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operations. Tournay was the strongest place of
the whole barrier : the town and citadel were one of
Vauban's masterpieces ; for there was not a place
of any strength in Flanders, whose fortifications had
not been built by Louis XIV.

The people of Tournay were fond of the French
government, not so much because their town is part
of the ancient patrimony of the kings of France, as
out of regard to their own advantage : they pre-
ferred the French magnificence, which enriches a
country, to the Dutch economy, which keeps it low.
But the inclination of the inhabitants is seldom
regarded in fortified towns : they are no way con-
cerned either in the attack or in the defence of those
places: they are transferred from one sovereign to
another by capitulations, which are made for them,
without asking their advice.

In the beginning of the siege of Tournay hap-
pened one of those events, in which the inevitable
fatality which determines life and death, appeared,
as it were, in the most conspicuous characters. The



22O The War of 1741.

count de Talleyrand, colonel of the regiment of Nor-
mandy, had mounted the trenches under the orders
of the duke de Biron : here a cavalier was erected,
near which they had placed a cask of gunpowder.
In the night the duke de Biron laid himself down
upon a bearskin near M. de Talleyrand, when he
recollected that he had promised to spend part of
the night with M. de Meuze : he resolved to go,
notwithstanding that M. de Talleyrand did all he
could to dissuade him. No sooner was he gone, than
a soldier trying the prime of his weapon, a spark
dropped upon the cask of gunpowder, and instantly
the cavalier flew up into the air, carrying with it
M. de Talleyrand, with twenty-four soldiers, whose
mangled limbs were dispersed on every side : part
of the body of M. de Talleyrand was thrown more
than one hundred and eighty feet. But an accident
of this kind, though never so fatal, is confounded
in time of war in the multitude of human calamities,
which, from our being too much surrounded by
them, escape our attention. The garrison of Tour-
nay, beholding this unlucky accident, insulted the
French, reviling them with the most injurious lan-
guage ; upon which a few companies of grenadiers,
unable to contain their indignation, answered them,
not by opprobrious speeches, but by leaping out of
the trenches, and running upon the glacis of the
covert-way, though the regular approaches for
attacking it were not yet finished: they descend
without order, without preparation, or even without



The War of 1741. 221

officers, upon the covert-way, notwithstanding the
fire of the enemy's artillery and their small shot, and
maintain themselves boldly till the round came by,
though exposed on every side. The duke de Biron,
who commanded the trenches, hearing of this action,
which the nature of the provocation and the ardor
of the troops rendered in some measure excusable,
immediately orders gabions to be brought, makes
epaulements, and lodges those brave fellows on the
covert- way, which they had so resolutely carried.

As soon as the states-general were informed that
Tournay was in danger, they sent word to the com-
mander of the troops that he must venture a battle
to relieve the town. Notwithstanding the circum-
spection of those republicans, they were the first
of the allies at that time who took vigorous resolu-
tions.

On May 5 the enemy advanced to Cambon, within
seven leagues of Tournay. The king set out from
Paris the next day, with the dauphin ; the king
was attended by his aides-de-camp, and the dauphin
by his minions.

The inhabitants of Paris, who had been so near
losing the king the foregoing year, felt a return
of their pain, upon seeing both the father and
the son set out for Flanders, to expose themselves
to the uncertain issue of a battle. The French had
made no intrenchments as yet before Tournay in
the lines of circumvallation : they had no army of
observation; nor had the twenty battalions and forty



222 The War of 1741.

squadrons, which had been drafted from the army
commanded by the prince of Conti, as yet arrived.

But notwithstanding the uneasiness they were
under at Paris, it must be allowed that the king's
army was considerably superior to that of the allies.
In several printed relations, it is said to have been
weaker. Historical exactness obliges me to acknowl-
edge that it was stronger by sixty battalions and
eighty-two squadrons ; for the French had a hun-
dred and six battalions, reckoning the militia, and a
hundred and seventy-two squadrons; whereas the
allies had only forty-six battalions and ninety squad-
rons.

True it is, that on the day of the engagement the
French did not avail themselves entirely of this
advantage. Part of the troops had not yet arrived ;
there was also a necessity for leaving some to guard
the trenches of Tournay, and for the bridges of com-
munication : but still the superiority of numbers was
certainly on the side of France. And it is not less
true that this advantage was not of any consequence
in so confined a ground as that of the field of bat-
tle ; besides, it happens very seldom that victory is
owing to numbers. The chief strength of the
enemy's army consisted in twenty battalions and
twenty-six squadrons of English, under the young
duke of Cumberland, who, in company with the
king, his father, had gained the battle of Dettingen.
The English were joined by five battalions and six-
teen squadrons of Hanoverian troops. The prince



The War of 1741. 223

of Waldeck, of about the same age as the duke of
Cumberland, like him full of ardor, and impatient to
signalize himself, was at the head of the Dutch
forces, consisting of forty squadrons and twenty-six
battalions. In this army the Austrians had only
eight squadrons ; the allies were righting their cause
in Flanders, a country that has been long defended
by the arms and treasure of England and Holland.
But at the head of this small number of Austrians
was old General Konigseck, who had commanded
against the Turks in Hungary, and against the
French in Italy and in Germany : it was intended that
his years and experience should be a check to the
youthful ardor of the duke of Cumberland, and of
Prince Waldeck. The whole allied army was up-
ward of fifty thousand combatants.

The king left about eighteen thousand men before
Tournay, who were posted at gradual distances from
the field of battle, besides six thousand to guard
the bridges on the Scheldt, and the communications.
The army was commanded by a general in whom
they had the greatest confidence. Count Saxe had
made the art of war his constant study, even in time
of peace ; besides a profound theory, he had great
practical knowledge; in short, vigilance, secrecy,
the art of knowing properly when to postpone, and
when to execute a project, to see things at one
glance, presence of mind, and foresight were abili-
ties allowed him by the consent of all military people.
But at that time this general was wasting away with



224 The War of 1741.

a lingering disorder. The author of these memoirs,
happening to meet him before he set out for Flan-
ders, could not forbear asking him how he could
think of taking the field in that feeble condition. The
marshal answered : " It is not time now to think of
living, but of departing."

On May 6, the king arrived at Douay : just a r
he was going to bed, he received a courier from the
marshal, who informed him that the enemy's army
was approaching, and that they would be quickly
in sight of each other. " Gentlemen," said the king
to his aides-de-camp and to his officers, " there shall
be no time lost ; I set out to-morrow morning at five
o'clock; but do not disturb the dauphin."

The next day the king arrived at Pont-a-Chin,
near the Scheldt, within reach of the trenches of
Tournay. The dauphin, who had been apprised,
was there in time, and attended the king, when he
went to reconnoitre the ground designed for the
field of battle. The whole army, upon seeing the
king and the dauphin, made the air resound with
acclamations of joy. The enemy spent the loth and
the night of the nth in making their last disposi-
tions. Never did the king express greater cheer-
fulness than on the evening before the engagement.
The conversation turned upon the battles at which
the kings of France had been present : the king said
that, since the battle of Poitiers, there had not been
any king of France who had his son with him in an
engagement; that none of them had ever gained a



The War of 1741. 225

signal victory over the English ; and he hoped to be
the first.

The day the battle was fought, he awoke first ; at
four o'clock he awakened Count d'Argenson, secre-
tary of war, who that very instant sent to Marshal
Saxe to know his last orders. They found the mar-
shal in a wicker vehicle, which served him as a bed ;
he was carried about in it, when his strength came
to be so exhausted that he could no longer ride on
horseback. The king and the dauphin had already
passed the bridge of Calonne. The marshal told the
officer sent by Count d'Argenson that the king's
guards must come forward, for he had fixed their
post in the reserve with the carbineers, as a sure
resource. This was a new method of posting troops,
whom the enemy consider as the flower of an army.
But he added, that the guards should not be ordered
to advance, till the king and the dauphin had
repassed the bridge. The marshal, as a foreigner,
was very sensible how much less it became him than
any other general, to expose two such precious lives
to the uncertain issue of a battle. The officer to
whom he had made these answers was loath to repeat
them to the king; but this prince, apprised of the
marshal's directions, said, " Let my guards advance
this very moment ; for I will not repass the bridge."
Soon after he went and took post beyond the place
called " The Justice of Our Lady in the Wood." For
his guard he would have only a squadron of a hun-
dred and twenty men of the company of Charot, one
Vol. 3315



226 The War of 1741.

gendarme, a light horseman, and a musketeer. Mar-
shal de Noailles kept near his majesty, as did also the
count d'Argenson ; the aides-de-camp were the same
as the preceding year. The duke de Villeroi was also
about his person, as captain of the guards ; and the
dauphin had his attendants near him.

The king and the dauphin's retinue, which com-
posed a numerous troop, were followed by a multi-
tude of persons of all ranks, whom curiosity had
brought to this place, some of whom were mounted
even on the tops of trees to behold the spectacle of
a bloody engagement.

The assistance of engraving is absolutelynecessary
to a person who desires to form a clear and dis-
tinct image of this action. The ancients, who were
strangers to this art, could leave us but imperfect
notions of the situation and motion of their armies ;
but to have an adequate knowledge of such a day,
requires researches still more difficult. No one
officer can see everything; a great many behold
with eyes of prepossession, and there are some that
are very short-sighted. There is a good deal in hav-
ing consulted the papers of the war-office, and espe-
cially in getting instruction from the generals and
the aides-de-camp ; but it is requisite, moreover, to
speak to the commanding officers of the different
corps, and to compare their statements, in order to
mention only those facts in which they agree.

All these precautions I have taken for obtaining
a thorough information of the detail of a battle, of



The War of 1741. 227

which even the least particulars must be interest-
ing to the whole nation. Casting an eye upon the
plan, you may perceive at one glance the disposition
of the two armies. You will see Antoin near the
Scheldt, within fifty-four hundred feet of the bridge
of Calonne, the way that the king and the dauphin
came. The village of Fontenoy is within forty-eight
hundred feet of Antoin ; thence, drawing toward the
north, is a piece of ground twenty-seven hundred feet
broad, between the woods of Barri and of Fontenoy.
In this plan you see the dispositions of the brigades,
the generals that commanded them, with what art
they prepared against the efforts of the enemy near
the Scheldt and Antoin, between Antoin and Fon-
tenoy, in those villages lined with troops and artil-
lery, on the ground which separates Fontenoy from
the woods of Barri, and finally on the left toward
Remecroix, where the enemy might advance by mak-
ing the compass of the woods.

The general had made dispositions for a victory
and a defeat. The bridge of Calonne lined with
cannon, strengthened with intrenchments, and de-
fended by a battalion of guards, another of Swiss,
and three of militia, was to facilitate the retreat of
the king and of the dauphin, in case of any unlucky
accident. The remainder of the army was to have
filed off at the same time over the other bridges on
the lower Scheldt in the neighborhood of Tournay.

Notwithstanding all these measures, so well con-
certed as to support each other without the least



228 The War of 1 741.

clashing, there happened one mistake, which, had
it not been rectified, might have occasioned the loss
of the day. The evening preceding the battle, the
general was told that there was a hollow way, deep
and impassable, which extended, without discontin-
uance, from Antoin to Fontenoy, and would secure
the army on that side. Weak as he was, he recon-
noitred a part of this hollow way himself ; and they
assured him that the remainder was still more inac-
cessible. He made his dispositions accordingly ; but
this ground, which was very deep near Fontenoy and
Antoin, was quite level between those two villages.
This circumstance, so trivial in other cases, was
here of the utmost consequence ; for the army might
have been taken in flank. The marshal having
been better informed by the quarter' aster, M. de
Cremille, caused three redoubts to be hastily erected
in this same spot between the villages. Marshal de
Noailles directed the works in the night, and joined
Fontenoy to the first redoubt by a redan of earth ;
the three redoubts were furnished with three bat-
teries of cannon, one of eight pieces, the other two
of four; they were called the redoubts of Bettens,
from being defended by the Swiss regiment of Bet-
tens, with that of Diesbach. Beside these precau-
tions, they had also planted six sixteen-pounders on
this side of the Scheldt, to gall the troops that
should attack the village of Antoin.

We must particularly observe that there was a
piece of ground of about two thousand seven mm-



The War of 1741. 229

dred feet, which had a gentle ascent between the
woods of Barri and Fontenoy. As the enemy might
penetrate this way, the general took care to erect
at the verge of the woods of Barri, a strong redoubt,
where the guns were fixed in embrasures; here the
marquis de Chambonas commanded a battalion of the
regiment of Eu. The cannon of this redoubt, with
those which were planted to the left side of Fonte-
noy, formed a cross-fire sufficient, one would
imagine, to stop the efforts of the most intrepid
enemy.

Had the English attempted to pass through the
wood of Barri, they would have met with another
redoubt furnished with cannon; if they made a
greater circuit, they had intrenchments to force, and
must have been exposed to the fire of two batteries
on the high road leading to Leuze. Thus did Mar-
shal Saxe make the most advantage of the ground on
every side.

With respect to the position of the troops, begin-
ning from the bridge of Vaux, which after the battle
was called the bridge of Calonne, there was no one
part left naked. The counts de la Marck and de
Lorges were entrusted with the post of Antoin;
where were six battalions of Piedmont and Biron,
with six cannon at the head of those regiments.

The marquis de Crillon was posted with his regi-
ment hard by the redoubt nearest Antoin; on the
left he had dragoons to support him.

The village of Fontenoy was committed to the



230 The War of 1741.

care of the count de la Vauguion, who had under
him the son of the marquis de Meuze-Choiseul, with
the regiment of Dauphiny, of which this young man,
who is since dead, was colonel. The duke de Biron,
lieutenant-general, was at the head of the king's reg-
iment, which he then commanded, close to the village
of Fontenoy. On his left was the viscount d'Aube-
terre, and the regiment of his name.

Nearly on the same line the general had placed
four battalions of French guards, two of Swiss, and
the regiment of Courten on the ground extending
from Fontenoy to the wood of Barri.

About twelve hundred feet behind them were
fifty-two squadrons of horse : the duke d'Harcourt,
the count d'Estrees, and the count de Penthievre
were lieutenant-generals of this first line. M. de
Clermont-Gallerande, du Cheila, and d'Apcher, com-
manded the second ; and between these lines of cav-
alry, in the morning the general placed the regiments
of la Couronne, Hainault, Soissons, and Royal.

On the left was the Irish brigade, under the com-
mand of Lord Clare, in a little plain of about one
hundred paces. Farther on was the regiment of
Vaisseaux, of which the marquis de Guerchi was
then colonel : between these brigades were M. de
Clermont-Tonnere, and the prince de Pons, of the
house of Lorraine, at the head of the brigade of cav-
alry of Royal-Roussillon.

The king's household and the carbineers were in
the corps of reserve. This was a new method prac-



The War of 1741. 231

tised by Marshal Saxe, and recommended by the
chevalier Folard, to secrete from the enemy's view
those troops which are most famed for bravery,
against whom they generally direct the flower of
their forces.

These dispositions being all made, or upon the
point of being made, they waited in silence for the
break of day. At four in the morning Marshal Saxe,
attended by his aides-de-camp, and by the prin-
cipal officers, went to visit all the posts. The Dutch,
who were already forming, kept continually firing at
these officers; which the marshal perceiving, said,
" Gentlemen, there will be use for your lives
to-day : " he made them dismount, and walked a
long time through this hollow way, of which we
have already made mention. The fatigue exhausted
his strength and increased his illness ; finding him-
self growing weaker, he got into his wicker vehicle
again, where he rested for some little time. At
break of day Count d'Argenson went to see whether
the artillery of the redoubts and villages was in
good order, and whether the field-pieces were all
arrived. They were to have a hundred pieces of
cannon, and they had only sixty. Here the pres-
ence and directions of the minister were necessary :
he gave orders for them to bring the forty pieces
that were wanting; but in the tumult and hurry,
almost unavoidable on such an occasion, they forgot
to bring the number of balls which such artillery
required. The field-pieces were four-pounders, and



232, The War of 1 741.

drawn by soldiers; the cannon in the villages and
redoubts, as also those planted on this side the
Scheldt against the Dutch, were from four to six-
teeen pounders. Two battalions belonging to the
ordnance were distributed in Antoin, Fontenoy, and
the redoubts, under the direction of M. Brocard, lieu-
tenant-general of the artillery.

The enemy had eighty-one cannon, and eight mor-
tars. Their field-pieces were three-pounders ; they
were what we used formerly to call fauconets; their
length is about four feet and a half, their ordinary
charge is two pounds of powder, and they carry
fifteen hundred feet at full shot. There were some
that carried balls only of a pound and a half. The
cannonading began on both sides : Marshal Saxe
told marshal de Noailles, that here the enemy would
stop : he supposed them to have formed a deeper
design than they really had, imagining they would
do just what he would have done in their place, that
they would keep the French army in awe, and in
continual alarm ; by which means they might retard,
and perhaps absolutely prevent the taking of Tour-
nay. And indeed they were posted in such a man-
ner that they could not be attacked with advantage ;
while at the same time they had it in their power
constantly to harass the besieging army. This was
the opinion of General Konigseck : but the duke of
Cumberland's courage was too warm, and the con-
fidence of the English too great, to listen to advice.
At the time they began to cannonade, Marshal de



The War of 1741. 233

Noailles was near to Fontenoy, and gave an account
to Marshal Saxe of the work he had done in the
beginning of the night, in causing the village of Fon-
tenoy to be joined to the first of the three redoubts
between that village and Antoin : he acted here as
M. de Saxe's first aide-de-camp, thus sacrificing the
jealousy of command to the good of the state, and
forgetting his own rank to yield the precedence to a
general who was not only a foreigner, but younger
in commission than himself. Marshal Saxe was
perfectly sensible of the real value of this magna-
nimity; and never was there such perfect harmony
between two men, who from the ordinary weakness
of the human heart should naturally have been at
variance.

At this very moment the duke of Grammont came
up, when Marshal de Noailles said to him, "Nephew,
we should embrace one another on the day of battle ;
perhaps we shall not see one another again." Accord-
ingly they embraced one another most tenderly ; and
then Marshal de Noailles went to give his majesty an
account of the several posts which he had visited.

The duke of Grammont met Count Lowendahl,
who advanced with him within a short distance of
the first redoubt of the wood of Barri, opposite an
English battery; here a three-pound cannon-ball
struck the duke of Grammont's horse, and covered
Count Lowendahl with blood ; a piece of flesh which
flew off with the shot fell into his boot : " Have a
care," says he to the duke of Grammont, " your horse



234 The War of 1741.

is killed." "And I myself," answered the duke. The
upper part of his thigh was shattered by the ball,
and he was carried off the field. When M. de Pey-
ronie met him upon the road to Fontenoy, he was
dead. The surgeon made a report of it to the king,
who cried out with concern : " Ah ! we shall lose a
great many more to-day."

The cannonading continued on both sides till eight
in the morning with great vivacity, without the
enemy's seeming to have formed any settled plan.
Toward seven, the English encompassed the whole
ground of the village of Fontenoy, and attacked it
on every side. They flung bombs into it, one of
which fell just before Marshal Saxe, who was then
speaking to Count Lowendahl.

The Dutch afterward advanced toward Antoin,
and the two attacks were equally well supported.
The count de Vauguion, who commanded in Fon-
tenoy, with the young count de Meuze under him,
constantly repulsed the English. He had made
intrenchments in the village, and enjoined the regi-
ment of Dauphiny not to fire but according to his
orders. He was well obeyed ; for the soldiers did
not fire till they were almost muzzle to muzzle, and
sure of their mark; at each discharge they made
the air resound with "Vive le Roi." The count de
la Marck, with the count de Lorges, in Antoin,
employed the Dutch, both horse and foot. The
marquis de Chambonas also repulsed the enemy in
the several attacks of the redoubt of Eu. The Eng-



The War of 1741. 235

lish presented themselves thrice before Fontenoy,
and the Dutch twice before Antoin. At their second
attack almost a whole Dutch squadron was swept
away by the cannon of Antoin, and only fifteen left ;
from that time the Dutch continued to act but very
faintly, and at a distance.

The king was at that time with the dauphin, near
" The Justice of Our Lady in the Wood," against
which the English played very briskly with their
cannon. Even the small musket-shot reached thus
far, a domestic of Count d'Argenson being wounded
on the forehead by a musket-ball, a good distance
behind the king.

From this position, which was equally distant
from the several corps, the king observed everything
with great attention. He was the first who perceived
that as the enemy attacked Antoin and Fontenoy,
and seemed to bend their whole strength on that
side, it would be of no use to leave the regiments of
Normandy, Auvergne, and Touraine toward Rame-
croix : he therefore caused Normandy to advance
near the Irish, and put Auvergne and Touraine far-


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