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enemy, had not the Duke forbidden it. But every sabre
in the thirty squadrons of Lumley and Hompesch was loosed
upon the fugitives. " The word," says a contemporary
writer, " was ' kill, kill, and destroy.' "-^ Little, if any
quarter, was given. Scrambling over the parapets on the
northern and eastern faces of the Schellenberg, thousands of
the fugitives made for the plain and river. Many were cut
down as they ran. Some, like La Colonic, escaped by swim-
ming, but more were drowned. Others fled towards the
town, where the governor denied them all admission. A
bridge of boats, which D'Arco had constructed some days
before, gave way beneath the weight of the crowding masses,
and precipitated them into the Danube. And always the
exasperated horsemen drove furiously upon the terrified
mob, their merciless steel flashing hither and thither in the
twilight as they hunted with shrill halloos through the
standing corn, or galloped with a menacing thunder of hoofs
and curses along the reedy banks of the river.

Marlborough had won. He had risked all, and he had
won. His own conduct during the engagement was much
admired. "The Duke of Marlborough," wrote Hompesch,
" gave orders throughout the whole action with the greatest
prudence and presence of mind."^ But his was a higher
courage than that of the mere fighter. He had known the
big price to be paid, and he had not shrunk from paying it.
For that reason alone, the story of the Schellenberg deserves
to be read and re-read by every British general to-day.
Over 1,400 of the allies were killed, and nearly 4,000
wounded. The loss in officers, and particularly in officers
of high rank, was extraordinary. Eight generals, including
Goor and Styrum, eleven colonels, seven lieutenant-colonels,
three majors, twenty-six captains, and forty-six subalterns
lay dead or dying. Among the wounded were nine generals,
including the Princes of Baden and Hesse-Cassel, seven
colonels, nine lieutenant-colonels, fifteen majors, sixty-two

1 MSS. of the Duke of Rutland, vol. ii., p. i8i : Lord Gower to the Duke
of Rutland, July 6, 1704 (Hist. MSS. Comm., 12th Report, Appendix,
part v.).

2 Letter of General Hompesch to the States (Lediard, vol. i., p. 327).

Present canalized course of Danube

Contours at interv-ils of ^ metres .every 35 accentuated

Marsh and Water meadows i ~^Z~- Woods V*-


captains, and one hundred and eighty-one subalterns.
On both sides, veterans who had grown grey in war unani-
mously declared that such fighting had never been seen. On
both sides also it was admitted that the British had set a new
standard of devoted and enduring valour. Their casualties
(they had more than 1,500) exceeded, both actually and
relatively, those of any other contingents engaged. When
darkness fell, the rain came down in torrents, drenching the
wounded where they lay. There was work and enough for
Marlborough's hospital at Nordlingen.

It was not to be expected that in an action of this char-
acter the defenders should suffer as severely as the assailants.
Maffei alleges that before they broke, their casualties did not
exceed 400; but he admits that 2,000 were slain or taken in
the chase, which was certainly ruthless. Marsin, writing
to Tallard, fixed the casualties at 1,500 ; but a German record
of the time declares that the Bavarians alone had 1,755
killed and wounded. The rout was so complete that accurate
figures could never be obtained. When due allowance is
made for the killed, the wounded, the drowned, the prisoners,
and the deserters, their losses probably equalled those of
the allies, if they did not actually exceed them. Dr. Hare
asserts that not more than 3,000 of them rejoined the Elector.
And the majority of these, having thrown away their arms
to facilitate their flight, were not effective.^ The very
flower of the Bavarian infantry was ruined. Fifteen or
sixteen cannon, thirteen standards, and all the tents and
baggage remained in the hands of the victors.

In Holland the news was received with rapture. But
Marlborough's enemies in that country insisted on assign-
ing all the glory to the Prince of Baden, and embodied
their opinion in a medal. The Margrave had behaved
with perfect loyalty to his colleague, and he had borne
himself like an excellent tactician and a brave man. But
the whole conception and, above all, the whole responsi-
bility had been Marlborough's. To ascribe to another the
winning of a battle which but for Marlborough would never
have been fought at all, was an act of petty malignancy which
deceived no one. Least of all did it deceive the English

^ Pelet, Meinoires militaires, t. iv., p. 532: Tallard au Roi, 18 juillet,


people. The English have never been a nation of soldiers;
but they have always been a nation of fighters. And here
at last was fighting. At last, after two years of war, as war
apparently was understood upon the continent, a British
army had been permitted to show how fighting was under-
stood in the British Isles. The populace had no doubt as
to which general and which soldiers had won the battle.
Wherever two or three EngHshmen were gathered together,
it was proudly told how Her Majesty's soldiers had lost 33
per cent, of their numbers, and had still gone forward,
how in the Guards only five ofiicers out of seventeen re-
mained unhurt, how Mordaunt with three bullets in his
clothes and Munden with five in his hat, had come off un-
scathed as by a miracle, and how of the eighty-two heroes
whom they had led, but twenty-one had returned. Men
told with enthusiasm of the patient fortitude of the Greys.
They dwelt with grim satisfaction on the details of the stern
pursuit. And with exultation, not untinged with anxiety,
they acclaimed the general whose only fault was the most
noble weakness of despising personal danger too much.

But the Jacobites, who were the friends of France, and
the recalcitrant Tories and the discontented Whigs, who
were the enemies of Marlborough, had much ado to conceal
from the mass of their countrymen the rage and vexation
of their embittered souls. They had hoped that Marl-
borough's audacious march would end in a catastrophe,
and they had been woefully disappointed. But they were
not without resources. If they could not with safety pro-
claim their sorrow for their country's triumph, they could
nevertheless inject a little poison into the cup of national
rejoicing. They could speak with the respectable voice of
' the military critic' This pernicious type, compounded
in equal proportions of military ignorance, personal spite,
and the malice of ignoble faction, is only too familiar in
modern times. He had plenty to say upon the subject of the
ScheUenberg. Such a victory lent itself especially to those
insidious forms of detraction and misrepresentation, which
are his stock-in-trade when he caters for a people profoundly
uninformed on military affairs. What, after all, it was asked,
did this victory amount to ? The conquest of a barren


mountain and a paltry town. The enemy were reported to
have suffered heavy losses; but the enemy denied it, and
the fact was at best problematical. On the other hand it
was certain that 5,500 of the allies were killed and wounded,
and that the British casualties were out of all proportion
to those of the other nations. It was suggested that the
British general who ordered the attack was a blunderer
who had only been saved from the consequences of his
own incompetence by the skilful intervention of a foreign
colleague. It was insinuated that by a turning movement,
or some other movement familiar to the youngest student
of the art of war, the whole of the sacrifices incurred might
have been easily avoided. It was argued that the real honours
remained with the enemy who for an hour and a half had
withstood the onslaughts of an army nearly ten times as
numerous as their own. And it was calculated that, if
8,000 Bavarians could inflict such losses on 80,000 of the
allies, Marlborough and the Margrave would soon find them-
selves without any army at all.-*-

These splenetic chatterers obtained a certain audience.
The ordinary EngUshman understands little of strategy,
and even less of those spiritual forces which in war are more
potent than any other factor. In the coffee-houses of
London, in the ale-houses of the shires, they could read the
lists of kiUed and wounded ; but they could not see the black
care at Max Emanuel's heart. A battle is not a boxing-
match decided upon points. The victory does not neces-
sarily belong to the side which can show the fewer casualties
on balance. Heavy losses may mean, as they meant at the
Schellenberg, a great price deliberately paid for a great
strategical advantage. They may also mean, as they meant
at the Schellenberg, such a moral gain as cannot be calcu-
lated in any material terms. A general who has once shown
that he has the resolution to demand of his men what Marl-
borough demanded that day,^ is a general who will be obeyed
by all beneath him and dreaded by all against him. Re-
cruits that have proved themselves capable of conquering
under most abnormal punishment, are recruits known hence-

1 Steele, The Tatter, No. 65.

2 See Maude on Napoleon, The Evolution oj Modern Strategy, ch.ii., p. 20.


forth to be redoubtable beyond the average, and knowing
themselves to be so. The Bavarian soldier is second to none
in Germany. On the Schellenberg he had fought well, and
he knew that he had fought well. He had seen his assailants
suffer more cruelly than it was the wont of the bravest and
most disciplined troops to suffer wdthout breaking. He had
seen them return again and again to the attack ; and in the
end he had seen them victorious. Every survivor of D'Arco's
detachment could draw the obvious conclusion. They drew
it, and their comrades and commanders drew it; and from
the time of that desperate grapple above Donauworth there
set in among the armies of France an insidious demoralisa-
tion, which contributed to every fresh disaster, and to which
every fresh disaster contributed.

It was a great ending to a great march. Right across the
enemy's front, from the North Sea to the Danube, Marl-
borough had passed without let or hindrance, while in three
theatres of the war at once three hostile armies, doubtful
and perplexed, did nothing. Six weeks the sword of Eng-
land hung suspended; and when it fell, all Europe rang with
the stroke. The Elector's finest regiments were ruined,
the river barrier of his dominions was forced, the military
prestige of France was rudely shaken, and the courage of
every soldier of the coalition was braced with that irresistible
confidence which springs from proved superiority. These
truths, obscured and denied as they might be by Dutch
malcontents and EngHsh traitors, could not be hidden from
the eyes of Austria. The Emperor Leopold, " the most
virtuous and pious monarch of his line,"^ at whose very
throat the sword of Louis had so long been pointed, wrote
to Marlborough with his own hand, "an honour rarely
shown to any but Sovereign Princes." He addressed him
as " Illustrious, Sincerely Beloved."^ He dwelt in particular
upon the swiftness and the vigour of the blow at Donauworth ,
And he showed himself to be under no delusion as to the real
author. "My generals themselves," he said, "and my
ministers declare that this success (which is more gratifying
and, at the present time, more opportune than almost an}'-

^ Malleson, Prince Engine of Savoy, p. 9.
~ Lediard, vol. i., p. 344.


thing else that could befall me) is principally owing to your
judgment, foresight, and execution, and also to the wonder-
ful ardour and constancy {m:ro ardori d constantia) of
the forces under your command." It was well said, and
it was well that he should say it. No monument marks the
resting-place of England's dead at Donau worth. But for
them whose feet had marched so many German miles to
make their last halt upon the slopes of the Schellenberg,
what fitter epitaph could be devised than the Emperor's
own ? —



The stupid attempts, which were made in various quarters,
and from various motives, to disparage the victory of the
Schellenberg, did not impose upon the Elector. He was
soldier enough to reahse instinctively and at once that his
system of holding the Danube by means of his fortified camp
upon the northern bank had failed disastrously. On the
morning of the 3rd, the day after the battle, he abandoned
the position at Lauingen and Dillingen, passed the river,
and retired towards Augsburg. Marching in full view of
Donauworth, he sent word to the governor to burn the town
with its magazines and bridge, and to rejoin him with the
garrison. But the governor had not yet sufficiently recovered
from his attack of nerves to execute any orders with resolu-
tion and alacrity. While the soldiers were pihng straw into
the houses, the anxious magistrates contrived to apprise
Marlborough of what was doing. The allied troops, who
were already in the suburbs, set to work forthwith to con-
struct pontoons. Fearful lest his retreat should be cut off,
Du Bordet set fire to some of the stores that night, and
hastily marching out in the small hours of the morning,
destroyed the bridge behind him. The allies entered im-
mediately and extinguished the flames. They were for-
tunate enough to find the enemy's powder magazine intact.
They also captured 2,000 sacks of meal, a quantity of oats,
and an arsenal containing three great guns.

Protected by the cannon of Augsburg, the Elector and
Marsin entrenched themselves behind the River Lech. In
this situation they awaited the coming of Tallard. But
Tallard had not yet crossed the Rhine. Assuming that
Eugene did nothing to impede his march, some weeks must
elapse before he could arrive at Augsburg. In the mean-
time, the Elector's country lay open to the allied army.
It was the purpose of Marlborough's strategy to terminate



the Bavarian peril once and for all. This purpose could be
accomplished in one of two ways, either by destroying the
armed forces of the enemy, or by detaching Max Emanuel
from the French alliance. The one alternative was im-
practicable, so long as the enemy continued in his position
at Augsburg. But the other, in the Elector's present mood
of profound dejection, held out every prospect of success.
It seemed to be a question only of the precise degree of
pressure which would be requisite to reduce him to sub-
mission. Marlborough and the Margrave proposed to
penetrate into the heart of Bavaria, to feed their men and
horses, as far as possible, at the expense of the inhabitants,
and if time allowed, to possess themselves of the capital .

The army passed the Danube on the 5th, and marched to
Medingen. The 6th was kept as a day of thanksgiving for
the victory of the Schellenberg ; and by the Margrave's
orders the Tc Deuni was sung in the churches of the neigh-
bouring towns. That day the Danish horse arrived in camp.
The army was now complete. Active preparations were
made for the passage of the Lech. On the evening of the
7th a detachment crossed at Genderkingen, the enemy
offering no resistance. They were joined on the 8th by a
reinforcement of 6,000 men. The same day the main body
advanced to Genderkingen. Meantime the garrison of
Neuburg, a post upon the Danube between Donauworth and
Ingolstadt, which was menaced by these movements,
abandoned the town. As the possession of this place
materially strengthened the communications of the allied
army, it was occupied at once by 4,000 Imperialists. On the
gth and loth the main body passed the Lech. But it was
impossible to continue the advance until the little town of
Rain, where D'Arco had left 500 regular troops and a body
of mihtia, had been captured. Owing to the late anival
of the artillery, the ground was not opened till the night of
the 13th. The place surrendered on the i6tli. In it were
found twenty-four cannon and a valuable supply of corn.
During this pause events of the first importance occurred.
A messenger arrived from Eugene on the 12th, with certain
intelHgence that the French had passed the Rhine at Fort


Kehl on the 6th. Eugene, who was observing their motions,
desired a reinforcement of cavalry. On the 13th thirty
squadrons of ImperiaHst horse were dispatched to his
assistance. And Marlborough sent him word that as many
more should follow as he might deem necessary. At the
same time, diplomacy was not idle. The relations, which
had been broken off before the battle, were renewed. The
Elector himself had asked for an interview with Wratislaw.
Wratislaw held a preliminary conference at Aichach with
Max Emanuel's secretary, who expressed the opinion that
the terms proposed by the alHes would be accepted by his
master. No news of Tallard's coming had reached Augsburg.
Provisions were already running short. Marsin himself
convened a council of war, at which the desirability of
arranging for the neutrality of Bavaria was seriously advo-
cated by French officers. The Elector was surrounded by
advisers who were favourable to the Austrian Court. The
Electress also was a powerful advocate of peace. In these
circumstances, the negotiation gave rise to the most sanguine
hopes. But they were hardly shared by Marlborough, and
they were doomed to speedy dissipation. On the I4tli
came a dispatch from Tallard with the welcome intelligence
that he was already in the Black Forest. Thereupon the
Elector declined to meet Wratislaw, and explained that in
view of the powerful assistance which the King of France
was sending him, it would not consort with his honour to
abandon his ally.

Having established magazines at Neuburg and Rain,
Marlborough and the Margrave now resumed their advance.
On the 1 8th the}^ came to Aichach. The garrison fied to
Augsburg; but 900 peasants, who offered some resistance,
were either killed or taken, and the town was plundered by
the soldiery. Here also a magazine was set up. On the 21st,
the army turned aside from the Munich road and moved
towards the Lech. The following day, a detachment of
horse and foot under Marlborough in person made a dash on
Friedberg. The garrison fled precipitately to the Elector's
camp, Marlborough captured a hundred of their horses,
which were grazing in the meadow, and occupied the town.
On the 23rd the entire army followed, and took up its station


on the hills within a league of Augsburg. Here they re-
mained for eight days, and here they were joined by many
of the wounded who had recovered their health in the hospital
of Nordhngen and the villages adjacent to that town.

The two armies were now face to face, the Lech alone
dividing them. The strategy of Marlborough's march from
the Meuse to the Danube had attained its culmination.
With a superior force he stood between Vienna and the
enemy. The road which Villars had proposed to follow, was
blocked and barred.

But the situation was deficient in finality. Though
Wratislaw had once more attempted to reopen negotiations,
the Elector had haughtily refused to renounce his alliance.
The French and Bavarian armies had not been destroyed.
And Tallard was coming. His arrival would change the
whole condition of the game. Meantime it was necessary
to act. Marlborough had abandoned his original idea of
capturing Munich, for though the defences of the place were
poor, its garrison was powerful, and the requisite guns and
stores, which the Margrave had promised, were not forth-
coming. An attack upon the fortified camp at Augsburg
was out of the question. But if the enemy could not be
forced out of their position, they might be starved out of it.
From the beginning the allied generals had aimed at this
result. Large armies had now been living in Bavaria for
nearly two years. The resources of the country had been
greatly diminished. When Marlborough and the Margrave
passed the Danube, they found themselves dependent upon
Nordlingen and Niirnberg for the bulk of their bread.
But whatever of food and forage existed in Bavaria was
theirs to take. The enemy, on the other hand, was cut off
by their advance to Friedberg from his natural supplies,
and was reduced to living on his magazines at Ulm and
Augsburg. These accumulated stocks were being rapidly
depleted. Every day that passed without the advent of
Tallard brought nearer the moment when Marsin and Max
Emanuel must either famish in their camp or march out to
give battle at a hopeless disadvantage.

To attain this end the allied armies had subjected Bavaria
to the most rigorous treatment. Everything which they


wanted, they seized. Everything which they did not
happen to require for their own use, or which they were
unable for lack of carriages to transport to their own maga-
zines, they ruthlessly destroyed. But the harvest was
plentiful that year, and it was still unreaped. The allied
generals were determined that it should remain unreaped.
As their armies advanced, towns and villages were fired on
every hand. The terrified peasantry sought refuge in
Munich, where the churches rang with their prayers and
lamentations. The spectacle of their sufferings had been
almost more than the Elector could endure. Marsin was
convinced that, if Tallard's letter^ had not arrived on the
i2th, a treaty would have been concluded. The story of this
tragedy spread quickly over Europe, and it lost nothing in
the telling. But the allied generals were deaf to criticism.
To the Elector's indignant protests they coldly replied that
the remedy was in his own hands. To the magistrates of
certain towns which sought to save themselves by the offer
of enormous contributions, Marlborough, who is popularly
supposed to have lost no opportunity of procuring gain, sent
answer that " the forces of the Queen of England were not
come into Bavaria to get money, but to bring their Prince to
reason."^ But the Elector held doggedly to his post, and
would neither fight nor yield. On the 26th the alhes made
a general forage in full view of his camp. That evening
came a message from Eugene. Tallard, after wasting six
days before Villingen, had abandoned the siege, and on the
24th had got as far as Tutthngen. He had 26,000 men with
him. Eugene, who had been obliged to leave a garrison
in the fines of Stollhofen, was observing him from the
opposite bank of the Danube with a greatly inferior

These combinations left the ultimate issue more than ever
in doubt. But on one thing Marlborough and the Mar-
grave were firmly resolved. If the French were determined
to go to Vienna, they must go by some other road than the
Bavarian one. Rather should that unhappy land be turned
into a desert where neither man nor horse could exist till at
least another winter and another spring had passed. On the

* Pelet, t. iv., p. 524: Marsin a Tallard, 14 juillet, 1704.
2 Lediard, vol. i., p. 350.


28th no fewer than thirty squadrons under Dutch and
Imperialist officers were detailed upon the dreadful service.
East and south they rode, foraging and burning to the very
suburbs of ]\Iunich . On the 31st they were reinforced by the
Duke of Wiirttemberg, with 2,000 horse and dragoons.
For six long summer days this tempest swept through the
tormented country-side. Everything that an army could
eat was either taken or destroyed. Whole villages were
laid in ashes. Not until August 3 did the smoke-blackened
columns return to Friedberg.

For the devastation of Bavaria, Marlborough has been
unsparingly denounced by German writers. And English
historians,^ with the Englishman's excessive anxiety to do
more than justice to the other side, have lent their voices
to swell the clamour. The indignation of Bavarians at the
ruin of their country is natural enough. And all men,
whether Enghsh or Bavarian, are free to form, and to express,
their own opinions on the morahty of the measures adopted
by the alHed generals. But they are not free to speak as
though the responsibihty for those measures attached to
one of those generals alone. The command was equally
shared between Marlborough and the Margrave. On alter-
nate days each of the two enjoyed sole authority. It is
therefore absurd to ascribe operations, which extended over
a period of more than three weeks, to Marlborough alone.

Online LibraryFrank TaylorThe wars of Marlborough, 1702-1709 (Volume 1) → online text (page 18 of 44)