Battle of Neerwinden (1793)
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|Battle of Neerwinden|
|Part of the French Revolutionary Wars|
Battle of Neerwinden
|Commanders and leaders|
|Prince of Saxe-Coburg||Charles Dumouriez|
|Casualties and losses|
The Battle of Neerwinden took place on (18 March 1793) near the village of Neerwinden in present-day Belgium between the Austrians under Prince Josias of Coburg and the French under General Dumouriez. It was part of the Flanders Campaign of the French Revolutionary Wars.
The battle marked the end of Dumouriez's attempt to overrun the Low Countries and the beginning of the Allies’ invasion of France. The Austrians under Coburg, advancing from Maastricht in the direction of Brussels, encountered the heads of the hurriedly assembling French army at Tienen on 15 March 1793, and took up a position between Neerwinden and Neerlanden.
On 18 March, after a little preliminary fighting, Coburg drew back a short distance and rearranged his army on a more extended front between Racour and Dormaal, thus parrying the enveloping movement begun by the French from Tienen. Dumouriez was consequently compelled to fight after all on parallel fronts, and though in the villages themselves the individuality and enthusiasm of the French soldier compensated for his inadequate training and indiscipline, the greater part of the front of contact was open ground, where the superiority of the veteran Austrian regulars prevailed. In these conditions an attempt to win a second Jemappes with numerical odds of 11 to 10 instead of 2 to 1 in favour of the attack was doomed to disaster, and the repulse of the French Revolutionary Army was the signal for its almost complete dissolution.
Neerwinden proved a great disaster, but not a great battle. Its details merely show the impossibility of fighting on the 18th century system with ill-trained troops. The methods by which such troops could compass victory, the way to fight a sans culottes battle, evolved only later. Dumouriez subsequently defected to the allies on his return to Northern France.
- Original text from 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica