Karl Philipp Sebottendorf

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Karl Philipp Sebottendorf van der Rose (17 July 1740 11 April 1818) enrolled in the Austrian army at the age of 18, became a general officer during the French Revolutionary Wars, and commanded a division against Napoleon Bonaparte in several notable battles during the Italian campaign of 1796.

Habsburg Monarchy former Central European empire (1526–1804)

The Habsburg Monarchy – also Habsburg Empire, Austrian Monarchy or Danube Monarchy – is an unofficial umbrella term among historians for the countries and provinces that were ruled by the junior Austrian branch of the House of Habsburg between 1526 and 1780 and then by the successor branch of Habsburg-Lorraine until 1918. The Monarchy was a typical composite state composed of territories within and outside the Holy Roman Empire, united only in the person of the monarch. The dynastic capital was Vienna, except from 1583 to 1611, when it was moved to Prague. From 1804 to 1867 the Habsburg Monarchy was formally unified as the Austrian Empire, and from 1867 to 1918 as the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

A General Officer is an officer of high rank in the army, and in some nations' air forces or marines.

French Revolutionary Wars series of conflicts fought between the French Republic and several European monarchies from 1792 to 1802

The French Revolutionary Wars were a series of sweeping military conflicts lasting from 1792 until 1802 and resulting from the French Revolution. They pitted France against Great Britain, Austria and several other monarchies. They are divided in two periods: the War of the First Coalition (1792–97) and the War of the Second Coalition (1798–1802). Initially confined to Europe, the fighting gradually assumed a global dimension. After a decade of constant warfare and aggressive diplomacy, France had conquered a wide array of territories, from the Italian Peninsula and the Low Countries in Europe to the Louisiana Territory in North America. French success in these conflicts ensured the spread of revolutionary principles over much of Europe.


Early career

Sebottendorf was born in Luxembourg in the Austrian Netherlands on 17 July 1740 [1] of parents Oberst (Colonel) Johann Moritz Sebottendorf van der Rose (d. 1760) and Maria Anna Bodek von Ellgau (d. 1791). After military studies at the Wiener-Neustadt Academy, he joined the Austrian Waldeck Infantry Regiment # 35 in 1758. By the time of the War of the Bavarian Succession he had risen in rank to Captain. In 1779 an inquiry acquitted him after he was accused of cowardice. He earned promotion to Major in 1784, Oberst-Leutnant in March 1787, and Oberst in October 1787. [2]

Austrian Netherlands

The Austrian Netherlands was the larger part of the Southern Netherlands between 1714 and 1797. The period began with the acquisition of the former Spanish Netherlands under the Treaty of Rastatt in 1714 and lasted until its annexation during the aftermath of the Battle of Sprimont in 1794 and the Peace of Basel in 1795. Austria, however, did not relinquish its claim over the province until 1797 in the Treaty of Campo Formio. The Austrian Netherlands was a noncontiguous territory that consisted of what is now western Belgium as well as greater Luxembourg, bisected by the Prince-Bishopric of Liège. The dominant languages were German, Dutch (Flemish), and French, along with Picard and Walloon.

Oberst is a military rank in several German-speaking and Scandinavian countries, equivalent to Colonel. It is currently used by both the ground and air forces of Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Denmark, and Norway. The Swedish rank överste is a direct translation, as are the Finnish rank eversti and the Icelandic rank ofursti. In the Netherlands the rank overste is used as a synonym for a lieutenant colonel.

Colonel is a senior military officer rank below the brigadier and general officer ranks. However, in some small military forces, such as those of Monaco or the Vatican, colonel is the highest rank. It is also used in some police forces and paramilitary organizations.

French Revolutionary Wars

General officer

In early 1793, Sebottendorf became a General-Major and led a brigade in Luxembourg. On 2 September 1794, he distinguished himself in a minor action near Öttringen. [2]

Major general is a military rank used in many countries. It is derived from the older rank of sergeant major general. The disappearance of the "sergeant" in the title explains the apparently confusing phenomenon whereby a lieutenant general outranks a major general while a major outranks a lieutenant.

Luxembourg Grand duchy in western Europe

Luxembourg, officially the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, is a small landlocked country in western Europe. It is bordered by Belgium to the west and north, Germany to the east, and France to the south. Its capital, Luxembourg City, is one of the three official capitals of the European Union and the seat of the European Court of Justice, the highest judicial authority in the EU. Its culture, people, and languages are highly intertwined with its neighbours, making it essentially a mixture of French and German cultures, as evident by the nation's three official languages: French, German, and the national language, Luxembourgish. The repeated invasions by Germany, especially in World War II, resulted in the country's strong will for mediation between France and Germany and, among other things, led to the foundation of the European Union.


On 4 March 1796, Sebottendorf received promotion to Feldmarschall-Leutnant in the Austrian army defending the Kingdom of Sardinia-Piedmont. Johann Peter Beaulieu appointed him commander of the left wing, including the brigades of Wilhelm Kerpen, Anton Schübirz von Chobinin, Franz Nicoletti, and Gerhard Rosselmini. [3] In early April, Beaulieu initiated the Montenotte Campaign by sending two columns to attack Voltri, now a suburb of Genoa. Sebottendorf led one column of 3,200 troops south across the Turchino Pass, while Philipp Pittoni von Dannenfeld took 4,000 soldiers over the Bochetta Pass farther east. [4] The campaign ended with Napoleon Bonaparte's French Army of Italy forcing Piedmont to sue for peace. The Austrian army fell back to defend the Duchy of Milan.

Johann Peter Beaulieu Austrian general

Johann Peter de Beaulieu, also Jean Pierre de Beaulieu, was a Walloon military officer. He joined the Austrian army and fought against the Prussians during the Seven Years' War. A cultured man, he later battled Belgian rebels and earned promotion to general officer. During the French Revolutionary Wars he fought against the First French Republic and attained high command. In 1796, a young Napoleon Bonaparte won some of his first victories against an army led by Beaulieu. He retired and was the Proprietor (Inhaber) of an Austrian infantry regiment until his death.

Anton Schübirz or Anton Schubirz von Chobinin fought for Habsburg Austria against Ottoman Turkey and the French First Republic. He participated in several noteworthy actions during the French Revolutionary Wars. As a newly promoted general officer in Italy, he led a brigade in an all-night action against the French at Codogno, part of the Battle of Fombio in May 1796. In the sparring before the Battle of Castiglione, he showed initiative in bringing his troops to the assistance of a fellow general. He also fought at Fontaniva, Caldiero, and Arcole in the autumn of 1796. This was the theater of war where a young French general named Napoleon Bonaparte earned his fame. Schübirz retired from the army in 1798 and died three years later.

Gerhard Ritter von Rosselmini or Gerhard Rosselmini or Gerhard Roselmini became a general officer in the Austrian army during the French Revolutionary Wars and fought in several actions against Napoleon Bonaparte's French army during the 1796 Italian campaign.


In early May, Bonaparte turned Beaulieu's southern flank and won the Battle of Fombio. This forced a major part of the Austrian army to retreat east across the Adda River at Lodi. Beaulieu left Sebottendorf and 10,000 men in the vicinity of Lodi to cover his withdrawal. [5] After the French advance guard under Claude Dallemagne drove the Austrian rear guard through Lodi, Sebottendorf prepared to defend the bridge that spanned the Adda on the east side of the town. The French artillery bombarded the Austrian position for several hours, as Bonaparte waited for André Masséna's division to arrive. In the ensuing Battle of Lodi on 10 May, the French defeated the outnumbered Austrians. Sebottendorf managed to carry out an orderly withdrawal, though his force lost 14 cannons and 2,036 soldiers killed, wounded, or missing. [6]

Battle of Fombio

The Battle of Fombio was fought between the French Army of Italy led by Napoleon Bonaparte and the Austrian army under Feldzeugmeister Johann Peter Beaulieu between 7 and 9 May 1796. It was the decisive strategic point of the campaign, as Bonaparte crossed the Po River at Piacenza in Beaulieu's rear, threatening both Milan and the Austrian line of communications. This threat forced the Austrian army to withdraw to the east.

Lodi, Lombardy Comune in Lombardy, Italy

Lodi is a city and comune in Lombardy, northern Italy, on primarily on the western bank of the River Adda. It is the capital of the province of Lodi.

Claude Dallemagne French general

Claude Dallemagne started his career in the French army under the Bourbons, fought in the American Revolutionary War, rose in rank to become a general officer during the French Revolutionary Wars, took part in the 1796 Italian campaign under Napoleon Bonaparte, and held military posts during the Napoleonic Wars.


During the Battle of Borghetto on 30 May, Sebottendorf commanded the Austrian left-center. Beaulieu's illness on the previous day threw the Austrian high command into disarray. With no overall coordination, each subordinate looked to his own sector. Sebottendorf focused upon a feint attack while the main French effort seized Valeggio sul Mincio. Later in the day, he tried to retake Valeggio but was unable to evict the French. His division remained intact and rejoined the rest of the army in the upper Adige River valley.

The Battle of Borghetto, near Valeggio sul Mincio in the Veneto of northern Italy, took place during the War of the First Coalition, part of the French Revolutionary Wars. On 30 May 1796, a French army led by General Napoleon Bonaparte forced a crossing of the Mincio River in the face of opposition from an Austrian army commanded by Feldzeugmeister Johann Peter Beaulieu. This action compelled the Austrian army to retreat north up the Adige valley to Trento, leaving the fortress of Mantua to be besieged by the French.

Valeggio sul Mincio Comune in Veneto, Italy

Valeggio sul Mincio is a comune (municipality) in the Province of Verona in the Italian region Veneto, located about 120 kilometres (75 mi) west of Venice and about 25 kilometres (16 mi) southwest of Verona. It is crossed by the Mincio river.


During Dagobert von Wurmser's first relief of the Siege of Mantua, Sebottendorf led a sub-unit of Michael von Melas' Right-Center Column consisting of the brigades of Nicoletti and Pittoni. On 29 July, Sebottendorf captured French positions at Madonna della Corona and Brentino Belluno. This success allowed him to link up with Paul Davidovich and the Left-Center Column from the Adige valley. On 5 August, he fought in the Battle of Castiglione.


In the second relief of Mantua, Sebottendorf led a 4,086-man division down the Brenta River valley. He participated in the Battle of Bassano, after which his division "was reduced to only one and a third battalions, four and a half companies, and two squadrons." [7] He subsequently joined Wurmser in a dash for Mantua. The bulk of the Austrians reached the fortress intact, but Sebottendorf and his soldiers were cooped up in Mantua for the duration of the long siege, during which many of the men died.

Later career

Sebottendorf served as assistant to the commanding generals in Inner Austria and the Tyrol during the period 1801 to 1806. He was deputy to the President of the Military Appellate Court from 1813 to 1818. He died in Vienna on 11 April 1818 with the noble title of Freiherr.


Two younger Sebottendorf brothers, Franz Ludwig (1741–1822) [8] and Ignaz Anton (1749–1821) [9] also served in the Austrian army and achieved general officer rank. Franz commanded a brigade at the Battle of Stockach in 1799. At the beginning of the 1809 campaign, Ignaz led the Graz Landwehr infantry. [10] Ignaz also commanded a brigade at the Battle of the Piave on 7–8 May 1809 [11] and at the Battle of Raab on 14 June. [12]

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  1. Smith-Kudrna, "Karl Sebottendorf"
  2. 1 2 Boycott-Brown, historydata.com, "Sebottendorf"
  3. Fiebeger, p 8. Boycott-Brown lists a different order of battle.
  4. Boycott-Brown, p 194
  5. Chandler, p 81
  6. Boycott-Brown, p 314-315
  7. Boycott-Brown, p 433
  8. Smith-Kudrna, "Franz Sebottendorf". Part of this source's narrative for Karl appears to be incorrectly listed under Franz. The Sebottendorf at Lodi held the rank of FML. The only brother of that rank in 1796 was Karl.
  9. Smith-Kudrna, "Ignaz Sebottendorf"
  10. Bowden & Tarbox, p 108, 115
  11. Smith, p 300
  12. Bowden & Tarbox, p 122