Siege of Maastricht, 19 September-4 November 1794

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The siege of Maastricht of 19 September-4 November 1794 saw the French capture one of the last Austrian-held strongholds close to the Austrian Netherlands, completing the French conquest of the area. The Austrian position in the Austrian Netherlands began to fall apart after the French victory at Fleurus on 26 June. The Austrian army retreated back to Brussels, and then east to take up a position on the Meuse, while the French concentrated on recovering their border fortresses, lost earlier in the year. Only in August did the French begin to threaten the new Austrian position, and the campaign did not get underway seriously until September.

The start date of the siege is unclear, because when the French first approached the city it was part of the Austrian front line on the Meuse, defended by General Clerfayt. Perhaps the best date to adopt is 19 September, the day after Clerfayt was forced to retreat from the Meuse by the French victory in the battle of the Outhre (18 September). This left the 8,000 strong garrison of Maastricht isolated, and the French imposed a blockade. The main French army, including General Kléber's divisions, then moved east to attack the Austrian lines on the Roer (battle of the Roer, 2 October 1794). Only after that battle was Kléber free to return to Maastricht to conduct a more vigorous siege.

Kléber began by summoning the town to surrender, but the governor, the Prince of Hesse-Kassel) refused. At this early stage in the siege the French lacked a siege train, and Kléber was not provided with adequate guns until 23 October. The bombardment itself began on 1 November. By now it was clear that there was little chance of a relief army appearing, and on 4 November the city surrendered.

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (21 January 2009), Siege of Maastricht, 19 September-4 November 1794 , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/siege_maastricht_1794.html

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