Fermor, Count Villim Vilimovich

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Fermor, Count Villim Vilimovich

Lieutenant-General (1746-56), General en Chef (1756-??), Commander-in-chief of the Russian army in East Prussia, Pomerania and Brandenburg (1757-58 and 1760)

Knight of the Order of St. Andrew

born September 28, 1704, Pskov, Russia

died February 8, 1771


Fermor was born in a Livonian noble family

Fermor entered the Russian military service in 1720.

In 1734, during the War of the Polish Succession, Major Fermor distinguished himself at the Siege of Danzig (present-day Gdańsk) as adjutant to Field-Marshal von Münnich.

From 1736 to 1739, Fermor served under the command of Field-Marshal Münnich in the war against the Turks.

In 1740, Fermor became commander of Vyborg and, from 1741 to 1743, took part in all the operations against the Swedes in Finland.

In 1746, Fermor was promoted to lieutenant-general. He was also chairman of the construction chancery and directed the construction of the imperial palace in Saint-Petersburg.

In 1751, Fermor was named general commander of Saint-Petersburg, Finland and of the Government of Novgorod.

In 1756, at the beginning of the Seven Years' War, Fermor was placed at the head of a support corps in Apraxin's Army.

On August 30, 1757, Fermor fought under Apraxin at the Battle of Gross-Jägersdorf, leading the 1st Division. On October 28, when Apraxin was removed from command, Fermor was promoted commander-in-chief of the Russian army.

At the beginning of 1758, Fermor efficiently led the rapid invasion of East Prussia. For his conduct, Maria Theresa awarded him the title of "Imperial Count" of the Holy Roman Empire. In March 1758, after the capture of Elbing (present-day Elbląg) and Thorn (present-day Toruń), Fermor was designated as Governor-General of East Prussia. In July, his army advanced into Brandenburg and, in August, laid Siege to Cüstrin. Frederick II relieved the fortress and on August 25 fought the bloody and inconclusive Battle of Zorndorf against Fermor's army. After this battle, Fermor progressively retired towards Poland and East Prussia. For his conduct at the Battle of Zorndorf, Elizabeth Petrovna awarded Fermor the title of count.

For the campaign of 1759, Fermor was demoted to the rank of general for hesitance and irresolution, ceding overall command of the Russian army to Count Piotr Semionovitch Saltykov. On July 27, Fermor took part in the Battle of Paltzig where he led the first line of infantry of the centre. On August 12, at the Battle of Kunersdorf, Fermor was at the head of the 1st Divison deployed in the centre of the Russian line of battle.

In 1760, when Saltykov was removed from command, Fermor briefly assumed the role of commander-in-chief before being replaced by Alexander Borissovitch Buturlin.

After the death of Empress Elizabeth Petrovna (1762), Fermor was named Governor-General of Smolensk (1763) and member of the senate (1764) by Catherine II.

In 1768, Fermor retired to his estates.

Fermor died on February 8, 1771.


Grosser Generalstab Kriegsgeschichtliche Abteilung II: Die Kriege Friedrichs des Grossen, Part 3 Der siebenjährige Krieg 1756-1763, Vol. 8 Zorndorf und Hochkirch, Berlin, 1910, Appendix 3

Mitchell, James J., Villim Vilimovich Fermor - A Brief Biography, Seven Years War Association Journal Vol. XII No. 1

German Wikipedia – Wilhelm von Fermor