After the Battle of Fleurus on 26 June 1794, the army of Austria began pulling back to the east while their British and Dutch allies withdrew to the north to defend Holland. There was a lull as the French armies paused to capture a number of fortresses held by the Coalition. Then, as Jean-Charles Pichegru's Army of the North prepared to overrun the Dutch Republic, Jourdan's Army of Sambre-et-Meuse turned northeast to drive the Austrians back to the Rhine, first winning the Battle of Sprimont in September. On 2 October, Jourdan launched attacks at Düren on the right, Aldenhoven and Jülich on the right center, Linnich on the left center and Ratheim on the left. After its victory, the Army of Sambre-et-Meuse captured Cologne and Bonn on the Rhine.
Clerfayt's army was deployed behind the steep-banked Roer with its left flank at Düren and its right flank at Roermond. However, the Austrian commander placed the bulk of his forces between Düren and Linnich, with an advanced west-bank position at Aldenhoven in front of his center at Jülich. The extreme right was in tenuous communication with the army of Prince Frederick, Duke of York and Albany near Grave. The positions around Aldenhoven were entrenched as were other portions of the line.
On 1 October 1794, General of Division Jourdan ordered Schérer and the Right Wing to seize Düren. In the center, Jourdan directed Jacques Maurice Hatry to take Altorp, Antoine Morlot and Jean Etienne Championnet to capture Aldenhoven and cross the river at Jülich, while François Joseph Lefebvre occupied Linnich. Meanwhile, Kléber and the Left Wing were instructed to move upstream from a position opposite Roermond and cross the Roer at Ratheim (near Hückelhoven). The Army of Sambre-et-Meuse numbered about 100,000 troops, the largest French army yet assembled in the war. The French were on the road on the morning of 2 October and only came into action near mid-day.
^Phipps, Ramsay Weston (2011). The Armies of the First French Republic: Volume II The Armées du Moselle, du Rhin, de Sambre-et-Meuse, de Rhin-et-Moselle. USA: Pickle Partners Publishing. p. 184. ISBN978-1-908692-25-2.