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Siege of Valenciennes (1793)
Part of the Flanders campaign in the War of the First Coalition
The Grand Attack on Valenciennes by the Combined Armies under the Command of His Royal Highness the Duke of York, 25 July 1793.jpg
The Grand Attack on Valenciennes by the Combined Armies under the Command of His Royal Highness the Duke of York, 25 July 1793
Date25 May to 27 July 1793
LocationValenciennes, France
Result Coalition victory
Belligerents
French Republic  Kingdom of Great Britain
 Habsburg Monarchy
Province of Hanover Hanover
Commanders and leaders
Jean Becays Ferrand Kingdom of Great Britain Duke of York
Habsburg Monarchy Joseph de Ferraris
Strength
9,000 25,000
Casualties and losses
9,000 1,300

The Siege of Valenciennes took place between 13 June and 28 July 1793, during the Flanders Campaign of the War of the First Coalition. The French garrison under Jean Henri Becays Ferrand was blockaded by part of the army of Prince Josias of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld, commanded by the Prince Frederick, Duke of York and Albany. Valenciennes fell on 28 July, resulting in an Allied victory.

Background[edit | edit source]

Following the defeat of the French Republican armies at Neerwinden, the Allied army under the Prince of Coburg recovered much of the Austrian Netherlands and began besieging Condé-sur-l'Escaut, while the demoralised French army's attempts to relieve the fortress in actions at Saint-Amand and Raismes were driven back. By mid-May Coburg was reinforced to a strength approaching 90,000, which allowed the Allies to drive the French from an entrenched camp in the Battle of Famars on 23 May, and lay siege to Valenciennes.

Many of the French who had been driven from Famars took refuge in the fortified town of Valenciennes, raising its garrison considerably.

Coburg selected the recently arrived Duke of York to lead the siege operations with his own command and 14,000 Austrians, while Austrian General Joseph de Ferraris was attached to supervise the technical aspects. The British government were surprised by this, the British were inexperienced in heavy siege warfare and lacked equipment, it was even suspected the Austrians had some sinister reasons for choosing York [1] York's Chief of Engineers Colonel James Moncrief believed that the place could be carried by an assault without the need for a long protracted investment, but Ferraris would hear none of it and insisted on a formal siege of trenches following full procedures.

The Siege[edit | edit source]

It took a fortnight before heavy guns could be brought forward, but on 13 June trenches were finally dug and the siege began. 25,000 men undertook the siege, protected by a covering army of 30,000.

The siege operations of the Austrians proceeded at a slow pace, much to the frustration of York. Fitzgerald wrote "He sharply remonstrated with them, and in return was reproved for his excessive zeal".[2]

On 26 July, the main hornworks on the Eastern side were stormed by three columns, one of them of British troops (companies of the Guards supported by part of Abercromby's brigade).[3] York's chief of staff Murray wrote: "The keeping of the hornwork was entirely owing to us putting the Duke of York at the head. Repeated orders were sent by General Ferraris to evacuate it. Knowing the Duke's wishes on that head, convinced of the folly of such a measure, and strongly supported by Colonel Moncrieff, I gave positive orders to the contrary, which was approved in the fullest manner by His Royal Highness who was at that time at a redoubt a little to the rear".[4]

Following the fall of the hornwork Valenciennes surrendered on 28 July, the garrison being allowed to leave with the honours of war minus their weapons and munitions.

French Garrison[edit | edit source]

French Troops included:[5]

  • Cavalry
    • Combined Detachment from 24th Dragoon Regiment and 25th Dragoon Regiment
  • Infantry
    • Regulars
      • 29th Infantry Regiment — 2 Battalions
      • 75th Infantry Regiment
      • 87th Infantry Regiment
    • National Guard
      • 1st Battalion, Côte-d'Or National Guard
      • 1st Battalion, Loire-et-Chief National Guard
      • 1st Battalion, Nievre National Guard
      • 1st Battalion, Charente National Guard
      • 1st Battalion, Grenadiers of Paris (National Guard)
      • 1st Battalion, Mayenne-et-Loire National Guard
      • 2nd Battalion, l'Eure National Guard
      • 1st Battalion, Deux-Sèvres National Guard
      • 4th Battalion, Ardennes National Guard
      • 1st Battalion, Meurthe National Guard
      • 1st Battalion, Grenadiers de la Côte-d'Or National Guard
      • 1st Battalion, Seine-Inferieure National Guard
      • 1st Battalion, Gravilliers National Guard
      • 3rd Reserve Battalion, Valenciennes National Guard
    • Militia
      • 4 Companies of Valenciennes Militia
      • 8 Companies of Paris Militia
      • Company of Douai Militia
  • Artillery
    • 2 Troops of the 9th Company, 3rd Artillery Regiment
    • Detachment and Miners of the 1st Company, 6th Artillery Regiment
  • Supports
    • Miners Company
    • Fireman Company
    • Grenadiers, Pioneers, and Militia of the Valenciennes Militia

British Forces[edit | edit source]

British Forces during the battle included:[6][7]

Aftermath[edit | edit source]

York was proclaimed as a saviour by the population of the town, which trampled the tricolour underfoot and declared him King of France.[8]

Notes[edit | edit source]

  1. Fortescue p.219
  2. Fitzgerald II p.111, quoted in Burne p.56
  3. Fortescue p.221
  4. Murray, quoted in Burne p.56-57
  5. Fortescue.
  6. "Flanders Campaigns, 1793-1798". 2007-10-21. https://web.archive.org/web/20071021111532/http://www.regiments.org/wars/19fr-nap/793fland.htm. 
  7. Duncan, pp. 173, 175.
  8. Fortescue p.222

References[edit | edit source]

  • Brown, Robert (1795). "An impartial Journal of a Detachment from the Brigade of Foot Guards, commencing 25 February, 1793, and ending 9 May, 1795". London. .
  • Burne, Alfred (1949). "The Noble Duke of York: The Military Life of Frederick Duke of York and Albany". London: Staples Press. .
  • Fortescue, Sir John (1918). "British Campaigns in Flanders 1690-1794 (extracts from Volume 4 of A History of the British Army)". London: Macmillan. .
  • Nafziger, George (2007). "French Forces, Siege of Valenciennes, March 1793". Fort Leavenworth, Kan.: United States Army Combined Arms Center. http://www.cgsc.edu/CARL/nafziger/793CDK.pdf. Retrieved 2 October 2015. 
  • Officer of the Guards, An (1796). "An Accurate and Impartial Narrative of the War, by an Officer of the Guards". London. .
  • Thiers, M (1845). "A History of the French Revolution". London. .

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