French Revolutionary Wars: Campaigns of 1799

From Academic Kids

By 1799, the French Revolutionary Wars had resumed after a period of relative peace in 1798. The Second Coalition had organized against France, with Great Britain allying with Russia, Austria, the Ottoman Empire, and several of the minor German and Italian states. While Napoleon's army was still embroiled in Egypt, the allies prepared campaigns in Italy, Switzerland, and the Netherlands.



Napoleon had consolidated his control of Egypt for the time being. Soon after the beginning of the year, he mounted an invasion of Syria, capturing El Arish and Jaffa. On March 17, he laid siege to Acre, and defeated an Ottoman effort to relieve the city at the Battle of Mount Tabor on April 17. However, by May, with plague rampant in his army and no sign of success against the city, Napoleon was forced to retreat into Egypt.

In July, Turkey, with the help of the British navy, mounted an invasion by sea from Rhodes. Napoleon attacked the Turkish beachheads and annihilated their army at the Battle of Aboukir.

In August, Napoleon decided to return to Europe, hearing of the political and military crisis in France. Leaving his army behind with Kléber in command, he sailed through the British blockade to return to Paris and take control of the government there in a coup.

Netherlands and Germany

In March, Jourdan invaded Germany across the Rhine, but was defeated by Archduke Charles at Stockach and retreated back across the Rhine.

The allies mounted an invasion of the Netherlands with a combined Anglo-Russian army under the Duke of York, who landed at the northern tip of Holland. This army fought an inconclusive series of battles ending in the stalemate at Castricum on October 6. Having achieved his main objective by capturing the Dutch fleet at anchor on August 30, the Duke signed the Convention of Alkmaar, agreeing to exchange prisoners and leave the Netherlands by sea unmolested.


Missing image
Russian troops under Generalissimo Suvarov crossing the Alps in 1799.

By January, the French army had pursued the Neapolitan army from Rome to Naples, taking the capital. French general Schérer attacked the Austrian army under Kray, but was heavily defeated at Magnano near Verona on April 5. Russian general Suvorov, taking over the allied campaign, pursued the French to Cassano, defeating them and recapturing Milan and Turin. In June, Suvorov won the Battle of Trebia against a reinforcing army under MacDonald, pushing the French back into the Alps and Genoa.

By the end of the year, French forces had almost been driven from Italy and Suvorov was ordered to Switzerland.


In March, Masséna's army occupied Switzerland, preparing an attack against the Tyrol through Vorarlberg. However, the defeats of French armies in Germany and Italy forced him to return to the defensive. Taking over Jourdan's army, he pulled it back into Switzerland to Zürich. Archduke Charles pursued him and drove him back at the First Battle of Zurich. When Charles left Switzerland for the Netherlands, the allies were left with a smaller army under Korsakov, who was ordered to unite with Suvorov's army from Italy. Masséna attacked Korsakov, crushing him at the Second Battle of Zurich, and forcing Suvorov to retreat with considerable loss. Russia departed the Second Coalition soon after this debacle.


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