Battle of Aldenhoven (1794)
The Battle of Aldenhoven or Battle of the Roer (2 October 1794) saw a Republican French army commanded by Jean Baptiste Jourdan attack a Habsburg army under François Sébastien Charles Joseph de Croix, Count of Clerfayt which was defending the line of the Roer River. The key crossing was won by the French right wing at Düren after heavy fighting. The Austrian retreat from the Roer conceded control of the west bank of the Rhine River to France. The battle occurred during the War of the First Coalition, part of a wider conflict called the Wars of the French Revolution. Aldenhoven is located in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia in Germany about 21 kilometres (13 mi) northeast of Aachen.
|Battle of Aldenhoven (1794)|
|Part of War of the First Coalition|
|Commanders and leaders|
|Army of Sambre-et-Meuse||Austrian Army|
|Casualties and losses|
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.
At the end of September 1794, Jean Baptiste Jourdan's left wing was posted at Heinsberg. Jean Baptiste Kléber was there leading the divisions of Louis Friant, Joseph Léonard Richard and Jean Baptiste Bernadotte. Altogether, the Army of Sambre-et-Meuse had 99,000 troops deployed between Heinsberg and its right wing at Eschweiler, both places slightly west of the Roer River. The right wing under Barthélemy Louis Joseph Schérer included the divisions of François Séverin Marceau-Desgraviers, Jean Adam Mayer, and Honoré Alexandre Haquin. Before deciding to attack, Jourdan carried out reconnaissances of the Austrian positions which were made stronger by high water in the river. François Sébastien Charles Joseph de Croix, Count of Clerfayt's 76,000-strong Austrian army strengthened its positions by destroying the bridges and digging up the fords.
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. ISBN 978-1-908692-25-2.
- Thiers, Adolphe (1854). History of the French Revolution. 4. London: Richard Bentley. p. 49.
- Thiers (1854), p. 50
- 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. ISBN 978-1-908692-25-2.
- Rickard, J. (2009). "Battle of the Roer, 2 October 1794". historyofwar.org. Retrieved 10 March 2014.
- Smith, Digby (1998). The Napoleonic Wars Data Book. London: Greenhill. ISBN 1-85367-276-9.
- Thiers, Adolphe (1854). History of the French Revolution. 4. London: Richard Bentley.