1706 – Campaign on the Rhine

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Hierarchical Path: War of the Spanish Succession (Main Page) >> Campaigns >> 1706 – Campaign on the Rhine

The campaign lasted from April to November 1706

Introduction

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.

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 (25 rgts of 1 bn each, and 5 rgts of 3 bns each for 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.

On the Rhine, the Maréchal de Villars was instructed to open the campaign with an attack against the Lines of the Moder, which were guarded by the troops of the Margrave of Baden, and then to relieve and supply Fort-Louis, which was blockaded. Afterwards, Villars should lay siege to Haguenau. Large magazines of forage and artillery were prepared in Alsace for the planned siege.

Map

Map of the Upper Rhine in 1700 - Copyright Dinos Antoniadis

Description

At the beginning of the year, M. de Cheyladet, who commanded in Alsace during the absence of the Maréchal de Villars, sent 2 grenadiers coys against the Imperialists garrisoning Neuwiller-lès-Saverne, a small town located in the mountains 10 km to the southwest of Ingwiller. They drove the defenders out and, a few days later, Cheyladet placed 400 foot and 80 hussars in this small town. This post covered the line of march of the convoys arriving in Alsace from Metz, by way of Phalsbourg and Saverne.

In March, Louis XIV decided that his Army of the Rhine would consist of 58 field bns and 110 sqns, which would be joined by 12 newly raised bns. He also decided to place 30 bns and 20 sqns, which formerly belonged to the Army of Flanders, under the command of Maréchal de Marsin, who was charged to advance from the Spanish Netherlands to the Moselle.

The Margrave of Baden still had his headquarters at Rastatt. The Imperialists had more than 40 weak bns between the Moder and the Speyerbach. These units had suffered from illness and were still waiting for their recruits.

In the first days of April, Louis XIV decided to rapidly redirect Marsin’s Army (30 bns, 20 sqns) to Alsace, after a diversion against Trarbach, to support Villars’ Army of the Rhine. In Alsace, Marsin would be reinforced with 12 bns and 20 sqns of the Army of the Rhine, bringing its total strength to 42 bns and 20 sqns. Villars would still be at the head of 46 bns and 55 sqns. After the capture of Haguenau, Marsin would then return to the Spanish Netherlands.

Since Marsin could not reach Phalsbourg before 27 April, the attack of the Lines of the Moder was fixed on 1 May. The plan called for Villars’ Army to cross the Moder at Bischwiller while Marsin’s Army would cross the river at Schweighouse or Neubourg, upstream from Haguenau. This offensive should relieve Fort-Louis and allow to supply the place.

On 9 April, the Imperialists assembled some troops and, at 6:00 p.m., they marched on Lichtenberg. A Bavarian soldier serving in the garrison set fire to some buildings and then escaped to guide 500 Imperialist grenadiers to the foot of the glacis. However, the commander of the place, M. de Ravilhon managed to extinguish the fire and to drive back the attackers.

On 14 April, the troops quartered in the Trois-Évêchés, which were destined to Villars’ Army, set off from their quarters.

With the French attack imminent, the Margrave of Baden ordered the concentration of all available regiments in the Lines of Lauter for 25 April. The Palatine Contingent initially consisted of 4 bn (Bettendorf Infantry and the Garde Grenadiers) and 3 sqns (Hahn Dragoons and the Krieseskadron).

Crossing of the Moder River

On 20 April, Marsin’s Army (30 bns, 20 sqns) arrived at Metz where it made a junction with 12 bns and 20 sqns of the Army of the Rhine. Artillery and ammunition were loaded aboard vessels and Marsin spread the rumour that he was planning an attack against Trarbach. Marsin also sent 20 sqns to take post between Metz and Thionville (these troops would be left behind at his post).

On 22 April, Marsin’s troops marched by four different ways towards Phalsbourg.

On 23 April, Marsin personally went to Thionville to confuse the Imperialists about his real intents. There, he unloaded the artillery and ammunition which had been transported by boat from Metz.

On 25 April, Maréchal Villars arrived at Strasbourg where his army was assembling. He gave orders to move a bridge of boats downstream from Strasbourg to Offendorf.

On 26 April, Marsin personally left Thionville to join his army at Phalsbourg.

On 27 April, Marsin’s Army arrived at Phalsbourg.

On 28 April

  • French
    • Marsin joined his army at Phalsbourg.
  • Imperialists
    • The Imperialists occupying Haguenau were still ignoring everything about the preparations of the French. The commanders of the place were the Würzburger Colonel Rubia and the Saxon Lieutenant-Colonel von Benkendorff. The garrison consisted of:
  • "Defensioner" militia (3 bns, each of 4 coys) under Colonel von Seiferitz
  • Wackerbarth Infantry (1 bn of 8 coys)
  • Weissenfels Infantry (1 bn of 4 coys)

On 29 April

  • French
    • All troops destined to Villars’ Army were now assembled around Starsbourg.
    • Marsin’s Army marched to Wilwisheim, crossing the mountain in two columns: the cavalry and baggage by way of Saverne; the infantry by way of the valleys of Zinsel and La Scierie. It encamped with its right at Melsheim and its left at Dettwiller.
    • Marsin and Villars received additional instructions from Louis XIV, insisting on the importance of the recapture of Haguenau and the relief of Fort-Louis, and instructing Marsin to march back to the Spanish Netherlands a few days after the attack against the Lines of the Moder.

On 30 April

  • French
    • At daybreak, Villars’ Army crossed the Zorn River and encamped at Weyersheim. It vanguard was attacked by an Imperialist detachment (800 horse), this detachment then retired behind a stream. M. du Bourg at the head of 400 French horse attacked and defeated this detachment.
    • Marsin’s Army marched from Wilwisheim to Ohlungen
    • Around noon, Villars and Marsin went to Brumpt to discuss their next moves. It was decided that Marsin will try to cross the Moder at Schweighouse while Villars would attack the entrenched camp between Haguenau and Bischwiller or, at least, would try to cross at Rohrwiller.

On 1 May

  • Crossing of the Moder
    • After midnight, Villars’ and Marsin’s armies marched and came within sight of the enemy around 6:00 a.m.
    • The Imperialists precipitously abandoned their camp without striking their tents. They also evacuated their entrenched positions at Bischwiller.
    • At daybreak, French troops entered into Bischwiller, where they found a large quantity of ammunition, provisions and baggage, including the baggage of the Count of Friesen.
    • Drusenheim was still occupied. This post was fortified and surrounded by flooding formed by the waters of the Zorn River. A camp surrounded with abatis had also been established near the town on the left of the Moder River.
    • As soon as a bridge had been thrown across the river at Rohrwiller, Villars sent a column forward to cut the line of retreat of the defenders of Drusenheim towards the Rhine.
    • During this time, Marsin had marched to Schweighouse. He found this post abandoned and crossed the Moder at a ford and on the two bridges, which he had established. Ignoring Haguenau, he advanced towards Soufflenheim.
    • Marsin then personally rode to meet Villars and, together, they reconnoitred the entrenched camp near Drusenheim, which they found abandoned. The Imperialists had recrossed the Rhine and retired to the Island of Dahlunden, keeping only the redoubt of Stattmatten on the left bank of the Rhine to protect their bridge.
    • Villars' Army encamped near Drusenheim, on the left bank of the Moder. Villars detached Broglie with 400 dragoons to mask the redoubt of Stattmatten. Marsin’s Army encamped on a narrow terrain between Soufflenheim and Sessenheim.
    • M. de Vieuxpont was charged to attack Drusenheim but he first had to reduce the flooding. Villars charged M. de Pery to lay siege to Haguenau, which was supposedly defended by only 1,300 men (in fact the Imperialists had 2,400 men with 60 guns in the place).

After the retreat of the Imperialist army, Fort Louis was out of danger. Furthermore, Villars and Marsin were blockading Haguenau. It was still possible for the garrison of Drusenheim to retire to the other bank of the Rhine with small boats. Villars then decided to advance against Lauterbourg where the Imperialists had an entrenched camp. He intended to send 40 to 50 sqns towards Willstätt to threaten the Lines of the Bühl.

On 2 May, as instructed by Louis XIV, the Maréchal de Marsin set off from Soufflenheim, marched in two columns across the forest and encamped in the plain of Haguenau, on his way back to the Moselle.

On 3 May

  • French
    • Marsin’s Army (18 bns, ?? sqns) marched from Schweighouse to Dettwiller. He had left 12 bns, which had accompanied him from Flanders, with Villars' Army as well as the 12 bns and 20 sqns belonging to the Army of the Rhine.
    • Villars detached Broglie with 400 dragoons to march on Lauterbourg. He personally followed at the head of 3 sqns. The Imperialists had just evacuated the town when Broglie managed to occupy it. He was soon supported by Villars’ 3 sqns and, after a few hours, by the Comte de Coigny at the head of all the dragoons.
    • M. de Vieuxpont began the siege of Drusenheim.
    • M. Pery began the siege of Haguenau.
  • Imperialists
    • An Imperialist detachment of 3,000 men, which was advancing on Lauterbourg to recapture the place, thought that Coigny’s force was the head of Villars’ Army and retired precipitously.

The French were now masters of the Rhine from the Moder River to the Lauter River; and from Fort-Louis to Lauterbourg.

On 4 May

  • French
    • Marsin’s Army marched from Dettwiller to Phalsbourg.
    • Villars marched with 100 dragoons and 3 sqns on the Imperialist entrenched camp near Lauterbourg. The entrenchments were guarded by only 300 men, who evacuated the camp as soon as the French dragoons appeared. They recross the Rhine with small boats. Some of them were captured.
    • The Comte du Bourg, who now commanded the detachment in front of the redoubt of Stattmatten was reinforced with an infantry corps. He opened against the redoubt with 3 guns, taken from Fort Louis.
  • Imperialists
    • The Palatine Contingent (4 bns, 400 horse) under General von Bettendorf encamped near Philippsburg.

On the night of 4 to 5 May, the Comte du Bourg sent his grenadiers, led by M. de Nangis, who stormed the redoubt of Stattmatten, capturing 90 prisoners. Meanwhile, the castles of Hatten and Roedern were attacked and the Imperialists garrisons surrendered as prisoners of war.

The Imperialists had now only one passage on the Rhine at Philippsburg. Villars considered to lay siege to Landau, but Marsin’s Army was now too far away to support him.

On 5 May

  • French
    • In the morning a battery of 6 pieces opened against Haguenau but it was soon silenced by the much superior artillery of the place.
    • Villars inspected the sieges of Haguenau and Drusenheim. He ordered to establish another battery of 12 pieces in front of Haguenau and had 12 additional pieces sent from Strasbourg. He also reinforced the siege corps to 18 bns.

On the night of 5 to 6 May, the garrison of Drusenheim evacuated the place and recrossed the Rhine aboard boats.

On 6 May

  • French
    • In the morning, the batteries of M. de Vieuxpont were finally ready in front of Drusenheim. The place being abandoned was rapidly occupied. The French captured 5 iron cannon, 2,000 flour bags and a large quantity of ammunition. The now useless artillery was transferred to the siege of Haguenau.
    • Marsin’s Army marched from Phalsbourg in the direction of Metz.

On 7 May

  • French
    • By that date, M. de Pery had 28 artillery pieces before Haguenau.
    • Villars marched from Lauterbourg to Langenkandel with most of his cavalry (58 sqns) and all his grenadiers. He sent forward 1,horse and all the hussars under the Comte d’Évreux to seize Germersheim and observe the movements of the Imperialists in the vicinity of Philippsburg.

On 8 May

  • French
    • Villars reinforced d’Évreux’s detachment with 500 horse under the Chevalier de Nesle to cut the line of supply of Landau from Philippsburg.
    • D’Évreux raised contribution in the bailiffs of Germersheim, Neustadt and Alzey; and in the bishoprics of Speyer and Worms.
  • Imperialists
    • The Palatine troops, on their way to join the army of the Margrave of Baden, returned to Mainz. Meanwhile the Hessian and Hanoverian contingents, which were supposed to assemble at Sobernheim, remained in their quarters.
    • The Hessian cavalry crossed the Rhine at Mainz.

On 9 May

  • French
    • Villars took dispositions to prevent the crossing of the Rhine between Strasbourg and Lauterbourg. He charged the Comte de Bourg with this task with 8 bns and 20 sqns.
    • Villars relieved 2 infantry rgts, which had defended Fort Louis during eight months, sending them to Phalsbourg and Schlettstadt (present-day Sélestat). He also gave orders to supply the place.

On 10 May

  • French
    • Villars received a letter from Versailles, informing him that the king did not wish to undertake the siege of Landau and preferred, on this theatre of operation, to concentrate on the defence of Alsace.
    • In the morning the artillery of M. de Pery began to breach the walls of Haguenau. The defenders offered to capitulate but Pery refused to allow them the honours of war and the batteries resumed their work.

Work began to create a fortified defensive line along the Lauter River. M. de Regemorte supervised the work until the arrival of M. de Charmont, a royal engineer. Some 2,000 workers were requisitioned in Alsace, in the Trois-Évêchés and in Franche-Comté.

On 11 May

  • French
    • Marsin’s Army arrived at Metz.
  • Imperialists
    • The garrison of Haguenau (1,800 men fit for duty including 59 Saxon officers and 1,400 Saxon soldiers) surrendered as prisoners of war. The French captured 17 colours, 46 cannon, and a large quantity of powder, flour and oat. During the siege, the French had lost only 148 men killed or wounded.

On 12 May

  • French
    • The garrison of Haguenau was escorted to Strasbourg while M. de Pery entered into the place. The siege corps marched to Lauterbourg and the heavy artillery was sent back to Strasbourg.

On 13 May

  • French
    • Villars inspected the banks of the Lauter, from the Rhine to Wissembourg. He ordered to build ravelins at Wissembourg.

On 14 May

  • French
    • Villars assembled all his artillery (60 pieces, including two 24-pdrs) at the camp of Lauterbourg. He sent 10 pieces to M. du Bourg, who was encamped at Stattmatten.

On 16 May

  • French
    • The infantry advanced from Lauterbourg to Langenkandel, where it remained under the command of the Comte d’Hautefort.
    • Villars marched from Lauterbourg to Bellheim on the Queich with the cavalry and all the grenadiers. Upon arrival, Villars reconnoitred the vicinity of Philippsburg and saw that the Imperialists had only a single bridge downstream from this place and that there were no Imperialist troops on the left bank of the Rhine.

Villars received intelligence that 16,000 Hessians and Hanoverians, 3,000 Westphalians and 3,000 Palatines were on their way to make a junction with the Imperialist army at Mainz. Villars wrote to Versailles to ask for the return of Marsin’s Army to Alsace.

On 17 May

  • French
    • Louis XIV sent a letter to Villars to inform him that he had order the Maréchal de Marsin to march to Flanders with his 11 bns and 18 sqns; and that a reinforcement of 9 sqns would be sent to the Army of the Rhine; and that 8 or 10 bns would be sent later.

On 19 May

  • French
    • Villars advanced to Speyer with the grenadiers and cavalry he had with him at Bellheim.
    • The infantry and the artillery marched from Langenkandel to Bellheim.

On 20 May

  • French
    • Villars assembled his army at Speyer. His camp had its right at Speyer and its left at Harthausen with the Speyerbach to its front.
    • The Chevalier de Nesle was sent to Rehhütte with 1,000 horse. He detached 400 horse to Schifferstadt.
    • Neustadt was occupied by 400 men.
    • M. du Bourg was still charged with the defence of the Rhine between Strasbourg and Hagenbach with 15 bns and 15 sqns. He kept the main body at Stattmatten while he confided the sector of Offendorf to M. de Streiff at the head of 4 bns and 6 sqns.
    • The bakery was at Rheinzabern.
    • Villars left 5 bns and 6 sqns on the Lauter River to protect the work on the Lines of the Lauter.

On 24 May

  • French
    • Villars inspected the banks of the Speyerbach from the Rhine to Neustadt.

On 27 May

  • French
    • Villars sent his second line of cavalry to Schifferstadt under the Comte de Druys.
  • Imperialists
    • The Hessian Contingent was encamped at Stadecken.

On 28 May, the Palatine Bettendorf Infantry, which until then was operating on the Upper Rhine, was transferred to the Lower Rhine to operate under Dutch/British subsidies. It was replaced by the Leibregiment zu Pferd.

On 29 May

  • French
    • Villars reinforced Druys at Schifferstadt with an infantry brigade. He then marched at the head of 2,000 horse beyond Worms.
  • Imperialists
    • The Hessian Contingent precipitously decamped from Stadecken and recrossed the Rhine at Mainz.
    • The Hanoverian and Westphalian contingents had reached Wiesbaden and the Palatine Contingent (4,000 men) was encamped at Heidelberg.

Realising that the Allies were considering an offensive in Flanders instead of Germany. Villars sent orders to the 9 sqns, which should join his army, to remain at Homburg (probably present-day Hombourg-Haut) where they had been assembled.

Villars on the Defensive

On 1 June

  • French
    • Villars was informed that the Franco-Spanish had raised the siege of Barcelona in Spain and had been defeated in the Battle of Ramillies in Flanders.

On 5 June

  • French
    • Villars proposed to the Court to launch an offensive on the Rhine to alleviate the pressure against the French Army of Flanders. He also gave orders to the 9 sqns posted at Homburg to return to Thionville to better support this same army.

While waiting for the orders of Louis XIV, Villars transferred 5 bns from Speyer to Lauterbourg under M. de Chamillart. He also sent detachments in the bishoprics of Mainz and Worms.

On 11 June

  • French
    • Villars received orders to send 20 bns and the Carabinier Corps to reinforce the Army of Flanders.

On 13 June

  • French
    • The 20 bns and the Carabinier Corps set off from their respective posts.

On 14 June

  • Imperialists
    • The Hessian Contingent was between Darmstadt and Weinheim.

On 15 June

  • French
    • Villars sent 2 cavalry brigades under M. de Cheyladet to reinforce the camp of Schifferstadt where M. d’Imecourt now commanded.
    • Chamillart’s detachment (5 bns) marched from Lauterbourg to Rheinzabern and M. de Broglie assumed command at Lauterbourg.
    • The 20 bns and the Carabinier Corps assembled at Wissembourg under the command of the Chevalier de Rosel.

On 18 June

  • French
    • Villars received orders to send an additional reinforcement of 10 bns and 20 sqns to the Army of Flanders.

On 19 June

  • French
    • Villars wrote to the Court to ask to postpone the departure of the second reinforcement until he would know more on the whereabouts of the Hessian and Westphalian contingents.

On 20 June

  • Imperialists
    • The Hessian Contingent marched in two columns from Heilbronn: the first, to Canstatt (present-day Bad Canstatt), and the other on Bretten and Bruchsal.
  • French
    • Rosel’s Corps reached Thionville.
    • Villars now had only 50 bns and 102 sqns on the Rhine. Louis XIV considered that these forces would be sufficient to support the Lines of the Lauter for the rest of the campaign. There were also 12 newly raised bns which should join Villars’ Army.
    • The second reinforcement (10 bns and 20 sqns) destined to the Army of Flanders were sent to Wissembourg.

On 22 June

  • Imperialists
    • The Margrave of Baden threw a bridge across the Rhine at Philippsburg and some cavalry advanced beyond the bridgehead.

On 23 June

  • French
    • Villars at the head of all his hussars and part of his cavalry drove back the Imperialist cavalry to its bridgehead near Philippsburg.
    • Villars recalled the cavalry detachments posted at Schifferstadt and Rehhütte where they had lived off of the land. Villars, unsure of the designs of the Margrave of Baden, then prepared to retire to the Queich River.

On 27 June

  • French
    • Villars’ Army decamped from Speyer, marched in three columns and reoccupied its old camp near Bellheim on the Queich. The rearguard consisted of 22 grenadier coys and 1,000 horse.
    • The second reinforcement destined to the Army of Flanders, which had stopped at Wissembourg awaiting further instructions, resumed its march towards Thionville, on its way to Flanders.
    • Upon his arrival at Bellheim, Villars was informed that Louis XIV had decided to transfer him to assist the Duc d’Orléans in Italy and that the Maréchal de Marsin would assume command of the Army of the Rhine. Villars wrote to the king to ask him to remain in Germany.
  • Imperialists
    • When Villars’ Army passed near Philippsburg, the Count of Mercy crossed the Rhine with 1,000 horse and took position on the height of the “Petite Hollande.”

On 1 July

  • French
    • The Court informed Villars that he would remain in command of the Army of the Rhine and that the Maréchal de Marsin would be sent to Italy.

On 3 July

  • French
    • The Maréchal de Marsin arrived at Lauterbourg where he learned from Villars that he now had to join the Army of Italy. He left soon afterwards.

On 4 July

  • French
    • With all forage exhausted on the Queich, Villars’ Army retired from Bellheim to Langenkandel.
    • Villars was informed that the entire Hessian Contingent had taken the road to Italy.

On 6 July

  • French
    • Villars recalled the cavalry detachments of Broglie and Bourg from the Rhine and replaced them by some infantry and a few dragoons.

On 10 July

  • French
    • With all forage exhausted in the vicinity of Langenkandel, Villars retired with 2 infantry brigade and all his cavalry from Langenkandel to Barbelroth.
    • M. d’Hautefort marched from Langenkandel with 20 bns and all the artillery and encamped at Altenstatt (unidentified location) near Wissembourg. These bns were employed to improve the Lines of the Lauter.
    • The rest of the infantry (2 infantry brigades) was sent to the Rhine to reinforce outposts between Lauterbourg and Offendorf.
    • 13 Spanish sqns were recalled from the outposts between Lauterbourg and Offendorf and joined d’Hautefort’s Corps at Altenstatt.

On 11 July

  • French
    • Villars sent forage parties up to Landau. They gathered forage for ten days.

On 18 July

  • French
    • Villars sent forage parties to the vicinity of Landau. They gathered a large quantity of forage.
    • The Army of the Rhine still counted 40 bns and 82 sqns.
  • Imperialists
    • The Margrave of Baden had only 38 bns and 60 sqns, which were deployed along the right bank of the Rhine from Stollhofen to Philippsburg.

On the night of 19 to 20 July, Villars sent 10 bns and all his artillery under the Comte d’Hautefort to Fort-Louis. During this time the artillery of the place had been deploy to support the troops during the crossing of the Rhine. Only 10 bns and 11 Spanish sqns had been left at Altenstatt.

On 20 July

  • Crossing of the Rhine
    • At Fort-Louis, M. de Streiff had prepared boats to cross the Rhine.
    • At 4:00 a.m., M. de la Frezelière arrived at Fort-Louis with the artillery of Villars’ Army.
    • At daybreak, Villars ordered Streiff to launch the attack.
    • M. de Streiff was mortally wounded during the crossing of the river. Villars immediately sent M. de Broglie to replace him at the head of the troops.
    • The attacked landed on a newly-formed small island near the Marquisat Island. This small island was defended by only 30 men, who fled.
    • The Prince of Bayreuth rapidly assembled some 2,000 men to come to the support of the 150 Imperialists foot posted on the right bank of the Rhine opposite the Marquisat Island.
    • M. de Broglie, well supported by the artillery sent the grenadiers of Champagne Infanterie and Navarre Infanterie across the narrow ford leading to Marquisat Island.
    • The French established entrenchments on Marquisat Island.
    • Around 3:00 p.m., The French completed a bridge linking the Marquisat Island with the right bank of the Rhine. The Navarre Brigade and the Bourbonnais Brigade crossed this bridge and marched to the mouth of the Stollhofen River, where they found the Imperialists well entrenched.
    • In this action, the Imperialists lost about 500 men and the French 150 men killed or wounded (including the Captain of the grenadiers of Lee Infanterie.
  • French
    • Villars established his headquarters in Fort-Louis.
    • Villars used some 2,000 workers and 1,500 pioneers to re-establish the old hornwork in front of Fort-Louis and erected a redoubt on the Stollhofen River.

On 22 July

  • French
    • 14 sqns arrived from Barbelroth at Fort-Louis and encamped on the left bank of the Rhine.
    • 10 sqns, previously posted between Fort-Louis and Strasbourg, crossed the Rhine under M. de Viovans. 4 sqns had been left behind.

On 29 July, M. de Verseilles was sent to the Trois-Évêchés with 160 hussars to put a stop to the raids of the Imperialists in these quarters.

Louis XIV informed Villars that the only other operation to undertake during this campaign would be the occupation of the Dahlunden Island. Villars answered, explaining that the conquest of this island would be difficult and would give any significant advantage.

On each side, the main focus became the improvement of the defensive lines. Once the entrenchments on the Marquisat Island completed, Villars sent back the artillery and 6 bns to the camp of Altenstatt, leaving 16 bns and 4 sqns along the Rhine under the Comte d’Hautefort. Villars also recalled Vivans’ 10 sqns, previously sent to the right bank of the Rhine, and sent them to encamp in front of Kehl.

On 4 August

  • French
    • Villars personally left Fort-Louis and went to Barbelroth, where he still had 57 sqns and 8 bns. He then wrote to Versailles to ask for the authorisation to redeploy 50 sqns on the right bank of the Rhine, behind the Eltz River between Breisach and Kappel, because of the lack of forage on the left bank, keeping only 32 sqns in the region of the Lauter.

On 8 August

  • French
    • Part of the infantry left the camp of Barbelroth and entered into the Lines of the Lauter to take part with the troops of the camp of Altenstatt and 1,000 pioneers to the erection of defensive works.
    • Villars transferred 2 sqns from the camp of Barbelroth to Lauterbourg and sent 4 sqns to the Trois-Évêchés to support Verseilles’ detachment.

Louis XIV refused to send 50 sqns to the region of Breisach and Kappel and ordered Villars to send another reinforcement of 10 sqns to the Army of Flanders.

On 9 August

  • French
    • According to the king’s orders, 10 sqns under M. de Jouy left the Rhine for Flanders.

The 11 Spanish sqns, still suffering from illness, were sent to Bouquenom.

On 10 August

  • French
    • The rest of the infantry still encamped at Barbelroth marched to the camp of Altenstatt.
    • Villars established his headquarters in Wissembourg.

The Imperialists sent 3 cavalry rgts (Mercy, Bayreuth Dragoons, Holstein) to reinforce their Army of Hungary. For his part, Villars had received 2 bns of Noailles Infanterie and 2 bns of Enghien Infanterie. He had now 40 bns and 68 sqns fit for service.

On 14 August

  • French
    • Villars received a letter from Louis XIV, instructing him to undertake the siege of Landau. But he explained to the king that such an enterprise was impossible so late in the season after having consumed all the forage available in the region of Landau. The king finally agreed to his views and abandoned his design against the Fortress of Landau.

On 16 August

  • French
    • Due to the lack of forage, Villars’ cavalry decamped from Barbelroth and entered into the Lines of the Lauter. The cavalry crossed the Lauter and took cantonments between the Lauter and the Moder while free companies occupied each gorge from Wissembourg to Sainte-Marie-aux-Mines.

On 18 August

  • French
    • Villars inspected his posts along the Rhine between Lauterbourg and Offendorf. He ordered to erect a redoubt on the Drusenheim Island.

On 22 August

  • French
    • Villars returned to Wissembourg. Learning that some Imperialist troops of the garrison of Landau had crossed the Rhine, he sent 5 bns to reinforce his posts along the Rhine. D’Hautefort, who commanded in these quarters, now had 21 bns, divided in three divisions:
      • Chamillart’s Division between Offendorf to Drusenheim
      • Dourches’ Division between Drusenheim and Fort-Louis
      • Ioul’s Division between Fort-Louis and Beinheim.

On 24 August

  • French
    • Villars assembled 13 sqns at Bischwiller to support d’Hautefort’s Corps.

On 10 September, the Margrave of Baden, who was ill, left for Schlangenbad, confiding command to Field Marshal von Thüngen.

On 12 September

  • French
    • Villars transferred his headquarters from Wissembourg to Haguenau.
  • Imperialists
    • Thüngen's Army crossed the Rhine at Philippsburg. This army included some Palatine units (2 bns, 8 sqns): the Garde Grenadiers (971 men), the Leibregiment zu Pferd (442 men), Hahn Dragoons (439 men), Nassau Cavalry (299 men) and the Kreiseskadron.
    • A corps was left behind 11 bns, 2 cavalry rgts and 1 dragoon rgt under the Duke of Württemberg in front of Fort-Louis. This corps was charged to try to cross the Rhine from the Dahlungen Island if the French weakened their posts along the Rhine.

On 13 September

  • French
    • Villars returned to Wissembourg and placed 34 bns in the Lines of the Lauter. He also assembled 57 sqns at Schleithal.
    • D’Hautefort remained on the Rhine with 6 bns.
    • The 11 Spanish sqns marched from Bouquenom and returned to Alsace to support the Army of the Rhine.

On 14 September

  • Imperialists
    • Thüngen’s Army reached Kandel.

On the night of 14 to 15 September, a detachment of French hussars under Lieutenant-Colonel de Chervary reconnoitred in the direction of Minfeld and engaged an Imperialist detachment of 100 cuirassiers and hussars, capturing the lieutenant-colonel commanding this detachment, along with a few men.

On 15 September

  • French
    • Villars at the head of 20 sqns reconnoitred the positions of the Imperialists.

On 16 September

  • French
    • D’Hautefort was reinforced with 4 bns, bringing his small corps defending the Rhine to 10 bns.

On the night of 16 to 17 September, Thüngen’s Army decamped from Kandel and retired to Hagenbach. The Imperialists had moved a bridge of boats upstream from Philippsburg to Hagenbach and established it behind their camp at the Daxland Island to establish communication with the corps of the Duke of Württemberg.

On 17 September

  • Imperialists
    • Thüngen wrote to the emperor to inform him that he had only 14,600 men fit for service in his camp of Hagenbach. This letter was intercepted by the French.
  • French
    • Villars vainly asked for the permission to offer battle to the Imperialists.
    • Villars then learned of the disastrous results of the Battle of Turin in Italy, which had forced the French to raise the siege of the city.

On 1 October

  • French
    • Villars sent back a few sqns which had been posted at Schleitahl.

On 7 October

  • Imperialists
    • A new Saxon Contingent (only 2,500 men) arrived at Philippsburg.

On 10 October

  • French
    • Villars sent 1 dragoon rgt to Alt-Breisach to prevent a raid of the Imperialists against Neuenburg.

On 22 October

  • French
    • Villars transferred his headquarters to Lauterbourg, planning to attack the Imperialist rearguard when it would recross the Rhine.

On 23 October

  • French
    • Villars received orders from Louis XIV, instructing him to send his army in its quarters as soon as the Imperialists would have retired.

On 31 October, the Imperialists troops received instructions for their winter-quarters.

In the first days of November, Villars retired 40 sqns from the camp of Schleithal. He also recalled 1 dragoon rgt from the Trois-Évêchés, which he sent to Schlettstadt.

On 14 November

  • French
    • Villars received intelligence that the Imperialists planned to recross the Rhine on the following day; and that their rearguard would consist of all their grenadiers, 7 bns and some cavalry.

In the night of 14 to 15 November, Villars marched from the Lauter River through the forest of Hagenbach with 18 bns and 15 sqns.

On 15 November

  • Imperialists
    • At daybreak the Imperialists took position behind the abatis of Hagenbach and remained under arms the whole day.
  • French
    • Villars finally decided to abandon his plan to attack the Imperialist rearguard and retired.

On the night of 16 to 17 November, the Imperialists recrossed the Rhine and moved their bridge behind the Daxland Island, which they occupied.

On 17 November

  • French
    • In the morning, Villars occupied Hagenbach and visited the abandoned Imperialist camp.
  • Imperialists
    • The Palatine Contingent returned home. The Garde Grenadiers toop up their quarters around Mannheim; 1 bn of the Haxthausen Infantry (the other was in Dutch pay in Flanders) in Heidelberg the Battalion Paderborn in Trarbach; and 1 bn (341 men) of the newly raised Lindenfels Infantry in Kaiserslautern.

On 18 November

  • French
    • Villars sent his troops (44 bns, 72 sqns) to their winter-quarters.
    • 10 bns and 49 sqns were on the march from Italy to take up their quarters in Franche-Comté and Lorraine.
    • Villars inspected his outposts along the Rhine, and on the Marquisat Island, reconnoitred the Imperialist entrenchments at Stollhofen and then went to Fort-Louis.

On 19 November

  • French
    • Villars continued his inspection of the outposts along the Rhine and established his headquarters in Strasbourg.
  • Imperialists
    • There were 43 field bns and 53 sqns in quarters between the Lines of Bühl and Mainz; 10 Austrian sqns were sent to Bavaria, a few bns in the Black Forest and 1,500 men at Seckingen and Laufenburg on the border with Switzerland. Furthermore, the 5 Saxon bns, which had been taken prisoners at Haguenau, would soon be exchanged.

Villars transferred 4 bns from the Lauter to the Rhine.

On 27 November, Villars left Strasbourg for Versailles.

References

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. 3-8, 385-484
  • Bezzel, O.: Geschichte des Kurpfälzischen Heeres, Bayrisches Kriegsarchiv, IV. File, part 1 and 2, Munich 1925
  • Schuster/Francke: Geschichte der Sächsischen Armee part I, Leipzig 1885