Battle of Lincelles

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Battle of Lincelles
Part of the French Revolutionary Wars
Date17 August 1793
Location
Result Coalition victory
Belligerents
Flag of France (1790-1794).svg France Union flag 1606 (Kings Colors).svg  Kingdom of Great Britain
Statenvlag.svg  Dutch Republic
Commanders and leaders
Flag of France (1790-1794).svg Jean Baptiste Jourdan Union flag 1606 (Kings Colors).svg Duke of York
Statenvlag.svg Prince of Orange

The Battle of Lincelles was an action that took place as part of a larger manoeuvre on 17 August 1793 in the Flanders Campaign of the War of the First Coalition. It was fought between the forces of Revolutionary France under the command of Jean Baptiste Jourdan and Antoine Anne Lecourt de Béru  [ fr ], versus those of Great Britain under the Frederick Augustus, Duke of York and Albany and the Dutch Republic under the Hereditary Prince of Orange. The action resulted in a coalition victory.

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.

France Republic in Europe with several non-European regions

France, officially the French Republic, is a country whose territory consists of metropolitan France in Western Europe and several overseas regions and territories. The metropolitan area of France extends from the Mediterranean Sea to the English Channel and the North Sea, and from the Rhine to the Atlantic Ocean. It is bordered by Belgium, Luxembourg and Germany to the northeast, Switzerland and Italy to the east, and Andorra and Spain to the south. The overseas territories include French Guiana in South America and several islands in the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans. The country's 18 integral regions span a combined area of 643,801 square kilometres (248,573 sq mi) and a total population of 67.02 million. France is a unitary semi-presidential republic with its capital in Paris, the country's largest city and main cultural and commercial centre. Other major urban areas include Lyon, Marseille, Toulouse, Bordeaux, Lille and Nice.

Great Britain Island in the North Atlantic off the northwest coast of continental Europe

Great Britain is an island in the North Atlantic Ocean off the northwest coast of continental Europe. With an area of 209,331 km2 (80,823 sq mi), it is the largest of the British Isles, the largest European island, and the ninth-largest island in the world. In 2011, Great Britain had a population of about 61 million people, making it the world's third-most populous island after Java in Indonesia and Honshu in Japan. The island of Ireland is situated to the west of Great Britain, and together these islands, along with over 1,000 smaller surrounding islands, form the British Isles archipelago.

Contents

The battle

In the Autumn of 1793 the Allied forces of Prince Josias of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld were poised to invade France. The Hereditary Prince of Orange held Menin with 10,000 Dutch troops, with instructions to cover the movement of the corps of the Prince Frederick, Duke of York and Albany in his advance towards Dunkirk. To facilitate this and take advantage of York's nearby support Orange decided to lead a column against the French-held village of Lincelles, while another under the Friedrich Karl August, Prince of Waldeck and Pyrmont attacked La Blaton slightly to the north.

Prince Josias of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld austrian general

Prince Frederick Josias of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld was a general in the Austrian service.

William I of the Netherlands King of the Netherlands

William I was a Prince of Orange and the first King of the Netherlands and Grand Duke of Luxembourg.

Menen Municipality in Flemish Community, Belgium

Menen is a municipality located in the Belgian province of West Flanders. The municipality comprises the city of Menen proper and the towns of Lauwe and Rekkem. The city is situated on the French/Belgian border. On January 1, 2006, Menen had a total population of 32,413. The total area is 33.07 km² which gives a population density of 980 inhabitants per km².

News of the attack reached the French forces under command of Jean-Baptiste Jourdan and Antoine Anne Lecourt Béru, who were mustering to launch their own raid against Menin. Immediately Jourdan directed these forces, 5,000 strong, to retake the lost posts. This was achieved, Béru's column retaking Lincelles, whilst the brigade of Jacques MacDonald advanced from Quesnoy-sur-Deûle, surprised the Dutch at Blaton and captured 7 cannon. Representative Jean Pierre Dellard, who came up after the action, later wrote, "The interior of the redoubts, which had just been taken, afforded a spectacle of fearful carnage". [1]

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.

Jacques MacDonald Marshal of France

Étienne Jacques Joseph Alexandre MacDonald, 1st Duke of Taranto was a Marshal of the Empire and military leader during the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars.

Quesnoy-sur-Deûle Commune in Hauts-de-France, France

Quesnoy-sur-Deûle is a commune in the Nord department in northern France.

The Prince of Orange appealed to the Duke of York for reinforcements, and at around 2.00 pm the nearest troops, Gerard Lake's brigade consisting of three battalions of Foot Guards, were dispatched. Lake arrived on the field at 6.00 pm and attempted to rally some of the scattered Dutch, but it quickly became apparent they had no more stomach for fighting. So, despite being vastly outnumbered, he determined to attack alone with just 1,122 men. [1]

The Diary of Lieutenant Thomas Powell (14th Foot) records "It was about 1 of clock at night before we could get clear of the Dutch" [2] On top of the hill in front of Lincelles the French held two large redoubts plus other works that covered the road, as well as their flanks being covered by woods and ditches. Lake deployed on the hill under a heavy artillery fire, the 1st Guards at the front, with the Coldstream Guards and 3rd Guards forming up on their left. [3] The Guards delivered three or four musket volleys and charged the position, stormed the earthworks, chased the Republicans through the village and captured 10 guns. Lake then re-formed on the other side of the hill. Béru attempted another stand but was again charged and broken, his men fleeing to Bondues. Jourdan, who tried to stem the flight with a battalion in reserve, wrote, "It was not a retreat but a rout". [1]

Grenadier Guards infantry regiment of the British Army

The Grenadier Guards is an infantry regiment of the British Army. It can trace its lineage back to 1656 when Lord Wentworth's Regiment was raised in Bruges to protect the exiled Charles II. In 1665, this regiment was combined with John Russell's Regiment of Guards to form the current regiment, known as the 1st Regiment of Foot Guards. Since then, the regiment has filled both a ceremonial and protective role as well as an operational one. In 1900, the regiment provided a cadre of personnel to form the Irish Guards; while later, in 1915 it also provided the basis of the Welsh Guards upon their formation.

Coldstream Guards Unit of the British Army

The Coldstream Guards is a part of the Guards Division, Foot Guards regiments of the British Army.

Bondues Commune in Hauts-de-France, France

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

Aftermath

At Blaton to the left Macdonald heard the news of the rout and withdrew in good order to Quesnoy-sur-Deûle. The French then retreated to Lille where they were reformed.

Lille Prefecture and commune in Hauts-de-France, France

Lille is a city at the northern tip of France, in French Flanders. On the Deûle River, near France's border with Belgium, it is the capital of the Hauts-de-France region, the prefecture of the Nord department, and the main city of the European Metropolis of Lille.

Lake held the position until nightfall supported by two Dutch battalions, [4] until relieved by six battalions of Hessians and two British. He'd captured 12 guns (two of them Dutch pieces lost during the retreat of Orange's men), 70 prisoners and a colour, for the loss of 39 dead and 139 wounded men and officers, Captain-Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Bosville of the 2nd Guards being one of the dead. [5]

The Duke of York then continued his advance towards Ypres and Furnes, before opening the Siege of Dunkirk.

Assessment

Fortescue wrote of Lake's intervention, "The action was undoubtably most brilliant, and the conduct of the men beyond all praise... but it is a grave reflection on the Duke of York that he should so thoughtlessly have exposed some of his best troops to needless danger, leaving them isolated and unsupported for several hours". [6] Alfred Burne disagreed, "Lake did indeed call for help, but on what seems inadequate grounds: he was in no real danger. To have diverted a bigger proportion of the British army from the march to Dunkirk merely to engage in a transient fight in order to oblige the Dutch would have been to infringe the principle of economy of force". [7]

Notes

  1. 1 2 3 Phipps, Ramsay Weston (1926). The Armies of the First French Republic and the Rise of the Marshals of Napoleon I: Volume I - The Armée du Nord. London: Oxford University Press. p. 215.
  2. The Diary of Lieu Thomas Powell 14th Foot, As Prepared for Publication in the White Rose, With Added Information on his Services etc. (National Army Museum Library MS), p11
  3. Brown, Robert (1795). An impartial Journal of a Detachment from the Brigade of Foot Guards, commencing 25th February, 1793, and ending 9th May, 1795. London. p.  65.
  4. Journaal der Armée onder de orders van zyne Doorlugtige Hoogheid den Heere Generaal Erfprince van Orange ['Journal of the army, commanded by his royal highness the hereditary Prince of Orange]
  5. Brown (1795), p. 67
  6. Fortescue, John W. (1918). British Campaigns in Flanders 1690-1794 (extracts from Volume 4 of A History of the British Army). London: Macmillan. pp. 226–227.
  7. Burne, Alfred (1949). The Noble Duke of York: The Military Life of Frederick Duke of York and Albany. London: Staples Press. p. 69.

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