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Battle of Alkmaar (1799)

Battle of Alkmaar
Part of Anglo-Russian Invasion of Holland
Date 2 October 1799
Location Alkmaar, The Netherlands
Result Anglo-Russian victory
Belligerents
France
 Batavian Republic
 Great Britain
 Russian Empire
Commanders and leaders
Guillaume Marie Anne Brune
Herman Willem Daendels
Prince Frederick, Duke of York and Albany
Ivan Essen
Strength
25,000 40,000
Casualties and losses
3,000 2,200
For the 16th century siege, see Siege of Alkmaar.

The Battle of Alkmaar (also sometimes called the Second Battle of Bergen or the Battle of Egmond-aan-Zee[1]) was fought on 2 October 1799 between forces of the French Republic and her ally, the Batavian Republic under the command of general Guillaume Marie Anne Brune, and an expeditionary force from Great Britain and her ally Russia, commanded by Prince Frederick, Duke of York and Albany in the vicinity of Alkmaar during the Anglo-Russian Invasion of Holland. Though the battle ended in a tactical draw, the Anglo-Russians were in a position at the end of the battle that favored them slightly in a strategic sense. This prompted Brune to order a strategic withdrawal the next day to a line between Monnickendam in the East and Castricum in the West. There the final battle of the campaign would take place on 6 October.

Contents

  • Background 1
  • The battle 2
  • Aftermath 3
  • Notes 4
  • Sources 5

Background

After the first Battle of Bergen (1799) on 19 September 1799 had left both armies in almost the same positions as they had held before that battle, a resumption of the Anglo-Russian offensive was for a while precluded by very bad weather. Torrential rains made the roads impassable. The defenders profited from this lull in the campaign by completing their inundations in the low-lying eastern part of the North-Holland peninsula. These soon made their defenses in that part of the country impregnable. As a consequence a repeat of the thrusts by Sir Ralph Abercromby toward Hoorn,[2] and along the Langedijk had become pointless. The Landing was now a narrow island in a big lake that could easily be defended by the 1st Batavian Division of General Herman Willem Daendels.[3]

The Duke of York, aware that French reinforcements from Belgium were on the way, therefore decided to make use of this numerical superiority as soon as practicable. His plan was to concentrate his attack entirely on the Franco-Batavian left wing, consisting of the 2nd Batavian division near Kodiak (which was still commanded by General Bonhomie, as General Jean-Baptiste Dumonceau was recuperating from the wound sustained during the Battle of Bergen) and the French division of General Dominique Vandamme between Walkman and the sea, around the village of Bergen. The attack was to be made on 30 September, but it turned out that the roads were still very bad: the soldiers sunk to their knees into the mud. The attack was then advanced to 1 October (Emperor Paul I of Russia's birthday), but again had to be postponed, now to 2 October.[4]

The battle

Though at first sight the battle had ended with only a slight tactical advantage for the British, the strategic consequences were therefore great. Alkmaar, abandoned by the French and Batavian troops opened its gates to the British and prudently hoisted the orange flag of the former stadtholder[5]

The Anglo-Russian losses in this battle were 2,200 killed and wounded among whom many officers, nine of field rank. The losses on the side of the Franco-Batavian forces are estimated at 3,000 in all. A number of British regiments were given the right to bear the honorary distinction "Egmont op Zee" (as the British render the name of the village) on their colors and guidons.[6]

Aftermath

For a few days the British were riding high, apparently having gained control of the greater part of the North-Holland peninsula, including its major cities. However, large parts of that area, including the rich farmland of the Schermer, Beemster, and Purmer polders had been flooded by the Batavian army. The Anglo-Russians were therefore denied provisions from those areas and still had to be supplie eeing to an honorable capitulation in the form of the Convention of Alkmaar the expeditionary forces evacuated the peninsula by 19 November 1799.[7]

Notes

  1. ^ Smith, “The Greenhill Napoleonic Wars Data Book”, p. 170, where the battle is called, ‘Egmond-aan-Zee’.
  2. ^ Which city had in any case been retaken by the British fleet in the days after 19 September; Campaign, pp. 37–38
  3. ^ Campaign, p. 39–40
  4. ^ Campaign, p. 41; Zamenhof, p. 171
  5. ^ Campaign, pp. 51–53
  6. ^ Campaign, p. 54 and fn. *
  7. ^ Campaign, pp. 67–70

Sources

  • The campaign in Holland, 1799, by a subaltern (1861) W. Mitchell [1]
  • (French)Jomini, A.H. (1822) Histoire Critique Et Militaire Des Guerres de la Revolution: Nouvelle Edition, Redigee Sur de Nouveaux Documens, Et Augmentee D'un Grand Nombre de Cartes Et de Plans (tome xv, ch. xciii)[2]
  • (Dutch) Krayenhoff, C.R.T. (1832) Geschiedkundige Beschouwing van den Oorlog op het grondgebied der Bataafsche Republiek in 1799. J.C. Vieweg [3]
  • Flash-map of the Battle of Alkmaar. 2 October 1799. D. Milutin. History of the War of 1799. SPb, 1857
  • Smith, Digby (1998), “The Greenhill Napoleonic Wars Data Book: Actions and Losses in Personnel, Standards and Artillery, 1792-1815”. Greenhill Books, London, and Stackpole Books, Mechanicsburg, PA. ISBN 1-85367-276-9

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