Battle of Jemappes

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Battle of Jemappes
Part of the French Revolutionary Wars
Bataille de Jemmapes, 6 novembre 1792.jpg
Battle of Jemappes
Date6 November 1792
Result French victory
Flag of France (1790-1794).svg France Banner of the Holy Roman Emperor (after 1400).svg Holy Roman Empire
Commanders and leaders
Flag of France (1790-1794).svg Charles Dumouriez Banner of the Holy Roman Emperor (after 1400).svg Albert Casimir, Duke of Teschen
Banner of the Holy Roman Emperor (after 1400).svg Count of Clerfayt
100 guns
56 guns
Casualties and losses
2,000 1,241
5 guns
Battle of Jemappes Bataille Jemmapes.jpg
Battle of Jemappes

The Battle of Jemappes (6 November 1792) took place near the town of Jemappes in Hainaut, Austrian Netherlands (now Belgium), near Mons during the War of the First Coalition, part of the French Revolutionary Wars. One of the first major offensive battles of the war, it was a victory for the armies of the infant French Republic, and saw the French Armée du Nord, which included many inexperienced volunteers, defeat a substantially smaller regular Austrian army.

Jemappes Place in Wallonia, Belgium

Jemappes is a Walloon town in south-western Belgium, province Hainaut. Since 1973, it is part of the city Mons. Jemappes is known for the Battle of Jemappes between the French and Austrian armies in 1792.

County of Hainaut countship

The County of Hainaut, sometimes given the spelling Hainault, was a historical lordship within the medieval Holy Roman Empire with its capital eventually established at Mons, and named after the river Haine, both now in Belgium. Besides Mons, it included the city of Valenciennes, now in France. It consisted of what is now the Belgian province of Hainaut and the eastern part of the French département of Nord.

Austrian Netherlands

The Austrian Netherlands was the larger part of the Southern Netherlands between 1714 and 1797. The period began with the Austrian acquisition of the former Spanish Netherlands under the Treaty of Rastatt in 1714 and lasted until Revolutionary France annexed the territory during the aftermath of the Battle of Sprimont in 1794 and the Peace of Basel in 1795. Austria, however, did not relinquish its claim over the province until 1797 in the Treaty of Campo Formio.


General Charles François Dumouriez, in command of an army of French Revolutionary volunteers, faced the Imperial army of Field Marshal Duke Albert of Saxe-Teschen and his second-in-command François de Croix, Count of Clerfayt. The French, who outnumbered their opponents by about three-to-one, launched a series of enthusiastic but uncoordinated attacks against the Austrian position on a ridge. At length, the French seized a portion of the ridge and the Austrians were unable to drive them away. Saxe-Teschen conceded defeat by ordering a withdrawal.

Charles François Dumouriez French general

Charles-François du Périer Dumouriez was a French general during the French Revolutionary Wars. He shared the victory at Valmy with General François Christophe Kellermann, but later deserted the Revolutionary Army, and became a royalist intriguer during the reign of Napoleon as well as an adviser to the British government. Dumouriez is one of the names inscribed under the Arc de Triomphe, on Column 3.

French Revolution Revolution in France, 1789 to 1798

The French Revolution was a period of far-reaching social and political upheaval in France and its colonies beginning in 1789. The Revolution overthrew the monarchy, established a republic, catalyzed violent periods of political turmoil, and finally culminated in a dictatorship under Napoleon who brought many of its principles to areas he conquered in Western Europe and beyond. Inspired by liberal and radical ideas, the Revolution profoundly altered the course of modern history, triggering the global decline of absolute monarchies while replacing them with republics and liberal democracies. Through the Revolutionary Wars, it unleashed a wave of global conflicts that extended from the Caribbean to the Middle East. Historians widely regard the Revolution as one of the most important events in human history.

A military volunteer is a person who enlists in military service by free will, and is not a conscript, mercenary, or a foreign legionnaire. Volunteers sometimes enlist to fight in the armed forces of a foreign country, for example during the Spanish Civil War. Military volunteers are essential for the operation of volunteer militaries. Many armies, including the U.S. Army, formerly distinguished between "Important Volunteers" enlisted during a war, and "regulars" who served on long-term basis.

Jemappes was won by costly but effective charges against the Austrians' prepared position. Dumouriez overran the Austrian Netherlands within a month, but lost it at the Battle of Neerwinden in March. The French would not reconquer the Austrian Netherlands until the summer of 1794.

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 of the Habsburg Monarchy 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.


In the summer of 1792 Charles Dumouriez, the French foreign minister and commander of the Armée du Nord, had believed that the best way to prevent an Austrian and Prussian invasion of France was to invade the Austrian Netherlands, but the Allies had launched their invasion before Dumouriez was ready to move, and he had been forced to move south. The Allied invasion had been at Valmy on 20 September where the French army stood up to an artillery bombardment, and proved that it would not flee at the first sign of opposition The Allied commander, the Duke of Brunswick, was not willing to risk a full-scale assault on the French line, and withdrew after it.

Battle of Valmy victory by the army of France during the Revolutionary Wars that followed the French Revolution

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.

This left Dumouriez free to move north, to first raise the siege to Lille in late September and into early October, and then to launch his long-planned invasion of the Austrian Netherlands. His original plan for a three-pronged invasion had to be changed, as the promised resources to achieve it proved unavailable, and instead, at the end of October, he concentrated most of his men in front of Valenciennes and marched towards Mons, and the way to Brussels.

Siege of Lille (1792)

The Siege of Lille saw a Republican French garrison under Jean-Baptiste André Ruault de La Bonnerie hold Lille against an assault by a Habsburg Austrian army commanded by Duke Albert of Saxe-Teschen. Though the city was fiercely bombarded, the French successfully withstood the Austrian attack in the War of the First Coalition action. Because the Austrians were unable to completely encircle the city, the French were able to continuously send in reinforcements. After news of the French victory over the Prussians at Valmy, Albert withdrew his troops and siege cannons. The next battle was at Jemappes in November. The Column of the Goddess monument was completed in 1845 to commemorate the siege.

Valenciennes Subprefecture and commune in Hauts-de-France, France

Valenciennes is a commune in the Nord department in northern France.

Mons Municipality in French Community, Belgium

Mons is a Walloon city and municipality, and the capital of the Belgian province of Hainaut. The Mons municipality includes the former communes of Cuesmes, Flénu, Ghlin, Hyon, Nimy, Obourg, Jemappes, Ciply, Harmignies, Harveng, Havré, Maisières, Mesvin, Nouvelles, Saint-Denis, Saint-Symphorien, Spiennes and Villers-Saint-Ghislain.

Opposing forces


The Austrian army was commanded by Duke Albert of Saxe-Teschen, the governor of the Austrian Netherlands. Although he had more than 20,000 troops available, they were scattered in a long defensive line, and so at Jemappes he fought with only 11,600 infantry, 2,170 cavalry and 56 guns. With this power, he tried to defend the 5-mile (8.0 km) long Cuesmes ridge which ran from Mons in the Austrian left to Jemappes on the right side.

The Austrian right was commanded by Franz Freiherr von Lilien, the center by Franz Sebastian de Croix, Count of Clerfayt and the left by Johann Peter Freiherr von Beaulieu. Lilien had seven companies and four infantry battalions and three squadrons of cavalry on their left while Clerfayt had three infantry battalions and four squadrons around the village of Cuesmes and Beaulieu had three battalions of infantry on the hills south of Bertaimont with five companies of infantry and a squadron of cavalry guarding his left. Two other companies were further to the left around Mont Palisel and an infantry battalion was at Mons.

François Sébastien Charles Joseph de Croix, Count of Clerfayt Austrian marshal

François Sébastien Charles Joseph de Croix, Count of Clerfayt, a Walloon, joined the army of the Habsburg Monarchy and soon fought in the Seven Years' War. Later in his military career, he led Austrian troops in the war against Ottoman Turkey. During the French Revolutionary Wars he saw extensive fighting and rose to the rank of Field Marshal.

Cuesmes is a village next to the Belgian town Mons in the administration of the town of Mons, since 1971 in the province of Hainaut. The artist Vincent van Gogh lived here at one time, at Maison Van Gogh.

The Austrian army positioned themselves on the marshes around the Trouille groves and rivers, with two dams to their rear. The only other way for a retreat was via Mons.


Dumouriez had twice as many men as the Austrians. His own Armée du Nord contained 32,000 infantry, 3,800 cavalry and 100 guns and was supported in Jemappes by a further 4,000 men and 15 guns under General François Harville. Dumouriez's infantry battalions contained thirteen volunteers from 1792.[ clarification needed ] Harville's men were also volunteers, but most of the older commanders were either experienced soldiers or aristocrats. The most obvious example was the commander of the French center, the Duke of Chartres, who had assumed the name of General Egalite, and would later become King Louis-Philippe of France. The right wing was commanded by General Pierre de Ruel, marquis de Beurnonville and the left by General Louis Marie de la Caussade Ferrand who also carried the name Jean Henri Becays Ferrand. Harville was to reinforce the right.

Dumouriez planned to use his army's numbers to overtake the Austrian position. The plan was for Harville and Beurnonville to attack first, and surround the weak Austrian left. Ferrand would then capture Quaregnon before Jemappes. Beurnonville would then attack the Austrian center while Harville moved to Mont Palisel to cut off the Austrian retreat.


The monument of the battle in Jemappes. 0 Jemappes - Monument du Coq (1).JPG
The monument of the battle in Jemappes.

See Jemappes 1792 Order of Battle for details of the Austrian and French organizations.

Saxe-Teschen entrenched his 11,628 infantry, 2,168 cavalry and 56 guns along the Cuesmes Ridge just a few kilometers west of Mons. The Austrian artillery included fourteen 12-lb cannon, thirty-six 6-lb and 3-lb cannon and six 7-lb howitzers. [1] The north end of the position, defended by Feldmarschall-Leutnant Franz Freiherr von Lilien, was anchored on the village of Jemappes. Feldzeugmeister Count Clerfayt commanded the center and Feldmarschall-Leutnant Johann Peter Beaulieu led the left wing. The Austrian right wing faced to the west, while the center and the left wings faced toward the southwest. [2] The village of Cuesmes lay behind the Austrian left. One flaw in the position was that an Austrian retreat could only be made across a single bridge over the Hain River. [1]

Dumouriez had 32,000 infantry, 3,800 cavalry and 100 artillery pieces. He expected to be joined by an additional 4,000 troops on the right under General Louis Auguste Juvénal des Ursins d'Harville. (Digby Smith gave a total of 40,000 infantry and 3,000 cavalry.) [1] Dumouriez planned to turn both Austrian flanks. Accordingly, he divided his army into two wings, giving General Jean Henri Becays Ferrand command of the left wing and General Pierre de Ruel, marquis de Beurnonville control of the right wing. The French army was made up of a motley collection of royal army, volunteer, and national guard units.

The French made a series of "ill-coordinated but enthusiastic" [3] attacks which began at dawn and continued throughout the morning. With momentum stalling Dumouriez ordered a renewed assault at noon. The Duke of Chartres sent a massive French column at the center of the ridge. This gained a foothold which the Austrians could not dislodge. Some French soldiers also enveloped the enemy right, threatening the Austrian rear. In response, Saxe-Teschen withdrew his right and center into Mons. Beaulieu ably covered the retreat with his left wing.


The French reported approximately 650 dead and 1,300 wounded. The Austrians reported 305 dead, 513 wounded, plus 423 men and five guns captured. Many of the Austrian casualties were caused by the plentiful French artillery. The Bender Infantry Regiment Nr. 41 suffered especially heavy casualties, losing 14 officers and 400 rank and file. Mons surrendered to the French the day after the battle and Brussels fell on 14 November. The French populace "went wild with joy" at this first offensive victory of the war. [1]

At first glance Jemappes was not an impressive French victory. The Austrians had suffered 818 casualties, and lost another 423 men taken prisoner, while France had a higher casualty rate and had failed to prevent the escape of a much smaller army to defend a position of danger. However, in the context of the situation in 1792, with the French army in chaos due to exile of many of its experienced officers, it was a great success. The victory at Jemappes, achieved by inexperienced volunteers over the Austrian regulars, greatly increased the confidence of the revolutionary government in Paris, and encouraged their tendency to aggressive warfare.

In the short-term Jemappes gave the French control of the Austrian Netherlands. Mons opened its doors to Dumouriez, and he remained there until 12 November. He then moved to Brussels, fighting a rearguard action in Anderlecht on 13 November, before capturing the city on 14 November. This first French occupation of Belgium would be short-lived, but in the few months that the revolutionaries managed to alienate the population, imposing their ideas of freedom on a conservative population. In 1793 Dumouriez was forced to flee into exile, but his victory at Jemappes was an important step in the direction of the military triumphs of the French Republic. In addition, it ensured that the majority of the battles fought in 1793 would occur outside the borders of France. [4]


  1. 1 2 3 4 Smith, p 31
  2. Chandler, map, p 214
  3. Chandler, p 214
  4. Jules Michelet (2009). Geschichte der Französischen Revolution (in French). Band 1. Frankfurt am Main: Zweitausendeins. pp. 1024–1036. ISBN   978-3-86150-956-1. Neudruck der Ausgabe Eichborn Verlag 1988.

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Coordinates: 50°27′21″N3°53′19″E / 50.4559°N 3.8886°E / 50.4559; 3.8886