The Republican forces arrived in two wings, nominally under the command of the ineffective Carteaux, but the wings failed to cooperate and made little real progress as they set about besieging the town. During the early stages of the campaign, Carteaux’s artillery chief was seriously wounded. This apparent set-back was to offer a golden opportunity to a young artillery captain in the vicinity on convoy duties, and would ultimately determine the outcome of the siege, for that young captain was one Napoleon Bonaparte!
Supported by the local Republican political representatives, Napoleon was to have a profound influence on the way the remainder of the siege was conducted. He successfully intrigued to ensure Carteaux’s removal and established mutual respect with his replacement Dugommier. He then worked tirelessly to build up an effective artillery train. Once the artillery was properly established Napoleon was able to use it, not to attempt to demolish the walls of the city as in a traditional, unimaginative , siege but in a more radical and effective manner. He recognised that the promontory sitting between the town’s protective inner and outer harbours was the key; possession by the Republicans would see their guns brought to bear on the Allied fleet, making their moorings untenable. With the fleet forced to withdraw, the town would be at the Republican army’s mercy.
On the17 December, after weeks of careful preparation, the assault on the fort protecting the promontory went in. Now a Major, Bonaparte was in the thick of the fighting (taking a bayonet wound to the leg) that saw the fort fall and the peninsular in French possession. Within a day Bonaparte’s predictions became fact as Hood up-anchored and sailed out of port; on the 19th the town fell and Republicans took their revenge on the rebels.
This victory was of huge politico-military importance for the struggling Republic and Napoleon was awarded with yet another promotion, to General de Brigade. He was just 24 but Toulon ensured his name was now known to the public – and history would ensure it never again left their consciousness.
Toulon 1793 allows you, for the first time in board wargame format, to recreate the events of the entire campaign. This operational level game has an area based system covering the action from the initial landing by Anglo-Spanish forces through to their evacuation of the town as their ships came under threat from the Republican artillery.