Copyright
Thomas Longueville.

Marshall Turenne online

. (page 12 of 26)
Online LibraryThomas LonguevilleMarshall Turenne → online text (page 12 of 26)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


which "did dreadful execution on the enemy, who, in
their hurry, trod down each other in heaps," as the
Duke of York describes it. In the evening Hocquin-
court joined Turenne with such forces as he had rallied
or saved out of his army.



i64 MARSHAL TURENNE [1652

Then, says Turenne, in his Memoirs, "both armies
stood looking at each other till night, and afterwards
retired on both sides, the King's army to Briare, and
that of the Prince to Chatillon. . . . Some days after-
wards, the Prince departed from Chatillon ; his army
made the best of its way to Montargis, and he himself
went to Paris, where he thought his presence was
necessary." It was indeed urgently needed there.
During his consequent absence from his army, he left
it under the command of General Tavannes.

Napoleon praises Turenne for his execution of this
"able and successful manoeuvre to impose on Conde"
— not for undertaking the manoeuvre. Napoleon points
out that Turenne had no intention of maintaining his
position, which is proved by his stationing his army
in a situation for easy retreat, and by his having care-
fully avoided the temptation to place any of his infantry
in the wood. It is true that musketeers concealed
under its cover could have slaughtered Conde's cavalry
as it passed through the defile ; but the consequence
might have been a general action, in which Turenne,
with his inferior numbers, would inevitably have been
defeated. "When once an affair has commenced par-
tially," says Napoleon, "it gradually becomes general."
Turenne, continues Napoleon, "kept his troops to-
gether, sufficiently near the defile to render its passage
dangerous to the prince, and to annoy him by a fire of
a battery planted so as to play through the whole length
of the defile, but sufficiently removed to prevent the
compromising of any part of his force. This circum-



i652 JET. 41] CRITICISMS 165

stance may appear trifling, but it is one of those trifles
which are the indications of military genius."

Much as Napoleon praises Turenne's tactics in this
affair, and while fully admitting his " talent and pru-
dence" in the execution of the "delicate manoeuvre,"
he blames his strategy. In short, he maintains that
the manoeuvre oug^ht not to have been undertaken at
all. "As soon as Turenne had mustered his cavalry,
he should have retired towards St. Fargeau and not
have returned and marched forward until after his
junction with Marshal d'Hocquincourt." The posi-
tion had been as follows : Conde had been in the
north and had advanced towards the south, upon
Bleneau. Bleneau, Briare and St. Fargeau form a
triangle, Bleneau being in the north, Briare in the
south-west, and St. Fargeau in the south-east, the
sides of the triangle varying from ten to fifteen miles
in length.

"The rules of war," says Napoleon, "require a
division of an army to avoid engaging alone a whole
army, which has already obtained victories. It is risk-
ing a total and irretrievable overthrow ; the Prince of
Conde had above 12,000 men, and Turenne only
4,000." Again, he says: "The rendezvous for the
two armies in quarters was fixed too near the enemy :
this was an error ; the point of junction for an army, in
case of surprise, should always be fixed in the rear, so
that the troops may reach it from all the cantonments
before the enemy. On this principle, it should have
been fixed between Briare and St. Fargeau." It will



i66 MARSHAL TURENNE [1652

be remembered that Napoleon made a somewhat similar
criticism of Turenne's selection of a rendezvous for his
cavalry before the battle of Marienthal/

Voltaire, however, says that it is difficult to decide
which general deserved most praise, Conde for his
victory at Bleneau, or Turenne for robbing him of the
fruits of it ; but, says he, if Conde had not been checked
by Turenne, he would probably have captured the
King, Mazarin and the whole Court. De Retz also
divides his praises. He says that "they both did what
the two best generals in the world would have done ! "
Napoleon, on the contrary, finds fault with each of
them. We have already seen his criticism of Turenne's
strategy, and he says that Conde "did not display in
this campaign, the daring spirit which distinguished the
general of Freiburg and Nordlingen ; he ought not to
have suffered himself to be overawed at Bleneau by
demonstrations ; even when united, the two royal
armies were inferior to his ; he ought to have been
convinced, as by demonstration, that there could not
be any considerable force before him ; he contented
himself with an insignificant advantage, and stopped
short at preliminaries, without pushing his enterprise to
a conclusion. With a little of his habitual daring, he
must have obtained the last favours of fortune : he
neglected to gather the fruits of his own calculations,
and of Marshal d'Hocquincourt's error."
^ See chapter vii.



CHAPTER XIII.

The task of a general is infinitely increased when, in
addition to the ordinary duties of a campaign, he has
to protect a Court, including" the person of a King
driven out of his own capital, wandering aimlessly
and unwelcome among his own dominions, and per-
petually shadowed by an enemy consisting of his own
subjects. And a yet further and very serious addition
is made to these increased difficulties when the general
wishes one thing and the Court another. Turenne
sometimes found it little, if at all, easier to drive the
Court than to drive the enemy where he desired.
Eventually, however, by making a long detour to the
east, with Turenne's and Hocquincourt's armies be-
tween it and the rebel army, the Court reached St.
Germains.

Tavannes then established his forces at Etampes,
a town about twenty-five miles south of Paris, and
Turenne and Hocquincourt made their headquarters at
Chartres, about thirty miles to the west of Etampes.
Chartres and Etampes lie in the richest corn-growing
district of France ; and Chartres, which is a very much
larger town than Etampes, is one of the principal

French corn markets. The rebels fortified Etampes,
167



i68 MARSHAL TURENNE [1652

for it was an important position to them, as it lay on
the direct road from Paris to Orleans.

The Duke of Orleans had now joined the Fronde,
and it had been suoraested to him, some little time
before the Court passed Orleans, that he should go
to that city and enlist the services of its citizens. The
cowardly Duke refused to go there himself, as the
disposition of the inhabitants seemed rather doubtful ;
but he gladly sent his much more courageous daughter.
We may be introduced to that young lady by Madame
de Motteville, who says : " She had beauty, intelli-
gence, wealth, virtue, and royal birth. ... Her beauty,
however, was not without its defects; and her mind
was not always in a condition to please. Her vivacity
deprived her actions of the dignity desirable in a
personage of her high position, and she was too readily
carried away by her emotions."

Pitiable was the position of the authorities in the
city of Orleans! A representative of the King had
appeared at one of its gates and demanded admittance
for some of Turenne's troops which were on their way
thither ; and while the functionaries were in the act of
pondering about a reply, they were informed that an
emissary was demanding admittance at a gate on the
opposite side of the city. There they found the Duke
of Orleans' daughter, clad in armour, with many other
Amazons attired like herself, accompanied by the Duke
of Rohan, several members of Parliament, and a band
of gay young men from Paris. This picturesque force
was as imposing as it was brilliant, but it savoured some-




MADEMOISELLE,



^'/).



1652 ^T. 41] AMAZONS 169

what of comic opera, and the rulers of Orleans would
necessarily reflect that, insignificant in comparison as were
the King's representatives at the other gate, so far as
appearances were concerned, they would soon be
followed by much more able-bodied warriors than this
second Maid of Orleans, her pretty companions, and
her troop of boys and politicians. Unable to decide
between loyalty to the lord of their city and province
on the one side, and loyalty to the King of their country
on the other, they determined to be neutral and refused
admittance to the representatives of both.

Later in the day they were quietly congratulating
each other upon their prudence, by which they imagined
that they had insured themselves against all danger of
Mazarin's much-dreaded resentment, when news was
brought to them that Mademoiselle de Montpensier
was in the middle of their city, haranguing a crowd of
her father's subjects and demanding their own immedi-
ate presence and loyal homage.

Mademoiselle, by dint of persuasion and bribes, had
induced some boatmen to get her into the town ; and
they had succeeded in doing so by rowing her across
the river and breaking down a disused doorway in the
walls, through which they gave her entrance. Con-
cerning the negotiations, demurrings, upbraidings,
waverings and consultations which followed, ending in
the triumph of one bold-faced but half-frightened girl
over a whole pack of both military and civic authorities,
the reader must be referred to the entertaining pages
of Mademoiselle de Montpensier herself To complete



170 MARSHAL TURENNE [1652

the comedy, Turenne's troops did not attack Orleans
after all, but left that city, its authorities, and its
Mademoiselle severely alone.

Turenne strongly advised the King to enter Paris
with his army; but, for purely personal reasons,
Mazarin would not hear of it, because he knew himself
to be so hated by the Parisians that he feared for his
own safety. Meanwhile, Mazarin was secredy, and as
it turned out ineffectually, trying to negotiate terms
with Conde. De Retz, now like Mazarin a cardinal,
although nominally an ally of Conde, was endeavouring
to CTet him out of favour with the Duke of Orleans as
industriously as the Duke of Orleans' daughter.
Mademoiselle de Montpensier, was endeavouring to
get him into it. The reason of this was that De Retz
wished Orleans to place the government in his own
hands instead of in those of Conde, while Mademoiselle
was now in love with Conde, whom she had formerly
hated, and hoped to marry him whenever his very
excellent but very delicate wife should die.
OPERA- When Turenne was contriving an attack upon

BEFORE Etampes, Mademoiselle de Montpensier was about to
fily^id^^' return from Orleans to Paris, and, to do this, she would
have to pass not only through the rebel army at
Etampes, but also through the region held by the royal
army, as Turenne had posted some troops between
Etampes and Paris. She therefore sent a trumpeter
from Etampes to Turenne, with a request for a pass,
which, after some delay, he granted to her. Nor was
this all; for he expressed a hope that she would



i652 ^T. 41] ETAMPES 171

pay him a visit, on her way, and inspect his troops.
During the delay just mentioned, Mademoiselle says
she amused herself by stopping all the couriers, taking
their letters, opening and reading them; "for I had
reallv nothing else to do. Some I found charged

> o o

with despatches, others with family matters or love-
letters, ridiculous enough. . . . When they were of no
advantage to my own party, I turned them into a source
of merriment."

Turenne happened to hear that Tavannes' men
had not been forao-inor duringr Mademoiselle's visit,
probably as he thought, because there had been in-
spections and reviews for her entertainment, and he
believed that, as soon as she left Etampes, his enemy
would find it necessary to send out foragers on an un-
usually large scale to make up for lost time. He also
expected that the principal officers would accompany
her during the first part of her journey towards Paris.
Thinking, therefore, that a large number of Tavannes'
soldiers would be absent for foraging purposes, and
that many of their officers would be away, as a
guard of honour to Mademoiselle, on the morning of
her departure, Turenne and Hocquincourt agreed that
it would be a favourable moment for an attack. They
proposed to make a long night-march b)^ a considerable
detour to intercept the foragers, and to enter and take
possession of the comparatively defenceless city in their
absence.

Unfortunately, when, after a very wearisome but
admirably conducted night-march, Turenne and



172 MARSHAL TURENNE [1652

Hocquincourt arrived at the critical spot exactly at the
critical moment, there were no foragers to intercept.
On the contrary, Tavannes' troops were all drawn up
under arms, on the plain outside the city, for an inspec-
tion by Mademoiselle, who was just then driving away
from them and from Etampes, on her way to Paris.
Great as was the surprise of Turenne at finding the
rebel army drawn up under arms, the surprise of
Tavannes at the unexpected appearance of the royal
army was even greater, and he hurried his men back
into Etampes so vigorously that they fell into some
confusion. Of this confusion Turenne and Hocquin-
court determined to take advantage, and they attacked
the enemy's troops as they were passing through the
suburbs.

The rebels made a gallant defence, and the battle
was long and obstinate ; but eventually the King's
troops forced their way into the suburbs, entirely de-
feating, says Turenne, after a fight of three hours,
"nine regiments of infantry, and four or five squadrons
of cavalry," taking "2,000 prisoners, and a great
number of officers ". The King's army, says the Duke
of York, lost 500 men. Brilliant as was the action of
the royal troops in this affair, Etampes was not taken ;
in fact the town itself was not even entered ; the royal
army was withdrawn to Etrechy, a place about three
miles off, and the next day it returned to Chartres.

Hocquincourt was now sent to take command of
the King's army in Flanders, and Turenne was left in
sole command of the army in France. He removed it



1652 /Et. 41] ST. DENIS 173

from Chartres to Paliseau, a town about eighteen miles
to the north of Etampes, so as to cut off all com-
munication between the rebel army and Paris. He
also sent some cavalry, for the protection of the Court
at St. Germains, and he took possession of St. Denis,
then fully four miles distant from the northern walls
of Paris. Here he left a garrison, and we shall hear
again of this fortress before long.^

Turenne then moved to the South, to lay siege to

1 Turenne was buried at St. Denis. It is remarkable that,
during the French Revolution, in 1792, the tombs of three
celebrated men who had been so much associated in life^ — -Turenne,
Richelieu and Mazarin — should have been defaced at the same
time. Again, in 1793, says Alison {History, vol. iii., chap, xiv.),
"a furious multitude, headed by the revolutionary army, pre-
cipitated itself out of Paris ; the tombs of Henry IV., of Francis I.,
and of Ivouis XII., were ransacked, and their bones scattered in
the air. Even the glorious name of Turenne could not protect his
grave from spoliation." The bodies of " kings, queens and heroes
were thrown into a vast trench and destroyed by quicklime. The
body of Du Guesclin was lost in this way. That of Turenne alone
escaped, not from any reverence for his memory, but from the
fortunate circumstance that, after it had been ordered to be thrown
into the common tomb, two of the officers of the Museum of
Natural History requested to have it, as being ' a vitW-preserved
minnmy,' which might be of service to the science of comparative
anatomy. It was delivered to them accordingly, and carried to the
Jardin des Plantes, where it lay for nine years in a storehouse be-
tween the skeletons of a monkey and a camel. In 1802, however,
Napoleon heard of the circumstance, and had the body of the
illustrious warrior removed to the church of the Invalides, where it
now reposes beside his own mortal remains." During the French
Revolution his body, so little altered as to be recognisable from
his portraits, had been exposed in a glass case for the amusement
of the populace.



174 MARSHx^L TURENNE [1652

Etampes, with 6,000 foot and 4,000 horse, against the
enemy's 4,000 foot and 3,000 horse. Unfortunately
he was lamentably short of the "tools and warlike
stores" necessary for a siege, and, as a result, his "line
of contra vallation " proceeded very slowly. The enemy
made frequent sallies to interrupt it, and there was a
great deal of fighting and much loss of life on either
side. The details of the siege of Etampes are fully de-
scribed in the Memoirs of the Duke of York, which
were handed by him to Turenne's nephew, Cardinal
de Bouillon, and also in the Life of James II., written
from King James's own manuscripts and diaries.

James, Duke of York, had taken service under
Turenne, at the age of nineteen, a few weeks before
the first attack upon Etampes. Turenne "gave him
a reception suitable to his birth ; and endeavoured, by
all possible proofs of affection, to soften the remem-
brance of his misfortunes ". A little later in the
campaign, Turenne employed the Duke of York to
write despatches from the front to his brother, the
Duke of Bouillon. And, as a substitute for his own
defects of vision, Turenne frequently kept the Duke
at his side, " to observe as exactly as he could and
inform him what the enemy were doing ". Turenne
is reported by Burnet^ — no friend of the Duke of York
— ^to have said of him that he " was the greatest prince
and like to be the best general of his time ".

In one of the attacks during the siege of Etampes,
Turenne's own regiment specially distinguished itself.

^ History of His Own Times, vol. i., p. 168.




DUKE OF SCHOMBERG.



[652 ^T. 41] ^TAMPES



75



His captains, says the Duke of York, took the colours
in their hands and marched with them at the head of
their men, till they "came up to push of pike," and he
adds that Turenne was of opinion that it would have been
impossible for the men to have done so much if their
colours had not been always before their eyes. "And
this," says he, "was what partly determined the regiments
afterwards to procure new colours, the old corps, as well
as the rest, having till then through a mistaken glory,
affected to have their colours so tattered and ragged,
that oftentimes there was nothing left but the staff."

Besides the Duke of York, another foreigner, who
had volunteered, was serving under Turenne. This
was Count Schomberg, who was wounded before
Etampes while standing beside the Duke of York.
Although then allies, these two men were to meet
again on opposite sides, nearly forty years later, at the
battle of the Boyne, in which James 1 1, was defeated
and Schomberg, though victorious, was killed.

Just as Turenne had half finished undermining a
portion of the wall of Etampes, and had a reasonable
hope of taking the town in a few days, his operations
before it had to be given up altogether. Some little
time before the siege of Etampes, the Duke of
Lorraine had assured Mazarin that, if allowed to raise
troops in Lorraine, he would hasten with them to join
them to the army under Turenne. Pleased by this
promise, Mazarin had ordered Marshal de la Ferte, the
Governor of Lorraine, to give the Duke the privilege
of levying troops, and to furnish him with whatever



176 MARSHAL TURENNE [1652

provisions he might require for his march. With 10,000
men the Duke of Lorraine then marched towards Paris,
being permitted to forage as he passed through France.

When Lorraine, with his army, was within a few
miles of Paris, it was discovered that, instead of going
to the assistance of the King's army, as he had
promised, he was in reality going to join his forces with
the army of the rebels. As a matter of fact, before he
had made his promises to Mazarin, he had been already
hired by Spain to proceed against the army of the King of
France. He afterwards admitted that he had very nearly
thrown over the Spaniards, in their turn, as he came
near Paris. Mademoiselle de Montpensier rode out to
inspect his troops, "The cavalry were very fine," she
says; "but the infantry nothing to speak of There
were among them some Irish, who in general have
nothing to recommend them but their bag-pipes." Pos-
sibly Mademoiselle may have confused the Irish with
another Celtic nation.

News was presently brought to Turenne that
Lorraine was on his way to attack him. If Turenne
had remained at Etampes he would soon have found
himself between the armies of Tavannes and Lorraine ;
therefore he raised the siege of Etampes, and hurried
northwards to meet Lorraine. So few horses had he
that he was obliged to send to St. Germains to beg for
every available remount. The courtiers and the King
and the Queen- Mother sent him their private carriage
horses ; and, even with all these, he had to take some
of his guns on first, and then send back the horses



i6S2 JET. 41] VILLENEUVE ST. GEORGES 177

which had dragged them to bring on those still re-
maining behind.

Lorraine, he heard, was at Villeneuve St. Georges,
a town near the Seine, rather more than twenty miles
north-north-east of Etampes, and nine or ten miles from
Paris ; and he was very anxious to fight a decisive
battle with Lorraine before Tavannes could join forces
with him. To this end, Turenne marched as quickly
as he could ; but a small river, which runs into the Seine,
being in his way, when he was almost within sight of
Lorraine's camp, he had to make a night-march to get
within fighting range of his enemy, a position which he
succeeded in attaining at daybreak on the 1 5th of June.

As Lorraine "expected every moment the arrival of
the [rebel] army from Etampes, he flattered himself
with the hopes of amusing the Viscount by negotia-
tions";^ thinking it wiser to refuse battle until the
junction of the two armies should make victory a
certainty. While he had been still pretending to be on
his way to help Turenne, Lorraine had succeeded in
getting the yet uncrowned Charles II. of England into
his camp, and he now sent word to Turenne that
Charles would negotiate terms of peace if his brother,
the Duke of York, would come over to his camp for
an interview with him. To this Turenne consented
and negotiations were opened. Charles felt in a very
awkward position. He had just been at the French
Court, and although we learn from Madame de
Motteville that "the King and he behaved together

^ Ramsay.
12



178 MARSHAL TURENNE [1652

like young princes who felt embarrassed by each
other's presence " ; he was under the protection
of the King; but he was under pecuniary obliga-
tions to Lorraine, who was also his personal friend.
While the negotiations were in progress, Turenne kept
drawing nearer and nearer and planting his guns in
more and more advantageous positions. It was only
at the last moment that Lorraine, after a good deal of
swagger, consented to Turenne's terms, which were
that Lorraine should at once desist from making a
bridge of boats, which he had begrun, across the Seine,
that he and his army should be out of France within
a fortnight, and that he should give his word never
again to help the rebel princes against the King. On
the other hand, says De Retz, Turenne consented to
Lorraine's demands "that what troops belonging to
the princes were in the Prince of Conde's camp, might
safely come into Paris ; and that provisions should be
furnished by the King's order to the Duke of Lorraine's
troops during their retreat ; . . . Mr. de Turenne saying
that he was persuaded the Duke of Lorraine's army
would save the King the trouble and expense of furnish-
ing them with provisions, because they would take care
to provide for themselves upon the road ; and as for
the liberty that was asked for the troops of the princes
to get safely into Paris, M^. de Turenne granted it with
joy, because he was sure that that would more alarm
than encourage the city." Turenne dictated the route
which Lorraine's army was to take within an hour, and
it lay through a long and narrow pass, in which,



1652 ^T. 41] VILLENEUVE ST. GEORGES 179

for the moment, Lorraine would be completely at
Turenne's mercy.

It was well that Turenne had chosen this route for
his adversary, and that he took the precaution of stand-
ing to arms as soon as Lorraine had started ; for the
retiring army had only just got well into the pass, when
the rebel army from Etampes came into sight from the
opposite direction. If that army had appeared a couple
of hours earlier, Lorraine would doubtless have fought in-
stead of accepting Turenne's terms ; and Turenne, with


1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 12 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26

Online LibraryThomas LonguevilleMarshall Turenne → online text (page 12 of 26)