Leopold Daun

Daun, Leopold


Born Sept. 24, 1705, in Vienna; died there Feb. 5, 1766. Austrian field marshal (1754); count.

Daun fought in the Austro-Turkish War (1737–39) and in the War of the Austrian Succession (1740–48). Between 1748 and 1751 he carried out several army reforms while he was commandant of Vienna and chief of the Military Academy, which he had founded. In the early part of the Seven Years War (1756–63) he was army commander and defeated the Prussian troops at Kolin in 1757. Appointed commander in chief of the Austrian Army in 1758, Daun was victorious at Hochkirch in 1758 and at Maxen in 1759, but he was defeated at Torgau in 1760. In 1762 he was appointed chairman of the Hofkriegsrat (Imperial War Council).

Daun avoided decisive engagements and often evaded combat altogether, even if the situation was favorable; he preferred to wait for the right moment in advantageous defense positions. He often broke his commitments with the allies and thereby repeatedly placed the Russian Army in a difficult situation. His contemporaries nicknamed him Fabius Cunctator (after the Roman general who was known for his delaying tactics) for his sluggishness and indecisiveness.