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Karl Philipp Wrede

Karl (or Carl) Philipp Josef Wrede, Freiherr von Wrede, 1st Fürst[1] von Wrede (German: [ˈvʀeːdə]; 29 April 1767 – 12 December 1838), Bavarian field-marshal, was born at Heidelberg, the youngest of three children of Ferdinand Josef Wrede (1722–1793), created in 1791 1st Freiherr von Wrede, and wife, married on 21 March 1746, Anna Katharina Jünger (1729–1804), by whom he had two more children Luise, Freiin von Wrede (23 September 1748 – 9 February 1794), married to Philipp, Freiherr von Horn (-1834), and Georg, Freiherr von Wrede (8 December 1765 – 3 April 1843), married on 17 January 1808 to Julie Zarka de Lukafalva (1781 – 1 August 1847), without issue.[2]

Early career

He was educated for the career of a civil official under the Electorate of the Palatinate government, but on the outbreak of the campaign of 1799 he raised a volunteer corps in the Palatinate and was made its colonel. This corps excited the mirth of the well-drilled Austrians with whom it served, but its colonel soon brought it into a good condition, and it distinguished itself during Kray's retreat on Ulm. At the Battle of Hohenlinden (1800) Wrede commanded one of the Palatinate infantry brigades with credit, and after the peace of Lunéville he was made lieutenant-general in the Bavarian army, which was entering upon a period of reforms. Wrede soon made himself very popular, and distinguished himself in opposing the Austrian invasions of 1805.


In the War of the Fifth Coalition, he led the 2nd Bavarian Division in the VII Corps.[3] He played an important part in the Battle of Abensberg on 20 April 1809. In the morning, he probed Joseph Radetzky's Austrian defense at Siegenburg. Unable to make headway, he marched his division north to Biburg and crossed the Abens River. From Biburg, he moved on Kirchdorf and attacked Frederick Bianchi's reinforced brigade.[4] When the Austrians retreated, Wrede aggressively pursued them to Pfeffenhausen late that evening.[5] He led the advance from Pfeffenhausen and was involved in the Battle of Landshut on 21 April, capturing 11 cannon.[6] On 24 April, his division was defeated at the Battle of Neumarkt-Sankt Veit when Johann von Hiller counterattacked in superior force.[7] After occupying Salzburg on 29 April,[8] Wrede moved southwest against the Tyrolean Rebellion. He pushed back Tyrolean irregulars at Lofer on 11 May and defeated Franz Fenner's mixed regulars and Tyroleans at Waidring the next day.[9] On 13 May, he played a major part in crushing the division of Johann Gabriel Chasteler de Courcelles in the Battle of Wörgl.[10] After the French defeat at the Battle of Aspern-Essling, Napoleon I of France called Wrede's division to Vienna as a reinforcement.[11] At first, Wrede's division stood in reserve in the Battle of Wagram. In the afternoon of 6 July, the Bavarians were sent into battle in support of Jacques MacDonald's celebrated attack. In a successful charge on the village of Sussenbrunn, Wrede was grazed by a bullet. Fearing the wound was fatal, he told MacDonald, "Tell the Emperor I die for him. I recommend to him my wife and children." Seeing that Wrede's injury was minor, the French general smiled and replied, "I think that you will be able to make this recommendation to him yourself." The embarrassed general got up and continued to lead his troops.[12]

Later career

The Bavarians were for several years the active allies of Napoleon, and Wrede led the Bavarian corps that fought in Russia in 1812. Just before the Battle of Leipzig in October 1813, he negotiated the Treaty of Ried between Austria and Bavaria, by which Bavaria switched sides. Wrede then fought with the allies against Napoleon. After Leipzig, he tried to block the French escape at the Battle of Hanau on 30 and 31 October. Wrede positioned his troops poorly and Napoleon smashed one of his wings, inflicting 9,000 casualties. In 1814 he was created prince and field marshal. Wrede represented Bavaria at the Congress of Vienna.

He married on 18 March 1795 Sofie, Gräfin von Wiser (23 May 1771 – 7 May 1837), by whom he had eight children. He died in Ellingen. Von Wrede was no doubt the leading Bavarian soldier of his day.


  1. Regarding personal names: Fürst is a title, translated as Prince not a first or middle name. The feminine form is Fürstin.
  2. Princely House of Wrede
  3. Bowden & Tarbox, p 61
  4. Arnold Crisis, pp 114-115
  5. Arnold Crisis, p 137
  6. Arnold Crisis, pp 143
  7. Petre, p 219
  8. Petre, p 224
  9. Smith, pp 301-302
  10. Smith, p 303
  11. Epstein, p 146
  12. Arnold Napoleon, pp 163-164


  • Arnold, James R. Crisis on the Danube. New York: Paragon House, 1990. ISBN 1-55778-137-0
  • Arnold, James R. Marengo & Hohenlinden. Barnsley, South Yorkshire, UK: Pen & Sword, 2005. ISBN 1-84415-279-0
  • Arnold, James R. Napoleon Conquers Austria. Westport, Conn.: Praeger Publishers, 1995. ISBN 0-275-94694-0
  • Bowden, Scotty & Tarbox, Charlie. Armies on the Danube 1809. Arlington, Texas: Empire Games Press, 1980.
  • Epstein, Robert M. Napoleon's Last Victory and the Emergence of Modern War. Lawrence, Kansas: University Press of Kansas, 1994.
  • Petre, F. Loraine. Napoleon and the Archduke Charles. New York: Hippocrene Books, (1909) 1976.
  • Smith, Digby. The Napoleonic Wars Data Book. London: Greenhill, 1998. ISBN 1-85367-276-9
  • Public Domain This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. Encyclopædia Britannica Cambridge University Press 

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