1704 – Siege of Landau
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The siege lasted from 9 September to 24 November 1704
At the beginning of September 1704, after the resounding success of his campaign on the Danube, the Duke of Marlborough decided to recapture the Fortress of Landau.
On 7 September, the Allies passed the Rhine on two bridges at Petite-Hollande and encamped with their right on the Speyerbach and their left at Petite Hollande. Margrave Louis of Baden, who had marched by Aschaffenburg, effected a junction with the main Allied army. When the Maréchal de Villeroy heard that the Allies had crossed the Rhine, he sent 9 bns and 25 sqns under M. de Guiscard at Germersheim. The rest of the army encamped some 6 km behind Germersheim, extending its left towards Landau.
Note: a map of the fortress is available in our article on the Siege of Landau of 1702.
The fortress of Landau was protected by seven bastion towers and one big redoubt. A moat that could be flooded ran around the walls. The city had only two gates and was subdivided into two parts by the Queich River.
In the night of 8 to 9 September, Villeroy sent 8 bns to reinforce Landau, which was already defended by 4 garrison bns, 2 sqns, gunners, bombardiers and engineers, all under the command of Lieutenant-General de Laubanie. The place had provisions and ammunition for an entire year. Its garrison now consisted of 4,750 foot and 250 horse for a total of 5,000 men.
On 9 September before daybreak, the Allies set off to attack Villeroy's left flank. However, Villeroy had already started his retreat to Langenkandel (probably Kandel). The Allies were very surprised to find that the French had already evacuated Germersheim and the whole line on the Queich. They encamped in the positions previously occupied by the French between Bellheim and Offenbach/Queich. The Allied cavalry cut all communications of the Fortress of Landau with the Villeroy's Army.
The Allies agreed that Margrave Louis of Baden would lay siege to Landau, while the Duke of Marlborough and Prince Eugène de Savoie would march to the Lauter River to cover the siege.
On 11 September, the troops of Prince Baden-Durlach established the blockade of the Fortress of Landau.
On 12 September, as the French had done during the previous siege of Landau (1703), the Allies chose the southern front for their attack, The trenches were opened near Hochgericht and the mill on Queich Canal. Initially, the Allies did not have enough siege artillery to conduct efficient operations. On 22 September, Archduke Joseph, the "King of the Romans", arrived at Ilbesheim and took immediately command of the siege operations. His headquarters at Ilbesheim were secured by the Kreisregiment Nassau-Weilburg and the Upper-Rhine Kreiseskadron.
On 26 September, Field Marshal Johann Karl von Thüngen arrived with the siege corps, reinforced by 4 Prussian bns. He was now at the head of 52 bns and 48 sqns, including a Palatine contingent of 19 bns and 27 sqns.
The attack from the south was subdivided into three parts:
- the Imperial troops of FM Thüngen
- the troops of the Reich led by FZM Count Fürstenberg
- the Prussians led by General Duke Leopold von Nassau-Anhalt (on the left)
Constant rain delayed the work of the besiegers.
On 27 September, a strong French detachment made a sortie against the uncompleted batteries of the right wing, but were driven back by the Palatine Stolzenberg Cavalry and Frankenberg Cavalry. In this action, the Palatine cavalry suffered heavy losses due to the fire of the guns from the ramparts.
On 1 October, the heavy siege guns arrived from Ulm and Philippsburg and 30 guns opened on the fortress.
On 3 October, Laubanie tried another sortie, but had to retire with high losses.
On 8 October, because of the slow progress of the siege, Prince Eugéne and the Duke of Marlborough visited the works. By then 80 guns were firing on the fortress without noticeable success.
In the night of 10 to 11 October, the besiegers hurled the Palatine Leibregiment zu Fuss, the Imperial Thüngen Infantry and some grenadiers against the Mélac Redoubt. The attackers entered the redoubt, but were driven out shortly afterwards by 6 grenadier coys under the direct command of Lieutenant-General Laubanie.
Over the next few days, the attackers repeated their assaults and finally managed to make themselves masters of the Mélac Redoubt. Laubanie was severely wounded in the body and eyes, but retained command.
On 14 October, the third parallel was opened. The Palatine Rehbinder Infantry, Barbo Infantry and Bentheim Infantry suffered losses during the construction of a lodgement in front of the palisades on top of the ravelin,
In mid-October, judging that the French could not relieve the garrison of Landau, Marlborough sent off British and Dutch troops. The infantry went down the Rhine by boats as far as Nijmegen from whence they dispersed into winter-quarters; the cavalry marched by land the same way they had come up.
On 4 November, the breaching batteries and 75 mortars shelled the ramparts of Landau.
In the night of 15 to 16 November, the Allies stormed the ravelin. The Palatine Barbo Infantry and Bourscheidt Infanty took part in the assault. The attack succeeded and the defenders (about 100 men) fled. While trying to break the gate of the blockhouse, the attackers came under heavy fire from the defenders and suffered heavy losses. Nevertheless, they managed to establish a lodgement on the parapet of the demi-lune.
On 23 November at 10:00 a.m., the garrison of Landau surrendered. M. de Laubanie obtained the honours of war for the garrison.
On 24 November, the capitulation of Landau was signed. Imperial troops occupied the two gates. The garrison (around 1,500 men) left Landau "with military honour" and marched to Hagenau.
During the siege, the Allies had lost between 4,000 and 5,000 men, the French around 3,000.
After the capture of Landau, Prince Eugène returned to Bavaria to complete the occupation of the electorate.
Orders of Battle
French Order of Battle
Commander-in-Chief: Lieutenant-General de Laubanie assisted by generals du Gasquet and Marcé, de Breuil (artillery), de Genonville (engineers) and de Valliére (miners)
Summary: 8 field bns, 4 garrison bns, 2 sqns, gunners, bombardiers and engineers, for a total of 4,750 foot and 250 horse and a grand-total of 5,000 men.
- Vermandois Infanterie (2 bns)
- Beaufermès Infanterie (2 bns)
- Swiss II,/Hessy Infanterie (1 bn)
- Swiss III,/Hessy Infanterie (1 bn)
- II./Angoumois Infanterie (1 bn)
- Savigny Infanterie (1 bn)
- II./Ponthieu Infanterie (1 bn)
- Castelet Infanterie (1 bn)
- unidentified infantry units (2 bns)
- unidentified cavalry units (250 men in 2 sqns)
- Bombardiers and artillery (3 coys)
Imperialist Order of Battle
Commander-in-Chief: Field Marshal Johann Karl von Thüngen
Summary: 54 bns, 46 sqns, for a total of approx. 30,000 men
- Imperial Baden Infantry (2 bns)
- Upper Rhine Bibra Infantry (2 bns)
- Imperial Salm Infantry (2 bns)
- Upper-Rhine Nassau-Weilburg Infantry (1 or 2 bns)
- Upper-Rhine Bettendorff Infantry (2 bns)
- Imperial Tollet Infantry (2 bns)
- Westphalian Bernsdorff Kreisinfanterie (1 bn)
- Franconian Boyneburg (2 bns)
- ??? Schulenburg unidentified unit several candidates
- Franconian Erffa Kreisinfanterie (2 bns)
- Upper-Rhine Buttlar Kreisinfantrie (2 bns)
- Darmstadt (2 bns) unidentified unit several candidates
- Palatine Bentheim Infantry (1 bn) encamped on hills between the Birn and Schleid creeks, east of Wollmesheim
- Palatine Barbo Infantry (1 bn) encamped on hills between the Birn and Schleid creeks, east of Wollmesheim
- Palatine Rehbinder Infantry (1 bn) encamped on hills between the Birn and Schleid creeks, east of Wollmesheim
- Palatine Leibregiment zu Fuss (1 bn) aka Aubach encamped on hills between the Birn and Schleid creeks, east of Wollmesheim
- Prussian Kanitz Infantry (1 bn or 2 bns)
- Prussian Lottum Infantry (1 or 2 bns)
- Prussian Markgraf Christian Ludwig (2 bns)
- Palatine Burscheidt Infantry (2 bns) encamped on hills between the Birn and Schleid creeks, east of Wollmesheim
- Palatine Sachsen-Meiningen Infantry (1 bn) encamped on hills between the Birn and Schleid creeks, east of Wollmesheim
- Palatine Frankenberg Cavalry (2 sqns) on the right wing
- Palatine Stolzenberg Cavalry (2 sqns) on the right wing
- Palatine Westerwald-Dillenburg Infantry (1 bn) guarding the headquarters in Arzheim
- Westphalian (Münster) Nagel Cavalry (2 sqns)
- Münster Veninger Cavalry (2 sqns)
- Palatine Leiningen Dragoons (3 sqns) east of Nußdorf
- Palatine Schellart Cavalry (2 sqns) east of Nußdorf
- Palatine Wiser Cavalry (2 sqns) east of Nußdorf
- Palatine Vehlen Dragoons (3 sqns) north of the Queich stream
- Palatine Wittgenstein Dragoons (3 sqns) north of the Queich stream
- Palatine Leibregiment zu Pferd (3 sqns) north of the Queich stream
- Palatine Venningen Carabiniers (3 sqns) north of the Queich stream
- Palatine Hatzfeld Cavalry (3 sqns) north of the Queich stream
- Palatine Efferen Infantry (1 bn) north of the Queich stream
- Palatinate Haxthausen Infantry (1 bn) guarding the headquarters in Arzheim
- Swabian Baden-Durlach Kreisinfanterie (1bn)
- Swabian Fürstenberg-Stühlingen Kreisinfanterie (1 bn)
- Swabian Baden-Baden Kreisinfanterie (1 bn)
- Imperial Lobkowitz Cuirassiers (4 or 5 sqns)
- Imperialist Converged Grenadiers (4 bns)
- Palatine Garde-Grenadiers (1 bn) posted south of the headquarters at Arzheim
- Würzburg Fechenbach Cavalry (5 sqns)
- Palatine Haxthausen-Paderborn Infantry (1 bn) guarding the headquarters in Arzheim
- Westphalian Simmern Infantry (1 bn)
- Westphalian Haxthausen Infantry (1 bn)
- Westphalian Westerwald Infantry (1 bn)
- Imperial Thüngen Infantry (1 bn)
- Imperial Württemberg-Stuttgart Infantry (1 or 2 bns)
- Imperial Sinzendorff Dragoons (5 sqns)
- Upper Rhine Nassau-Weilburg Cavalry (2 sqns)
N.B.: Ratzenhofer's work adds: Swabian Schnäbelin (2 bns), Westphalian Paderborn (1 bn), Franconian Hoffmann (1 bn)
Bezzel, O.: Geschichte des Kurpfälzischen Heeres Bayrisches Kriegsarchiv, IV. file, 2. part, pp 110-119, Munich 1925
Festungsbauverein Landau – Les amis de Vauban – Die eingeschlossene Festung nach der Eröffnung der Laufgräben 1704
Ratzenhofer, G.: Feldzüge des Prinzen Eugen von Savoyen, Feldzug 1704, Vienna 1879, pp. 573-575
Heller: Der Feldzug 1704 am Rhein, an der Donau, in Tirol und Ober=Österreich. Vierter Abschnitt in Östreichische militärische Zeitschrift, Volume 1, 1842, pp. 174-215
Harald Skala for the initial version of this article.
Jörg Meier for the orders of battle.