Napoleon Bonaparte and his epoch
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Schill Ferdinand Baptista von

Schill Ferdinand Baptista von (1766—1809)

A Prussian soldier who revolted unsuccessfully against French domination in May of 1809. He was born Saxony, and entered the Prussian cavalry at the age of twelve, he was still a subaltern of dragoons when he was wounded at battle of Auerstadt. From that field he escaped to Kolberg, where he played a very prominent part in the celebrated siege of 1807, as the commander of a volunteer force of all arms. After peace of Tilsit he was major and given the command of a hussar regiment formed from his Kolberg men. In 1809 the political situation in Europe appeared to Schill to favor an attempt to liberate his country from the French domination. Leading out his regiment from Berlin under pretext of manoeuvres, he raised the standard of revolt, and, joined by many officers and a company of light infantry, marched for the Elbe. At the village of Dodendorf (May 5, 1809) he had a brush with the Magdeburg garrison, but was soon driven northwards, where he hoped to find British support. The king of Prussia's proclamations prevented the patriots from receiving any appreciable assistance, and with little more than his original force Schill was surrounded by 5000 Danish and Dutch troops in the neighborhood of Wismar. He escaped by hard fighting (action of Damgarten, May 24) to Stralsund, and attempted to put the crumbling fortifications in order. The Danes and Dutch soon hemmed him in, and by sheer numbers overwhelmed the defenders (May 31). Schill himself was killed. Some parties escaped to Prussia, where the officers were tried by court-martial, cashiered and imprisoned. A few escaped to Swinemunde, but the rest were either killed or taken. Handed over to the French, the soldiers were sent to the galleys, and the eleven officers shot at Wesel on September 16. The body of Schill was buried at Stralsund, his head sent to Leiden, where it remained until 1837. Monuments were erected at Brunswick, Stralsund and Wesel, and the 1st Silesian Leib-Hussars have borne Schill's name since 1889.

DDR, 1953, Von Schill and cavalry


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