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bargain with the representatives of the King. He was
to receive 200,000 crowns down, and to lose his
governorship, but it was to be given to his son. Thus
the disgraceful affair ended ; Turenne, adds Ramsay,
" saved his country by this method, and disposed Maza-
rin to finish without violence an affair which, had he
employed force, might have had fatal consequences ".
The troops then went into winter quarters and Turenne
to Paris. Thither also went another general, Duke
Francis of Lorraine, who shared the vacillating spirit
of his family — vacillating, at least, where they thought
it to their interest to vacillate — and made an excuse
of the continued detention, by the Spaniards, of his
brother (whom he hated and was only too glad should
be detained), for deserting the Spaniards and allying
himself to the King of France, whose fortunes he
thought seemed just then to be in the ascendant.

But a more important potentate than Francis of
Lorraine had noted the improvement in the prospects
of France and determined to make an alliance with
her. Towards the end of the year 1655, Cromwell,

1656 JET. 45] VALENCIENNES 245

who had long wavered as to whether he should take
the side of France or that of Spain, came to the con-
clusion that France was going to win, and, in accordance
with that conclusion, he made a treaty with Mazarin.
Charles II. had already left France for Brussels,
where he signed a treaty with the King of Spain and
sent peremptory orders to his brother, the Duke of
York, to leave the service of France and join him there.

Mazarin was, at the same time, anxious for a treaty
with Spain, his object being to negotiate a marriage
between Louis XIV. and the Infanta, presumptive
heiress to the Crown of Spain. Philip IV., however,
refused to listen to such a proposal. On the contrary,
he prepared to carry on the war in the following year
with increased vigour. Dissatisfied with the conduct
of the previous campaigns, he recalled Fuensaldagne
and persuaded the Emperor to find other employment
for the Archduke. Then he substituted, for these
generals, Marshal Caracena, an experienced veteran,
but a true Spaniard in his phlegmatic deliberation,
and Don John of Austria, his own bastard son by
an actress in Madrid, a young man full of energy, but
almost without education, and as yet without ex-

The negotiations which Mazarin had attempted
with Spain delayed the opening of the campaign of
1656. It was not until June that Turenne laid siege
to Valenciennes, then a strong fortress on the river
Scheldt. It is now in France, a few miles from the
frontier of Belgium. The surrounding country is very


flat, and, in the seventeenth century, the sluggish
river formed morasses both above and below it. Its
garrison consisted of 2,000 foot and 200 horse ; but
10,000 of its inhabitants^ were capable of bearing
arms. The river ran through the town, and Turenne
took up his quarters on the east side, with Lorraine
to the south of him, on some slightly rising ground.
La Ferte took up his position on an incline to the
west of the town, on the opposite side of the river.
Valenciennes was, at that time, one of the principal
towns of the Low Countries and it served as a maga-
zine for the military stores of Spain.

It was known to Turenne that the Spanish army
of 20,000 men was on its march to the relief of the
fortress ; so the first thing he did was to make entrench-
ments, not against the fortress itself, but for his own
defence against the army of relief; and in six days
this " circumvallation " was completed, with a double
ditch defended by palisades. He had arrived before
Valenciennes sooner than La Ferte, who had been ill,
and he had planted a double row of palisades along La
Ferte's lines for his protection ; " but La Ferte, on
his arrival," says Napoleon, "out of a mere spirit of
contradiction, had them pulled up ".

The Spaniards flooded the country round the
fortress by drawing up all the sluices. Turenne em-
ployed several regiments of foot and nearly all his
horse in carrying fascines to strengthen a dyke against

^ Valenciennes, the town celebrated for the lace bearing that
name, has now more than double that number of inhabitants.



1656 ^T. 45] VALENCIENNES 247

the water. This required enormous labour ; the men
were working in water up to their waists ; but their
efforts were successful, so much so, in fact, that they
were enabled to divert some of the water in such a
manner as to flood one 'quarter of the city.

When the Spanish relieving force arrived, it spent
the first week in entrenching itself. The French in-
fantry, which was about 12,000 strong, was neces-
sarily much scattered in guarding entrenchments of
seven or eight miles in circumference ; and, with a
relieving army of 1 2,000 men close at hand, Turenne
felt the necessity of watchfulness, especially when, after
eight days, the enemy's entrenchments were evidently
completed, and the withdrawal of the transports denoted
readiness for immediate action. The day that this
happened Turenne fully expected an attack either that
afternoon or during the coming night. Accordingly he
sent to La Ferte warning him to be "upon the watch
and to place guards everywhere : but the Marshal
looked upon the Viscount's advice as an affront and
slighted it ".^

When darkness came on, although no attack had relief of
yet been made, Turenne ordered his regiments to re-ENNES
main under arms, and the event was just what Turenne span"^
had anticipated. Early in the night his lines were at- ^uty^^iggg!''
tacked. He made a vigorous resistance and the enemy
was quickly repulsed. In fact the weakness of the
attack led Turenne to suspect it to be a mere feint.
Presently news was brought to Turenne that heavy
^ Ramsay.


musketry fire had been heard to the left, more than a
couple of miles off, on La Ferte's side of the river. It
was now clear to Turenne that the enemy's attack in
force must have been made upon the lines of La Ferte.
Immediately he despatched two regiments to cross the
bridge of boats on the left and to hasten to the relief of
that oreneral ; and he ordered four more regiments to
follow them as soon as possible. By the time he had
given his own generals their orders and galloped round
to La Ferte's quarters, he found that the two regi-
ments he had sent on had been defeated, that the four
which followed them had then halted, that the Spaniards
had begun by entering La Ferte's lines at a point
which had been practically unguarded, and that in his
quarters there was now a regular rout. Turenne did
his best to save the situation, but it was too late. The
battle had not lasted more than a quarter of an hour.
La Ferte himself had been taken prisoner, with more
than 400 of his officers and nearly 4,000 of his men, and
before lono- the sounds of cheerincj, which could be
heard in the distance, proclaimed that the town of
Valenciennes had been relieved.

Nothing was left to be done by Turenne but to
order a general retreat and, if possible, to save the guns.
Many of his men were three miles away and he lost
half of them : some of his " tents and ba";-oaore " had
also to be left behind. At first all was confusion, "but
in a short time he got into such good order that the
enemy durst not pursue him ".^ Well might Turenne
1 Ramsay.

i6s6 ^T. 45] RETREAT 249

say: "A fine retreat is looked upon by many ex-
perienced officers as the masterpiece of a good general,
for which nothing should be neglected that can render
it safe and honourable ".

His staff to a man recommended him to retire
rapidly into Picardy ; but, contrary to the advice of
all his generals and in spite of their urgent remon-
strances, when he had marched about a dozen miles,
he halted and turned round to face the enemy, near
Ouesnoy. He knew that if he made a full retreat the
Court would be thrown into a panic, that the discon-
tented throughout France would join in the insurrection
of Conde, and that, in all probability, the Parisian
Fronde would be revived. Therefore, although he
had now no entrenching tools — they had been left
before Valenciennes in his flight and it would have
been useless to waste labour with weak substitutes — he
awaited in open camp the approach of his formidable

When the enemy came in sight Turenne's men
began hurriedly to prepare the transport for flight,
whereupon Turenne rode up to them, fired a pistol at
the nearest man thus engaged, and forbade the rest to
leave their posts on pain of death.

So puzzled were the Spaniards, when they observed
Turenne's army awaiting their arrival with tents stand-
ing, that they did not know what to do. Fearing some
trap, they waited a couple of days and then moved off
to besiege the fortress of Conde. Perceiving their in-
tention, Turenne sent 1,000 of his cavalry, each trooper


carrying a sack of corn behind him, to victual the
place. But he knew that he was not strong enough to
save either Conde or Quesnoy, the fate of both was
sealed, and he retired to a strong position between Lens
and Arras.

Soon afterwards a little incident occurred which ex-
hibited the character of Turenne. When a convoy was
beinof taken to Arras under the charge of the Count
of Grandpre, that young officer stayed behind, having
an assignation with a lady. During his absence from his
post the convoy was attacked by the Spaniards and was
only saved from capture by the courage of a major.
When Turenne was privately informed of Grandprd's
ill-conduct, he said in presence of his officers: "The
Count of Grandpre will be very angry with me for
having given him a private commission, which kept
him at Arras at a time when he would have had an
opportunity of showing his bravery". On Grandpre's
return, he heard what Turenne had said, although
fully aware of his delinquency. Going into Turenne's
tent, he threw himself on his knees and besfoed for
forgiveness. Turenne "spoke to him with a pater-
nal severity," and with such good effect that the young
Count became "one of the ablest captains of his age ".

Unable to interfere with the proceedings of the
Spaniards, Turenne besieged La Chapelle. Cond6
came to its relief; but his troops were so wearied out by
a long march through rain and mud that they rested
two days before attacking, and this delay just enabled
Turenne to take the fortress. He afterwards relieved

1656 ^T. 45] VALENCIENNES 251

St. Guislain and was thus enabled to end this dis-
astrous campaign with a couple of slight successes.

For the defeat at Valenciennes, Turenne receives
a scolding from Napoleon. "The army commanded
by Turenne," says he, "was superior both in number
and quality to the Spanish army; how came he to
allow it to approach his quarters at Valenciennes, and
not to march out of his lines to give it battle? His
lines were far from equal to those at Arras; and
Marshal de la Ferte's position was evidently unsup-
ported, separated from the rest of the army by a river
and an inundation of 1,000 toises" — an obsolete word
meaning six feet — "this circumstance alone ought to
have determined him to engage."

But after condemning Turenne for being defeated
at Valenciennes, he gives him unstinted praise for
awaiting the enemy in his position near Quesnoy,
against the advice of every member of his staff. This,
says Napoleon, "was because he had more talent than
they : men think only of avoiding a present danger,
without troubling themselves about the influence which
their conduct may have on subsequent events. With
common minds the impression of a defeat wears out
but slowly and gradually."

As an example of courtesies between enemies, it
may be mentioned here that when, after this cam-
paign, Conde was seriously ill at Brussels, the Queen-
Dowager of France sent a Parisian physician, in whom
she knew that Conde placed great confidence, to attend


With all his holy horror of Popery and Kingcraft,

Oliver Cromwell was quite prepared to ally himself

with the most autocratic of kings and to make use of

the most intolerant of Papists when it suited his pur-

'pose so to do. After much wrestling with the Lord,

he had come to the conclusion, towards the end of 1656,

that it would be to his interest to be on a firmer footing

of friendship with France than that already obtained,

and early in 1657, after considerable bargaining, an

offensive and defensive alliance was concluded that was

to last for twelve months. Sir John Reynolds was sent

to Calais with 6,000 splendid English infantry, one half

to be in the pay of the Protector and the other half to

be in that of the King of France. The combined

forces of England and France were to endeavour to

seize Dunkirk, which, when taken, was to be made

over to England as a return for her services in the war.

If either Gravelines or Mardyck were taken first, that

fortress was to be held as a hostage by England until

she received Dunkirk. It will be necessary now to

bear in mind that Calais, Gravelines, Mardyck, and

Dunkirk are all on the north-east coast of what is

now France, Gravelines being about a dozen miles to

i657 ^T. 46] CAMBRAI 253

the east of Calais, Mardyck about five miles to the
east of Gravelines, and Dunkirk some six or seven
miles to the east of Mardyck.

Turenne started on his campaign in May to lay
siege to Cambrai. The very evening after he had
arrived before it he learned that Cond^ had marched
from Valenciennes, which was only fifteen miles to the
north-east, and would shortly arrive to the relief of
the fortress. Turenne, says Ramsay, " being persuaded
that the Prince would fetch a compass to avoid the
French camp, he went and posted himself in a place
where, according to all the rules of war, Cond^ must
pass. By good fortune for the Prince (Conde) his
guide misled him, and brought him by the high road."
The consequence was that Cond^ met with but a weak
opposition and was able to enter and to relieve the
fortress ; therefore Turenne "thought proper to raise
the siege ". On hearing of this Turenne's enemies in
Paris spread a report that he had treacherously allowed
the Spanish troops to relieve Cambrai, out of friendship
for Cond6, for they hoped by this calumny to induce
Mazarin to recall him. In this they happily failed.

"During this time," Ramsay tells us, "the Prince
of Conde and Don John of Austria made several
marches and counter-marches to amuse the Viscount,
divert him from his purpose, and fall suddenly upon

The Duke of York who, it must be borne in mind,
was now fighting for the Spaniards against the French ;
instead of, as before, for the French against the


Spaniards, describes the long march, the object of
which, he says, in the very words of Ramsay, was "to
fall suddenly on Calais ". The Prince de Ligny was
to approach a part of the town without the walls,
adjoining the quay, at low water. Had he been once
master of that position, the place could not "have held
out above twelve hours, the orarrison beinor weak, as
well as the town on that side of it. But he coming
half an hour too late, the water was then so high that
it was impossible for him to pass." So the only result
of the attempt was to give "the town a hot alarm," and
to demonstrate to the governor "the weakness of that
part," which he immediately strengthened. " And thus
we failed of our design, having made so great a march
for so little purpose."

After the capitulation of Montmedy, which had
been besieged and captured by La Ferte, Turenne
marched to besiege St. Venant — a place little known
now, but then an important frontier fortress on the
river Lys. The Duke of York shall describe an
incident that occurred during this siege. "We arrived
at Calonne on the Lys within a league of St. Venant
which M. de Turenne was besieging, and the lines
whereof were already so far advanced that this con-
sideration and the disproportion of forces by no means
allowed of any endeavours to relieve the place. We
only studied how to cut off the enemy's provisions
and prevent the passing of a convoy of four or five
hundred waggons which were to go the next day from
B6thune to their army. . . . We were ready to break

i657 Mt. 46] SIESTA 255

up camp at dawn of day." It was represented to Don
John "that the least delay would give the convoy an
opportunity to enter the lines ; but whatever could be
said to quicken him, the army stirred not till noon".
When it at last arrived at the place where the convoy
would inevitably pass, Don John and Caracena "would
needs, according to their custom, take an afternoon
nap ". They had not long been asleep, when the Duke
of York saw Turenne's convoy coming "in all haste".
The Duke went to the Prince of Ligny, the general of
the horse, and urged him to attack. The Prince
"answered he saw the thing as well as he, that it was
the easiest thing in the world to carry off the convoy,
but that he durst not attack it without orders from Don
John or the Marquess of Caracena". Still less "durst
he " disturb the siestas of those worthy generals. The
Duke "conjured him not to lose so fine an opportunity
by being over-scrupulous ; but his reply was that [the
Duke] knew not how far the Spanish severity went ;
that by falling on without orders, it might cost him his
head". As a consequence of allowing the convoy to
pass, not a waggon of it was lost to Turenne. St.
Venant capitulated on the 29th of August, after a
magnificent attack on its supposed impregnable counter-
scarp by Cromwell's pikemen from Hampshire and
Huntingdon. During this siege Turenne was so short
of money, with which to pay the English troops that
he was reduced to breaking up his own plate and
distributing morsels of the silver among the men.

The Spaniards might have prevented the fall of


St. Venant had they not withdrawn with the object of
taking Ardres, which had then a garrison of only 300,
while Turenne was occupied at St. Venant. And
Ramsay tells us that, if they had attacked Ardres ''the
same night they arrived before it, they would have
carried it, but they lost twenty-four hours in making an
useless circumvallation ". While the Prince of Conde
was " suffering these delays with the utmost impatience,"
the Spanish generals made matters worse, by determin-
ing to hold a Council of War, at which still more pre-
cious time was lost "in superfluous reasoning . . . about
an enterprise which required not the least reflection ".

At last a decision was arrived at ; but, at the same
time as the decision, arrived Turenne, who had hurried
to the relief of Ardres as soon as St. Venant had fallen.
Then the Spaniards made off for the coast and Turenne
followed them until they were under the protection of
the guns of Dunkirk.

It was too late in the season to begin a siege of that
fortress, so Turenne attacked Mardyck, took it in a few
days, and handed it over to the English troops, according
to the agreement. The young King and the cardinal
joined the French army during the siege of Mardyck.
Madame de Motteville says that, on this occasion,
Louis XIV. "lived like a private person, dining with
Cardinal Mazarin or the Viscomte de Turenne : he had
no officers, and neither servants nor money ". After
taking Mardyck, Turenne tried to take Gravelines;^

^ It was off Gravelines that the Spanish Armada had been
defeated, some seventy years earlier.

1658 ^T. 47] DUNKIRK 257

but, as an old writer describes that fortress, "It is
very strong, by reason that they can drown it round
in four hours, so as no land shall be within a mile
of it ". And so it happened on this occasion. They
drew up their sluices and any approach to it became

Thus ended a tedious and indecisive, although by
no means unsatisfactory, campaign, during which
Cromwell grew very impatient and perpetually pestered
his French allies with remonstrances, as well as with
suggestions which it was impossible to carry out. Yet
this campaign was a necessary prelude to its very
important successor.

The year 1658 did not open auspiciously for the
French. The pardoned rebel, Hocquincourt, now
openly allied himself with Conde, and persuaded the
Mayor of Hedin to deliver that town to the Spaniards.
Meanwhile Cromwell was haughtily calling upon the
French Government to fulfil its treaty by besieging

The French army was early in the field. The
siege of Dunkirk is so much the most important incident
of this year that we will not linger over the military
operations which preceded it. Although plenty of
rumours had reached the Spaniards, at Brussels, to the
effect that the French were CToingr to besieoe Dunkirk,
they were convinced, says the Duke of York, who was
with them, that Turenne's real objective was Cambrai,
and that he purposely spread reports about an in-
tended attack upon Dunkirk for the purpose of in-


ducing the Spaniards to withdraw their forces from
Cambrai to Dunkirk, and thus leave Cambrai very
weakly protected.

The country round Dunkirk is a wilderness of
sandhills, raised by the fierce northerly gales. These
white sandhills go by the name of Dunes. On the
south side of this sandy plain were canals and morasses.
When Turenne was approaching Dunkirk, all the low-
lying land about the town was under water. From
flooded fields, again, he had suffered much on his
march thither. It had been an unusually long winter
and the roads were in a fearful state. He had been
advised that it would be impossible to take cannon
with him ; but he persisted in doing so and he suc-
ceeded in the attempt. It was a most miserable march !
Much time and labour had been spent in filling up
ditches and making bridges, and sometimes the soldiers
were wading through deep water, holding their muskets
above their heads.

Cromwell sent a fleet to blockade the harbour of
Dunkirk, as well as 5,000 or 6,000 infantry with some
guns to be added to the army of Turenne. The
English regiments, now that Reynolds was dead, were
under the command of Lockhart, the English Ambas-
sador at Paris, who was suffering agonies from a most
painful complaint, and, at the great battle about to be
described, he drove about in a carriaore.^ Not lonor

^ The Emperor, Louis Napoleon, was suffering from the same
malady at the battle of Sedan, where he also watched the fighting
ffom a carriage,

i658 ^T. 47] DUNKIRK 259

afterwards he was drowned when crossing the Channel
to pay a visit to Cromwell.

"The first days of the siege," says Turenne, "we
suffered very great hardships from want of food for
the men and of forage for the horses," and he adds
that the English, "who behaved very well, brought
very few conveniences to the siege ". The King, the
cardinal, and the Queen came to Mardyck to be
witnesses of this important siege ; but they were greatly
in the way, and happily they were persuaded to return
to Calais. Much more welcome were some barques,
bringing provisions for men and horses, palisades and
siege tools.

During the early days of the siege the enemy's
cavalry made frequent sallies, under the protection of
their guns ; but they were invariably driven back and
Turenne was able to proceed with his entrenchments.
He was anxious to complete those works, because
Don John was expected daily, if not hourly, with a
relieving army ; and for several nights Turenne never
went to bed.

On the eighth or ninth day, some of the enemy's
cavalry were seen approaching, but were driven back
by Turenne's troops ; and he learned later that in this
slight affray "a musket-ball," as the Duke of York
writes, struck that arch-traitor, Hocquincourt, "in the
belly and killed him on the spot". Of this Napoleon
remarks : "A just punishment for his crime ! "

The next morning, the 13th of June, the whole army

of relief was observed advancing along the coast from
17 *


the east. The sea was on its right and the canal from
Furnes to Dunkirk on its left. A line of infantry
marched before the cavalry. "The artillery was not
yet arrived," says the Duke of York, who was in the
march, " nor the tools for breaking ground ; scarce
was there powder sufficient for their infantry ; thus
unprovided of whatever was most necessary for a
battle, we encamped at less than twice the distance
of a cannon-shot from the enemy." Napoleon says:
"The Spaniards were so certain that their mere ap-
pearance would relieve the place, that they presented

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