First Battle of Wissembourg (1793)

In the First Battle of Wissembourg (13 October 1793) an Allied army commanded by Dagobert Sigmund von Wurmser attacked the French Army of the Rhine under Jean Pascal Carlenc. After an ineffectual resistance, the French army abandoned its fortified line behind the Lauter River and retreated toward Strasbourg in confusion. This engagement of the War of the First Coalition occurred on the eastern border of France about 60 kilometres (37 mi) north of Strasbourg.

After the Siege of Mainz in which the Prussian army captured the city, the Army of the Rhine fell back into the Lines of Weissenburg, a position first fortified in 1706. Soon Wurmser with an army composed of troops from Habsburg Austria, French Royalists and allied German states began putting pressure on the Lines. Meanwhile, the French army organization was in disarray after two previous army commanders were arrested and sent to Paris prisons. Since no one wanted to lead the army, the representatives on mission appointed Carlenc, recently a lieutenant colonel of cavalry. After a series of skirmishes, Wurmser launched a successful assault. After the French retreat, the inept Carlenc was arrested and replaced in army command by Jean-Charles Pichegru. At the urging of the government, Pichegru began launching a series of attacks designed to recover the lost territory. These resulted in the battles of Froeschwiller and Second Wissembourg.

First Battle of Wissembourg
Part of French Revolutionary Wars
Date13 October 1793
Result Austrian-Allied victory
France France  Austria
Hesse Hesse-Kassel
Kingdom of France French Émigrés
Commanders and leaders
France Jean Pascal Carlenc Habsburg Monarchy Dagobert Wurmser
51,590 42,234
Casualties and losses
3,000, 31 guns 1,800


During the War of the First Coalition, General der Kavallerie Wurmser's Austro-Allied army threatened to invade Alsace. Accordingly, the French Army of the Rhine manned the Lines of Weissenburg, a line of earthworks dating back to the War of the Spanish Succession. The lines began near Wissembourg and stretched about 20 kilometers in an east-southeasterly direction to the Rhine River at Lauterbourg. This traces the modern-day France-Germany border.

Dagobert Sigmund von Wurmser
Dagobert von Wurmser

During this period, the Army of the Rhine's command structure remained chaotic. In July 1793, Adam Philippe Custine was replaced in command; he was guillotined at the end of August. General of Division (MG) Charles de Landremont became commander on 18 August and served until 29 September when he was arrested for treason. Unlike his predecessor MG Alexandre, vicomte de Beauharnais who was guillotined in July 1794, Landremont survived the experience, dying in 1818. MG Meunier took command for two days until his replacement by MG Jean Carlenc on 2 October. MG Charles Pichegru replaced Carlenc on 27 October. At the same time, MG Lazare Hoche assumed overall command of both the Army of the Moselle and Pichegru's Army of the Rhine.[1]

On 20 August, a column made up of Austrians, Hessians, and French Émigrés clashed with 3,000 French at Jockgrim on the Rhine north of Lauterbourg. Feldmarschal-Leutnant Moritz Kavanaugh's Allied force included five infantry battalions, six light infantry companies, 13 cavalry squadrons, and 12 cannons. French General of Brigade Louis-Théobald Ilher led three battalions, six squadrons, and 10 guns. The Allies had the better of the encounter, losing 147 casualties. The French lost 103 men and 5 cannons captured, plus an unknown number of killed and wounded. While leading some dragoons, Ilher was killed by a Hessian Jäger. A flurry of actions followed as Wurmser drove in the French outposts and tapped at the main lines. Skirmishes occurred on 21 and 27 August, and on 7, 11, 12, 14, 19, 20, 23, and 30 September.[2]

On 12 and 20 September, two battalions of the Kaiser Infantry Regiment led by Oberst (Colonel) Gerhard Rosselmini clashed with the French at Bad Bergzabern and Bienwaldmuhle.[3]


French Army

  • Army of the Rhine: General of Division Jean Carlenc (45,312 infantry, 6,278 cavalry)[4]
    • Advance Guard: General of Division Jean-Baptiste Meynier
      • Brigade: General of Brigade Augustin Isambert
      • Brigade: General of Brigade Ferette (?)
      • Brigade: General of Brigade Jean-François Combez
    • Right Wing: General of Brigade Paul-Alexis Dubois
    • Center: General of Division Louis Dominique Munnier
      • Brigade: General of Brigade Martial Vachot
    • Center: General of Division Jean Nicolas Méquillet
      • Brigade: General of Brigade Bauriolle (?)
      • Brigade: General of Brigade Isambert
    • Left Wing: General of Division Claude Ferey
    • Reserve: General of Division Dominique Diettmann
      • Brigade: General of Brigade Barthélemy de La Farelle
      • Brigade: General of Brigade Jean-François Ravel de Puycontal

Austrian-Allied Army


On 13 October 1793, Wurmser launched his main assault against the fortified French positions. The Allied forces succeeded in breaching the line, forcing a French withdrawal south to Hagenau. The French suffered 2,000 killed and wounded, plus 1,000 soldiers, 31 guns, and 12 colors captured. The Allies suffered 1,800 casualties.[6] The day after the battle, an Allied force under Franz von Lauer laid siege to the nearby Fort-Louis in the Rhine river. The 4,500-man French garrison surrendered the fortress on 14 November.[7] The French government quickly rushed Hoche's Army of the Moselle into the area to help drive back Wurmser. This move precipitated the Second Battle of Wissembourg in December 1793.


  1. ^ See French Wikipedia, Armee du Rhin.
  2. ^ Smith, p 52
  3. ^ Wrede, p 122
  4. ^ Smith, p 57-58. The author provides the orders of battle for both armies.
  5. ^ Smith, p 58. Smith incorrectly lists Albert Gyulay, who fought in Flanders, rather than his brother Ignaz.
  6. ^ Smith, p 58
  7. ^ Smith, p 61

Further reading

  • Smith, Digby. The Napoleonic Wars Data Book. London: Greenhill, 1998. ISBN 1-85367-276-9
  • Wrede, Alphons. Geschichte der K. und K. Wehrmacht, Vol. 1. Vienna: L. W. Seidel & Sohn, 1898.

External links

Coordinates: 49°02′18″N 7°56′49″E / 49.0383°N 7.9469°E

Battle of Wissembourg

Battle of Wissembourg may refer to:

First Battle of Wissembourg (1793), in October 1793, during the War of the First Coalition

Second Battle of Wissembourg (1793), in December 1793, during the War of the First Coalition

Battle of Wissembourg (1870), first battle of the Franco-Prussian War

Claude Marie Meunier

Claude Marie Meunier (4 August 1770 – 14 April 1846) became a French division commander during the Napoleonic Wars. He joined a volunteer regiment in 1792 and fought on the Rhine and in Italy as a captain. After a stint in the Consular Guard as a major, he became colonel of the 9th Light Infantry Regiment in 1803. His regiment fought at Haslach and Dürenstein in 1805, Halle, Waren and Lübeck in 1806, and Mohrungen and Friedland in 1807. Transferred to Spain, he led his troops at Uclés, Medellín and Talavera in 1809. He was promoted general of brigade in 1810 and fought at Barrosa in 1811.

He participated in the French invasion of Russia in 1812. He led a brigade at Lützen, Bautzen, the Katzbach and Leipzig in 1813. He was appointed general of division at the end of 1813 and led a Young Guard division at Brienne, La Rothière, Champaubert, Montmirail, Château-Thierry, Vauchamps, Craonne, Laon and Reims in 1814. He married a daughter of painter Jacques-Louis David. His surname is one of the names inscribed under the Arc de Triomphe, on Column 30.

Ignác Gyulay

Count Ignác Gyulay de Marosnémeti et Nádaska, Ignácz Gyulay, Ignaz Gyulai, or Ignjat Đulaj (11 September 1763 – 11 November 1831) was a Hungarian military officer, joined the army of Habsburg Austria, fought against Ottoman Turkey, and became a general officer during the French Revolutionary Wars. From 1806 he held the title of Ban of Croatia. In the struggle against the First French Empire during Napoleonic Wars, he commanded army corps. At the time of his death, he presided over the Hofkriegsrat, the Austrian Council of War.

While fighting against the Turks, Gyulay rose in rank to become a field officer. From 1793 to 1796, he served on the upper Rhine in combat with the armies of the First French Republic. In 1799 he led a brigade in Germany and the following year he commanded a division. From 1801 until 1831, he was Proprietor (Inhaber) of a Hungarian infantry regiment.

During the Napoleonic Wars, Gyulay fought in the 1805 campaign against the First French Empire and later served his emperor as a negotiator in the peace talks. He commanded an Austrian army corps in the 1809 campaign in Italy. Again leading a corps, he fought at the decisive Battle of the Nations in 1813. During the subsequent French campaign in 1814, he led one of the corps in the victorious Allied armies.

Johann Ludwig Alexius von Loudon

Johann Ludwig Alexius von Loudon, born 10 January 1767 – died 22 September 1822, was the nephew of Feldmarschall Ernst Gideon von Laudon. He first enlisted in the Imperial Russian Army and rose to the rank of captain. He served until 1789 when joined his famous uncle in the army of Habsburg Austria. He married an Austrian noblewoman in 1791. The next year he was appointed colonel in command of an infantry regiment and fought at the First Battle of Wissembourg in 1793. Promoted to general officer in 1796, he was posted to Italy where he commanded a brigade under Paul Davidovich at Calliano. In early 1797 he led an independent column composed largely of Tyrolean militia and received a coveted award for his efforts.

In 1799 Loudon led a grenadier brigade at Novi and in a few other actions. Promoted again, he was transferred to Poland in 1800 and missed Marengo. In the War of the Third Coalition he fought at Elchingen and was captured by the French at Ulm. He commanded second-line troops in the 1809 campaign and retired from military life soon after. He died at Hadersdorf in 1822.

Johann Mészáros von Szoboszló

Johann Mészáros von Szoboszló (1737 – 17 November 1801) joined the Austrian army in 1756 and fought the Prussians, Ottoman Turks, and French during a long military career. During the French Revolutionary Wars, he fought in several campaigns. He commanded a division in the 1796-1797 Italian campaign against the army of Napoleon Bonaparte. He was Proprietor (Inhaber) of an Austrian Uhlan regiment from 1792 to 1797 and a Hussar regiment from 1797 to 1801.

Paul-Alexis Dubois

Paul-Alexis Dubois (27 January 1754 – 4 September 1796) commanded French divisions during the War of the First Coalition and was killed in action fighting against Habsburg Austria. He enlisted in a French infantry regiment in 1770 and transferred into the cavalry in 1776. Thereafter he served in several different cavalry and infantry regiments. From sous-lieutenant in 1791, he served in the Army of the Moselle and was rapidly promoted to general of brigade by August 1793. After briefly commanding an infantry division in the Army of the Rhine at Wissembourg he switched back to the Army of the Moselle to fight at Kaiserslautern before being wounded at Froeschwiller in December 1793.

Promoted to general of division in March 1794, Dubois led a cavalry division in the Army of Sambre-et-Meuse at Lambusart, Fleurus and Aldenhoven. In May 1795 he helped put down the Revolt of 1 Prairial Year III. After garrison duty he was able to get transferred to Italy. He was fatally hit while leading the cavalry at the Battle of Rovereto and died the same day. His surname is one of the names inscribed under the Arc de Triomphe, on Column 25.

Paul von Radivojevich

Paul von Radivojevich (1759 – 15 July 1829) was an Austrian army corps commander in the army of the Austrian Empire during the late Napoleonic Wars. He joined the army of the Habsburg Monarchy in 1782 and fought in one of the early battles of the French Revolutionary Wars. He led a Grenz Infantry Regiment before being promoted to general officer in 1807. He led a brigade at Eckmühl in 1809, a division in the summer of 1813, and a corps at Caldiero in 1813 and at the Mincio in 1814. During the 1815 Italian campaign, he led a corps in Switzerland, Piedmont, and France. After the wars, he commanded part of the Military Frontier. He was Proprietor (Inhaber) of an infantry regiment from 1815 until his death in 1829.

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