1706 – Campaign in the Low Countries

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Hierarchical Path: War of the Spanish Succession (Main Page) >> Campaigns >> 1706 – Campaign in the Low Countries

The campaign lasted from May to October 1706


For the campaign of 1706, Emperor Joseph I pledged to contribute 40,000 men of his own troops; Great Britain. 28,000 men; the Dutch Republic, 38,000 men (excluding foreign troops in Dutch pay); the principalities of the Holy Roman Empire, 87,000 men (including troops in Dutch pay; Duke Victor Amadeus II of Savoy, 18,000 men; and Portugal, 12,000 men. Furthermore, Cavalier, who had taken refuge in the Dutch Republic after the failed uprising in the Cévennes, offered to raise a force of 8,000 rebels in Languedoc.

The Duke of Marlborough would command an army of 71,000 men in the Netherlands; the Margrave of Baden, 40,000 men on the Rhine; Prince Eugène, 45,000 men in Italy; the Duke of Savoy, 18,000 men in his duchy; Archduke Charles, 25,000 men in Spain; and the Earl of Galway, 24,000 men in Portugal.

The epidemic sickness among the horses in Flanders had caused an extraordinary for horses in the Allied army.

The Allies assembled 100 cannon, 80 mortars and a large quantity of ammunition in Maastricht. There was a Palatine brigade of 2,536 foot and 464 horse among these troops, it consisted of Bettendorf Infantry, the combined Lybeck Infantry and Haxthausen Infantry and the Venningen Carabiniers (3 sqns) under the command of Colonel Friedrich Johann Baron Frankenberg.

In France, the provinces of the kingdom supplied 27,000 militiamen destined to the Army of Italy and the Army of Spain. Each infantry company received 5 additional men. Furthermore, 30 new rgts were raised (a total of 35 bns).

The main goal of King Louis XIV for the current campaign was the re-establishment of the situation in Spain where Catalonia had revolted against its new Bourbon king, Philip V.

The French Army of the Low Countries remained under the command of the Maréchal de Villeroy, himself subordinated to Elector Maximilian II Emanuel of Bavaria.

The Maréchal de Marsin was charged to advance from the Spanish Netherlands to the Moselle with his army and to feign an enterprise against Trarbach before marching rapidly to Alsace to support Villars’ Army of the Rhine in the attack of the Lines of the Moder. After the capture of the lines, Marsin would then return to the Spanish Netherlands.

In the Spanish Netherlands, the Elector of Bavaria and Villeroy planned to open the campaign with the siege of Léau (Zoutleeuw). A large quantity of provisions was assembled in the main cities of Brabant while an important artillery train was prepared at Tournai.


Map of the Spanish Netherlands in 1700 published in Wikimedia Commons by user Rebel Redcoat and released in the public domain


At the beginning of April, the Allies sent additional artillery convoys upstream on the Meuse to Maastricht and began to assemble troops there. However, the French received intelligence that these apparent preparations for an offensive in Brabant were just a diversion and that the Allies’ real goal was the siege and capture of Fort-Louis, followed by an offensive against Strasbourg.

A corps of 18 bns and 40 sqns was sent from the Netherlands to the Moselle, where the Maréchal de Marsin took command of this corps.

By 20 April, the Allies had 20,000 men cantoned in the vicinity of Maastricht, on both banks of the Meuse.

On 22 April, Villeroy arrived at Bruxelles where he joined the Elector of Bavaria, who had spent the winter there.

Villeroy transferred a few bns from Philippeville and Avesnes to Namur.

On 25 April, Marlborough arrived at The Hague where he found a most discouraging state of affairs. The Dutch were late in their preparations, Prussia and Hanover were recalcitrant over the furnishing of their contingents, and the Margrave of Baden was sulking within his Lines on the Moder, refusing to communicate a word of his intentions to any one. Marlborough himself was anxious to lead a force to the help of Prince Eugène in Italy. However, when the Maréchal de Villars drove the Margrave of Baden out of the Lines of the Moder, this plan was soon abandoned. The Dutch at once took fright and, in their anxiety to keep Marlborough for their own defence, agreed to appoint deputies who should receive rather than issue orders. So to the Duke's great disappointment it was settled that the main theatre of war should once again be Flanders.

On 30 April, Villeroy gave orders to his troops to arrived in the cities of Brabant before 9 May.

At the end of April, after having made demonstrations against Trarbach, the Maréchal de Marsin assembled his troops at Saverne.

On 1 May, Villars and Marsin drove the troops of the Margrave of Baden out of the Lines of the Moder and forced them to recross the Rhine.

On 2 May, Marsin sent orders to the 20 sqns which he had left behind at Metz to immediately march back to the Netherlands.

On 3 May, Marsin marched from Alsace with his 18 bns and 20 sqns to return to the Netherlands.

On 5 May

  • Franco-Spanish
    • Villeroy inspected Namur.
    • Marsin was instructed by the Court to halt at Metz with his 18 bns and 20 sqns and to wait for further orders.

On 7 May, Villeroy returned to Louvain (Leuven) where he received a letter of Louis XIV enjoining him to lay siege to Léau, even he he had to risk a battle.

On 8 May, Villeroy’s artillery arrived at Malines (Mechelen).

On 10 May

  • Franco-Spanish
    • Villeroy went to Bruxelles to meet the Elector of Bavaria to prepare the operations.
  • Allies
    • The British contingent assembled near Bois-le-Duc ('s-Hertogenbosch).

On 11 May

  • Allies
    • The Dutch left their cantonments and encamped behind Tongres (Tongeren) with their right extending up to the source of the Demer and their left up to the Jeker.
    • The garrisons of Maastricht, Liège and Huy, with the exception of a few bns left in these places, joined the army at Tongres.

On 12 May, Marsin arrived at Metz with the 18 bns and 20 sqns which he was bringing back from Alsace.

By 13 May, Villeroy had taken dispositions to be able to concentrate his French army at Louvain within two days, while the army of the Elector of Bavaria could be assembled at Bruxelles and the troops of the Elector of Cologne at Namur. Villeroy expected the 20 sqns sent back from Metz at Namur around 18 May while his artillery should be at Malines on 20 May.

On 15 May

  • Franco-Spanish
    • The main body of Villeroy’s Army encamped near Louvain Once completely assembled this army should count 74 bns and 108 sqns, excluding the 20 sqns arriving from Metz and the 18 bns and 20 sqns that Marsin was bringing back from Alsace. Furthermore, another 15 bns had been left between Antwerp and the sea to guard this frontier.
    • Villeroy was informed that, in Alsace,Villars had made himself master of Haguenau on May 9.
    • Marsin’s infantry (18 bns) set off from Metz towards the Netherlands.
  • Allies
    • Marlborough arrived at Tongres.

On 16 May

  • Franco-Spanish
    • Marsin set off from Metz with his 20 sqns and marched towards the Netherlands. Upon arrival at Thionville, he received orders from Villeroy, instructing him to halt and wait for further orders from the Court.
  • Allies
    • The British Contingent encamped at Roermond.

On 17 May, Marsin marched with his cavalry to Hesperange, where he joined his infantry.

On 18 May, Marsin received the king’s orders to march towards the Netherlands with 18 bns and 11 sqns, sending back the 9 other sqns to reinforce Villars in Alsace.

On 19 May

  • Franco-Spanish
    • The army of the Elector of Bavaria joined Villeroy’s Army at Louvain. Together, these armies advanced to Vissenaken and encamped there.
    • The army of Cologne set off from Namur to join the other armies at Vissenaken.
    • The 20 sqns recently arrived from Metz, stayed at Namur to rest a few days.
    • Near Antwerp, the 15 bns left to guard the frontier encamped as follows: 5 bns at Deurne under M. de Gacé, 5 bns behind the canals under M. de Lamothe.
  • Allies
    • Marlborough hastily made arrangements for the payment of the Danish troops and concentrated the Dutch and British at Bilzen on the Upper Demer.

On 20 May,

  • Franco-Spanish
    • Marsin set off from Hesperange with 18 bns and 11 sqns and marched to Stockem on his way to Charleroi.
  • Allies
    • Marlborough’s Army marched from Tongres and encamped at Borgloon with several cannon and 10 mortars.
    • The Danish Contingent joined the main army at Borgloon.

On 21 May

  • Allies
    • The British Contingent joined the main army at Borgloon.
  • Franco-Spanish
    • Villeroy received intelligence that the Allies had sent provision to Léau for the expected siege and that they intended to march to the mill of Corswarem and then to the Kleine Gete River.
    • The main army marched from Vissenaken and encamped at Goetsenhoven, in front of Tirlemont (Tienen) between the Grote Gete and the Kleine Gete. It anchored its right on the woods of Chapeveau, with the Eliksem Abbey in front of it; and its left to the commandery of Walsbergen.
    • The troops arriving from Namur joined the main army, which then counted 74 bns and 108 sqns.
    • Marsin marched from Stockem to Rulles.

On 22 May

  • Allies
    • Marlborough’s Army marched from Borgloon to the mill of Corswarem. It extended its left up to Cortis. Additional troops joined the army, which now counted 80 bns and 123 sqns with a train of 100 cannon.
  • Franco-Spanish
    • The Elector of Bavaria personally rode from Bruxelles to Tirlemont, on his way to join the main army.
    • Marsin marched from Rulles to Neuchâteu. He then coninued his march by way of Bertrix, Gembes and Focant towards Charleroi.

By that time, the 20 sqns arriving from Metz had joined the main Franco-Spanish army, bringing the total strength of this army to 74 bns and 128 sqns.

On 23 May, both armies advanced towards the Mehaigne River. In the ensuing Battle of Ramillies, Marlborough decisively defeated Villeroy and the Elector of Bavaria. The Franco-Spanish army retired towards Louvain in the greatest disorder. Some units continued their retreat towards Bruxelles, Nivelles and other cities of Brabant. The 6 bns, which had stubbornly defended Taviers, managed to retire in good order to Namur.

On 24 May

  • Allies
    • Marlborough’s Army sojourned in the plain of Jodoigne.
    • At 3:00 a.m., the main army set off from Jodoigne and reached Meldert before noon.
  • Franco-Spanish
    • Villeroy considered that it was impossible to hold the Dyle after the catastrophic defeat at Ramillies. He persuaded to Elector of Bavaria to abandon Louvain, after ruining its magazines, and to retreat behind the canal of Bruxelles, taking position between Vilvorde (Vilvoorde) and that city.

On 25 May

  • Allies
    • Marlborough’s Army crossed the Dyle and took position along the river, downstream from Louvain which had opened its gate to the Allies. It had advanced so precipitously that all the artillery pieces abandoned by the enemy were left on the battlefield.
    • Marlborough sent a corps forward to Voskapel, only 13 km east of Bruxelles.
  • Franco-Spanish
    • The Elector of Bavaria evacuated Bruxelles, Lierre and Malines and retired towards Antwerp.
    • M. de Saillant, commanding at Namur, sent detachments to the vicinity of Ramillies to recapture and bring back the artillery previously abandoned by the Franco-Spanish on the battlefield.
    • Marsin, learning that the Allies had moved away from the Meuse Rive, set off from Neufchâteau and marched to Saint-Hubert, on his way to Namur. There, he received news of Villeroy’s defeat.

On 26 May

  • Allies
    • Marlborough’s Army marched from Louvain to Diegem on the canal of Bruxelles.
    • Marlborough entered in Vilvorde and sent detachments that made themselves masters of Bruxelles, Malines and Lierre.
  • Franco-Spanish
    • The Franco-Spanish army crossed the Dender River and encamped with its right at Alost (Aalst) and its left near Oordegem.
    • Marsin marched from Saint-Hubert to Rochefort, on his way to Namur.

On the night of 26 to 27 May, the Elector of Bavaria sent his baggage towards the Scheldt River.

On 27 May

  • Allies
    • Marlborough’s Army crossed the canal of Vilvorde and encamped between Grimbergen and Asse. A detachment was sent forward to Alost.
  • Franco-Spanish
    • The Franco-Spanish army decamped from Alost and marched towards Merelbeke where it was supposed to cross the Scheldt. However, the two bridges were not yet completed and the army continued its march and had to move across the city of Ghent. It then encamped between the Scheldt and the Lys with its right at the village of Eeklo and its left in front of Assenède. The Elector of Bavaria established his quarters in the suburb of Ghent, and Villerou at Saint-Denis. From this camp, the army could protect Ghent, Dendermonde, Antwerp, Bruges, Damme, Ostend, Nieuport (Nieuwpoort), Oudenarde and Ath.
    • Marsin redirected his march towards Charlemont.

On 28 May

  • Franco-Spanish
    • The Elector of Bavaria decided to prevent the Allies from crossing the Scheldt. For this purpose:
      • M. de Gacé assembled 10 bns previously stationed in the Lines of Antwerp and Waasland and marched upstream along the Scheldt to Dendermonde. He placed 2 bns in this town and flooded the surrounding country. He then took position at Zele with the 8 remaining bns. There were still 5 French bns in the city of Antwerp and 6 Spanish bns in its citadel.
      • M. de Lamothe assembled the 5 bns he had behind the canals towards the sea and joined the main army near Ghent.
      • 3 bns were sent to Oudenarde.
      • Orders were sent to the towns of Tournai, Condé and Valenciennes to raise all the sluices, so that the level of the canals would be as high as possible.
    • Saillant’s detachment managed to bring 34 artillery pieces back to Namur.

On 29 May

  • Allies
    • Marlborough’s Army marched from Grimbergen to the Affligem Abbey, near Alost.
    • A cavalry corps was sent in the direction of Ghent.
  • Franco-Spanish
    • The Spanish and Bavarian units suffered heavily from desertions.
    • Marsin’s Corps reached Maubeuge by way of Philippeville and Beaumont.

On 30 May

  • Allies
    • Marlborough’s Army crossed the Dender River at Alost and advanced to Gavere on the Scheldt. Work began to establish bridges on the Scheldt.
  • Franco-Spanish
    • Villeroy convinced the Elector of Bavaria to retire behind the Lys River. Ghent, Bruges and Damme were evacuated.

On 31 May

  • Franco-Spanish
    • The main army crossed the Lys and encamped near Deinze.
    • Marsin’s Corps arrived at Mons.

On 1 June

  • Allies
    • The Allies made themselves masters of Ghent.
    • A corps crossed the Scheldt at Gavere and advanced towards Oudenarde.
  • Franco-Spanish
    • The main army retired to Courtrai (Kortrijk) and encamped at Gullegem, between the Lys and the Heule with its right at Courtrai and its left at Moorsele.
    • Chamillart, who had been sent by Louis XIV to look at the general situation, joined the army. He soon saw that it was in no condition to oppose the Allies. The Elector of Bavaria, Villery and Chamillart agreed that they could only divide the army in several detachments which would be placed in the most exposed places; while the cavalry was divided in four corps.

On 2 June

  • Franco-Spanish
    • The four corps of the army set off from Courtrai. The infantry took position at Roubaix and Lannoy; the cavalry at Geluwe and Wervik. Villeroy placed 12 bns and 7 sqns in Tournai, and sent 6 bns to Lille, 2 bns to Ypres and 2 bns in Menin.
    • Marsin, encamped at Cuesmes near Mons, placed 6 bns in Mons and destined the rest of his infantry and 11 sqns to the reinforcement of the garrisons of Maubeuge, Ath, Charleroi and various other places.
    • Lamothe evacuated Bruges, Damme and the Fort de Bavière and retired to Ostend. He had 11 bns for the defence of Ostend and Nieuport.

This was one of the few cases of thoroughly efficient and successful pursuit in the military history of the 17th and 18th centuries. The whole of Flanders and Brabant, except a few minor fortresses, had fallen into Marlborough's hands within two weeks.

On 3 June

  • Franco-Spanish
    • Chamillart set off from Lille to return to Versailles.
    • Villeroy sent troops to various places according to the plan established with Chamillart. He then encamped near Pont à Tressin with the remnant of his army.

On 4 June

  • Allies
    • Marlborough’s Army crossed the Scheldt at Gavere and the Lys between the Monastery of Dronghem and Deynse (Deinze) and encamped at Nevele.
    • Marlborough was now master of Louvain, Lierre, Malines, Bruxelles, Vilvorde and Ghent. He soon captured Bruges and Damme. He sent summons to the cities of Oudenarde, Dendermonde and Antwerp.
    • The city of Oudenarde surrendered without opposing any resistance.

On June 5

  • Allies
    • Marlborough’s Army marched from Nevele to Tielt where it sojourned for several days while detachments were sent towards the cities and towns left to its rear during the advance.
  • Franco-Spanish
    • Villeroy moved his camp to Saint-Amand (Saint-Amand-les-Eaux).

On 5 June

  • Allies
    • Marlborough sent 1,000 horse, followed by 16 bns towards Antwerp. They summoned the garrison (6 Spanish bns in the citadel and 5 French bns in the city) to surrender.
  • Franco-Spanish
    • The governor of Antwerp, the Marquis de Terassena, who had already been won to the cause of the Allies, declared to M. de Pontis, who commanded the French units, that he did not intend to sustain an attack.

On 6 June

  • Franco-Spanish
    • Seeing himself caught between the Spanish troops in the citadel of Antwerp and the Allied troops surrounding the city, M. de Pontis capitulated. He received the honours of war and was allowed to withdraw to Le Quesnoy with his French bns. The Spanish troops under the Marquis de Terassena were authorised to remain in the citadel to wait for the decision of Archduke Charles.
    • Villeroy sent 8 bns (4 bns from Tournai, 4 bns from the camp of Saint-Amand) to Lille.
    • 10 bns (including 6 Spanish bns) were already encamped under the walls of Ypres while 3 bns of the Gardes Françaises and Gardes Suisses formed the garrison of the place.
    • Lamothe had 11 bns (including 6 Spanish bns) to guard Ostend and Nieuport. He soon received a reinforcement of 1 bn.

After the surrender of Antwerp, the French Court decided to place French commanders in the places of the Spanish Netherlands still under its control; to disarm their inhabitants; and to move most Spanish troops out of these places and to keep them separated. In the Castle of Namur, 2 Spanish bns were replaced by 3 French bns. It was also decided that from then on, French troops would rank first, that war would be conducted in the name of King Louis XIV, and that Spanish, Bavarian and Cologne troops would be considered as allies. Spanish forces were reduced from 49 bns to 30 bns and from 47 sqns to 30 sqns. These units were taken in French pay.

On 7 June

  • French
    • The Maréchal de Marsin personally went to the camp of Saint-Amand where Villeroy and him took dispositions to man the various places still under their control. Villeroy then assumed command in the area extending from the sea to Tournai, and Marsin, from Tournai to Namur. Villeroy established his headquarters in Lille, and Marsin, in Maubeuge.

On 8 June

  • Allies
    • Marlborough, unable to convince Nassau-Ouwerkerk and the other Dutch generals of his plan to continue the offensive against French places, decided to go to The Hague in an attempt to convince the Dutch government. He left the army at Tielt. During his sojourn, Marlborough managed to convince them to lay siege to Ostend, Nieuport and Dunkerque, provided that the first two places would then become the property of the Dutch Republic and only Dunkerque would belong to Great Britain.

On 9 June

  • French
    • The Elector of Bavaria went to Mons.

On 10 June

  • Allies
    • A corps advanced from Alost and established the blockade of Dendermonde.
  • French
    • M. de Chamillart wrote to the Duc de Vendôme to recall him from Italy to take command of the Army of Flanders. He informed him that the king planned to rebuild the Army of Flanders to 80 bns and 150 sqns before the beginning of August.

On 13 June

  • Allies
    • 25 Allied ships cannonaded Ostend for a few hours.
    • A corps arrived in front of Bruges with an artillery train of 30 cannon, 10 mortars and a few pontoons.
    • A corps encamped at Houlem (unidentified location) on the road leading to Ghent.

On 15 June

  • Allies
    • Frankenberg's Palatine brigade set off from Maastricht.
  • French
    • Villeroy sent 3 bns to Lamothe and reinforced the garrison of Nieuport. He also sent the 2 sqns of Mousquetaires and the Grenadiers à Cheval to Dunkerque while the rest of the Maison du Roi encamped at Saint-Venant and Béthune. He placed 4 bns at Poperinge on the road leading to Bergues; 3 cavalry rgts and 1 dragoon rgt on the canal of Furnes (Veurne); and 3 cavalry rgts at Saint-Omer.

On 16 June

  • Allies
    • The corps under General Fagel, posted in front of Bruges, advanced towards Ostend and occupied outposts along the canal from Passendale to Leffinge. Meanwhile, an Allied fleet blockaded Ostend from the sea.
    • The Hanoverian and Prussian contingents arrived at Fléron and Visé on the Meuse River, on their way to Bruxelles.
  • French
    • Marsin encamped his cavalry (60 sqns) at Haine-Saint-Pierre and Haine-Saint-Paul.

On 17 June

  • Allies
    • Marlborough joined his army at the camp of Tielt and sent his vanguard to Roeselare.
    • Nassau-Ouwerkerk’s Corps joined Fagel’s and the fleet in front of Ostend. He crossed the canal at Leffinge and Slijpe and encamped between Nieuport and Ostend, making itself master of the sluice of Rattevalle and storming a redoubt in front of the fort of Nieuwen-Damm (unidentified location). A battery was established on the Virvoet (unidentified location maybe Tervate).

On 18 June

  • Allies
    • Marlborough’s Army (56 bns, 132 sqns) marched from Tielt to Roeselare and encamped with its right at Hooglede and its left to cover the sieges of Ostend and Nieuport.
    • Nassau-Ouwerkerk was at the head of 25 bns and 30 sqns for the sieges of Ostend and Nieuport.
    • Another Allied corps was blockading Dendermonde.

On 19 June

  • French
    • Villeroy personally went from Tournai to Bergues.

On 20 June

  • French
    • The Court informed Villeroy that the Maréchal de Vauban was on his way to assume command in Dunkerque, Furnes, Bergues and Gravelines, and the surrounding country. He would be placed at the head of 24 bns to defend these places. The king also asked Maréchal de Marsin to send Brandelet Infanterie and Royal Infanterie to join Vauban and instructed Villery to keep Alsace Infanterie in readiness to reinforce these places.
    • Marsin was ordered to leave for Alsace to assume command of the Army of the Rhine in place of Villars who would assist Vendôme in Flanders (Marsin would soon afterwards be sent to Italy to second the Duc d’Orléans).

On 21 June

  • French
    • M. de Verboom managed to introduce 600 men with 4 cannon into Dendermonde to reinforce the garrison, bringing it to a total of 1,500 men.
  • Allies
    • The Allies raised the blockade of Dendermonde.

On 22 June

  • French
    • Villeroy personally went to Dunkerque where he had a meeting with Vauban, before returning to Tournai.
    • By that date, Villeroy had placed 14 bns in Bergues and Dunkerque in addition to their ordinary garrisons.
    • Vauban posted posted 18 bns in a camp near Bergues; 4 bns in Dunkerque; 3 bns in Furnes. He then inspected Furnes and Nieuport.

On 23 June

  • French
    • 4,000 workers started to prepare an entrenched camp. Their number was soon increased to 10,000 men.

On the night of 23 to 24 June, Nassau-Ouwerkerk opened the trench in front of Ostend.

On 26 June

  • Allies
    • A fleet under Vice-Admiral Fairborn bombarded Ostend which was defended by 8 bns (including 2 Walloon and Spanish bns.
  • French
    • Vauban cut the dyke of Schoorbakke on the canal of Dixmude, to complete the flooding of the country up to Knocke.
    • The Court authorised Vauban to take 4 bns from the garrison of Lille and 2 bns from Nieuport and to join them to 2 of his own bns to form a camp near Nieuport. He could also use 12 sqns for the same purpose.

Vauban finally placed only 4 bns and 6 cavalry rgts in the dunes in front of the ford downstream of Virvoet. Meanwhile, the Elector of Bavaria was taking dispositions to secure the places of Hainaut between the Sambre and the Meuse rivers. Spanish troops were reorganised in 10 bns and 20 sqns, a large number of Spaniards had deserted and joined the Allies. The cavalry of Bavaria and Cologne remained at the camp of Thulin where there were still a total of 40 sqns.

On 28 June

  • Allies
    • A stronger corps renewed the blockade of Dendermonde, taking position at Appels and Baasrode.
    • The Prussian Contingent marched from Bruxelles to complete the blockade of Dendermonde.
    • The Hanoverian Contingent marched from Bruxelles to Alost.

On 2 July

  • French
    • Villeroy wrote to Louis XIV to transmit him a request of M. de Lamothe asking for reinforcements to save Ostend.

On 4 July

  • Allies
    • Marlborough joined the Allied corps besieging Ostend.

On the night of 4 to 5 July, the Allies stormed the counterscarp of Ostend.

On 5 July

  • Allies
    • The Allies ruined the remaining defences of Ostend and dismounted most of its artillery. Their fleet and batteries continued the bombardment of the place.
    • The Allied corps in front of Dendermonde raised the siege but maintained the blockade while most of the troops rejoined another corps at Alost.
    • Marlborough returned to the camp of Roeselare from where he detached a large force which made itself master of Courtrai and Harelbeke. He also sent his heavy baggage and artillery to Emelgem and Ingelmunster.

On the night of 5 to 6 July, the Allies established three batteries on the covert way of Ostend.

On 6 July,

  • Allies
    • Marlborough’s Army marched from Roeselare in two columns: a column advanced by way of Oekene on Courtrai; the other by way of Ingelmunster on Harelbeke. The whole army encamped along the right bank of the Lys with its right at Courtrai and its left at Deerlijk.
  • French
    • The garrison of Ostend, under M. de Lamothe, capitulated. The garrison obtained free withdrawal on the conditions that it would not serve against the Allies for six months.

During this period, Vauban had continued to secure Nieuport and the other places near the sea. He had placed 10 bns and 3 sqns in Dunkerque; 8 bns in Bergues; 3 bns in Furnes; 2 bns in Gravelines; 6 bns in Nieuport; 3 bns in Wulpen; and 4 bns and 16 sqns with 20 cannon, under the Marquis de Biron, in the camp near Virvoet to protect the only passage leading to Nieuport now that the vicinity had been flooded.

For his part, Villeroy continued to observe Marlborough’s manoeuvres without taking any initiative. He expected a first reinforcement of 20 bns and 6 sqns from the Army of Germany under the Chevalier de Rosel at Valenciennes by mid-July; and a second reinforcement of 10 bns and 20 sqns under M. de Magnac. However, Villeroy was forced to reinforce the garrison of Tournai with 3 dragoon rgts which had no horses.

On 9 July

  • French
    • Villeroy personally went to Valenciennes.

On 11 July

  • Allies
    • Marlborough’s Army marched toward the Scheldt River and encamped between Espierres (Spiere-Helkijn) and Outrijve.

On 12 July

  • Allies
    • Nassau-Ouwerkerk, after embarking the artillery which had served for the siege of Ostend on the canal of Leffinge to send it towards Ghent, marched to Oudenburg, leaving only 6 bns under Spaar at Ostend.

On 13 July

  • Allies
    • Nassau-Ouwerkerk’s Army marched along the Bruges Canal and encamped at Sint-Michiels.

On 15 July

  • Allies
    • Nassau-Ouwerkerk’s Army encamped at Bellem.

On 16 July

  • Allies
    • Nassau-Ouwerkerk’s Army encamped at Gottem near Deynse.
  • French
    • The first elements of Rosel’s Corps arrived in Maubeuge and Valenciennes.

On 17 July

  • Allies
    • Nassau-Ouwerkerk’s Army crossed the Lys River and encamped between Sint-Eloois-Vijve and Waregem.

On 17 July

  • Allies
    • The Hanoverian and Prussian contingents set off from Alost and marched to Ename near Oudenarde.
  • French
    • The Elector of Bavaria personally retired from Mons to Crespin. He ordered his cavalry (34 sqns) to set off from Thulin and Boussu and to join him at Crespin.

On 18 July

  • Allies
    • The Hanoverian and Prussian contingents crossed the Scheldt and made a junction with Marlborough’s main army, establishing themselves at Kerckhem, Outrijve and Avelgem.
  • French
    • Fearing for Tournai, Villeroy sent a reinforcement of 2 bns, bringing the garrison to a total of 17 bns, 3 dragoon rgts and 1 invalid bn. Ypres was already garrisoned by 15 bns and Menin by 12 bns and 1 dragoon rgt.
    • Villeroy also placed 12 bns, 1 cavalry rgt and 1 dragoon rgt in Lille.
    • Vauban still had 25 bns and 19 sqns to guard the places near the sea.

On 20 July

  • French
    • Villeroy received intelligence that the Allies planned to lay siege to Menin. The garrison of the place consisted of 12 bns and 3 dragoon sqns under M. de Caraman. It was well supplied with provisions and ammunition, and its vicinity had been flooded.
    • All of Rosel’s Corps had now reached Maubeuge and Valenciennes. It was used to reinforce the garrison of Mons, Ath, Maubeuge, Condé and Charleroi.
    • Magnac’s Corps was expected at Philippeville on July 29.

On 22 July

  • Allies
    • Marlborough detached 32 bns and 40 sqns under General Salisch to lay siege to Menin. This corps encamped at Reckem.
  • French
    • The Elector of Bavaria returned from Crespin to Mons and sent his 34 sqns to Cuesmes.

On 23 July

  • Allies
    • General Salisch invested Menin from the right bank of the Lys, between Wervicq and Lauwe. He established bridges at Wervicq.
    • Salisch sent 17 bns and 14 sqns across the bridges of Wervicq, to complete the investment from Wervik to Wevelgem.

On 24 July

  • Allies
    • General Salisch used 18,000 workers to erect a circumvallation wall around Menin.

At the end of July, Villeroy placed troops in various places from Valenciennes to the Upper Lys. He detached 5 French sqns from the camp of Cuesmes to Ath, leaving only Spanish, Bavarian and Cologne cavalry at Cuesmes, along with 9 dragoon sqns. He also sent 12 sqns under M. de Tournefort who took position downstream from Ypres and left 5 sqns in Lille. He detached M. de Magnac to Douai with 8 bns and 20 sqns, instructing him to send 3 of his sqns to Lens; 4 sqns to Saint-Venant where there were already 5 bns. For his part, Vauban moved his cavalry to Saint-Omer and Aire and his dragoons to Furnes, Bergues and Dunkerque; and sent his infantry in various places.

On 31 July

  • French
    • The Duc de Vendôme arrived at Versailles on his from Italy to assume command in Flanders.

On 4 August

  • Allies
    • The Allies completed completed their line of circumvallation at Menin and the siege corps received a reinforcement of 8 bns and 6 sqns from Marlborough’s main army.
  • French
    • Vendôme arrived at Valenciennes where he took command of the Army of Flanders (74 bns, 177 sqns). Villeroy left the same day for Versailles.
    • Chamillart informed Vendôme that the king had asked to the Maréchal de Villars to send 10 additional sqns from the Army of the Rhine.

On the night of 4 to 5 August, the Allies opened the trenches in front of Menin between the Ypres Gate and the Bruges Gate. M. de Caraman conducted a sortie which seriously delayed their work.

On 5 August

  • French
    • Vendôme met with the Elector of Bavaria at Saint-Ghislain.

On 7 August

  • French
    • Vendôme set off from Valenciennes.

On 8 August

  • French
    • Vendôme arrived at Lille where he met with the Maréchal de Vauban. Vendôme planned to establish a line of entrenchments behind the Lower Deûle, restoring the old lines Comines and Ypres; then from Lille to Pont-à-Tressin, and to continue this defensive line behind the Florival stream up to the Scheldt. He also suggested to Louis XIV to use the Army of Germany to make a diversion by laying siege to Landau.

On 9 August

  • Allies
    • Marlborough sent a new reinforcement of 12 bns to General Salisch for the siege of Menin.
    • The Allied artillery (40 cannon and 40 mortars) opened on Menin and breached the fortifications at the Capucins Bastion. More than half of the city was reduced to ashes.

On 10 August

  • French
    • Vendôme sent 200 men to occupy Comines.

On 11 August

  • Allies
    • The artillery in front of Menin was increased to 100 cannon and 60 mortars.

On 15 August

  • French
    • Vendôme sent out detachments from Tournai and Lille against the foraging parties of the Allies. They captured some 400 prisoners.

On 17 August

  • French
    • Bavarian troops arrived at Lens; and Spanish troops, at La Bassée and Lille.

On the night of 18 to 19 August, the Allies stormed the covert way of Menin.

On 19 August

  • French
    • Vendôme’s Army started to prepare a camp behind the Lower Deûle with its right at Marquette and its left at Verlinghem. The headquarters of the Elector of Bavaria was established at Verlinghem while Vendôme established his own at Frelinghien. Most of the infantry was already there along with 50 cavalry sqns and 27 dragoon sqns. Some 4,000 workers were employed to build defensive lines between Marquette and Deûlémont.

On 20 August

  • French
    • The 20 Spanish sqns arrived at Vendôme’s camp.

On 21 August

  • Allies
    • The Allied artillery started to breach the walls of Menin.

On 22 August

  • French
    • At 9:00 a.m., M. de Camaran was forced to capitulate at Menin. He obtained the honours of war, his troops would be escorted to Douai.
    • Vendôme sent 10 grenadier coys and 500 horse under M. de Puigoyon to reinforce the small garrison (500 men) of Comines. He also sent 500 horse under M. de Mortany to Pont-à-Vendin to cover Artois. 2 cavalry rgts were recalled from Ath where they were useless.

On 23 August

  • French
    • Vendôme received a letter from the king giving him orders to leave the Lines of Comines unoccupied and to make all efforts to protect Lille while keeping means to relieve Ypres or other places near the sea. Vendôme argued that the occupation of these lines was vital for the preservation of Ypres and for the communication with the other places near the sea. Furthermore, he represented that, if the Allies occupied these lines, they would be able to launch incursions in Artois and Picardie.

On 24 August

  • French
    • Louis XIV finally let Vendôme and the Elector of Bavaria decide on the best approach to stop the Allies. These two commanders decided to keep the army behind the Lower Deûle, to occupy Comines with a strong force and to continue the restoration of the Lines of Comines. Together, they could assemble an army of 185 sqns and 99 bns by 7 September.

On 25 August

  • Allies
    • The Allies were busy razing the circumvallation walls around Menin, filling the trenches and repairing the breaches.
  • French
    • The garrison of Menin was escorted to Douai.

On 27 August

  • Allies
    • The siege artillery used for the siege of Menin was embarked to transport it to Ghent.
    • A detachment (6 bns) was sent to Dendermonde to lay siege to the place once more.
  • French
    • Louis XIV gave orders to place more artillery in Ypres and Ath.
    • Vendôme and the Elector of Bavaria inspected their defensive lines. The elector considered that they were not strong enough to withstand a serious assault. However, Vendôme had the opposite opinion.
    • The garrison of Ypres received 1 additional bn bringing it to 20 bns; and the 3 bns garrisoning Ath were reinforced with 1 bn.
    • 9 bns and 3 sqns, which had formed the garrison of Menin, marched from Douai to Lille while 3 bns were left behind at Douai.

On 29 August

  • French
    • Now that the threat of a descent of an Allied amphibious force on the coats of Picardie had vanished, the 3 bns and 15 sqns posted in this region returned to Aire and Béthune.
    • Vendôme could now assemble an army of 99 bns and 185 sqns.

On 31 August

  • Allies
    • The troops who had been posted on the left bank of the Lys River during the siege of Menin recrossed the river and took position on the right wing of the main army.

On the night of 1 to 2 September, the Allies opened the trenches in front of Dendermonde, which was defended by only 3 badly supplied bns (only 1,000 men) under Governor del Valle and M. Greder. In the previous days, the Allies had closed the sluices at Lessines, Ninove, Grammont and Alost, drying the land in front of the Bruxelles Gate. The Allied siege corps consisted of 6 bns with 60 cannon.

On 5 September

  • Allies
    • 50 vessels loaded with artillery arrived from Ghent at Oudenarde for the planned siege of Ath.

On 6 September

  • French
    • The garrison of Dendermonde surrendered as prisoners of war.

On 7 September

  • French
    • Louis XIV instructed Vendôme to avoid an open battle until the end of the campaign.
    • Vendôme planned to be at the head of 90 bns, 180 sqns and 80 cannon by 16 September.

Fearing for the place of Ath, Vendôme sent additional artillery (10 cannon, 6 mortars). He replaced the 3 Spanish bns posted there by 2 French bns, thus forming a garrison of 6 French bns. He also sent 18 cannon to Ypres and recalled 4 bns from its garrisons which still counted 16 bns and 11 sqns.

On 8 September

  • Allies
    • Marlborough assembled his main army at the camp of Helchin (Helkijn) where it was soon joined by Nassau-Ouwerkerk’s Corps and the siege corps which had recently captured Dendermonde. Courtrai was evacuated and only 5 bns were left in Menin. Seven bridges were thrown across the Scheldt between Pottes and Escanaffles and the heavy baggage crossed the Scheldt near Oudenarde.
  • French
    • Vendôme learned that Dendermonde had fallen and that the Allies were preparing to cross the Scheldt River.

On 9 September

  • Allies
    • At daybreak, Marlborough’s Army crossed the Scheldt and encamped at Velaines with its right at Celles and its left at Thimougies.
    • The corps which had previously besieged Dendermonde marched to Alost, detaching 500 men and 1 infantry rgt which were sent to Grimbergen to cover the Waasland.
  • French
    • Vendôme sent 4 bns to Mons. He soon received intelligence that the Allies intended to lay siege to Ath. He assembled 12,000 workers to erect a line of defence between Tournai and the mouth of the Marque. But the Court did not approve of the project and Vendôme sent back the workers.

On 13 September

  • Allies
    • The corps which had besieged Dendermonde, marched from Alost to Grammont.
    • In the evening, Nassau-Ouwerkerk’s Corps set off in the direction of Ath.

On 14 September

  • Allies
    • The corps which had besieged Dendermonde, marched from Grammont towards Ath.
    • Nassau-Ouwerkerk’s Corps joined the siege corps and invested Ath. Together, they fielded 38 bns and 26 sqns. The Siege of Ath would last until 2 October.
    • The main army marched from Velaines and encamped at Leuze and Blicquy with its right at Grandmetz and its left on the stream of Leuze.
  • French
    • Vendôme sent 18 sqns under M. de Gacé from Tournai to Quiévrechain where they encamped.

On 16 September

  • French
    • The main army set off from its camp behind the Lower Deûle and encamped at Pont-à-Tressin on the Marque with its right at Cysoing and its left anchored on the marsh of Sin. 8 bns had been left behind to supplement the garrisons of Ypres, Lille and Tournai.

On 17 September

  • French
    • The main army marched to Saint-Amand where it established its right while its left extended to Hollain. Troops previously posted at Aire and Béthune joined the main army at Saint-Amand. The 10 sqns recently arrived from Germany remained at Le Quesnoy. Gacé’s cavalry remained at Quiévrechain. With all these troops, Vendôme was now at the head of 79 bns and 175 sqns.

On 18 September

  • French
    • Gassion’s cavalry corps, which had marched from Lens by way of Douai, reached Condé.

On 19 September

  • French
    • Vendôme reorganised his positions, sending 75 bns and 92 sqns across the Scarpe. They encamped with their right at Fresnes, near Condé, and their left at Locron, near the Castle of Mortagne. The headquarters remained at Saint-Amand, covered by the Gardes. The rest of the cavalry was distributed among various places.

On the night of 20 to 21 September, Nassau-Ouwerkerk opened the trenches in front of the Mons Gate of Ath.

On 22 September

  • French
    • Vendôme, who had been ill and had remained at Lille, finally rejoined the main army at Saint-Amand where he received intelligence that the Allies were making preparations for the siege of Charleroi. He immediately referred to the king for new instructions.

On 23 September

  • Allies
    • Nassau-Ouwerkerk’s batteries (50 cannon, 30 mortars) opened against Ath.
    • Marlborough was still posted between Leuze and Blicquy with the main army, preventing any relief of Ath.

On 24 September

  • French
    • Louis XIV repeated to Vendôme that he wanted to avoid an open battle, that he should not try to oppose the crossing of the Sambre by the Allies and that he should send a reinforcement of 6 bns in Charleroi to bring the garrison to 8 bns.

On 26 September

  • Allies
    • The besiegers of Ath, who had now 90 cannon and 70 mortars, moved very close to the covert way.
    • The main army took new positions with its right at Cambron (probably Cambron-Saint-Vincent) and its left at Grandmetz.
  • French
    • As ordered, Vendôme sent 6 bns to Charleroi. He received intelligence that the Allies were planning the siege of Mons. He decided to move his camp to a new position to better cover this place.

On the night of 27 to 28 September, the Allies managed to take position in three angles of the covert way of Ath.

On 28 September

  • Engagement near Tournai
    • The main army made a forage in the vicinity of Tournai.
    • The Chevalier de Rosel came out of Tournai with 2,000 horse and 500 foot and attacked a foraging party of 1,500 men and drove it back.
    • The Allies sent a large number of sqns against Rosel’s force and he retired to Tournai with 40 prisoners.

On 1 October

  • French
    • Spinola and Saint-Pierre offered to surrender Ath under the conditions that its garrison would obtain the honours of war. Nassau-Ouwerkerk rejected this offer and the bombardment continued.

On 2 October

  • French
    • At 5:00 p.m., Spinola and Saint-Pierre capitulated at Ath and the garrison surrendered as prisoners of war.
    • Vendôme and the Elector of Bavaria moved their headquarters from Saint-Amand to Condé. They also sent a vanguard of 18 bns to Mons.
    • Three redoubts were erected on the Haine River: the first at Pont-à-Haine (unidentified location), the second at Boussu and the third at Saint-Ghislain.

On 4 October

  • French
    • Vendôme sent several bns along with the Gardes Françaises and Gardes Suisses and part of his cavalry to the Hogneau River.

On 5 October

  • Allies
    • Nassau-Ouwerkerk’s siege corps assembled behind the stream of Maffle.
  • French
    • The troops sent to the Hogneau formed two camps: the Gardes at Crespin and other units (24 bns, 14 sqns) at Quiévrechain under the Chevalier de Rosel.
    • The cavalry previously stationed in Lille went to Tournai.
    • The main body of the army remained between Fresnes-sur-Escaut and Flines-lès-Mortagne.

On 12 October, everything suggested that the Allies were preparing to retire to their winter-quarters. Louis XIV authorised the Elector of Bavaria to leave the army and to take his quarters in Mons.

On 13 October

  • Allies
    • Nassau-Ouwerkerk’s siege corps and the main army made a junction in the plain of Cambron with their right at Chièvres and their left at Lens. Marlborough established his quarters at Cambron and Nassau-Ouwerkerk at Brugelette.
  • French
    • Vendôme sent M. de Gassion with 26 bns of the second line and 73 sqns to cross the Sambre at Jeumont, but learning that the Allies had encamped at Cambron, Gassion halted at Hon and Taisnières.

On 14 October

  • French
    • The first line, which was previously posted between Fresnes-sur-Escaut and Mortagne, replaced the second line on the Hogneau River, crossed that river and encamped at Quévrain.
    • The Gardes Brigade remained at Crespin and the headquarters at Condé.
    • Several cavalry rgts previously stationed in nearby places were recalled to the army, leaving only 2 rgts in Valenciennes.

On 15 October

  • French
    • 3 dragoon sqns were sent to Le Quesnoy.

On 19 October

  • French
    • The Elector of Bavaria personally retired from Condé to Mons.

On 20 October

  • French
    • The Vendôme joined the Elector of Bavaria at Mons.

Marlborough wanted to make a last siege before the end of the campaign but the Dutch Government refused its authorisation. However, he was allowed to quarter 50,000 men in the recently conquered places of Flanders and Brabant for the coming winter, from Ostend to Maastricht.

On 22 October

  • Allies
    • A corps (12 bns and 1 cavalry rgt) under Murray covered workers who began to fortify Courtrai and Deynse.
    • 2 additional bns were sent to reinforce the garrison of Menin and the fortifications of the place were improved.

Vendôme fortified the town of Warneton and improved the defensive works of Comines and of the Lower Deûle.

Allied troops penetrated in the region of Cambrai where they raised contributions.

On 25 October

  • Allies
    • Marlborough reviewed his troops.
    • At the end of the evening, Marlborough sent his baggage and his artillery forward.

On 26 October

  • Allies
    • At daybreak, Marlborough’s Army decamped from Cambron and marched northwards to Bassilly and Ghislenghien.
    • Marlborough left command of the army to Nassau-Ouwerkerk and personally went to Bruxelles from where he would return to the The Hague after organising winter-quarters.

Vendôme began to gradually send troop to their winter-quarters.

On 6 November, Nassau-Ouwerkerk entirely separated his army to send it to its winter-quarters. He left 36 bns and 146 sqns between the Meuse and the sea.

On 7 November, Vendôme sent half of his troops to their winter-quarters.

On 8 November

  • Allies
    • Marlborough left Bruxelles.
  • French
    • Vendôme sent the rest of his troops to their winter-quarters which had been established with their right at Namur and their left at Dunkerque.

In the first days of December, Vendôme left for Versailles.

After the defeat of Ramillies, the Franco-Spanish had lost all of Brabant, the Spanish Netherlands and part of the Maritime Flanders.


This article incorporates texts from the following books, which are now in the public domain:

  • Pelet and François Eugène de Vault: Mémoires militaires relatifs à la Succession d'Espagne sous Louis XIV, Vol. 6, 1845, pp. 3-136, 430
  • Fortescue, J. W.: A History of the British Army, Vol. I, MacMillan, London, 1899, pp. 464-475
  • Spanish Succession, War of the, in Encyclopaedia Britannica (c1910-1922), Vol. 25, p. 603
  • Kane, Richard: Campaigns of king William and queen Anne, from 1689 to 1712, London: J. Millan, 1745, pp. 64-70
  • Bezzel, O.: Geschichte des Kurpfälzischen Heeres, Bayrisches Kriegsarchiv, IV. File, part 1 and 2, Munich 1925