Army of the Rhine (1791–1795)
The Army of the Rhine (Armée du Rhin) was formed in December 1791, for the purpose of bringing the French Revolution to the German states along the Rhine River. During its first year in action (1792), under command of Adam Philippe Custine, the Army of the Rhine participated in several victories, including Mainz, Frankfurt and Speyer. Subsequently, the army underwent several reorganizations and merged with the Army of the Moselle to form the Army of the Rhine and Moselle on 20 April 1795.
|Army of the Rhine|
Fusilier of a French Revolutionary Army
|Active||1791–95, 1797–98, 1799–1801|
|Disbanded||20 April 1795|
|March||Chant de guerre pour l'Armée du Rhin|
Adam Philippe, Comte de Custine
The Army of the Rhine (Armée du Rhin) was one of the main French Revolutionary armies operated in the Rhineland theater, principally in the Rhine River valley, from 1791 to 1795. At its creation, the Army of the Rhine had 88,390 men. It was formed on 14 December 1791, to defend France's eastern frontier in conjunction with two other armies, the Army of the North and the Army of the Center (name changed in October 1792 to Army of the Moselle). These armies were subdivided, fresh forces were raised and gradually grew until, by 30 April 1793, eleven armies encircled France on its coastal and the land frontiers. In October 1792, a portion of the army was used to form the Army of the Vosges but these units rejoined the Army of the Rhine on 15 March 1793.
Song of Glory
In the first months of fighting, victories for France were few. Although Custine had succeeded in driving the ecclesiastical authorities from the Swiss village of Porrentruy by 27 April 1792, this singular victory was accomplished largely through the enterprises of a local uprising assisted by some advanced guard and it was the last French victory for several weeks: subsequently, the borders of France had been assaulted by the Habsburgs and their allies. At Mons (18–29 April 1792), Tournay (29 April 1792), Bavay (17 May 1792), Rumégies (19 May 1792), Florennes 28 May 1792, and La Glisuelle, a village 5 kilometers (3 mi) north of Maubeuge (11 June 1792), Austrian skirmishers repeatedly defeated French forces.
Although much of the spring and summer of 1792 action continued throughout in the border regions with Belgium, the cities along the Upper Rhine, especially the city of Strasbourg, felt under threat of invasion by the Habsburg armies massing on the east side of the Rhine River. On 25 April 1792, Philippe Friedrich Dietrich, mayor of Strasbourg, asked a guest, Claude Joseph Rouget de Lisle, to compose a song to rally against the Habsburg threat. That evening, Rouget de Lisle wrote "Chant de guerre pour l'Armée du Rhin" (English: "War Song for the Army of the Rhine"), and dedicated the song to Marshal Nicolas Luckner, a Bavarian in French service. The melody soon became the rallying call to the Revolution: Allons enfants de la Patrie (Arise, children of the Fatherland)/Le jour de gloire est arrivé! (The day of glory has arrived!). It was renamed "La Marseillaise".
Successes under Custine's command
The French government ordered Luckner to take command of the Army of the North, and Custine replaced him as overall commander of the Army of the Rhine in Spring 1793. Under his experienced command, the Army took several important positions on the Rhine, including at Speyer, Mainz, Limburg and Frankfurt (see chart of battles below).
On 29 December 1794, the left wing of the Army and the right wing of the Army of the Moselle combined to form the Army besieging Mainz. The rest of the Army of the Moselle united with the Army of the Rhine on 20 April, to form the Army of the Rhine and Moselle. This army united with the Army of Sambre-et-Meuse to form the Army of Germany on 29 September 1797.
|28 April 1792||Battle of Porrentruy||France||Adam Philippe Custine|
|21 October 1792||1st Mainz||French||Custine|
|30 September 1792||Capture of Speyer||French||Custine|
|21 October 1792||Capture of Frankfurt||French||Custine|
|10 November 1792||Limburg||French||Custine, Houchard commanding the advanced guard.|
|2 December 1792||Frankfurt am Main||Coalition||Custine, GdB van Helden commanding the garrison force|
|14 April–23 July 1793||2nd Mainz||Coalition||Alexandre de Beauharnais|
|13 October 1793||1st Wissembourg||Coalition||Jean Pascal Carlenc|
|20 August–23 December 1793||Landau||French||Louis Lazare Hoche (Army of the Moselle)|
Jean-Charles Pichegru (Army of the Rhine)
|18 November–22 December 1793||Haguenau||French||Pichegru|
|18–22 December 1793||Fröschwiller||French||Hoche|
|26–29 December 1793||2nd Wissembourg||French||Hoche and Pichegru|
|23 May 1794||2nd Kaiserslautern||Prussian-Saxon||Claude Ignace François Michaud|
|23 May 1794||Battle of Schifferstadt||French||Michaud|
|12–13 July 1794||Schänzel||French||Laurent de Gouvion Saint-Cyr|
|17–20 September 1794||3rd Kaiserslautern||Prussian-Saxon||François Ignace Schaal|
|25 December 1794||Battle of Mannheim bridge||French||Martial Vachot|
1793 Order of Battle
Positioned at Bingen.
Stability of command of the Army of the Rhine reflected the overall chaos of the French Revolutionary governments, especially in the years 1791–1794. Four of the generals serving in those years were guillotined (see chart below).
|14 December 1791 – 6 May 1792||Nicolas Luckner|
|7 May – 20 July 1792||Alexis Magallon de la Morlière (intérim)|
|21 July – 25 December 1792||Armand Louis de Gontaut (also called "Biron") *|
|26 December 1792 –14 March 1793,||Étienne Deprez-Crassier, interim and subordinate to Adam Philippe Custine, who commanded this and the Army of the Moselle|
|15 March – 17 May 1793||Custine, also commander of the Army of the Moselle until l9 April; he was removed from command of both armies on 29 July 1793, tried and executed in August.|
|18–29 May 1793||Dominique Diettmann, interim and subordinate to Jean Nicolas Houchard*|
|30 May – 17 August 1793||Alexandre de Beauharnais, provisionally and subordinate to Houchard.|
|18 August – 29 September 1793||Charles Hyacinthe Leclerc de Landremont, interim to 23 August, then provisionally|
|30 September – 1 October 1793||Louis Dominique Munnier (interim)|
|2–26 October 1793||Jean Pascal Raymond Carlenc (provisional)|
|27 October 1793 – 13 January 1794||Jean-Charles Pichegru, subordinate to Lazare Hoche|
|14 January 1794 – 10 April 1795||Claude Ignace François Michaud, during his absences, Jean Philippe Raymond Dorsner|
|4 December 1794 – 13 February 1795||Jean-Baptiste Kléber, subordinate to the Army of Mainz|
|14 February – 29 April 1795||François Ignace Schaal, subordinate to Army of Mainz|
|11–16 April 1795,||Jean-Baptiste Kléber (interim)|
|17–19 April 1795||Jean-Charles Pichegru, during assembly of the Armies of the Rhine and Moselle|
An army of the Bourbon Restoration bore this name. In 1815 during the Hundred Days the V Corps – Armée du Rhin under the command of General Jean Rapp, was cantoned near Strassburg, and fought holding actions against contingents of Russians and Austrians, the largest of which was the Battle of La Suffel on fought on 28 June 1815.
People known to have served in this Armée include:
- General Baraguey d'Hilliers
- General Custine
- Antoine Marie Chamans de Lavalette
- The utopian socialist Charles Fourier (1794–1795)
- General Victor Claude Alexandre Fanneau de Lahorie
- Jean Théophile Victor Leclerc
- General Louis-Théobald Ihler
- General François-Joseph Offenstein
- Captain Claude Joseph Rouget de Lisle writer of La Marseillaise
- General Charles Pichegru
- Balthazar Alexis Henri Schauenburg
- Phipps, Ramsey Weston (2011), Armies of the First French Republic, I, Pickle Partners Publishing, pp. 2–3
- Smith 1996, pp. 21–22.
- Smith 1996, pp. 22–27.
- Billington 2011, pp. 58–59.
- Weber 1976, p. 439.
- Stevens 1896, p. 2.
- Smith 1996, pp. 21–26.
- Orders of Battle show the same troops, under the amalgamation, reformed into these armies (Smith 1996, pp. 111, 131).
- Unless otherwise noted, all information in the chart comes from Smith 1996, pp. 28–96
- Chuquet1892, p. 43; and Vautrey 1878, pp. 225–227
- Smith 1996, p. 41.
- Chuquet 1892, pp. 5–6.
- Chandler 1981, p. 180.
- Siborne 1895, p. 772.
- Billington, James H. (2011), Fire in the Minds of Men: Origins of the Revolutionary Faith, Transaction Publishers, pp. 58–59, ISBN 978-1-4128-1401-0
- Chandler, David (1981) , Waterloo: The Hundred Days, Osprey Publishing
- Chuquet, Arthur (1892), L'expédition de Custine (in French), L. Cert, pp. [ 5–6, 43
- Phipps, Ramsey 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, Pickle Partners Publishing
- Siborne, William (1895), "Supplement section", The Waterloo Campaign 1815 (4th ed.), Birmingham, 34 Wheeleys Road, pp. 767–780
- Smith, Digby (1996), Napoleonic Wars Data Book, Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole Books
- Stevens, Benjamin F. (January 1896), "Story of La Marseillaise", The Musical Record, Boston, Massachusetts: Oliver Ditson Company (408): 2
- Vautrey, Louis (1878), Histoire de Porrentruy (in French), J. Gürtler, pp. 225–227
- Weber, Eugen (1976), Peasants Into Frenchmen: The Modernization of Rural France, 1870–1914, Stanford University Press, p. 439, ISBN 978-0-8047-1013-8
- Clerget, C. (1905), Tableaux des armées françaises pendant les guerres de la Révolution (in French), Librairie militaire