24 April, 1794

Operating with the British army under the Duke of York, Austria's General Peter Ott undertook a personal reconnaissance of a reported French force near Cambrai.

With only 300 British and Austrian light cavalrymen he ran into a strong force of French cavalry at Villers-en-Cauchies.

Withdrawal was the most sensible option, but then Ott discovered his emperor Francis I was close by and in imminent danger of capture.

Spurring his men on to the attack, Ott scattered the first French opponents but then ran into formed French infantry backed by cannons.

Without stopping to think about the almost-suicidal position against some 12,000 men, the Allied cavalry continued their assault over-running the guns and breaking both the infantry and its supporting cavalry.

What followed was a 12-kilometre pursuit that left some 1200 Frenchmen killed, wounded or captured.

Ott's stunning victory came at a cost of 66 casualties.



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