Motte Fouqué, Ernst Heinrich August Baron de la

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Ernst Heinrich August Baron de la Motte Fouqué

Major-General (1745-51), Lieutenant-General (1751-59), General of Infantry (1759-74)

born February 4, 1698, The Hague, Netherlands

died May 3, 1774, Brandenburg in der Havel, Prussia


Detail of a painting of the Baron de la Motte Fouqué by Antoine Pesne in 1745 - Source: Wikimedia Commons

Born in The Hague to an old Norman family, Ernst Heinrich August was the second son of Karl Baron de la Motte, Saint-Surin and la Grève, a Huguenot nobleman who had emigrated from France as a result of the revocation of the Edict of Nantes. His mother was Suzanne de Robillard.

After the early death of Ernst Heinrich August's father, the family was received at the Court in Celle.

In 1706, Fouqué became page for Prince Leopold von Anhalt-Dessau.

During the Great Northern War, in 1715, Fouqué was at the siege of Stralsund as part of the Prince von Anhalt-Dessau's retinue. On November 26 of the same year, Fouqué became ensign in Anhalt-Dessau Infantry.

On March 8 1719, Fouqué was promoted to second-lieutenant; and, on October 1, to first-lieutenant.

On January 24 1723, Fouqué was promoted to staff-captain.

On November 3 1728, Fouqué received the Ordre de la générosité.

On February 21 1729, Fouqué was promoted to captain and commanded a company.

On May 8 1733, Fouqué married Elisabeth Magdaleine Masson in Halle. He was a close friend of the Crown Prince (the future Frederick II) and he often visited him in Küstrin and later in Rheinsberg. Fouqué was one of Frederick's few real friends. When Frederick lived in Rheinsberg, Fouqué was member of his round table.

On January 22 1739, Fouqué, dissatisfied by his absence of promotion, left the Prussian army and entered into the Danish service where, on July 12, he was promoted to lieutenant-colonel.

In 1740, when Frederick II acceded to throne, he invited Fouqué to return to Prussia.

On the eve of the War of the Austrian Succession, on July 23 1740, Fouqué rejoined the Prussian army as colonel. On July 26, he received command of the Camas Fusiliers. On November 11, he became senior administrator of Gramzow and Löcknitz. On November 14, he received the Ordre pour le mérite. Fouqué was an ardent anti-Catholic.

From 1740 to 1742, Fouqué took part to various campaigns, occupying and fortifying Schweidnitz in 1741.

In 1742, he served in the Army of Field-Marshal Count Schwerin.

On May 13 1743, Fouqué was appointed commander of Glatz (present-day Kłodzko).

On December 31 1744, he became Chef of the Fouqué Fusiliers while still assuming the charge of commander of the Fortress of Glatz.

On January 16 1745, he was promoted to major-general. On October 1 1746, Frederick II gave him a plan of the battles of Soor and Kesselsdorf.

From March 31 1749, Fouqué supervised the construction of the Garnisonkirche (Garrison Church) in Glatz.

On January 22 1751, Fouqué was promoted to lieutenant-general. On September 2, he was made a knight of the Order of the Black Eagle.

On July 28 1753, Fouqué went to the camp of Spandau. By October 1, he was back in Glatz. From 1754, he received a yearly allocation of 1,000 Talers to improve the fortifications of Glatz.

At the outbreak of the Seven Years' War, by August 29 1756, Fouqué was in the area of Frankenstein with the regiments of Lower Silesia. On September 7, his detachment marched to Glumpenau (present-day Głębinów). On September 11, when Frederick authorised Schwerin to enter into Bohemia, Fouqué's corps marched towards Glatz, closely followed by Hautcharmoy's, the latter corps occupying the previous camp of the former at the end of each march. Schwerin then conducted operations in Eastern Bohemia. The Prussian army then retired to Silesia for winter. In the night of November 8 to 9, Fouqué, who wanted to drive all Austrian detachments out of Silesia, sent out from Glatz Lieutenant-Colonel Werner at the head of 200 men of the Wechmar Hussars and Major von Rosen at the head of 300 foot from the Fouqué Fusiliers and Garrison Regiment VIII to attack the Austrian outpost at Reinerz, which was defended by 60 men of the Festetics Hussars under Captain von Luszinsky. On November 9 in the morning, Werner and Rosen launched a surprise attack on Reinerz under cover of a thick fog. In this attack, the Prussians captured 1 lieutenant, 12 troopers and 31 horses; and lost only 2 men wounded. Around 7:00 p.m., the Prussians retired and started their march back to Glatz.

In the Spring of 1757, Fouqué took part in the invasion of Bohemia. On May 6, he fought in the Battle of Prague where he was wounded while leading a brigade of the first line of the infantry left wing. On June 18, he was also present at the Battle of Kolin. On December 5, he took part in the Battle of Leuthen. Immediately after the recapture of Breslau, Fouqué was sent at the head of a corps to blockade the Fortress of Schweidnitz.

In April 1758, when Frederick laid siege to Schweidnitz Fouqué was detached from Landeshut to clean Glatz Country from Grenzer light troops. On April 19, Lieutenant-general Fouqué's Corps, consisting of 16 battalions, 15 squadrons, and 24 artillery pieces, left Braunau (present-day Broumov), returned to Glatz by Wünschelburg (present-day Radków) and cantoned at Wallisfurth (present-day Wolany near Szczytna). By the end of April, when the Prussian army proceeded to the invasion of Moravia, Fouqué was placed at the head of 16 battalions and 15 squadrons, which would escort the siege train and lay siege to Olmütz. On April 27, Fouqué marched to Glatz with thousands of wagons, in four sections, under escorts, with the stores and siege-furniture. On May 1, Fouqué left Glatz and marched towards Neisse where the siege train was assembled. This siege train was formed into 4 distinct convoys advancing one after another at a day march. On May 6, Fouqué's first column, escorted by 4 battalions and 2 squadrons under Major-General von Schenkendorf, marched from Neisse towards Moravia. Between May 16 and 20, Fouqué's columns gradually arrived at the camp established between the villages of Krönau and Kirwein (present-day Skrbeň) near Olmütz. By July 6, Lieutenant-General von Fouqué had replaced Keith as commander of the Prussian train. On July 16, after the unsuccessful siege, Fouqué marched with his corps to Dobruska to prevent Loudon from retreating to Neustadt (present-day Prudnik) in Silesia. Loudon had no choice but to retire to Reichenau (present-day Rychnov nad Kněžnou), losing 120 men during this operation. Prussian troops then occupied Opotschno while Fouqué resumed his march on Neustadt. On July 17, Fouqué encamped on the heights behind Nachod. On July 19, Fouqué left Nachod for Glatz with his corps and the artillery train, leaving Lattorf behind at Nachod. On July 21, Fouqué left Glatz with 300 wagons loaded with supply. On July 22, Fouqué arrived at Nachod and entrusted the convoy to Lattorf to bring it to Königsgratz. Fouqué then encamped in front of Nachod with 4 battalions, 5 dragoon squadrons and 20 hussar squadrons to cover the Prussian army during the passage of the Mettau. On August 6, Fouqué marched to Wallisfurth. On August 10, when Frederick left for Brandenburg, the Prussian army left behind in Silesia was placed under the command of Margrave Carl, with Fouqué as second-in-command. At the end of August, when Margrave Carl realised that the main Austrian effort would be aimed at the invasion of Saxony instead of Silesia, he instantly started from Grüssau with about 25,000 men. He left Fouqué in Grüssau with about 10,000 men to stop the invasion of Silesia by Austrian forces led by Generals Harsch and de Ville. Around August 20, Fouqué with 11 battalions and 10 squadrons (about 10.000 men) occupied the camp of Landeshut where he would remain until November 4. On November 4, Fouqué, who was stationed at Landeshut for three months, left the town at Prince Heinrich's arrival and marched to Waldenburg (present-day Wałbrzych). On November 5, Fouqué marched to Freiburg where he made a junction with Frederick's army. On November 7, Frederick detached Fouqué with 13 battalions and 20 squadrons at Glumpigau to observe Harsch's and de Ville's corps. On November 8, Frederick's army began its march to return to Saxony, leaving Fouqué's corps behind to guard Silesia. On December 9, Fouqué received reinforcements from Margrave Carl and forced de Ville's Austrian corps to retire to Moravia. Fouqué's Corps, consisting of 25 battalions and 30 squadrons, then took its winter-quarters in Ratibor (present-day Raciborz), Zulz (present-day Biala Prudnicka), Ottmachau (present-day Otmuchow) and Oberglogau (present-day Glogowek).

On March 1 1759, Fouqué was promoted to General of Infantry. From April 16 to 20, he left Leobschutz (present-day Głubczyce) in Neisse (present-day Nysa) Country and broke through into Moravia pushing the Austrians before him. However, he found the magazines empty or inaccessible. Thus, he returned to Leobschutz without result. The Austrian General de Ville hastily rushed through the Jagerndorf Hills (present-day Krnov) and pushed on Fouqué's position. Frederick, who was in Landeshut (present-day Kamienna Góra), hastened over to Leobschutz with reinforcement. On May 1, de Ville swiftly retreated. At the beginning of the campaign in Upper Silesia and Lusatia, on May 21, Fouqué's Corps cantoned between Kamenz and Frankenstein while Frederick's Army encamped near Jonsdorf. By July 3, Fouqué was encamped at Ullersdorf (present-day Orłowice). On July 5, he attacked, from his positions at Frankenstein (present-day Ząbkowice Śląskie), the Karlstädter-Ottochaner Grenzer (1,300 men under Lieutenant-colonel Kalinić) posted at Mährisch Weisswasser (present-day Bílá Voda u Šilperka). The Grenzers initially retired into a wood but they soon counter-attacked with such impetuosity that the Prussians retired. On July 7, Fouqué replaced the Prussian main army at Landeshut. On July 20, the Austrians tried to turn Fouqué's positions and to cut his communications with Schweidnitz. On July 21, Fouqué retired to Grüsau but he was forced to resume his retreat to his fortified positions on various hills round Landeshut. On July 23, Krockow, with 3 battalions, made a junction with Fouqué's Corps at Landeshut. On July 24, de Ville launched an unsuccessful attempt against Fouqué's positions at Landeshut. Then, the latter marched to Gottesberg (present-day Boguszów-Gorce) to occupy the defiles and cut the line of communication of the Austrians with Bohemia. On July 25, Fouqué marched to Konradswalde. On July 27, he took positions on the heights of Vogelgesang and Todtenhubels to cut de Ville's retreat. De Ville launched an attack on Fouqué's positions. The Prussian Frei-Infanterie von Lüderitz, along with the Carlowitz Grenadiers and the Thile Infantry distinguished themselves during this attack, repulsing Jahnus' assault. De Ville made a new attempt with the Draskowitz grenadier battalions and was driven back once more. During the night of July 28 to 29, de Ville was forced to retire towards Bohemia through a long detour by the bad roads of Wustengiersdorf and Johannesberg. Fouqué made an unsuccessful attempt against de Ville's rearguard (5 grenadier battalions under Dombasle) at Gottesberg. To do so, Fouqué sent a detachment of 8 battalions and 4 squadrons under Ramin to Waldenburg while he advanced with his own force on Gottesberg via Konradswalde. Nevertheless, Dombasle made an orderly retreat. On July 30, Fouqué's forces returned to their camp of Konradswalde. Fouqué then remained in his positions of Landeshut till end October. On November 9, Fouqué retired to Cosel. On November 30, he encamped at Ratibor and soon signed an armistice with the Austrians for the winter.

At the opening of the campaign of 1760, Fouqué was the Prussian general in charge of the Silesian frontier, with his headquarters at Landeshut. He commanded some 13,000 men. Fouqué occupied a ring of fortified hills around Landeshut, with a lot of well-positioned batteries. On March 13, Fouqué ordered a general muster for March 15. At the end of May, fearing for Schweidnitz and even Breslau (present-day Wroclaw), Fouqué abandoned his strong position at Landeshut, leaving behind a considerable magazine, and hastened down into the plain to manoeuvre upon Loudon. He cantoned near Freyberg and reported the situation to Frederick and Prince Henri, requesting reinforcements. On June 4, having received no reinforcements, Fouqué retired to Wurben near Schweidnitz, closely followed by Loudon. On June 6, Fouqué retired to Romenau to cover Breslau. His retreat gave the opportunity to the Austrians to blockade Glatz and to occupy Landeshut. On June 11, Frederick sent order to Fouqué to recapture Landeshut. On June 16, Fouqué received the order sent by Frederick 5 days earlier. Leaving Major-General Zieten with a detachment of 7 battalions and 2 squadrons on the Ziskenberg near Furstenstein (or Frauenstein) to maintain his line of communication with Schweidnitz, Fouqué marched in 2 columns. On the morning of June 17, Fouqué reached Hartmansdorf and Forste where he learned that the Austrians still had 5 regiments at Friedland. He resolved to attack Landeshut immediately. After a feeble resistance, the Austrians Corps of Gaisruck and Jahnus retired from the heights of Landeshut towards those of Reichennersdorf. Fouqué asked Zieten to send him a reinforcement of 3 battalions, and reoccupied his former post. As soon as he was informed of Fouqué's movements, Loudon resolved to attack him at Landeshut. Fouqué informed Frederick of his critical situation, mentioning that he could not attempt any action against these Austrian corps without exposing Landeshut. Prince Heinrich, with about 40,000 men, was at 3 days march from Fouqué's corps. Nevertheless, Frederick instructed Fouqué to hold Landeshut unsupported. On Monday June 23 at 1:45 a.m., Loudon, with 31,000 horse and foot, launched an attack on Fouqué's position and fought the Battle of Landeshut. After a fierce resistance, Fouqué was forced to surrender. Only 1,500 Prussians escaped. All the Prussian camp with artillery and baggage fell into Loudon's hands. Wounded three times by sabres, Fouqué would have died if not for his hostler, Trautschke, who alerted the Austrian dragoons they were attacking a commanding officer. When Karl Baron Voith von Salzburg, colonel of the Löwenstein Chevauxlegers, protected Fouqué and offered him his horse, Fouqué replied, "I might soil the fine saddle with my blood," to which Voith responded, "My saddle can only gain from being stained by the blood of a hero." When Frederick heard about Fouqué's capture and behaviour, he stated, "Fouqué behaved like a Roman."

After his capture, Fouqué flooded Austrian authorities with countless petitions who forced the secretaries of the Hofkriegsrat to devote entire weeks to answer his complaints. Till June 1760, the Austrians paid captured Prussian officers in accordance with the cartel previously established with Prussia. However, Austrian officers in captivity in Prussia did not fare as well, being paid in a less valuable currency (around 50% of the nominal value). Therefore, Austria retaliated by stopping payments for 3 months. Afterwards, they paid Prussian officers in Dutch ducats which were worth around 50% of the Austrian ducat. Fouqué refused to accept these conditions and made himself leader of a group of imprisoned Prussian officers. In his letters to the Hofkriegsrat, he used very rude language. Frederick instructed Margrave Karl von Brandenburg-Schwedt to protest officially to Empress Maria Theresia. Chancellor Kaunitz answered in quite harsh terms and pointed out the unacceptable behaviour of Field-Marshal Kleist, who had captured some officers at the spa of Teplice in a neutral area of Bohemia. Furthermore, Kaunitz wrote that the captured Prussian officers could be sent to parts of the Habsburg dominions where the cost of living were lower than in Vienna (for example Transylvania or Southern Hungary) if they wished.

At that time, Fouqué started another round of complaints, which just embittered relations with Austrian authorities. Consequently, 800 captured Prussian officers were transferred from Wiener Neustadt to Krems, Ybbs and Stein. Fouqué himself was transferred from Bruck an der Leitha (his first place of internment) to the prison of Karlstadt. Meanwhile, Lieutenant-General Finck and his comrades were imprisoned in the Castle of Kufstein in Northern Tyrol. On December 19 1760, Finck wrote to Maria Theresia, explaining the poor conditions of the prisoners in Kufstein and asking for help. On December 21, Maria Theresia was informed that captured Austrian generals had been released from the Fortress of Magdeburg. Within a few days, Finck and his comrades were transferred to a better place. However, Fouqué remained imprisoned till the end of the Seven Years' War despite Frederick's numerous attempts to get him free.

After the Seven Years' War, Fouqué was reinstated in his functions of commander of the Fortress of Glatz but he preferred to retire from active service and established himself in Brandenburg an der Havel. He often visited the king at Sanssouci.

Fouqué died on May 3 1774 in Brandenburg an der Havel where he was buried in the Johanniskirche.


Duffy, Ch.: "Sieben Jahre Krieg"

Priesdorf, Kurt v.” Sodatisches Führertum, Hamburg 1937-42, file I, pp. 286-289


The section on Fouqué's career between 1756 and 1760 is mostly derived from our articles depicting the various campaigns, battles and sieges.


Harald Skala for researching sources