Prussian Generals of the Napoleonic Wars  1793-1815

Prussian Generals of the Napoleonic Wars  1793-1815: Hermann, Johann Friedrich von

By: Digby Smith

Hermann, Johann Friedrich von (1146)

Born on 30 November 1730 in Nordhausen, Kreis Königsberg in der Neumark, north of Weimar; his father, Hans, was a forester. In 1756 he joined the Landbataillon von Arnim; in the Seven Years` War he fought at the battles of Kolin, Leuthen and Hochkirch, the sieges of Küstrin and Schweidnitz (where he was wounded) and the defence of Kolberg (wounded again). In 1761 he was commissioned as Sklt and made ADC to General von Thadden as a reward for his bravery in action. On 2 June 1763 he was promoted to Prlt in IR von Tettenborn Nr 11. On 6 Apr 1772 he was promoted to Stkpt and on 30 Oct 1776 to Kpt and Kiech. He served in the War of the Bavarian Succession in 1778/9. On 3 October 1785 he was promoted to Major, in the IR von Voss Nr 11; in 1786 he was ennobled. He suffered pains from his headwound which he received at Schweidnitz and by 1804 was losing his memory. On 29 September 1790 he was appointed to command the Grenadier Bataillon von Laurens. On 20 January 1792 he was appointed to command the Depot Bn, IR Graf von Henkel Nr 2. On 20 May 1802 he was promoted to Obstlt and on 20 May 1805 to Obst. On12 December 1806 – appointed commander of Pillau and conducted the defence of the place in 1806/7. Four days later, he was appointed 1st Commandant of Pillau. When summoned to surrender the place by General St-Hilaire he refused abruptly. He then assembled the garrison in the square and, in front of the coffin in which he spent his afternoon siestas said;`Kameraden, lebendig übergebe ich die Festung nicht. Hier ist mein Sarg. Wer mich überlebt, wird die Reste seines Befehlshabers, hoffe ich, darin einsenken. Hier vor Euer aller Augen erneure ich den Schwur, den ich beim Beginn meiner militärischen Laufbahn meinem Monarchen und dem Staate geleistet.Wer ein braver Kerl ist, wiederhole ihn mit mir: `Preussen oder der Tod!`(Comrades, I will not surrender the fortress while I live. Here is my coffin. Whoever survives me will, I hope, bury his commander`s remains in it. Here, before you all, I renew that oath that I swore at the start of my military career to my monarch and the state. Whoever is a fine fellow will repeat it with me: `Prussia or death!)

On18 December 1807 he was forced to retire due to the reduction of the army. On 23 November 1808 he was promoted to GM with a pension of Thlr 800 p.a. He died on 9 June 1818 in Johannisburg, east of Koblenz.

Placed on the Napoleon Series: December 2010


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