Thomas Brady, Freiherr (Baron) von Brady of Longthee, was one of hundreds of men in the service of the Imperial Austrian armed services who were of Irish descent or themselves of Irish birth. Many were born in Ulster or of Ulster families. Brady was though the only one of these to achieve the rank of General.
Brady was born in Ulster, at Cootehill, County Cavan; some sources suggest a date of 1753. He seems to have moved to Vienna initially to commence an ecclesial career, but he joined the 15th Infantry Regiment as an ex propriis cadet on 21 November 1769 (this was a class of cadet appointed by the Oberst-Inhaber of the relevant regiment; usually rendered in English as “proprietary colonel”, he was a colonel-in-chief after whom the regiment was named, in this case, “Wied”). He moved to the “Fabri” Regiment as Fähnrich, or Ensign on 3 April 1774, and was promoted Leutnant, or Second Lieutenant, on 30.11.1775. He saw action at the battle of Habelschwerdt in January 1779, during the War of the Bavarian Succession. This war was what was often known as a Kabinettskrieg, in which armies were deployed but did little actual fighting while politicians and diplomats argued their corners, in this case, Prussia and Saxony trying to prevent an Austrian-favoured succession to the throne of Bavaria. Very few troops died an actual combat, but both sides sustained heavy losses through disease and starvation: the Prussians referred to the war as the Kartoffelkrieg, or “Potato War”, as their soldiers were mainly occupied with digging for food, while the Austrians referred to it as the Zwetschgenrummel, or “Skirmish about Plums”, for similar reasons.
Brady was promoted Oberleutnant, or First Lieutenant, on 20 March 1784 and on 15 May 1788 he transferred to the General Staff with the rank of Hauptmann, or Captain. The previous year, Emperor Joseph II had launched the Austro-Turkish War (1787-1781), another war which Austria “won”, though gaining only meagre territory and losing thousands of troops to illness. On 3 October 1788 came the third storming of Neustadt, today’s Novi Sad, at which Brady distinguished himself sufficiently to be awarded the Ritterkreuz des Militär-Maria-Theresien-Ordens, or Knight’s Cross of the Military Order of Maria Theresa, this Order being the highest such in the Empire.
On 28 March 1790 he was promoted Major, still on the General Staff, working in border defence and organisation. During the Flanders Campaign of 1793, when several states including the Austrian Empire attacked Revolutionary France, Brady served under Prince Coburg (full name Friedrich Josias von Sachsen-Coburg-Saalfeld), the commander of the Austrian army, who praised Brady highly in his report on the victory at the battle of Neerwinden, 18 March 1793 (though initially successful, the Austrians later were forced to retreat). Brady moved to the Tiroler Scharfschützen, the Tyrolean Sharpshooters, as commander and with the rank of Obertsleutnant, or Lieutenant-Colonel. On 11 February 1794 he was appointed commander of the 55th Infantry Regiment with the rank of Oberst or Colonel and fought with it at Frankenthal, in General Latour's corps, in 1795, and distinguished himself on 19 June 1796 at Ukerad. Promotion to General followed on 6 September 1796, when he was posted to Italy. On 18 January 1799 he was made commander of a Division in Bohemia. He was named second Oberst Inhaber of Infantry Regiment number 1, the Kaiser Regiment, on 1 October 1803 and the following year was appointed military and civil Governor of the provinces of Albania and Dalmatia, seen as a difficult post by Vienna. In 1807 he was appointed a Privy Councillor.
In 1809 he was recalled to military service for the Campaign of 1809 and he was attached to the 2nd Army Corps at the Battle of Aspern, a significant defeat for Napoleon. However, Brady, who had bad asthma, retired on health grounds on 3 September 1809 with the honorary rank of Feldzeugmeister, or full General (of Artillery).
Brady married a Countess Dehn, though it is not known when; she predeceased him and there were no children. Brady’s civil titles were first of all Ritter, or Knight, then Feiherr, or Baron. He bequeathed 10,000 Gulden to finance a scholarship in Vienna.