Monday, September 8, 2014
Monarchist Profile: General Niklaus Franz von Bachmann
Bachmann used his own resources to recruit and organize a new regiment of his own in Switzerland to fight the revolutionaries under another flag. For employment, he turned to the venerable House of Savoy in 1793. It was a logical choice. King Victor Amadeus III of Piedmont-Sardinia had declared war on the French Republic the previous year and was doing everything in his power to strengthen his army, which would be vastly outmatched in any event. His son and heir, the Prince of Piedmont, was married to the sister of the late King of France and Turin had become a haven for exiled French royals and royalists fleeing the persecution of the revolutionaries. Bachmann proved his worth to the House of Savoy very quickly, thwarting republican forces in the Aosta Valley and within a year earning promotion to Lieutenant General. It was very much a personal fight for the Swiss general and he never referred to his enemies as republicans or revolutionaries but as “the Regicides” for their heinous murder of the King of France (as well as the Queen, Dauphin and so many others). For his skillful and zealous service, the Savoy King made him a knight of the Order of Sts Maurice and Lazarus and granted him the hereditary title of count in the Piedmontese aristocracy.
The veteran commander was assigned the task of destroying the forces of the pro-French Helvetic Republic and this he did successfully until the intervention of Napoleon with his overwhelming forces. Napoleon claimed to be acting to restore order in Switzerland though it was only because of French revolutionary agents that any disorder existed in the first place. Nonetheless, thanks to Napoleonic military might, the French were firmly in control of Switzerland and the staunchly monarchist General von Bachmann was instantly out of favor with the new ruling class and forced into retirement. Yet, as usual, he did not regard his situation as permanent and when Napoleon fell from power, only to reclaim it again after escaping from the island of Elba, Bachmann was appointed commander of the Swiss army again in 1815 and he led his troops in an invasion of France. Of course, the decisive battle was fought in Belgium where Napoleon was decisively beaten and the Kingdom of France restored again.