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Strasburg, near the village of Ottenheim, at a point
where several islands made the spaces to be bridged
over comparatively narrow, the materials having been
brought down the river, from Breisach. The bridge
was finished and fortified in four days. He then
marched his whole army over this bridge and en-
camped near Willstadt, a place to the south of the
river Kinzig,^ and about six miles to the south-east
of Strasburg. Of Turenne's bridge at Ottenheim
Napoleon says: "This great Captain committed the
error of placing his bridge four leagues from Strasburg " ;
an error which he declares "might have produced the
destruction of his army, if he had had the Prince of
Conde to deal with ". In Napoleon's opinion Turenne
should have placed his bridge only one league " from

Yet Napoleon fully acknowledges the skill of
Turenne in refusing to be beguiled by Montecuculi's
pretended siege of Philippsburg, or by his sending troops
across to the west of the Rhine and threatening an
invasion of Northern Alsace. Turenne, he says, by
taking the lead himself, and crossing to the east or
German side of the Rhine, obliged Montecuculi also to
return to the eastern side of it. "This first victory,"
a bloodless victory, "was a substantial advantage."

When Montecuculi realised the position of things,
he brought his army south, and encamped on the north
of the river Kinzig, about seven miles to the south-east

^ It is called the river Kinche on the accompanying plan.
^ Napoleon spoke of French leagues — not of English.


of the camp of Turenne, and close to the fortress of
Offenburg, where he had a garrison. Offenburg is at
the foot of the mountains of the Black Forest ; there-
fore, in case of failure, so long as he remained at
Offenburg, Montecuculi had his retreat clear before
him into Germany.

"Turenne's position," says Napoleon, "was bad.
He ought rather to have given battle than to have ex-
posed himself to the loss of the bridge of Ottenheim and
his retreat." Montecuculi 's encampment was, as it
were, the apex of a nearly equilateral triangle, one
side of which extended from his camp to the bridge at
Ottenheim, and the other from his own camp to that of

But Napoleon finds serious fault with Montecuculi.
"If," he says, " Montecuculi had thought fit to advance
by an uninterrupted nocturnal march of six hours,
directly on Ottenheim ... he would have forced the
bridge of Ottenheim before the whole of Turenne's
army could have covered it ; but he did nothing of the
kind ; he trifled and contented himself with prolonging
his right : he thought that manoeuvres would be enough
to determine Turenne to abandon his camp at Willstadt
and to uncover Strasburg. Turenne penetrated his

Turenne, as Ramsay points out, had two bridges
to guard, his own at Ottenheim and another between
Fort Kell and Strasburo-, belonaino- to the inhabitants
of Strasburg, who "waited only an opportunity to break
their word with impunity " and deliver the place over

i6 JET. 6s] ALTENHEIM 377

to Montecuculi. Turenne's best chance of preventing
this from happening was by remaining at Willstadt ;
but this entailed upon him the necessity of guarding a
front of at least ten miles. Indeed, as Willstadt was at
some distance from the Rhine, he had really to defend
a front of nearer fifteen miles.

"At last." says Napoleon, Turenne "comprehended
that he was hazarding his army, he raised his bridge of
Ottenheim, which he brought within two leagues of
Strasburg and of his camp at Willstadt, placing it at
Altenheim. 1 1 was still too far from Strasburg : it should
have been constructed within one league^ of that city."
Turenne completed his bridge at Altenheim on the
22nd of June. Montecuculi, who had been threatening
Ottenheim, then withdrew to Offenburg.

Montecuculi now gave up the idea of taking the
bridge at Altenheim and moved his camp about seven
or eight miles farther north, to the foot of the mountains
of the Black Forest. Observing this, Turenne also
moved his camp about as far to the north, but along
the flat, between Strasburg and the army of Montecuculi.
Throughout most of these operations, although the
month was June, the weather had been very wet, and
the Rhine and even the small rivers running into it
were unusually full of water.

Montecuculi had laid up a considerable amount of
provisions and ammunition in Strasburg, and the re-
quirements of his army made him anxious to obtain

1 An English league is 5,280 yards ; but a French league is
4,263 yards.


them for immediate use ; therefore he sent messengers
to Strasburg ordering his people there to float his
stores down the Rhine, on a bridge of boats that he
had had made at that town. Hoping to meet the
convoy, as it came down the river, he left the Black
Forest and marched north-west across the plain
towards the Rhine, encamping at Schertzheim, a village
ten miles below, that is to the north of, Strasburg,
and about one and a half from the riverside. On
observing this Turenne immediately removed his
camp to near Freistett, a village between Strasburg
and Schertzheim, about three miles nearer Strasburg,
and much closer to the Rhine than Schertzheim. The
river Rench, a tributary of the Rhine, lay between
the two camps. Having learned through spies that
Montecuculi was expecting a convoy to come down the
river from Strasburg, Turenne took means to inter-
cept it. There were several islands in the Rhine at
that point ; and on these he placed batteries of artillery,
while in the main channel he anchored boats filled with
soldiers. Although, by these means, Turenne prevented
Montecuculi from getting his provisions and ammu-
nition from Strasburg, it was at considerable cost to
himself His soldiers, on the islands, were camping on
very boggy and unhealthy ground ; even the body of
his army beside the bank of the river was upon a marsh,
and the continual rains had rendered ground of such
a nature exceptionally wet. And, as to provisions, his
own men were in want of them, while his horses were
reduced to feeding on the leaves of trees. It was

i675 ^T. 62,] OFFENBURG 379

natural that the young soldiers should grumble when
the water stood above their ankles ; but the old ones
said to them : "What makes you complain? You do
not know our General. When we are in any distress,
he suffers more than we do. At this moment his
thoughts are wholly employed in contriving how to ex-
tricate us from this difficulty. He is awake when we
are asleep. He is our father! It is easy to see that
you are but young ! " ^

In some respects Montecuculi was better off than
Turenne. Although he had failed to get his convoy
from Strasburg, he had a country at his back in which
he could forage ; again he had communications with
Offenburg, whence he could threaten Turenne's bridge
at Altenheim, and, if he could but capture that bridge,
he would be able to cut off his enemy's communications.

Thus, for two months, as Ramsay says, Turenne
and Montecuculi had "put in practice all that long
experience had taught them : by their different move-
ments, real or feigned, they exhausted all the finesses
of art to starve, intercept, surprise and gain some ad-
vantage over one another, without which both had
determined not to hazard a battle". So far as any
records inform us, not a shot had yet been fired nor a
blow struck, on either side, since they had been on the
east of the Rhine.

And now Turenne found that he would be unable
to remain much longer where he was without being in

1 Ramsay.


serious want of provisions for his men. It was neces-
sary to take some decisive step at once ; and he took
one. He determined to move up the river Rench, to
cross it, and to cut off Montecuculi's communications.
The question was how and where to cross that river.
Fortunately he found a shepherd, who showed him
a little-known ford in the woods of the picturesque
valley of the Rench, in a desolate place, stated by
Ramsay to have been only " 500 paces " above Monte-
cuculi's camp, a ford unknown to the Imperial staff,
and quite unguarded.

When it became dark, on the 1 5th of July, Turenne
led a brigade towards this ford on the Rench. His
men had to cut their way through a wood, for there
was no road to the ford, the ground was very marshy,
and they had to pass through some brooks in which
they were up to their waists in water. It was mid-
night when they reached and crossed the ford in the
Rench, and then they instantly began to make a bridge,
with a redan at the end of it. Three days were spent
in completing these works, and Napoleon says : " When
Montecuculi allowed his antagonist to employ himself
three days in constructing a bridge, he ought to have
raised entrenchments on the Rench : although so near
his camp, he suffered himself to be cut off from
Caprara's corps and from Offenburg".

As Turenne was going to leave a comparatively
small force at his camp at Freistett, he had it en-
trenched during his absence ; and when the redan
by the bridge was finished, he sent for Count Hamil-

i675 ^T. 63] THE REDAN ON THE RENCH 381

ton ^ with three battalions to occupy it ; he also ordered
two Irish battalions to guard a valley a little higher up in
the wood. Then he crossed the Rench with the main
body of his army, and when all were on the opposite
side he said: "Really I think that this has not been
badly done, and it is my firm belief that M. de Monte-
cuculi will be of the same opinion ". Montecuculi was
thus cut off both from Offenburg and from that part
of his army which was under Caprara, as well as from
some detachments which were observing the French
at the bridge of Altenheim. From this embarrassing
position he decided to attempt an escape by making a
grand night attack upon Turenne on the 23rd of July.
The plan he made was that he himself with his
main army should attack Turenne's camp at Freistett ;
that Caprara, summoned from Offenburg, should attack
the French rear; that Lorraine should attack the
French right flank ; and that 4,000 men should attack
Hamilton in his redan on the Rench. The officer in
command of those 4,000 men, as soon as he arrived
in front of the redan, was to have four guns fired as a
signal, and, at that signal, but not before, all the Im-
perial forces were to make their attacks simultaneously.
That signal was never given! The 4,000 men
were misled by their guides, who possibly may have
been bribed by Turenne ; and although it was so near,
they never found the redan, consequently they never

1 According to Sir Walter Scott, this was Count Anthony
Hamilton, the compiler of the Grammonf Memoirs. He was a
great-grandson of the first Duke of Abercorn.


fired the four guns, but returned to their camp at
daybreak. Caprara, hearing no signal, also returned
to his camp, at Offenburg ; and Montecuculi, impatiently
awaiting the four booms of the cannons, concluded that
something had gone wrong, did not venture to make
his grand attack upon the French camp at Freistett,
and finally returned to his camp in anxiety, anger, and
bitter disappointment.

Lorraine, however, came in for some fighting.
Turenne was on the move that night, as well as Monte-
cuculi ; with his usual activity he had learned of Monte-
cuculi's proposed attack, and he intended to cut off his
retreat. While the Imperial generals were awaiting
the signal for the general engagement, Turenne was
encamped at a tile-kiln, on the farther side of the
Rench, near the redan, with the greater part of his
army. Soon after midnight he was on the march, and,
in a thick mist, some of his advanced cavalry came into
contact with Lorraine's. At first Lorraine's soldiers
had much the best of the encounter, which began before
daybreak ; but towards five o'clock, as it was getting
lighter in spite of a fog, Turenne sent up some cavalry
and four battalions which lined the hedges and repulsed
the enemy. Lorraine, when he learned that Turenne
was before him in person, with the greater part of his
army, prudendy retired, leaving more than 100 of his
men dead on the field. The mist greatly assisted his
retreat. Turenne did not think it prudent to pursue
Lorraine through the fog ; but. when it cleared off, he
followed in the direction which Lorraine had taken and

i675 ^T. Gt,] the enemy ENCLOSED 383

arrived at nine o'clock near Gamshurst, a village on
the river Acher, some little distance to the east of
Schertzheim and Freistett.

Of Turenne's position at this time Ramsay says :
"Thus the French army, divided in six different posts
within the compass of a league and a half, enclosed
the front and left wing of the enemy, and was itself
in security, because the several parts could with ease
assist one another ; while the Imperialists being shut
up on their right by the Rhine, could extend themselves
no way but towards the places behind them, and the
French were near enough to cut off their retreat".

Although he had been in the saddle since soon
after midnight, the whole of the 24th of July was
spent by Turenne in riding about and examining the
country, which, with its spurs of the Black Mountains,
its brooks, and its valleys, required very careful recon-
noitring, a duty in which he never spared himself


On the operations described in the last chapter
Napoleon says: "Turenne proved himself in this
campaign, infinitely superior to Montecuculi : i st by
compelling him to follow his lead : 2ndly by preventing
him from entering Strasburg : 3rdly by cutting off the
bridge of Strasburg : 4thly by cutting off the enemy's
army on the Rench,"

On the morning of the 25th of July there was a
skirmish near Gamshurst, between a body of Turenne's
troops and 2,000 of Lorraine's infantry, supported by
some cavalry, and it ended in the retreat of Lorraine.
The same day Montecuculi, seeing that, by their
continuous positions between Freistett and Gamshurst,
the French threatened to enclose him, decamped from
Schertzen at night, and marched by Lichtenau to Biihl,
a place about five miles to the north of Achern and
about six from Baden. Turenne heard of this move-
ment the same night, sent some of his staff to observe
it, and, shortly after four o'clock in the morning of the
26th, marched his army from its cymp at Gamshurst to
Achern, a small town about two and a half miles from
Gamshurst, on the edge of the Black Forest, and

i675 ^T. 63] SASBACH 385

situated amidst some of the most beautiful scenery of
the Schwartzwald.

Montecuculi might have retired across the Black
Forest by the pass over the mountains from Biihl ; but
he was anxious to join and take with him Caprara and
Lorraine ; and, for this reason, he skirted the edge of
the Black Forest, by the road from Biihl to Sasbach, a
small town three miles south of Biihl, and with success,
at any rate to the extent of effecting a junction with
Caprara, who, on receiving his orders from Monte-
cuculi, had marched north with his infantry along the
edge of the Black Forest, over the spurs of the mountains,
under the cover of woods and hedges.

Having arrived at Sasbach, Montecuculi flattered
himself that he had now rounded Turenne's right ; and
it must have been a very unpleasant surprise to him to
find that Turenne had already arrived at Achern, only
about a mile to the south-west of Sasbach. For the
moment, however, Montecuculi was pretty safely
protected at Sasbach itself, as he had sent some infantry
to occupy a church surrounded by a ditch, which
effectually blockaded the very narrow valley leading to
the town.

On the morning of the 27th, after hearing Mass, at
which he received communion, Turenne went to look
again at the position which the Imperialists had occupied
in the defile leading to Sasbach, and he came to the
conclusion that the defence round the church was im-
pregnable. Then he went on to some high ground to
reconnoitre the enemy's right, and found it effectively


covered by brooks, hollows, woods and entrenchments.
Afterwards he rode to his own right, to view the
enemy's left, where, to his surprise, he observed that
Montecuculi had taken no precautions. Moreover,
he noticed a defile a little beyond the enemy's extreme
left, by which he could obtain an entrance for some of
his own troops into the head of the valley occupied by
Montecuculi, a manoeuvre by which he hoped and ex-
pected to cut off that general's retreat nto the Black
Forest, and to enclose his army.
BATTLE OF Having^ griven all his orders, at twelve o'clock


27th July, ' Turenne wrote a very cheerful letter to the King, de-
scribing the position and his plan of attack, and promis-
ing to send off a courier, as soon as the battle should
be over, to report the result ; adding that he had
ordered the Catholic service, known as The Forty
Hours, to be conducted in the church at Breisach to
the God of battles. He then mounted his horse and
rode to a hill commanding a view of the scene of

Before an engagement Turenne had usually been
very reserved as to his hopes of success ; never had
he declared himself sure of it. But, that afternoon,
he said to some ot his generals : " It is done ! I have
them ! They cannot escape me. I shall now reap the
fruit of this fatiguing campaign."

While his own men were marching towards the
defile leading into the valley in which Montecuculi was
encamped, Turenne dismounted, sat down under a
tree, took his midday meal, and rested until he was


1675 ^T. 63] SASBACH 387

told that the enemy's infantry were moving to their
own left, a sign that Montecuculi had discovered the
French troops to be entering the upper part of the

Then Turenne again mounted his horse to watch
the action, which soon began in earnest. Certain as
he was that he had his enemy in a trap, he was at
least as certain that Montecuculi would make a des-
perate effort to escape from it. Possibly, during the
engagement, his own tactical skill might yet be put to
some unexpected test, and it was necessary that he
should observe the progress of the battle very closely.
For this purpose he rode towards a piece of rising
ground from which he would be able to get a good
view of it. Anxious to keep his young nephew, the
Duke of Elboeuf, out of the way of danger, he said to
the boy : " Stay where you are : you are known to be
always riding with me ; so, if you accompany me, I
shall be recognised ". He also forbade the rest of his
staff to follow him.

Fighting soon began in earnest. A very heavy
musketry fire rattled on the right, at the upper end of
the valley, where the Imperialists had suddenly found
themselves enclosed; and guns were booming close
at hand; for Turenne's batteries, not far from where
he was standing, had now opened fire, and those of the
enemy were replying to them vigorously.

"Pray come back. Sir," exclaimed Count Hamil-
ton, "they are firing in the direction in which you are

riding!" "Then I will gladly come back," replied


Turenne, as he turned his horse, "for I particularly
wish not to be killed just now."

Du Buisson (p. 464) says that Turenne, who always
had to trust to longer-sighted eyes than his own for
distant objects, asked St. Hilaire and another officer to
tell him the exact positions of the enemy. Then he
ordered some guns to be placed on an eminence a little
way from where he was standing. St. Hilaire, who was
entrusted with this order, returned to Turenne when it
had been accomplished ; and, as he came, a red cloak
which he was wearing attracted the attention of
Montecuculi's gunners and drew their fire. Pointing
with his hand to his own guns, St. Hilaire was asking
Turenne whether he approved of their position, when
the hurtling sound of a passing round shot drowned
his words, and immediately Turenne was seen to be
leaning forward upon the pommel of his saddle. His
charger, unguided, carried him back to the place where
he had left his nephew. When the horse stopped,
Turenne fell out of the saddle into the arms of his
attendants. Twice he opened his eyes, and then he
closed them for ever.

Great efforts were made to conceal the death of the
Marshal. But a boy of fifteen (the Duke of Elboeuf)
was lying weeping beside a cloak covering something
on the ground, and the faces of the staff were ominous of
a catastrophe. The sad fact soon became known. " Our
father is dead ! " cried the soldiers, as the news spread
from rank to rank. Presently another cry arose :

[675 ^T. 63] SASBACH 389

" Lead us to battle, we will avenge our Father, our
General, our Protector, our Defender ". Alas ! There
was no one to lead them. The generals hesitated,
disputed, even quarrelled. Then some soldiers, in
despair, said: "Let Pye loose"— Pye was Turenne's
favourite horse. " He will lead us ! "

To Montecuculi, who had a narrow escape the
same day, as his horse was killed under him by a
cannon-shot, the death of Turenne meant rescue from
dire defeat, and even a hope of possible victory. Yet,
when the news reached him, he exclaimed: "A man
has been lost who was an honour to humanity ! "

One more incident before we leave Turenne's last
battlefield. When the cannon-ball struck his side it
had already carried away St. Hilaire's arm, with which
he had been pointing, hat in hand, to the battery. His
young son, who was with him, thinking that his father
was mortally wounded, began to cry.

"Hold your peace, my child," said St. Hilaire in
his agony, as he pointed with his remaining arm to the
body of Turenne. "See! There is something for
which the whole world should weep — and weep for

The great opportunity so long waited for, and
obtained by Turenne, when death carried him ofl", was
lost through the distraction caused by that death, and
by the hesitation and divided counsels of his generals.
The next day a great battle took place ; but although
the Imperialists lost 5,000 men, and the French only
3,000, the army with which Turenne had been on the


very point of capturing the enemy, when he died, was
driven back by that enemy across the Rhine into
Alsace in little more than twenty-four hours.

Two days after the death of Turenne, the sad
news was brought to Louis XIV. by the courier who
had been expected to bring the news of his triumph.
"His Majesty," wrote Madame de Sevigne,i "was
going to take his diversion at Fontainbleau : the design
was immediately laid aside. Never was man so sin-
cerely regretted : all Paris was in trouble and emotion,
and all the people flocked together, every one lamenting
the Hero."

" It can hardly be credited," says the Abbe Arnauld
in his Mdmoires, "what consternation the death of
Turenne created in Paris. And this consternation
speedily developed into such a panic, that the enemy
might have been at the very gates of the city."

The letters of Madame de Sevigne for many days
are full of the profound sorrow caused by the death of
Turenne. In one of them she says: "M. de Barillon
supped here, last night. He spoke of nothing but M.
de Turenne. He is terribly unhappy. He talked to
us of the solidity of his virtues, of his strict adherence
to truth, of how much he loved virtue for its own sake,
of how greatly he thought himself rewarded by it alone :
and then he concluded by saying that a man could not
love him, nor even be touched by his merit, without

^ The Marquise de Sevigne, whose letters to her daughter (of
which this is one) rank among the finest monuments of the French

i675 ^T. 6s] ST. DENIS 391

being the better for it. M, de Turenne's conversation
communicated a horror of base actions and of double

Louis XIV. insisted upon Turenne's body being laid
in the Abbey of St. Denis, in which were the tombs of
the French Kings, and St. Evremond said that the
reason why he did so was because he felt himself as much
indebted to Turenne, who had saved his kingdom as
he did to those who had left it to him. That sarcastic
writer added : "If singularities are a kind of failings,
M. de Turenne had two, of which few people can be
accused : a too great disinterestedness, in an age when
a spirit of self-interest was universal, and a too pure
probity, at a period of universal corruption. . . . Those
who were with him in his last campaigns say that he
showed more spirit and vigour in them, than in the
preceding ones ; that he was more bold in enterprise
and in exposing his person latterly, than even formerly.

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