Eleonore Prochaska was a German soldier who fought in the Prussian army during the Napoleonic Wars.
Born in 1785 to a poor Prussian army officer, Prochaska spent her childhood in an orphanage following the death of her mother and seemed destined to a life of domestic service. However when war broke out against Napoleon in 1812 she chose to disguise herself as a man and enlist in the army under the name August Renz. She had no qualms about the deception, and in a letter to her brother wrote that she was convinced of the rightness of her actions.
As a member of the 1st Jägerbataillon of the Lützow Free Corps, Prochaska served first as a drummer and then as an infantryman. Her military career was cut short however when she was severely wounded at the Battle of the Göhrde. The surgeons treating her discovered she was a woman and took her to Dannenberg, where she eventually died of her wounds three weeks later.
Retrospectively Prochaska was hailed as a war heroine and was seen as a ’Joan of Arc’ of her time. Her life inspired numerous plays and poems, as well as a piece of music dedicated to her by Ludwig van Beethoven.