War of the First Coalition - Rhine Front 1794

War of the First Coalition - Rhine Front 1794


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War of the First Coalition - Rhine Front 1794

This clickable map shows the main events of the War of the First Coalition on the Rhine Front in 1794, a quiet year that saw the start of the longest of three sieges of Mainz.


Battle of Kaiserslautern (1794)

The Battle of Kaiserslautern (23 May 1794) saw an army from the Kingdom of Prussia and Electoral Saxony led by Wichard Joachim Heinrich von Möllendorf fall upon a single French Republican division under Jean-Jacques Ambert from the Army of the Moselle. The Prussians tried to surround their outnumbered adversaries but most of the French evaded capture. Nevertheless, Möllendorf's troops inflicted casualties on the French in the ratio of nine-to-one and occupied Kaiserslautern. While the Prussians won this triumph on an unimportant front, the French armies soon began winning decisive victories in Belgium and the Netherlands. The battle occurred during the War of the First Coalition, part of the French Revolutionary Wars. In 1794 Kaiserslautern was part of the Electoral Palatinate but today the city is located in the state of Rhineland-Palatinate in Germany about 67 kilometres (42 mi) west of Mannheim.

In December 1793, the French drove the soldiers of Habsburg Austria and Prussia from French soil in the Second Battle of Wissembourg and took positions beyond the eastern frontier. That spring the Army of the Moselle sent heavy reinforcements to northeast France, leaving the Rhine front lightly defended by troops under Jean René Moreaux. Taking advantage of French weakness, the main Prussian assault was aimed at Ambert who could only try to save as many of his troops as possible. Also on 23 May an Austro-Prussian army attacked the Army of the Rhine under Claude Ignace François Michaud but was repulsed at the Battle of Schifferstadt. After losing Kaiserslautern, the two French armies withdrew to positions closer to the frontier. Having expended almost the only initiative they displayed in 1794, the Prussians allowed their offensive to sputter to a halt.


The French Revolution & Napoleonic Wars

The beginning of the French Revolution marked France's transition to a constitutional monarchy explore key events between 1789 and 1791 in this history lesson.

The beginning of the French Revolution marked France's transition to a constitutional monarchy explore key events between 1789 and 1791 in this history lesson.

Between 1792 and 1794, the Reign of Terror caused at least 30,000 French citizen deaths during the French Revolution, and resulted in a new political system.

Between 1792 and 1794, the Reign of Terror caused at least 30,000 French citizen deaths during the French Revolution, and resulted in a new political system.

Lead by Napoleon Bonaparte as a general and later in an elected role, this period in the French Revolution declared liberty for the nation and its people.

Lead by Napoleon Bonaparte as a general and later in an elected role, this period in the French Revolution declared liberty for the nation and its people.

France secured its sphere of influence during the War of the First Coalition by prevailing over allied European forces find out how in this history lesson.

France secured its sphere of influence during the War of the First Coalition by prevailing over allied European forces find out how in this history lesson.

In this history lesson, learn why and how the French Campaign of Egypt occurred, including Napoleon Bonaparte's motivation to become ruler of France.

In this history lesson, learn why and how the French Campaign of Egypt occurred, including Napoleon Bonaparte's motivation to become ruler of France.

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Tag Archives: War of the First Coalition

As of March 2014, we are posting weekly extracts of writings on war and warfare drawn from our manuscript and printed collections. Ranging from items on the Maratha wars to the Second World War, the extracts will reflect opinions both from the battle front and from those at home.

10 July 1808 Waiting to set sail for the Iberian Peninsula
In June of 1808 two Spanish delegates arrived in London. They were there to appeal for support following uprisings against the French which had taken place across Spain. Their arrival was met with great excitement throughout Britain, with the government coming under pressure to seize the opportunity. On 14 June, Arthur Wellesley was formally appointed to command an expedition to support the Spanish in fighting against French forces in the Iberian Peninsula. In the passage below, as Wellesley waits to set sail from Cork, a sense of urgency can be felt. The expedition at last got out with a fair wind on 12 July, arriving in Coruña on 20 July.

“The wind is still contrary, but we hope it will change so as to sail this evening. We are unmoored, and will not wait one moment after the wind will be fair.

I see that people in England complain of the delay which has taken place in the sailing of the expedition but in fact none has taken place and even if all had been on board we could not have sailed before this day.”

WP1/208 Copy of a letter from Lieutenant General Arthur Wellesley, Cove, to Robert Stewart, Viscount Castlereagh, Secretary of State for War and the Colonies, 10 July 1808


10-11 July 1940 Start of the Battle of Britain
The Battle of Britain, the struggle between the German Luftwaffe and the British Royal Air force, raged over Britain between July and October 1940. It was the first major military campaign to be fought entirely in the air. It was part of a German plan to win air superiority over Southern Britain and the English Channel by destroying the British air force and aircraft industry as a prelude to the invasion of Britain.

10 July: “Today was the day prophesied as that of the invasion – the beginning of the battle of Britain.”

11 July: “The news today as other days of superiority of the RAF – parts of England bombed – ‘a few’ deaths – no numbers given anymore – today an English railway siding – a number killed. But our bombers go to their places and bomb with precision.”

MS 168 AJ217/36 Journal of Samuel Rich, 10-11 July 1940


12 July 1793
The surrender of Condé
The siege of Condé lasted from three months and was part of an Allied campaign on the borders of France in the spring and summer of 1793. By April French republican controlled Condé was under blockade from the Prussians under General Knobelsdorf, by a force of 12,000 men commanded by Clairfayt to the south, and to the north by the Prince of Würtemberg. A small British contingent, under the Duke of York, was also in the area.

Condé held out until 10 July, before surrendering after a severe bombardment. remained in Austrian hands until 30 August 1794.

“On the 10th Condè surrendered. The garrison is to march out this day with honors of war, to pile their arms and to be conducted prisoners of war, the officers to retain their swords. The number surrender’d is 4008. They are to be conducted to Antwerp I believe. A great quantity of fine artillery is found. The garrison was distress’d for provisions having subsisted some time on a small quantity of bread & 2oz of horse flesh daily.”

MS 62 Broadlands Archives BR11/20/10Letter from Benjamin Mee to his brother-in-law Henry Temple, second Viscount Palmerston, 12 July 1793


12 July 1917 Improvements in aircraft and anti-artillery to conquer air warfare
As a result of heavy casualties for the Royal Flying Corps at the Battle of Arras, drastic change was needed in the British anti-artillery and aircraft. This was done through the use of barrage balloons and the development of aeroplanes.

Barrage balloons were large balloons fastened with metal cables used to obstruct aircraft attack by damaging the aircraft on collision with the cables. Some carried explosive charges that would be used against the aircraft to ensure its demolition.

The development of strong aircraft included the creation of the South Experimental 5, the Sopwith Camel and the Sopwith Pup. The South Experimental 5 could be dived at high speeds, and its squarer wings improved lateral control at low airspeeds. The Sopwith Camel was a single-seat biplane fighter which had a short-coupled fuselage, a heavy powerful rotary engine, and concentrated fire from twin synchronised machine guns. The Sopwith Pup was also a single-seat biplane fighter, which had excellent flying characteristics and good manoeuvrability. This was due to its low wing loading. Its light weight and substantial wing area gave it a good speed of climb, and its nimbleness was enhanced by installing ailerons on both wings.

“We hear cheering news of having more aeroplanes over here now to protect us. Everyone is fearfully jumpy, especially in the East End, as rumours are continually afloat, any people who are caught spreading rumours will get it pretty hot I fancy.”

MS 132 AJ 322 2/1 Letter from Sybil Henriques to Basil Henriques, 12 July 1917


Archibald Hamilton Rowan Tried for Distribution of Seditious Paper

Archibald Hamilton Rowan, a founding member of the Dublin Society of United Irishmen, is tried on a charge of distributing seditious paper on January 29, 1794.

Hamilton Rowan is born in the home of his grandfather, William Rowan, in London on May 1, 1751 and lives there with his mother and sister for much of his early life. He is admitted to Queens’ College, Cambridge in 1768, but is expelled from the college and rusticated for an attempt to throw a tutor into the River Cam. He is sent for a period in 1769 to Warrington Academy.

Hamilton Rowan travels throughout the 1770s and 1780s, visiting parts of Europe, the Americas, and North Africa. In 1781 he marries Sarah Dawson in Paris, France. The couple has ten children. He is the godfather of the Irish mathematician William Rowan Hamilton.

Hamilton Rowan returns to Ireland in his thirties, in 1784, to live at Rathcoffey near Clane in County Kildare. He becomes a celebrity and, despite his wealth and privilege, a strong advocate for Irish liberty. That same year he joins the Killyleagh Volunteers, a militia group later associated with radical reform. He first gains public attention by championing the cause of fourteen-year-old Mary Neal in 1788. Neal had been lured into a Dublin brothel and then assaulted by Lord Carhampton. Hamilton Rowan publicly denounces Carhampton and publishes a pamphlet A Brief Investigation of the Sufferings of John, Anne, and Mary Neal in the same year. An imposing figure at more than six feet tall, his notoriety grows when he enters a Dublin dining club threatening several of Mary Neal’s detractors, with his massive Newfoundland at his side and a shillelagh in hand. The incident wins him public applause and celebrity as a champion of the poor.

In 1790 Hamilton Rowan joins the Northern Whig Club, and by October has become a founding member of the Dublin Society of United Irishmen, working alongside famous radicals such as William Drennan and Theobald Wolfe Tone. He is arrested in 1792 for seditious libel when caught handing out “An Address to the Volunteers of Ireland,” a piece of United Irish propaganda. Unknown to him, from 1791 Dublin Castle has a spy in the Dublin Society, Thomas Collins, whose activity is never discovered. From February 1793 Britain and Ireland join the War of the First Coalition against France, and the United Irish movement is outlawed in 1794.

Hamilton Rowan’s reputation for radicalism and bluster grow during this time when he leaves Ireland to confront the Lord Advocate of Scotland about negative comments made in respect to his character and that of members of the Society of United Irishmen. As a prominent member of the Irish gentry, he is an important figure in the United Irishmen and becomes the contact for the Scottish radical societies as a result of his visit. Upon his return to Dublin, he is charged and was found guilty of seditious libel, even though he is excellently defended by the famous John Philpot Curran. He is sentenced to two years imprisonment, receives a fine of £500, and is forced to pay two assurities for good behaviour of £1,000 each. In January 1794 he retires to his apartments in Dublin’s Newgate Prison.

In the years following, Hamilton Rowan spends time in exile in France, the United States and Germany. He is allowed to return to Ireland in 1806. He returns to the ancestral home of Killyleagh Castle, County Down, receiving a hero’s welcome. While he has agreed to be a model citizen under the conditions of his return to Ireland, he remains active in politics and retains his youthful radicalism. Following his last public appearance at a meeting in the Rotunda in Dublin on January 20, 1829, he is lifted up by a mob and paraded through the streets.

Hamilton Rowan dies at the age of 84 in his home on November 1, 1834. He is buried in the vaults of St. Mary’s Church, Dublin.


Size of the French army, 1445-1794

I found some useful figures in the old article "Recalculating French Army Growth during the Grand Siecle" by John Lynn, first published in French Historical Studies, Vol. 18, 1994, p. 881-906. I thought I'd share them in case anyone else found them useful as a reference. These figures are taken from various pages of the article I can quote the line and cite the original source for any of them if needed, but unless specifically requested, I think just noting the brief article's title and author should suffice generally. Most of the figures are taken directly from primary sources, with the author noting that they generally hold up to scrutiny.

Prior to the Industrial Revolution, France was the most populous state in Europe, with about 1/4 of Europeans living in it. So while of course other countries can be more or less militarized than them (especially heavily urbanized states like those in the Low Countries and Italy) and these figures aren't definitive for different systems, they're still a good general reference for premodern armies. Note that the population of France was 12-15 million in the 15th century, 15-20 million in the 16th century, hovered around 20 million in the 17th century, and went up to 27 million by the end of the 18th century. All figures are paper army strength actual strength could sometimes be lower (a section of the article is devoted to talking about the appropriate discount rate) and militias, reserves, and naval personnel are not counted at all:

1445-1475: 14,000 (average standing peacetime force)
1495: 22-27,000 (invasion only)
1499: 23-29,000 (invasion only)
1515: 41,000
1544: 69-77,000
1552: 60,000
1568: 80,000
1589: 50-60,000
1610: 55,000
1630: 39,000
1634: 100,368
1635: 168,100
1636: 205,400 (172,000 infantry, 33,400 cavalry)
1637: 160,010
1638: 148,180
1639: 211,950
Thirty Years War average: 150-160,000
1665: 60,000
1667: 85,000
1668: 134,000
1678: 279,610 (219,250 infantry and 60,360 cavalry)
1688: 207,000
1693: 438,000 (343,323 infantry, 67,334 enlisted cavalry,

27,000 officers who were mostly cavalry)
1702: 220,502
1707: 373,000 (318,000 infantry, 55,000 cavalry)
1710: 381,229 (323,665 infantry, 57,564 cavalry)
1794: 1,169,000 (plus 1,200,000 in the National Guard around 1789)

On p. 883, the author also notes that another historian, Corvisier, tallied militia and naval personnel during the War of the Spanish Succession as about equal in size to the army. So, at least for the 18th century, you could roughly double the above figures to get the full military establishment.

Petey55

A tired daddy.

I found some useful figures in the old article "Recalculating French Army Growth during the Grand Siecle" by John Lynn, first published in French Historical Studies, Vol. 18, 1994, p. 881-906. I thought I'd share them in case anyone else found them useful as a reference. These figures are taken from various pages of the article I can quote the line and cite the original source for any of them if needed, but unless specifically requested, I think just noting the brief article's title and author should suffice generally. Most of the figures are taken directly from primary sources, with the author noting that they generally hold up to scrutiny.

Prior to the Industrial Revolution, France was the most populous state in Europe, with about 1/4 of Europeans living in it. So while of course other countries can be more or less militarized than them (especially heavily urbanized states like those in the Low Countries and Italy) and these figures aren't definitive for different systems, they're still a good general reference for premodern armies. Note that the population of France was 12-15 million in the 15th century, 15-20 million in the 16th century, hovered around 20 million in the 17th century, and went up to 27 million by the end of the 18th century. All figures are paper army strength actual strength could sometimes be lower (a section of the article is devoted to talking about the appropriate discount rate) and militias, reserves, and naval personnel are not counted at all:

1445-1475: 14,000 (average standing peacetime force)
1495: 22-27,000 (invasion only)
1499: 23-29,000 (invasion only)
1515: 41,000
1544: 69-77,000
1552: 60,000
1568: 80,000
1589: 50-60,000
1610: 55,000
1630: 39,000
1634: 100,368
1635: 168,100
1636: 205,400 (172,000 infantry, 33,400 cavalry)
1637: 160,010
1638: 148,180
1639: 211,950
Thirty Years War average: 150-160,000
1665: 60,000
1667: 85,000
1668: 134,000
1678: 279,610 (219,250 infantry and 60,360 cavalry)
1688: 207,000
1693: 438,000 (343,323 infantry, 67,334 enlisted cavalry,

27,000 officers who were mostly cavalry)
1702: 220,502
1707: 373,000 (318,000 infantry, 55,000 cavalry)
1710: 381,229 (323,665 infantry, 57,564 cavalry)
1794: 1,169,000 (plus 1,200,000 in the National Guard around 1789)

On p. 883, the author also notes that another historian, Corvisier, tallied militia and naval personnel during the War of the Spanish Succession as about equal in size to the army. So, at least for the 18th century, you could roughly double the above figures to get the full military establishment.

Falkenhayn

Gives a shit about the rules

I found some useful figures in the old article "Recalculating French Army Growth during the Grand Siecle" by John Lynn, first published in French Historical Studies, Vol. 18, 1994, p. 881-906. I thought I'd share them in case anyone else found them useful as a reference. These figures are taken from various pages of the article I can quote the line and cite the original source for any of them if needed, but unless specifically requested, I think just noting the brief article's title and author should suffice generally. Most of the figures are taken directly from primary sources, with the author noting that they generally hold up to scrutiny.

Prior to the Industrial Revolution, France was the most populous state in Europe, with about 1/4 of Europeans living in it. So while of course other countries can be more or less militarized than them (especially heavily urbanized states like those in the Low Countries and Italy) and these figures aren't definitive for different systems, they're still a good general reference for premodern armies. Note that the population of France was 12-15 million in the 15th century, 15-20 million in the 16th century, hovered around 20 million in the 17th century, and went up to 27 million by the end of the 18th century. All figures are paper army strength actual strength could sometimes be lower (a section of the article is devoted to talking about the appropriate discount rate) and militias, reserves, and naval personnel are not counted at all:

1445-1475: 14,000 (average standing peacetime force)
1495: 22-27,000 (invasion only)
1499: 23-29,000 (invasion only)
1515: 41,000
1544: 69-77,000
1552: 60,000
1568: 80,000
1589: 50-60,000
1610: 55,000
1630: 39,000
1634: 100,368
1635: 168,100
1636: 205,400 (172,000 infantry, 33,400 cavalry)
1637: 160,010
1638: 148,180
1639: 211,950
Thirty Years War average: 150-160,000
1665: 60,000
1667: 85,000
1668: 134,000
1678: 279,610 (219,250 infantry and 60,360 cavalry)
1688: 207,000
1693: 438,000 (343,323 infantry, 67,334 enlisted cavalry,

27,000 officers who were mostly cavalry)
1702: 220,502
1707: 373,000 (318,000 infantry, 55,000 cavalry)
1710: 381,229 (323,665 infantry, 57,564 cavalry)
1794: 1,169,000 (plus 1,200,000 in the National Guard around 1789)

On p. 883, the author also notes that another historian, Corvisier, tallied militia and naval personnel during the War of the Spanish Succession as about equal in size to the army. So, at least for the 18th century, you could roughly double the above figures to get the full military establishment.

This article is reproduced in the edited volume "The Military Revolution Debate" edited by Clifford Rogers. There's an article or two IIRC that take issue with Lynn's calculations.


French Revolutionary Wars

Historians disagree in evaluating the factors that brought about the Revolution.
. Click the link for more information. and the beginning of the Napoleonic era, the decade of 1792�. The wars began as an effort to defend the Revolution and developed into wars of conquest under the empire. The peace obtained in 1801𔃀 is generally considered to divide the French Revolutionary Wars from the Napoleonic Wars, but the character of the conflict changed only gradually.

The Origins of the Wars

The French Revolution aroused the hostility of foreign monarchs, nobles, and clergy, who feared the spread of republican ideas abroad. Émigré émigré
, in French history, a refugee, usually royalist, who fled the French Revolution and took up residence in a foreign land. The émigrés comprised all classes, but were disproportionately drawn from the privileged.
. Click the link for more information. intrigues led the Austrian and Prussian rulers to make the declaration of Pillnitz (Aug., 1791), stating that, if all the powers would join them, they were willing to restore Louis XVI to his rightful authority. French public opinion was aroused. When the Girondists Girondists
or Girondins
, political group of moderate republicans in the French Revolution, so called because the central members were deputies of the Gironde dept. Girondist leaders advocated continental war.
. Click the link for more information. obtained control of the ministry (Mar., 1792) and Emperor Francis II acceded in Austria, war became almost inevitable. It was desired by many of the revolutionists&mdashwith the notable exception of Robespierre Robespierre, Maximilien Marie Isidore
, 1758󈟊, one of the leading figures of the French Revolution. Early Life

A poor youth, he was enabled to study law in Paris through a scholarship.
. Click the link for more information. &mdashwho believed that war would insure the permanence of the new order and propagate revolution abroad, and by the royalists, who hoped that victory would restore the powers of Louis XVI.

War with Austria

On Apr. 20, 1792, France declared war on Austria. The French armies lacked organization and discipline, and many noble officers had emigrated. The allied Austrian and Prussian forces under Charles William Ferdinand Charles William Ferdinand,
1735�, duke of Brunswick (1780�), Prussian field marshal. He had great success in the Seven Years War (1756󈞫) and was commander in chief (1792󈟊) of the Austro-Prussian armies in the French Revolutionary Wars.
. Click the link for more information. , duke of Brunswick, quickly crossed the frontier and began to march on Paris. The duke issued a manifesto threatening to raze Paris should the royal family be harmed. This manifesto angered the French and contributed to the suspension of the king (Aug., 1792). The comte de Rochambeau Rochambeau, Jean Baptiste Donatien de Vimeur, comte de
, 1725�, marshal of France. He took part in the wars of King Louis XV and had been promoted to lieutenant general by 1780, when King Louis XVI sent him, with some 6,000 regulars, to aid General Washington in the
. Click the link for more information. , commanding the northern sector, and the marquis de Lafayette Lafayette, or La Fayette, Marie Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert du Motier, marquis de
, 1757�, French general and political leader. He was born of a distinguished family and early entered the army.
. Click the link for more information. , commanding the center, resigned. Their able successors, the generals Dumouriez Dumouriez, Charles François
, 1739�, French general in the French Revolutionary Wars. After fighting in the Seven Years War, he was employed by King Louis XV on several secret missions.
. Click the link for more information. and Kellermann Kellermann, François Christophe
, 1735�, marshal of France, b. Strasbourg. He served in the Seven Years War and won renown in the French Revolutionary Wars when he and General Dumouriez stopped the Prussians at Valmy (1792).
. Click the link for more information. , turned the tide when they repulsed the invaders at Valmy (Sept. 20). Dumouriez advanced on the Austrian Netherlands (Belgium), and he seized it after the battle of Jemappes (Nov. 6), while Custine Custine, Adam Philippe, comte de
, 1740󈟉, French general. He served in the Seven Years War and in the American Revolution. Elected to the States-General (1789), he served in the French Revolutionary Wars and in 1792 took Frankfurt and Mainz.
. Click the link for more information. captured Mainz and advanced on Frankfurt.

First Coalition

Late in 1792 the Convention issued a decree offering assistance to all peoples wishing to recover their liberty. This decree, the execution of Louis XVI (Jan., 1793), and the opening of the Scheldt estuary (contrary to the Peace of Westphalia) provoked Great Britain, Holland, and Spain to join Austria and Prussia in the First Coalition against France. Sardinia had already declared war after France had occupied Savoy and Nice (Sept., 1792). On Feb. 1, 1793, France declared war on Britain and Holland, and on Mar. 7, on Spain. Things rapidly turned against France. Dumouriez, defeated at Neerwinden (Mar. 18) by the Austrians, deserted to the enemy revolt broke out in the Vendée Vendée
, department (1990 pop. 509,356), W France, on the Bay of Biscay, in Poitou. The offshore islands of Noirmoutier and Yeu are included in the department. Largely an agricultural (dairying, cattle raising) and forested region, the Vendée has many beach resorts
. Click the link for more information. and Custine lost Mainz to the Prussians (July 23).

In the emergency the first Committee of Public Safety was created (Apr. 6), and a levée en masse (a draft of able-bodied males between 18 and 25) was decreed in August. The Committee, inspired by the leadership of Lazare Carnot Carnot, Lazare Nicolas Marguerite
, 1753�, French revolutionary, known as the organizer of victory for his role in the French Revolutionary Wars. A military engineer by training, Carnot became the military genius of the Revolution and was chiefly responsible for the
. Click the link for more information. , raised armies of approximately 750,000 men revolutionary commissioners were attached to the commands defeated generals, like Custine, were executed "to encourage the others."

By the end of 1793 the allies had been driven from France. In 1794 the new French commanders, Jourdan Jourdan, Jean Baptiste
, 1762�, marshal of France. He fought in the American Revolution, and in the French Revolutionary Wars he commanded the Army of the North to Wattignies (1793), won a decisive victory at Fleurus (1794), and led the army of Sambre-et-Meuse into
. Click the link for more information. and Pichegru Pichegru, Charles
, 1761�, French general in the French Revolutionary Wars. Successful on the Rhine front (1793), he invaded (1794) the Netherlands, entered (1795) Amsterdam and captured the Dutch fleet, which had frozen in the ice.
. Click the link for more information. , took the offensive. Jourdan, after defeating the Austrians at Fleurus (June 26, 1794), moved along the Rhine as far as Mannheim Pichegru seized the Low Countries. On May 16, 1795, Holland, transformed into the Batavian Republic Batavian Republic,
name for the Netherlands in the years (1795�) following conquest by the French during the French Revolutionary Wars. The United Provinces of the Netherlands were reconstituted as the Batavian Republic in 1795 and remained under French occupation and
. Click the link for more information. , made peace. Prussia on Apr. 5, 1795, signed a separate peace (the first Treaty of Basel), ceding the left bank of the Rhine to France Spain made peace on July 22 (second Treaty of Basel).

Warfare against Austria and Sardinia continued under the newly established Directory Directory,
group of five men who held the executive power in France according to the constitution of the year III (1795) of the French Revolution. They were chosen by the new legislature, by the Council of Five Hundred and the Council of Ancients each year one director, chosen
. Click the link for more information. . France gradually evolved a plan calling for a three-pronged attack: Jourdan was to advance southeastward from the Low Countries Jean Victor Moreau Moreau, Jean Victor
, 1763�, French general in the French Revolutionary Wars. Despite his successes on the Rhine and in Germany (1796󈟍), he was dismissed for withholding compromising information about General Pichegru after the coup of 18 Fructidor (1797) he
. Click the link for more information. was to strike at S Germany and Napoleon Bonaparte was to conquer Piedmont and Lombardy, cross the Austrian Alps, and join with Moreau and Jourdan. During 1795 the French defeated the allies on all fronts, but in 1796 the new Austrian commander, Archduke Charles Charles,
1771�, archduke of Austria brother of Holy Roman Emperor Francis II. Despite his epilepsy, he was the ablest Austrian commander in the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic wars however, he was handicapped by unwise decisions imposed on him from Vienna.
. Click the link for more information. , took the offensive, defeating first Jourdan, then Moreau, both of whom had retreated to the Rhine by Sept., 1796.

On the Italian front, where an ill-supplied French army had been engaged in desultory and defensive operations until Bonaparte's arrival in 1796, one victory followed another (for details of the Italian campaign, see Napoleon I Napoleon I
, 1769�, emperor of the French, b. Ajaccio, Corsica, known as "the Little Corporal." Early Life

The son of Carlo and Letizia Bonaparte (or Buonaparte see under Bonaparte, family), young Napoleon was sent (1779) to French military schools at
. Click the link for more information. ). Sardinia submitted in May, 1796, and in Apr., 1797, the preliminary peace of Leoben with Austria was signed by Bonaparte, just as Moreau had resumed his offensive in Germany. The armistice was confirmed by the Treaty of Campo Formio Campo Formio, Treaty of
, Oct., 1797, peace treaty between France and Austria, signed near Campo Formio, a village near Udine, NE Italy, then in Venetia. It marked the end of the early phases of the French Revolutionary Wars.
. Click the link for more information. (Oct., 1797). Britain, however, remained in the war, retaining naval superiority under such able commanders as Samuel Hood Hood, Samuel Hood, 1st Viscount,
1724�, British admiral. Entering the navy in 1741, he served with distinction in the Seven Years War. In 1781 he was sent to the West Indies as second in command to Lord Rodney.
. Click the link for more information. , Richard Howe Howe, Richard Howe, Earl,
1726󈟏, British admiral elder brother of Viscount Howe. He won early recognition in the Seven Years War for his operations in the English Channel.
. Click the link for more information. , John Jervis Jervis, John, earl of St. Vincent
, 1735�, British admiral. His most famous action as commander of the Mediterranean fleet was his defeat in 1797 of 27 Spanish ships off Cape St. Vincent with only 15 vessels.
. Click the link for more information. , and Horatio Nelson Nelson, Horatio Nelson, Viscount,
1758�, British admiral. The most famous of Britain's naval heroes, he is commemorated by the celebrated Nelson Column in Trafalgar Square, London.
. Click the link for more information. . Bonaparte's plan to attack the British Empire by way of Egypt was doomed by Nelson's naval triumph at Aboukir in Aug., 1798.

Second Coalition

Meanwhile, France again aroused the anger of the European powers by creating the Cisalpine Republic Cisalpine Republic
, Italian state created by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1797 by uniting the Transpadane and Cispadane republics, which he had established (1796) N and S of the Po River.
. Click the link for more information. and the Roman Republic and by invading Switzerland, which was transformed into the Helvetic Republic Helvetic Republic
, 1798�, Swiss state established under French auspices. In Sept., 1797, several exiled Swiss leaders in France (notably Frédéric César de La Harpe) formally urged the French Revolutionary government (the Directory) to help in
. Click the link for more information. . Under the leadership of Czar Paul I a Second Coalition was formed by Russia, Austria, Britain, Turkey, Portugal, and Naples. France defeated Naples and transformed it into the Parthenopean Republic Parthenopean Republic
[from Parthenope, an ancient name of Naples], state set up in Naples in Jan., 1799, by the French Revolutionary army under General Championnet and by liberal Neapolitans after the flight of King Ferdinand IV (later Ferdinand I of the Two Sicilies).
. Click the link for more information. (Jan., 1799), but in N Italy the Austrians and the Russians drove out the French, and in Aug., 1799, General Suvorov Suvorov, Aleksandr Vasilyevich
, 1729�, Russian field marshal. Suvorov entered the army as a youth and rose rapidly through the ranks. He fought in the Russo-Turkish War of 1768󈞶, helped suppress the peasant rebellion led by Pugachev in 1775, and was created
. Click the link for more information. crossed the Alps into Switzerland, where Archduke Charles had already won (June 4𔃅) a victory at Zürich over Masséna Masséna, André
, 1758�, marshal of France, b. Nice. Of humble origin, he entered (1791) the French army and rose rapidly because of his brilliant tactical abilities.
. Click the link for more information. . However, disunity between the Austrians and the Russians resulted in disastrous defeats in Switzerland, and Suvorov, after a masterly retreat through the Alps, returned to Russia (Sept.–Oct., 1799).

At this juncture Bonaparte returned from Egypt and by the coup of 18 Brumaire became First Consul (Nov., 1799). The coalition was weakened by Russia's withdrawal, and Napoleon feverishly prepared a campaign to recoup French losses. The campaign of 1800 was decisive. In Italy, Napoleon, after crossing the St. Bernard Pass, crushed the Austrians at Marengo (June 14) in Germany, Moreau crossed the Rhine and demolished allied opposition at Hohenlinden (Dec. 3, 1800). With the Peace of Lunéville&mdasha more severe version of the Treaty of Campo Formio&mdashAustria was forced out of the war (Feb. 9, 1801).

Great Britain, however, continued victorious, taking Malta (Sept., 1800) and compelling the French to surrender in Egypt (Aug., 1801). When Denmark, encouraged by France, defied British supremacy of the seas, Lord Nelson destroyed the Danish fleet in the battle of Copenhagen (Apr. 2, 1801). Nevertheless, the British were war-weary and, after Pitt's retirement, consented to the Treaty of Amiens (Mar. 27, 1802), by which all conquests were restored to France. But the absence of a commercial agreement and Britain's refusal to evacuate Malta was to lead to the resumption of warfare in 1803. Peace had already been made with Naples (Mar., 1801) and with Portugal (Sept., 1801), and in Oct., 1802, France signed a treaty restoring Egypt to the Ottoman Empire.

Bibliography

See T. C. W. Blanning, The French Revolution in Germany (1983) G. Lefebvre, The French Revolution (2 vol, tr. 1962󈞬) J. H. Rose, William Pitt and the Great War (1911, repr. 1971).


Napoleon Inflicts The Greatest Defeat in Prussian Military History

The twin battles of Jena-Auerstadt proved a major turning point for not only the Napoleonic wars, but also for 19th century Europe as a whole. Immediately, it brought about the end of Prussian resistance to Napoleon. But in the long term shocked the Prussian military system, showing their younger officers that something had to change. After this battle, Prussia began taking steps towards becoming the dominant military power in Northern Europe, eventually uniting all of the German states into the German Empire.

The War of The 4th Coalition, as the conflict between October 7th, 1806 and July 1807 was called, saw an alliance between Russia, Prussia, Great Britain, Saxony and Sweden against France. The Prussians first marched south on October 9th, as a show of force against Napoleon’s control over the Rhineland and Austrian territories. But the Prussian military wasn’t in a fit state for prolonged conflict at this point.

For most of the 18th century, the Prussian army had gained a reputation for the successful use of highly skilled mercenaries. Many of the Germanic states had armies for hire, and it was in no way hard to hire an army for a single campaign. Under Frederick the Great they enjoyed many victories in the Seven Years War.

By the 4th Coalition, most of the Prussian general staff had come of age under Frederick the Great and were staunch traditionalists. Adding to this, was the disorganized command structure of the Prussian army. There were three chiefs of staff and endless squabbling between them. Because of this, while they had mobilized before Napoleon, they immediately lost the initiative. There were multiple plans of attack to defeat the French forces, but the high command couldn’t decide on which one to implement. This wasted precious time, and by October 13th, 1806 it was too late.

Frederick the Great, his battle acumen and skill led Prussia to victory after victory in the 18th century. But war had changed by the Napoleonic period, and many of the Prussian generals still clung to the old ways. This proved disastrous at Jena- Auerstadt.

Napoleon’s forces had been marching north, with little resistance. One of his generals, Lannes, had found an advance Prussian force near the town of Jen on the 13th of October. He reported this to Napoleon, who ordered him to take up a strong position. The French troops took up a line of battle on the hills north of Jena, overlooking the plains below them. Initial contact was with only about 5,000 Prussian troops, with 15,000 marching up behind them. By the next morning, they would face around 40,000 Prussians, and Napoleon believed this to be the main enemy force in the region. He began pulling in his reserves, hoping for a decisive victory to crush the Prussians early on.

Battles of Jena and Vicinity

Louis Nicolas Davout, the commander of the III Corps, received orders to march from his position at Naumburg, north of Jena, to Apolda. Napoleon wanted this force, only 27,000 men, to encircle the Prussians retreating from Jena, to fully secure the victory. Davout’s troops set out around 0400 on the 14th, headed southwest.

Two hours later, Lannes, under orders from Napoleon, advanced towards the Prussians. Along with the French generals Suchet and Gazan, he captured the towns northwest of Jena. But the Prussians counterattacked and forced Lannes, who had pushed out past the French line, to fall back in line with Suchet and Gazan. The Prussians then pushed the attack, but were repulsed by French light infantry which had been hidden from view. Marshal Michel Ney now arrived on the battlefield, with an additional 3,000 men.

He was originally ordered to support Lannes’ right flank, but seeing that Suchet was already in position there, moved to the left. He pushed out past the French line with a combination of infantry and cavalry. While he was initially successful, he overextended himself and was quickly encircled by Prussian troops. Napoleon ordered units from the center to reinforce Ney’s weakened position, giving him a chance to retreat. This left the French center exposed, but Napoleon sent his Imperial Guard into the gap.

Napoleon speaking to his Imperial Guard. These troops answered to Napoleon directly, and he used them as an extension of his own strategy in battle. This adaptability allowed him to recover from the potentially disastrous advance of Marshal Ney at Jena.

The Prussian infantry could have exploited this weakness, but their leaders were sticking too stiffly to their plan, and leaders in the field had too little opportunity to use their own initiative. This would eventually cost them the battle, as the French were able to solidify their position, and repulse the ensuing Prussian assaults. By the end of the day, the French had broken the Prussian line, killing 10,000 men, taking 15,000 prisoners, and capturing 150 pieces of artillery at Jena.

Marshal Murat, leading a cavalry blow during the final push at Jena. French troops present Napoleon with captured Prussian banners at the end of the battle of Jena.

During all of this, another battle was raging to the north. Davout’s III Corps had come in contact with Prussian cavalry and artillery early in the morning and formed a defensive position at Hassenhausen. The Prussians were initially successful, with around 50,000 men, had nearly twice that of Davout. They forced the French into the town of Hassenhausen itself. Then everything went downhill for the Prussians.

Davout with his troops near Auerstadt. His adaptability, and those of his subordinates allowed a small group of French troops to defeat a Prussian force almost twice their size.

Davout’s forces arrived in full around Hassenhausen. Their artillery had come into position, and they were ready to put up a defense. The Prussians attempted to launch a large-scale assault, but due to poor communication couldn’t coordinate between commanders. Their cavalry attacked to the north, only to be met by squares of French infantry. The Prussian infantry attacked to the south, but both were repulsed.

By 1100 it was clear that the Prussian troops were wavering, two of their commanders had been mortally wounded, and the Prussian king Frederick William assumed command. But the King was wrongfully convinced he was facing Napoleon himself, which terrified him. He refused to make a large scale attack, for fear that the French would have a trick up their sleeve and counter. The French then launched a full-scale attack, breaking the Prussian line, and seizing the day.

In all the Prussians lost 13,000 men near Auerstadt and another 20,000 near Jena. But Auerstadt proved to be the most humiliating defeat, for they nearly outnumbered their opponents 2 to 1. After this day, it became clear to a small group of younger Prussian officers that something had to change. Gebhard von Bluecher, Carl von Clausewitz, August Neidhart von Gneisenau, Gerhard von Scharnhorst, and Hermann von Boyen were all present that day.

The Committee to Reorganize the Prussian Army. After Jena and Auerstadt the Prussian army went back to square one. They began rebuilding with a clear, simplified command structure. Promotion was based on skill, rather than political gain or nobility, and training was improved. They managed to turn a gruesome and embarrassing defeat into continuous victory. The Prussian, and later the German, military was almost undefeated from 1815 to 1914, with the start of WW1.

These would later create a reform committee which revolutionized the Prussian military. They realized that mandatory service was necessary, that individual initiative needed to be taken by commanders at the front, and reliance on mercenaries and conscripts wasn’t a viable option anymore. Their reforms set the stage for Prussia’s military might in the rest of the 19th century, eventually allowing them to crush the French in the Franco-Prussian war, establishing the German Empire as the military powerhouse on the continent.


Roundtable

On the scientists and inventors who brought flying balloons to battle.

Napoleonic Wars operations in Holland surveyed from a captive balloon, by Jan Anthonie Langendyk, 1805. © The Trustees of the British Museum.

On a November evening in 1782, Joseph Montgolfier contemplated the print of Gibraltar hanging above his fireplace. The middle son of a family of prominent bourgeoisie papermakers in the otherwise unimportant northern French city of Annonay, Joseph was an unlikely daydreamer. The drab environs might have sent his mind wandering elsewhere for excitement and possibility, a trait that occasionally landed him in debtors’ prisons over ambitious if ill-planned business ventures, including a brief foray into dye making and a paper mill that died from inattention.

As the embers flickered and the night air cooled, Joseph considered the means by which France might seize this tiny island and thereby control its strait—through which the majority of Europe’s trade passed into Mediterranean. No other acquisition of that size could compare with Gibraltar’s importance as France looked to rebuild its empire. But how to wrest this natural and nearly impenetrable fortress from its current Spanish occupants without a prolonged military campaign?

But just then, according to Charles Coulston Gillispie, the biographer of Joseph and his brother Étienne, Joseph noticed the vectors of heat rising from the fire. It occurred to him the answer might be: by air.

He fashioned a hollow sphere from taffeta and wood, placing at its base a small basket into which he twisted paper ends that he lit with a match. The miniature hot air balloon rose to the rafters—and with it man’s ambition for militaristic control of the skies.

Recognizing the larger implications of his idea even in this fledgling form, Joseph dashed off a note to his brother. Étienne expertly ran the family’s paper business while deftly modernizing its production methods. The two were very much each other’s opposite and as such ideally suited to collaborate on this fantastical invention of precision engineering.

After experimenting with different shapes, sizes, and materials for just under a year, they were ready to launch their first full-size craft. It resembled a contemporary air balloon, though about a third of the size. A small crowd gathered in Annonay’s town square on a rainy June day to watch the launch of the first Montgolfière, as the brothers’ balloon would come to be known. To their astonishment, it began to inflate. It rose to an estimated three thousand feet and flew a mile and a half before landing in a vineyard, where the grape pickers may well have thought the moon had fallen from the sky. By the following summer, news of the brothers’ invention reached Versailles, and King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette requested an exhibition. The Montgolfiers happily obliged.

The royal reveal occurred on a sunny day in September 1783. The monarchs were perched in their box, looking down at the palace’s courtyard as an enormous expanse of cloth ornamented with zodiacal signs interspersed with flaming suns and gilded fleurs-de-lis seemed to stir and rise of its own accord. Meanwhile, the Montgolfiers furiously fed bale after bale of hay into the balloon’s furnace. The balloon soon took shape, then flight, gliding peacefully above Versailles’ opulent gardens. The crowd below was stunned, and more still stared agape at morning newspapers heralding the feat the next day. But some observers took a more sanguine stance toward this lighter-than-air orb, comprehending almost immediately its potential application in war.

Perhaps chief among them was Benjamin Franklin, who had been present at the royal launch. Not long after, he wrote a friend:

Five thousand balloons, capable of raising two men each, could not cost more than have ships of the line and where is the prince who can afford so to cover his country with troops for its defense, as that ten thousand men descending from the clouds might not in many places do an infinite deal of mischief, before a force could be brought together to repel them?

He was not alone in fantasizing about airborne armadas. One English pamphlet published in 1783 argued hot-air balloon aeronauts could observe and report on enemy strength and positioning as well as monitor the movements of one’s own troops. Another the following year proposed “the construction of a grand naval balloon.”

France was not to be outdone by these lofty visions of aerial assaults. Just over one year after this Versailles display, the mathematician and engineer Jean-Baptiste Meusnier de la Place presented the French Academy of Sciences with schematics for a new kind of flying machine driven by an engine and steered by a propeller. In other words, he introduced the world to the idea of a dirigible.

Despite the fervor for militarized airpower, hot-air ballooning in the service of war wouldn’t progress beyond theory for the next ten years. Then the French Revolution changed that.

By 1793 the newly minted French Republic faced the First Coalition, an international alliance composed of Great Britain, Austria, Prussia, Russia, and a number of smaller monarchies that didn’t like the idea of a heretical republic. At home, France’s de facto governing body, the Committee of Public Safety, had been co-opted by Maximilien Robespierre, who was busy hoisting his egalitarian machine of death above the heads of some 16,600 supposed political opponents. Turmoil churned within the civilian population. Desertions in the military spiked. If the Republic was going to prevail, it needed a secret weapon. The revolution’s political leaders in Paris hoped the hot-air balloon would fit the bill.

Numerous aspects of the Montgolfiers’ balloon made it unsuitable for battle. It would be difficult to transport the hundreds of pounds of fuel required to fill the balloons and keep them afloat. The inflation process could take hours—longer still if it rained. If this invention was to have any practical application in war, the revolutionary forces needed a way to produce the fuel on site and inflate balloons beforehand.

The solution, improbable as it might seem given that the calendar had not yet turned to the eighteenth century, was hydrogen.

While hydrogen balloons known as aerostats had been flown before, the contemporary methods of producing the lighter-than-air gas made them unfeasible for the purposes of war. The first scientists to experiment with such balloons manufactured the hydrogen by combining sulfuric acid with iron filings in a corked wine barrel. The reacting contents slowly escaped the barrel through a glass tube that transported the gas into a balloon. This method was obviously dangerous and could literally blow up in an experimenter’s face. The process was also slow and arduous and didn’t produce a tenth of the hydrogen the military would need. On top of that, sulfuric acid was a key component in manufacturing gunpowder, which was already in short supply thanks to France’s multifront war.

Luckily, another method of hydrogen extraction had been tried, though not entirely proven, by Antoine-Laurent Lavoisier. The French noblemen and chemist had discovered the fuel could be extracted by passing water over incandescent iron, which oxidized the iron and freed the hydrogen. (His experiments also happened to be the first to yield the composition of water.)

The Committee of Public Safety tasked Lavoisier and a team of fellow scientists to explore this potential avenue of hydrogen production. The researchers quickly showed promising results. Despite his contributions to the cause, Lavoisier was convicted of unrevolutionary activities and guillotined one month after his method proved suitable for the military’s needs.

In his place, Nicolas-Jacques Conté, a self-taught inventor, and Jean-Marie-Joseph Coutelle, a brilliant chemist, stepped in to solve the problem of how to scale production. In a matter of months the pair developed a furnace capable of filling an aerostat balloon at an unprecedented rate of forty-eight hours. These balloons could be inflated months before they were needed.

Demonstrating their achievement to the increasingly powerful Committee of Public Safety, Conté and Coutelle took its members up for rides in pairs. Upon returning to earth duly impressed, the politicians voted to establish compagnie d’aérostiers, or the Company of Aeronauts, the world’s first air force.

The timing was propitious. The war was not going well.

The Committee dispatched its newly formed company of aeronauts to join General Jean-Baptiste Jourdan in the Low Countries during the summer of 1794, hoping for a French comeback. Though one of the revolution’s most celebrated figures, Jourdan was coming off a string of minor defeats and had just been driven south by an inferior Austrian-Dutch army. When the aeronauts arrived, he was preparing to face Friedrich Josias, prince of Saxe-Coburg, for an engagement that would come to be called the Battle of Fleurus.

As the opposing forces gathered, the compagnie d’aérostiers constructed a mobile version of Conté and Coutelle’s furnace with cast-iron pipes measuring approximately eight feet in length. Once up and running, they began to inflate L’Entreprenant, a purpose-built spherical balloon with an enormous diameter of twenty-seven feet. While the armies marched toward each other on the morning of June 26, two aeronauts ascended in L’Entreprenant while sixteen soldiers held them fast in place, in effect forming a mobile watchtower.

From their elevated view, they watched Friedrich Josias split his battalions into five columns, a strategy that allowed each to react more quickly to the developing battle conditions. This preflight maneuver worked at first, and the Austrians broke through France’s left and right wing, concentrating their assault on the army’s center column.

Despite being fired on and almost shot down, the airmen of L’Entreprenant reported on the enemy’s movements through flag semaphore and written messages tossed to their compatriots below from ballast-filled bags attached to the balloon. As the battle raged for five, ten, and then fifteen hours, the aeronauts’ observations allowed commanders to adjust their tactics with an accuracy of information previously unknown on the battlefield. This new instrument of war reportedly terrified the Austrians, whose advantage slipped away. When the smoke cleared, the French proved to be the victors.

More than an isolated skirmish, the engagement was a crucial turning point in the war, and the world took note of the aerostat’s contribution. As one commentator in the British Register wrote of France’s employment of an aerostat in battle, “the assembled armies of her enemies have witnessed those advantages, and the gaining of the battle of Fleurus was the consequence.”

Soon after this crucial victory by the republican army the coalition of monarchies withdrew across the Rhine. The French pursued, floating their airborne watchtowers above the battles at Maubeuge, Charleroi, and Gosselins, as well as the 1795 campaign along the Rhine.

But the evolving realities of revolution soon interfered with the progress of state-controlled airpower.

Fueled by fear of international invasion, the Terror lost its raison d’être after the Ancien Régime’s coalition was driven back to whence they came. Robespierre lost his head, and the cooler ones that prevailed had little use for the revolution’s more radical aspects, including its thirst for experiments in military ballooning. By the time Napoleon was crowned first Emperor and France, for all intents and purposes, reverted to its prerevolutionary ways, the compagnie d’aérostiers had been disbanded and the exploits of L’Entreprenant relegated to the history books.

Yet the idea of an air force did not dissipate so easily. In 1803 John Money, one of England’s first aeronauts, urged the British Army to adopt balloons into their field operations. In his widely circulated pamphlet A Short Treatise on the Use of Balloons and Field Observators in Military Operations, he often rendered his arguments in verse.

Great use, he thought, there might be made
Of these machines in his own trade
Now o’er a fortress he might soar
And its condition thence explore
Or when by mountains, woods, or bog
An enemy might lie incog
Our friend would o’er their station hover
Their strength, their route, and views discover

Five years later, on the other side of the channel, one of the original members of the compagnie d’aérostiers put a new twist on that age-old French fantasy of invading England by suggesting they do so aboard a fleet of a hundred balloons.

Hot-air balloons and aerostats did not disappear from battle entirely. In 1807 the Danes endeavored to break an English blockade by attempting to bomb their ships from hot-air balloons. In 1849 the Austrians attempted to lay siege to Venice by way of incendiary bombs strapped to hundreds of unmanned hot-air balloons.

Besieged during the First Italian War of Independence in 1848–49, the defenders of Milan floated pamphlets, proclamations, and general propaganda to the surrounding areas in the baskets of miniature hot-air balloons. Balloons and aerostats were also used for reconnaissance during the American Civil War as well as the First Boer War, just to name two of many instances.

But even though the basic tenets of airpower—reconnaissance, communication, and combat—had been seeded during the French Revolution and established well before the calendar rolled over to a new century, few truly recognized just how significant those initial forays into airborne combat really were.

Not until Kaiser Wilhelm II’s zeppelin bombing raids of London did the world begin to recognize airpower as the future of warfare. Twenty-two years later the Luftwaffe, Royal Air Force, and the U.S. Air Force ended any debate that remained. With astounding rapidity British Spitfires, German Heinkels, and American Wildcats were followed by Sputnik, the Space Age, and the nearly nine thousand satellites that were subsequently launched—some for peaceful purposes, others to guide ICBMs to targets the size of single-car garages.

Below them, spy planes now proliferate in the upper levels of our stratosphere while ever more sophisticated fighter jets fly a thousand feet down. Closer still to the ground are remotely piloted combat drones armed with payloads of the world’s most advanced weaponry. Together these machines form concentric circles of war that we now take to be as intrinsic to Earth as rings are to Saturn.

Though man’s timeless infatuation with the gods of war may well have made the weaponization of the heavens inevitable, one wonders when and by what path were it not for these early instruments of flight. Arriving in the midst of a revolutionary age and right before history became modern, balloons seem to have silently ushered in a new age of global warfare without anyone really noticing that these rudderless aircraft had a definite direction after all.


War of the First Coalition - Rhine Front 1794 - History

The WAR OF THE FIRST COALITION had been started by a decision by the NATIONAL ASSEMBLY, taken on April 20th 1792, to take military action against the emigres and the despots from whom they drew their support, i.e. Prussia, Austria etc. An Austro-Prussian contingent under the command of the DUKE OF BRUNSWICK invaded France, slowly marching on Paris many French officers (mostly noblemen) deserted their ranks and surrendered to (even joined the) invading army.
The publication of the MANIFESTO OF THE DUKE OF BRUNSWICK in the name of King Louis XVI. caused his arrest and deposition (Sept. 21st 1792), in the wake of which the REPUBLIC was proclaimed. The NATIONAL CONVENTION thus found herself with a war at hand from the start. The invading Austro-Prussian forces were halted and turned back in the CANONADE OF VALMY (Sept. 1792). Revolutionary forces (largely expanded by regiments of volunteers and then by the LEVEE EN MASSE) soon temporarily occupied the AUSTRIAN NETHERLANDS , the Rhineland and SAVOY. In places such as MAINZ and BRUSSELS, the revolutionar troops were welcomed as liberators, TREES OF LIBERTY were planted, a Jacobin Club founded in Mainz.

In the War of the First Coalition, French revolutionary forces faced Austrian, Prussian, Spanish, British, Savoyard and Neapolitan forces, which in France herself were supported by the Royalists (who, for instance, handed over the fortresses of the port of Toulon to an Anglo-Spanish- Neapolitan expedition. Young officer NAPOLEON BONAPARTE expelled them after a three month long siege in 1793. The French revolutionary side was supported by foreign reformist emigres, such as the Dutch PATRIOTS which had fled the Netherlands for Paris in 1787.

After a temporary setback, French troops reoccupied the Austrian Netherlands in 1794, the Dutch Republic in January 1795, where the BATAVIAN REPUBLIC was established. In 1795, the PEACE OF BASEL was signed, ending the war France annexed the Austrian Netherlands, Germany to the west of the Rhine, Savoy. France annexed Savoy in 1792, NICE in 1793, the Austrian Netherlands and the Rhineland in 1795.


Watch the video: WAR OF THE FIRST COALITION: NAPOLEONS FIRST ITALIAN CAMPAIGN


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