Siege of Mainz (1792)

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The siege of Mainz (1792)
Part of the War of the First Coalition
DieBelagerungVonMainz1792S132.jpg
The siege of Mainz, by Georg Melchior Kraus.
Date18–21 October 1792
Location
50°00′00″N8°16′00″E / 50.0000°N 8.2667°E / 50.0000; 8.2667
Result French victory
Territorial
changes
City of Mainz
Belligerents
Flag of France.svg French Republic Electorate of Mainz
Commanders and leaders
Adam Philippe, Comte de Custine Baron von Franz Joseph Albini
Units involved
Army of the Rhine Volunteers
Strength
13,000 5,000
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Location within Rhineland-Palatinate
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Siege of Mainz (1792) (Germany)
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Siege of Mainz (1792) (Europe)

The siege of Mainz was a short engagement at the beginning of the War of the First Coalition. The victorious French army of Custine seized the town on October 21 1792,after three days of siege. The French occupied Mainz, and tried to install the Republic of Mainz there.

Mainz Place in Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany

Mainz is the capital and largest city of Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany. The city is located on the Rhine river at its confluence with the Main river, opposite Wiesbaden on the border with Hesse. Mainz is an independent city with a population of 206,628 (2015) and forms part of the Frankfurt Rhine-Main Metropolitan Region.

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.

Adam Philippe, Comte de Custine French general

Adam Philippe, Comte de Custine was a French general. As a young officer in the Bourbon Royal army, he served in the Seven Years' War. In the American Revolutionary War he joined Rochambeau's Expédition Particulière supporting the American colonists. Following the successful Virginia campaign and the Battle of Yorktown, he returned to France and rejoined his unit in the Royal Army.

Contents

After the declaration of war by France against the Archduchy of Austria (1792) and the declaration against Mainz on 21 July 1792, Comte de Custine was given command of the Army of the Rhine to replace Nicolas Luckner, and in September occupied the southern Rhineland about the cities of Speyer and Worms. The regiments of the Duke of Nassau left the Fortress of Mainz on October 5.

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.

Archduchy of Austria Fief of the Holy Roman Empire

The Archduchy of Austria was a major principality of the Holy Roman Empire and the nucleus of the Habsburg Monarchy. With its capital at Vienna, the archduchy was centered at the Empire's southeastern periphery.

Nicolas Luckner Marshal of France

Nicolas, Count Luckner was a German officer in French service who rose to become a Marshal of France.

Context

After the French Revolution of 1789 the Prince Archbishop of Mainz, Friedrich Karl Joseph von Erthal, became a committed opponent who welcomed with open arms all French nobles fleeing the civil unrest. This made Mainz into an epicenter of the counter-revolution in Europe.

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.

Friedrich Karl Joseph von Erthal Catholic bishop

Friedrich Karl Joseph Reichsfreiherr von Erthal was prince-elector and archbishop of Mainz from 18 July 1774 to 4 July 1802, shortly before the end of the archbishopric in the Reichsdeputationshauptschluss.

After the declaration of war by France to the Austrian Archduke Francis II in April 20, 1792, counter-revolutionaries n Mainz gathered in July promising to defeat the French revolutionaries and carrying out an "infliction of exemplary punishment." But the failure of the escape of Louis XVI to Varenne lead to the arrest and indictment of the king of France. Thus, on Aug. 4, 1792, the Archbishop of Mainz joined the Austro-Prussian coalition.

Francis II, Holy Roman Emperor Holy Roman Emperor

Francis II was the last Holy Roman Emperor, ruling from 1792 until 6 August 1806, when he dissolved the Holy Roman Empire after the decisive defeat at the hands of the First French Empire led by Napoleon at the Battle of Austerlitz. In 1804, he had founded the Austrian Empire and became Francis I, the first Emperor of Austria, ruling from 1804 to 1835, so later he was named the first Doppelkaiser in history. For the two years between 1804 and 1806, Francis used the title and style by the Grace of God elected Roman Emperor, ever Augustus, hereditary Emperor of Austria and he was called the Emperor of both the Holy Roman Empire and Austria. He was also Apostolic King of Hungary, Croatia and Bohemia as Francis I. He also served as the first president of the German Confederation following its establishment in 1815.

Counter-revolutionary someone who opposes a revolution

A counter-revolutionary or anti-revolutionary is anyone who opposes a revolution, particularly those who act after a revolution to try to overturn or reverse it, in full or in part. The adjective, "counter-revolutionary", pertains to movements that would restore the state of affairs, or the principles, that prevailed during a prerevolutionary era.

Louis XVI of France King of France

Louis XVI, born Louis-Auguste, was the last king of France before the fall of the monarchy during the French Revolution. He was referred to as citizen Louis Capet during the four months before he was guillotined. In 1765, at the death of his father, Louis, son and heir apparent of Louis XV, Louis-Auguste became the new dauphin of France. Upon his grandfather's death on 10 May 1774, he assumed the title "King of France and Navarre", which he used until 4 September 1791, when he received the title of "King of the French" until the monarchy was abolished on 21 September 1792.

However, not only did the attempted invasion of France by the armies of the coalition fail on September 20 at the Battle of Valmy, but the Revolutionary Army proceeded on the offensive and crossed the Rhine, with the aim to take Mainz.

Battle of Valmy victory by the army of France during the Revolutionary Wars that followed the French Revolution

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.

Progress

On 29 and 30 September 1792 the revolutionary armies under General Custine (replacing Nicolas Luckner as the head the Army of the Rhine), seized the city of Spire. As the French could not hold this position for long, they fell back four days later to Worms. In Mainz, there was panic: the regiments of the Duke of Nassau evacuated the fortress on October 5. The gentry, the bishops, the aristocrats and their servants quickly left the city. It is estimated that between a quarter and a third of the 25,000 inhabitants fled. The rest of the population declared themselves ready to defend the damaged fortifications. They had 5,000 volunteers, which was clearly insufficient to cover the huge enclosures of the city.

The French troops, now called "Army of the Vosges" by decision of the Convention, began the encirclement and siege of the city on October 18. On the night of October 18, the vanguard of General Jean Nicolas Houchard reached Weisenau.

Jean Nicolas Houchard French general

Jean Nicolas Houchard (24 January 1739, Forbach, Moselle – 17 November 1793) was a French General of the French Revolution and the French Revolutionary Wars.

On the 19th, the army corps arrived in sight of Mainz and surrounded the place; our right was based in the village of Hechtsheim, on our left the Rhine; we occupied Bretzenheim, Zahlbach, the mill and the heights of Gonsenheim and head of Mombach woods; headquarters was established at Marienborn. One of our columns from this village Zahlbach, marched to within cannon shot of the town; the troops of Mainz, who lined the advanced works, fired and wounded few men. This operation complete, the howitzer batteries opened fire on the fort Hauptstein and the body of the place; but they were only field guns, and as the fortifications that surround the main forum for Mainz are very extensive, we quickly recognized the impossibility to wear down the city using six inch shells. The engineer commander Clémencey proposed to use red balls; Custine but laughed and said he would have the city without resorting to fire. [1]

The rumor about the 13,000 besiegers spread. The war council chaired by Count Gymnich was terrified. Gymnich convened a civilian and military council to which was called the Baron of Stein, the Prussian Minister, Baron Fechenbach, canon of the cathedral chapter, Baron von Franz Joseph Albini, chancellor of the court, and M. de Kalckhoff, private adviser to the Prince Archbishop. These three dignitaries of the ecclesiastical court argued that it was necessary to defend Mainz, but the governor, the Prussian Minister and members of the Electoral body opened a contrary opinion, and in a final conference where the leaders of the military body were summoned, the council decided to surrender. The board decided to capitulate without a fight on Oct. 20. On the 21st the French entered the residential city of the Electoral, despite its elaborate fortifications that were supposed to protect the city.

After the assault this day was a milestone in future relations between France and the Holy Roman Empire. 20,000 soldiers occupied the city, more than the original population. The occupiers tried to convince people of the benefits of the Revolution. However, revolutionary ideas were not of immediate concern to the public, but the daily problems of supplying so great an occupation force. In addition, General Custine, who was housed at the Castle of the Prince Electors, provided all kinds of instructions for the protection of the university and the premises of the arch-bishop. Thus, many citizens of Mainz regarded the French not as invaders, but as liberators. Franz Konrad Macke served as mayor from February to July 1793.

Here's what one of the Germans said, who liked the arrival of the French:

Finally, our people began to reject their chains and gain human dignity. Soon we will be free. A few days before the French attacked our city, I already felt a great joy. Freedom and equality finally won in Mainz! The French finally arrived to remove our despots, and the first of them was our prince-bishop, who had fled a few days earlier. I confess that I am delighted at the sight of the immense despair that gripped our noble lords. They were panicked at the approach of the French and piled everything they could carry and fled the city. [2]

Johan Alois BECKER, letter to my best friend, November 29, 1792, Archives of Mainz (Germany), Series 1512.

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References

  1. Jean Louis Camille Gay de Vernon, Baron Gay de Vernon: Mémoire sur les opérations militaires des généraux en chef Custine et Houchard, pendant les années 1792 et 1793; Firmin-Didot frères, 1844, p. 63
  2. Johan Alois BECKER, letter to my best friend, November 29, 1792, Archives of Mainz (Germany), Series 1512.

Bibliography

Coordinates: 50°00′00″N8°16′16″E / 50.0000°N 8.2711°E / 50.0000; 8.2711