Battle of Valmy

In teaching a tutee about the French Revolution I became aware that I was uncertain about the Battle of Valmy, always mentioned but never at great length. I adopted my usual procedure of collecting internet accounts of it and comparing them to find where they agreed (which they should) and where they contradicted each other (which they should not). As a person hostile to the French Revolution’s ideology, I wanted to know how it survived its first test. I found that it was not much of a military battle, but a big historical battle for French historians, divided as they are between monarchists, Catholics, Republicans and Marxists. I was drawn into looking at Dumouriez’ whole career, which was also interesting as he navigated the changing shoals of the Ancien Regime and Revolutionary and Napoleonic Periods.

Charles-François Dumouriez

and

The Battle of

Valmy

1792

Figure 1 – The Battle of Valmy by Vernet

Contents

Valmy

Illustrations

Valmy as a National Emblem

Dumouriez Early Career

Background

Military Career

Seven Years’ War

Peacetime

Corsica 1763-69

Secret service: Spain and Portugal

Corsica again

Poland 1770-72

Sweden and Prison, 1773-5

Marriage

Cherbourg

During the Revolution before Valmy

The Revolution

Cherbourg

Jacobin Club

Nantes

War v Austria

Foreign Minister

Minister of War

Commander in Chief

Foreign opposition to the Revolution

Early difficulties of the Revolutionary Army

The Invasion

Why?

The Brunswick Manifesto

Preliminary manoeuvres

Moselle Crossed

Brunswick takes Verdun and stays there eleven days

French defence 31st August to 4th September

Dumouriez joins forces with Kellermann

Last manoeuvres

Battle lines drawn

Relative strengths of the Armies

Three a.m.

7 o’clock : fog lifts – the Cannonade begins

10.a.m. Kellermann’s horse killed

10.00 a.m. The Ammunition wagon explodes

Artillery opens up

11.00 Brunswick attacks

‘Vive la Nation’ !

Prussians dismayed

Renewed Prussian attack, 4.00

7.00 Brunswick retires

Aftermath

How and why did the battle end ?

Conspiracy theories

Other hypotheses

Longer term consequences

Importance of the Battle

Later career of Dumouriez

Jemmapes and Belgium

Holland and Neerwinden, March 1793

Dumouriez opens negotiations with the Austrians

Criticised by the Jacobins

He abandons the Revolutionary cause, April 1793

As exile

In England

Bibliography

Bibliographical notes

FRESCIPLACT

Appendix 1: the Painting in the Louvre after Vernet, 1826

Illustrations

Figure 1 – The Battle of Valmy by Vernet

Figure 2: North Eastern France

Figure 3: Dumouriez

Figure 4: The Duke of Brunswick

Figure 5: Sedan, Metz and Verdun

Figure 6: Kellermann

Figure 7: The area of the Battle today

Figure 8: The Battle

Figure 9: Philippe Egalite with the head of Louis XVI

Figure 10: Bibliography

Figure 11: The Vernet Painting

Valmy as a National Emblem

French patriotism, described as ‘the feeling of belonging to a higher community’, arose from the victory of Bouvines, under Philip Augustus in 1214, and was nourished by glorious victories and conquests and many charismatic leaders. (9) “France was made with swords” said Charles de Gaulle and it is all the more true that the fields of Tolbiac, Bouvines, Orléans, Patay, Castillon, Marignan, Fontenoy, Fleurus, Rivoli, Arcole, Marengo, Austerlitz, Friedland, Verdun or even Koufra radiate a particular aura. (9) But there is a battle that united France more than ever around a common ideal: Valmy in 1792. (9) The battle of Valmy, also referred to as the ‘Affair of the Camp of the Moon’, was the first French victory during the wars of revolution. (12) It took place on September 20, 1792, and saved the French Revolution. (12)

Dumouriez Early Career

Background

Charles François (15,16) [OR] Charles-François (17) du Périer (17) [OR] Anne-François-Duperrier (23) Dumouriez was born (15,16) on January 25th (16,17) 1739. (15,16), in his ancestral home of (17) in Cambrai, (16,17) on the Scheldt River in northern (17) France (16,17) Dumouriez was born at Cambrai on 25 January 1739, the son of and minor nobleman, Anthoine-François Dumouriez. (22) Only sixty years earlier, Cambrai had been part of the Belgian provinces, and for that reason Dumouriez would always consider himself a Walloon or French-speaking native of Flanders. (17) His parents were Sophie de Châteauneuf and (17) Antoine-François du Périer (17,21) du Mouriez, (17) both of (17,21) minor (22) noble rank. (17,21) Although the family fortune had been largely dissipated by Dumouriez’s namesake and paternal grandfather, Charles-François du Périer du Mouriez, the succeeding generation lived comfortably on rents in Cambrai. (17) [OR] His father was a war commissary (17,19) [OR] a military officer, (17,22) un soldat de carrière (23) who served, with his six brothers, with distinction in the same Picardy regiment. (17) Little is known of Sophie, who died when he was six. (17) From his father, he inherited a passion for the military. (17) Dumouriez described his father as a noble, generous-spirited man of great integrity, a talented military officer, scholar, artist, musician, and poet. (17) He educated (17,21) Charles François (15,16) most carefully and widely. (21) Under his guidance, at home (17,22) Dumouriez spent his formative years studying Latin, Greek, English, German, Spanish, and Italian as well as mathematics, history, and music. (17) but he spent three years (22) studying classics at the college (22) [OR] Lycée (21) of Louis-le-Grand, (21,22) in Paris. (18,21)

Military Career

Seven Years’ War

He began his military service (16,18) in 1758 (16,19) [OR] 1757, (18,21) at the age of 19, (16,23) [OR] eighteen (22)as a volunteer in the campaign of Rossbach, where he served as a cornet (21) [OR] cadet (23) in the Régiment d’Escars (21,23) in the early part of (22) the Seven Years’ War (1756–63): (19,21) he served in the campaigns against Frederick the Great of Prussia. (22) He served with distinction (19,21) alongside his father (22) against the Prussians (19,21) And was soon promoted to the rank of captain. (21,23) In 1758 he was serving as a volunteer when Cherbourg was captured by the British, and the fortifications destroyed. (22) He was wounded (21,23) 22 (21) [OR] 20. (23) times, (21,23) for example during the relief of Munster (1759), and again on the day before the battle of Kloster Kampen (15 October 1760). (22) He obtained an officer’s commission (18) for good conduct in action. (21) In 1761 he was given command of a troop of cavalry, and at the end of the war in 1763 (22) he was awarded the Cross of St. Louis. (22,23) and a small pension. (21) At the end of the war Dumouriez’s regiment was disbanded, (22,23) and he was retired as a captain. (21)

Peacetime

Corsica 1763-69

Figure 2: North Eastern France There then followed twenty turbulent years. (22) He found himself in financial diffculty. (23) He visited Italy and (21) went to Corsica, (21,22) with credentials provided by the duc de Choiseul, then the minister of foreign affairs (22) and offered his services to Paoli, the leader of the brief independent Corsican Republic. (22) [OR] He offfered his services to the Republic of Genoa in its struggle against the rising of the Corsican Paoli. (23) Receiving a denial, he offered to help Paoli (23) but his services were rejected again. (22) He returned to Paris, (22) but his proposals to the duc de Choiseul for an invasion of the island (23) to win Corsica its independence. (22) were flatly rejected again. (23) The failure of this scheme was followed by a short period in disgrace. (23)

Secret service: Spain and Portugal

Through the good offices of his brother in law du Barry, the Duc de Choiseul, put him in charge of a secret mission to the court of Madrid. (23) As a military advisor to the royal government, (18) and a member of the royal secret service (18,21) the ‘Secret du Roi’ (21) under Louis XV, (19,21) he had full scope to exercise his diplomatic skills. (21) In the mid 1760s (19,22) the king (19) sent him on a secret diplomatic mission to Madrid (1767) (19,23) with a salary of 18,000 francs. (23) He associated with the Marquis d’Ossuno (the French ambassador) (22) He also went to Portugal (21,22) where he wrote two memoirs on the attack and defence of Portugal. (22)

Corsica again

He wrote a memoir on Corsica (21,22) which led (19,22) to Choiseul (21) re-employing him (19,22) as deputy (21) quartermaster-general (21,22) on the staff of the French expeditionary corps (21,22) under the Marquis de Chauvelin (21) sent to the island, (21,22) in 1768-69. (22) At the same time he served as Minister of Information on the island, and at the end of the campaign he was rewarded (22) with promotion to the rank of lieutenant-colonel. (21,22) [OR] Major-General (23) He rose through the ranks (16,18) to become (18) a French general. (16) He was sent to fight in Corsica, which was taken for the French crown in 1768. (23)

Poland 1770-72

In 1770 (22,23) the duc de Choiseul appointed Dumouriez as French minister to (22) the Polish Confederates. (21, 22) of Bar, (21) whose pro-independence leaders assembled under Eperies in Hungary. (23) It was another secret assignment to Poland. (23) Over the next two years (19,22) in addition to his political business (21) he took part in the Confederates’ campaigns against Russia, (22) He organized a Polish militia for the War. (21) He put himself at the head of one of the parties of independence, attacked a corps of 5,000 Russians commanded by General Suvorov, and scattered them. (23) [OR] On 23rd May, his Polish soldiers were smashed by the Russian forces of General Alexander Suvorov in the Battle of Lanckorona. (21) He remained in Poland until 1772, (19,21) but his mission ended in failure and the First Partition of Poland. (22) [OR] The fall (21) [OR] death (23) of Choiseul in 1770 (21) left Dumouriez without instructions. (23) [OR] brought about Dumouriez’s recall. (21,23) par le successeur de Choiseul, D’Aiguillon, (23) [OR] Duc d’Arguillon. (22) In 1772, (21,23) upon returning to Paris, Dumouriez sought a military position from the marquis de Monteynard, Secretary of State for War, who gave him a staff position with the regiment of Lorraine writing diplomatic and military reports. (21)

Sweden and Prison, 1773-5

At the end of 1772 the Marquis de Monteynard (22) [OR] De Broglie, Louis XV’s Minister of secret correspondence, (23) employed Dumouriez on a secret mission to Sweden, (22) to help King Gustavus III against the Swedish aristocracy. (23) King Louis XV knew about this, but the new foreign minister, the Duc d’Arguillon, did not. (22) In 1773 the duc had Dumouriez arrested at Hamburg (22,23) [OR] he went to Sweden (22) He was (19) recalled and imprisoned (19,21) because Louis apparently failed to inform d’Arguillon that Dumouriez was operating with his approval (22) [OR] for diverting funds intended for the employment of secret agents into the payment of personal debts. (21,23) [OR] for engaging in intrigues. (19) He spent the next six months a prisoner in the Bastille. (21,22) [OR] he remained in Caen prison until the king’s death. (23) As was often the case, Dumouriez had a fairly comfortable time there, (21,22) and occupied himself with literary pursuits. (21,22) writing two military treatises and translating Italian poetry. (22) This was followed by three months in Caen Castle (21,22) where he remained in detention until (21,23) the accession of Louis XVI in 1774 (21,22) [OR] 1775. (19) Dumouriez demanded an open trial, but instead was released without charge and was soon back in favour. (22)

Marriage

Upon his release, (21) while still at Caen (22) Dumouriez married his cousin, a certain Mademoiselle (21,22) Marguerite (22) de Broissy, but the marriage was not a success. (21,22) He proved a neglectful and unfaithful husband, and in 1789 the couple separated. (21) Madame Dumouriez took refuge in a convent. (21)

Cherbourg

Dumouriez was then recalled to Paris. (21) by Louis XVI, promoted to colonel and sent, first as envoy to Prussia, (23) and then, by the new king’s minister of war, the comte de Saint-Germain, to posts in Lille and Boulogne. (21) In the meantime, Dumouriez had turned his attention to the internal state of his own country, and amongst the very numerous memoranda which he sent to the government was one on the defence of Normandy and its ports, which procured for him (21) in 1778 the post of commandant of Cherbourg, (19,21) where the king was constructing a massive new naval arsenal and fortified seaport, for use against the British fleet. (22) Dumouriez supervised the development of the port. (19,21) for ten (21,22) [OR] eleven (19) twelve (23) years, (21,23) a period in which the population of the town doubled or trebled. (22) The new port (22,23) was built around a series of floating wooden cones that were filled with rocks to form a breakwater. (22) It was an expensive failure, as the breakwater soon disappeared. (22) [OR] a great success (21,23) He became a Field Marshal in 1788. (21)

During the Revolution before Valmy

The Revolution

The French Revolution of 1789 has long been praised, but it placed heavier burdens on the people than they hoped for. (9) Breaking out in the suburbs of Paris, it was led by artisans, traders and petty bourgeois of the capital who, during a political crisis in Versailles, took up arms against the King’s mercenaries who slept at their doors. (9) Fear transformed the reform desired by the deputies of the Third Estate into a popular revolution. (9) Relations between the King, the ruling elite and the people worsened steadily. (9)

Cherbourg

It opened new opportunities to the ambitious Dumouriez. (19,21) After the fall of the Bastille, Dumouriez accepted an appointment as commandant of the National Guard at Cherbourg, (22) but his ambition was not satisfied. (21) When his pay was stopped he moved to Paris, and became involved in the political turmoil in the French capital. (22) During his time at Cherbourg, Dumouriez came to adopt the liberal principles that were common in the period, and became a supporter of the duke of Orleans. (22) Like many of the revolutionaries, he was a Freemason. (23)

Jacobin Club

During the revolution, he was politically active (16,18) as a moderate, (18) retaining a combination of liberal sympathies and support for the Royal family. (22) He managed to get elected to the States General in 1789. (23) He went back to Paris (21,33) and joined (16,19) [OR] was a foundation member of (18) the Jacobin Club (16,18) in 1790 (19) [OR] 1789, (21) and was a great admirer (18) and friend (23) of both Mirabeau and Lafayette. (18,23) In 1790, Dumouriez was appointed French military advisor to the newly established independent Belgian government and remained dedicated to the cause of an independent Belgian Republic. (21) The death of Mirabeau, to whose fortunes he had attached himself, proved a great blow. (21) He was president of the War Council. (21)

Figure 2: North Eastern France

Nantes

In June 1791 (21,22) Minister of War, Louis Lebègue Duportail (21) promoted Dumouriez (21,22) and attached him to the 12th Division, which was commanded by General Jacques Alexis de Verteuil (21) [OR] he was given command of the Twelfth Military District at Nantes (22) in the Vendée, with the rank of Lieutenant General. (23) [OR] major-general. (21,22) Opportunity arose again when, (21) in 1791 (18,21) two days after he reached Nantes, Louis XVI fled from Paris, (22) In the crisis that followed Dumouriez (18,21) in his capacity as a lieutenant-general and the commandant of Nantes, (21) reinforced his republican credentials by forcing all of his officers to take an oath of loyalty to the nation and the law. (22) He offered to march to the assistance of the National Constituent Assembly after the royal family’s unsuccessful flight to Varennes. (18,21) Louis was soon captured and returned to Paris (22) He was not immediately deposed (9) but the flight caused a breakdown in trust with the crown. (9) Dumouriez remained in Nantes, (22) where he got into financial difficulties through gambling. (23). In 1792 (22) [OR] he was promoted to lieutenant-general, but he was only able to return to Paris after receiving financial aid from his friend de Lessert, then the foreign minister. (22)

War v Austria

At the start of 1792 (12,22) tensions were rising with Prussia and Austria, especially over the presence of so many French exiles in cities just across the German border. (22) King Louis XVI believed that a victory over the Austrian armies would end the Revolution and restore him to his throne. (12) He therefore urged the National Assembly to declare war on the Archduke of Austria, Francis II, who was also Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire. (12)

Foreign Minister

The French government set a deadline of 1st March for this issue to be resolved, but de Lessert’s statement on that date was so poor that the government fell. (22) De Lessart was impeached, imprisoned and then murdered at Versailles. (22) Concerned about the growing radicalism and unrest in Paris, he aligned himself with the Girondins in late 1792. (18) to further his mercenary ambitions. (16,21) The relationship between the Girondists and Dumouriez was not based on ideology, but rather based on the practical benefit it gave to both parties. (21) Dumouriez needed people in the Legislative Assembly to support him, and the Girondists needed a general to give them legitimacy in the army. (21) Supported by the Girondins, (23) [OR] on account of his loyalty to France’s military (21) on 17th (22) [OR] 15th (23) March 1792, (16,19) Dumouriez was appointed Foreign Minister in his place. (21,22) in at the head of a largely Girondin cabinet. (19) Dumouriez retained this post for three months, just long enough to be responsible for the declaration of war against Austria on 20 April. (22,23) Like Lafayette, Dumouriez saw military success as the best way to secure the revolution, although unlike most of his fellow ministers he also hoped that it would strengthen the position of the monarchy. (22) Dumouriez was directly responsible for the first French offensive of the war, into the Austrian Netherlands. (22) This ended in embarrassing failures before Mons and at Baisieux, 29 April 1792, and in the resignation of a number of senior officers. (22) He became the commander of the Cherbourg National Guard. (23) He selected Pierre LeBrun as his first officer for Belgian and Liégeois affairs. (21) His foreign policy was greatly influenced by Jean-Louis Favier. (21) Favier had called for France to break its ties with Austria. (21) The international climate was tense. (12) On April 20th 1792, war was declared on Austria. (12,19) Dumouriez played a major part in this, and he planned the invasion of the Low Countries. (21) He left the Foreign Ministry for the war on June 12th, but three days later he had to resign due to the hostility of the Convention which threatened to dismiss him. (23)

Minister of War

In June the government fell again. (22) On the king’s dismissal of Roland, Clavière and Servan (21) (13th (21) [OR] 12th (19) June 1792), Dumouriez took Servan’s post of (21) war minister, (16,19) but resigned it (21,22) after a month (2) [OR] two (21) [OR] three days later, (19) on account of Louis XVI’s refusal to come to terms with the National Constituent Assembly, (21) and went to join Marshal Luckner’s Army of the North. (21,22) After an uncomfortable period with this army, during which time Luckner was removed and (22) Lafayette fled into exile. (21,22) In July 1792 (12) Prussia joined the war on Austria’s side. (12,19)

Commander in Chief

After this, and the rising of 10th August 1792 (21) through his friendship with Danton, (23) Dumouriez was appointed commander-in-chief (16,22) of the Army of the Centre (21) [OR] in the north. (19) [OR] of the North (23) [OR] of all armies defending the French border with Germany on 19th August. (22) He probably planned to win quickly and then use his army to overthrow the Legislative Assembly (successor to the National Assembly) and rule in the king’s name. (19) But French forces suffered a series of setbacks in the initial campaign. (19) On August 24th, 1792, Dumouriez wrote to his ally General François Kellermann about the void in military power within France, saying that Lafayette was a “traitor” to France after being arrested for mobilizing his army from the borders of France to Paris to protect the Royal family from revolutionaries that were dissatisfied with the monarchy of France at the time. (21) His attachment to the Jacobin club is shown by his comment that the army was finally “purged of aristocrats”. (21)

Foreign opposition to the Revolution

As the French Revolution continued, the monarchies of Europe became concerned that revolutionary fervour would spread to their countries. (11) The War of the First Coalition was an effort to stop the revolution, or at least contain it to France. (11) King Frederick William II of Prussia had the support of Great Britain and the Austrian Empire to (11) send the Duke of Brunswick towards Paris (11,22) with a large army. (11) Dumouriez’ appointment came on the day after (22) France’s enemies assumed the offensive. (11,21) and began their invasion of France. (22) Dumouriez acted promptly. (21) He wanted to force them to abandon their invasion by attacking the Austrian Netherlands, but the government in Paris ordered him to abandon this plan and instead face the Duke of Brunswick. (22)

Early difficulties of the Revolutionary Army

Despite the threats of the Allies, France mobilized and gathered volunteers from all over France. (9) In the war’s early encounters of mid-1792, French troops did not distinguish themselves. (11) The turmoil of the revolution had seriously affected the efficiency of the French army, with many (4,6) 3864 (4) of its aristocratic officers fleeing abroad, (4,6) who had not been able to be replaced. (4) The extent of the French army’s instability was revealed in the failed invasion of the Austrian Netherlands; (6) some French units broke and fled after killing their officers. (6,7)

The Invasion

Why?

The monarchist powers were encouraged by this turn of events, and Prussians, Austrians, German mercenaries, and French émigrés began to assemble their forces. (6) The coalition army, made up of 150,000 Prussians and Austrians plus 20,000 emigrés driven out by the French Revolution, massed along the border between Dunkirk and Switzerland, ready to march on France. (12) This army was under the command of Duke Charles Guillaume Ferdinand of Brunswick (1735-1806) representing the King of Prussia Frederick William II. (12)

Figure 3: Dumouriez


The Brunswick Manifesto

In July of 1792 (7) the Duke of Brunswick issued the Brunswick Manifesto, threatening the destruction of Paris (7,12) if any harm came to Louis XVI. (12) This backfired: the Tuileries palace was taken by assault and Louis XVI was “suspended” (9,12) and imprisoned on 10th August. (12) Le 18 (2) août 1792 (2,5) a Prussian (6) [OR]Austro Prussian coalition (2,5) army de (2) Prussiens, Autrichiens (2,7) and French royalists, (7) placés sous le commandement du duc de Brunswick (2,3) entre en France (2) as a preliminary act to a march on Paris itself. (6) Brunswick’s intention was to halt the French Revolution (7) and restore the monarchy (1,7) of King Louis XVI. (7) intending to pacify the country, restore the traditional monarchy, and end the Revolution. (11) As the threat neared the capital, the Assembly considered leaving Paris. (9) Georges Danton, deputy for “the Mountain”, was the man of the hour. (9) He urged the deputies not to abandon the people in the crisis. (9) “To defeat them, gentlemen, we need daring, more daring, always daring and France is saved!” (9) The representatives responded, voting an army of more than 40,000 volunteers to meet Duke of Brunswick. (9) They were led by Generals Kellermann and Dumouriez, veterans of the Seven Years’ War and acquainted with the new ideas of the Revolution. (9)

Figure 4: The Duke of Brunswick

Preliminary manoeuvres

Moselle Crossed

The invading Austro-Prussian army crossed the French border on the Moselle on August 19th (10) [OR] August 12th. (9,10) The start of military operations quickly turned out to be catastrophic for France. (2,7) On August 15th the Prussians camped between Sierck and Luxembourg and the Austrians, under the command of General Clairfayt (1733-1798), camped between Longwy and Montmédy. (12) Largely unopposed as his army crossed a chaotic and disorganized France, what little resistance Brunswick and his army did meet quickly crumbled before them. (7) Defeats followed one after another. (9) The 22,000 Austrians crushed the army of Marshal Luckner (1722-1794) at Fontoy on August 19th. (12) Slipping between the French army of the Rhine and that stationed at Sedan, (10) the Austro-Prussians entered France. (9) They reached Longwy on the 20th (2,10) and it capitulated on the 23 (10,11) after three days of bombardment. (12)

Brunswick takes Verdun and stays there eleven days

The enemy forces advanced dangerously deep into France, (11) besieging Thionville and marching on Verdun. (10) Verdun was the key to the road to Paris. (10) The citadel of (12) Verdun was taken (2,12) August 29 (2) [OR] September 1 (10) [OR] on 2nd September, (11,12) which opened the road to Paris (1,2) via the valleys of the Forest of Argonne. (11) Brunswick spent eleven days in Verdun, (10) with 80,000 Prussian soldiers, (10,24) waiting for additional forces from the Austrians under the Prince of Hohenlohe and Count Clerfayt. (10) His men were sick and insufficiently fed, (10,24) because their royalist allies had miscalculated how hostile the locals would be. (24) They had refused to supply the invaders. (24) In their hunger they had eaten unripe grapes and drunk unsafe water leading to dysentery. (10) It also rained heavily (10,24) ‘as in the days of Noah”, as Thomas Carlyle put it (24) This slowed down the invading army. (10,24) The Duke considered that he was not strong enough to continue the invasion, but (10) at last, pressed by the emigrés and the King of Prussia, he marched on Paris. (12) His army stopped near Châlons-en-Champagne. (12)

Figure 5: Sedan, Metz and Verdun

French defence 31st August to 4th September

The revolutionary government was in turmoil, (7) and the defection of a large number of French officers of the nobility had led to leadership crises within the French army. (4,7) While patriotic volunteers had filled the ranks, many were unproven and ill-equipped, and they had acquired a reputation for fleeing at the first shot. (7) Two small French armies opposed the Prussian advance: (6,8) one was the Army of the North (6,7) [OR] the French Army (10) led by General (6,7) Charles (3,6) François du Perrier (12) Dumouriez, (2,3) (1739-1823), (12) a revolutionary supporter. (15) The other was the Army of the Centre, under the command of General (6) François (3,6) Christophe (12) Kellermann. (2,3) Dumouriez had been marching northeast (10,11) [OR] training his men at Valenciennes (12) to attack the Austrian Netherlands (10,11) from Sedan further north on the Meuse. (10) The threat to Paris was now more immediate, (11) so after some procrastination, (24) Dumouriez, (11,12) was ordered to (11,24) abandon his attack on Belgium, (24) and move towards Sedan, to cut off the road to Paris. (11,24) He therefore abandoned his attack on Belgium. (10,11) and led his army southwards (7,10) from Valenciennes to Sedan (24) by forced marches. (2,12) Taking advantage of the Prussians’ 11-day delay at Verdun, (10) he decided to cut the road to Paris by militarily occupying (10,24) the Argonne (10,24) whose narrow valleys made it possible to cross the wooded heights of the Argonne west of Verdun. (10) The five passages connect the valley of the Meuse, where Verdun is located, to that of the Aisne, which through Champagne makes it easy to reach Paris. (10) Dumouriez wanted to make these narrow valleys the ‘Thermopylae of France’. (10,22) His troops (2,3) made for the Argonne to bar the road to Paris (12) [OR] to cut the lines of communication of Brunswick’s army. (7) He went around and north of Sainte-Menehould. (24) He occupied the valleys between August 31st and September 4th, (10) aiming to exploit the difficulties of the terrain by positioning his troops on the ridges of the Argonne and by barring the valleys cutting through them. (24)

Dumouriez joins forces with Kellermann

He ordered (7,10) [OR] asked (12) General Kellermann (7,10) [OR] Kellermann, (11) who was at Metz (10,12) commanding the Army of the Centre (7,10) to link up with him (11) as quickly as possible (10) in the hopes that their combined forces would be able to halt the enemy advance. (7,11) But before the two French armies could make their junction, the Duke of Brunswick passed through the northernmost valleys north of the Argonne. (12) Dumouriez was now isolated in the centre of the Argonne. (10) Rather than retreating to cover Paris, he decided to occupy the Valmy plateau, west of Sainte-Menehould and which was located between the two enemy armies. (10) He manoeuvred his army, at night and in the rain, in the direction of Châlons-en-Champagne. (12) Kellerman (2,3) coming from Metz, (2,10) made a long movement turning south and then west, passing through Toul and Bar-le-Duc. (24) Kellermann joined Dumouriez (11,22) at the village of (11) Sainte-Menehould, (2,11) in Champagne, (2) on September 18th. (12) With Kellermann’s 27,000 men and the 10,000 of Beurnoville, Dumouriez managed to find a way through the Argonne, and took up a strong defensive position at Valmy, blocking the road back to Germany. (22) Brunswick had to retreat to Valmy on 20th September. (23)

Last manoeuvres

Now began the final and decisive phase of a very large manoeuvre, which had started with the capitulation of Verdun, on 2nd September. (24) Dumouriez now found himself behind Brunswick. (7,10) Brunswick’s communication and supply lines were now cut, and he stopped his advance on Paris (7,10) in order to deal with the threat of Dumouriez in his rear. (10) As panic began to reach new heights in the French capital and the Prussians neared (7) the two sides manoeuvred against each other in the manner of eighteenth-century warfare, (6,7) Brunswick’s army was ravaged by dysentery: he had thought it could rely on the resources of the country as promised by the royalist emigrants. (24) But the local people, hostile to the return of royalty, had followed instructions to evacuate the cattle and crops to the west. (24) They helped the French to help build defences and destroy roads and bridges. (24) The situation thus created slowed down and seriously hindered the movement of enemy troops. (24) With few other options available, Brunswick turned back and prepared to do battle. (11) Brunswick sent a sizable force of Prussian soldiers back to brush aside the French and reopen his lines of communication. (7,10) The troops trudged laboriously through a heavy downpour. (11)

Battle lines drawn

Brunswick sought to destroy the French army, and to free the road to Paris to ensure a proper supply route so that he could resume his march on Paris. (24) Dumouriez placed his troops against the Prussian line of march. (6) Kellermann’s 36,000 men (10) advanced beyond Dumouriez’s Army of the North (6) to occupy the little plateau, (2,10) the high ground (6) around the village of Valmy (1,2) in Champagne-Ardenne (3) [OR] Champagne, (10) dominated by its mill. (10) He faced west. (10) General Dumouriez set up his camp on a low plateau to the right of the path linking Sainte-Menehould to Châlons-en-Champagne, bounded on the right by the Aisne river and on the left by a marshy meadow and ponds. (12) He took up position north of the main road, west of Sainte-Menehould, and deployed his army to the Valmy Plateau. (24) The combined size of the two French armies matched the number of the Coalition army, at least 20,000 of whom were stranded east of the Argonne. (24) The Prussians’ camp was called “Camp de la Lune”, because the Duke of Brunswick stayed at the Auberge de la Lune. (12) The “camp of the Moon” was located west of Chapelle-Felcourt and Valmy. (12) Between the two plateaus is a basin of meadows from which protrude a few hills, the highest of which bears the Valmy mill. (12) This basin is surrounded to the south by the Auve river and to the north by the Bienne river. (12) Kellermann took up a position on the plateau; to his left General Valence’s (10) [OR] Valance (map) infantry controlled the road from Châlons to Sainte-Menehould; on the right General Stengel occupied the Ypron plateau. (10,Map) General Dumouriez’s headquarters were located in Sainte-Menehould. (12) General Dumouriez ordered General Kellermann to protect his rear and his left. (12) General Kellermann therefore sent his troops to the right bank of the Auve on September 19, 1792. (12) He immediately noticed that his position was dangerous, because the terrain did not allow defense. (12) He warned General Dumouriez that he would be crossing the Auve the next day. (12) Directly in front (6,12) across a narrow valley (12) was the plateau de l’Iron where the Prussian camp was. (12) During the battle, General Dumouriez made arrangements to rescue General Kellermann, but remained at a distance. (12) Likewise, General Clairfayt showed the ends of his army to keep the French in limbo. (12)

Relative strengths of the Armies

Brunswick’s strong Austro-Prussien (8,10) [OR] Prussian (6) coalition army had (11) 80000 (12) [OR] 100 000 (8) [OR] about 84,000 (11) [OR] 150 000 (2) [OR] 34,000 (6,9) [OR] 60,000 (23) troops. (11) They were veteran Prussians and Austrians, augmented by large complements of Hessians and the French royalist Army of Condé. (11) They had 54 cannon. (11) The French army had 133,000 (4) [OR] 54,000 (11) [OR] 50,000 (12) [OR] 36,000 (10) [OR] 32,000 (6)[OR] 28,000 (23) [OR] 24 000 (8) men (4,11) and 40 cannon. (11) Just over half of the French infantry were (11) experienced regulars from (6,11) l’ancienne armée royale (4,6) – les « culs blancs » (4) as were nearly all of the cavalry and, most importantly (11) the French artillery (4,6) avec 36 canons. (9) technically proficient (6,11) and widely regarded as the best in Europe at the time. (11) These veterans provided a professional core to steady the (11) enthusiastic (6,11) but ill-trained (6) volunteer (4,6) battalions (11) of sans-culottes. (4) the “bluets”, who had not been amalgamated with the regular army at first but were in Valmy. (4) With only the French to deal with, the (8) Duke of Brunswick was so sure of victory that he thought he could do without the assistance of Clairfayt and the Austrians. (8,12)

Figure 6: Kellermann

Three a.m.

The attack began at around 3 a.m. (24) Hearing of the attack on his advance guard, Kellerman ordered camp to be struck, (12)

7 o’clock : fog lifts – the Cannonade begins

The fog prevented the two armies from knowing their respective positions. (12,24) Whenthe sun finally (10) cleared the fog (6,7) at 7 a.m., [OR] at ten o’clock (10) [OR] around noon (7) Brunswick was able to make out Kellermann’s army on the slopes of the plateau of Valmy. (10) Then (6,10) [OR] as Brunswick’s 34,000 Prussians emerged from the woods, (11) the artillery from both sides opened fire. (6,10) The 58 cannon (10) of the Prussians [OR] Kellermann’s veteran artillerists (10) opened fire (8,10) in a long-range duel, (6,7) all along the battle line. (10) This was the so-called “Cannonade of Valmy”. (11) The French batteries proved superior. (11) [OR] The barrage, although sustained, did not cause much damage. (12).

10.a.m. Kellermann’s horse killed

At around one in the afternoon (7) [OR] around ten o’clock, (8,12) Kellermann was surveying the battlefield from a position close to the mill, (which he had demolished) (8) when his horse was killed (8,10 ) under him with a cannon shot. (8,12)

10.00 a.m. The Ammunition wagon explodes

At about the same time (8,12) a lucky Prussian cannon shot (6,7) [OR] shells (24) detonated a (6,7) [OR] two (8,24) French ammunition wagons, (6,7) in an ammunition store (8,12) by the windmill1 (6) behind the French lines. (7) It caused a huge explosion, (6,7) injuring many of those nearby (8,24) and causing panic among the waggoners, (10,12) who fled with their wagons. (8) Part of the infantry (7,8) consisting of three (7) French regiments broke and ran, (7,8) which threatened to disrupt the French battle line (24) and add to the general confusion (8) [OR] the French line did not waver. (6) The rate of fire of the French artillery was reduced for lack of ammunition. (8,12) However, Kellermann galloped up, riding amongst the panicked men and rallying them (7,8)

Artillery opens up

The cannon fire caused few casualties on either side (6,8) car la distance est trop importante et le sol est détrempé. (10) Les Français tirent 20 000 coups de canon. (8,12) La nouvelle artillerie française créée par Gribeauval montre sa supériorité. (8,12) [OR] De par et d’autre la canonnade fait peu de dégâts. (10) Seeing the lack of effect of their artillery, (7) the Prussians launched their infantry forward again (6,7) in the hope (6,7) and expectation (7) that the French would break and run (6,7) under the artillery fire (7) [OR] at the sight of the famed Prussian infantry. (6) However, loin d’être effrayée (10) the French held firm, (6,10) [OR] Kellermann was forced to shift the positions of his troops to near a notable windmill. (7) Les soldats français brandissent leur chapeau à la pointe de leur sabre ou de leur baïonnette, ils défient les Prussiens en criant Vive la France !’, Vive la Nation !.’ (10) Brunswick withdrew his troops to allow his artillery to continue to soften up the French positions. (6)

11.00 Brunswick attacks

Figure 7: The area of the Battle today

Meanwhile Dumouriez quickly sent reinforcements to the weakened area to ensure it would hold, and Brunswick did nothing to exploit the temporary panic. (7) [OR]Le duc de Brunswick voyant que le feu de son artillerie n’a pas réussi à ébranler les troupes françaises, veut essayer une attaque de vive force. (8,12) Sûr de vaincre avec ses Prussiens, avait décidé de se passer des Autrichiens. (12) À 11 h, le bombardement prussien redoubla (8,12) et deux colonnes d’infanterie, soutenues par la cavalerie, s’élancèrent en direction du moulin de Valmy tandis qu’une autre colonne se tenait en réserve. (12) Il forme trois colonnes d’attaque soutenues par la cavalerie. (8,10) Les deux colonnes de gauche se dirigent sur le moulin de Valmy, la droite se tenant à distance. (8) [OR]Trois colonnes prussiennes partent à l’assaut du village de Valmy, à l’attaque du moulin et en direction du village d’Orbeval. (10)The Duke of Brunswick seeing that the fire of his artillery had failed to shake the French troops (8,12) and sure of winning with his Prussians (12) wanted to try a frontal attack. (8,12) At 11 a.m., the Prussian bombardment redoubled (8,12) and two infantry columns, supported by the cavalry, rushed towards the Valmy mill while another column stood in reserve. (12) He formed three attack columns supported by the cavalry. (8,10) The two columns on the left went towards the mill of Valmy, the right column held off at a distance. (8) [OR]Three Prussian columns set out to storm the village of Valmy, to attack the mill and in the direction of the village of Orbeval. (10) These attacks in oblique order were the usual tactic of the Prussians. (8) They made a cautious, and fruitless, effort to advance under fire across the open ground. (11)

Figure 8: The Battle

‘Vive la Nation’ !

But despite this move by the impressive Prussian infantry, the French remained in place, (10)butKellermann understood that it was not possible to maintain discipline while remaining static. (8) He arranged his army in columns by battalion, (8,12) and when this had been done (8) in spite of having been unhorsed himself, (8,12) by the explosion of the French ammunition wagon, (6,7) he put his hat on the end of his sabre (8,9) and, mounting a fresh horse, rode in front of the troops (8,12) shouting ‘Long live the nation!’ (7,8) He said: “Comrades, this is the moment of victory; let the enemy advance without firing a single shot at them, and then charge them with your bayonets.” (8,12) Now battle hardened by the four hour long (8) Prussian cannonade (8,9) the soldiers were full of enthusiasm and in an instant, all their hats were on their bayonets (8) and huge shouting arose from the ranks as, (8,11) emboldened by their success, they repeated ‘Vive la Nation’ again and again. (11,12) The band struck up the revolutionary song the ‘Ca ira!’ (10) and the men sang it (7,9) and other patriotic songs (9,11) like “La Marseillaise”. (11)This show of enthusiasm showed that the army was burning to fight. (8)

Prussians dismayed

The emigrant French nobles who accompanied the Prussian army had assured Brunswick that the French would flee at the first cannon shots, (10) and all this had a crushing effect upon Prussian morale: (11,12) their advance came to a halt. (8,12) Now at last Kellermann gave the order to advance. (8) “The victory is ours!” he shouted. (8) The French artillery (8,10) began (8) [OR]redoubled (10)its efforts (8,12) to decimate the Prussian ranks, (8,10)now within range. (10) The infantry, led by Kellermann himself, (9) advanced towards the enemy with determination. (7,8) Brunswick was baffled. (10) “We’ve got a real battle on our hands” he said. (10) They had only advanced a few hundred yards, (7) in the face of heavy musketry (6,7) [OR]artillery (8) fire, (6,7) when, to the surprise of nearly everyone, (11) the Duke gave a signal (8,10) and the Prussians retreated. (6,7)

Renewed Prussian attack, 4.00

The cannonade continued until 4 p.m. when the Prussians (8,12) reformed their columns (8) and attempted a new attack, (8,12) but the same factors stopped them again. (8,12)

7.00 Brunswick retires

Brunswick knew that it would difficult to dislodge the French from their strong position (10) if they were determined to defend it. (7,10) With all his other difficulties, he was unwilling to engage in battle against a force that offered anything more than token resistance. (7) Saying “We do not have to fight here”, he began to withdraw his army. (7) By around seven in the evening, the Prussians were back where they’d started, leaving the battlefield (8,12) strewn with dead, (8) to the French. (8,12) It began to rain even more heavily which made the ground impassable. (10) This marked the end of the battle. (6) The French had stopped the foreign invasion (1,2) close to where the invasion of Attila had broken down in 411 AD. (4) It was more an artillery duel than an infantry battle. (9) Both armies witnessed the battle rather than taking part in it! (8) The cannonade caused 300 casualties among the French, whilst the Prussians had 180 (6) [OR]200 (11) [OR]184 dead and wounded. (12) Meanwhile, in Paris, the Legislative Assembly had duly transferred its power to the National Convention. (11) [OR]

Aftermath

The battle had ended decisively, (11) and the Allies retreated. (9,10), They rounded the French positions at a great distance and (11) within a month (7) commenced a (7,11) rapid (11) and safe if inglorious (7) eastward retreat. (7,11) from French territory. (6,10) [OR] the armies remained facing each other for some days. (6,10) The plateau was very exposed, (10) and so on the following day, September 21st, (11) Kellermann, abandoned it, (10,11) moving a little further east behind the Auvre river (10) on the heights of Voilemont. (8,12) His front was now covered by the Auve and his right was supported by Dumouriez’s left. (8) He waited. (10) Dumouriez made arrangements to come to the aid of Kellermann in case battle was renewed, (8) and indeed on September 22nd, the Prussians seized the plateau and entrenched themselves there, remaining on it until 1st October. (10) Clairfayt retained his three columns towards Valmy and Maffrievart to keep the French in limbo and threaten the Sainte-Menehould camp and the rear of Kellermann’s right. (8) However, their health and food situation was still dire, and they negotiated a six-day truce. (10) The King of Prussia understood that with such a diminished army, it would be adventurous to continue to march on Paris, especially since French armies were being raised from volunteers around Châlons and Reims. (10) He was also worried about the news reaching him from eastern Europe, where the Russians and Austrians were in the process of partitioning Poland, something in which he very much wanted to take part. (10) Dumouriez and Kellermann were not interested in the destruction of Brunswick’s army, given that they had completed their goal of deterring his advance on Paris, (7) so they did not actively pursue him, (7,11) which allowed the Prussians to retreat without too harsh military intervention by the French. (10) In very bad condition, Brunswick’s army crossed the Argonne in the direction of Germany, (10) crossing the border on October 29th. (10) [OR]September 22nd. (12) Paris and the fledgling French Republic had been saved. (7) Over the next two days, flush with the news from Valmy, the new Convention deputies abolished the monarchy and proclaimed the French Republic. (11)

How and why did the battle end ?

Conspiracy theories

It was only a small, localized victory (3) little more than a skirmish, (1,2) but the outcome of this simple exchange of cannonfire is obscured by plots and mystery. (9,11) As the French were now east of the Prussians, the Prussians could have marched straight towards Paris unopposed, but this course was never seriously considered: the threat to their lines of supply and communication was too great to be ignored. (11,12) Brunswick’s army could be caught in a pincer movement between Dumouriez and a sally out of Paris without being able to be supplied. (12) The question of exactly why the Prussians withdrew has never been definitively answered. (9,11) How on earth did such a confrontation, the outcome of which was so decisive for France and Europe, come down to a simple exchange of artillery? (9) Many theories have been put forward. (11,12) some alleging shadowy motives for the decision, including a secret plea by Louis XVI to avoid an action which might cost him his life. (11) It has been suggested that Dumouriez, too, did not want to pursue the ‘enemy’ because it represented the possibility of help for the king from abroad. (23) He had secretly sent Frederick William of Prussia the information that the French general de Custine was preparing to invade his territories. (23) Another theory is that the Prussians were bribed to lose the battle (11,12) by Georges Danton (12) with the Bourbon crown jewels (11,12) which had been stolen on the 16th September from the royal treasury. (12) Some suspect a deal arising from the masonic bond between Kellermann et Brunswick; (9,12) both men belonged to the same order of freemasonry, and neither was present at the start of the battle. (12) Brunswick had actually been offered command of the French armies prior to the outbreak of war and émigré factions subsequently used this as a basis to allege treachery on his part. (11)

This engagement was the turning point of the Prussians ’campaign. (11)

Other hypotheses

However no proof of this charge exists and the more likely explanation remains that, having initially adopted an aggressive strategy, Brunswick lacked the will to carry it through when confronted by an unexpectedly determined and disciplined opposition. (11) Most historians ascribe the retreat to some combination of the following factors: (11) The move by Dumouriez to block the Prussians supply lines (12) exacerbating the insufficient logistical resources of the Prussian army, already far from its bases. (24) the highly defensible French position together with the rapidly growing numbers of reinforcements. (11) Others see it as a triumph of the French patriotism of the citizen volunteers; (4,9) their thoroughly unexpected élan, apparently capable of pushing back armies (4,9) took the Austro-Prussians by surprise, so they had no will to renew the battle. (4) Book 9 describes this as ‘unlikely’, (9) but it may have persuaded the cautious Brunswick to spare himself a dangerous loss of manpower, particularly because (11) the Russian invasion of Poland (11,12) which had taken place a few days before (12) had already raised concerns for Prussia’s defensibility in the east (11) and created a need of an army there to take part in the partition of this huge territory. (12) Other factors were the incessant rains (5,11) and the tactics deployed by Dumouriez and Kellermann, which were effective in dividing the coalition forces which then had to deal with two distinct French forces on two different “fronts”. (9,12) Dumouriez’s manoeuvre was a perfect tactical choice. (12) It facilitated the junction with General Kellermann by cutting off the supply and communications of the Prussian army. (12) It also allowed the capture of favourable ground for artillery, the French stronghold, as a battlefield, and put the French army in a position where it was sufficient to defend the ground. (12) The epidemic of dysentery (5,9) caused by excessive consumption of unripe fruits (12) also played a role. (5) It seems logical and probable that Brunswick refused to engage in a battle of uncertain outcome and preferred to fall back in good order to strike later. (9)

Longer term consequences

Still beset with food shortages and dysentery, (11,12) Brunswick’s retreat continued well past the Rhine River. (11) French troops soon struck forward into Germany, taking Mainz in October. (11) Dumouriez once again moved against the Austrian Netherlands and Kellermann ably secured the front at Metz. (11) Dumouriez would bear a harsh change of fortune: after one more influential success in November 1792 at Jemappes, his army had suffered such catastrophic losses at Neerwinden that he defected to the royalist side for the rest of his life. (11) Kellermann, however, continued in a long and distinguished military career. (11) In 1808 he was ennobled by Napoleon and became Duke of Valmy. (11)

Importance of the Battle

In the varied historiography of the French Revolution, the Battle of Valmy is often portrayed as the first victory of a citizen army, inspired by liberty and nationalism. (11) Many thousands of volunteers did indeed swell the ranks, but at least half of the French forces were professional soldiers, particularly among Kellermann’s critical artillery units. (11) The French artillery also held a tactical advantage in its modern Gribeauval gun system which proved highly successful on the battlefield. (11) But in popular conception, Valmy was a victory of citizen-soldiers: the battle was emblemized by Kellermann’s cry, augmented by the troops’ singing of “La Marseillaise” and the “Ça Ira” while under fire. (11) On the day of the battle, the Legislative Assembly had duly transferred its power to the National Convention. (11) Over the next two days, flush with the news from Valmy, the new Convention deputies abolished the monarchy and proclaimed the French Republic. (11) The victory was a much-needed source of pride for the revolutionary French state, and provided enduring inspiration for the years that followed. (11) It was considered by many contemporaries to be a miraculous event for France, and a “decisive defeat” for one of the most effective armies in Europe. (11) Kellermann was acclaimed as the Saviour of the Nation. (12) Scholars continue to count it among the most significant clashes in military history. (11) The Prussians themselves recognized the importance of the battle, not merely as a setback in the war but as a crucial advancement for the Revolution as a whole. (11) The German writer and poet Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, who was present at the battle with the Prussian army, later wrote that he was approached by some of his comrades in a state of dejection. (11) He had previously cheered them up with memorable and clever quotes but his only consolation this time was, “Here and today, a new epoch in the history of the world has begun, and you can boast you were present at its birth.” (11) The Prussian march was halted. (1) The Prussians and their allies withdrew, (1,10) allowing the French to renew their invasion of the Austrian Netherlands. (1) In this early (3) part of the Revolutionary Wars (1,3) — known as the War of the First Coalition—the new French government was in almost every way unproven, and thus (3) the victory at Valmy (3,10) the first since the declaration of war in April 1792 (10) provoked elation among the French. (11) It became a huge psychological victory for the Revolution at large. (3,10) The Prussian army, made up of professional soldiers and considered at the time as the best army in Europe, (3,10) had to retreat in front of an army where many fighters were Volunteers (that is to say, civilians recently enlisted ). (10) Valmy was the first major victory by the army of France during the Revolutionary Wars that followed the French Revolution. (3,10) It was less a strategic victory than a moral and political victory. (4) One of the most important victories of the armies of the revolution. (4) For the first time a French revolutionary army held firm and did not disengage, and the coalition invasion was halted. (24) Brunswick’s timidity had catastrophic consequences for the Allies who went on to lose many battles against a republican army far superior in number (let us not forget that France at the time was the most populous country in Europe) . (9) Valmy is thus the founding pillar of the nascent republican regime in France. (9) Transformed by revolutionary propaganda as a victory for patriotism over monarchies labelled as tyrannical, the battle would become the heart of the national legend which is being rewritten under the Revolution. (9) This victory had a considerable impact and once the news of the victory was known, the deputy Jean-Marie Collot d’Herbois (1750-1796) proposed to the deputies the abolition of royalty. (9) The very day of Valmy, the deputies of the legislative assembly separate and give way to the deputies of the National Convention (10,19) who had been elected during the summer. (10) Galvanized (9,10) by the news of an enemy retreat (9) the deputies (9,10) of the newly assembled National (3,10) Convention abolished royalty (3,4) unanimously on September 21, and on the next day September 22, (4) they proclaimed the 1st Republic. (3,4) and called for the foundation of a new era, that of “Liberty”. (9) Had Valmy been lost the Prussians would have invaded Paris and put King Louis XVI back in his absolute power (he had been imprisoned for 6 weeks), and the French Revolution would have come to an end. (4) As it was, the French Revolution was saved, (1) and Valmy permitted the development of the Revolution and all its resultant ripple effects, and for that (3) it is regarded by historians as one of the most significant battles in history. (1,3) Witness of the event, (5,6) Johann Wolfgang von (7) Goethe wrote: “From here to today, dates a new epoch in universal history, (5,6) and you can all say that you were present at its birth. ” (7) On the military side, however, the situation was not resolved with an enemy force still in being. (9) It was not until November and the decisive victory of Jemmapes that the Republic initiated a series of victories and conquests in the Austrian. (9) A look back at the founding act of modern, revolutionary and republican France. (9) But the symbol is there: the French won against all odds! Patriotic fervour was growing throughout France. (9) Thus was born the republic! Inscribed in republican and French legend, the battle helped to consolidate the pride of the French and allowed them military exploits that would only end with the final disgrace of Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte in 1815. (9)

Later career of Dumouriez

Jemmapes and Belgium

After Dumouriez’s subordinate Kellermann had repulsed the Prussians at Valmy (20 September 1792) (21) and the Prussians had withdrawn, (22) Dumouriez was now free to carry out his planned invasion of the Austrian Netherlands (modern Belgium and Luxembourg). (21,22) Back in Paris a proclamation was issued on October 26th calling on the Belgians to rebel against the Austrians. (23) In October the French crossed the border, heading for Mons and the road to Brussels. (22) On 6th November, at Jemappes, Dumouriez won his second great victory (22,23) severely defeating the Austrians (15,16) under Duke Albert (22,23) of Saxe-Teschen (22) at Jemmapes (15,16) (6th November 1792). (19,21) He had conquered Belgium by winning at Jemmapes: (19,22) a few days later the French armies entered Brussels, and for a short time the Austrian Netherlands came under French control. (22) He was a true revolutionary in the sense that he believed that nations which had undergone a revolution, in this instance France, should give aid to oppressed countries. (21) As his plans were largely limited to Belgium, this tunnel vision sometimes prevented him from acting in the most logical fashion as a commander. (21) The beginning of Dumouriez’s fall can be dated to the aftermath of Jemappes. (22) While the victory was greeted with elation across France, the radical Jacobins became to view him with suspicion. (22) Dumouriez wanted to establish an independent Belgian state, free of Austrian control, which would act as a buffer on France’s eastern borders, but one that would not worry the British. (22) To achieve this he began negotiations with the local authorities in Belgium, but on 15th December the Convention passed a decree ordering the military commanders in the occupied territories to implement all revolutionary laws. (22) Concerned about the growing radicalism and unrest in Paris, (18) he aligned himself with the Girondins in the autumn of 1792. (15,16) [OR] he had already joined them before Valmy. (16,19) Returning to Paris on 1st January 1793 Dumouriez was acclaimed by the people, (21) but gained less sympathy from the revolutionary government. (21) His old-fashioned methodical method of conducting war exposed him to the criticism of ardent Jacobins, and a defeat would have meant the end of his career. (21) To the more radical elements in Paris, it became clear that Dumouriez was not a true patriot when he worked during the trial of Louis XVI to save him from execution. (21) Dumouriez had also written a letter to the Convention scolding it for not supplying his army to his satisfaction and for the Decree of 15th December, which allowed the French armies to loot in the territory they had won. (21) The Decree insured that any plan concerning Belgium would fail due to a lack of popular support among the Belgians. (21) This letter became known as “Dumouriez’s declaration of war”. (21) On 1st February the Convention declared war on Britain and the Netherlands. (22) Dumouriez’s letters suggest that while he was in favour of the war, he did not approve of the early declaration of war, which took place before he was ready to carry out his planned invasion of the Netherlands, which was beginning to take shape during January. (22) Caressing the idea of an independent Belgian nation was an obstacle to the intentions of the Convention that it intended to make French territory. (23)

Holland and Neerwinden, March 1793

Dumouriez invaded Holland (19) with a two-pronged invasion of Holland, which began in mid February. (22) [OR]on Feb. 26th. (20) Dumouriez led (22,23) an ill-equipped army of 13,000 men (23) along the coast, attacking Breda (22,23) which he took (23) and Bergen-op-Zoom (23) and advancing towards Dordrecht. (22) At the same time a second army under General Miranda attacked Maastricht, at the southern tip of the Netherlands. (22) This campaign came to a disastrous end. (22) On 1st March a new Allied army, (22) under the command of (22,23) Josias (23) Prince of Saxe-Coburg (22,23) -Saalfeld (23) crossed the Roer (battle of Aldenhoven), and forced the French to abandon Aix-la-Chapelle (2 March). (22) Miranda was forced to abandon the siege of Maastricht, and after a few days Dumouriez had to leave his army in Holland and move south in an attempt to retrieve the situation. (22) He was able to restore the morale of the army, (22) but on 18th March (22,23) suffered a major (21) defeat by the Austrians at Neerwinden (15,16) on March (16,19) 18th (19) when attempting to attack a strong Austrian position. (22) He was defeated again at Leuven (March 21st) (19) and was forced to retreat into Belgium (19) 1793. (15,16),

Dumouriez opens negotiations with the Austrians

On 22nd March (22) Dumouriez (16,22) secretly (16) opened negotiations with the Austrian commander (16,22) General Mack, (22) [OR]the Austrian prince. (23) concluding an armistice (19) under which the two sides agreed to allow the French army to retreat behind Brussels without pursuit. (22) Dumouriez was now becoming openly hostile to the Jacobins, and at a second meeting with Mack agreed to march on Paris (22) and restore the monarchy (16,22) in the person of the dauphin as Louis XVII. (22)

Criticised by the Jacobins

By 31 March (22) news of his attempts to negotiate had reached (22,23) the Convention (22,23) whose leaders understood that Dumouriez was about to betray them. (22) He was held responsible for the defeats, (18) denounced as a traitor, (15,23) and summoned to Paris. (15) The Convention sent (19,21) the minister of war, Pierre Riel, Count de Beurnonville, (19,21) and four commissaries (19,21) [OR]deputy-commissioners of the National Convention (Camus, Bancal-des-Issarts, Quinette, and Lamarque) (21) to relieve him of his command (19,23) [OR] to inquire into his conduct, (21,23) [OR]to arrest him. (22) Dumouriez responded by arresting the delegation, including the minister. (23) He tried to organise a counter-revolutionary assault on Paris, (16,18) dissolve the Convention (16,19) On 4th April he tried to convince his army to support him in the march on Paris, (22,23) but he was unable to rally enough support from his troops. (16,18)

He abandons the Revolutionary cause, April 1793

On 5th (19,22) April (16,18) Dumouriezmade a desperate move to save himself from his radical enemies. (21) He abandoned the national army and (16,18) on April 5th (19) he joined the Royalist cause. (15,16) He fled to the Austrians (16,18) along with the duc de Chartres (the future King Louis Philippe) (21,23) and his younger brother, the duc de Montpensier. (21) Riel and the commissioners were also (22) handed over to the Austrians (19,21) They remained prisoners of the Austrians for almost three years. (23) His defection discredited his Girondin associates, (19,21) and on June 2nd the Jacobins had the leading Girondins expelled from the Convention. (19)

As exile

Following his defection (21) Dumouriez did not have a happy time in exile. (11,22) He soon learned he had become an object of suspicion among his countrymen, the royal houses, aristocracies, and clergy of Europe. (21) He was not trusted by the French exiles in Cologne or Stuttgart, or on his travels in Switzerland or Italy. (22) A year after Valmy he was a broken man. (11) In response, Dumouriez wrote and published in Hamburg a first volume of memoirs in which he offered his version of the previous year’s events. (21) He wandered from country to country, (18,21) occupied in ceaseless royalist intrigues (21) for the rest of his life [OR] he finally settled in Britain (16,18) in 1804. (16,21) He lived in Brussels for a short time, and then travelled to Cologne, seeking a position at the elector’s court. (21) Austria, too, left him to suffer; Franconia was on the side of the Elector of Cologne, and his fortunes were not better in Stuttgart, Switzerland, Italy and England, until he finally found a home on Danish territory near Hamburg. (23) in 1800 he went to Russia to offer Tsar Paul I his services against France, but found that the Tsar now favoured France against England. (23) in 1807 King Gustav of Sweden seemed likely to give him command of the army, but because of the Peace of Tilsit he had to return to England. (23) in 1808 He offered his services to Portugal, threatened by France. (23) He covered the whole of Spain training the Spanish in guerrilla techniques. (23) He wrote ‘Pardidas de Guerillas’ a handbook on guerrilla warfare. (23)

In England

He moved to England in 1804 to advise the government and in exchange for a pension became involved in espionage for the same government. (23) He lived there (16,19) in the Buckinghamshire countryside (23) on a pension (16,19) from the English government and avoided politics (16) [OR] between 1812 and 1814 (22,23) he became a valuable adviser to the War Office (21) of Castlereagh’s ministry (22,23) in its struggle against Napoleon, though the extent of his aid only became public many years later. (21) He even advised Wellington. (23) Upon the restoration of the French monarchy in 1814, (19,21) he wanted to return to France. (22) He tried to procure from Louis XVIII the baton of a marshal of France, but (21) because of the help he had given Wellington, (23) failed to do so. (21) Louis refused to allow him to return to France. (19,23) He died (15,16) on March 14th (16,19) 1823, (15,16) at Turville Park, (16,19) near Henley-on-Thames (21) Buckinghamshire (19) Great Britain. (16,19) Dumouriez was the first victorious commander of the armies of Revolutionary France. (22) He was not a great general, and he misjudged the political mood in France, but without his victory at Valmy the Republic may have been destroyed almost before it had been declared. (22) His attempt to restore some order in France came far too soon, but only a few years later the young Napoleon Bonaparte would come to power on a similar platform of military success and political stability. (22)

Figure 9: Philippe Egalite with the head of Louis XVI

Bibliography

Figure 10: Bibliography

Bibliographical notes

  • (2) and (4) identical phrasing.
  • 8,12 also very similar.
  • 19,20 virtually identical
  • 12,24 very similar

FRESCIPLACT

F Foreign and Military France v Austro Prussian force supplemented by emigrés. Penetration by Brunswick, but Dumouriez and Kellerman combined behind him causing a critical supply situation which he had to address. The battle largely a cannonade after which the sides separated and Brunswick got back to Germany, but psychological impact on Revolution great. Much myth making ‘Vive La Nation’. Partition of Poland imminent.

R. War Aims: Br Manifesto; Dumouriez unhappy with radicals and had motive not to pursue Brunswick. NB his subsequent defection. Brunswick needed to preserve his force to go to Poland.

E. Economics: Brunswick supply crisis forced battle. Scorched earth and French move.

S. Social: the French army largely the old royal army with Gribeauval’s artillery, not ragamuffins. Fr peasants contributed to Brunswick’s force being affected by dysentery.

C. Brunswick and Dumouriez both trying to save Louis XVI! Changing political situation

I. Death of Kellermann’s Horse. Alleged speech and French enthusiasm. Prussian dismay? misleading of Brunswick by emigrés.

P. Points of View: Important victory, but not by sansculottes; Freemasonry; bribery with Crown Jewels; Historiography by Orleanists and Republicans.

L. Vive La Nation, instead of ‘Le Roi’.

A. Mock Battle/real battle

C. Conspiracy theories; improvement on earlier battles marred by desertions; later French Victories; Dumouriez helped Wellington in the Peninsula. French Revolution influencing us today.

T. Time: Brunswick’s delay at Verdun. The changing situation in Paris and re Poland.

Appendix 1: the Painting in the Louvre after Vernet, 1826

Figure 11: The Vernet Painting

The moment shown in the painting is when Kellermann, brought down by his horse falling. (5) He wears a tricolor cordon, which was then that of the Order of Saint-Louis, a military decoration. (5) General Pully is on his left. (5) Behind him and on foot, is Captain Sénarmont, injured in the thigh. (5) On Kellermann’s right are General Valence, the Duke of Chartres, future Louis-Philippe, and the Duke of Montpensier. (5) The scene is the plateau on which the mill of Valmy stood. (5) Near the miller’s house, we see the dressing station. (5) In the distance is the village of Gisaucourt. (5) The battalion of national volunteers is the first battalion of Saône-et-Loire. (5) The French army is facing west, towards Châlons and Paris, with the artillery in front of it. (5)

1 Which was no longer there!

%d bloggers like this:
search previous next tag category expand menu location phone mail time cart zoom edit close