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Franz von Weyrother (1755 - 16 February 1806) was an Austrian staff officer and general who fought during the French Revolutionary Wars and the Napoleonic Wars. He drew up the plan which resulted in disastrous defeat at the Battle of Austerlitz, in which Napoleon Bonaparte crushed the combined armies of Austria and Russia.

Early career

Weyrother was born in Vienna as the son of general of cavalry Adam von Weyrother. After studies at the military engineering academy, he entered the Franz von Lacy Infantry Regiment # 22 as a cadet in 1775. He was promoted to lieutenant two years later. In August 1778 he was appointed aide-de-camp to Wenzel Colloredo serving in that capacity until 1783.

Weyrother participated in the Austro-Turkish War (1787-1791) under Field Marshal Maximilian Browne, earning promotion to captain. During the early phase of the War of the First Coalition Weyrother served in Mainz. Promoted to major in 1795, Weyrother was wounded at Weisenau. After his recovery he was sent to the Army of the Rhine under the Archduke Charles. In 1795 he was made a knight in the Military Order of Maria Theresia.

Italy and Bavaria

In September 1796, Weyrother transferred to Northern Italy where he fought in the Battle of Bassano under Field Marshal Dagobert von Wurmser. Later he served on the staff of Feldzeugmeister József Alvinczi. In this capacity, he helped plan the campaign that ended in a narrow defeat by Bonaparte at the Battle of Arcola.[1] His plan for the Battle of Rivoli provided for three widely separated striking forces and unrealistically called for one flanking column to march across mountainous terrain in January.[2] Rivoli ended in a decisive Austrian defeat and the consequent surrender of the fortress of Mantua. During the campaign of 1799, Weyrother served as chief of staff to Feldzeugmeister Pál Kray, where he distinguished himself at Legnago (26 March), Magnano (5 April) and Novi (15 August). He also planned an epic march by Russian Field Marshal Alexander Suvorov across the Saint Gotthard Pass. For his conduct in these actions he was promoted to colonel (Oberst), given command of the Schröder Infantry Regiment # 7, and mentioned in dispatches to Kaiser Francis II of Austria by Suvorov. In the fall of 1800, Francis II assigned him to be chief-of-staff to the 18-year old Archduke John of Austria, the new commander of the army in Bavaria. Believing Jean Moreau's French army to be in retreat, Weyrother organized an aggressive pursuit through heavily forested terrain by four non-mutually-supporting columns.[3] Instead, Moreau stood his ground, sprang an ambush, and enveloped the Austrian left flank. The resulting Battle of Hohenlinden turned out to be a catastrophe for the Austrians, effectively ending the War of the Second Coalition.

Napoleonic Wars

When the War of the Third Coalition broke out, Weyrother was promoted to General-Major and at the request of General Mikhail Kutusov he was made chief of staff of the Austro-Russian army. In this capacity he was responsible for the conception of the allied plan which was defeated by Emperor Napoleon at the Battle of Austerlitz.[4] Two and a half months after the battle, Weyrother died aged 51 in Vienna.


  • Arnold, James R. Marengo & Hohenlinden. Barnsley, South Yorkshire, UK: Pen & Sword, 2005. ISBN 1-84415-279-0
  • Boycott-Brown, Martin. The Road to Rivoli. London: Cassell & Co., 2001. ISBN 0-304-35305-1
  • Chandler, David. The Campaigns of Napoleon. New York: Macmillan, 1966.


  1. Boycott-Brown, p 440
  2. Boycott-Brown, p 491
  3. Arnold, p 221-222
  4. Chandler, p 416-417

External references

Weyrother by Digby Smith, compiled by Leopold Kudrna

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