The First Coalition

1792 to 1797

The principal parties of the first attempt to defeat the French Revolution were Austria and Prussia, the leaders of which - Frederick William II and Leopold II - wanted to restore King Louis XVI to the throne.

The execution of Louis XVI catapulted Britain into the alliance, with Spain joining in March of 1793.

In August of 1792, an 80,000-man army entered France under the reticent Duke of Brunswick, capturing key fortresses on its march towards Paris.

Half of the force was Prussian and 30,000 were Austrian, French emigres and minor German states made up the rest.

Opposing the Allied army was a force of 36,000 Frenchmen, a combination of troops from General Francois Kellerman's army and that of General Charles Dumouriez.

Kellerman stood his ground at Valmy where French artillery caused huge casualties in the enemy ranks and Brunswick took it as a good excuse to return home.

In Germany, a French invasion force under General Adam Custine threatened Frankfurt for a time, but it was in the Netherlands that the greatest successes occurred.

Dumouriez moved against the Austrian provinces - the southern Catholic provinces of the Netherlands - and caught the retreating Hapsburg army at Jemappes.

Within two weeks he had taken Brussels and Paris annexed the territory. 1793 saw serious moves by the Allies to deal with the upstart revolutionaries and with Custine bottled up in Mainz by Brunswick, an Austrian army led by Prince Frederick of Saxe-Coburg sought to recover the Netherlands.



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