Rudolf Ritter von Otto (1735 – 7 August 1811) began his military
career in the army of the Electorate of Saxony, transferred to the
Austrian army and had a distinguished combat record during the Seven
Years' War and the French Revolutionary Wars.
1 Early career
2 Austrian service
3 Later career
5 External links
Weißenfels in the
Electorate of Saxony
Electorate of Saxony in 1735, Otto joined
the Saxon army in 1753 as a cavalryman. In the
Seven Years' War
Seven Years' War he
fought at the battles of Kolín and the Breslau in 1757. He was also
present at several sieges and skirmishes. He joined an Austrian
Freikorps raised by his brother Wilhelm and participated in several
successful ambushes and raids in 1760-1762.
At the end of the war he formally entered the Austrian army, joining
the Hesse-Darmstadt Dragoon Regiment # 19 as an Oberleutnant. Promoted
to captain in 1769 and major in 1777, he transferred to the Graeven
Hussar Regiment # 34. Because he improved his new regiment's
efficiency, he was rapidly promoted, first to Oberstleutnant in 1783
and Oberst in 1784. In the Austro-Turkish War (1788-1791), he led his
regiment in action at
Chernivtsi and Cornia. Promoted to General-major
in 1788, he continued to distinguish himself against the Turks.
In 1793 during the War of the First Coalition, Otto joined the
Austrian army in Flanders, serving at the siege of Valenciennes. At
the battle of Caesar's Camp on August 7, he commanded an
infantry-cavalry brigade in the Count of Clerfayt's column. On
September 12, he participated in the cavalry action at Avesnes-le-Sec
in which a French force was cut to pieces. On October 30, he led his
troops in battle at Marchiennes. He was promoted to
Feldmarschal-Leutnant on January 1, 1794 and also became proprietor
(inhaber) of the Hussar Regiment # 32.
On April 24, while leading two Austrian and two British cavalry
squadrons on a reconnaissance toward Cambrai, Otto encountered a force
of French cavalry. At this time, he discovered that Emperor Francis II
was nearby with his retinue. Fearing that his sovereign was about to
be captured, he resolved to attack the enemy. In the ensuing Battle of
Villers-en-Cauchies, Otto's troopers smashed a 7,000-man French
division, inflicting 1,200 casualties.
Two days later, Otto led the main attack in the Duke of York's victory
at Beaumont, rolling up the French flank and capturing the French
commander René Chapuis. At the Battle of Tourcoing, he led one of
York's three columns. Though the Anglo-Austrian army went down to
defeat, Otto performed well.
In 1796, Otto declined a command in Italy due to ill-health. He became
a member of the
Aulic Council and was promoted to full general upon
retirement in 1803. He died at his estate near Königgrätz on August
Chandler, David. Dictionary of the Napoleonic Wars. New York:
Macmillan, 1979. ISBN 0-02-523670-9
Smith, Digby. The Napoleonic Wars Data Book. London: Greenhill, 1998.
^ Smith, p. 51.
^ Smith, p. 61.
^ Chandler, p. 465. The author provides details of the battle but
incorrectly identifies Otto as Ott.
^ Smith, p. 75.
Otto by Digby Smith, compiled by Leopold Kudrna