his career as ensign.

For the campaign of 1710, the Allied Army concentrated at Tournai in mid-April, planning to put siege to the Fortress of Douai by the end of the month. On May 14, parallels were ready and the bombardment of the fortress began. When they finally manage to create a breach, the Allies stormed the fortress. The Saxon regiment Wackerbarth and Ogilvy distinguished themselves, storming two ravelins but suffering heavy losses. On June 27, Douai capitulated. In the following weeks, the Allies besieged Béthune who capitulated on August 28. At the end of the year, Ernst Dietrich was promoted lieutenant.

The Allied Army spent the winter of 1710-11 in the neighbourhood of Bruxelles, Mons and Leuven. The Saxon regiments also took part in the campaign of 1711. On August 7, the regiments assembled at Bouchain whose siege began on August 22. On September 14, after a brief resistance, the French garrison capitulated. The Allies spent winter in the same places as the previous year. In 1712, the Saxons took part in the sieges of Landrecies and Quesnoy, and wintered once more in Flanders. At the beginning of 1713, the Saxon units were recalled to Saxony.

During the Great Northern War, in 1715, the Saxon units fought on the side of Prussia and Denmark against Sweden. Between July 12 and December 23, an Allied Army of 25,000 men lay siege to the Fortress of Stralsund defended by 9,000 Swedes under King Karl XII. The Saxon units were placed under the command of Major-General Friedrich Heinrich von Seckendorf (1673-1763). Ernst Dietrich von Burgholzhausen served under Seckendorf's command, distinguishing himself and being promoted first lieutenant. On December 23, Stralsund surrendered and its garrison became prisoners of war and were partly impressed into the regiments of the Allies. Major-General Seckendorf had already noticed the brave lieutenant who had previously served under his command in Flanders and appointed Ernst Dietrich adjutant.

In 1716, Ernst Dietrich served with Seckendorf in the campaign in Poland and Hungary in which the Saxon units supported the Imperial Army. In 1717, Seckendorf became Feldmarschall in the Imperial Army and Ernst Dietrich accompanied him. During the summer, they both served in the army of Eugène de Savoie who had laid siege to Belgrade.

During the War of the Quadruple Alliance, in 1718, Seckendorf, still accompanied by Ernst Dietrich, was sent to Italy. The commander-in-chief of the Austrian Army of Italy was G.d.C. Florimund Claudius Count Mercy (1666-1734). Seckendorf became Inhaber (owner) of an infantry regiment (the later IR Nr. 18) where Ernst Dietrich assumed the rank of first lieutenant, also remaining adjutant for Seckendorf.

In the spring of 1719, the army embarked at Baja and, on May 29, reached Sicily where it encamped at Limmeri. After assembling its supplies, Mercy's Army, counting 19,000 men, marched in three days to the area of Francavilla where the Spanish Army of the Marquis de Lede stood in a fortified camp. On the next day (June 20) Mercy attacked the Spanish positions, his vanguard led by FM Seckendorf. The Spaniards were able to repel the attack and Mercy had to retire during the night. On June 21, Mercy made himself master of Taormina and then laid siege to Messina. On August 6, the garrisons of the city of Messina capitulated. On August 9, the garrison of the castle did the same. However, the Spaniards still occupied the citadel as well as a few smaller fortresses in the neighbourhood. Furthermore, the Marquis de Lede remained idle in his camp near Francavilla. In October, Mercy received a reinforcement of 10,000 men. On October 20, the commander of the citadel of Messina, the Marquis de Spinola, and his 2,500 men finally capitulated. During the siege of Messina, Ernst Dietrich received his first wound and was promoted captain. After the siege, Mercy's Army embarked aboard British ships and sailed for Trapani where the Spanish garrison was driven out.

In February 1720, Seckendorf laid siege to the strong Fortress of Sciocca who capitulated on March 7. With new reinforcements, Mercy's Army now counted some 50,000 men while the Spaniards could oppose him only 36,000. The Imperial Army then marched on Parlermo and laid siege to the city. On May 6, the Spanish commander signed an agreement for the cessation of hostilities. The Spanish army was brought back to Spain aboard British ships. Sicily and Calabria were once more in the hands of the Habsburg.

In 1721, IR Seckendorf assumed garrison duty in the town of Gaeta in Italy.

On July 1 1731, Ernst Dietrich was promoted to major, still remaining adjutant for Seckendorf.

On April, 3 1733, Ernst Dietrich reached the rank of lieutenant-colonel.

Soon after the outbreak of the War of the Polish Succession, in 1734, Seckendorf Regiment was stationed near Mantua. In the first engagement near Colorno, Ernst Dietrich was wounded once more (in an arm). Because of his wound, he could not take part in the large battles of Parma (June 29) and Guastalla (September 19).

After his recovery, on April 19 1735, Ernst Dietrich was promoted colonel and transferred to the former IR Fürstenbusch (later IR 35) where he assumed the function of commander.

During the Turkish War of 1738-39, Ernst Dietrich led this regiment. In 1738, the Austrian Army was commanded by FM Königsegg-Rothenfels; in 1739, by FM Georg Olivier Count Wallis. Both suffered crushing defeats at the hands of the Turks. On August 20 1739, Ernst Dietrich was promoted General-Feldwachtmeister (GFWM) and gave his function of regiment commander to his successor: Carl August Friedrich Fürst von Waldeck. In September of the same year, a peace treaty was signed with Turkey by which the House of Habsburg had to cede back large areas who had been previously wrested from Turkey.

At the outbreak of the War of the Austrian Succession, in 1740, the name of Ernst Dietrich Marschall is not mentioned in the list of Austrian generals who took the field against Prussia. Similarly, he did not take part in the Battle of Mollwitz, fought on April 10 1741. Then by an order of Archduke Franz von Toskana dated June 19 1741, Marschall was summoned to the army. In the order of battle of August 26 of the same year, he is listed in Neipperg's Army under FML Königsegg who commanded eight infantry regiments. However, there were no other major action that year.

By a letter patent dated March 16 1742, Baron Ernst Dietrich Marschall became Inhaber (owner) of the former IR18 Seckendorf. Count Seckendorf had fallen out of favour and had been arrested. After his release he left Austria and offered his services to Bavaria. Ernst Dietrich Marschall would remain Inhaber of Marschall Infantry till his death in 1771.

For the campaign of 1742, Marschall served in the army of Prince Charles Alexander de Lorraine, commanding an infantry brigade of three regiments (Harrach, Jung-Königsegg, and his own). On May 17, at the Battle of Chotusitz, Marschall commanded five battalions of the infantry regiments Thüngen and Vettes3, deployed in the centre, and suffered heavy losses, being wounded once more, this time severely.

In 1743, Marschall served with the Army of Observation of FML Hohenems, operating in Bavaria. He took part in the engagement of Simbach where General Minuzzi was made prisoner.

In 1744, Marschall was once more attached to the army of Charles de Lorraine operating on the Rhine. According to the order of battle, Marschall commanded Neipperg Infantry and Carl Lothringen Infantry deployed in the centre of the first line. In June, the army crossed the Rhine, made itself master of Wissembourg and other fortified places and marched on Hagenau in Alsace. However, in August, Frederick II launched a new offensive in Bohemia, forcing Charles de Lorraine through Bavaria towards Southern Bohemia. By mid October, Marschall served in the corps of FML Ghilányi, operating near Soběslav in Bohemia. Ghilányi was charged to capture Tábor then occupied by Prussian troops. However, Ghilányi had only light infantry and cavalry and asked Charles de Lorraine for assistance. He also authorised Marschall to lay siege to Tábor, placing Colonel Count Starhemberg, Lieutenant-Colonel Spaur and a major of the infantry regiment “Max von Hessen” along with a small detachment (1,971 men, four grenadier companies of the regiments “Franz von Lothringen”, “Carl von Lothringen”, “Alt-Königsegg” and “Harrach”, a few carpenters, six guns and two howitzers) under his command. Tábor was defended by the Pioneer Regiment Walrawe, 2 guns and 50 hussars, all under the command of Colonel Kalnein.

On October 19 at 5:00 a.m., Marschall marched from Chlumec with his troops. Late in the afternoon of October 20, he reached the Klokoty Monastery. The grenadier companies established themselves to the west of Klokot, 600 men at the Maria Chapel near the river, the rest of his troops to the south and west of the Jordán Pond. Ghilányi at Tábor, who still had 140 “German horse”4, 150 hussars and 600 Grenzers with him, marched to Chotoviny. In the night of October 20 to 21, Engineer von Bonne established a battery. On October 21, 360 workers and 600 Grenzers, covered by two grenadier companies, began to dig the first parallel and to erect a battery for three guns. Marschall planted both howitzers on the hillside above the chapel. The major of “IR Max von Hessen” supervised the excavation of the trenches while the covering force was under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Spaur. In the morning of October 22, the bombardment began. Once the wall had been breached, Colonel Kalnein asked for the free withdrawal of his garrison. GFWM Marschall refused his request and resumed bombardment. In the night of October 22 to 23, advanced up to the palisade of the fortification. The attack should be launched at sunrise. As part of the garrison ran over to the Austrians, Kalnein had not other choice but to capitulate. A total of 1,560 men were made prisoners, 2 guns and 10 colours of the regiment “Walrawe” and a large amount of money were captured. The grenadiers occupied the gates and the fire in the town was extinguished. GFWM Marschall let a small garrison in Tábor and then made a junction with the main army on October 27. The Austrian Army under the command of FM Traun had managed to drive the Prussians out of Bohemia with fighting any major battle.

In the campaign of 1745, GFWM Marschall served under FML Count Wallis who commanded a vanguard of 3,300 men. On May 18, the army of Charles de Lorraine marched from Königgrätz (present-day Hradec Králové/CZ) towards Silesia. On May 29, it established its camp at Landeshut (present-day Kamenia Gora/PL). On June 4, a battle was fought against the Prussians at Hohenfriedeberg (present-day Dobromierz/PL). FML Wallis' vanguard was first engaged at the end of the battle when it covered the retreat of the defeated army5. Charles de Lorraine retired towards Bohemia, FML Königsegg took command of the vanguard and GFWM Marschall led a brigade consisting of “IR Franz von Lothringen” and “IR Alt-Königsegg”. On September 30, under the command of G.d.C. Hohenems, he fought at the head of these regiments in the Battle of Soor (present-day Ždˇár/CZ). During the engagement, his two regiments were attacked by Prussian cavalry and GFWM Marschall suffered a severe wound who almost cost him his life: a Prussian sabre cutting off part of his skull. The surgeons managed to replace the missing part of his skull with a silver plate. After a while, the wound finally healed. On October 5, while still recovering, Marschall was promoted to Feldmarschall-Lieutenant (FML).

By February 1746, Marschall had sufficiently recovered to rejoin the field army. The same year, the French made themselves master of most of the Netherlands. The States General of the Netherlands asked Maria Theresa to entrust the defence of Maastricht, their only remaining fortress, to the seasoned veteran FML Ernst Dietrich Marschall von Burgholzhausen. The garrison consisted of 5,258 Netherlanders soldiers under Baron d'Aylva, the commander of the fortress. For his part FML Marschall had 4,458 Imperial soldiers under his command. The French under Maurice de Saxe laid siege to the fortress with 143 infantry battalions and 77 cavalry squadrons, On April 15, they started to dig trenches. FML Marschall successfully defended the fortress for several weeks. On April 28, he ordered part of the garrison (4 grenadier companies and 600 fusiliers of “IR Bayreuth”) to make a sortie. These troops were placed under the command of Colonel d'Escallar of “IR Bayreuth”. They managed to dismount 15 French guns and to destroy the batteries. On May 3, Maurice de Saxe was informed that peace preliminaries had been signed at Aachen. Operations were interrupted. On May 7, Ernst Dietrich Marschall ceded the fortress after negotiating free withdrawal of the entire garrison with the honours of war. On May 10, the garrison set off from Maastricht and marched to make a junction with the main army at Weert.

In 1747, Ernst Dietrich Marschall spent the year in his estates in Thuringia. On April 22, he married the widowed Countess Sofie von Einsiedel born Schönburg-Purchenstein (July 17, 1719 - February 16, 1779)6 From this marriage four children were born. His son Friedrich Ernst (born August 10, 1748) later served in his father's regiment as captain, being promoted to major in 1771 and transferred to “IR Carl Colloredo”. Another son, August Dietrich (born June 19 1750) became a Freemason as his great-grandfather Wolf Dietrich (deceased 1675). In 1788, August Dietrich married Hortensia Baroness Waldner von Freudenstein who died in 1800. Then in 1803, August Dietrich married Antonia von Alten auf Wützenburg.

In 1752, Marschall was appointed to the Privy Council.

On June 12 1754, the merits of Ernst Dietrich Marschall von Burgholzhausen led to his promotion to Feldzeugmeister (FZM), a promotion applying retroactively to December 5 1748.

On October 20 1755. Marschall became Governor of Luxembourg. He assumed these functions till the outbreak of the Seven Years' War when he was recalled to the army of FM Leopold von Daun. He first served in the army of FM Serbelloni stationed in Eastern Bohemia.

In May 1757. after the defeat of Prague, Daun assembled these units in the neighbourhood of Kuttenberg (present-day Kutná Hora/CZ). On June 18, with these reinforcements, Daun vanquished the Prussians in the Battle of Kolin where FZM Marschall commanded an infantry division (Erzherzog Carl, Moltke, Puebla and Arenberg) deployed in the centre of the first line. After this battle, Marschall assumed command of a few infantry regiments forming a cordon along the border of Upper Lusatia. For a time, his corps encamped in the neighbourhood of Löbau. By October 11, it was at Bautzen. From this date to October 22, with his units, he covered FML Andreas Hadik's famous raid on Berlin. Afterwards, Marschall had to reinforce the Reichsarmee under FM Hildburghausen who, assisted by a French contingent, unsuccessfully attempted the reconquest of Saxony. However, FZM Marschall never made a junction with the Reichsarmee who had been defeated in the Battle of Rossbach before his arrival. He returned to Löbau and then marched to Leitmeritz (present-day Litoměřice/CZ) with his corps.

In the spring of 1758, as the Prussians proceeded to the invasion of Moravia, Maria Theresa appointed FZM Ernst Dietrich Marschall von Burgholzhausen, who had already proven himself in 1748 at the defence of Maastrich, as commander of the Fortress of Olmütz (present-day Olomouc/CZ). The former commander of the place, FML Claudius Hyacinth von Bretton, becoming his deputy. FZM Marschall used all his experience to prepare Olmütz to sustain a long siege. On May 5, the first Prussian detachments appeared in front of Olmütz. On May 27, the Prussians opened the first parallel. The Siege of Olmütz lasted till July 1.

During this siege, the III./Marschall Infantry, led by Captain Simon Mitterstiller, formed part of the garrison. Mitterstiller also assumed the function of “Trench Major” throughout the siege. After the lifting of the siege, he was appointed adjutant to FML Daun. Then on December 1, he was promoted to major and transferred to the “Tiroler Land-und-Hausregiment Nr. 46”. Meanwhile, Captain Johann Sigmund Haase of Marschall Infantry had acted as adjutant to the commander of Olmütz throughout the siege.

By a decree dated May 9, for the defence of Olmütz, Ernst Dietrich Marschall von Burgholzhausen was promoted to Feldmarschall (FM). Furthermore, on September 9 1758, he received the Great Cross of the Maria-Theresia-Orden. After the siege, Marschall returned to the main army operating in Saxony.

In November 1759, before the Battle of Maxen, Marschall was called to Dresden, threatened by the Prussians who planned to lay siege to the place.

Tomb of Ernst Dietrich Marschall in the Cathedral of Naumburg, photo by M. Ludwig, Domstiftsarchiv Naumburg, Germany

For the rest of the Seven Years' War, there his no record of Marschall's service.

On July 15 1760, Emperor Franz I made Marschall a Count of the Empire.

After the Seven Years' War, in 1763, Marschall returned to Luxembourg where he once more assumed the functions of governor (during his absence, he had been represented by Eberhard Baron von Gemmingen who died in 1763). Marschall von Burgholzhausen remained Governor of Luxembourg until 1766 when he was replaced by Baron Vogelsang.

Marschall spent the last years of his life in his estates in Thuringia. Although he received tempting offers to convert to the Catholic faith, he remained faithful to his Protestant faith until his death.

Contrarily to what is stated in Wikipedia, Marschall has never been Dean of the Cathedral of Naumburg7,

In 1768, Marschall suffered a stroke.

Marschall died on August 31 1771 in Altenburg. On September 7, his remains were buried in the Naumburg Cathedral. To this day, his grave can still be found in the south wing of the cathedral.


1. For almost a century his name was falsely given as “Biberstein” in Austrian literature. Although this family originated from Thuringia as Marschall's own family, it had nothing in common with the latter. At the end of the XIXth century, Austrian military publications finally pointed out this mistake.

2. These Saxon regiments were two battalions of the Royal Guard, with one battalion of each of the infantry regiments Weissenfels, Ogilvy, Wackerbarth, Fürstenberg, Churprinz and Königin along with 4 squadrons of each of the cavalry regiments Winkel, Milkau and Leibregiment. The Saxon regiments took their winter-quarters in the region of Leuven-Bruxelles-Mons and fought in the Netherlands till the beginning of 1713.

3. Dorn/Engelmann Die Schlachten Friedrich des Großen

4. the heavy cavalry was designated as “German Horse” in contrast with the light cavalry who consisted mainly of Hungarian hussars.

5. in his book (see footnote no. 3) G. Dorn mentions GFWM Marschall as commander of “IR Franz v. Lothringen” and “IR Alt-Königsegg” on the right wing. In fact, GFWM Baron Starhemberg was the commander of both regiments in addition of “IR Max von Hessen”.

6. F. Bülau, Geheime Geschichten und rätselhafte Menschen, Band V. Seite 390. Leipzig 1854

7. see the official directory of the deans of the cathedral from 1088 to 1878 where his name does not appear.


Feldzüge des Prinzen Eugen von Savoyen, Vol. XI-XIX, Vienna 1886-1891

Blazekovic, K.: Chronik des K. K. 31. Linien-Infanterie-Regiments, Vienna 1867/1869

Criste, O.: Österreichischer Erbfolgekrieg 1740 – 1748, Vol. II-VII, Vienna 1896/1903

Engelhardt, F.W.: Geschichte der Stadt und Festung Luxemburg, Luxemburg 1850

Hirtenfeld, Dr.: Vor hundert Jahren – Erinnerungen an Olmütz und seine ruhmvollen Verteidiger, Vienna 1858

Michna, P.: O životě a jméně jednoho velitele olomoucké pevnosti.., Vlastivědný věstník moravský, 2005

Thürheim, A.: Feldmarschall Otto Ferdinand Graf von Abensperg und Traun, Vienna 1877

Treuenfest, A. v.: Geschichte des k. k. Infanterie-Regiments Nr. 18 Constantin Grossfürst von Russland, Vienna 1882

Zedlitz-Neukirch, L. v.: Neues preussisches Adels-Lexikon, Vol. III, Leipzig 1837


Harald Skala for the text who served as a basis for this article