|First Battle of Wissembourg|
|Part of French Revolutionary Wars|
|Commanders and leaders|
|Jean Pascal Carlenc||Dagobert Wurmser|
|Casualties and losses|
|3,000, 31 guns||1,800|
In the First Battle of Wissembourg (13 October 1793) an Allied army commanded by Dagobert Sigmund von Wurmser attacked the French Army of the Rhine under Jean Pascal Carlenc. After an ineffectual resistance, the French army abandoned its fortified line behind the Lauter River and retreated toward Strasbourg in confusion. This engagement of the War of the First Coalition occurred on the eastern border of France about 60 kilometres (37 mi) north of Strasbourg.
After the Siege of Mainz in which the Prussian army captured the city, the Army of the Rhine fell back into the Lines of Weissenburg, a position first fortified in 1706. Soon Wurmser with an army composed of troops from Habsburg Austria, French Royalists and allied German states began putting pressure on the Lines. Meanwhile, the French army organization was in disarray after two previous army commanders were arrested and sent to Paris prisons. Since no one wanted to lead the army, the representatives on mission appointed Carlenc, recently a lieutenant colonel of cavalry. After a series of skirmishes, Wurmser launched a successful assault. After the French retreat, the inept Carlenc was arrested and replaced in army command by Jean-Charles Pichegru. At the urging of the government, Pichegru began launching a series of attacks designed to recover the lost territory. These resulted in the battles of Froeschwiller and Second Wissembourg.
During the War of the First Coalition, General der Kavallerie Wurmser's Austro-Allied army threatened to invade Alsace. Accordingly, the French Army of the Rhine manned the Lines of Weissenburg, a line of earthworks dating back to the War of the Spanish Succession. The lines began near Wissembourg and stretched about 20 kilometers in an east-southeasterly direction to the Rhine River at Lauterbourg. This traces the modern-day France-Germany border.
During this period, the Army of the Rhine's command structure remained chaotic. In July 1793, Adam Philippe Custine was replaced in command; he was guillotined at the end of August. General of Division (MG) Charles de Landremont became commander on 18 August and served until 29 September when he was arrested for treason. Unlike his predecessor MG Alexandre, vicomte de Beauharnais who was guillotined in July 1794, Landremont survived the experience, dying in 1818. MG Meunier took command for two days until his replacement by MG Jean Carlenc on 2 October. MG Charles Pichegru replaced Carlenc on 27 October. At the same time, MG Lazare Hoche assumed overall command of both the Army of the Moselle and Pichegru's Army of the Rhine.
On 20 August, a column made up of Austrians, Hessians, and French Émigrés clashed with 3,000 French at Jockgrim on the Rhine north of Lauterbourg. Feldmarschal-Leutnant Moritz Kavanaugh's Allied force included five infantry battalions, six light infantry companies, 13 cavalry squadrons, and 12 cannons. French General of Brigade Louis-Théobald Ilher led three battalions, six squadrons, and 10 guns. The Allies had the better of the encounter, losing 147 casualties. The French lost 103 men and 5 cannons captured, plus an unknown number of killed and wounded. While leading some dragoons, Ilher was killed by a Hessian Jäger. A flurry of actions followed as Wurmser drove in the French outposts and tapped at the main lines. Skirmishes occurred on 21 and 27 August, and on 7, 11, 12, 14, 19, 20, 23, and 30 September.
On 13 October 1793, Wurmser launched his main assault against the fortified French positions. The Allied forces succeeded in breaching the line, forcing a French withdrawal south to Hagenau. The French suffered 2,000 killed and wounded, plus 1,000 soldiers, 31 guns, and 12 colors captured. The Allies suffered 1,800 casualties. The day after the battle, an Allied force under Franz von Lauer laid siege to the nearby Fort-Louis in the Rhine river. The 4,500-man French garrison surrendered the fortress on 14 November. The French government quickly rushed Hoche's Army of the Moselle into the area to help drive back Wurmser. This move precipitated the Second Battle of Wissembourg in December 1793.