FRANCE, Capture of Antwerp, 1832, 50mm copper medal 59.6 grams by Jacques-Édouard Gatteaux (Collignon #1009)
Obverse: bust of Louis Philippe facing left, LOUIS PHILIPPE I ROI DES FRANÇAIS / E. GATTEAUX
Reverse: France, dressed as ancient warrior, standing FACING right, holding thunderbolt and olive branch, LA FRANCE COMBAT POUR LA PAIX / LA CITADELLE D’ANVERS PRISE EN 25 JOURS DECEMB. 1832
The Siege of Antwerp took place between November 15 and December 23, 1832. During the Belgian uprising, the government army of the United Kingdom of the Netherlands held the three most important southern citadels, namely those of Maastricht, Luxembourg and Antwerp.
Even after the first French intervention in 1831, which put an end to the Ten Day Campaign, William I's army continued to control these three cities. From the (in the meantime) Citadel of Antwerp, the Dutch general Chassé had the city shelled for hours with glowing bullets.
The shelling of the city by order of Chassé was the first reason for the French to undertake a second intervention in 1832. The second reason was a treaty between Great Britain and France. This treaty required William I of the Netherlands to withdraw his troops from the Antwerp citadel and the nearby Scheldt fortresses before 1 November 1832. If the troops were not withdrawn, France would feel compelled to take the citadel by force - but without a declaration of war, which was unique in the history of warfare. William I did not comply with the demand to withdraw, which he described as "daring and unfair". Thereupon the French Northern Army of about 90,000 men led by Marshal Gérard crossed Belgium. On November 19, 1832, the first French troops arrived in front of the Antwerp citadel and the siege began. The French troops attacked the citadel, where 4,500 Dutch soldiers had entrenched themselves with a large number of cannons, for 24 days with monster mortars. About a hundred thousand cannonballs and howitzer shells were fired. General Haxo's new tactic proved successful. On December 23, 1832, the garrison of the citadel of Antwerp offered to surrender after an important defense structure had fallen. The battle had killed 370 on the French side and 560 on the defenders. General Chassé's policy during this siege was later criticized by military experts. He would have been influenced too much by decisions from The Hague.
Leopold I of Belgium created several decorations in thanks for the French sacrifices. For example, the badly wounded French sapper Ausseil became the first knight in the Order of Leopold. He was awarded his medal on December 9, 1832, while the attack on the citadel was still in progress. Marshal Gérard also received this award, as did many Belgians later on. General Chassé and his troops were taken prisoner of war and were not discharged until 1833. On their return to the Netherlands they were awarded the Citadel Medal by William I. He also received decorations in the Military William Order, just like many Dutchmen later on. At the tomb of Chassé in the cemetery of the reformed church of Ginneken is the Citadel Monument as a memorial to the defenders of Antwerp. The French monument designed in 1897 to commemorate the liberation of Antwerp is located in Tournai because the city council of Antwerp did not want it. Tournai was where the French siege troops had entered Belgium.
Jacques-Édouard Gatteaux (4 November 1788 – 9 February 1881) was a French sculptor and medal engraver. Born in Paris, he studied under his father Nicolas-Marie Gatteaux (also a medal engraver) and Jean-Guillaume Moitte.
He won first prize in the prix de Rome in 1809 and was elected a member of the Académie des beaux-arts in 1845 and of the Institut de France. He also became an officer of the Légion d'honneur.