The Battle of Fleurus, on 26 June 1794, was an engagement between the army of the First French Republic, under General Jean-Baptiste Jourdan and the Coalition Army (Britain, Hanover, Dutch Republic, and Habsburg Monarchy), commanded by Prince Josias of Coburg, in the most significant battle of the Flanders Campaign in the Low Countries during the French Revolutionary Wars. Both sides had forces in the area of around 80,000 men but the French were able to concentrate their troops and defeat the First Coalition. The Allied defeat led to the permanent loss of the Austrian Netherlands and to the destruction of the Dutch Republic. The battle marked a turning point for the French army, which remained ascendant for the rest of the War of the First Coalition. The French use of the reconnaissance balloon l'Entreprenant was the first military use of an aircraft that influenced the result of a battle.
After the Battle of Tourcoing on 17–18 May 1794, Jean-Baptiste Jourdan was given the command of approximately 96,000 men created by combining the Army of the Ardennes with portions of the Army of the North and the Army of the Moselle. Jourdan with his newly created army was then given the task of capturing the Charleroi fortress.
On 12 June, Jourdan's army, accompanied and supervised by a member of the Committee of Public Safety, Louis de Saint-Just invested the fortress of Charleroi with 70,000 men. On 16 June, an Austrian-Dutch force of about 43,000 men counterattacked in heavy mist at Lambusart, inflicted 3,000 casualties, and drove Jourdan away from Charleroi back across the Sambre. On 18 June, Jourdan attacked again and managed to resume the siege the Charleroi. The fortress eventually surrendered on 25 June, just as a relieving force under the Prince of Coburg arrived to raise the siege. The army that Jourdan commanded in the siege of Charleroi would later be formally commissioned on 29 June as the Army of the Sambre-et-Meuse. 
On 26 June, Feldmarschall Coburg manœuvred around Charleroi with a force of 52,000 Austrian and Dutch soldiers. Too late to save the fortress, which had surrendered, the Austrian commander split his army into five columns and attacked the French. A French reconnaissance balloon, l'Entreprenant, operated by the Aerostatic Corps, continuously informed General of Division (MG) Jean-Baptiste Jourdan about Austrian movements. The Austrians managed to break through both French wings, pushing back MG François Marceau on the right wing and MG Montaigu on the left wing. The French center under MG François Lefebvre held and then counterattacked and the Austrian assault petered out. Colonel Nicolas Soult, then serving as Lefebvre's chief of staff, wrote that it was, "fifteen hours of the most desperate fighting I ever saw in my life."
Coburg neglected to press on and uncertain of the outcome, the Austrian commander lost his nerve and fell back to Braine-l'Alleud and Waterloo, granting the French an unexpected victory. This was the final straw that caused the allies to retire over the Rhine, leaving the French free rein in Belgium and the Netherlands. Historian Digby Smith wrote,
By this stage of the war the court in Vienna was convinced that it was no longer worth the effort to try to hold on to the Austrian Netherlands and it is suspected that Coburg gave up the chance of a victory here so as to be able to pull out eastwards.
It is generally agreed that the battle was a costly one for the French, with casualties estimated between five and six thousand. The Allied losses have always been in dispute: the French claimed significantly higher losses than their own, while the Allies claimed far less. Traditional estimates attribute "considerable casualties" to Coburg's army, and hover near five thousand Allied killed and wounded. However, according to Digby Smith, Austrian-Dutch losses numbered 208 killed, 1,017 wounded, and 361 captured. In addition, the French captured one mortar, three caissons, and one standard, while the Austrians captured one cannon and one standard.
Despite any tactical imbalance, the strategic value of Fleurus was immense for the French. The victory precipitated a full Allied withdrawal from Belgium and allowed French forces to push north into the Netherlands. By the end of 1795, the Dutch Republic was extinguished. After Fleurus, the republican army would keep its momentum in the war, staying on the offensive until its eventual victory against the First Coalition in 1797.
Politically, the battle invalidated the argument that continuation of the revolutionary Reign of Terror was necessary because of the military threat to France's very existence. Thus, some would argue, victory at Fleurus was a leading cause of the Thermidorian Reaction a month later. Saint-Just arrived in Paris after such a great victory only to die with Maximilien Robespierre and the other leading Jacobins.
The 1st Infantry Regiment (1er régiment d'infanterie, abbreviated 1er RI) is an infantry regiment of the French Army, founded in 1479 as one of the oldest regiments in active service in the world. It is an offspring of the bande de Picardie under the Ancien regime, and one of the five oldest regiments in France. It particularly distinguished itself at the Battle of Fleurus (1794), the Battle of Messkirch (1800) and the Battle of Biberach (1800). The regiment has been patronned by the city of Saint-Amand-Montrond since 12 April 2003.
The 1er RI is the only French infantry regiment to feature a squadron specialised in urban warfare, the Groupe Commando d'Investigation (CGI, "Investigation Commando Group"). The CGI is, with the Compagnie de Combat en zone Urbaine of the 2nd Foreign Parachute Regiment, the benchmark for urban combat in the French military.99th Infantry Regiment (France, 1757–1803)
The 99th Infantry Regiment (French - 99e régiment d'infanterie or 99e RI) was an infantry regiment of the French Army. It was formed in 1791 by renaming the Royal Deux-Ponts Regiment and fought in the French Revolutionary Wars before being merged into another unit in 1803. A new and unrelated 99th Infantry Regiment was formed in 1855 and took on the traditions of the previous regiment.Alexander Korsakov
Alexander Mikhailovich Rimsky-Korsakov (Russian: Алекса́ндр Миха́йлович Ри́мский-Ко́рсаков) (August 24, 1753 – May 25, 1840) was a Russian general remembered as an unlucky assistant to Alexander Suvorov during his Swiss expedition of 1799–1800.Army of the Moselle
The Army of the Moselle (Armée de la Moselle) was a French Revolutionary Army from 1791 through 1795. It was first known as the Army of the Centre and it fought at Valmy. In October 1792 it was renamed and subsequently fought at Trier, First Arlon, Biesingen, Kaiserslautern, Froeschwiller and Second Wissembourg. In the spring of 1794 the left wing was detached and fought at Second Arlon, Lambusart and Fleurus before being absorbed by the Army of Sambre-et-Meuse. In late 1794, the army captured Trier and initiated the Siege of Luxembourg. During the siege, the army was discontinued and its divisions were assigned to other armies.Battle of Fleurus
There have been three battles fought near the town of Fleurus in Belgium:
The Battle of Fleurus (1622) in the Thirty Years' War
The Battle of Fleurus (1690) in the Nine Years' War
The Battle of Fleurus (1794) in the French Revolutionary Wars
The Battle of Ligny (Battle of Fleurus 1815) in the Napoleonic WarsBattle of Mainz
The Battle of Mainz (29 October 1795) saw a Habsburg Austrian army led by François Sebastien Charles Joseph de Croix, Count of Clerfayt launch a surprise assault against four divisions of the French Army of Rhin-et-Moselle directed by François Ignace Schaal. The right-hand French division fled the battlefield, compelling the other three divisions to retreat with the loss of their siege artillery and many casualties. The War of the First Coalition action was fought near the city of Mainz in the state of Rhineland-Palatinate in Germany.
French troops had ineffectively besieged the western side of Mainz Fortress since December 1794. However, in early September 1795 the Army of Sambre-et-Meuse crossed the lower Rhine River and advanced south to the Main River. For the first time Mainz was besieged on the east side of the river, but this state of affairs did not last very long. In the Battle of Höchst, Clerfayt outmaneuvered Jourdan, forcing his army to retire to the west bank of the Rhine. With Jourdan temporarily out of the picture, Clerfayt fell on Schaal's somewhat isolated corps and drove it away to the south. During this time the commander of the Army of Rhin-et-Moselle, Jean-Charles Pichegru was in treasonous contact with France's enemies, perhaps accounting for Austria's success. The next clash was the Battle of Pfeddersheim on 10 November.
The siege was the second time balloon reconnaissance had been used, after the Battle of Fleurus (1794).Claude Juste Alexandre Legrand
Claude Juste Alexandre Louis Legrand (23 February 1762, Le Plessier-sur-Saint-Just, Oise – 8 January 1815, Paris) was a French general. He commanded French divisions at several notable battles of the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars. He rose to senator on 5 April 1813, then Pair de France on 4 June 1814 and chevalier de Saint-Louis on 27 June 1814. He organised the defence of Chalon-sur-Saône in 1814 and died in Paris in 1815 of wounds received beside the River Berezina.Fleurus
Fleurus (French pronunciation: [flœ.ʁys]; Walloon: Fleuru) is a Walloon municipality located in the Belgian province of Hainaut. It has been the site of four major battles.François Muller
François Muller (29 January 1764 – 23 September 1808) became a division commander during the French Revolutionary Wars. He enlisted in the French Royal Army as a cavalry trooper in 1783 and served until 1789. He joined a Paris volunteer battalion in 1792 and became an officer. Sent to fight in the War in the Vendée, he was promoted general of brigade and general of division within the span of nine days. His division ran away at both Cholet and Le Mans and he was reportedly drunk at the Battle of Dol, yet he was transferred in March 1794 to the Army of the North. In May and June he led a combat division at the battles of Grandreng, Erquelinnes, Gosselies, Lambusart and Fleurus. Removed from command in August 1794, he was thereafter assigned to posts in the interior. He led a division at Genola in November 1799 before being deactivated in 1801. Entangled in the 1804 affair of Jean Victor Marie Moreau he was placed under house arrest at Orléans and died there in 1808.Hussards de la Mort
The Hussards de la Mort or Death Hussars were a French light cavalry company formed during the French Revolution.Jean-Étienne Championnet
Jean-Étienne Vachier Championnet, also known as Championnet (13 April 1762, Alixan, Drôme – 9 January 1800), led a Republican French division in many important battles during the French Revolutionary Wars. He became commander-in-chief of the Army of Rome in 1798 and of the Army of Italy in 1799. He died in early 1800 of typhus. His name is one of the names inscribed under the Arc de Triomphe, on Column 3.Jean Baptiste Brunet
Jean Baptiste Brunet (7 July 1763 – 21 September 1824) was a French general of division in the French Revolutionary Army. He was responsible for the arrest of Toussaint Louverture. He was promoted to command a light infantry demi-brigade at the Fleurus in 1794. He led the unit in François Joseph Lefebvre's division in the 1795, 1796 and 1799 campaigns. He was the son of French general Gaspard Jean-Baptiste Brunet who was guillotined in 1793.Jean François Leval
Jean François Leval (18 April 1762 – 7 August 1834) was promoted to general officer during the French Revolutionary Wars and led a division in a number of battles during the Napoleonic Wars. He rapidly rose in rank during the French Revolution. Appointed to command a demi-brigade beginning early in 1793, by the end of the year he was a general of brigade. He led a brigade at Fleurus in 1794 and in the campaign of 1795. In 1799 he became a general of division. He commanded a division in Napoleon Bonaparte's Grand Army at the battles of Jena and Eylau. Later he transferred to Spain where he fought in numerous actions including Talavera, Ocaña, Barossa, Vitoria, and the Nive. The only action in which he commanded an army was the Siege of Tarifa, which was a failure. In 1814, he led his division in eastern France. His surname is one of the names inscribed under the Arc de Triomphe, on Column 7.Knokke-Heist
Knokke-Heist (Dutch pronunciation: [ˌknɔkəˈɦɛi̯st]) is a municipality in the Belgian province of West Flanders. The municipality comprises the towns of Heist-aan-Zee, Knokke, Duinbergen, Ramskapelle and Westkapelle. On January 1, 2006 Knokke-Heist had a total population of 34,063. The total area is 56.44 km² which gives a population density of 603 inhabitants per km². Knokke-Heist is located along the North Sea in a polder area on the Belgian border with the Netherlands. It is Belgium’s best-known and most affluent seaside resort.Nicolas François Conroux
Nicolas François Conroux, Baron de Pépinville (17 February 1770 – 11 November 1813) became a division commander during the Napoleonic Wars and was killed fighting the British in southern France. In 1786 he joined the French Royal Army and by 1792 he was an officer in an infantry regiment. During the French Revolutionary Wars he fought at First Arlon, Second Arlon, Fleurus, the 1796 campaign in southern Germany, Valvasone, and the 1798 invasion of Naples. In 1802 he was given command of an infantry regiment.
After leading his troops at Austerlitz in 1805, he was promoted to general officer. He led a brigade at Heilsberg, Friedland, Aspern-Essling, and Wagram. After being promoted again, he commanded a division in Spain at Fuentes de Onoro, Bornos, Vitoria, the Pyrenees, San Marcial, and the Bidassoa. He was fatally wounded at the Battle of Nivelle and died the following day. His surname is one of the Names inscribed under the Arc de Triomphe, on Column 16.Observation balloon
An observation balloon is a type of balloon that is employed as an aerial platform for intelligence gathering and artillery spotting. Use of observation balloons began during the French Revolutionary Wars, reaching their zenith during World War I, and they continue in limited use today.
Historically, observation balloons were filled with hydrogen. The balloons were fabric envelopes filled with hydrogen gas, whose flammable nature led to the destruction of hundreds of balloons on both sides. Observers manning these observation balloons frequently had to use a parachute to evacuate their balloon when it came under attack. To avoid the potentially flammable consequences of hydrogen, observation balloons after World War I were often filled with non-flammable helium.
Typically, balloons were tethered to a steel cable attached to a winch that reeled the gasbag to its desired height (usually 1,000-1,500 metres) and retrieved it at the end of an observation session.Paul Grenier
Paul Grenier (29 January 1768 – 17 April 1827) joined the French royal army and rapidly rose to general officer rank during the French Revolutionary Wars. He led a division in the 1796-1797 campaign in southern Germany. During the 1800 campaign in the Electorate of Bavaria he was a wing commander. Beginning in 1809, in the Napoleonic Wars, Emperor Napoleon I entrusted him with corps commands in the Italian theater. A skilled tactician, he was one of the veteran generals who made the Napoleonic armies such a formidable foe to the other European powers. After the Bourbon Restoration he retired from the army and later went into politics. Grenier is one of the Names inscribed under the Arc de Triomphe.Reconnaissance aircraft
A reconnaissance aircraft is a military surveillance aircraft designed or adapted to perform aerial reconnaissance. Their roles include collection of imagery intelligence (such as photography), signals intelligence, and measurement and signature intelligence. In addition to general intelligence gathering, modern technology has also enabled some aircraft and UAVs to carry out real-time surveillance.
In years prior to the development and common use of sophisticated electronic sensors (such as radar) and image recording devices, reconnaissance aircraft were also relied upon by military forces for distant visual observation and scouting of enemy movement. An example is the PBY Catalina maritime patrol flying boat used by the Allies in World War II: a flight of U.S. Navy Catalinas spotted part of the Japanese fleet approaching Midway Island, beginning the Battle of Midway.Wavre
Wavre (French pronunciation: [wavʁ], Dutch: Waver) is a city and municipality in the Belgian province of Walloon Brabant, of which it is the capital.
Wavre is in the Dyle valley. Most inhabitants speak French as their mother tongue and are called "Wavriens" and "Wavriennes". The municipality includes the sub-municipalities of Limal and Bierges.
Wavre is also called "the City of the Maca", referring to the statue of the small boy who tries to climb the wall of the city hall. Tradition holds that touching the Maca's buttocks brings a year of luck.