Battle of Biberach (1800)

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Coordinates: 48°06″N9°48″E / 48.00167°N 9.01333°E / 48.00167; 9.01333

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Battle of Biberach (1800)
Part of the French Revolutionary Wars
St. Martin Biberach an der Riss.jpg
St. Martin's Church in the old town of Biberach
Date9 May 1800
Location
Result French victory
Belligerents
Flag of France.svg French First Republic Banner of the Holy Roman Emperor (after 1400).svg Habsburg Austria
Commanders and leaders
Flag of France.svg Laurent Saint-Cyr Banner of the Holy Roman Emperor (after 1400).svg Pál Kray
Strength
25,000 20,000
Casualties and losses
2,000 4,000

The Battle of Biberach on 9 May 1800 saw a French First Republic corps under Laurent Gouvion Saint-Cyr engage part of a Habsburg Austrian army led by Pál Kray. After an engagement in which the Austrians suffered twice as many casualties as the French, Kray withdrew to the east. The combat occurred during the War of the Second Coalition, part of the French Revolutionary Wars. Biberach an der Riss is located 35 kilometres (22 mi) southwest of Ulm.

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.

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.

War of the Second Coalition Attempt to contain or eliminate Revolutionary France

The War of the Second Coalition (1798–1802) was the second war on revolutionary France by the European monarchies, led by Britain, Austria and Russia, and including the Ottoman Empire, Portugal, Naples, various German monarchies and Sweden. Their goal was to contain the expansion of the French Republic and to restore the monarchy in France. They failed to overthrow the revolutionary regime and French territorial gains since 1793 were confirmed. In the Treaty of Lunéville in 1801, France held all of its previous gains and obtained new lands in Tuscany, Italy, while Austria was granted Venetia and the Dalmatian coast. Britain and France signed the Treaty of Amiens in March 1802, bringing an interval of peace in Europe that lasted for 14 months. By May 1803 Britain and France were again at war and in 1805 Britain assembled the Third Coalition to resume the war against France.

In late April 1800, a French army under the command of Jean Victor Marie Moreau crossed the Rhine river near Basel. At Stockach and Engen on 3 May, Moreau captured Kray's base of supplies and forced him into retreat. Two days later, Kray confronted his pursuers at Battle of Messkirch but was beaten again. On the 9th, the corps of Gouvion Saint-Cyr caught up with a part of Kray's army and the two sides battled again.

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.

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.

Basel Place in Basel-Stadt, Switzerland

Basel or Basle is a city in northwestern Switzerland on the river Rhine. Basel is Switzerland's third-most-populous city with about 180,000 inhabitants.

Background

Although the First Coalition forces achieved several initial victories at Verdun, Kaiserslautern, Neerwinden, Mainz, Amberg and Würzburg, the efforts of Napoleon Bonaparte in northern Italy pushed Austrian forces back and resulted in the negotiation of the Peace of Leoben (17 April 1797) and the subsequent Treaty of Campo Formio (October 1797). [1] This treaty proved difficult to administer. Austria was slow to give up some of the Venetian territories. A Congress convened at Rastatt for the purposes of deciding which southwestern German states would be mediatised to compensate the dynastic houses for territorial losses, but was unable to make any progress. Supported by French republican forces, Swiss insurgents staged several uprisings, ultimately causing the overthrow of the Swiss Confederation after 18 months of civil war. [2] By early 1799, the French Directory had become impatient with stalling tactics employed by Austria. The uprising in Naples raised further alarms, and recent gains in Switzerland suggested the timing was fortuitous to venture on another campaign in northern Italy and southwestern Germany. [3]

Battle of Verdun (1792) battle

The first Battle of Verdun was fought on 29 August 1792 between French Revolutionary forces and a Prussian army during the opening months of the War of the First Coalition. The Prussians were victorious, gaining a clear westward path to Paris.

The Battle of Kaiserslautern saw a Coalition army under Charles William Ferdinand, Duke of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel oppose a Republican French army led by Lazare Hoche. Three days of conflict resulted in a victory by the Prussians and their Electoral Saxon allies as they turned back repeated French attacks. The War of the First Coalition combat was fought near the city of Kaiserslautern in the modern-day state of Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany, which is located about 60 kilometres (37 mi) west of Mannheim.

Battle of Neerwinden (1793) 1793 battle between the French and the First Coalition

The Battle of Neerwinden saw a Republican French army led by Charles François Dumouriez attack a Coalition army commanded by Prince Josias of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld. The Coalition army's Habsburg Austrians together with a small contingent of allied Dutch Republic troops repulsed all French assaults after bitter fighting and Dumouriez conceded defeat, withdrawing from the field. The French position in the Austrian Netherlands swiftly collapsed, ending the threat to the Dutch Republic and allowing Austria to regain control of her lost province. The War of the First Coalition engagement was fought at Neerwinden, located 57 kilometres (35 mi) east of Brussels in present-day Belgium.

The Battles of Stockach and Engen in May 1800, followed by a larger battle at Messkirch, followed the Hohentwiel capitulation to the French Hohentwiel-luftbild.jpg
The Battles of Stockach and Engen in May 1800, followed by a larger battle at Messkirch, followed the Hohentwiel capitulation to the French

At the beginning of 1800, the armies of France and Austria faced each other across the Rhine. Feldzeugmeister Pál Kray led approximately 120,000 troops. In addition to his Austrian regulars, his force included 12,000 men from the Electorate of Bavaria, 6,000 troops from the Duchy of Württemberg, 5,000 soldiers of low quality from the Archbishopric of Mainz, and 7,000 militiamen from the County of Tyrol. Of these, 25,000 men were deployed east of Lake Constance (Bodensee) to protect the Vorarlberg. Kray posted his main body of 95,000 soldiers in the L-shaped angle where the Rhine changes direction from a westward flow along the northern border of Switzerland to a northward flow along the eastern border of France. Unwisely, Kray set up his main magazine at Stockach, near the northwestern end of Lake Constance, only a day's march from French-held Switzerland. [4]

Electorate of Bavaria

The Electorate of Bavaria was an independent hereditary electorate of the Holy Roman Empire from 1623 to 1806, when it was succeeded by the Kingdom of Bavaria.

Duchy of Württemberg former German state (1495-1806)

The Duchy of Württemberg was a duchy located in the south-western part of the Holy Roman Empire. It was a member of the Holy Roman Empire from 1495 to 1806. The dukedom's long survival for nearly four centuries was mainly due to its size, being larger than its immediate neighbors. During the Protestant Reformation, Württemberg faced great pressure from the Holy Roman Empire to remain a member. Württemberg resisted repeated French invasions in the 17th and 18th centuries. Württemberg was directly in the path of French and Austrian armies who were engaged in the long rivalry between the House of Bourbon and the House of Habsburg. In 1803, Napoleon raised the duchy to be the Electorate of Württemberg of the Holy Roman Empire. On 1 January 1806, the last Elector assumed the title of King of Württemberg. Later that year, on 6 August 1806, the last Emperor, Francis II, abolished the Holy Roman Empire.

County of Tyrol Former county of Austria

The (Princely) County of Tyrol was an estate of the Holy Roman Empire established about 1140. Originally a jurisdiction under the sovereignty of the Counts of Tyrol, it was inherited by the Counts of Gorizia in 1253 and finally fell to the Austrian House of Habsburg in 1363. In 1804 the Princely County of Tyrol, unified with the secularised Prince-Bishoprics of Trent and Brixen, became a crown land of the Austrian Empire in 1804 and from 1867 a Cisleithanian crown land of Austria-Hungary.

The Battle of Messkirch was won from the high ground. Votivbild Schlacht bei Messkirch mit Rahmen.jpg
The Battle of Messkirch was won from the high ground.

General of Division Jean Victor Marie Moreau commanded a modestly-equipped army of 137,000 French troops. Of these, 108,000 troops were available for field operations while the other 29,000 watched the Swiss border and held the Rhine fortresses. First Consul Napoleon Bonaparte offered a plan of operations based on outflanking the Austrians by a push from Switzerland, but Moreau declined to follow it. Rather, Moreau planned to cross the Rhine near Basel where the river swung to the north. A French column would distract Kray from Moreau's true intentions by crossing the Rhine from the west. Bonaparte wanted Claude Lecourbe's corps to be detached to Italy after the initial battles, but Moreau had other plans. [5] Through a series of complicated maneuvers in which he flanked, double flanked, and reflanked Kray's army, Moreau's army lay on the eastern slope of the Black Forest, while portions of Kray's army was still guarded the passes on the other side. [6] Battles at Engen and Stockach were fought on 3 May 1800 between the army of the French First Republic under Jean Victor Marie Moreau and the army of Habsburg Austria led by Pál Kray. The fighting near Engen resulted in a stalemate with heavy losses on both sides. However, while the two main armies were engaged at Engen, Claude Lecourbe captured Stockach from its Austrian defenders under the Joseph, Prince of Lorraine-Vaudemont. The loss of this main supply base at Stockach compelled Kray to order a retreat to Messkirch, where they enjoyed a more favourable defensive position. It also meant, however, that any retreat by Kray into Austria via Switzerland and the Vorarlberg was cut off. [7]

Claude Lecourbe French general during the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic wars

Claude Jacques Lecourbe, born in Besançon, was a French general during the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic wars.

Black Forest mountain range in Baden-Württemberg, southwestern Germany

The Black Forest is a large forested mountain range in the state of Baden-Württemberg in southwest Germany. It is bounded by the Rhine valley to the west and south. Its highest peak is the Feldberg with an elevation of 1,493 metres (4,898 ft). The region is roughly oblong in shape with a length of 160 km (99 mi) and breadth of up to 50 km (31 mi).

The [Second] Battle of Stockach and Engen was fought on 3 May 1800 between the army of the First French Republic under Jean Victor Marie Moreau and the army of Habsburg Austria led by Pál Kray. The fighting near Engen resulted in a stalemate with heavy losses on both sides. However, while the two main armies were engaged at Engen, Claude Lecourbe captured Stockach from its Austrian defenders. The loss of his main supply base at Stockach compelled Kray to order a retreat. Stockach is located near the northwestern end of Lake Constance while Engen is 20 kilometres (12 mi) west of Stockach. The action occurred during the War of the Second Coalition, part of the French Revolutionary Wars.

Jean Victor Moreau commanded the French Army of the Rhine. Jean-Victor Moreau.jpg
Jean Victor Moreau commanded the French Army of the Rhine.

On 4 and 5 May, the French launched repeated and fruitless assaults on the Messkirch. At nearby Krumbach, where the Austrians also had the superiority of position and force, the 1st Demi-Brigade took the village and the heights around it, which gave them a commanding aspect over Messkirch. Subsequently, Kray withdrew his forces to Sigmaringen, followed closely by the French.

Forces

At the beginning of March, Bonaparte ordered Moreau to form his army into several all-arms army corps. By 20 March 1800, Moreau organized four corps, with the last one serving as an army reserve. [5] The Right Wing was led by Lecourbe and included four divisions. These units were General of Division Dominique Vandamme's 9,632 infantry and 540 cavalry, General of Division Joseph Hélie Désiré Perruquet de Montrichard's 6,998 infantry, General of Division Jean Thomas Guillaume Lorge's 8,238 infantry and 464 cavalry, and General of Division Étienne Marie Antoine Champion de Nansouty's 1,500 grenadiers and 1,280 cavalry. [8]

The Center was led by General of Division Laurent Gouvion Saint-Cyr and comprised four divisions. These were General of Division Michel Ney's 7,270 infantry and 569 cavalry, General of Division Louis Baraguey d'Hilliers' 8,340 infantry and 542 cavalry, General of Division Jean Victor Tharreau's 8,326 infantry and 611 cavalry, and General of Brigade Nicolas Ernault des Bruslys' 2,474 light infantry and 1,616 cavalry. [9]

The Left Wing was commanded by General of Division Gilles Joseph Martin Brunteau Saint-Suzanne and included four divisions. These units were General of Division Claude-Sylvestre Colaud's 2,740 infantry and 981 cavalry, General of Division Joseph Souham's 4,687 infantry and 1,394 cavalry, General of Division Claude Juste Alexandre Legrand's 5,286 infantry and 1,094 cavalry, and General of Division Henri François Delaborde's 2,573 infantry and 286 cavalry. [9]

fields outside Biberach an der Ris, where much of the fighting took place. In the background is the Zugspitze, the highest mountain in Germany, which lies on the border with Austria and Bavaria. Ringschnait.JPG
fields outside Biberach an der Ris, where much of the fighting took place. In the background is the Zugspitze, the highest mountain in Germany, which lies on the border with Austria and Bavaria.

Moreau personally directed the Reserve which was made up of three infantry and one cavalry divisions. These were General of Division Antoine Guillaume Delmas de la Coste's 8,635 infantry and 1,031 cavalry, General of Division Antoine Richepanse's 6,848 infantry and 1,187 cavalry, General of Division Charles Leclerc's 6,035 infantry and 963 cavalry, and General of Division Jean-Joseph Ange d'Hautpoul's 1,504 heavy cavalry. [9]

There were additional troops under Moreau's overall leadership. These included General of Division Louis-Antoine-Choin de Montchoisy's 7,715 infantry and 519 cavalry, detached to hold Switzerland. Fortresses in Alsace and along the Rhine were defended by forces under Generals of Division François Xavier Jacob Freytag, 2,935 infantry; Joseph Gilot, 750 cavalry; Alexandre Paul Guerin de Joyeuse de Chateauneuf-Randon, 3,430 infantry and 485 cavalry; Antoine Laroche Dubouscat, 3,001 infantry and 91 cavalry; and Jean François Leval, 5,640 infantry and 426 cavalry. [9]

Notes

  1. Timothy Blanning, The French Revolutionary Wars, New York, Oxford University Press, pp. 41–59.
  2. Blanning, pp. 200–280.
  3. Blanning, p. 200.
  4. Arnold, 197-199
  5. 1 2 Arnold, 199-201
  6. W.M. Sloane, Life of Napoleon. France, 1896, p. 109.
  7. Sloane, 109
  8. Smith, 177
  9. 1 2 3 4 Smith, 178

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References