The Valmy Campaign
Valmy is little known. No big-name, famous generals were there, with the most status going to the father of the Kellermann who would lead a cavalry charge at Marengo a generation later. Yet, Napoleon himself made that father an honorary Marshal of the Empire, with the title, “Duke of Valmy.” Because Napoleon knew that, put simply, Valmy could have marked the end of the French Revolution.
The Valmy Campaign is one of the turning points of history... the end of the old quaint style of warfare under Kings and the beginning of the mass levies begun in the French Republic. It pitted the unproven revolutionary armies against the troops of Prussia, still living with the reputation gained under Frederick the Great, and aided by a coalition of Austrians, Hessians, and French Royalists... an army headed for Paris to put down the revolt once and for all.
And yet, the final battle itself was a minor affair. The Prussians had nearly cut off the French army. Kellermann (who was not the overall commander!) led a picked force (and the best artillery in Europe) to a key raised location, shouted "Vive la Nation,” and the Prussians made a few lame attempts to take the high ground and then retreated...all the way back across the Rhine as their army was plagued by shortages (and fearful of what the Russians were up to in Poland).
When it was over - and only when it was over - did the National Convention in Paris abolish the monarchy and proclaimed the French Republic.
While there were no really famous generals at the battle, there was a famous writer and poet - Goethe was there. The creator best known for “Faust,” said of the battle to his dejected soldier friends: "From this place, and from this day forth begins a new era in the history of the world, and you can all say that you were present at its birth."
The Valmy Campaign includes:
Valmy may be the least known of our 20 decisive battles of the world - but might most deserve the title.
About the Designer: Rob Markham has been an enthusiastic wargamer since his grandmother bought him TAHGC’s D-Day at age 10, he has designed over 100 published games, including Napoleon at the Berezina, Go Tell the Spartans, and Campaigns of King David. His designs and articles have been finalists over 20 times for various awards, and his Raid on St. Nazaire won a Charles Roberts Award as did his article on the Berezina in Against the Odds Magazine. Rob has also served as editor of Volunteers Magazine and contributing editor of North and South Magazine. When not involved in history, he may be heard on Tuesday nights as the co-host of Shout Brother Shout, a radio show devoted to new and old Americana roots music on WXCI, 91.7. He also reports to Living Blues radio charts.