French Revolutionary Wars
The French Revolutionary Wars were a series of sweeping military conflicts, lasting from 1792 until 1802, resulting from the French Revolution. They pitted the French First Republic against Britain and several other monarchies and they are divided in two periods, the War of the First Coalition and the War of the Second Coalition. Initially confined to Europe, the fighting gradually assumed a global dimension as the political ambitions of the Revolution expanded, French success in these conflicts ensured the spread of revolutionary principles over much of Europe. The Revolutionary Wars began from increasing political pressure on King Louis XVI of France to prove his loyalty to the new direction France was taking. In the spring of 1792, France declared war on Prussia and Austria, the victory rejuvenated the French nation and emboldened the National Convention to abolish the monarchy. A series of victories by the new French armies abruptly ended with defeat at Neerwinden in the spring of 1793, by 1795, the French had captured the Austrian Netherlands and knocked Spain and Prussia out of the war with the Peace of Basel.
A hitherto unknown general called Napoleon Bonaparte began his first campaign in Italy in April 1796, in less than a year, French armies under Napoleon decimated the Habsburg forces and evicted them from the Italian peninsula, winning almost every battle and capturing 150,000 prisoners. With French forces marching towards Vienna, the Austrians sued for peace and agreed to the Treaty of Campo Formio, the War of the Second Coalition began with the French invasion of Egypt, headed by Napoleon, in 1798. The Allies took the opportunity presented by the French strategic effort in the Middle East to regain territories lost from the First Coalition. The war began well for the Allies in Europe, where they pushed the French out of Italy and invaded Switzerland—racking up victories at Magnano, Cassano. However, their efforts largely unraveled with the French victory at Zurich in September 1799, Napoleons forces annihilated a series of Egyptian and Ottoman armies at the battles of the Pyramids, Mount Tabor, and Abukir.
These victories and the conquest of Egypt further enhanced Napoleons popularity back in France, the Royal Navy had managed to inflict a humiliating defeat on the French fleet at the Battle of the Nile in 1798, further strengthening British control of the Mediterranean. Napoleons arrival from Egypt led to the fall of the Directory in the Coup of 18 Brumaire, Napoleon reorganized the French army and launched a new assault against the Austrians in Italy during the spring of 1800. This latest effort culminated in a decisive French victory at the Battle of Marengo in June 1800, another crushing French triumph at Hohenlinden in Bavaria forced the Austrians to seek peace for a second time, leading to the Treaty of Lunéville in 1801. With Austria and Russia out of the war, the United Kingdom found itself increasingly isolated and agreed to the Treaty of Amiens with Napoleons government in 1802, concluding the Revolutionary Wars. The lingering tensions proved too difficult to contain, however, in 1789–1792, the entire governmental structure of France was transformed to fall into line with the Revolutionary principles of Liberty and Fraternity.
As a result, one of the first major elements of the French state to be restructured was the army, the transformation of the army was best seen in the officer corps. Before the revolution 90% had been nobility, compared to only 3% in 1794, Revolutionary fervour was high, and was closely monitored by the Committee of Public Safety, which assigned Representatives on Mission to keep watch on generals
William I of the Netherlands
William I was a Prince of Orange and the first King of the Netherlands and Grand Duke of Luxembourg. In Germany, he was ruler of the Principality of Nassau-Orange-Fulda from 1803 until 1806 and of the Principality of Orange-Nassau in the year 1806, in 1813 he proclaimed himself Sovereign Prince of the United Netherlands. He proclaimed himself King of the Netherlands and Duke of Luxembourg on 16 March 1815, in the same year on 9 June William I became the Grand Duke of Luxembourg and after 1839 he was furthermore the Duke of Limburg. After his abdication in 1840 he styled himself King William Frederick, King William Is parents were the last stadtholder William V, Prince of Orange of the Dutch Republic, and his wife Wilhelmina of Prussia. Until 1806, William was formally known as William VI, Prince of Orange-Nassau, in Berlin on 1 October 1791, William married his first cousin Wilhelmina, born in Potsdam. She was the daughter of King Frederick William II of Prussia, after Wilhelmina died in 1837, William married Countess Henriette dOultremont de Wégimont, created Countess of Nassau, on 17 February 1841, in Berlin.
Like his younger brother Prince Frederick of Orange-Nassau he was tutored by the Swiss mathematician Leonhard Euler and they were both tutored in the military arts by general Prince Frederick Stamford. After the Patriot revolt had been suppressed in 1787, he in 1788-89 attended the academy in Brunswick which was considered an excellent military school. In 1790 he visited a number of foreign courts like the one in Nassau and the Prussian capital Berlin, William subsequently studied briefly at the University of Leiden. As such he commanded the troops took part in the Flanders Campaign of 1793-95. He took part in the battles of Veurne and Wervik in 1793, the siege of Landrecies, which surrendered to him. In May 1794 he had replaced general Kaunitz as commander of the combined Austro-Dutch forces on the instigation of Emperor Francis II who apparently had an opinion of him. But the French armies proved too strong, and the allied leadership too inept, the French first entered Dutch Brabant which they dominated after the Battle of Boxtel.
When in the winter of 1794-95 the rivers in the Rhine delta froze over, the French breached the southern Hollandic Water Line, in many places Dutch revolutionaries took over the local government. After the Batavian Revolution in Amsterdam on 18 January 1795 the stadtholder decided to flee to Britain, the next day the Batavian Republic was proclaimed. However, the neutral Prussian government forbade this, in 1799, William landed in the current North Holland as part of an Anglo-Russian invasion of Holland. The local Dutch population, was not pleased with the arrival of the prince, one local Orangist was even executed. The hoped-for popular uprising failed to materialise, after several minor battles the Hereditary Prince was forced to leave the country again after the Convention of Alkmaar
Capture of the Dutch fleet at Den Helder
After an extraordinary charge across the frozen Zuiderzee, the French cavalry captured 14 Dutch ships and 850 guns. A capture of ships by horsemen is a rare feat in military history. However, some say that no battle actually took place. The French units were the 8th Hussar Regiment and the 15th Line Infantry Regiment of the French Revolutionary Army, jean-Charles Pichegru was the leader of the French army that invaded the Dutch Republic. The Dutch fleet was commanded by H. Reintjes, the actual capture was accomplished by Jean-Guillaume de Winter and Louis Joseph Lahure. The action happened during the War of the First Coalition, part of the French Revolutionary Wars, Den Helder is located at the tip of the North Holland peninsula, south of the island of Texel, on what was the shallow Zuiderzee bay. The Zuiderzee has been closed off and partly pumped out in the 20th century, the French Army entered Amsterdam on the 19 January 1795 to stay there over winter. Well informed, the found out that a Dutch fleet was anchored at Den Helder.
The winter of 1794–1795 was exceptionally cold, causing the Zuiderzee to freeze, Pichegru ordered General of Brigade Jean-Guillaume de Winter to lead a squadron of the 8th Hussar. De Winter had been serving with the French since 1787, General de Winter arrived at Den Helder with his troops during the night of the 23 January 1795. The Dutch fleet was there as expected, trapped by ice, each hussar had brought on the croup of his horse an infantryman of the 15th Line Infantry Regiment. After a careful approach to awakening the Dutch sailors, Lieutenant-Colonel Louis Joseph Lahure launched the assault. The ice did not break, and the hussars and infantrymen were able to board the Dutch ships, the French captured the Dutch admiral and the vessels crews, the French suffered no casualties. The traditional narrative of French cavalry storming and capturing the ships at Den Helder is primarily based off French sources, the Dutch historian Johannes de Jonge claimed that the Dutch fleet had already received orders on the 21st of January to offer no resistance.
Instead, some French hussars merely crossed the ice for a meeting with the Dutch officers to negotiate a handover, the legend of a capture on the ice is likely based on an 1819 publication by the Swiss general Antoine-Henri Jomini. The capture completed, the French conquest of the Netherlands was brought to an end and the French Army captured 14 warships,850 guns and it is one of the only times in recorded military history wherein cavalry captured a fleet. The ships of the line and corvettes received French crews in February 1795, france returned all her prizes to the Batavian Republic in May 1795 against a payment of 100 million Florins. The incident occurred during the Anglo-Russian Invasion of Holland and it took place on a sandbank near the channel between Texel and the mainland that was known as De Vlieter, near Wieringen
Battle of Biberach (1796)
The French army paused in its retreat toward the Rhine River to savage the pursuing Austrians. The action occurred during the War of the First Coalition, part of the French Revolutionary Wars, Biberach an der Riss is located 35 kilometres southwest of Ulm. During the summer of 1796, the two armies of Jean-Baptiste Jourdan in the north and Moreau in the south advanced into southern Germany and they were opposed by Archduke Charles, Duke of Teschen who oversaw two Austrian armies under Latour and Wilhelm von Wartensleben. At the Battle of Amberg on 24 August 1796, after Jourdan was beaten again at the Battle of Würzburg on 3 September, Moreau was forced to abandon southern Bavaria to avoid being cut off from France. As the outnumbered Latour doggedly followed the French retreat, Moreau lashed out at him at Biberach. For a loss of 500 soldiers killed and wounded, Moreaus troops inflicted 300 killed and wounded on their enemies and captured 4,000 prisoners,18 artillery pieces, after the engagement, Latour followed the French at a more respectful distance.
The next action was the Battle of Emmendingen on 19 October
Galerie des Batailles
It is an epigone of the Grande galerie of the Louvre and was intended to glorify French military history from the Battle of Tolbiac to the Battle of Wagram. 13 bronze tablets on the wall are inscribed with the names of princes, constables, there are busts placed on supports against the columns and between the paintings. While a number of them were of questionable quality, a few masterpieces, joseph-Antoine, prince Poniatowski, maréchal de lEmpire. Adolphe Édouard Casimir Joseph Mortier, duc de Trévise, maréchal de lEmpire, Jean-Baptiste Bessières, duc dIstries, maréchal de lEmpire. Henri LXI, prince de Reuss-Schleiz, général de brigade in French service, Battle of Tolbiac, won by Clovis I over the Alamanni in 496. 4. 15m by 4. 65m Simon de Montfort, 5th Earl of Leicester, Robert dArtois, son of Otto IV and Mahaut dArtois. Hugues Quieret, French admiral, died 1340, Nicolas Béhuchet, French admiral, died 1340. Commemorative tablet at the end of the galerie. Commemorative tablet at the end of the galerie.
Alexandre-Antoine Hureau, comte de Sénarmont, général de division, Antoine Laurent Dantan the Elder. César Charles Étienne, comte Gudin, général de division, walter VI of Brienne, Duke of Athens, constable of France in 1356. Battle of Friedland,14 June 1807,5. 43m by 4. 65m, showing Napoleon I and count Nicolas Charles Oudinot Antoine Louis Charles, comte Lasalle, Battle of Wagram,6 July 1809, by Horace Vernet. Dimensions,5. 3m by 4. 65m, showing Napoleon I, François Masson. 58m by 5. 10m Nicolas-Bernard, général-baron Guiot de Lacour, général de division. Artist, Jean-Baptiste Joseph Debay, le Fils Battle of Hohenlinden,3 December 1800, showing Jean Victor Moreau, Michel Ney, Emmanuel de Grouchy, Jean de Habsburg, André Bruno de Frévol, comte de La Coste, général de brigade. Second Battle of Zürich,25 September 1799, oil on canvas, showing André Masséna, commissioned by Louis-Philippe in 1835,5.43 m by 4.65 m Claude-Louis-Constant Corbineau, général de brigade. Artist, Antoine Laurent Dantan, lAîné Joseph Sécret Pascal-Vallongue, général de Brigade, Charles the Bold, duke of Burgundy.
Artist, Charles-François Lebœuf, known as Nanteuil-Lebœuf, prigent de Coëtivy, sire de Coëtivy, Admiral of France. Killed at the siege of Cherbourg,5. 43m by 4. 65m, showing Philip and Nicolas Zonnekin and signed Scheffer Henry 1837
Battle of Valmy
The Battle of Valmy was the first major victory by the army of France during the Revolutionary Wars that followed the French Revolution. The action took place on 20 September 1792 as Prussian troops commanded by the Duke of Brunswick attempted to march on Paris, generals François Kellermann and Charles Dumouriez stopped the advance near the northern village of Valmy in Champagne-Ardenne. The outcome was unexpected by contemporary observers – a vindication for the French revolutionaries. The victory emboldened the newly assembled National Convention to formally declare the end of monarchy in France, Valmy permitted the development of the Revolution and all its resultant ripple-effects, and for that it is regarded by historians as one of the most significant battles in history. As the French Revolution continued, the monarchies of Europe became concerned that revolutionary fervor would spread to their countries, the War of the First Coalition was an effort to stop the revolution, or at least contain it to France.
King Frederick William II of Prussia had the support of Great Britain, the French commander Charles Dumouriez, had been marching his army northeast to attack the Austrian Netherlands, but this plan was abandoned because of the more immediate threat to Paris. A second army under General François Kellermann was ordered to link up with him in a mutual defense and these veterans provided a professional core to steady the enthusiastic volunteer battalions. Combined, Dumouriez Army of the North and Kellermanns Army of the Centre totalled approximately 54,000 troops. Heading towards them was Brunswicks coalition army of about 84,000, all veteran Prussian and Austrian troops augmented by large complements of Hessians and the French royalist Army of Condé. The invading army handily captured Longwy on 23 August and Verdun on 2 September, in response, Dumouriez halted his advance to the Netherlands and reversed course, approaching the enemy army from its rear. From Metz, Kellermann moved to his assistance, joining him at the village of Sainte-Menehould on 19 September, the French forces were now east of the Prussians, behind their lines.
The unfavorable situation was compounded by bad weather and an increase in sickness among the troops. With few other options available, Brunswick turned back and prepared to do battle, the troops trudged laboriously through a heavy downpour – rain as of the days of Noah, in the words of Thomas Carlyle. Brunswick headed through the northern woods believing he could cut off Dumouriez, at the moment when the Prussian manœuvre was nearly completed, Kellermann advanced his left wing and took up a position on the slopes between Sainte-Menehould and Valmy. His command centered around an old windmill, and his veteran artillerists were well-placed upon its accommodating rise to begin the so-called Cannonade of Valmy, Brunswick moved toward them with about 34,000 of his troops. As they emerged from the woods, a gunnery duel ensued. The Prussian infantry made a cautious, and fruitless, effort to advance under fire across the open ground, as the Prussians wavered, a pivotal moment was reached when Kellermann raised his hat and made his famous cry of Vive la Nation.
The cry was repeated again and again by all the French army, the French troops sang La Marseillaise and Ça Ira, and a cheer went up from the French line
Battle of Neresheim
The Battle of Neresheim saw a victory of Republican French army under Jean Victor Marie Moreau over the Habsburg Austrian army of Archduke Charles, Duke of Teschen. Pursued by Moreaus Army of Rhin-et-Moselle, Charles launched an attack against the French, while the Austrian left wing saw some success, the battle degenerated into a stalemate and the archduke withdrew further into the Electorate of Bavaria. Neresheim is located in the state of Baden-Württemberg in Germany a distance of 57 kilometres northeast of Ulm, the action took place during the War of the First Coalition, part of a larger conflict called the French Revolutionary Wars. In the Rhine Campaign of 1796, two French armies successfully breached the Rhine River to invade Germany, Moreaus army in the south, Charles hoped to concentrate superior strength against one of the two French armies. To keep his enemies separated, the archduke wished to lure Moreau south of the Danube River by crossing to the south bank, to allow his columns to cross the river safely, Charles attacked the French, hoping to push them back.
Though he failed to defeat the French, the battle gave the archduke enough space to get his troops over the Danube without interference, though he had a chance to join his army to Jourdans in the north, Moreau soon crossed to the south bank in pursuit. On 8 June 1796, the Army of Rhin-et-Moselle commanded by Jean Victor Marie Moreau numbered 71,581 foot soldiers and 6,515 cavalry, not counting artillerists. The army was formed into a Right Wing under Pierre Marie Barthélemy Ferino, a Center led by Louis Desaix and a Left Wing directed by Laurent Gouvion Saint-Cyr. Saint-Cyrs two divisions were under Guillaume Philibert Duhesme,7,438 infantry and 895 cavalry, with artillerymen, Moreaus host counted a total of 79,592 soldiers. Originally, the Army of Rhin-et-Moselle was opposed by 82,776 Austrians, but 25,330 Austrians were soon transferred to Italy and Wurmser went with this force on 18 June. Maximilian Anton Karl, Count Baillet de Latour was appointed the new commander of the Army of the Upper Rhine.
The former leader of the Army of the Lower Rhine, Archduke Charles, on 24 June 1796, the Army of Rhin-et-Moselle mounted a successful assault crossing of the Rhine River in the Battle of Kehl. The French sustained losses of 150 killed and missing out of 10,065 engaged, the Swabian Regional Contingent defenders numbered 7,000 soldiers in eight foot battalions, eight horse squadrons and two artillery batteries. The Swabians suffered over 700 casualties and lost 14 guns and 22 munition wagons, Moreaus forces inflicted a second defeat on a force of 9,000 Swabians and their Austrian allies under Anton Sztáray at Renchen on 28 June. This time the French reported only 200 casualties while inflicting 550 killed and wounded on their enemies, in addition, the French captured 850 soldiers, seven guns and two munition wagons. During this period of maneuvering, Moreau switched the positions of two of his wings, Ferino still commanded the Right Wing, but Desaix now commanded the Left Wing while Saint-Cyr led the Center.
On 30 June, Latours Army of the Upper Rhine was divided into a Left Wing under Michael von Fröhlich, a Center led by Karl Aloys zu Fürstenberg, fröhlichs wing was made up of eight battalions and 12 squadrons of Austrians organized in two brigades. Fürstenbergs command consisted of 17 battalions, five companies and 10 squadrons, including Swabians and Bavarians, Latours wing had 25 battalions and 58 squadrons organized into five divisions under Prince von Fürstemberg, Johann Mészáros von Szoboszló, Johann Sigismund Riesch, Karl von Riese, and Sztáray
It played out in three phases and lasted from the spring of 1794 until 1800. The uprising was caused by the Civil Constitution of the Clergy. A first uprising attempt was carried out by the Association bretonne to defend the French monarchy and reinstate the specific laws, the first confrontations broke out in 1792 and evolved to a peasant revolt, to guerrilla warfare and eventually to full-scale battles until the Republican victory in 1800. Shorter peasant uprisings in other such as in Aveyron and Lozère were qualified as chouanneries. A petite chouannerie broke out in 1815 during the Hundred Days, the following spring, in the area around Quimper, a justice of the peace led several parishes in a rising in the name of King Louis XVI against the local authorities. During the summer of 1792, incidents occurred in the districts of Carhaix, Pontrieux, Craon, Château-Gontier and Laval, at Saint-Ouën-des-Toits, in the district of Laval, Jean Cottereau led the insurgents. His nickname probably came from his imitation of the call of the tawny owl for a recognition-signal, a reward was put on his head, but nevertheless he reached England in March 1793.
The republican administration recognised him and his brother as the leaders of the revolt, in January 1794, the Vendeans of the Vendée militaire, following the setback of the Virée de Galerne, tried to resist the infernal columns of General Turreau. During this time, groups of Chouans north of the Loire took up again in the areas crossed by the Vendeans. The Chouannerie was born on the borders of the Mayenne and of the Ille-et-Vilaine, near Fougères, Vitré, condemned to live in almost total secrecy, the Chouans knew that being captured by the Republicans would mean certain death. Most of them were motivated by a desire to avenge their relatives who had disappeared in the Virée de Galerne, in guerilla warfare, Chouans in groups of a few score or a few hundred men ambushed military detachments and stagecoaches carrying government funds. They attacked Republican towns, executed informers, constitutional priests and republicans, to oppose the Chouans, Republicans built strongholds or fortified towns which were defended by local territorial guards.
They were led by general Jean Antoine Rossignol, chief commander of the Army of the Coasts of Brest, a law enacted on 23 March 1793 mandated that captured insurgents should be executed by firing squad or by guillotine within twenty-four hours. Rossignol assembled groups of Fake Chouan outlaws in order to do as much as possible to discredit the real Chouans, murders were carried out throughout the whole war with a varying degree of intensity. For example, in the district of Fougères, in conflict between some 2,000 Chouans and a number of Republicans,219 people were assassinated or executed by Chouans and 300 by Republicans. This did not include deaths during fights, summary executions on the battlefield, the Chouannerie spread quickly to Brittany and reached the Côtes-dArmor, dominated by the Chevalier de Boishardy. On 15 March it reached Morbihan where Joseph de Fay and Béjarry assisted by Pierre Guillemot incited a peasant uprising aimed at Vannes, the insurgents were easily countered by the Republicans at the battle of Mangolérian.
However, in the Finistère and the west of the Côtes-dArmor, the Basse-Cornouaille, the Léon, georges Cadoudal and Pierre-Mathurin Mercier, nicknamed la Vendée, rescued from the battle of Savenay, moved to the Morbihan where Boulainvilliers was appointed general-in-chief of the département
War of the First Coalition
France declared war on the Habsburg Monarchy of Austria on 20 April 1792. In July 1792, an army under the Duke of Brunswick and composed mostly of Prussians joined the Austrian side and invaded France, France suffered reverses and internal strife and responded with draconian measures. The Committee of Public Safety formed and the en masse drafted all potential soldiers aged 18 to 25. The new French armies counterattacked, repelled the invaders, and advanced beyond France, the French established the Batavian Republic as a sister republic and gained Prussian recognition of French control of the Left Bank of the Rhine by the first Peace of Basel. With the Treaty of Campo Formio, the Holy Roman Empire ceded the Austrian Netherlands to France, Spain made a separate peace accord with France and the French Directory carried out plans to conquer more of the Holy Roman Empire. The First Coalition collapsed, leaving only Britain in the fighting against France. The key figure, the Holy Roman Emperor Leopold II, brother to the French Queen Marie Antoinette, had looked on the Revolution calmly.
He became more concerned as the Revolution grew further radical, although he hoped to avoid war. Dumouriez prepared an invasion of the Austrian Netherlands, where he expected the population to rise against Austrian rule. However, the revolution had thoroughly disorganized the French army, which had insufficient forces for the invasion and its soldiers fled at the first sign of battle, deserting en masse, in one case murdering General Théobald Dillon. While the revolutionary government frantically raised fresh troops and reorganized its armies, in July 1792 the invasion commenced. Brunswicks army, composed mostly of Prussian veterans, took the fortresses of Longwy, although the battle was a tactical draw, it bought time for the revolutionaries and gave a great boost to French morale. Dumouriez went on the offensive in Belgium once again, winning a victory over the Austrians at Jemappes on 6 November 1792. On 21 January the revolutionary government executed Louis XVI after a trial and this united all European governments, including Spain and the Netherlands against the Revolution.
France declared war against Britain and the Netherlands on 1 February 1793, in the course of the year 1793 the Holy Roman Empire, the kings of Portugal and Naples, and the Grand-Duke of Tuscany declared war against France. Thus the First Coalition was formed, the French government sent Citizen Genet to the United States to encourage them into entering the war on Frances side. The newly formed nation refused and remained throughout the conflict. After a victory in the Battle of Neerwinden in March, the Austrians suffered twin defeats at the battles of Wattignies, British land forces were defeated at the Battle of Hondschoote in September