Siege of Maubeuge, mid-September-17 October 1793

The siege of Maubeuge (mid September-17 October 1793) ended a series of Allied successes against the French border fortifications, and was raised by the great French victory at Wattignies on 15-16 October which demonstrated that the new revolutionary armies were becoming increasingly capable.

After the fall of Quesnoy on 11 September the Allied commander-in-chief, the Prince of Saxe-Coburg, decided to attack the French fortress at Maubeuge. With Condé, Valenciennes and Quesnoy already in Allied hands, the fall of Maubeuge would have opened up a wide gap in the fortified French frontier, and given the Allies a clear invasion route for an attack on Paris. The capture of Maubeuge would also have made it much easier for Austrian reinforcements to reach Flanders from the south east.

Saxe-Coburg convinced the Dutch to provide a large number of troops for the siege, and in mid-September crossed the Sambre and invested the town. Sources differ on the size of the Allied army at Maubeuge, with figures for the besieging force ranging from 14,000 to 26,000 and for the covering force from 26,000 to 37,000. Maubeuge itself was strongly defended by the troops of the garrison and of an important armed camp outside the town, although the figure of 20,000 defenders sometimes given is probably rather too high.  

The French also realised how important Maubeuge was, and by 7 October the new commander of the Armée du Nord, General Jourdan, had 45,000 men at Guise. Accompanied by Lazare Carnot, the 'organiser of victory', Jourdan defeated the Allied covering army at the battle of Wattignies (15-16 October), and forced Saxe-Coburg to abandon the siege. A few minor operations followed before both armies went into winter quarters. Jourdan was rewarded for his victory by being removed from command for refusing to jeopardize his exhausted army in a risky pursuit across the Sambre. 

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (16 January 2009), Siege of Maubeuge, mid-September-17 October 1793 ,

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