François Sébastien Charles Joseph de Croix, Count of Clerfayt

Last updated
François Sébastien Charles Joseph de Croix, Count of Clerfayt
Clairfait.jpg
François de Croix, Count of Clerfayt
Born14 October 1733 (1733-10-14)
Died21 July 1798 (1798-07-22) (aged 64)
AllegianceBanner of the Holy Roman Emperor (after 1400).svg  Habsburg Monarchy
Service/branch Seven Years' War
Austro-Turkish War
French Revolutionary Wars
Years of service1753 – c. 1798
Rank Field marshal

François Sébastien Charles Joseph de Croix, Count of Clerfayt (14 October 1733 – 21 July 1798), [1] 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.

Walloons French-speaking people who live in Belgium, principally in Wallonia

Walloons are a Romance ethnic group native to Belgium, principally its southern region of Wallonia, who speak French and Walloon. Walloons are a distinctive ethnic community within Belgium. Important historical and anthropological criteria bind Walloons to the French people.

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.

Seven Years War Global conflict between 1756 and 1763

The Seven Years' War was a global war fought between 1756 and 1763. It involved every European great power of the time and spanned five continents, affecting Europe, the Americas, West Africa, India, and the Philippines. The conflict split Europe into two coalitions: one was led by the Kingdom of Great Britain and included the Kingdom of Prussia, the Kingdom of Portugal, the Electorate of Brunswick-Lüneburg, and other small German states; while the other was led by the Kingdom of France and included the Austrian-led Holy Roman Empire, the Russian Empire, the Kingdom of Spain, and the Swedish Empire. Meanwhile, in India, some regional polities within the increasingly fragmented Mughal Empire, with the support of the French, tried to crush a British attempt to conquer Bengal.

Contents

Early career

Born at the Castle of Bruille in Hainaut in the Austrian Netherlands, he entered the Austrian army in 1753.[ citation needed ] In the Seven Years' War (1756–1763) he distinguished himself, earning rapid promotion, and received the Military Order of Maria Theresa decoration. At the conclusion of the peace (Treaty of Hubertusburg, 15 February 1763), though still under thirty, he had already become an Oberst (colonel). [2]

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.

During the revolt in the Netherlands in 1787, Clerfayt, as a Walloon by birth, came under great pressure to abandon Emperor Joseph II. But he resisted all overtures, and in the following year went to fight in the Austro-Turkish War with the rank of Feldmarschal-Leutnant (lieutenant field marshal). In an independent command Clerfayt achieved great success, defeating the Turks at Mehadia and Calafat. [2] On 10 November 1788, the emperor appointed him to the rank of Feldzeugmeister . [3]

Batavian Revolution Period between the Dutch and Batavian Republics

The Batavian Revolution was a time of political, social and cultural turmoil at the end of the 18th century that marked the end of the Dutch Republic and saw the proclamation of the Batavian Republic. The period of Dutch history that followed the revolution is referred to as the "Batavian-French era" (1795–1813) even though the time spanned was only 20 years, of which three were under French occupation.

Joseph II, Holy Roman Emperor Holy Roman Emperor

Joseph II was Holy Roman Emperor from August 1765 and sole ruler of the Habsburg lands from November 1780 until his death. He was the eldest son of Empress Maria Theresa and her husband, Emperor Francis I, and the brother of Marie Antoinette. He was thus the first ruler in the Austrian dominions of the House of Lorraine, styled Habsburg-Lorraine. Joseph was a proponent of enlightened absolutism; however, his commitment to modernizing reforms subsequently engendered significant opposition, which resulted in failure to fully implement his programs. Meanwhile, despite making some territorial gains, his reckless foreign policy badly isolated Austria. He has been ranked, with Catherine the Great of Russia and Frederick the Great of Prussia, as one of the three great Enlightenment monarchs. His policies are now known as Josephinism. He was a supporter of the arts, and most importantly, of composers such as Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Antonio Salieri. He died with no sons and was succeeded by his younger brother, Leopold II.

Mehadia Commune in Caraș-Severin County, Romania

Mehadia is a small market town and commune in Caraș-Severin County, Romania. It lies on the European route E70, in the Cerna River valley. The town is located on the site of the ancient Roman colony Ad Mediam and was noted for its Hercules baths. It had a population of 2,492 in 1900, and of 4,474 in 2002. The commune is prone to major recurring flooding. The 1838 floods destroyed some 2000 houses in the valley and the 1841 floods in Mehadia were also devastating. It experienced major flooding more recently in May 2005.

French Revolutionary Wars

In 1792, as one of the most distinguished of the emperor's generals, he received the command of the Austrian contingent in army of the duke of Brunswick, and at Croix-sous-Bois his corps inflicted a reverse on the troops of the French Revolution. In the Netherlands, he commanded the center at the Battle of Jemappes on 6 November. He opened the campaign of 1793 with the victory of Aldenhoven and the relief of Maastricht, and on 18 March 1793 proved instrumental in causing the complete defeat of Charles Dumouriez at the Battle of Neerwinden. In October, however, his victorious career suffered a reverse at the Battle of Wattignies. [2]

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.

Battle of Jemappes battle

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.

The Battle of Aldenhoven saw the Habsburg Austrian army commanded by Prince Josias of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld attack a Republican French force under René Joseph de Lanoue. The Austrians successfully crossed the Roer River and engaged in a cavalry charge led by Archduke Charles, Duke of Teschen which routed the French and inflicted heavy losses. The War of the First Coalition battle occurred near Aldenhoven, a city in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany located about 55 kilometres (34 mi) west of Cologne.

His Grave in Vienna Hernals Cemetery Grab von Graf von Clerfait und von Carbonne.jpg
His Grave in Vienna Hernals Cemetery

He participated in the Flanders Campaign against Charles Pichegru in 1794. [2] Leading a flanking column from the north, he fought at the Battle of Tourcoing on 17–18 May. A French force under Dominique Vandamme slowed his progress until Joseph Souham defeated the Anglo-Austrian army on the southern part of the battlefield. Souham then turned against Clerfayt and compelled him to retreat to the northeast. In the course of the campaign.[ citation needed ] Clerfayt succeeded Prince Josias of Coburg in the supreme command, but he failed to make headway against the French, and had to recross the Rhine. [2]

Battle of Tourcoing battle

The Battle of Tourcoing saw a Republican French army directed by General Joseph Souham defend against an attack by an Austrian, British, and Hanoverian Coalition army under Austrian Prince Josias of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld and Prince Frederick, Duke of York and Albany. The French army was temporarily led by Souham in the absence of its normal commander Jean-Charles Pichegru. Threatened with encirclement, Souham and division commanders Jean Victor Marie Moreau and Jacques Philippe Bonnaud improvised a counterattack which defeated the Coalition's widely separated and badly coordinated columns. The War of the First Coalition action was fought near the town of Tourcoing, just north of Lille in northeastern France.

Dominique Vandamme French general

General Dominique-Joseph René Vandamme, Count of Unseburg was a French military officer, who fought in the Napoleonic Wars. He was a dedicated career soldier with a reputation as an excellent division and corps commander. However he had a nasty disposition that alienated his colleagues; he publicly criticized Napoleon, who never appointed him marshal.

Joseph Souham French army commander

Joseph Souham was a French general who fought in the French Revolutionary Wars and the Napoleonic Wars. He was born at Lubersac and died at Versailles. After long service in the French Royal Army, he was elected to lead a volunteer battalion in 1792 during the French Revolution. He was promoted to general of division in September 1793 after playing a prominent role in the defense of Dunkirk. In May 1794 with his commander absent, he took temporary command of the Army of the North and defeated the Coalition army at Tourcoing. He led the covering forces at the Siege of Ypres and participated in the successful invasion of the Dutch Republic. He spent many years in occupation duties in Holland and then his career suffered because of his association with Pichegru and Moreau. Starting in 1809 he was employed in Spain during the Peninsular War, winning the Battle of Vich where he was wounded. In army command again, he forced Wellington's army to retreat at Tordesillas in 1812. The following year he led a division at Lützen and a corps at Leipzig. He remained loyal to the Bourbons during the Hundred Days.

A Feldmarschall from 22 April 1795, [3] he commanded on the middle Rhine against Jean-Baptiste Jourdan, and this time the fortunes of war changed. Clerfayt beat Jourdan at Höchst and brilliantly relieved Mainz. But the Austrian Foreign Minister Johann Thugut did not approve Clerfayt's action in concluding an armistice with the French, so the field marshal resigned his command and became a member of the Aulic Council in Vienna. He died in 1798. [2]

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.

Höchst (Frankfurt am Main) Stadtteil of Frankfurt am Main in Hesse, Germany

Höchst is a city district of Frankfurt am Main, Germany. It is part of the Ortsbezirk West.

Battle of Mainz battle

The Battle of Mainz saw a Habsburg Austrian army led by François Sebastien Charles Joseph de Croix, Count of Clerfayt launch a surprise assault against four divisions of the French Army of Rhin-et-Moselle directed by François Ignace Schaal. The right-hand French division fled the battlefield, compelling the other three divisions to retreat with the loss of their siege artillery and many casualties. The War of the First Coalition action was fought near the city of Mainz in the state of Rhineland-Palatinate in Germany.

Clerfaytgasse in Hernals, Vienna is named after him.

Commentary

A brave and skillful soldier, Clerfayt perhaps achieved more than any other Austrian commander (except the Archduke Charles of Austria) in the hopeless struggle of small dynastic armies against a French "nation in arms". [2]

Notes

  1. His title is also spelled Count of Clairfayt and Count of Clairfait
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Chisholm 1911, p. 496.
  3. 1 2 Kudrna & Smith, "Clerfayt de Croix".

Related Research Articles

The Battle of Aldenhoven or Battle of the Roer saw a Republican French army commanded by Jean Baptiste Jourdan attack a Habsburg Austrian army under François Sébastien Charles Joseph de Croix, Count of Clerfayt which was defending the line of the Roer River. The key crossing was won by the French right wing at Düren after heavy fighting. The Austrian retreat from the Roer conceded control of the west bank of the Rhine River to France. The battle occurred during the War of the First Coalition, part of a wider conflict called the Wars of the French Revolution. Aldenhoven is located in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia in Germany about 21 kilometres (13 mi) northeast of Aachen.

Johann Kollowrat Austrian soldier

Feldmarschall Johann Karl, Graf von Kolowrat-Krakowsky joined the Austrian army, fought against the Kingdom of Prussia and Ottoman Turkey before being promoted to general officer rank. During combat against the French in the French Revolutionary Wars, he first became known as an artillery specialist. In the Napoleonic Wars, he commanded corps in the 1805 and 1809 campaigns. He became the Proprietor (Inhaber) of an Austrian infantry regiment in 1801 and held that position until his death.

Battle of Würzburg battle

The Battle of Würzburg was fought on 3 September 1796 between an army of Habsburg Austria led by Archduke Charles, Duke of Teschen and an army of the First French Republic led by Jean-Baptiste Jourdan. The French attacked the archduke's forces, but they were resisted until the arrival of reinforcements decided the engagement in favor of the Austrians. The French retreated west toward the Rhine River. The action occurred during the War of the First Coalition, part of the French Revolutionary Wars. Würzburg is 95 kilometres (59 mi) southeast of Frankfurt.

Johann Peter Beaulieu Austrian general

Johann Peter de Beaulieu, also Jean Pierre de Beaulieu, was a Walloon military officer. He joined the Austrian army and fought against the Prussians during the Seven Years' War. A cultured man, he later battled Belgian rebels and earned promotion to general officer. During the French Revolutionary Wars he fought against the First French Republic and attained high command. In 1796, a young Napoleon Bonaparte won some of his first victories against an army led by Beaulieu. He retired and was the Proprietor (Inhaber) of an Austrian infantry regiment until his death.

In the Battle of Jemappes on 6 November 1792, a French army led by Charles François Dumouriez attacked and defeated an Austrian army commanded by Albert of Saxe-Teschen. Though the Austrians were outnumbered three-to-one, the victory greatly encouraged the population of the young First French Republic.

Friedrich Joseph of Nauendorf, a general in Habsburg service during the French Revolutionary Wars, was noted for his intrepid and daring cavalry raids. Like most Austrian officers of the French Revolutionary Wars, he joined the military as a young man, and served in the War of Bavarian Succession. In the war's opening action, he successfully repelled a Prussian border raid, which earned him the admiration of the Empress Maria Theresa's son, Joseph. His continued success in the Habsburg border wars with the Ottoman Empire added to his reputation as a commander.

Oliver Remigius, Count von Wallis Baron von Carrighmain, the scion of a distinguished Irish family in Austrian military service, served in Austria's wars with the Ottoman Empire (1787–1791), and in the French Revolutionary Wars (1791–1800). He died of wounds received in action at the First Battle of Zürich.

Johann Heinrich von Schmitt Austrian army commander

Johann Heinrich von Schmitt was an officer in the Army of the Holy Roman Empire. He was arguably one of the most successful chiefs of staff; he rose to the rank of Feldmarshalleutnant during the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic wars.

Franz Freiherr von Werneck, born 13 October 1748 – died 17 January 1806, enlisted in the army of Habsburg Austria and fought in the Austro-Turkish War, the French Revolutionary Wars, and the Napoleonic Wars. He enjoyed a distinguished career until 1797, when he lost a battle and was dismissed as punishment. He was only reinstated in 1805. In that year he surrendered his command and was later brought up on charges. He died while awaiting a court-martial.

Siege of Belgrade (1789)

In the Siege of Belgrade a Habsburg Austrian army led by Feldmarschall Ernst Gideon von Laudon besieged an Ottoman Turkish force under Osman Pasha in the fortress of Belgrade. After a three-week leaguer, the Austrians forced the surrender of the fortress. During the campaign which was part of the Austro-Turkish War, the Austrian army was greatly hampered by illness. Austria held the city until 1791 when it handed Belgrade back to the Ottomans according to the terms of the peace treaty. Several Austrian soldiers who distinguished themselves during the siege later held important commands in the subsequent French Revolutionary Wars and Napoleonic Wars. Belgrade is the capital of modern Serbia.

Battle of Mouscron

The Battle of Mouscron was a series of clashes that occurred when the Republican French Army of the North under Jean-Charles Pichegru moved northeast to attack Menen (Menin) and was opposed by Coalition forces under the overall leadership of François Sébastien Charles Joseph de Croix, Count of Clerfayt. In their initial advance, the French began the Siege of Menin and captured Kortrijk (Courtrai). With Habsburg Austrian reinforcements, Clerfayt counterattacked on the 28th but Joseph Souham soon massed superior French forces and drove the Coalition troops out of the area. This Flanders Campaign action happened during the War of the First Coalition, part of the French Revolutionary Wars. The battle occurred near Mouscron, Belgium, located at the French border 9 kilometres (6 mi) south of Kortrijk and at Menen, located 11 kilometres (7 mi) west of Kortrijk.

The Battle of Handschuhsheim or Battle of Heidelberg saw an 8,000-man force from Habsburg Austria under Peter Vitus von Quosdanovich face 12,000 men from the Republican French army led by Georges Joseph Dufour. Thanks to a devastating cavalry charge, the Austrians routed the French with disproportionate losses. The fight occurred during the War of the First Coalition, part of the French Revolutionary Wars. Handschuhsheim is now a district of Heidelberg, but it was a village north of the city in 1795.

At the Battle of Höchst, the Habsburg Austrian army commanded by François Sébastien Charles Joseph de Croix, Count of Clerfayt outmaneuvered the French Republican Army of Sambre-et-Meuse commanded by Jean-Baptiste Jourdan. Although the French attacked first, they were unable to dislodge an Austrian flanking column. Afterward Jourdan's army retreated to the north. The clash happened during the War of the First Coalition, part of a wider conflict known as the French Revolutionary Wars. Modern-day Höchst is a suburb and administrative district of Frankfurt am Main in the state of Hesse in Germany. Höchst is about 12 kilometers (7 mi) west of the Frankfurt city center.

The Battle of Pfeddersheim or Battle of the Pfrimm saw a Habsburg Austrian army led by François Sébastien Charles Joseph de Croix, Count of Clerfayt attack a Republican French army under Jean-Charles Pichegru. The Austrians defeated the French and forced them to retreat south to Frankenthal where Clerfayt won another clash a few days later. The battle occurred during the War of the First Coalition, part of the French Revolutionary Wars. The borough of Worms-Pfeddersheim is located in the state of Rhineland-Palatinate in Germany. Worms is approximately 23 kilometres (14 mi) north of Mannheim and Pfeddersheim is about 6 kilometres (4 mi) west of Worms.

Siege of Ypres (1794)

The Siege of Ypres saw a Republican French army commanded by Jean-Charles Pichegru invest the fortress of Ypres and its 7,000-man garrison composed of Habsburg Austrians under Paul von Salis and Hessians led by Heinrich von Borcke and Georg von Lengerke. French troops under Joseph Souham fended off three relief attempts by the corps of François Sébastien Charles Joseph de Croix, Count of Clerfayt. Meanwhile, the French besiegers led by Jean Victor Marie Moreau compelled the Coalition defenders to surrender the city. The fighting occurred during the War of the First Coalition, part of the Wars of the French Revolution. In 1794 Ypres was part of the Austrian Netherlands, but today it is a municipality in Belgium, located about 120 kilometres (75 mi) west of Brussels.

Franz Joseph, Count Kinsky Austrian general

Franz Joseph, Count Kinsky of Wchinitz and Tettau was a Habsburg Austrian general in the War of the Bavarian Succession and the French Revolutionary Wars. A nobleman from the House of Kinsky, he began his military service in 1759 and within ten years he commanded an infantry regiment. Ahead of his time, he began a school in his regiment to train officer cadets. As a general officer he led troops in a successful action against Prussia in 1778. A year later he was appointed Inhaber of an infantry regiment and Director of the Theresian Military Academy in Wiener Neustadt; he held both posts during the remainder of his life. In the Flanders Campaign in 1794, he commanded an infantry division against the French. He led an attack column at Tourcoing where he failed to support Prince Frederick, Duke of York and Albany. He was promoted to Feldzeugmeister in September 1794. He held no more active commands and died at Vienna in 1805.

Georg Wilhelm von dem Bussche was a general officer of Hanoverian soldiers during the War of the First Coalition who famously led one of the Coalition columns at the Battle of Tourcoing. He was born into a noble family in the Kingdom of Prussia but later became a page to King George II of Great Britain who was also Elector of Hanover. In 1743 he joined the Hanoverian military service and fought in the War of the Austrian Succession and Seven Years' War, fighting at Minden and Lutterberg. He led a battalion at Gibraltar in the American Revolutionary War. In the War of the First Coalition he led his soldiers at Valenciennes, Hondschoote, Mouscron, Tourcoing and Tournai. On 11 December 1794 while defending the Bommelerwaard in the Dutch Republic, his hand was taken off by a cannonball and he died shortly afterward.

Action at Mannheim (1795)

The Action at Mannheim 1795 began in April 1795 when two French armies crossed the Rhine and converged on the confluence of the Main and the Rhine. Initial action at Mannheim resulted in a minor skirmish, but the Bavarian commander negotiated a quick truce with the French and withdrew. On 17 October 1795, 17,000 Habsburg Austrian troops under the command of Dagobert Sigmund von Wurmser engaged 12,000 soldiers, led by Jean-Charles Pichegru in the grounds outside the city of Mannheim. In a combination of maneuvers, the Habsburg army forced 10,000 of the French forces to withdraw into the city itself; other French troops fled to join neighboring Republican armies. First Coalition forces then laid siege to Mannheim. Subsequent action at neighboring cities forced the French to withdraw further westward toward France; after a month's siege, the 10,000-strong Republican French garrison now commanded by Anne Charles Basset Montaigu surrendered to 25,000 Austrians commanded by Wurmser. This surrender brought the 1795 campaign in Germany to an end. The battle and siege occurred during the War of the First Coalition, part of the French Revolutionary Wars. Situated on the Rhine River at its confluence with the Neckar River, Mannheim lies in the federal state of Baden-Württemberg in modern-day Germany.

References

Attribution

Further reading