Vukassovich, Josef Philipp
b. 1755, St Peter in military borders
d. 9 August 1809, Vienna
Freiherr. Born in Sanct Peter (province of Lika) in 1755. Died in Vienna on 9 August 1809 from wounds received on 6 July at the battle of Wagram. He was the son of an officer of a frontier [Grenz] regiment and had been a pupil of the Engineer academy. Ensign in a frontier regiment in 1775, he became Lieutenant in 1780, and went up and down Montenegro, where he acquired a perfect knowledge of the country. This served him well at the beginning of the war against the Turks in 1788, and he became Captain of the frontier regiment of Lika at the end of January, and continued to serve with distinction in Montenegro, Albania and Herzegovina, where he had treaties of alliance made against the Turks. In recompense he was made Major and knight of the Order of Maria Theresa. Shortly after, he created, under the name Gyulai Free Corps, a unit composed partly of Montenegrins and partly of recruits from Lika and the Austrian littoral, 3,000 strong and divided into 12 companies and 4 squadrons of hussars. He became Colonel commanding this unit, then became Colonel of the regiment of Lika in 1790. He fought in Italy and distinguished himself at Loano, where he vigorously defended the monastery of Certosa (Chartreuse). His role at Dego is known, where, due to an 'error in the date on the order' he only arrived on the day after the action. Later, while shut up in Mantua, he did the greatest service during the siege of that place, notably during the sortie of 16 July. Major-General in September 1796, he commanded a brigade in the Tyrol and was injured on the 3rd, near San Marco, by a fall from his horse. Nominated Colonel of the newly formed 48th infantry regiment in 1799, he was noted during the tough campaign of that year, and captured General Sérurier near Verdiero. He commanded the advance guard, took Novara, Vercelli, Ivrea, Casale, Turin and Cherasco, relieved Ceva and took Mondovì. Lieutenant-General in 1800, he was at Bellinzona to prevent Bonaparte's passage of the St Gothard, but he was caught up in the general retreat on Milan. In 1805 he commanded a corps in Italy, and in 1809 he fought at Aspern-Essling and at Wagram, where he was mortally wounded. He was an elite soldier, learned and full of authority. Bouvier, F. Bonaparte en Italie, 1796, 1899, p. 691.)
See also Wurzbach, C., von. Biographisches Lexikon des Kaiserthums Oesterreich, 1856-91, vol 52, p. 23-6.