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Urban Schertenleib:

Maps of northeastern Switzerland by the Austrian Quartermaster General's Staff in 1799 during the Second Coalition War

Cartographica Helvetica 49 (2014) 3–14


During the Second Coalition War from 1799 to 1801, Austrian and Russian troops fought against Napoleon on Swiss territory. The lack of adequate maps in Switzerland led the coalition troops to produce their own map material. Between April and September 1799, the Austrian Quartermaster General's Staff mapped more than 2500 km² of northeastern Switzerland at the scale of 1:57,600. The geometric quality and the content of this map are remarkable. The result is equivalent to the Josephinean survey of Austria and Schmitt's map of southwestern Germany.

The map sheets, which are stored at the Vienna War Archive, are an important testimonial to the state of the Swiss cultural landscape at the end of the 18th century. They depict map elements such as settlement structures, the hydrographic network, the street and road networks and the landscape usage just before the landscape started to change because of the industrialization. Information pertaining to the characteristics and use of the landscape allowed detailed military planning.

These manuscript maps have never before been published and, together with those of French geographers and engineers, deserve greater recognition and merit further analysis of the depicted areas of the cantons Zurich, Schaffhausen, Thurgau, and St. Gall.

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