Second Battle of Wissembourg (1793)

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Second Battle of Wissembourg (1793)
Part of French Revolutionary Wars
Date2629 December 1793
Location Wissembourg, Bas-Rhin, France
Result Strategic French victory
Belligerents
Flag of France.svg France Banner of the Holy Roman Emperor (after 1400).svg Austria
Flag of the Kingdom of Prussia (1750-1801).svg Prussia
Flag of Bavaria (lozengy).svg Electorate of Bavaria
Flag of Hesse.svg Hesse-Kassel
Commanders and leaders
Flag of France.svg Lazare Hoche
Flag of France.svg Charles Pichegru
Banner of the Holy Roman Emperor (after 1400).svg Dagobert Wurmser
Flag of the Kingdom of Prussia (1750-1801).svg Ernst von Rüchel
Flag of Bavaria (lozengy).svg Count Minucci
Strength
35,000 [1] 38,000
Casualties and losses
Not known Not known, 21 guns

The Second Battle of Wissembourg from 26 December 1793 to 29 December 1793 saw an army of the First French Republic under General Lazare Hoche fight a series of clashes against an army of Austrians, Prussians, Bavarians, and Hessians led by General Dagobert Sigmund von Wurmser. There were significant actions at Wœrth on 22 December and Geisberg on 26 and 27 December. In the end, the French forced their opponents to withdraw to the east bank of the Rhine River. The action occurred during the War of the First Coalition phase of the French Revolutionary Wars.

Lazare Hoche French general

Louis Lazare Hoche was a French soldier who rose to be general of the Revolutionary army. He won a victory over Royalist forces in Brittany. His surname is one of the names inscribed under the Arc de Triomphe, on Column 3. Richard Holmes says he was, "quick-thinking, stern, and ruthless...a general of real talent whose early death was a loss to France."

Dagobert Sigmund von Wurmser austrian marshall

Dagobert Sigismund, Count von Wurmser was an Austrian field marshal during the French Revolutionary Wars. Although he fought in the Seven Years' War, the War of the Bavarian Succession, and mounted several successful campaigns in the Rhineland in the initial years of the French Revolutionary Wars, he is probably most remembered for his unsuccessful operations against Napoleon Bonaparte during the 1796 campaign in Italy.

Wœrth Commune in Grand Est, France

Wœrth or Woerth is a commune in the Bas-Rhin department in Grand Est in north-eastern France.

Contents

Background

During the First Battle of Wissembourg on 13 October 1793, the Lines of Weissenburg, defended by the French Army of the Rhine, were stormed by an Austrian-Allied army under Wurmser. [2] [3] A month later, Austrian engineer Franz von Lauer compelled Fort-Louis on the Rhine to surrender to the Allies. [4] The French government responded to the crisis by sending reinforcements from the Army of the Moselle. [5]

In the First Battle of Wissembourg an Allied army commanded by Dagobert Sigmund von Wurmser attacked the French Army of the Rhine under Jean Pascal Carlenc. After an ineffectual resistance, the French army abandoned its fortified line behind the Lauter River and retreated toward Strasbourg in confusion. This engagement of the War of the First Coalition occurred on the eastern border of France about 60 kilometres (37 mi) north of Strasbourg.

The Lines of Weissenburg, or Lines of Wissembourg, were entrenched works — an earthen rampart dotted with small outworks — along the river Lauter. They were built in 1706 and lasted into the 19th century.

Franz von Lauer austrian general

Franz von Lauer began his service in the Habsburg Austrian army as an engineer officer and advanced to high rank during his career. After serving in the Seven Years' War he earned promotion to oberst (colonel) over the next two decades. He fought against Ottoman Turkey at Belgrade and became a general officer for his distinguished effort as a siege specialist. He directed sieges against Fort-Louis and Mannheim while fighting the armies of the First French Republic during the War of the First Coalition. Named chief of staff of the army fighting against Napoleon Bonaparte in Italy in 1796, he fought at Bassano and Mantua. In 1800 he was appointed deputy commander of the main army in southern Germany. His efforts ended in a military disaster at Hohenlinden in December 1800. He was made the scapegoat and soon dismissed from the service.

On 17 November, the 739-man French garrison of Bitche repelled a Prussian assault on the citadel. A French traitor led the picked force of 1,200 into the outer fortifications. The alert defenders spotted Oberst (Colonel) von Wartensleben's attackers and drove them out of the fort with the loss of 120 killed and 251 captured. The French lost a handful of men killed and wounded and 63 captured. The traitor was captured and shot. [6] That same day, Prussian General Friedrich Adolf, Count von Kalckreuth with 13,000 troops defeated Hoche's 20,000 men at Biesingen. The French lost 760 killed and wounded, plus 42 captured. Prussian losses were only 16 killed and 92 wounded. [7]

Bitche Commune in Grand Est, France

Bitche is a commune in the Moselle department of the Grand Est administrative region in north-eastern France. It is the Pays de Bitche's capital city and the seat of the canton of Bitche and the communauté de communes du Pays de Bitche.

Oberst is a military rank in several German-speaking and Scandinavian countries, equivalent to Colonel. It is currently used by both the ground and air forces of Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Denmark, and Norway. The Swedish rank överste is a direct translation, as are the Finnish rank eversti and the Icelandic rank ofursti. In the Netherlands the rank overste is used as a synonym for a lieutenant colonel.

Colonel is a senior military officer rank below the brigadier and general officer ranks. However, in some small military forces, such as those of Monaco or the Vatican, colonel is the highest rank. It is also used in some police forces and paramilitary organizations.

The Battle of Kaiserslautern followed on 28 to 30 November 1793 when Hoche with 29,115 infantry, 5,046 cavalry, and 52 guns engaged Charles William Ferdinand, Duke of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel with 26,000 Prussians and Saxons. The Allies defeated the French with a loss of 2,400 killed and wounded, plus 700 men and two guns captured. Prussian casualties numbered 616 while the Saxons lost 190 men. Following the policy of King Frederick William II, Brunswick failed to follow up his victory with a vigorous pursuit. [8]

The Battle of Kaiserslautern saw a Coalition army under Charles William Ferdinand, Duke of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel oppose a Republican French army led by Lazare Hoche. Three days of conflict resulted in a victory by the Prussians and their Electoral Saxon allies as they turned back repeated French attacks. The War of the First Coalition combat was fought near the city of Kaiserslautern in the modern-day state of Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany, which is located about 60 kilometres (37 mi) west of Mannheim.

Charles William Ferdinand, Duke of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel German general

Charles William Ferdinand, Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg was the Prince of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel and a military leader. His titles are usually shortened to Duke of Brunswick in English-language sources.

Frederick William II of Prussia King of Prussia

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.

Battle

The allies were in their turn dispossessed by Hoche on 26 December and forced to retreat behind the Rhine. [9] [10] [11]

It was a French victory and enabled French forces to secure the whole of Alsace. It also led to a definitive break between the Austrians and the Prussians, who both blamed each other for the defeat. The battle's name is engraved on the north pillar of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris.

Alsace Place in Grand Est, France

Alsace is a cultural and historical region in eastern France, on the west bank of the upper Rhine next to Germany and Switzerland.

Arc de Triomphe Triumphal arch in Paris

The Arc de Triomphe de l'Étoile is one of the most famous monuments in Paris, standing at the western end of the Champs-Élysées at the center of Place Charles de Gaulle, formerly named Place de l'Étoile — the étoile or "star" of the juncture formed by its twelve radiating avenues. The location of the arc and the plaza is shared between three arrondissements, 16th, 17th (north), and 8th (east).

Paris Capital of 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, commerce, fashion, science, and the arts.

Notes

  1. Smith, pp 65-66
  2. Encyclopædia Britannica Eleventh Edition Weissenburg
  3. Adolphe Thiers, John Boyd (translated by Frederic Shoberl). The History of the French Revolution, Carey and Hart, 1844. p. 335
  4. Smith, p 61
  5. Smith, p 66
  6. Smith, pp 61-62
  7. Smith, p 62
  8. Smith, pp 62-63
  9. Friedrich Christoph Schlosser, David Davison (Translated by David Davison). History of the Eighteenth Century and of the Nineteenth Till the Overthrow of the French Empire: With Particular Reference to Mental Cultivation and Progress, Chapman and Hall, 1845. p. 540
  10. Lazare Hoche
  11. Note: Encyclopædia Britannica Eleventh Edition claims that Charles Pichegru was in command of the assaulting French forces.

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References

Coordinates: 49°02′18″N7°56′49″E / 49.0383°N 7.9469°E / 49.0383; 7.9469