Thursday, 29 September 2016


Franz John was born in Bruck an der Leitha in lower Austria on the 20th of November 1815 as the son a sapper officer and enjoyed a military education at the imperial and royal military academy at Wiener Neustadt which started on the 27th of October 1827 and where he was always one of the more successful students among his contemporaries. Commissioned on the 24th of October 1835 as a Lieutenant he was assigned to Infantry Regiment Erherzog Franz Carl Number 52 in Italy. Following four years at regimental duty he was attached to the General-Quartermaster-Staff where he was finally fully accepted on the 19th of June 1845 and promoted to Oberlieutenant the next day. He was further promoted to Hauptmann on the 13th of March 1848. He participated as a general staff captain in the war against Piedmont in 1848/1849 initially at army headquarters seeing action in the street fighting during the uprising in Milan on the 20th and 21st of March 1848, in the battle of S. Lucia on the 6th of May, the assault on Montanara on the 29th of May and the engagement at Goito on the 30th of May. From the 7th of May he was assigned as the general staff officer to the brigade of Generalmajor Friedrich Fürst Liechtenstein where he took part in the capture of Vicenza on the 10th of June , in the battle of Sommacampagna and Sona on the 23rd of July as well as the battle of Custozza on the 25th of July. During the latter battle, when his brigade was in danger of being outflanked by the enemy, his prompt action in changing the direction of the brigade's front resulted not only in alleviating the danger but enabled the brigade to force the enemy's withdrawal. He further personally supervised the positioning of the brigade's attached artillery battery under heavy enemy fire which subsequently successfully compelled the Piedmontese artillery to vacate their firing positions. For his outstanding conduct in the battle of Custozza, Hauptmann John was consequently awarded the Order of the Iron Crown 3rd Class. The following day he again distinguished himself through his extraordinary bravery during the night battle at Volta which followed the pursuit of the enemy consequent to their defeat at Custozza. Amongst other feats during the night he successfully held the endangered left flank of the division until reinforcements arrived. As a consequence of his conduct during the night of 26th/27th July, Kaiser Franz I as the Grandmaster of the Order of the Military Order of Maria Theresia awarded Hauptmann John the Knights' Cross  of the order at the 157th promotion on the 26th of March 1850 and he was subsequently raised to an Austrian Barony taking the title Freiherr von John. He saw further action during the war of 1848 including the engagement at Cremona on the 30th of July and at Milan on the 4th of August. With the recommencement of the war the following year he took part in the engagement at Gravellone  on the 20th of March and the battle of Mortara on the 21st of March, Novara on the 23rd of March with further campaigning during the expedition into Tuscany and the assault at Livorno on the 10th and 11th of May 1849. His final service during the campaign of 1849 was the pursuit of Garibaldi's irregulars in Romagna until August. He was further awarded an imperial commendation on 24th of May 1848 and the Military Merit Cross on the 4th of February 1850 for his services during 1849. He was additionally awarded the Commanders' Cross of the Papal Saint Sylvester Order on the 26th of September 1849.
Following the conclusion of the war against Piedmont he was promoted to Major on the 24th of October 1849 as was appointed as the chief of staff of the occupation troops in Tuscany.  In August 1852 he was assigned as the chief of staff of the VII Corps in Bologna with promotion to Oberstlieutenant  on the 23rd of March 1854. On the 16th of April 1857 he was promoted to Oberst and given command of the 1st Infantry Regiment Kaiser Franz Joseph at Verona which he initially lead in the war of 1859 against France and Piedmont. From Vicelli he successfully lead a half brigade at Dora baltea which covered the extreme right flank of the army and participated in a reconnaissance of that position that determined the area's unsuitability as a deployment area for the army. Oberst Freiherr von John was however soon recalled to general staff duty and on the 5th of May 1859 appointed as chief of staff of the VI Corps which was designated for service in the Tyrol. Only one brigade of the corps saw action at the battle of Solferino. Following the war of 1859 he was transferred as the chief of staff of the II Army in Verona followed by the same appointment in the army headquarters for Northern Italy until 1866 in which he was given an accelerated promotion to Generalmajor on the 19th December 1861. With the outbreak of war against both Prussia and Italy in 1866, Freiherr von John became the chief of staff of Archduke Albrecht's Südarmee and was instrumental in formulating the decisive victory over the Italian forces under the command of General Alfonso La Marmora at the 2nd battle of Custozza on the 24th June 1866. The three corps of Südarmee were able to throw back the Italian army across the Mincio river but the outcome of the war was decided at the  battle ofKöniggrätz hundreds of miles to the North in Bohemia where the Austrian Nordarmee of Feldzeugmeister Ludwig Ritter von Benedek was comprehensively defeated by the Prussian army on 3rd July. Promoted Feldmarschalleutnant the day after the battle of Custozza, he was awarded the Commander's Cross of the Military Order of Maria Theresia at the 166th promotion on the 29th of August 1866. With the defeat of Königgrätz both Erzherzog Albrecht and Freiherr von John were moved North to assume the appointments of commander and chief of staff respectively on 10thn July of the supreme command of all Austria's operational forces but saw little further action. With end of hostilities Feldmarschalleutnant von John was appointed as the army's chief of staff on the 6th of September 1866 in which alongside Erzherzog Albrecht he put into action the much needed reform of the Austrian army following the catastrophe of Königggrätz. Simultaneously entrusted with running the war ministry he was also confirmed in that appointment on the 30th of October 1866 and appointed a privy councilor on the same day. He was further honored with his appointment as the colonel or Inhaber of Infantry Regiment Nr.76 on the 4th of December 1866.
On the 5th of May 1867 he was made a life long member of the house of lords of the Austrian parliament and following the creation of the new Austro-Hungarian monarchy he became the Reich's war minister. At his own request he was relieved of this post on the 18th of January 1868 and simultaneously awarded the Grand Cross of the Order of Leopold. Just over a year later on the 27th of March 1869, he stepped down as chief of staff of the army and was appointed as the commanding general in Graz where he was promoted to Feldzeugmeister on the 23rd of April 1873. 
The headquarters staff in Italy. John centre with Benedek seated at John's right,Recalled once again to the position of army chief of staff on the 14th of July 1874 the extremely capable and talented Franz Freiherr von John died suddenly on the 25th of May 1876. At the express command of Kaiser Franz Joseph he was buried with full military honours in Vienna. During his long and successful career he had also been awarded many foreign decorations and awards including the Knight's Cross of the Grand Duke of Tuscany's Saint Josephs' Order on the 16th of October 1852, the Commander's Cross of the Papal Order of Saint Gregory on the 20th of March 1857, the Grand Cross of the Royal Saxon Albrecht's Order with War Decoration on the 14th of November 1866 and finally the Grand Cross of the Royal Italian Mauritius and Lazarus Order on the 28th of July 1867. 

Thursday, 18 June 2015


The decisive clash of the war of Italian unification; the suffering of the wounded left without care was the inspiration for the founding of the Red Cross.(above the HQ of Napoleon 3 during the battle)
The battle of Solferino (24 June 1859) was the decisive episode in the struggle for Italian unification. The French, allied to the Sardinians, with Emperor Napoleon III at their head, faced the Austrian troops. The first exchange of gunfire took place shortly after three in the morning; by six o'clock the battle was in full swing; bright sunshine bore down on some 300,000 men who were slaughtering each other. In the afternoon, the Austrians abandoned their positions one by one; when night fell, the battlefield was strewn with more than 6,000 dead and 40,000 wounded.
The medical services of the French and Sardinian armies were overwhelmed: the French army had fewer doctors than veterinarians, transportation was non-existent and cases of bandages had been left behind. Those wounded who were able to do so headed for the nearest village -- Castiglione -- in search of a little food and water; 9,000 reached it, pouring into houses and barns, squares and narrow streets. In the church of Castiglione, the Chiesa Maggiore , Henry Dunant, helped by local women, cared for the wounded and dying for three days and three nights.

Friday, 16 January 2015


THE prestige enjoyed by the Austrian artillery in the 19th century was based on historical traditions very accurate and secure.File:Napoléon III et l'Italie - Gerolamo Induno - La bataille de Magenta - 005.jpg

After the battle of Luzzara against Marshal Vendôme (15 August 1702), Prince Eugene of Savoy had taken care of communicating to the Austrian emperor Leopold I: "Your Majesty can well believe that there is not in the world a better artillery than that of which we have. "This statement, , will be confirmed in a few decades later by the authoritative words of the great Frederick II of Prussia who after   the battle of Kolin (18 June 1757): "The 'Austrian artillery, although not supported by the rest of the army, alone is enough to destroy any attacker. "

The uniform

With the replacement of white, common to the whole army, the color brown ('wolfsgrau = gray wolf' in the lyrics),Shades of fawn (Rehbraun) with scarlet cuffs, armbands and would be worn in cloth tunics with dark brown (tobacco) after 1837; that color will remain unchanged until the end of the First World War.

Starting from 1849 the entire army was subjected to a transformation process that, realizing  economies to a military budget chronically deficient.

The gunner of 1859 is  wearing a uniform that is a hybrid between infantry and cavalry. The shako general model in 1850 replaced  the hat  The brass eagle bears its claws the regimental number of white metal of 11 mm in height (the letter 'R' instead of the regiment 'Racchettieri' or razzieri).

The order to the 2nd Army which operates in Italy oredered a  'Kittel' linen tunic instead of the woolen  cloth. The latter is placed in the backpack canvas raw blackened lattice pattern typical of the artillery, which is transported in accordance with the Regulation, on luggage carts batteries. This relief which the infantryman benefit only in mid-June.

This double-breasted coat has two rows of 8 brass buttons (diameter 22 mm.) On which are engraved the symbols of artillery (3 cannonballs superimposed by a muzzle that intersects with a bullet rocket ). Collar, cuffs, bulges behind and threads are red scarlet. Calico lining delo same color as the tunic. The The Kittel de flax, which has two rows of 6 bone buttons white, is of model of the hunters, namely with the rigonfiature behind, and has on the collar shows (such Paroli) of scarlet red.

The light blue pants, unlike the infantry pants are trimmed with scarlet threads along the side seams, and similarly to the pants of the cavalry, have insoles. Pants with Bazzana, height 20 cm in front of and behind 23, is reserved for gunners conductors.

The gray coat mischio general model for foot troops, artillery has a rear slot (buttons with emblem).

All military artillery are distributed media-cavalry boots (without spurs for those that are not mounted).

In Italy the gunner in sealing campaigns is distinguished with difficulty from his fellow soldier of infantry as he leads the sciaccò covered with seat cover and coat slung over his shoulder from the left shoulder to the right hip, and his haversack laying on the opposite side. Only the lack leggings allows the gunner to recognize not fitted by an infantryman with the regimental colors red.

Al 'Vormeister' that covers the degree of under-corporal (black cord on sciaccò and star in white cloth on the two corners of the collar of tunic and Kittel) and is not mounted, it is to point the piece. He is entrusted with the elevation of the piece that door, when it is not mounted, suspended from a string of red wool.

To preserve the uniform, the staff door mounted on a tunic and trousers Bazzana a second seal consists spencer brimless, in cloth of the color of his robe, closed in front by a row of 8 buttons and a copricalzoni gray cavalry, without Bazzana, that buttons sideways through 15 bone buttons blackened.

All gunners unmounted lead to the left side of the NCOs from infantry saber hanging by a strap model by drummer in white leather. In front of the shoulder 'Vormeister' port attribute of its degree, ie a tube into the brass representative piece from 12 pounds, length 10 cm, for the 12 regiments of artillery and grenade to the regiment 'Racchettieri' ; the grenade is also present on the shoulder of the crew of the piece launcher.

The non-commissioned officers and gunners mounted conductors carry the light cavalry saber hanging from his belt buckled beneath his tunic.

For the non-commissioned officers armed with pistols cavalry model 1850 is distributed equipment intended for such weapons (model of the dragons): blackened leather pouch en et-door in white leather pouch that hangs wand gun.

In the regiment 'Racchettieri' i ​​'Vormeister' and the crew launchers are equipped cona the pouch line infantry.

In addition, the artillery are distributed fatigue cap (cap camping) light blue thread of scarlet, the color of a vest tunic et, for unmounted, white linen pants for service in the neighborhoods (the latter not provided for troops on foot).

the material

In the middle of the 800 smooth-bore guns are pretty much the same as the 18th century. It 'true that the old material was about to be replaced by the so-called system' by project 'which, inter alia, introduced axles of iron in place of those of wood and a wider roadway that ensured a better stability, but the mouths from fire bronze still remained smooth-bore.

In 1859, however, the old material artillery did not have much to suffer from a greater range of rifled guns Hitte The French system. The broken terrain, with limited visibility, which mostly occurred firefights, most favored the use of the batteries 'brigade' (six guns and two howitzers) often split in half batteries, or more frequently in sections from two pieces. In this way, the simple gunner was able to stand out in the course of the war.

In any confrontation systematically overwhelmed by the Allies Franco-Piedmontese, the Austrian infantry was saved from disaster more than once from their artillery. A Montebello, Magenta, Solferino, traditions which required to fight on the front line 'looking the enemy in the eyes' were observed to such an extent that three artillery officers were granted the coveted Order of Maria Theresa. A Magenta, against the grenadiers of the Guard, the crew of the howitzer first lieutenant Kleinert undertake coolly directing a deadly fire on an enemy now in just a few meters away. "Look a little 'how to fly in the air Berrettoni" exclaims the pointer observing the effect of the shots went to sign ...

A Solferino battery Neubauer is so threatened that the pieces placed the wings are forced to turn around the hips to hold the attackers have now reached close. About the annihilation of the brigade Szabo in Palestro, the 7th Battery of the 7th regiment had the bad luck of being in front of him the 3rd Zouaves Regiment French ... Its commander, Captain Hausenblas, took the path of imprisonment, reported comments of General Canrobert about the incompetence of the Austrian generals in Palestro: "But gentlemen, what do you jumped in mind to attack us today? Did you not know that the French army met here with that of Piedmont? Definitely you have been guided very badly. "

4 foot batteries from 6 pounds (from # 1 to # 4):
6 cannons and 2 howitzers courts to 7 pounds
4 officers, 174 soldiers, 118 horses, 23 wagons
3 batteries feet by 12 pounds (from # 5 to # 7):
6 cannons and 2 howitzers long by 7 pounds
4 officers, 207 soldiers, 139 horses, 24 wagons
5 batteries on horseback from 6 pounds (from # 8 to # 12):
6 cannons and 2 howitzers courts to 7 pounds
4 officers, 196 soldiers, 164 horses, 33 wagons
In war horse # 13 battery, battery howitzers long by 7 pounds # 14
18 batteries of 6 pounds (from # 1 to # 18)
8 devices launcher on a tripod
4 officers, 151 soldiers, 122 horses, 24 wagons
In war: N ° 2 new batteries 19:20