Battle of Kaiserslautern
|This article does not cite any references or sources. (December 2007)|
|Battle of Kaiserslautern|
|Part of the French Revolution|
|Commanders and leaders|
|Lazare Hoche||Duke of Brunswick|
|Casualties and losses|
The Battle of Kaiserslautern (28–30 November 1793) was fought between a Prussian army under Charles William Ferdinand, Duke of Brunswick and a Republican French army led by Lazare Hoche. Three days of conflict resulted in a victory by the Prussians. The battle army was fought during the War of the First Coalition, part of the French Revolutionary Wars. The German city of Kaiserslautern in the Rhineland-Palatinate is located about 60 kilometres (37 mi) west of Mannheim.
After successfully concluding the Siege of Mainz in July 1793, the Coalition armies moved south where the French stood on the defensive in the Lines of Wissembourg. On 13 October 1793, the Lines were breached in the First Battle of Wissembourg and the French withdrew south to Haguenau. In this emergency, Lazare Hoche was appointed commander of the Army of the Moselle. The French government ordered Hoche's to support Jean-Charles Pichegru's Army of the Rhine to restore the strategic position.
Having failed to capture the fort at Bitche, the Duke of Brunswick retreated into the Vosges. In terrible weather the French Army of the Moselle, led by Lazare Hoche who had been appointed to the post in October, pursued the Prussian forces. Having lost contact with the Prussians, Hoche divided his army to locate them. The Duke of Brunswick found an excellent position on the swampy river Lauter.
On 28 November the French army advanced in three columns against the Prussian position, with Alexandre Camille Taponier leading the right, Hoche the center and Jean-Jacques Ambert the left. Taponier's column was the first to encounter the Prussians and to open the battle, meeting moderate success. On the left, Ambert encountered problems crossing the Lauter with his 6,000 men and was soon faced by the corps of Friedrich Adolf von Kalckreuth which heavily outnumbered him. Menaced with encirclement, Ambert retreated and rejoined Hoche's center column.
The next day, having located the Prussians, the French army crossed the river in force. The advance force led by the generals Edmond Dubois de Crance and Gabriel Jean Joseph Molitor became stuck on the plateau of Erlebach and had to be rescued by Ambert. Hoche reformed his troops on the Otterberg and unsuccessfully attacked the Prussian left with several squadrons of cavalry. In the confusion several French units lost their way in the terrain and Ambert had to march all night to rejoin the French main force. On the right flank Taponier attacked Kaiserslautern but encountering stiff resistance he was pushed back into the woods.
After a heavy morning cannonade, Hoche launched new piecemeal attacks on the Prussians. On the left flank, leading four battalions against the Buchberg, Molitor failed to capture the position and was repulsed. On the French right flank the division of Louis Pierre Huet had difficulty maintaining its position. In the center, the fighting took the form of charges and counter-charges of the French and Prussian cavalry. After having secured his flanks, the Duke of Brunswick launched a counterattack against the Otterberg and Hoche ordered a retreat, having lost 3,000 men in the course of the battle. As the Prussians did not follow up their success, the French army was able to retreat back towards the Moselle River.
- Clerget, Charles (1905). Tableaux des armées françaises pendant les guerres de la Révolution. Paris: R. Chapelot: Section historique de l'état-major de l'armée, librairie militaire.
- Geschichte der vereinigten Sachsen und Preußen während des Feldzugs 1793 zwischen dem Rheine und der Saar. [Betr. Schlacht v. 28.11.-30.11.1793 bei Kaiserslautern] in form of a diary by witnesses. Dresden u. Leipzig. 1795.
- Rickert, J. (2009). "Battle of Kaiserslautern, 28-30 November 1793". Retrieved 9 March 2014.
- Smith, Digby (1998). The Napoleonic Wars Data Book. London: Greenhill. ISBN 1-85367-276-9.