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"How many French troops under arms by 1796-97?" Topic

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513 hits since 27 Mar 2017
©1994-2018 Bill Armintrout
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redcoat27 Mar 2017 6:36 a.m. PST

Hi all,

May I please ask if anyone might venture a guess at the number of French troops the Directory was able to field in the last two campaigns of the War of the First Coalition?

I believe the levee en masse of 1793 had taken the number of French troops to something like three quarters of a million (and that some would even claim that the French had something approaching a million men). But by 1796/97 many of these would have been killed / died / been discharged / deserted / been captured. This is presumably why the French introduced Jourdan's conscription law of 1799.

So roughly how many men did the Directory have at its disposal in 1796/97?

Many thanks in advance for any tips!

Fanch du Leon27 Mar 2017 9:24 a.m. PST

Roughly speaking, le Directoire estimated that the army needed 548 000men (200 000 on the Rhine, 100 000 in Italy, 50 000 for Belgium and Low countries, 80 000 against Chouans in the West and 70 000 to maintain order in the country.But a maximum of 400 000 men under arms was reached in 1796 (380 000 at the end of the year, and 350 000 in 1797)
For the 1796-97 campaign in "Germany": Armée de Sambre-et-Meuse: 78 000 men (c-in-c: Jourdan); Armée du Rhin et Moselle 80 000 men (c-in-c: Moreau). Add 60 000 men for l'Armée d'Italie (c-in-c : Scherer, then a certain Napoleon Bonaparte). The cavalry portion fluctuated between 5 and 10% of the Army's total (57 000 troopers in 1797, 35 000in 1799)
My main reference: "Histoire militaire de la France" under André Corvisier's direction, Presse Universitaire de France, Paris, 1992.

KTravlos27 Mar 2017 9:25 a.m. PST

per McPhee (2016)-who syntehsises all previous literatures

page 210: 1792 French Army 113000 men
page 211:March 1793 levy was 300000 men
page 211: Thee would be about 700000 men in the armies within six months (of March 1793)
page 313: 382000 in 1797 compared to 732000 in August 1794

Thus the Directory quite heavily curtailed the size of the army. Conscription predates Jourdan's 1799 law. The main reason for the limiting of the army was partly friction as you note, but also partly the market-liberal,liberal authoritarian, and anti-Jacobin(Jacobin meaning the 1793-1794 administrations) attitudes of the Directory (and Thermidor before it). Al lot of the men who were happy enough to march for the Constitution of 1793 (Even its promise if not actuality), were not as happy to do so for a system that denied them the vote.

Lilian27 Mar 2017 1:25 p.m. PST

similar figures :
«396 016 men in august 1796»,
don't remember where…

ITALWARS Supporting Member of TMP Inactive Member27 Mar 2017 4:32 p.m. PST

with this book you could know everything about the French Revolutionary sodider..including recruiting, numbers, tactics ecc…a must in my opinion

redcoat27 Mar 2017 10:15 p.m. PST

Gentlemen, many thanks! That's so useful!

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