Siege of Toulon 1793

An Allied force led by Admiral Hood lay Siege of Toulon, Napoleon a young captain of the French army repelled the attack of 1793.

On 29th August 1793, the Siege of Toulon began with a mixed force of British, Spanish and emigre French troops under the command of Vice-Admiral Lord Hood. The population was in revolt against the revolutionary government in Paris. The port seemed surrounded by a string of forts, designed to protect both the town and the anchorage.

Admiral Hood had insufficient troops available to hold them all. Initially, his British contingent no more than 1,200 men from the 11th, 25th, 30th and 69th Regiments of Foot. They all became embarked on the fleet as marines when the war began. Although supported by nearly 3,000 Spaniards, the latter soon proved to be unreliable.

the battery of "la montagne" at the siege of toulon.
The battery of “la Montagne” at the Siege of Toulon.

Despite the arrival of Sardinian, Neapolitan and some additional British troops (the later drawn from the 2nd and 18th Regiments of Foot), the land commander, Lord Mulgrave could do little to strengthen the defences.

Captain Napoleon at the Siege of Toulon

A French force that quickly grew to over 20,000 men, including the young Napoleon Bonaparte as captain of artillery.

29th November 1793, An ill-directed attack on a French redoubt at Aresnes, to the West of the port, led to heavy British losses. Afterwards the defences began to crack.

17th December 1793, Napoleon led an assault on Point l’Eguilette, overlooking the inner harbour. During the attack Napoleon suffered a bayonet wound to his leg from a British soldier. The Spanish and Neapolitan contingents withdrew from Toulon without consulting their allies.

destruction of the french fleet at toulon
Destruction of the French Fleet at Toulon – by Thomas Whitcombe

Evacuation from Toulon

18th December 1793, During the afternoon the guns in the fort became turned inwards to fire upon the British fleet. Vice-Admiral Hood evacuated the remains of his force from the inner harbour. Most of the heavy equipment became left behind from the siege. The British and Spanish troops blew up the arsenal and then set about destroying 42 French ships by setting them on fire.

The British fleet took as many as 15,000 Toulonnais royalist citizens onboard the Allied ships and sailed from Toulon.

Republican revenge

19th December 1793, the French Republican forces took Toulon and unleashed revenge on the remaining royalists. A massacre took place with 650 royalists having been shot, or bayonetted to death by the Republicans.

Later Napoleon had become promoted to the rank of Brigadier-General for his efforts during he Siege of Toulon.