Book Review: Revolutionary France's War of Conquest in the Rhineland: Conquering the Natural Frontier, 1792-1797


by Jordan R. Hayworth

Cambridge & New York: Cambridge University Press, 2019. Pp. xviii, 346. Map, table, notes, biblio., index. $120.00. ISBN: 1108497454

The Rhineland Campaigns of Revolutionary France

The author of several works on French military history, Prof. Hayworth (Air Command and Staff College), has written an impressive account of why and how, within a few years of renouncing wars of conquest, Republican France undertook and carried out a successful war to secure the Rhineland.

Hayworth begins by noting that, contrary to nineteenth century nationalist scholarship, expansion to the Rhine (France’s “natural frontier”), had not been a policy of the ancien regime, despite frequent campaigns into the region, but an idea that arose out of the fierce politics of revolutionary factionalism.

Hayworth then gives us a very detailed account of military operations during the war within framework of France’s internal politics. So we get a look not only at battles and sieges, some quite impressive, but also at the logistical problems of the revolutionary armies. He also demonstrated that the vaunted “fervor” of the conscripts of 1793 – another myth of the French historiography – waned as the war became one of conquest, rather than the defense of the Republic. In the process, Hayworth also gives us looks at a lot of generals and politicians, many of considerable ability – Hoche, Moreau, Mirabeau, Luckner, Pichegru – now mostly forgotten, as well as others still well-known, due largely to their role in the Napoleonic era.

Revolutionary France's War of Conquest in the Rhineland, a volume in the Cambridge Military Histories series, is an excellent account of what has been a largely neglected war.


Note: Revolutionary France's War of Conquest in the Rhineland is also available in several e-editions.

StrategyPage reviews are published in cooperation with The New York Military Affairs Symposium


Reviewer: A. A. Nofi, Review Editor   

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