|Battle of Valmy|
|Part of the French Revolutionary Wars|
Painting of the Battle of Valmy by Horace Vernet from 1826. The white-uniformed infantry to the right are regulars while the blue-coated ranks to the left represent the citizen volunteers of 1791. The Moulin de Valmy was burnt down on the orders of Kellermann on the day of the battle.
|Commanders and leaders|
|Casualties and losses|
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.
The French Revolutionary Wars were a series of sweeping military conflicts lasting from 1792 until 1802 and resulting from the French Revolution. They pitted France against Great Britain, Austria, Prussia, Russia and several other monarchies. They are divided in two periods: the War of the First Coalition (1792–97) and the War of the Second Coalition (1798–1802). Initially confined to Europe, the fighting gradually assumed a global dimension. After a decade of constant warfare and aggressive diplomacy, France had conquered a wide array of territories, from the Italian Peninsula and the Low Countries in Europe to the Louisiana Territory in North America. French success in these conflicts ensured the spread of revolutionary principles over much of Europe.
The Kingdom of Prussia was a German kingdom that constituted the state of Prussia between 1701 and 1918. It was the driving force behind the unification of Germany in 1871 and was the leading state of the German Empire until its dissolution in 1918. Although it took its name from the region called Prussia, it was based in the Margraviate of Brandenburg, where its capital was Berlin.
Charles William Ferdinand, Duke of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel was the Prince of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel and a military leader. His titles are usually shortened to Duke of Brunswick in English-language sources.
In this early part of the Revolutionary Wars—known as the War of the First Coalition—the new French government was in almost every way unproven, and thus the small, localized victory at Valmy became a huge psychological victory for the Revolution at large. The outcome was thoroughly unexpected by contemporary observers—a vindication for the French revolutionaries and a stunning defeat for the vaunted Prussian army. The victory emboldened the newly assembled National Convention to formally declare the end of monarchy in France and to establish the First French Republic. Valmy permitted the development of the Revolution and all its resultant ripple effects, and for that it is regarded by historians as one of the most significant battles in history.
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.
The National Convention was the first government of the French Revolution, following the two-year National Constituent Assembly and the one-year Legislative Assembly. Created after the great insurrection of 10 August 1792, it was the first French government organized as a republic, abandoning the monarchy altogether. The Convention sat as a single-chamber assembly from 20 September 1792 to 26 October 1795.
A monarchy is a form of government in which a single person holds supreme authority in ruling a country, also performing ceremonial duties and embodying the country's national identity. Although some monarchs are elected, in most cases, the monarch's position is inherited and lasts until death or abdication. In these cases, the royal family or members of the dynasty usually serve in official capacities as well. The governing power of the monarch may vary from purely symbolic, to partial and restricted, to completely autocratic.
As the French Revolution continued, the monarchies of Europe became concerned that revolutionary fervor would spread to their countries. The War of the First Coalition was an effort to stop the revolution, or at least contain it to France. King Frederick William II of Prussia had the support of Great Britain and the Austrian Empire to send the Duke of Brunswick towards Paris with a large army.In the war's early encounters of mid-1792, French troops did not distinguish themselves, and enemy forces advanced dangerously deep into France intending to pacify the country, restore the traditional monarchy, and end the Revolution. The French commander Charles Dumouriez, meanwhile, had been marching his army northeast to attack the Austrian Netherlands, but this plan was abandoned because of the more immediate threat to Paris. A second army under General François Kellermann was ordered to link up with him in a mutual defense.
Frederick William II was King of Prussia from 1786 until his death. He was in personal union the Prince-elector of Brandenburg and sovereign prince of the Canton of Neuchâtel. Pleasure-loving and indolent, he is seen as the antithesis to his predecessor, Frederick II. Under his reign, Prussia was weakened internally and externally, and he failed to deal adequately with the challenges to the existing order posed by the French Revolution. His religious policies were directed against the Enlightenment and aimed at restoring a traditional Protestantism. However, he was a patron of the arts and responsible for the construction of some notable buildings, among them the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin.
The British Empire comprised the dominions, colonies, protectorates, mandates and other territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom and its predecessor states. It originated with the overseas possessions and trading posts established by England between the late 16th and early 18th centuries. At its height, it was the largest empire in history and, for over a century, was the foremost global power. By 1913, the British Empire held sway over 412 million people, 23% of the world population at the time, and by 1920, it covered 35,500,000 km2 (13,700,000 sq mi), 24% of the Earth's total land area. As a result, its political, legal, linguistic and cultural legacy is widespread. At the peak of its power, the phrase "the empire on which the sun never sets" was often used to describe the British Empire, because its expanse around the globe meant that the sun was always shining on at least one of its territories.
The Habsburg Monarchy – also Austrian Monarchy or Danube 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 succedeed by the Austrian Empire. The Monarchy was a composite state of territories within and outside the Holy Roman Empire, 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.
Just over half of the French infantry were regulars of the old Royal Army, as were nearly all of the cavalry and, most importantly, the artillery,which were widely regarded as the best in Europe at the time. These veterans provided a professional core to steady the enthusiastic volunteer battalions. Combined, Dumouriez' Army of the North and Kellermann's Army of the Centre totalled approximately 54,000 troops. Heading towards them was Brunswick's coalition army of about 84,000, all veteran Prussian and Austrian troops augmented by large complements of Hessians and the French royalist Army of Condé.
Artillery is a class of heavy military ranged weapons built to launch munitions far beyond the range and power of infantry's small arms. Early artillery development focused on the ability to breach defensive walls and fortifications during sieges, and led to heavy, fairly immobile siege engines. As technology improved, lighter, more mobile field artillery cannons developed for battlefield use. This development continues today; modern self-propelled artillery vehicles are highly mobile weapons of great versatility providing the large share of an army's total firepower.
The Army of the North or Armée du Nord is a name given to several historical units of the French Army. The first was one of the French Revolutionary Armies that fought with distinction against the First Coalition from 1792 to 1795. Others existed during the Peninsular War, the Hundred Days and the Franco-Prussian War.
The Army of the Centre was one of the first French Revolutionary Armies, named after the location it was set up, the Centre region. It was created by order of king Louis XVI of France on 14 December 1791 and attached to Champagne. It had only an ephemeral existence after the battle of Valmy and the Prussians' evacuation of the territory.
The invading army handily captured Longwy on 23 August and Verdun on 2 September, then moved on toward Paris through the defiles of the Forest of Argonne.In response, Dumouriez halted his advance to the Netherlands and reversed course, approaching the enemy army from its rear. From Metz, Kellermann moved to his assistance, joining him at the village of Sainte-Menehould on 19 September. The French forces were now east of the Prussians, behind their lines. Theoretically the Prussians could have marched straight towards Paris unopposed, but this course was never seriously considered: the threat to their lines of supply and communication was too great to be ignored. The unfavorable situation was compounded by bad weather and an alarming increase in sickness among the troops. With few other options available, Brunswick turned back and prepared to do battle.
Longwy is a commune in the Meurthe-et-Moselle department in northeastern France.
Paris is the capital and most populous city of France, with an area of 105 square kilometres and an official estimated population of 2,140,526 residents as of 1 January 2019. Since the 17th century, Paris has been one of Europe's major centres of finance, diplomacy, commerce, fashion, science, and the arts.
In geography, a defile is a narrow pass or gorge between mountains or hills. It has its origins as a military description of a pass through which troops can march only in a narrow column or with a narrow front. On emerging from a defile into open country, soldiers are said to "debouch".
The troops trudged laboriously through a heavy downpour—"rain as of the days of Noah", in the words of Thomas Carlyle.Brunswick headed through the northern woods believing he could cut off Dumouriez. At the moment when the Prussian manœuvre was nearly completed, Kellermann advanced his left wing and took up a position on the slopes between Sainte-Menehould and Valmy. He centered his command around an old windmill, which he quickly razed to prevent enemy artillery spotters from using it as a sighting location. His veteran artillerists were well-placed upon its accommodating ridge to begin the so-called "Cannonade of Valmy". Brunswick moved toward them with about 34,000 of his troops. As they emerged from the woods, a long-range gunnery duel ensued and the French batteries proved superior. The Prussian infantry made a cautious, and fruitless, effort to advance under fire across the open ground.
Thomas Carlyle was a Scottish philosopher, satirical writer, essayist, translator, historian, mathematician, and teacher. Considered one of the most important social commentators of his time, he presented many lectures during his lifetime with certain acclaim in the Victorian era. One of those conferences resulted in his famous work On Heroes, Hero-Worship, and The Heroic in History where he explains that the key role in history lies in the actions of the "Great Man", claiming that "the history of the world is but the biography of great men".
Maneuver warfare, or manoeuvre warfare, is a military strategy that advocates attempting to defeat the enemy by incapacitating their decision-making through shock and disruption.
The Moulin de Valmy is a post mill at Valmy, Marne, France. A windmill that stood on the site in 1634 was burnt during the Battle of Valmy in 1792. Its replacement was demolished in 1831. A mill was moved from Attiches, Nord in 1947. It blew down in 1999, but was rebuilt in 2005.
As the Prussians wavered, a pivotal moment was reached when Kellermann raised his hat and made his famous cry of "Vive la Nation". The cry was repeated again and again by all the French army, and had a crushing effect upon Prussian morale. The French troops sang "La Marseillaise" and "Ça Ira", and a cheer went up from the French line.To the surprise of nearly everyone, Brunswick broke off the action and retired from the field. The Prussians rounded the French positions at a great distance and commenced a rapid retreat eastward. The two engaged forces had been essentially equal in size, Kellermann with approximately 36,000 troops and 40 cannon, and Brunswick with 34,000 and 54 cannon. Yet by the time Brunswick retreated, casualties had risen no higher than three hundred French and two hundred Prussians.
The precipitous end to the action provoked elation among the French.The question of exactly why the Prussians withdrew has never been definitively answered. Most historians ascribe the retreat to some combination of the following factors: the highly defensible French position together with the rapidly growing numbers of reinforcements and citizen volunteers with their discouraging and thoroughly unexpected élan which persuaded the cautious Brunswick to spare himself a dangerous loss of manpower, particularly when the Russian invasion of Poland had already raised concerns for Prussia's defensibility in the east. Others have put forward more shadowy motives for the decision, including a secret plea by Louis XVI to avoid an action which might cost him his life, and even bribery of the Prussians, allegedly paid for with the Bourbon crown jewels. Brunswick had actually been offered command of the French armies prior to the outbreak of war and émigré factions subsequently used this as a basis to allege treachery on his part. However no proof of this charge exists and the more likely explanation remains that, having initially adopted an aggressive strategy, he lacked the will to carry it through when confronted by an unexpectedly determined and disciplined opposition. In any case, the battle ended decisively, the French pursuit was not seriously pressed, and Brunswick's troops managed a safe if inglorious eastward retreat.
This engagement was the turning point of the Prussians' campaign. Beset with food shortages and dysentery, their retreat continued well past the Rhine River.French troops soon struck forward into Germany, taking Mainz in October. Dumouriez once again moved against the Austrian Netherlands and Kellermann ably secured the front at Metz.
Dumouriez would bear a harsh change of fortune: after one more influential success in November 1792 at Jemappes, he was by the following year a broken man. His army had suffered such catastrophic losses that he defected to the royalist side for the rest of his life.Kellermann, however, continued in a long and distinguished military career. In 1808 he was ennobled by Napoleon and became Duke of Valmy.
In the varied historiography of the French Revolution, the Battle of Valmy is often portrayed as the first victory of a citizen army, inspired by liberty and nationalism. Many thousands of volunteers did indeed swell the ranks, but at least half of the French forces were professional soldiers, particularly among Kellermann's critical artillery units.The French artillery also held a tactical advantage in its modern Gribeauval gun system which proved highly successful on the battlefield. But in popular conception, Valmy was a victory of citizen-soldiers: the battle was emblemized by Kellermann's cry, augmented by the troops' singing of "La Marseillaise" and the "Ça Ira" while under fire.
On the day of the battle, the Legislative Assembly had duly transferred its power to the National Convention.Over the next two days, flush with the news from Valmy, the new Convention deputies abolished the monarchy and proclaimed the French Republic. The victory was a much-needed source of pride for the revolutionary French state, and provided enduring inspiration for the years that followed. It was considered by many contemporaries to be a miraculous event for France, and a "decisive defeat" for one of the most effective armies in Europe. Scholars continue to count it among the most significant clashes in military history.
The Prussians themselves recognized the importance of the battle, not merely as a setback in the war but as a crucial advancement for the Revolution as a whole.The German writer and poet Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, who was present at the battle with the Prussian army, later wrote that he was approached by some of his comrades in a state of dejection. He had previously cheered them up with memorable and clever quotes but his only consolation this time was, "Here and today, a new epoch in the history of the world has begun, and you can boast you were present at its birth."
The Reign of Terror, or The Terror, refers to a period during the French Revolution after the First French Republic was established.
Tienen or Thienen is a city and municipality in the province of Flemish Brabant, in Flanders, Belgium. The municipality comprises the city of Tienen proper and the towns of Bost, Goetsenhoven, Hakendover, Kumtich, Oorbeek, Oplinter, Sint-Margriete-Houtem and Vissenaken. On January 1, 2017, Tienen had a total population of 34,365. The total area is 71.77 km2 (27.71 sq mi) which gives a population density of 444 inhabitants per km².
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.
The Battle of Jemappes took place near the town of Jemappes in Hainaut, Austrian Netherlands, 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 a large number of inexperienced volunteers, defeat a substantially smaller regular Austrian army.
François Christophe Kellermann or de Kellermann, 1st Duc de Valmy was a French military commander, later the Général d'Armée, a Marshal of France and a freemason. Marshal Kellermann served in varying roles throughout the entirety of two epochal conflicts, the French Revolutionary Wars and the Napoleonic Wars. Kellermann is one of the names inscribed under the Arc de Triomphe, on Column 3.
The French Revolutionary Wars began in April 1792.
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The French Revolutionary Wars continued from 1792, with new powers entering the First Coalition after the execution of King Louis XVI. Spain and Portugal entered the coalition in January 1793, and on 1 February France declared war on Great Britain and the Netherlands.
The French Revolutionary Army was the French force that fought the French Revolutionary Wars from 1792 to 1802. These armies were characterised by their revolutionary fervour, their poor equipment and their great numbers. Although they experienced early disastrous defeats, the revolutionary armies successfully expelled foreign forces from French soil and then overran many neighboring countries, establishing client republics. Leading generals included Jourdan, Bonaparte, Masséna and Moreau.
The Brunswick Manifesto was a proclamation issued by Charles William Ferdinand, Duke of Brunswick, commander of the Allied Army, on 25 July 1792 to the population of Paris, France during the War of the First Coalition. The Brunswick Manifesto threatened that if the French royal family were harmed, then French civilians would be harmed. It was said to have been a measure intended to intimidate Paris, but rather helped further spur the increasingly radical French Revolution and finally led to the war between revolutionary France and counter-revolutionary monarchies.
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The Flanders Campaign was conducted from 6 November 1792 to 7 June 1795 during the first years of the French Revolutionary Wars. A Coalition of states representing the Ancien Régime in Western Europe – Austria, Prussia, Great Britain, the Dutch Republic, Hanover and Hesse-Kassel – mobilised military forces along all the French frontiers, with the intention to invade Revolutionary France and end the French First Republic. The radicalised French revolutionaries, who broke the Catholic Church's power (1790), abolished the monarchy (1792) and even executed the deposed king Louis XVI of France (1793), vied to spread the Revolution beyond France's borders, by violent means if necessary.
The Batavian Revolution in Amsterdam refers to the transfer of power in the city of Amsterdam on 18 January 1795 to a Revolutionary Committee of the new Batavian Republic. The same day the stadtholder of the Dutch Republic, William V, Prince of Orange fled the country. Amsterdam was the first city that declared itself in the Batavian Revolution that brought about the Batavian Republic.
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.
The French Royal Army served the Bourbon kings beginning with Louis XIV and ending with Charles X with an interlude from 1792 until 1814, during the French Revolution and the reign of the Emperor Napoleon I. After a second, brief interlude when Napoleon returned from exile in 1815, the Royal Army was reinstated. Its service to the direct Bourbon line was finished when Charles X was overthrown in 1830 by the July Revolution.
Jean Étienne Philibert de Prez de Crassier or Étienne Desprez-Crassier was a French politician and army commander in the early years of the French Revolutionary Wars. Despite being from the minor nobility, he entered the French Royal Army as a cadet at the age of 12 because of his family's poverty. He fought in the War of the Austrian Succession and the Seven Years' War, becoming a colonel in 1785 and retiring two years later. Voltaire lent him the money needed to recover the Deprez family property. He was elected to the Estates General as a nobleman in 1789. After being promoted to lieutenant general he led a division at Valmy in 1792. He became commander of the Army of the Rhine and Army of the Western Pyrenees. Imprisoned during the Reign of Terror, he was released and restored to his former rank but retired in 1796.
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