Jahnus von Eberstädt, Franz Maximilian Baron

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Jahnus von Eberstädt, Franz Maximilian Baron

Austrian General-Feldwachtmeister (1757-60), Feldmarschall-Lieutenant (1760-63)

born August 16, 1711, Milan, Italy

died January 26, 1772, Hamburg, Germany


Portrait of Franz Maximilian Baron Jahnus von Eberstädt - Collection of Castle Bojnice in Slovakia, photo by Harald Skala

Franz Maximilian was born on born August 16 1711. He originated from an old Thuringian noble family, several members of this family had already served in the Austrian Royal and Imperial Army. His father, Adolph Wilhelm, was Feldmarschall-Lieutenant in this army and died in 1731 as Governor of Tortona.

From 1729 to 1732, Franz Maximilian studied in Iena.

In 1732, at the age of 21, Jahnus joined an Austrian infantry regiment as ensign. He climbed relatively fast the ladder of his career.

By 1742, Jahnus was lieutenant-colonel in Leopold Daun Infantry.

In the early years of the War of the Austrian Succession, for the campaign of 1744, Jahnus served with this regiment on the Rhine under the command of Field-Marshal Count Traun. When the Prussians invaded Silesia, Jahnus marched with Traun's army towards this province.

On June 4 1745, Jahnus' regiment took part in the Battle of Hohenfriedberg and, on September 30 of the same year, in the Battle of Soor.

For the campaign of 1746, Jahnus' regiment was attached to the army of Field-Marshal Maximilian Ulysses Count von Browne operating in North Italy.

On June 15 1746, Jahnus took part in the Battle of Piacenza where he was wounded. He then joined the detachment charged to harass the enemy along the Po between the Tidone and Trebbia rivers. At the end of the year, Jahnus was part of Field-Marshal Browne's army who campaigned in Provence. There, Jahnus initially commanded a corps of volunteers and 10 companies of grenadiers. At the head of some Karlstädter Grenzers, after the crossing of the Var River, he made himself master of Saint-Laurent.

After the retreat of the Austrian army towards Italy and the signature of the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle in 1748, Jahnus was transferred to the military frontier in the Balkans where he took part in the reorganisation of the Grenzer military force. In Provence he had already had the occasion to familiarize himself with these courageous soldiers.

On February 5 1750, Jahnus became colonel of the Slavonisch-Brooder Grenzer.

In 1754, Jahnus assumed the same function with the Slavonisch-Peterwardeiner Grenzer.

On July 10 1757, Jahnus, which had been detached to proceed to the invasion of Silesia a few days earlier, occupied the town of Landeshut (present-day Kamienna Gora) which had been abandoned the same day by a small Prussian Corps under Kreytzen, charged with the protection of the nearby mountain passes giving access to the vital fortress of Schweidnitz (present-day Świdnica). Jahnus used Landeshut as a base to launch raids into Silesia. In August, at the head of these Slavonisch-Peterwardeiner Grenzer and of a few companies of Warasdiner Grenzers, Jahnus covered the Bohemian frontier from Landeshut (present-day Kamenia Góra), Schmiedeberg (present-day Kovary) and Hirschberg (present-day Jelenia Góra). On August 13, Jahnus and his Grenzers were attacked by a Prussian corps (8,000 men with 16 pieces) under Major-General von Kreytzen at the Combat of Landeshut. Jahnus had his two pieces posted on a height in the flank of Kreytzen's Corps. The very effective fire of these two pieces inflicted heavy losses to the Prussians. Simultaneously, his grenzers advanced sabre in hand. The Prussians finally gave way. During this engagement, Jahnus had his horse killed under him. On August 21, for his outstanding achievements, Jahnus was appointed General Feldwachtmeister (GfWM). By November, Jahnus' Light Corps was still operating in the area of Landeshut in Silesia.

On March 7 1758, Jahnus was part of the first promotion to receive the Maria Theresia Orden. For the campaign of 1758, Jahnus was attached to Loudon's Corps and distinguished himself in guerilla warfare at the head of his Grenzers during the Prussian invasion of Moravia. On June 11, Jahnus intercepted a Prussian convoy between Hof (present-day Dvorce) and Bärn, capturing 300 wagons, killing 400 men and taking 300 men prisoners. At the end of June, Jahnus with a few battalions of Karlstädter-Lykaner Grenzer and Slavonisch-Peterwardeiner Grenzer took part in the Combat of Domstadl (present-day Domasov) where a large Prussian convoy was surprised and almost entirely captured. On July 18, during the Prussian retreat, Daun sent him to Königinhof (present-day Dvůr Králové nad Labem) to threaten the road to Silesia.

In July 1759, during the Austrian campaign in Upper Silesia and Lusatia, Jahnus was at the head of a division of light troops (2,410 men of the Slavonisch-Brooder Grenzer, 3,744 men of the Slavonisch-Gradiskaner Grenzer and 490 men of the Pálffy Hussars). On July 13, the battalion of Slavonisch-Brooder Grenzer of Major Friedrich Count Dönhoff attacked a detachment of 300 Prussian light troops from Frei-Infanterie le Noble, Frei-Infanterie de Angelelli and Frei-Infanterie von Lüderitz at Friedland, capturing Lüderitz along with 7 officers and 38 men. On July 16, the battalion of Slavonisch-Brooder Grenzer of Major Dönhoff along with a few men of the Pálffy Hussars attacked a convoy transporting supply from Schweidnitz to Landeshut. On July 18, a Prussian detachment under Ramin (6 bns) marched to Lindenau (probably Lipniki) where it engaged Jahnus before moving back to its camp. By July 21, Jahnus, covering the Austrian left flank, had taken a very advantageous position on the height behind Grüsau. On July 27, de Ville, fearing for his line of communication, resolved to force a passage on the road from Alt Lässig to Friedland. He sent Jahnus' Light Corps (1 grenadier bn, 2 line rgts, the Slavonisch-Gradiskaner Grenzer, the Slavonisch-Brooder Grenzer, 1 hussar rgt and 2 sqns) forward to cover his movements. The Prussian Frei-Infanterie von Lüderitz along with Carlowitz Grenadiers and Thile Infantry distinguished themselves during this attack, repulsing Jahnus' assault. On July 28, de Ville detached Jahnus towards Friedland against Golz. Jahnus was supposed to be supported by Wolfersdorf but the manoeuvre failed. On July 30, Jahnus reappeared in front of Friedland, which he occupied. At the beginning of October, when the Austrian Main Army entered into Saxony, the Corps of Harsch and Jahnus were left behind in the areas of Trautenau and Schatzlar to cover Bohemia in front of Fouqué stationed at Landeshut in Silesia.

On March 9 1760, Jahnus was promoted to Feldmarschall-Lieutenant. In May, he was attached to the corps of FML Wolfersdorf for the campaign in Silesia. He commanded 3 battalions of Slavonisch-Brooder Grenzer and Slavonisch-Gradiskaner Grenzer during an engagement near Trautenau (present-day Trutnov). On June 6, Fouqué retired to Romenau to cover Breslau. Immediately, Jahnus occupied Landeshut with his 3 Grenzer battalions and Pálffy Hussars. On the morning of June 17, Fouqué resolved to attack Landeshut. After a feeble resistance, the Austrians Corps of Gaisruck and Jahnus retired from the heights of Landeshut towards those of Reichennersdorf. On June 23, Jahnus took part in the victorious Battle of Landeshut where he led part of the fourth Austrian column, charged to attack the Prussian right towards Blasdorf. The Prussians then retired towards Schweidnitz and Jahnus joined Draskowitch's Corps at Neisse (present-day Nysa) with his small detachment (Batthyányi Infantry and 3 battalions of Slavonisch Grenzers). On September 17, he took part in the Combat of Hochgiersdorf. He did not take part in any major action for the rest of the year.

By July 20 1761, during the campaign of Silesia, Jahnus was at the head of a corps stationed at Silberberg and Wartha. On July 23, he marched to Waldenburg. On July 29, Jahnus linked with the left wing of Loudon's Army at Nickelsdorf. On July 30, Loudon detached Jahnus on the Steinberg near Ziegenthal to support Bethlen and Draskowitz sufficiently to avoid a disaster. On July 31, Jahnus and Luzinsky took position on the Hasenberg and Steinberg while Loudon passed the Neiss in the evening. On August 9, Jahnus marched to Burkersdorf (present-day Burkatow). By August 17, he was at Freiburg on the Heights of Kunzendorf. On August 19, Jahnus marched to Hohgiersdorf (present-day Modliszów). On August 31, Draskowitz made a junction with Jahnus' Corps near Hohgiersdorf. On October 1, Jahnus took part in the storming of Schweidnitz (present-day Swidnica) where he led the fifth column. While Loudon directed the main attack on the fortress, Jahnus had to launch a diversionary attack on the eastern outworks and the Wasserfort with his Grenzers and occupy the village of Kletschkau. Captain Scezujaz guided the advance of Jahnus' column. There were some 400 prisoners kept in the Wasserfort, mostly Grenzers. When these prisoners realised that the fort was under attack, they managed to break the door of their prison and to let down the draw bridge giving access to the fort. Taking advantage of the situation, Jahnus immediately stormed the fort. By 7:00 a.m., he had made himself master of the Wasserfort.

In 1762, Jahnus did not take part in any major action.

Since a long time, Jahnus felt that Field-marshal Daun treated him unfairly, so after the signature of the Treaty of Hubertusburg, on February 15 1763, he resigned his function. However, he was allowed to retein his rank of Feldmarschall-Lieutenant and to receive a pension. The same year, Jahnus was offered the charge of garrison commander of the City of Hamburg which he accepted.

In 1770, the Republic of Venice offered to Jahnus the charge of Field-Marshal. However, satisfied with his post in Hamburg, he declined this offer.

Jahnus died in Hamburg on January 26 1772 at the age of 61.


Wurzbach, C. v.: Biographisches Lexikon des Kaiserthums Österreich, Vol. X., Vienna 1863

Duffy, Ch.: Feldmarschall Browne, Vienna 1966

Janko, W. Edler v.: Laudons Leben, Vienna, 1869

Thürheim, A. v.: FM Otto Ferdinand Graf v. Auersperg-Traun, Vienna, 1877

Wrede, A. v.: Geschichte der K. u. K. Wehrmacht, Vienna 1898 – 1905

Albertina Handschrift - Facsimile, Vienna, 1973

Bertling, M.: Die Kroaten u. Panduren in der Mitte des XVIII. Jh. Dissertation, Berlin 1912

Portrait: Collection of the Castle of Bojnice in Slovakia


Harald Skala for the initial version of this article