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dance of ammunition and meal. The demoHtion of the
lines, which had been begun before the march to Overyssche,
was now completed from Lean to the Mehaigne. The

^ Murray, vol. ii., p. 225: Marlborough to Wratislaw, August 20, 1705.
2 Coxe, vol. i., p. 312: Marlborough to Godolphin, August 24, 1705.
^ Ibid., p. 314: Marlborough to Godolphin, August 19, 1705.
* Murray, vol. ii., p. 230: Marlborough to the Prince of Savoy, August
23. 1705-

^ Ibid., p. 237: Marlborough to the Duke of Shrewsbury, August 27,

1705.



334 THE WARS OF MARLBOROUGH

fortifications of Tirlemont, also, were dismantled. Then
Marlborough passed the Demer, and encamped on Septem-
ber 19 at Aerschot. The French immediately abandoned
their old lines on this side, and retired to new ones which
they had constructed farther to the west.

Meantime the news of the fiasco on the Yssche had become
the common property of Europe. Stanhope, the British
ambassador at the Hague, printed and published Marl-
borough's dispatch to the States before the States them-
selves had seen it. A wave of shame and indignation
swept across the masses of the Dutch people, who cherished
an instinctive faith in the genius of the Duke. The generals
and the field-deputies defended themselves as best they
could. But the publication of their letters failed entirely
to allay the storm. Except among the professed partisans
of peace, they found no friends. The citizens of the Hague
convened a meeting to denounce them; and the govern-
ment was urged on all sides to remedy so monstrous a
scandal. In England, where the passage of the lines had
excited the highest hopes, the resentment of Marlborough's
countrymen took even more active forms. The English
knew little or nothing of scientific warfare; but they could
recognise foolery when they saw it, as well as other men.
A pamphlet, which assailed the Dutch in unsparing lan-
guage, was openly sold in the streets of London, and nobody
was punished for it. Vryberg, the Dutch ambassador,
who had endeavoured to explain away the failure on the
Dyle, was now " struck dumb."-"- The Queen insisted upon
strong action. The Cabinet resolved to send Lord Pem-
broke to the Hague to remonstrate with the States. " What
shall one say ?" wrote Harley to Marlborough. " Your
Grace's superior talents prepared a glorious victory for
them, and they dared not, or would not, take hold of it.
I know not what name to call this by ; I cannot trust myself
to reason upon it." And he spoke as a practical statesman
when he added, " this sort of conduct will put vast diffi-
culties upon the Queen in obtaining supplies for another
year; and it is a very great hardship that those who set
themselves at home to oppose the Queen's measures and

' Co.xe, vol. i., p. 315: Harley to Marlborough, August 18/29, 1705.



SCHLANGENBERG 335

everything she shall do for the public good, should be
furnished with such plausible, fatal arguments by our
friends in Holland."^ It was only too true. On August 23
the Queen had attended a pubhc thanksgiving at St. Paul's.
On August 29 it was known in London that Marlborough
had failed. Rochester and his set were jubilant.

This aspect of the matter was continually before the eyes
of Marlborough. While the clamorous sympathy of two
peoples could not fail to alleviate his personal vexation, he
dreaded the encouragement which the enemy must derive
from a public exposure of the inherent vices of the Grand
Alliance. He dreaded also the possible consequences to
the Alliance itself. A blow of a particularly insidious kind
had just been directed by Louis against the fabric of the
coalition. In August he had secretly proposed to the States
a treaty of peace upon terms distinctly advantageous to
Holland. At such a moment, anything tending to create
friction between the allied powers was much to be depre-
cated. For this reason, Marlborough, who had thought of
resigning the command, determined to continue at his post.
And for this reason also, he induced the Cabinet to abandon
the idea of sending Pembroke to the Hague, though the
Earl's instructions had actually been drafted by Harley,
and signed by Anne.^

At the same time, the Duke made no endeavour to conceal
from the Dutch his contempt for the system upon which
they expected him to conduct the war. " I entirely approve
of your printing my letter,"^ he wrote to Stanhope, whose
action had been criticised. To the States-General, who
were so deficient in humour as to suggest the expediency
of concluding the campaign with some startling exploit,
he wrote: " Your High Mightinesses will permit me to reply
to them that I have always been of the same opinion ; that
the situation of affairs demands that we push the enemy
to the uttermost, as I have repeated more than once to
the deputies and the generals,"^ He assured them, how-

1 Ibid.

2 Portland MSS.: The Queen to [the Earl of Pembroke], August 30, 1705
(Hist. MSS. Comm., 15th Report, Appendix, part iv., p. 237).

^ Murray, vol. ii., p. 255: Marlborough to Stanhope, September 5, 1705.
* Jbid., p. 260; Marlborough to the States-General, September 14, 1705.



336 THE WARS OF MARLBOROUGH

ever, of his anxiety to seize the first opportunity that should
offer. He had reason to beUeve that the deputies and
generals would not again have thwarted him. But it was
now too late. The French, though they had been reinforced
from Alsace, wisely preferred to remain quiescent, and to
boast of a superiority which they dared not expose to the
proof.

Schlangenberg, whose evil temper had not been improved
by the outcry in Holland, talked at large against the Duke.
He also circulated some letters in Dutch, which were re-
ported to be highly disrespectful to his commander. There-
upon General Churchill took up his brother's cause, and
sent Brigadier Palmes to Schlangenberg with a challenge.
Schlangenberg denied that the letters contained anything
offensive; and the matter was arranged. His position,
however, grew more and more unpleasant. Although he
retained the sympathy of certain of his colleagues, such as
Albemarle, who protested to Heinsius that the Dutch
generals could not have been treated worse had they been
suspected of being French partisans, the populace raged
furiously against him. The government was weary of his
intrigues and his insolence. His suggestion that the un-
profitable march to the Yssche had been contrived by
Marlborough for the sole and subtle purpose of discrediting
the Dutch generals was received with incredulity. " Had
he come to Amsterdam — after he hindered the battle," said
Shrewsbury, " he would have been de Witted."^ Yet
Amsterdam was the headquarters of the peace party.
Before the army left Tirlemont, Schlangenberg took him-
self off to Maestricht on a convenient plea of ill-health.
" It would have been happy for the common cause," said
Marlborough, " had he been sick two months ago.""^ He
never served under the Duke again. He never served in
any capacity again.

Marlborough himself was far from well. Repeated dis-
appointments had depressed his mind and lowered his
vitality. At Tirlemont he drank the waters of Spa; but
he soon discontinued them, as they caused his head to ache.

1 Buccleuch MSS., vol. ii., part ii., p. 796; Journal of the Duke of Shrews-
bury, December 5, 1705.
2' Coxa, vol. i., p. 323: Marlborough to Godolphin, September 17, 1705.



SCHLANGENBERG 337

At Turnhout, on September 21, he had an interview with
Buys, the leader of the peace party, who told him that the
constitution did not permit the government to deprive the
field-deputies of their powers. But Buj^s explained that
King WilUam had solved the problem by exerting his
authority to procure the appointment of such persons " as
he was sure would nowise oppose or dispute what he thought
for the service, "■■■ and " as always agreed to whatever he
had a mind to."^ Assurances were now given that this
method should be adopted in future, and that Schlangenberg
at any rate should never be employed where the Duke
commanded. On these " fair promises," Marlborough's
comment to Harley was laconic: " I wish we may find the
effects of them."^ " By the whole," he wrote to Godolphin,
" I find they would be very glad to content me."^ But he
did not fail to remark that they had an invincible dislike
of fighting battles. He had always regarded the policy
of waging offensive warfare in the Spanish Netherlands as
unsound. He now regarded it as impossible. Eugene
summed up the situation in two sentences: "I speak to
you as a sincere friend. You will never be able to perform
anything considerable with your army, unless you are
absolute."^

Having given orders for the fortification of Diest, Tongres,
and Hasselt, posts which were intended to cover the winter-
quarters of the troops, Marlborough moved from Aerschot,
on the 28th, to Herenthals. A fortnight later he paid a
brief visit to the Hague, where among other matters he
discussed with Heinsius the French offer to Holland, and
satisfied himself that it would not be accepted. He de-
camped from Herenthals on October 20, and marching by
Oostmael and Brecht, arrived on the 23rd at Campthout.
Noyelles was detached to besiege Santvliet, the garrison of
which had annoyed the inhabitants of Zealand. Santvliet
surrendered on the 29th. Marlborough had departed
three days earlier for Diisseldorf. He was bound for

^ Murray, vol. ii., p. 276: Marlborough to Harley, September 24, 1705.

2 Coxe, vol. i., p. 323.

3 Murray, vol. ii., p. 271: Marlborough to Harley, September 22, 1705
* Coxe, vol. i., p. 323.

^ Ibid., p. 322: Eugene to Marlborough, September 13, 1705.



338 THE WARS OF MARLBOROUGH

Vienna, whither the Emperor had urgently summoned
him.

While the allied army was at Campthout, d'Artaignan
swooped suddenly on Diest, and captured four battalions
and a regiment of dragoons. Diest had only the remnants
of a Roman wall, a dry ditch, and some newly erected
redoubts and paUsades. Knowing the risk, Marlborough
and the Dutch generals had resisted the proposal to remove
the army so far away as Santvliet. But the States of Zealand
had insisted. The French were absurdly uplifted by the
recovery of this insignificant post, which they had abandoned
with precipitation when the lines were forced. With this
ludicrous anti-climax terminated a campaign which Marl-
borough had hoped to finish within striking distance of
the gates of Paris.

Ever since the humiliating exhibition of the Yssche,
Villeroi and Chamillart had been exchanging views deroga-
tory to the English general. " I have formed," wrote the
minister, whose name has long been forgotten in Europe,
" I have formed a mediocre opinion of the capacity of the
Duke of Marlborough. "•■■ The Marshal, whose name, un-
happily for himself, is still remembered, described his
antagonist as a " mortified adventurer."^ Conveniently
overlooking the agonies of apprehension, which he and his
colleagues had suffered when the allies marched up from
Genappe to Mont St. Jean, he pretended that Marl-
borough's strategy on that occasion was fantastic and
unprofitable. He represented the notorious obstruction of
the Dutch generals as a figment, invented to cloke the
incompetence of the commander-in-chief. He depicted the
Duke as a desperate gambler, whose wonderful luck at
Blenheim had turned his head. According to Villeroi,
Marlborough spent September and October in soliciting the
States for permission to hazard all upon a final throw.
The Marshal sincerely believed what he said. On his
theory of war, which resembled that of the Dutch generals,
a commander who consistently set out to destroy the enemy

1 Pelet, t. v., p. 608: Lettre de M. de Chamillart a M. le Marechal de
Villcroy, 6 septembre, 1705.

2 Ibid., p. 90; Lettre de M. le Marechal de Villeroy a M. de Chamillart,
30 septembre, 1705.



SCHLANGENBERG 339

in battle was a dangerous lunatic, who ought, in the interests
of both sides, to be placed under restraint. " Flanders,"
he declared, " has been saved by a miracle."^ In a sense
he was right, for Schlangenberg and the political and
military system for which Schlangenberg stood might
almost be said to have transcended human experience.
But it is unsafe to presume upon miracles. Marlborough's
next throw left Villeroi bankrupt,

1 Ibid.



XIII.— 1705-1700

When Marlborough turned his gaze to Germany and Italy,
he saw but little to compensate the Grand Alliance for the
frustration of his projects in Lorraine and the Spanish
Netherlands. Villars, after driving the Imperialists from
the lines of Weissenburg, had been compelled to abandon
the offensive, because the Margrave of Baden had con-
centrated an army which considerably outnumbered the
French. But despite the remonstrances which reached him
from Vienna, and the insulting criticisms which assailed
him on all hands, the Margrave was painfully slow to act.
In September, however, he suddenly threw off his lethargy,
surprised Drusenheim, forced the lines of Hagenau, and
blockaded Fort Louis, when the lateness of the season
brought his progress to an end.

In Italy, where the fall of Ivrea, after a defence which
lasted from October, 1704, to April, 1705, had left the Duke
of Savoy with no other fortress than his capital of Turin,
Eugene had made a desperate effort to break through to
the rescue of that indomitable prince. But even with the
assistance of the 8,000 Prussians, the ragged and half-
starved army which the government of Vienna had placed
at his disposal was unequal to the task. By sheer audacity
and skill he did indeed advance as far as Cassano on the
Adda. But here, on August 16, after a bloody and in-
decisive battle with Vendome, he was compelled to relin-
quish the attempt. He had done enough, however, to turn
the French from their design of besieging Turin ; and when
in November both armies retired to winter-quarters. Savoy
still stood, resolute and unconquered, at the gates of Italy.

The French government, which was admittedly playing
for time, had reason to congratulate itself on these results.
But its satisfaction was rudely broken by events in Spain,
where Marlborough's Mediterranean policy bore substantial

340



1705-1706 341

fruit. Gibraltar, which had been skilfully relieved by
Leake, held out until the last week of April, when Tesse
abandoned the siege. It had cost the Bourbons 12,000
soldiers, 1,700 seamen, and 5 line-of -battle ships, besides
frigates and other vessels.^ The defenders' losses did not
exceed 1,500 men. On April 24 Galway took the field with
17,000 men, of whom 12,000 were Portuguese and the
remainder Dutch and English. He had wished to besiege
Badajos; but the Portuguese obliged him to begin with
Valencia and Albuquerque. Both places fell before the
end of May. The allied army then advanced towards
Badajos, and encamped within four miles of the town.
Tesse, who had returned from Gibraltar with 5,000 men,
made ready to dislodge them; but before the middle of
June the Portuguese government recalled the troops, and
dispersed them in their summer- quarters.

Encouraged by the success at Gibraltar, the English
Cabinet had resolved once more to employ its naval strength
in the Mediterranean, and to attempt, if possible, a diver-
sion in Catalonia, where the inhabitants were credibly
reported to be ripe for revolt. On June 20 the fleet, under
Shovel, arrived at Lisbon. It consisted, with Leake's
squadron, of fifty- two sail of the line. A Dutch squadron
of fourteen sail of the line was already awaiting it. The
land forces on board numbered 6,500, British and Dutch.
Indisputably the fittest person to command the troops of
Queen Anne was Hesse-Darmstadt, who knew Catalonia
well, and was popular among the inhabitants, and whose
military reputation had been firmly established long before
he illustrated it at Gibraltar. But the Prince's religion
disqualified him for service under the English Crown. It
was necessary to select a Protestant. The choice had fallen
upon Charles Mordaunt, Earl of Peterborough and Mon-
mouth, one of the most eccentric and unintelligible characters
in history. That Peterborough had talents of the highest
order is hardly to be gainsaid. But he was very deficient
in that power of concentration which is essential to solid
achievement. " His desire to do too much, and all things
at once," said Methuen, " often hinders the success of

^ Colonel Arthur Parnell, The Way of the Succession in Spain, p 96



342 THE WARS OF MARLBOROUGH

any."^ He alternately dazzled his contemporaries by his
brilliance, and disgusted them by his affectation and his
inveterate self-advertisement. " I question not," said
Newcastle, " our Conde de Peterborough will not be out
rhodomontado'd by any Don of 'em all."^ While his
fascinating manners conquered the hearts of both sexes,
his inordinate vanity forbade him to contemplate greatness
in others without a malicious desire to humiliate or ruin
them. His conduct in the affair of Sir John Fenwick was
a shameful example of this unpleasing trait. But even the
disgrace which this incurred had attractions for Peter-
borough, for disgrace brought with it notoriety. The
Marlboroughs apparently bore him no grudge for the part
which he had played on that occasion. The Duchess indeed
had been captivated by his charm, no less than by his
uncompromising Whiggery. She supported his candidature
for the Spanish command, and her husband did not oppose
it. It was true that the Earl possessed no practical know-
ledge of the art of war. But Marlborough had perfect
confidence in the Prince of Hesse-Darmstadt, and he may
well have hoped that the authority of the Prince would
derive additional strength from the inexperience of the
English general. As for the government, they were doubt-
less pleased at this juncture to exercise their patronage
in favour of a known Whig.

At Lisbon on July 12 a council of war was held under
the presidency of King Charles. Darmstadt, who had been
summoned from Gibraltar, described the favourable dis-
position of the Catalans and moved that the expedition
proceed forthwith to Barcelona. Some of those present
advocated an attack on Cadiz. But Darmstadt's resolu-
tion, which followed the known preference of the English
government, was carried by a great majority, which included
Galway, Peterborough, and the King himself. On July 24
Charles embarked with two regiments of Galway's dragoons,
and the fleet set sail. At Gibraltar eight seasoned bat-
talions were taken on board in exchange for English recruits.
On August II Shovel cast anchor in Altea Bay on the

1 Murray, vol. ii., p. 573.

2 Portland MSS.: The Duke of Newcastle to R. Harley, August i, 1705
\Hist. MSS. Comm., 15th Report, Appendix, part iv., p. 215).



1705-1706 343

coast of Valencia. Charles was well received by the
inhabitants, with whose assistance he seized the fortress
of Denia, and converted it into a centre of insurrection.
At this stage Peterborough, who seems to have had some
sort of secret understanding with the Duke of Savoy,
proposed to abandon the attempt on Barcelona and to sail
for Italy. But knowing by a letter from Mr. Hill, the
English envoy at Turin, that Victor Amadeus was in no
immediate peril, Charles declined to modify his plans. On
the i6th Darmstadt sailed on before to Mataro, where he
arranged with the leaders of the Catalans for an armed rising.
On the 22nd the fleet dropped anchor three miles east of
Barcelona. The troops and marines disembarked, and
encamped within a mile of the city. Here they were joined
by an ever-increasing swarm of Catalans. But although
Barcelona was an obsolete fortress with an untrustworthy
garrison and a disloyal populace, and although the allied
troops and the insurgent Catalans were eager to be led to
the assault, a delay of three weeks ensued. For this waste
of valuable time Peterborough was entirely responsible.
He summoned no fewer than six councils of war, at which
he represented the project as a hopeless one, and urged
the necessity of proceeding to the assistance of Savoy.
He was supported by his generals; but Darmstadt, Shovel,
and the Admirals opposed him, and Charles refused flatly
to desert the Catalans. In these discussions Peterborough
displayed both obstinacy and inconsistency. His conduct
disgusted the regular forces, and alarmed the irregular ones.
At last he was induced by Darmstadt to consent to a
proposal to surprise Montjuich, an outlying fort situated
on a hill, 1,100 yards to the south-west of the town, and
garrisoned by no more than 200 men. On the evening of
September 13 the troops selected for the operation marched
off into the country. Darmstadt and Peterborough accom-
panied them. They followed a circuitous route of twelve
miles, and owing to the darkness of the night and the
badness of the roads, did not arrive before Montjuich until
the day had broken. Nevertheless Darmstadt delivered
the assault. The ladders were found to be too short, the
stormers were repulsed, and the governor of Barcelona



344 THE WARS OF MARLBOROUGH

threw into the fort loo dragoons, each with a grenadier
upon his crupper. Dashing off with 400 men to intercept
communications with the town, Darmstadt received a
mortal wound in the thigh. He expired almost immedi-
ately, and with him " the very life and soul of the Austrian
cause in Spain. "-^ A panic ensued. At this crisis Peter-
borough, who was nothing if not theatrical, drew his sword
and threw away the scabbard. But he exhibited a great
deal of gallantry, successfully rallied the nmaways, and
with the help of Stanhope brought up the reserves and
restored order. Montjuich was isolated. It was then
bombarded. On the 17th it surrendered. The siege of
Barcelona itself was now undertaken. Shovel landed the
heavy artillery and a serviceable detachment of seamen.
A breach was effected. On October 4 the governor began
to negotiate. On the 14th the populace rose and admitted
the Catalans. The allies entered the city, and Peterborough
exerted himself to restrain disorder and to protect both
life and property. Two thousand five hundred soldiers, or
two-thirds of the garrison, enlisted under Charles.

Meantime the Catalans in the west had seized Lerida
and other places, and were threatening the frontiers of
Aragon. In the south they took Tortosa and invested
Tarragona, which being cannonaded by some vessels from
Shovel's fleet, surrendered on October 27. Valencia, too,
was seething with disaffection. All Catalonia declared
outright for Charles. At last he was king in fact of one
Spanish province, and of one that was exceptionally fertile
in fighting men. This was a powerful diversion; it was
also a distinct step towards the conquest of the kingdom.
Darmstadt, Marlborough, and the English government were
more than justified.

The enemy had been unable to relieve Barcelona, because
in the beginning of October the army of Portugal had
again taken the field, and had appeared before Badajos
with 21,000 men. Tesse was therefore fully occupied in
endeavouring to raise the siege of this important fortress.
Galway having lost an arm, the command of the allies
devolved upon Fagel. Tesse by a skilful movement threw

1 Colonel Arthur Parnell, TJw War of the Succession in Spain, p. 132.



1705-170G 345

1,000 foot into Badajos. Thereupon Fagel, who had Httle
heart in the enterprise, abandoned it, and retired to Lisbon.

In the autumn of 1705 all men could see that the Grand
Alliance had more to fear from its own vices than from the
power of France. Dissipated energies and divided counsels
were hurrying the coaHtion to the brink of ruin. Marl-
borough's misfortunes in Lorraine and the Netherlands
have already been described. The Emperor was urging
him to resume operations on the Moselle, while Sunderland
was urging the Emperor to dismiss the Margrave in the first
instance. French diplomacy was tampering with Holland.
Austria was protesting against the duplicity of the Dutch,
and questioning the integrity of England. The King of
Prussia, who had various complaints against the States-
General, the Emperor, and the Margrave, was threatening
to withdraw his troops from Italy and the Rhine. As if the
interminable rebelHon in Hungary were not a sufficient
drain upon Austrian resources, the Bavarian peasantry,
provoked by maladministration and French intrigue, had
openly revolted. Eugene was representing that, without
large reinforcements and larger subsidies, the army of Italy
must be recalled. Godolphin was grumbling that England
had already done enough and more than enough for the



Online LibraryFrank TaylorThe wars of Marlborough, 1702-1709 (Volume 1) → online text (page 32 of 44)