Rhine campaign of 1796

Battle of Wetzlar
©Keith Rocco
1796 Jun 15

Battle of Wetzlar

Wetzlar, Germany

Leaving 12,000 troops to guard Mannheim, Charles repositioned his troops among his two armies and swiftly moved north against Jourdan. At Wetzlar (15 June 1796), 11,000 French troops engaged part of the Habsburg Austrian army in its defenses on the Lahn river. The action ended in a Coalition victory when most of the French army began retreating to the west bank of the Rhine. Not all the Coalition force was engaged, but it was sufficiently strong to repel the French, who withdrew and split their force, Jourdan moving westward to secure the bridgehead at Neuwied, which he held unchallenged until the fall, and Kleber retreating northward toward Düsseldorf. Four days later, on the 19th, in a second engagement at Uckerath, the Coalition troops attacked Kleber's the French left wing in its retreat the French suffered more casualties than the Coalition force, and lost one of their colors. After his success, Charles left 35,000 men with Wartensleben, 30,000 more in Mainz and the other fortresses and moved south with 20,000 troops to help Latour. Kléber withdrew into the Düsseldorf defenses.