World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Army of the North (France)

Article Id: WHEBN0002994119
Reproduction Date:

Title: Army of the North (France)  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Siege of Ypres (1794), Waterloo Campaign: Waterloo to Paris (18–24 June), Waterloo Campaign: peace negotiations, Battle of Mouscron, Battle of Erquelinnes
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Army of the North (France)

The Army of the North or Armée du Nord is a name given to several historical units of the French Army. The first was one of the French Revolutionary Armies that fought with distinction against the First Coalition from 1792 to 1795. Others existed during the Peninsular War, the Hundred Days and the Franco-Prussian War.


  • Campaigns 1
    • 1791 to 1797 1.1
    • 1811 to 1813 1.2
    • 1815 1.3
    • 1870-1871 1.4
  • References 2
    • Books 2.1
    • References 2.2
    • Footnotes 2.3


1791 to 1797

At the creation of the Army of the North on 14 December 1791, the government of the First French Republic appointed Jean-Baptiste Donatien de Vimeur, comte de Rochambeau, as its commander. Rochambeau was replaced in May 1792, and he retired from service. The suspicious government of the First French Republic later charged him with treason and he barely escaped execution. In 1792-1794, the guillotine awaited military commanders who either failed, belonged to the nobility, or displayed insufficient revolutionary zeal. In the Army of the North these unfortunates included Nicolas Luckner, Adam Custine, and Jean Houchard.

Under Charles François Dumouriez, the Army of the North helped blunt the Prussian invasion at the Battle of Valmy on 20 September 1792. It also made up a large part of Dumouriez's expedition into the Austrian Netherlands which resulted in victory at the Battle of Jemappes on 6 November 1792.

On 18 March 1793, the Austrians defeated Dumouriez at the Battle of Neerwinden. Auguste Dampierre was killed in battle on 8 May at the Battle of Raismes near Valenciennes.[1] Under François Joseph Drouot de Lamarche, the army lost again at the Battle of Famars on 23 May.[2] Charles Edward Jennings de Kilmaine skirmished with the Coalition army at Caesar's Camp near Cambrai on 7 August.[3] Houchard won the Battle of Hondshoote in September, forcing the English to raise the Siege of Dunkirk. Nevertheless, the government arrested Houchard for not following up his victory and executed him. Jean-Baptiste Jourdan won the Battle of Wattignies in October.

On 17–18 May 1794, the Army of the North won a victory at the Battle of Tourcoing while under the temporary leadership of Joseph Souham. The right wing of the army fought under Jourdan in an important victory at the Battle of Fleurus on 26 June. Soon after this, the Allied position in Flanders collapsed, leading to Austria's loss of Belgium and the extinction of the Dutch Republic in the winter of 1794-1795. During this period, the army was engaged in mopping up operations and sieges. On 25 October 1797, the Army of the North officially ceased to exist and its troops became an army of occupation in the newly created Batavian Republic.

The Army of the North's commanders are listed as follows.[4]

1811 to 1813

The Army of the North in Spain formed in January 1811 and included soldiers from the

  1. ^ Smith, p 45
  2. ^ Smith, p 46
  3. ^ Smith, p 50
  4. ^ French WorldHeritage, "Armee du Nord"
  5. ^ Glover, p 390-391
  6. ^ Smith, p 365
  7. ^ Glover, p 369-370. Note that Glover incorrectly lists Louis Marc Caffarelli instead of his brother.
  8. ^ Sir Henry Montague Hozier; William Henry Davenport Adams (1872). The Franco-Prussian War: Its Causes, Incidents, and Consequences. p. 217ff. 
  9. ^  



  • Eggenberger, David. An Encyclopedia of Battles. New York: Dover Publications, 1985. ISBN 0-486-24913-1
  • Glover, Michael. The Peninsular War 1807-1814. London: Penguin, 2001. ISBN 0-14-139041-7
  • Smith, Digby. The Napoleonic Wars Data Book. London: Greenhill, 1998. ISBN 1-85367-276-9



During the Franco-Prussian War a new Army of the North was created under Louis Faidherbe to try to break the Siege of Paris from the North.[8] The army had achieved several small victories at towns such as Ham, La Hallue, and Amiens and was protected by the belt of fortresses in northern France, allowing Faidherbe's men to launch quick attacks against isolated Prussian units, then retreat behind the fortresses. Despite access to the armaments factories of Lille, the Army of the North suffered from severe supply difficulties, which depressed morale. In January 1871, Léon Gambetta forced Faidherbe to march his army beyond the fortresses and engage the Prussians in open battle. The army was severely weakened by low morale, supply problems, the terrible winter weather and low troop quality, whilst general Faidherbe was unable to command due to his poor health, the result of decades of campaigning in West Africa. At the St. Quentin, the Army of the North suffered a crushing defeat and was scattered, releasing thousands of Prussian soldiers to be relocated to the East.[9]


For more detailed organizational details on this Armée du Nord, see Order of Battle of the Waterloo Campaign.

This Armée du Nord is often mistakenly regarded as separate from Armée de la Réserve (Reserve Army), which it fought beside during the 1815 campaign. In fact the Armée de la Réserve was simply a large corps of the Armée du Nord that Napoleon placed directly under his command.

This name was also given to the force commanded by Napoleon Bonaparte during the Waterloo Campaign in 1815. At its height, (including reserves,) it numbered 130,000 strong and consisted of many veterans from previous campaigns. In terms of quality it was the best army Napoleon had commanded since 1812 when he had led his Grande Armée (Grand Army) to disaster in Russia. It also fielded proportionally more artillery (344 pieces) and significantly more cavalry, than had French armies in the campaigns of 1813 and 1814. Its left and right wings (Aile Gauche and Aile Droite) were under the independent command of Marshals Ney and Grouchy respectively, when Napoleon himself was not present to direct them.



This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.