Battle of Amberg

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Battle of Amberg
Part of the French Revolutionary War
Arc de Triomphe Detail.JPG
Date24 August 1796
Location
Amberg, Bavaria

Coordinates: 49°28′16″N11°49′45″E / 49.4712°N 11.8291°E / 49.4712; 11.8291
Result Austrian victory
Belligerents
Flag of France.svg Republican France Banner of the Holy Roman Emperor (after 1400).svg Habsburg Monarchy
Commanders and leaders
Flag of France.svg Jean-Baptiste Jourdan Banner of the Holy Roman Emperor (after 1400).svg Archduke Charles
Banner of the Holy Roman Emperor (after 1400).svg Wilhelm von Wartensleben
Strength
34,000 40,000
Casualties and losses
2,000 400

The Battle of Amberg, fought on 24 August 1796, resulted in an Habsburg victory by Archduke Charles over a French army led by Jean-Baptiste Jourdan. This French Revolutionary Wars engagement marked a turning point in the campaign, which had previously seen French successes.

Habsburg Monarchy former Central European empire (1526–1804)

The Habsburg Monarchy, also called the Austrian Monarchy or Danubian Monarchy, is an unofficial umbrella term among historians for the kingdoms and countries in personal union with the Habsburg Archduchy of Austria between 1526 and 1804, when it was succeeded by the Austrian Empire. The Monarchy was a composite state of territories within and outside the Holy Roman Empire, and was united only in the person of the monarch. The dynastic capital was Vienna, except from 1583 to 1611, when it was moved to Prague. From 1804 to 1867 the Habsburg Monarchy was formally unified as the Austrian Empire, and from 1867 to 1918 as the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

Archduke Charles, Duke of Teschen Archduke of Austria

Archduke Charles Louis John Joseph Laurentius of Austria, Duke of Teschen was an Austrian field-marshal, the third son of Emperor Leopold II and his wife, Maria Luisa of Spain. He was also the younger brother of Francis II, Holy Roman Emperor. Despite being epileptic, Charles achieved respect both as a commander and as a reformer of the Austrian army. He was considered one of Napoleon's more formidable opponents.

French First Republic Republic governing France, 1792–1804

In the history of France, the First Republic, officially the French Republic, was founded on 22 September 1792 during the French Revolution. The First Republic lasted until the declaration of the First Empire in 1804 under Napoleon, although the form of the government changed several times. This period was characterized by the fall of the monarchy, the establishment of the National Convention and the Reign of Terror, the Thermidorian Reaction and the founding of the Directory, and, finally, the creation of the Consulate and Napoleon's rise to power.

Contents

Background

Plans

The French planned an invasion of southern Germany in 1796. General of Division (MG) Jourdan with the Army of Sambre-et-Meuse would advance from the middle Rhine while MG Jean Moreau would cross the river farther south with the Army of Rhin-et-Moselle. Jourdan held a bridgehead over the Rhine at Neuwied while MG Jean-Baptiste Kléber commanded his left wing based on an entrenched camp at Düsseldorf. Moreau's army comprised 71,581 infantry and 6,515 cavalry. He organized these into a Right Wing under MG Pierre Ferino, a Center led by MG Louis Desaix, and a Left Wing commanded by MG Laurent de Gouvion Saint-Cyr. [1]

Rhine River in Western Europe

The Rhine is one of the major European rivers, which has its sources in Switzerland and flows in a mostly northerly direction through Germany and the Netherlands, emptying into the North Sea. The river begins in the Swiss canton of Graubünden in the southeastern Swiss Alps, forms part of the Swiss-Liechtenstein, Swiss-Austrian, Swiss-German and then the Franco-German border, then flows through the German Rhineland and the Netherlands and eventually empties into the North Sea.

Jean Victor Marie Moreau Marshal of France

Jean Victor Marie Moreau was a French general who helped Napoleon Bonaparte to power, but later became a rival and was banished to the United States.

Neuwied Place in Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany

Neuwied is a town in the north of the German state of Rhineland-Palatinate, capital of the District of Neuwied. Neuwied lies on the east bank of the Rhine, 12 km northwest of Koblenz, on the railway from Frankfurt am Main to Cologne. The town has 13 suburban administrative districts: Heimbach-Weis, Gladbach, Engers, Oberbieber, Niederbieber, Torney, Segendorf, Altwied, Block, Irlich, Feldkirchen, Heddesdorf and Rodenbach. The largest is Heimbach-Weis, with approximately 8000 inhabitants.

Field Marshal Archduke Charles commanded the Army of the Lower Rhine. Charles and his deputy, Feldzeugmeister (FZM) Wilhelm von Wartensleben faced Jourdan along the Lahn River. This stream flows in a southwesterly direction into the Rhine near Koblenz. To the south, FZM Maximilien, Count Baillet de Latour positioned his Army of the Upper Rhine to defend against Moreau.[ citation needed ]

Gustav Wilhelm Ludwig Count Wartensleben was a Swedish nobleman active in the Dutch military.

Koblenz Place in Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany

Koblenz, spelled Coblenz before 1926, is a German city situated on both banks of the Rhine where it is joined by the Moselle.

Maximilian Anton Karl, Count Baillet de Latour General in Austrian service

Count Maximilian Anton Karl Baillet de Latour was an Austrian general during the French Revolutionary Wars.

June operations

On 4 June 1796, 11,000 soldiers of the Army of the Sambre-et-Meuse, under François Lefebvre pushed back a 6,500-man Austrian force at Altenkirchen, north of the Lahn. On 6 June, the French placed Ehrenbreitstein Fortress under siege. At Wetzlar on the Lahn, Lefebvre ran into Charles' concentration of 36,000 Austrians on 15 June. Casualties were light on both sides, but Jourdan pulled back to Niewied while Kléber recoiled toward Düsseldorf. Feldmarschal-Leutnant (FML) Pál Kray's 30,000 soldiers bested Kléber's 24,000 at Uckerath east of Bonn on 19 June, prompting the Frenchman to continue his withdrawal to the north. [2]

François Joseph Lefebvre Marshal of France

François Joseph Lefebvre, Duc de Dantzig, was a French military commander during the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars and one of the original eighteen Marshals of the Empire created by Napoleon.

Altenkirchen Place in Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany

Altenkirchen is a town in Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany, capital of the district of Altenkirchen. It is located approximately 40 km east of Bonn and 50 km north of Koblenz. Altenkirchen is the seat of the VerbandsgemeindeAltenkirchen.

Ehrenbreitstein Fortress German fortress

Ehrenbreitstein Fortress is a fortress in the German state of Rhineland-Palatinate, on the east bank of the Rhine where it is joined by the Moselle, overlooking the town of Koblenz.

Meanwhile, operations of the Army of the Rhin-et-Moselle progressed more successfully for the French. On the 15th, Desaix and 30,000 French troops defeated FML Franz Petrasch's 11,000 Austrians at Maudach near Speyer. The French suffered 600 casualties while Austrian losses were three times as heavy. [3] Part of Moreau's army under MG Jean-Charles Abbatucci mounted an assault crossing over the Rhine at Kehl opposite Strasbourg on 24 June. The defenders were French émigrés and the forces of minor German states belonging to the Holy Roman Empire. They fought gamely, but were beaten with the loss of 700 men while the French lost 150. On 28 June, Desaix defeated FML Anton Sztaray's Imperial troops again at Renchen, inflicting 1,400 casualties for only 200 French killed and wounded. In the following weeks the Austrians determined some of their Imperial German allies to be unreliable and disarmed them. [4]

Speyer Place in Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany

Speyer is a town in Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany, with approximately 50,000 inhabitants. Located beside the river Rhine, Speyer is 25 km south of Ludwigshafen and Mannheim. Founded by the Romans, it is one of Germany's oldest cities. Speyer is dominated by the Speyer Cathedral, a number of churches and the Altpörtel. In the cathedral, beneath the high altar, are the tombs of eight Holy Roman Emperors and German kings.

Kehl Place in Baden-Württemberg, Germany

Kehl is a town in southwestern Germany in the Ortenaukreis, Baden-Württemberg. It is located on the river Rhine, directly opposite the French city of Strasbourg.

Strasbourg Prefecture and commune in Grand Est, France

Strasbourg is the capital and largest city of the Grand Est region of France and is the official seat of the European Parliament. Located at the border with Germany in the historic region of Alsace, it is the capital of the Bas-Rhin department.

In reaction to the defeats in the south, Archduke Charles left Wartensleben in command of 35,000 men along the Lahn, put 30,000 troops into the fortress of Mainz and rushed south with 20,000 soldiers to reinforce Latour. [5]

Mainz Place in Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany

Mainz ( MYNTS, German: [maɪnts] is the capital and largest city of Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany. The city is located on the Rhine river at its confluence with the Main river, opposite Wiesbaden on the border with Hesse. Mainz is an independent city with a population of 217,118 and forms part of the Frankfurt Rhine-Main Metropolitan Region.

July operations

After a minor clash at Rastatt on 5 July, Archduke Charles and Latour took up a position at Malsch with 32,000 troops. On 9 July, Moreau defeated the Army of the Upper Rhine at the Battle of Ettlingen. The archduke retreated 60 kilometres (37 mi) to Stuttgart, where he skirmished with the French on 21 July before continuing to withdraw east. [6] When Jourdan heard of French successes against the Army of the Upper Rhine, he went over to the offensive. After a series of minor victories at Neuwied, Giessen, and Friedberg in der Wetterau in early July, the French pressed Wartensleben back to Frankfurt am Main. [7]

August operations

Charles ordered Wartensleben to unite with him in order to crush Moreau. However, his colleague proved unwilling to cooperate. On 11 August, Moreau overpowered the outnumbered archduke at the Battle of Neresheim. The Austrian southern wing retreated to the south bank of the Danube at Donauwörth. To the north, Jourdan pushed Wartensleben back through Würzburg and Nuremberg. Kléber clashed with Kray on 17 August at Sulzbach-Rosenberg, 14 kilometres (8.7 mi) west of Amberg. [8] Charles' strategy of falling back before the two superior French armies while seeking an opportunity to combine against one of them had so far failed.[ citation needed ]

Battle

Reconnaissance

A change in Austrian fortunes came when an alert cavalry brigadier, General-Major Friedrich Joseph, Count of Nauendorf detected an opportunity during a wide reconnaissance. He sent a note to Archduke Charles, "If your Royal Highness will or can advance 12,000 men against Jourdan's rear, he is lost." [9] Charles left 30,000 men under Latour to watch Moreau, and hurried north with 27,000 to find Jourdan still pressing Wartensleben near Amberg. On 22 August at Neumarkt in der Oberpfalz, Charles brushed aside one of Jourdan's divisions under MG Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte. [10] This placed the archduke squarely on the French right rear.[ citation needed ]

Combat

The total forces available were 48,000 Austrians and 45,000 French. [11] On 24 August, Charles struck the French right flank while Wartensleben attacked frontally. The French Army of Sambre-et-Meuse was overcome by weight of numbers and Jourdan retired northwest. The Austrians lost only 400 casualties of the 40,000 men they brought onto the field. French losses were 1,200 killed and wounded, plus 800 captured out of 34,000 engaged. Instead of supporting his colleague, Moreau pushed further east. [12]

Results

On the same day as the Battle of Amberg, Moreau inflicted a sharp defeat on Latour at the Battle of Friedberg in Bavaria. On 1 September, Moreau clashed with Latour and Nauendorf at Geisenfeld, 16 kilometres (9.9 mi) southeast of Ingolstadt. [13] At the same time, Charles' victorious Austrians pursued Jourdan's beaten army. The widening gap between the two French armies finally caused Moreau to abandon his gains and pull back toward Ulm. The Battle of Würzburg, fought on 3 September, would determine the winner of the campaign.[ citation needed ]

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Jean-Baptiste Jourdan, 1st Comte Jourdan, enlisted as a private in the French royal army and rose to command armies during the French Revolutionary Wars. Emperor Napoleon I of France named him a Marshal of France in 1804 and he also fought in the Napoleonic Wars. After 1815, he became reconciled to the Bourbon Restoration. He was one of the most successful commanders of the French Revolutionary Army.

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Battle of Würzburg battle

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The Battle of Friedberg was fought on 24 August 1796 between a First French Republic army led by Jean Victor Marie Moreau and a Habsburg Austrian army led by Maximilian Anton Karl, Count Baillet de Latour. The French army, which was advancing eastward on the south side of the Danube, managed to catch an isolated Austrian infantry regiment. In the ensuing combat, the Austrians were cut to pieces. Friedberg is a Bavarian town located on the Lech River near Augsburg. The action was fought during the War of the First Coalition.

Rhine Campaign of 1796 Last campaign of the War of the First Coalition, part of the French Revolutionary Wars

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Jacques Philippe Bonnaud or Bonneau commanded a French combat division in a number of actions during the French Revolutionary Wars. He enlisted in the French Royal Army as cavalryman in 1776 and was a non-commissioned officer in 1789. He became a captain in the 12th Chasseurs à Cheval Regiment in 1792. The unit fought at Valmy, Jemappes, Aldenhoven, Neerwinden, Raismes, Caesar's Camp and Wattignies, and he was wounded twice. In January 1794 he was promoted to general officer. In April 1794, he reluctantly accepted command of a division that had been cut to pieces at Villers-en-Cauchies and Troisvilles, and this at a time when failed generals often were sent to the guillotine. He led his troops at Courtrai, Tourcoing and in the invasion of the Dutch Republic. He fought in the War in the Vendée the following year, briefly leading the Army of the Coasts of Cherbourg. In the Rhine Campaign of 1796 he led a cavalry division in combat at Amberg, Würzburg and Limburg. He was badly wounded in the latter action and never recovered, dying at Bonn six months later. BONNEAU is one of the names inscribed under the Arc de Triomphe, on Column 6.

Battle of Limburg (1796)

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The Battle of Wetzlar saw a Habsburg Austrian army led by Archduke Charles, Duke of Teschen launch an attack on a Republican French army under Jean-Baptiste Jourdan in its defenses on the Lahn River. The War of the First Coalition action ended in an Austrian victory when most of the French army began retreating to the west bank of the Rhine River. On the 19th the combat of Uckerath was fought as the Austrians pursued the French left wing. Wetzlar is located in the state of Hesse in Germany a distance of 66 kilometres (41 mi) north of Frankfurt.

Battle of Kehl (1796)

During the Battle of Kehl, a Republican French force under the direction of Jean Charles Abbatucci mounted an amphibious crossing of the Rhine River against a defending force of soldiers from the Swabian Circle. In this action of the War of the First Coalition, the French drove the Swabians from their positions in Kehl and subsequently controlled the bridgehead on both sides of the Rhine.

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The Battle of Maudach occurred on June 15th 1796, between the French Revolutionary Army and the Army of the First Coalition. This was the opening action of the Rhine Campaign of 1796 on the Upper Rhine, slightly north of the town of Kehl. The Coalition, commanded by Franz Petrasch, lost 10 percent of its manpower missing, killed or wounded. It was fought at the village of Maudach, southwest of Ludwigshafen on the Rhine river opposite Mannheim. Maudach lies 10 km (6 mi) northwest of Speyer and today is a southwest suburb of Ludwigshafen; a principal town on the Rhine river in 1796.

In the Rhine Campaign of 1796, two First Coalition armies under the overall command of Archduke Charles outmaneuvered and defeated two Republican French armies. This was the last campaign of the War of the First Coalition, part of the French Revolutionary Wars.

References

  1. Smith, p 111
  2. Smith, p 114-115
  3. Smith, p 114
  4. Smith, p 115-116
  5. Smith, p 115
  6. Smith, p 117
  7. Smith, p 116-117
  8. Smith, p 119-120
  9. Liddell-Hart, p 97
  10. Smith, p 120
  11. Eggenberger, p 15
  12. Smith, p 120-121
  13. Smith, p 121

Bibliography