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Battle of Gosselies

Battle of Gosselies
Part of War of the First Coalition

Map of the Charleroi fortress by Joseph de Ferraris
Date 30 May–3 June 1794
Location Gosselies, Belgium
Result Austro-Dutch victory
Dutch Republic
Habsburg Austria
Republican France
Commanders and leaders
Prince of Orange Jacques Desjardin
Louis Charbonnier
28,000 27,000
Casualties and losses
424 2,000, 1 gun

The Battle of Gosselies or Battle of Charleroi (30 May–3 June 1794) saw a Republican French army co-commanded by Jacques Desjardin and Louis Charbonnier try to cross the Sambre River against a joint Dutch and Habsburg Austrian army under William, Hereditary Prince of Orange. The French defeat in the battle marked the third of five attempts by their armies to win a foothold on the north bank of the Sambre during the War of the First Coalition. In 1794, Gosselies was a separate village but is now part of the Charleroi municipality, about 7 kilometres (4 mi) north of the city center. Charleroi is located about 60 kilometres (37 mi) south of Brussels.

The spring of 1794 saw bitter fighting in the Austrian Netherlands as the numerically superior French armies mounted continual attacks against the forces of the First Coalition. In trying to cross the Sambre, the French were beaten at Grandreng on 13 May and Erquelinnes on 24 May. Nevertheless, the French recrossed the Sambre on the 26th and laid siege to Charleroi on 30 May. After their defeat and withdrawal on 3 June, the French would make one more failed attempt to cross the Sambre at Lambusart on 16 June before they triumphed in the Battle of Fleurus on 26 June 1794.


In a 9 May 1794 return, the 31,736-man Corps of Desjardin at François Muller, Jacques Fromentin and Éloi Laurent Despeaux.[1][2] Muller's 14,075-strong division was led by brigadiers André Poncet and Joseph Léonard Richard and included the 10th Light Infantry Battalion (753), 1st Battalions of the 18th Line (815), 49th Line (996), 68th Line (744) and 89th Line Infantry Demi Brigades (900), 2nd Battalions of the 68th Line (807), Calvados (960), Haut-Rhin (952), Mayenne-et-Loire (854) and Nièvre (844) National Guards, 3rd Battalions of the Eure (950) and Haute-Marne (864), 4th Battalion of the Chasseurs Francs (340), 5th Battalion of the Somme (789), 6th Battalion of the Oise (936), 6th Cavalry (138), 7th Dragoon (459) and 16th Chasseurs à Cheval (285) Regiments, 3rd Artillery Regiment detachment (102) and 15th Light Artillery Company (87).[1][2]

Fromentin's 10,619-man division was led by brigadiers Guillaume Philibert Duhesme and Guillaume Soland and consisted of the 32nd Light Infantry Battalion (753), 1st Battalions of the 47th Line (870), 56th Line (871), Orne (821) and Saint-Denis (912), 2nd Battalions of the Vienne (926) and Meurthe (806), 5th Battalion of the Vosges (899), 10th Battalions of the Seine-et-Oise (926) and Paris (892), Gensdarmes (16), 22nd Cavalry (491), 4th Hussar (478) and 12th Chasseurs à Cheval (644) Regiments, 1st Light Artillery Company (91) and an artillery park (98).[1][2]

Despeaux's 7,042-strong division had only Jean-Pierre de Ransonnet as brigadier and was made up of the 1st Battalions of the 17th Line (919), 25th Line (791), Chasseurs de Hainaut (889) and Loiret (783), 3rd Battalion of the Meurthe (865), 4th Battalion of the Nord (816), 6th Battalion of the Pas-de-Calais (875), 9th Battalions of the Nord (874), 1st Squadron of the 6th Cavalry Regiment (127) and detachments from the 3rd (53) and 6th (30) Light Artillery Regiments.[1][2]

A return from 3 June 1794 showed many of the same units under the command of Desjardin, but they are identified as the Right Wing of the Army of the North. No division or brigade organization is listed. In addition to the units previously belonging to Muller, Fromentin and Despeaux were the 1st Battalions of the 19th Line (664), 71st Line (823), 123rd Line (880) Demi Brigades and Seine-et-Oise National Guards (748), 2nd Battalions of the 71st Line (704) and 74th Line (788), 3rd Battalion of the 71st (662), 5th Battalions of the Meurthe (720) and Oise (778), 6th Battalions of the Haut-Rhin (734) and Paris (880), 34th Gendarmes (275), 17th Cavalry (342), 25th Cavalry (350), 2nd Hussar (265) and 6th Chasseurs à Cheval (624) Regiments and the 12th Light Artillery Company.[3]

Organizations changed rapidly in this period. On 3 June Desjardin's corps was known as the Right Wing of the Army of the North.[3] By 26 June, the Army of the North detachment consisted of two divisions under the command of Jean Baptiste Kléber. These were Duhesme's 10,000-man division with brigadiers Jean Baptiste Bernadotte, Louis Fuzier and Jean Baptiste Schlachter and the 8,200-strong division under Anne Charles Basset Montaigu with brigadiers Poncet, Richard and Joseph Valérian de Boisset.[4]


  1. ^ a b c d
  2. ^ a b c d
  3. ^ a b Smith (1998), p. 71
  4. ^ Smith (1998), p. 86


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