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Rhine Campaign of 1795
Part of War of the First Coalition
DateApril 1795 to January 1796
LocationWestern Germany
Result Austrian victory
Belligerents
Habsburg Monarchy Habsburg Austria
Electorate of Saxony Electoral Saxony
Bavaria Electoral Bavaria
France Republican France
Commanders and leaders
Habsburg Monarchy Count of Clerfayt
Habsburg Monarchy Dagobert Wurmser
France Jean Jourdan
France Charles Pichegru
Units involved
Habsburg Monarchy Army of the Lower Rhine
Habsburg Monarchy Army of the Upper Rhine
France Army of Sambre-et-Meuse
France Army of Rhin-et-Moselle
Strength
175,000 187,000



The Rhine Campaign of 1795 (April 1795 to January 1796) saw two Habsburg Austrian armies under the overall command of François Sébastien Charles Joseph de Croix, Count of Clerfayt defeat an attempt by two Republican French armies to cross the Rhine River and capture the Fortress of Mainz. At the start of the campaign the French Army of Sambre-et-Meuse led by Jean-Baptiste Jourdan confronted Clerfayt's Army of the Lower Rhine in the north, while the French Army of Rhin-et-Moselle under Jean-Charles Pichegru lay opposite Dagobert Sigmund von Wurmser's Army of the Upper Rhine in the south. In August Jourdan crossed and quickly seized Düsseldorf. The Army of Sambre-et-Meuse advanced south to the Main River, completely isolating Mainz. Pichegru's army made a surprise capture of Mannheim so that both French armies held significant footholds on the east bank of the Rhine.

The French fumbled away the promising start to their offensive. Pichegru bungled an opportunity to seize Clerfayt's supply base in the Battle of Handschuhsheim. With Pichegru strangely inert, Clerfayt massed against Jourdan, beat him at Höchst in October and forced most of the Army of Sambre-et-Meuse to retreat to the west bank of the Rhine. About the same time, Wurmser sealed off the French bridgehead at Mannheim. With Jourdan temporarily out of the picture, the Austrians defeated the left wing of the Army of Rhin-et-Moselle at the Battle of Mainz and moved down the west bank. In November, Clerfayt gave Pichegru a drubbing at Pfeddersheim and successfully wrapped up the Siege of Mannheim. In January 1794, Clerfayt concluded an armistice with the French, allowing the Austrians to retain large portions of the west bank. During the campaign Pichegru entered into traitorous contact with French Royalists. It is debatable whether Pichegru's treason or his bad generalship was the actual cause of the French failure.

Background

To any one who believes with me that it is good to study bad as well as skilful campaigns and plans, the operations of 1795 are most interesting; for, while the actions of Jourdan, as far as he had a free hand, were sensible enough, those of Pichegru were like the nightmare of a professor of strategy, and the plans of the Comité degenerated into sheer farce.[1]

Notes

  1. Phipps, Ramsay Weston (2011). The Armies of the First French Republic: Volume II The Armées du Moselle, du Rhin, de Sambre-et-Meuse, de Rhin-et-Moselle. USA: Pickle Partners Publishing. p. 212. ISBN 978-1-908692-25-2. 

References

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