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insisted upon changing horses with him, pretending
that the officer's screw, being quieter than his own
spirited and valuable charger, would suit a man of his
age much better.

At the end of November the Imperialists, observ-
ing Turenne's inaction, thought that he had abandoned
Alsace, that the campaign was over, and that there was
nothing left for them to do but to divide their forces
into detachments, and select winter quarters in the
most fertile districts of Alsace.

Louvois complained bitterly to the King of the
conduct of Turenne. Reinforcements, said he — large
and repeated reinforcements- — had been sent to him,
his army was now a formidable one, yet he was doing-
nothing. Admitting that the army of the Empire ex-
ceeded Turenne's in numbers, Louvois reminded the
King that Turenne had undertaken the entire re-

i674 ^T. 63] ST. EVREMOND 359

sponsibility of keeping the Imperialists out of Lorraine
and Franche-Comt^ ; yet now he had allowed them to
overrun the whole of Alsace, and they were waiting at
the very gates of Franche-Comte and Lorraine to enter
those districts and ravage them, if not to take posses-
sion of them, as soon as the coming spring might permit.

At this time Turenne was the subject of much
abuse among the military critics of Paris. But he had
a champion in St. Evremond, who wrote of him :
" Nature has bestowed on him as much sense, capacity,
and merit, as on any man living, but has denied him
that fire of genius, that openness and freedom of mind,
which makes it appear bright and agreeable. He must
be destroyed before we can know his value ; and it will
be at the loss of his life that he will obtain full justice
to his reputation."

The Imperialists scattered themselves over different
parts of Alsace, so as to give plenty of room for forag-
ing to each detachment of their large army. They all
felt safe from any danger of attack, but those who felt
most secure of all were they who were in the extreme
south of Alsace. They knew that Turenne was in the
north of Lorraine, fifty or sixty miles off. The great
chain of the Vosges Mountains, many of them from
3,000 to 4,000 feet in height, protected the whole of
the western side of Alsace, and, between the south and
the north of Alsace, detachments of the Imperial army
were quartered in all directions. The Grand Elector
of Brandenburg had sent for his wife to spend the
winter quietly with him at Colmar, a town half-way


between Strasburg and Basle, with the mountains of
the Black Forest and the Vosges ranges about ten
miles off on either side.

Some of the Imperial troops were in the extreme
south-west, close to the frontier, where the army of
the Empire was intended to pass between the Jura
and the Vosges ranges, through Southern Lorraine,
to invade Franche-Comte, in the early summer ; but
now there was snow down to the very foot of the hills,
and all warfare was in abeyance. Christmas came,
and the Prussian and Austrian soldiers joined with
the Alsatian villagers in the customs and festivities of
that season so dear to Germans. All was now " Peace
on earth, and good- will towards men ! " Many mes-
sages came in for the officers on the south-v/est frontier,
most of them being good wishes of the season ; but this
monotony was suddenly and violently varied by a de-
spatch to the effect that Turenne was only eight miles
off, at Belfort,^ with a very large army, and that, if
they wished to escape capture with their detachments,
they had not a moment to lose. Belfort is the gateway
from mid-eastern France into Germany and Switzerland,
being situated in the gap between the Vosges and the
Jura ranges known as the " Trouee de Belfort ". Well
might the astonished Imperial officers ask how the
Turenne could possibly have got there !

Early in the last Boer War, when the Boers were

1 It was at Belfort, in 187 1, that Bourbaki, with 100,000 men
and 240 guns, made a desperate attempt to relieve the garrison
which was besieged by Werder and Manteuffcl After his failure
to do so Bourbaki tried to commit suicide.

1674 /Et. 63] A SURPRISE 361

holding Magersfontein and the Enghsh army was mak-
ing no apparent progress towards taking it, an American,
who was discussing the position with an English friend
in London, said: "Is there no way round?" That
was exactly the question which Turenne had asked
himself in Northern Lorraine at the end of October,
1674, and he had answered it in the affirmative.

He conceived the idea of marching to the west of the
Vosges Mountains through what are now the French de-
partments of Meurthe-et-Moselle and Vosges, but what
was then Southern Lorraine, and entering Alsace in
the south-west. Early in December, leaving sufficient
troops to garrison Saverne and Hagenau, he divided
his army into detachments, and ordered them to march
by different routes, which he carefully specified, and
finally to concentrate at Belfort. They all met there,
at about the time intended, after three weeks of march-
ing, sometimes over mountains covered with snow,
sometimes through valleys flooded by overflowing
rivers, sometimes by roads almost impassable with
mud. This long march was unknown to the enemy
until it had been accomplished.

On the appearance of the French army, the Imperial
troops in the extreme south retreated ; some of them
were driven across the Rhine, at Basle, and 5,000 or
6,000 Imperial cavalry were attacked by Turenne, who
put them to flight, after a sharp engagement, capturing
twenty officers, 300 prisoners and eighteen standards.

Several days were passed by Turenne, either in dis-
persing the German troops in the south of Alsace, or


in giving his men a rest before advancing north against
the enemy. In the meantime the Imperial generals
had received intelligence of his appearance. There-
upon the Duke of Bournonville joined the Grand
Elector of Brandenburg, near Colmar, and together
they drew up their troops between that town and
Turckheim, another four miles to the west of it.
They had a splendid position. On their left they had
the rivers Lauch, Thur, and 111 ; on their right they
had the river Fech and a branch of that river ran
across their entire front. On their own side of this
branch of the river, in their front, they made parapets
and erected batteries of artillery. They also placed
some guns on their left, just north of Colmar.
BATTLE OF On the morninor of the 5th of January Turenne

TURCK- , , ^T 1 . 1

HEiM, 5th advanced — Napoleon says with 40,000 men, but
1675. ' Ramsay says with only 30,000 — against, according
to Napoleon, 50,000 of the enemy, drawn up on the
very strong position just described. The battle began
at eleven o'clock. Turenne put his right wing under
his relative, Comte de Lorges, with orders to extend
it along the entire front of the enemy, as if intending
to attack Colmar. This had the effect of making the
Imperialists neglect Turckheim and turn all their at-
tention to concentrating their forces to their left, to
oppose any attempt by the French right upon Colmar.
Meanwhile Turenne, with his left, lay concealed behind
a hill, in a gorge, which led between two spurs of the
Vosges Mountains, in the direction of Turckheim and
the Imperial right. As soon as the enemy was seen to

i675 ^T. 63 1 TURCKHEIM 363

be moving his troops towards Colmar, Turenne led his
men through the gorge to his left, in the opposite
direction to Colmar and towards Turckheim. The
Imperialists had expected the battle to be the battle of
Colmar, and it was exactly because Turenne saw that
they expected it to be the battle of Colmar, and had
made all their preparations for a battle of Colmar, that
he determined to make it the battle of Turckheim.

As soon as the Imperial generals perceived
Turenne's tactics, they despatched six guns, twelve
battalions and several squadrons of cavalry to their
extreme right to prevent Turenne from crossing the
Fech and occupying Turckheim. Against this force,
Turenne sent Foucault with eight battalions, and soon
afterwards reinforced him with four others ; but, instead
of taking advantage of having arrived before the
enemy's reinforcements, he ordered Foucault not to
begin the attack till an hour before sunset, as he hoped
that the Imperialists might retire without fighting.
Accordingly, after enduring the artillery fire patiently
for some time, at three o'clock Foucault crossed the
arm of the Fech, and, after a very brilliant attack, in
which he was killed, his troops drove their opponents
towards the Imperialist centre. The delay, ordered
by Turenne, in the delivery of this attack, is rather
difficult to understand.^ As the sun set at four o'clock

1 The following is Ramsay's account of this incident : " The
Viscount made Lieutenant-General Foucault advance with eight
battalions and attack the post which the enemy had seized along
the brook, ordering him, in case he should drive them from thence,


darkness soon came on and the battle ended ; but the
French army had gained a position on the Imperial
flank, behind its entrenchments.

Turckheim was now completely undefended, and
Turenne sent seven battalions to occupy a hill beyond
the town, immediately above the Fech and command-
ing the entire right flank of the enemy. But when
the sun rose the next morning, the Imperialist army
had disappeared. Turenne then occupied Colmar,
where he found 3,000 wounded, sick and stragglers.

The most remarkable features of the battle of
Turckheim were that, although what fighting there was
was fierce, only a comparatively small number of the
troops upon the battlefield fought at all ; that the
fighting was only in one place ; and that the space upon
which the action occurred was a very small portion of
a very large field of battle. Neither side appears to have
desired a general engagement.

The Imperial army continued to retreat, and
Turenne followed it till it came to Strasburg, where
it crossed the Rhine and retired into Germany.
Turenne had thus driven the enemy entirely out of
Alsace and also out of Strasburg, to whose inhabi-
tants he gave a promise to forgive and forget all that
was past.

not to follow them nor take their cannon, in order to avoid a
general battle ; he likewise forbad him to begin the attack till an
hour before sunset, that the enemy might take counsel in the
night and retire by favour of it to prevent being attacked next day
in front and flank ".

i67S ^T. 63] CRITICISM 365

The whole of Europe was astounded at Turenne's
success, and greater still was the astonishment when it
became known that he had foretold it two months
earlier. The King read before his whole Court a letter
which Turenne had written so early as the 30th of
October to Le Tellier, the Chancellor and Secretary of
State, in which he had said : " Pretending not to be
able to resist the enemy after his junction with the
Elector of Brandenburg, I will still retire before them,
to give them the greater confidence. I will retreat into
Lorraine, after which they will not fail to extend them-
selves all over Alsace, then I will fall upon their
quarters, by a way by which they will never expect my
approach to surprise them : and I may perhaps oblige
them to repass the Rhine and take up their winter
quarter in their own country."

In fact Turenne was acting upon what is reputed
to have been one of his own maxims : "Seem some-
times to show fear, to give a greater confidence to the
enemy in their own strength, and to make them more
negligent and less distrustful of you ".

It might be supposed that Napoleon would have
nothing but the highest praise to offer to the memory
of Turenne in relation to this splendid strategy. Yet
he found a good deal to criticise, and very interesting
are his criticisms. He says: "It was on the 27th of
December, that Turenne reached Belfort, and it was
on the 5th of January that he fought the battle of
Turckheim, being nine days after his arrival, and six
days too late. . . . The cantonments being once


mustered at Belfort, the manoeuvre was unmasked,
there was not an hour to lose. Had Turenne marched
with more rapidity, he would have obtained important
successes; but the enemy's troops had time to rally
from all their quarters, so that he found all their army
united on the field of Colmar. He ought to have
prevented this junction. The whole spirit of this
operation consisted in reaching the bridge of Strasburg
before the army had rallied. Turenne failed in this ;
such a manoeuvre would have been fruitful in grand
results, and certain of success, if, instead of debouching
by Belfort, that is to say by the extremity of the
Voso-es, Turenne had debouched by the middle of the
Vosges, direct on Colmar^ and Strasburg, he would
have arrived before the cantonments could have rallied.
On this occasion, he evinced more talent in the con-
ception than in the execution of this fine plan." And
he hints that Turenne might have been defeated at
Turckheim, if the Grand Elector of Brandenburg had
thought the risks of a great battle worth running for
the sake of retaining Alsace, a place 250 miles from
his own dominions, from which it was separated by a
number of small states.

The Grand Elector, Napoleon declares, "ought to
have given batde at Colmar. He was in an excellent
position, his whole army had rallied, and his retreat on
Strasburg was secure. The possession of Alsace was

^ There is a pass, rather less than half-way between Strasburg
and Belfort, through the Vosges Mountains to Colmar, by St.
Marie-aux-Mines. Its height is 2,625 f^^^-

i675 ^T. 63] TURCKHEIM 367

undoubtedly worth a batde, but not to him or to the
princes of the North of Germany. There was nothing
to compensate them for the risks they would have run
and the losses they would have suffered in accepting

This question whether the Imperial army voluntarily
retreated, owing to differences of intention in the allies
composing it, or fled through defeat, is an interesting
one. The people of Brandenburg, or Prussians, were
the chief of the German Protestants ; and although in
some sense allied to the Empire, they were, at heart,
rather the enemies than the friends of the Austrians.
They had been glad enough to make common cause
with them in curbing the ambitions of Louis XIV. and
they were ready to help them in driving the French
out of Alsace, so long as the united armies were in
something like the proportions of three to one to the
French army. But it was quite a different thing to
run the risks of a great batde solely for Austria's ad-
vantage, when the proportions were reduced to five to

For the opposite supposition— that the Germans,
at any rate after the battle of Turckheim, retreated
from necessity and not from choice — it may be argued
that the French, by establishing themselves inside the
right flank of the Imperial army, and thus getting
partially behind their entrenchments, had rendered a
large portion of those entrenchments useless, and that
a simultaneous attack upon the Imperial right front
and its weak and unprotected right flank, on the follow-


ing morning, would have exposed its army to very-
serious risks. Moreover, now that the French troops
had advanced some distance on the high ground north
of Turckheim, it was possible that they might have
harrassed the retreat of the German army towards
Strasburg, although, as Napoleon says, they might
not have been able to cut it off


On his return to Paris, and more or less in every
town through which he passed on his way thither,
Turenne was received in triumph. Whenever he
appeared in public he was surrounded by a crowd
who cheered with joy. Louis XIV. could not show
him enough favourer affection, and he obliged Louvois
to make him an apology for all the trouble he had
given to him.

Far from being proud of all the honour that was
paid to him, or from enjoying the public proofs of his
popularity, his one desire was to escape from them.
Indeed he intended to retire altogether from military and
public life, and to make a prolonged visit to the House
of the Fathers of the Oratory at Paris. He said that
having spent nearly all his life in heresy he was anxious
to devote one or two years exclusively to the study and
practice of the Catholic religion. Two priests of the
Oratory, Pere du Castel and Pere St. Denis, had ac-
companied him as chaplains in the campaigns which
followed his reception into the Catholic Church. The
Parisian Oratory was founded in 1611 by Cardinal
Berulle, who also founded fifty colleges, seminaries and
houses of retreat in connection with it ; but the French
369 24


Oratory was in no way connected with the Oratory
of St. Philip Neri, so well known in Rome in its early
days, and in later years in England.

While Turenne's sole desire was peace, and especially
peace brought by religion, his country was again on
the brink of a great war, and was calling loudly for
his services. There was a probability of much fight-
ing in Europe. The Austrians threatened Alsace.
The Swedes had renewed their alliance with France,
and had declared war against the Grand Elector of
Brandenburg, who had thus plenty to occupy his at-
tention at home, without interfering with French affairs
on the Rhine. The attention of the Princes of Bruns-
wick and Lunenburg and the Bishop of Miinster was
also now turned to military matters in the North,
instead of in the South,

Six large armies were being prepared in Europe
during the spring of 1675. ^^ French army, under
Conde, was to oppose the Dutch and Spanish armies,
under the Prince of Orange, in Flanders. The Grand
Elector of Brandenburg was to lead his army against
that of Sweden, under Wrangel; and the Emperor
was sending his very skilful general, Montecuculi,
into Swabia, to fight the French under

And here was a difficulty! Louis XIV, wished
Turenne to lead an army once more to the banks of
the Rhine, but Turenne pleaded his desire to give up
military work, at the age of sixty-three, and to retire for
privacy and prayer. The King urged, the Marshal
expostulated. In his difficulty Turenne consulted one

i675 ^Et. 63] VISITS DE RETZ 371

of the Fathers of the Oratory in whose opinion he had
great confidence, and received from him the advice
that it was his duty to serve his King and his country ;
whereupon Turenne submitted to the wishes of Louis

Before starting for the war he visited Cardinal de
Retz, who was then leading a life of strict retirement,
penitence — for which there was ample necessity — and
charity. He said to De Retz : " I am no great talker ;
but I beg you to believe me in earnest when I tell you
that, were it not for these affairs, which perhaps may re-
quire my assistance, I would retire as you do ; and I
give you my word that, if I return, I will not die in a
trench but, in imitation of your good example, I will
put a period of religious retirement between my life in
the world and my death ".

Always, before starting on a campaign, Turenne
carefully examined his accounts and scrupulously paid
his debts. On this occasion he took unusual care in
seeing that he owed nothing. He was by no means
excessively wealthy. Although he had had so many
opportunities of enriching himself after victories and
of obtaining lucrative appointments as rewards for his
services, and in spite of having lived a very simple and
inexpensive private life, so generous had he been to his
troops and so large had been his charities that, at the
age of sixty-three, he was scarcely, if at all, richer than
he had been when he first inherited his patrimony.

On the nth of May, 1675, having had a rest of
little more than three months, after the long and weary-


ing campaign of the previous year and the early days
of the present, Turenne left Paris to join the army,
which he had left in Alsace, at Schlettstadt, a town on
the river 111, a dozen miles north of Colmar and twenty-
eight to the south of Strasburg. His forces numbered
20,000 and Montecuculi's about 25,000.

The eyes of Europe were intently fixed upon the
approaching duel between the two great generals, upon
whose skill and judgment the war between France and
the Empire was to depend. There was little difference
in their ages ; each of them had carried a musket
before obtaining a commission, they had been respec-
tively trained to arms under the two rival uncles. Prince
Maurice and Count Ernest ; they were both scientific
students of the art of war ; both had had much experi-
ence of actual warfare upon the field of battle, and
each was beloved by his soldiers. Turenne was nearly
sixty-four and Montecuculi only a couple of years older ;
but Montecuculi suffered much from gout and was less
active than Turenne, consequently he was less able to
ride about and make observations for himself and more
dependent upon information received from others.

With the object of making up for the pusillanimity
of the Grand Elector of Brandenburg during the pre-
ceding campaign, Montecuculi had been in corre-
spondence with the magistrates of Strasburg, with
whom he was personally extremely popular, and he
had explained to them that his victory was certain and
that he was about to free them for ever from any
annoyance at the hands of France.

i67S ^T. 63] STRASBURG 373

It is necessary for students of the history of this
campaign to bear in mind the political position of
Strasburg. Formerly, and for a very long period,
it had been an episcopal city, and, during the Mero-
vingian period, its bishopric had attained to great
importance and vast wealth. But afterwards, as the
citizens grew in riches and in power, there was a
prolonged struggle between them and their bishops,
ending in the battle of Oberhausbergen, in 1262, by
which the people threw off the episcopal rule and made
Strasburg a free. Imperial city. Seventy years later
there was an internal revolution, and after that the
guilds were given a share in the government of the city.
Its government, therefore, was essentially democratic,
and it is this democratic government to which refer-
ence is made whenever the magistrates of Strasburg
are spoken of in these pages. During the Thirty
Years' War, and up to the date with which we are
now dealing, Strasburg, although an Imperial city,
had professed absolute neutrality in all the wars between
France and Germany.

Having heard of the negotiations between Monte-
cuculi and Strasburg, Turenne thought it wise to over-
awe the magistrates of Strasburg, by marching to
Achenheim, where he had encamped before the battle
of Ensheim. As this encampment was hardly six miles
from Strasburg, Turenne 's presence there had a salutary
effect. But he was scarcely a day too soon ! As it
was, Montecuculi was close to Strasburg, on the oppo-
site side of the river, and had only been deterred from


crossing the Rhine into Alsace, over the bridge of
Strasburg, by the absence of part of his army, which
had wintered in the country of Liege, and had not yet

Checked at Strasburg, Montecuculi endeavoured
to draw Turenne away from it, by marching eighty
miles to the north down the right bank of the Rhine,
and pretending that he was going to besiege Philipps-
burg. He seized all the important places round it
and then made a bridge of boats, ten miles north of
Philippsburg, at Spires.

This ruse on the part of Montecuculi neither de-
ceived Turenne nor induced him to remove his army
from its camp close to Strasburg ; but he took the
precaution of going in person to the north, accompanied
by 1,400 cavalry, to judge for himself of Montecuculi's
proceedings. When there he strengthened the garri-
son of Philippsburg, went to Hagenau saw that all
was right at that very important fortress in Northern
Alsace, and then returned to his army, near Strasburg.

Montecuculi next tried to entice Turenne away
from Strasburg, by sending cavalry across the Rhine
to the western side of the river, and on to Landau
and Neustadt, in the Palatinate, as if threatening
the Moselle and the northern frontier of Alsace. But
again Turenne refused to take the bait. In fact, he
did exactly the opposite to what Montecuculi was
tempting him to do ; for early in June he sent a regiment
of cavalry and a brigade of infantry, protected by six
guns, to make a bridge ten miles to the south of

i675^T. 63] OTTENHEIM 375

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