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enticing you thither. "■■■ Vendome's enormous army was
therefore reduced to the inglorious business of cutting off
foragers. But Marlborough's parties penetrated into French
territory, and levied contributions in Cambresis. On
October 2 Ath fell.

During the siege, persistent rumours that Turin had been
relieved came over the French frontier. They proved to
be well founded. Eugene had joined his army on the
morrow of the defeat of Calcinato, and by his mere presence
had restored its spirits. But more than two months elapsed
before the arrival of recruits and reinforcements enabled
him to move. Meantime, La Feuillade, Chamillart's son-
in-law, invested Turin on May 14 with 40,000 men and an
immense siege-train. But the investment was not com-
plete; and on June 17, the Duke of Savoy escaped with his
cavalry. The operations of the French were badly directed ;
the garrison defended themselves with vigour; and La
Feuillade wasted both time and energy on ineffectual
endeavours to capture the Duke. Nevertheless, the fall of
Turin was assured, unless Eugene relieved it, and Eugene
was apparently blockaded in the Tyrol by the superior
army of Vendome, who had fortified the line of the Upper
Adige. If material factors were supreme in war, nothing
could have saved the capital of Piedmont. But the news
of Barcelona, and still more the news of Ramillies, inspired
the Imperialist troops with extraordinary confidence, and
correspondingly depressed the French. Early in July,
Eugene, having altogether outwitted Vendome, easily
passed the Lower Adige and the Canal Bianco, the resistance

1 Pelet, t. vi., p. 125: Le Roi a Vendome, 24 septembre, 1706.


offered being of the feeblest. On the 17th, to the astonish-
ment of the French, who were expecting him in prepared
positions on the Mincio and OgUo, he crossed the Po. He
pressed on to Ferrara and reached Finale on the 24th. In
the midst of these disconcerting movements, Vendome, at
a lucky moment for his own reputation, departed for Ver-
sailles and Flanders. The Duke of Orleans, who joined the
army on the i8th, was surprised to find that the soldiers
were already disheartened, and that the defensive system,
which Vendome had represented as impregnable, had already
broken down. He resolved for the present to avoid a battle,
and from the northern bank of the Po to observe the progress
of Eugene. The Imperialists, having no magazines, sup-
ported themselves with difficulty; they were tortured by
a scarcity of water; and they suffered so cruelly from the
intolerable heat that they were forced to conduct their
marches by the light of the moon. Passing the Sacchia,
which the enemy made no attempt to defend, they captured
Carpi on August 5, and Reggio on the 14th. These places
served as hospitals for their numerous sick. On the 19th,
they advanced to Piacenza. Meantime, the Duke of
Orleans found himself greatly embarrassed by the arrival
of the contingent under the Prince of Hesse at Verona,
where it joined a force of 6,000 men, whom Eugene had
left behind. The Prince of Hesse passed the Mincio, and
on August 19 captured Goito. Orleans was compelled to
make a strong detachment under Medavi to watch this
second army. Encouraged by so useful a diversion, the
soldiers of Eugene pressed on towards their goal. They
traversed the pass of Stradella without opposition, and
marching by Tortona and Alessandria, crossed the Tanaro at
Isola on the 29th, and entered Piedmont. The day before,
Orleans, who had vainly tried to induce Marsin to defend
the Tanaro, effected a junction with La Feuillade at Turin.
Desperate assaults were now delivered, but without avail.
Hitherto, the French commanders had cherished the hope
that Eugene intended nothing more than a diversion.
They were speedily undeceived. Leaving his baggage and
his invalids at Alba, he marched straight on Turin. At
Villastellone, on September i, he joined hands with the


Duke of Savoy. Their combined forces fell short of 36,000
men. The French were approximately 60,000. At a council
of war, held on the 5th, Orleans proposed to march against
the enemy forthwith. Marsin, La Feuillade, and almost all
the other generals, preferred to remain on the defensive
within the hnes, which they had drawn round Turin. Marsin,
who was possessed by a fatahstic belief that he would not
survive the battle, had entirely lost his nerve. Very
reluctantly the Duke gave way; but his judgment was
vindicated by the sequel. Eugene, who despite the
numerical odds regarded the French as already " half-
beaten," crossed the Po on the 4th. On the 5th, he cap-
tured a large convoy, passed the Dora, and seized Pianezza.
That night he pitched his camp three miles to the north of
Turin. At sunrise, on the 7th, he moved against the hnes.
From 8.30 to 11, he endured a cannonade, to which he could
offer no effective reply. Then the attack was delivered.
The steadiness and resolution, with which the allies ad-
vanced under a terrific fire from the sheltered foe, were
beyond all praise. On the left, the Prussians, after an
initial check, returned under Eugene in person, and were
the first to enter the works. On the right, where the
contingent of Saxe-Gotha fought and was twice repulsed,
the French cavalry essayed a counter-stroke, only to be
caught in flank by a brilliant charge under Baron Kirch-
baum. In the centre, the Duke of Savoy was opposed to
Marsin and Orleans ; and here the Palatine troops succeeded
only at the fourth assault. Orleans received two wounds,
and Marsin a mortal one. By i o'clock the lines were
carried, the French retiring in confusion. They left behind
them 6,000 prisoners, and enormous quantities of material
of every description. Their casualties did not exceed
3,000; but "consternation," as Voltaire observed, "effects
more than carnage." Contrary to the wishes of Orleans,
who was eager to effect a junction with Medavi, the retreat
was directed upon Pignerole, and thence towards Dauphine.
Two days later, Medavi inflicted a sharp reverse upon the
Prince of Hesse at Castiglione. But this incident, unduly
magnified by the French, had little importance now.
Isolated as he was, Medavi could not hope to accomplish


anything decisive. The victory of Eugene had not only
saved Piedmont ; it had made the Milanese the certain prey
of the Grand Alliance.

The relief of Turin ranks among the grandest exploits
in the history of war. Marlborough was delighted at the
triumph of his friend. "It is impossible for me to express
the joy it has given me," he wrote to the Duchess, "for I
do not only esteem but I really love that prince."-^ He
himself had contributed not a little to the result. It was
he who had procured the men and money, without which
the campaign could never have been undertaken. And it
was his victory of Ramillies, which had ensured to the
Imperialist troops the advantage of superior moral, while
it deprived the French in Italy of the services of Vendome,
and prevented the dispatch of reinforcements to Piedmont.

But the Duke was disappointed to learn that, instead of
pursuing the panic-stricken host of Orleans and La Feuillade
with the utmost of his strength, Eugene had turned back
to complete the reduction of the Milanese, a simple task,
which might safely have been left to accomplish itself,
while the Imperialist army invaded Dauphine. The govern-
ment of Vienna, like the government of the Hague, pre-
ferred the slow and short-sighted method of annexing the
enemy's territory piecemeal to the swifter, cheaper, and
more certain one of annihilating his armed forces in the
field. How fair an opportunity they missed may be judged
by the following quotation from the letter of a French
officer: " I am sorry to tell you that I no longer know
our men. They are so changed from what they were at
the battles of Seneff, Mont Cassel, and Landen, that one can
hardly think them to be of the same nation. I will not give
you a detail of the disorder in which they fought at Turin,
and of the confusion which prevailed among us, when we
turned our backs on an army, that even after the battle
was much inferior to ours. I will draw a curtain over this
disagreeable scene. But I cannot help telling you that
our troops hardly think themselves safe here, divided as
they are by the Alps from the enemy."

In Spain, the great expectations raised by the successful

1 Coxe, vol. i., p. 460: The Duke to the Duchess, September 26, 1706.


defence of Barcelona had not been realised. As soon as
he learned at Ciudad Rodrigo of the retreat of Philip and
Tesse, Galway marched straight upon Madrid. Berwick
did not venture to oppose him; the government withdrew
to Burgos; and Galway, with 14,000 men, reached the
capital on June 27. He had hoped to find Charles already
there. The Castilians, who accorded but a cold reception
to an army of Portuguese, commanded by a French heretic
in the service of England, might conceivably have recognised
the Hapsburg claimant, had he come amongst them.
Galway sent several expresses to both Charles and Peter-
borough; but although seven weeks had elapsed since the
relief of Barcelona, no advance from the east had even begun.
It may be that this delay cost Charles his kingdom. The
causes of it are somewhat obscure. On May 18, Charles
and his advisers had decided that the quickest and safest
road to Madrid lay through Valencia, where Peterborough
declared that he had already made every preparation for
the march. Accordingly, the fleet conveyed the English
general with 2,800 foot to the mouth of the Grao, while
900 horse proceeded thither by land. On June 23, Charles
set out to join them; but on receipt of a dispatch from
Peterborough, announcing that neither transport, nor
money, nor supplies, sufficient for a march to Madrid, had
been accumulated in Valencia, he stopped. Meantime, the
province of Aragon had recognised his title. Noyelles and
Prince Henry of Hesse-Darmstadt, the brother of Prince
George, had occupied Zaragoza with 3,000 men. The
citizens offered to pay the expenses of the King's journey
to his capital, on condition that he selected the route through
Zaragoza. Contrary to the advice of the English envoy,
Stanhope, Charles, who sorely needed money, accepted the
invitation. He reached Zaragoza on July 15. On the
same day, Galway, deeming it advisable to occupy a posi-
tion in advance of Madrid, encamped at Guadalajara,
thirty-five miles north-east of that city. The King's delay
was now producing most injurious consequences. The
Castilians, who had shown but Httle zeal for Philip in the
hour of his prosperity, were rising everywhere against his
enemies. Reports were disseminated, and widely believed.


that the Austrian claimant was dead. On July 28, Berwick
was joined by Legal; and Galway, whose army had wasted
to 12,000 men, found himself confronted by a force of more
than 25,000, nearly half of whom were French. But
Charles was advancing now from Zaragoza with 2,000 men.
He had expressly summoned Peterborough from Valencia;
and on August 5, the Earl rode in with 400 dragoons. They
reached Guadalajara on the ensuing day. On the 8th,
800 Spaniards from Valencia arrived. But even so, the
allies were outnumbered by Berwick's army in the propor-
tion of five to three. Berwick's cavalry had already occupied
Alcala, and entered Madrid, where the inhabitants received
them with enthusiasm. On the loth, Peterborough at his
own request was permitted to depart for Genoa. Ostensibly
he went to raise a loan of £100,000 for the allied troops;
in reality, he desired to amuse himself on the Riviera, and to
intrigue with the Duke of Savoy. Nobody at Guadalajara
regretted his disappearance. The same day the army
moved to Chinchon, where Berwick, despite a growing
superiority of numbers, allowed it to remain for twenty-six
days. Seeing that it was impossible to recover Madrid,
and that communications with Portugal were now entirely
severed, Charles began, on September 9, to retire upon
Valencia. The distance was 200 miles. It was necessary
to cross the Tagus, the Xucar, and the Gabriel. And
Berwick was close behind. Yet Galway accompHshed the
march without mishap. In the meantime, the fleet under
Leake had captured Cartagena and Alicante. Berwick,
turning off into Murcia, recovered Cartagena. But he
could not recover the islands of Majorca and Ivica, which
Leake, in accordance with Marlborough's Mediterranean
policy, had seized in September in the name of Charles.
Peterborough, judging that Leake's squadron was in-
sufficient for the task, had declined to accompany this
expedition. His absence was not regretted; for Leake and
the seamen detested him.

Marlborough in Flanders and Godolphin in London
were overwhelmed and perplexed by long and contradic-
tory versions of events in the Peninsula. The dispatches
of Charles, Peterborough, Stanhope, Noyelles, Galway,


Methuen, Crowe, Wratislaw, and others were packed with
explanations, recriminations, and abuse. It is possible that
neither Marlborough nor Godolphin had realised that, as
Macaulay truly said, " there is no country in Europe which
it is so easy to overrun as Spain; there is no country in
Europe which is more difficult to conquer. "■'• But one thing
was clear. Charles ought to have been at Madrid by the
end of June at the latest. " I have not been able," said
Godolphin, " to forbear complaining of his inexcusable
delays."" " Had he made use of the time," said Marl-
borough, " and marched to Madrid, everything must have
gone well."^ For the rest, it was evident that Peterborough
could never co-operate with the German advisers of the
King of Spain. Their conduct appeared to Godolphin
" worthless and contemptible to the last degree."^
" Nothing," he declared, " ever was so weak, so shameful,
and so unaccountable." " I agree with you," said Marl-
borough, " that the Germans that are with King Charles
are good for nothing."^ But their judgment upon Peter-
borough himself was not less severe. " Lord Peterborough,"
wrote Godolphin on August 24, " has written a volume to
Mr. Secretary Hedges. It is a sort of remonstrance against
the King of Spain, in the first place; and secondly, a com-
plaint against all the orders and directions sent from hence,
and as if he had not authority enough given him, either
at land or sea. In a word, he is both useless and grievous
there, and is preparing to be as troublesome here, whenever
he is called home."^ On the 26th, he added that the Earl's
attack on Charles was couched " in terms as unmanly as
unjust."'^ Referring to Peterborough's departure from
Guadalajara, Godolphin said: " The whole council agreed to
it, by which we may conclude they were as weU content
to be rid of him, as he was to go."^ Godolphin also sug-
gested that ]\Iarlborough should endeavour to ascertain
what passed between Peterborough and the Duke of Savoy.

^ Macaulay' s Essays, vol. i., Waj' of the Succession in Spain.

2 Coxe, vol. ]., p. 471 : Godolphin to Marlborough, September 2/13, 1706.

3 Ibid., p. 470: Marlborough to Godolphin, August 5, 1706.

* Ibid., p. 469: Godolphin to Marlborough, June 11/22, 1706.
^ Ibid., p. 470: Marlborough to Godolphin, August 16, 1706.
^ Ibid., p. 471: Godolphin to Marlborough, August 13/24, 1706.
7 Ibid., August 15/26, 1706. ^ Ibid., September 30/October 11, 1706.
I. 27


" My opinion is," he said, " it fully deserves your curiosity."^
The Earl was in fact suspected of a design to transfer the
Spanish monarchy from the House of Hapsburg to the
House of Savoy. Marlborough considered that he person-
ally was compromised by the misconduct of an officer
whom he himself had recommended for command. What-
ever were Peterborough's military talents (and even if they
were as extraordinary as he and his admirers represent
them to have been), a general who quarrelled with all his
colleagues and superiors was worse than useless in an allied
army. " I do not think much ceremony ought to be used,"
wrote Marlborough to the Duchess, " in removing him from
a place where he has hazarded the loss of the whole country."^
The Duchess had a liking for Peterborough, who possessed
some key of his own to the feminine heart. He wrote to
her from Spain in a style of extravagant flattery. But by
her husband's advice she dropped the correspondence as
soon as it appeared that Peterborough was preparing to
attack the government. " I have observed, since I have
been in the world," wrote Marlborough, "that the next
misfortune to that of having friendship with such people,
is that of having any dispute with them."^

The anti-climax in Spain was not the only disappointment
which the Duke experienced that autumn. The expedition
to Guienne, which sailed from Portsmouth on August lo,
was driven by adverse winds to take refuge in Torbay on
the 15th. While it lingered there, the government received
information which conflicted with the optimistic anticipa-
tions of Guiscard. They eventually decided to abandon
the descent, and to send the troops to Lisbon.

Marlborough had desired to finish his campaign with the
capture of Mons. But this project was not encouraged by
the Dutch, who even during the siege of Ath had begun
to manifest a curious apathy towards the conduct of the
war. " Our friends," wrote Hare, " think they have done
enough."^ It was considered at the Hague that the expense

1 Coxe, vol. i., p. 472: Godolphin to Marlborough, Sept. 30/Oct. 11, 1706.

2 Ibid. p. 471: The Duke to the Duchess, September 13/24, 1706.

3 Ibid., p. 473 : The Duke to the Duchess.

* Hare MSS.: Francis Hare to his cousin (George Naylor), September 2,
1706 (Hist. MSS. Comm., 14th Report, Appendix, part ix., p. 213).


of four sieges in a single summer was more than could be
recovered from the conquered towns at a time when the
war was " drawing to an end."-"- The chaplain complained
that the Dutch, with their false ideas of economy, had
delayed the fall of Ostend, and that, but for the firmness of
Marlborough, they would have played the same trick at
Dendermonde, " fear and an ill-placed parsimony to save
a little powder when the throwing it away is of most con-
sequence, being never-failing qualities of those genius's that
haunt a general in this country, I mean Dutch deputies."^

In any event, the siege of Mons was rendered " in a
manner impracticable "^ by three weeks of continuous rain,
which ruined all the roads. On October 12, the Duke
decamped from Grametz, passed the Dendre, and pitched
his tents on the plain of Cambron. Vendome was publicly
threatening " to make him a visit " before the end of the
season. "I believe," said Marlborough, "he has neither
will nor power to do it, which we shall see very quickly;
for we are now camped in so open a country that, if he
marches to us, we cannot refuse fighting."^ On the i8th
and 20th, Vendome rode up with a large body of horse;
but on each occasion he retired without striking a blow.
In justice to him it must be remembered that his instruc-
tions prohibited a battle. On the 26th, the allied army
withdrew towards Grammont. On the 27th, Marlborough
went to Brussels.

" At Brussels," he wrote to the Duchess, " I shall be
torn to pieces, there being twenty pretenders to every place
that must be given; for I have not been able to prevail
with the deputies to declare them before my arrival."
He was accompanied by Stepney, who had newly arrived
from Vienna, and who was destined to relieve him of the
task of representing England in the " condominium " of the
recovered provinces. The Duke had found this v/ork to be
more than he could properly perform in addition to his
military duties. His correspondence during the summer
and autumn shows how numerous and diverse were the

1 Ibid.

2 Ibid., p. 214, September 9, 1706.

^ Murray, vol. iii., p. 160: Marlborough to Harley, October 4, 1706.
* Coxe, vol. i., p. 456: Marlborough to Godolphin, October 14, 1706.


questions referred to him. The distribution of patronage,
the taxation of imports, the levying of native regiments,
the postal communications with England, the settlement
of disputes about precedence, the revival of the opera,
which, to the great indignation of the ladies of the capital,
had been suppressed upon political grounds — these were
some among the multifarious problems of administration
which engaged his attention at this time. In August,
therefore, the Duke had requested Godolphin to remove
Stepney from Vienna, where he was hardly a success, and
to transfer him to Brussels with full powers " to sign and
act in conjunction with the deputies of the States. "■'^

At Brussels all classes of the population combined to
offer a magnificent welcome to their English liberator.
" The same honours," says Lediard, " were paid to His
Grace, as were, in former times, wont to be paid to the
Duke of Burgundy." The magistrates, wrote Marlborough,
" could not be dissuaded from receiving me with great
ceremony."^ They presented him " with what they call
the Wine of Honour, which was brought in a tun, gilded,
and painted with His Grace's arms, upon a carriage, with
streamers, drawn by six horses, preceded by trumpets and
kettle-drums, and attended by a cavalcade of young
students, on horseback, finely cloath'd, with devices in
their hands, in honour to His Grace, and in particular
representing the great actions of this campaign."^ Among
these jovial Flemings Marlborough, no doubt, successfully
counterfeited a gaiety which he did not feel. " I have
never been so uneasy," he wrote to Godolphin on the 24th,
" I have never been so uneasy as I am at this time since
Her Majesty's coming to the Crown.'"*

At the termination of one of the most brilliant campaigns
in history this utterance appears remarkable. It was,
however, no exaggeration of the truth. Marlborough was
profoundly troubled, and not without good reason. For
he was now discovering that the most marvellous of military

1 Coxe Papers, vol. xix., Correspondence of the Duke of Marlborough :
Marlborough to Godolphin, August 15, 1706 (Brit. Mus. Add. MSS., 9096).

2 Murray, vol. iii., p. 196: Marlborough to Harley, October^28, 1706.

3 Lediard, vol. ii., p. 119.

* Coxe, vol. i., p. 492: Marlborough to Godolphin, October 24, 1706.


victories may also be the most pernicious of diplomatic
defeats. He was now beginning to rea,lise that, on the
field of Ramillies, the Grand AlUance had recovered the
Spanish Netherlands and had destroyed itself. When
Flanders and Brabant were wrested from the grasp of
Louis, one of the three principal members of the coalition
ceased to be interested in the continuance of the struggle.
In the very moment of success, when sustained energy
could not fail of an enduring reward, the government
of the RepubHc showed little anxiety to press the campaign,
and none to prepare for the next. " The Dutch," wrote
Marlborough, on September 26, " are at this time unac-
countable. "■■• But if they were indifferent to the common
cause, they were almost openly hostile to the House of
Hapsburg. Relations between Vienna and the Hague
had long been bad; they tended now to become impossible.
The Dutch considered that the Emperor was unjustly
excluding them from the enjoyment of that barrier which
they had made such immense sacrifices to win back. " I
am afraid," wrote Marlborough on August 23, "in a very
little time we shall find that the court of Vienna and the
Dutch are more desirous of quarrelling with each other
than with France."^ Even England herself was now
an object of suspicion and jealousy at the Hague. For
England was playing consistently for all Europe, and not
for her own hand alone; and England was sufficiently
strong, and sufficiently resolute, to prevent a violation of
the undoubted rights of the House of Hapsburg. The vices
of all coalitions had come at last to the assistance of France.
When Villars was almost at the gates of Vienna, the Grand
Alliance had stood firm. But apathy and dissension, the
unholy children of prosperity, were mightier than the sword
of Villars.

When Marlborough was offered the government of the
Spanish Netherlands, the Dutch showed their hand at once.
They showed it even more plainly, when they were pressed
by England to guarantee the Protestant succession. Before
the battle of Ramillies, they had cordially received the

Online LibraryFrank TaylorThe wars of Marlborough, 1702-1709 (Volume 1) → online text (page 39 of 44)