Thursday, June 2, 2011
Monarchist Profile: General Franz Graf Thun-Hohenstein
The legendary field marshal died in 1857 and Thun-Hohenstein was sent back to his regiment and given the prestigious appointment to command the grenadier battalion in 1859. He fought at the brutal battle of Solferino in the 1859 war and his conduct on that occasion earned him a commendation from Emperor Francis Joseph himself. His conduct in other battles earned him more decorations (the Order of Leopold among them) and finally promotion to full colonel. By this time he had achieved a high reputation for skill, courage and efficiency whether fighting the French, Italians or assorted revolutionaries. So, it was no great surprise when Archduke Maximilian of Austria, who had recently agreed to become Emperor of Mexico, chose Graf Thun-Hohenstein to be the commander of the Austrian forces he wished to take to Mexico with him as added security. The French were carrying the bulk of the conflict against the Mexican republicans but it was only natural that Maximilian and Carlota welcomed having some soldiers from their own countries as well.
Nonetheless, the Austrian forces were often called upon to act in smaller detachments, as flying columns to counter insurgents and as shock troops to stiffen less reliable forces. He was praised and decorated for his efforts (though not as much as the commander of the Belgian contingent which enjoyed the unqualified support of the Empress) but his relationship with his French and Mexican counterparts remained tense. Things worsened when the French began to pull out of Mexico such as at a battle near San Luis Potosi where a small force of Austrians were decimated while a French column sat within earshot and took no action to come to their aid. It thus came as no great surprise that when diplomatic pressure forces the recall of the foreign troops in Mexico, Graf Thun-Hohenstein refused to remain on hand and join the regular Mexican Imperial Army. Nonetheless, he was further honored by Emperor Francis Joseph with the Order of the Iron Crown upon his return to Austria. The record of the Austrian corps had been impressive. With 55 battles fought only 9 of them could even be argued to be defeats.