A Career with an Unfair Ending: The Life and Military Activity of the Austrian Lieutenant General Baron Joseph Meskó de Felsőkubin (1762-1815). Napoleonic Scholarship: The Journal of the International Napoleonic Society, No. 9 (December 2018), pp. 35-50, 167-168.Attila RéfiThis paper focuses on the life and military activity of the Imperial-Royal Lieutenant General Baron Joseph Meskó de Felsőkubin. The paper is mainly based on archive resources, partly on documents of the Austrian State Archives, partly on Meskó’s handwritten memoir written in German, which has never been worked up before.
Meskó was born in 1762 in an old hungarian noble family, and he had been one of the most outstanding Hussar officers in the history of the Austrian Imperial army. He served well not just as a troop officer, but excelled in higher commanding ranks, too.
Meskó covered himself with glory several times during the French Wars. For example, on April 30th 1792 Meskó while fighting in the vanguard of the Imperial-Royal Army at Quiévrain (today in Belgium) reached the French rearguard and captured 11 cannon and more than 1000 men. The booty included reasonable amount of supply food. On April 6th 1799, on the second day of the Magnano victory, serving as a second major in the 7th Hussar regiment he defeated the enemy’s rearguard at Isola della Scala. Furthermore, he captured their hospital and its resources and a wounded French general. On May 17th 1799 Meskó forced the garrison of Casale Monferrato in Piedmont to surrender and he occupied the town and the citadel. In April 1800 he captured the French positions with a commando. The French positions were at 2000 metres high in the Alps at the Mont Cénis. Owing to his valour Meskó was awarded with the Knight’s Cross of Military Order of Maria Theresa in 1801.
In 1809 after the battle of Győr Meskó fought his way out of the French encirclement with his division. After that, while completing a long march and fighting continuous advance- and rearguard actions, he defeated all his attackers. For this he received later on the Commander’s Cross of the Military Order of Maria Theresa.
The closing of the general’s active career was in the battle of Dresden in 1813 when he was captured with some imperial-royal troops. I describe the exact circumstances of this event which was very famous of that age and later on as well. In my opinion the prisoner-taking was not really Meskó’s fault, but was caused rather by the unexperienced high command, by the unfortunate course of events and by the cumbersome maneuverability of the huge army.