Battle of Kircheib

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Battle of Kircheib
Part of War of the First Coalition
Schlacht bei Kircheipred.png
Section of a 1796 map from the book Grundsätze der Strategie by Archduke Charles of Austria
Date19 June 1796
Various villages in Westerwald, Rhineland-Palatinate,modern-day Germany
Result Austrian Victory
France 1804 Flag of France.svg France Habsburg Monarchy Flag of the Habsburg Monarchy.svg Austria
Commanders and leaders
France 1804 Flag of France.svg Jean-Baptiste Kléber Habsburg Monarchy Flag of the Habsburg Monarchy.svg Paul Kray of Krajowa
24,000 14,000
Casualties and losses
1,500 400

The Battle of Kircheib (German : Schlacht bei Kircheib) was a military engagement during the War of the First Coalition. On 19 June 1796, French and Austrian troops clashed at Kircheib in the Westerwald uplands in present-day Germany. Sometimes it is called the Battle of Uckerath (Schlacht bei Uckerath) after another nearby village, Uckerath, which belongs today to Hennef.

German language West Germanic language

German is a West Germanic language that is mainly spoken in Central Europe. It is the most widely spoken and official or co-official language in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, South Tyrol in Italy, the German-speaking Community of Belgium and Liechtenstein. It is one of the three official languages of Luxembourg and a co-official language in the Opole Voivodeship in Poland. The languages that are most similar to the German are the other members of the West Germanic language branch, including Afrikaans, Dutch, English, the Frisian languages, Low German/Low Saxon, Luxembourgish, and Yiddish. There are strong similarities in vocabulary with Danish, Norwegian and Swedish, although those belong to the North Germanic group. German is the second most widely spoken Germanic language, after English.

War of the First Coalition 1790s war to contain Revolutionary France

The War of the First Coalition is the traditional name of the wars that several European powers fought between 1792 and 1797 against the French First Republic. Despite the collective strength of these nations compared with France, they were not really allied and fought without much apparent coordination or agreement. Each power had its eye on a different part of France it wanted to appropriate after a French defeat, which never occurred.

Habsburg Monarchy Former monarchy in Europe from 1282 to 1918

Habsburg Monarchy is an umbrella term used by historians for the lands and kingdoms of the House of Habsburg, especially for those of the Austrian branch. Although from 1438 until 1806 the head of the House of Habsburg was also Holy Roman Emperor, the empire itself is not considered a part of the Habsburg Monarchy.



Paul Kray of Krajowa Pal Kray.jpg
Paul Kray of Krajowa

In 1796, French troops [1] under General Jean-Baptiste Kléber launched a major campaign [2] in the Westerwald on the orders of the commander-in-chief Jean-Baptiste Jourdan. A camp was set up on the hill spur of Jungeroth, today part of Buchholz. This site was particularly suitable for several reasons. First, it was protected by steep slopes on three sides as well as the Hanfbach and Scheußbach streams. Furthermore, the Steiner Berg, Priesterberg and Heppenberg hills as well as the High Road from Cologne to Frankfurt were nearby. The camp was extensively fortified with protective banks and ditches. On 4 June 1796, the French army struck camp and set off for battle. At the Battle of Altenkirchen, the Austrians, under the command of Prince Ferdinand Frederick Augustus of Württemberg, were pushed back behind the River Lahn. On 15 June, however, the French were defeated at Wetzlar by the Austrians under the command of Archduke Charles of Austria and retreated back to camp. They planned a further withdrawal to Düsseldorf over the succeeding days.

Jean-Baptiste Kléber French general

Jean-Baptiste Kléber was a French general during the French Revolutionary Wars. His military career started in Habsburg service, but his plebeian ancestry hindered his opportunities. Eventually, he volunteered for the French Army in 1792 and quickly rose through the ranks.

Jean-Baptiste Jourdan Marshal of France

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.

Hanfbach River in Germany

Hanfbach is a river of North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. It flows into the Sieg in Hennef.

Course of the battle

Map of the Battle of Kircheib Karte Schlacht von Kircheib.JPG
Map of the Battle of Kircheib

On 19 June 1796 at two o'clock in the morning, the Austrians, under Field Marshal Lieutenant Paul Kray, attacked the French camp at Jungeroth (near Buchholz/Uckerath) with cavalry and infantry, but were beaten back and pursued by the French as far as Kircheib. The village was well defended. The French were initially fired upon by artillery and then stormed the village, whereupon they again came under fire from the Austrian artillery which was drawn up on the hills behind the village. After a long infantry battle for these heights, the French were beaten back and retreated. The French lost 1,500 dead and the Austrians 400.

Paul Kray soldier, and general in Habsburg service

Baron Paul Kray of Krajova and Topolya, was a soldier, and general in Habsburg service during the Seven Years' War, the War of Bavarian Succession, the Austro–Turkish War (1787–1791), and the French Revolutionary Wars. He was born in Késmárk, Upper Hungary.

Cavalry soldiers or warriors fighting from horseback

Cavalry or horsemen are soldiers or warriors who fight mounted on horseback. Cavalry were historically the most mobile of the combat arms. An individual soldier in the cavalry is known by a number of designations such as cavalryman, horseman, dragoon, or trooper. The designation of cavalry was not usually given to any military forces that used other animals, such as camels, mules or elephants. Infantry who moved on horseback, but dismounted to fight on foot, were known in the 17th and early 18th centuries as dragoons, a class of mounted infantry which later evolved into cavalry proper while retaining their historic title.

Infantry military personnel who travel and fight on foot

Infantry is a military specialization that engages in military combat on foot, distinguished from cavalry, artillery, and tank forces. Also known as foot soldiers or infanteers, infantry traditionally relies on moving by foot between combats as well, but may also use mounts, military vehicles, or other transport. Infantry make up a large portion of all armed forces in most nations, and typically bear the largest brunt in warfare, as measured by casualties, deprivation, or physical and psychological stress.

The Austrians had four battalions in the fight, their whole vanguard, reinforced by line troops bringing the total up to 14,000 men. The French had over 24,000 soldiers. The French reconnaissance troops made serious mistakes: first, they estimated that there were 44,000 enemy, and, second, they clearly knew nothing of the Austrian artillery stationed on the hills behind Kircheib.

Battalion military unit size

A battalion is a military unit. The use of the term "battalion" varies by nationality and branch of service. Typically a battalion consists of 300 to 800 soldiers and is divided into a number of companies. A battalion is typically commanded by a lieutenant colonel. In some countries, the word "battalion" is associated with the infantry.

The vanguard is the leading part of an advancing military formation. It has a number of functions, including seeking out the enemy and securing ground in advance of the main force.

Less excusable is that Kray, when he advanced on Uckerath on the 19th, was not sufficiently reinforced to ensure a decisive superiority over Kléber. The fatigue of his troops, the lack of food, uncertainty over whether the enemy had already crossed over to Neuwied and a desire not to become overextended, are spurious reasons that deserve no consideration, because it was only a march to ensure Kléber's complete withdrawal from the Sieg (assessment by Archduke Carl of Austria).

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.


After the battle the French began a general withdrawal. Kléber's crossed the Sieg on 20 June near Siegburg and entered Düsseldorf on the 21st.

Siegburg Place in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany

Siegburg is a city in the district of Rhein-Sieg-Kreis, in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. It is located on the banks of the rivers Sieg and Agger, 10 kilometres from the former seat of West German government Bonn and 26 kilometres from Cologne. The population of the city was 39,192 in the 2013 census.

Sources and research

Signpost to the Battle of Kircheib Wegweiser Schlacht von Kircheib.JPG
Signpost to the Battle of Kircheib
Monument to the Battle of Kircheib Gedenkstein Schlacht von Kircheib.jpg
Monument to the Battle of Kircheib
Details of the Battle of Kircheib Details Schlacht von Kircheib.jpg
Details of the Battle of Kircheib

There are various contemporary reports about the battle. Among others, reports and evaluations may be found in the records of Archduke Charles of Austria, Austrian field marshal lieutenant, Paul Freiherr Kray von Krajowa and Hermann Christian Hülder of Oberdollendorf, who visited the battlefield on 20 June. In addition, numerous artefacts of the battle can still be found in the area and the fortifications in Jungeroth are visible in aerial photographs. The circumstances of the battle were last investigated by local researchers, Horst Weiß and Theo Faßbender from Buchholz. Subsequently, on the initiative of council member Ludwig Eich, the Buchholz municipal council erected a memorial for peace. [3] Its inauguration took place on 19 June 2009, the 213th anniversary of the battle. The memorial stone is located in the village of Griesenbach, in the municipality of Buchholz, near the community centre on Hohlweg on 50°42′19″N7°25′43″E / 50.70516944°N 7.42855277°E / 50.70516944; 7.42855277 (Schlacht von 9Kircheib) by the pond of Sophienweiher at a height of 279 metres above sea level. It stands on a ridge in the centre between the opposing lines of troops at the start of the battle. In Griesenbach, at the corner of Buchholzer Straße and Hohlweg, the sign "Dorfgemeinschaftshaus / Gedenkstätte Schlacht von Kircheib" points the way; from there 700 m straight ahead.

A map board shows the positions at the opening of the battle. On the left are the French and on the right the Austrian troops. In the centre is the site of the monument.

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  1. The left wing of the Army of Sambre-et-Meuse
  2. Kléber's troops were on their way back to their bases in the Bergisches Land
  3. Denkmal erinnert an die Schlacht bei Kircheib. Archived 2015-06-20 at the Wayback Machine In: Rhein-Zeitung dated 29 November 2011


Coordinates: 50°42′18″N7°25′43″E / 50.705085°N 7.428477°E / 50.705085; 7.428477