1706 – Siege of Ath

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Hierarchical Path: War of the Spanish Succession (Main Page) >> Sieges >> 1706 – Siege of Ath

The siege lasted from 15/16 September to 2 October 1706

Introduction

In August 1706, the Allies had made themselves masters of Menin.

On 27 August, the Allies began the siege of Dendermonde. It was led by Lord Churchill, Marlborough's brother. The place surrendered at the beginning of September and its garrison became prisoners of war.

On 5 September, 50 vessels loaded with artillery arrived from Ghent at Oudenarde for the planned siege of Ath.

Fearing for the place of Ath, the Maréchal de 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.

On 13 September in the evening, the corps of Field Marshal Nassau-Ouwerkerk marched in the direction of Ath.

On 14 September, Churchill's Corps, which had besieged Dendermonde, marched from Grammont towards Ath. Nassau-Ouwerkerk’s Corps made a junction with this corps and invested Ath. Together, they fielded 38 bns and 26 sqns.

Map

Map of the siege of Ath in 1706 – Copyright: Dinos Antoniadis

Ath was a well fortified place with eight bastions under the command of Governor de Spinola and Brigadier de Saint-Pierre, who led the 6 French bns (approx. 2,000 men). However, this garrison was insufficient to properly man the defensive works of the place.

Description of Events

On September 15, Nassau-Ouwerkerk had the lines of communication from the Fortress of Ath cut off by some sqns.

On September 16, the fortress was completely cut off. Attacks were prepared against the Luxembourg Bastion and the Hainaut Bastion, and the La Vallone Ravelin and Coffres Ravelin.

On September 20, the defenders were initially focusing their attention on the defence of the eastern part of the fortress, where the breaches from the siege of 1697 were not yet fully repaired. This enabled the Allies to start working on the first parallel during the next night.

On the night of 20 to 21 September 1706, Nassau-Ouwerkerk opened the trenches in front of the Mons Gate completely unmolested and without loss.

On 23 September, Nassau-Ouwerkerk’s batteries (50 cannon, 30 mortars) opened against Ath. The Duke of Marlborough was posted between Leuze and Blicquy with the main army, preventing any relief of Ath.

By September 24, the first parallel was completed.

In the night of September 25 to 26, work began on the second parallel, 150 m ahead of the first one.

On 26 September, the besiegers, who had now 90 cannon and 70 mortars, moved very close to the covert way. The defenders made a successful sortie and managed to fill part of the trenches.

In the night of September 26 to 27, the second parallel was completed and armed with two batteries, each of four mortars. By now breaches were appearing in both bastions.

On 27 September, the defenders of Ath made two additional sorties.

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

On 28 September, the besiegers worked at their lodgements near the covert way. They also made themselves masters of the covert way near the Mons Gate.

On 1 October, 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 at 5:00 p.m., Spinola and Saint-Pierre capitulated and the garrison surrendered as prisoners of war.

Outcome

During the siege, the Allies lost about 800 men dead and wounded.

The defenders were all made prisoners of war and were later escorted to Oudenarde, Breda and Bergen op Zoom. On the way, a large part of the garrison managed to escape with the complicity of the inhabitants, and only 500 prisoners reached their destinations.

Orders of Battle

Allies

Commander-in-Chief: Field Marshal Nassau-Ouwerkerk

Summary: 38 bns and 26 sqns

The following order of battle is derived from the map "Plan des environs d'Ath assiege par les trouppes des allies et pris le 2. octobre 1706. Les Trouppes pour l'Attaque" Amsterdam Cóvens & Mortier

1. British Royal Foot (1 bn) aka Orkney's
2. British Wood's Horse (2 sqns)
3. British Cadogan's Horse (2 sqns)
4. British Thomas Meredith's Foot (1 bn)
5. British Duke of Leinster's Horse (2 sqns) aka Schomberg's Horse
6. British Thomas Stringer's Foot (1 bn)
7. British Richard Temple's Foot (1 bn)
8. British Lord Dalrymple's Foot (1 bn) aka Cameronians
9. Prussian Leib-Regiment Dragoner? (? sqns)
10. Prussian Kronprinz Horse? (? sqns)
11. Prussian Wittgenstein Dragoons (? sqns)
12. Prussian Alt-Dohna Infantry (? bn)
13. Prussian Leib-Regiment Horse? (? sqns)
14. Prussian Lattorf Infantry (? bn)
15. Dutch Kroonprins van Pruissen? (? bn)
16. Prussian Dönhof Infantry (? bn)
17. Brandenburg-Anspach Heyden Horse (? sqns) in Dutch pay
18. Prussian Markgraf Albrecht Infantry (? bn)
19. Hanoverian Voigt Cavalry (? sqns)
20. Hanoverian Bernstorf Infantry (1 bn)
21. Hanoverian Saint-Laurent Cavalry (? sqns)
22. Hanoverian Du Breuille Infantry (1 bn)
23. Hanoverian Coseritz Infantry (1 bn)
24. Hanoverian Bülow Dragoons (? sqns)
25. Hanoverian Reck Infantry (1 bn)
26. Holstein-Gottorp Van der Nath Horse (? sqns) in Dutch pay
27. Dutch Deelen Infantry (1 bn)
28. Dutch (Swiss) Méstral Infantry (? bn)
29. Dutch Prinz Heinrich Friedrich von Wurttemberg Cavalry (? sqns)
30. Dutch Keppel Infantry (1 bn)
31. Dutch Huffel Infantry (1 bn)
32. Dutch Oost-Friesland Cavalry (? sqns)
33. Brandenburg-Anspach Jung-Seckendorff Infantry (? bn) in Dutch pay
34. Hostein-Gottorp Berner Infantry (? bn) in Dutch pay
35. Dutch Hollandsche Gardes (? bn)
36. Dutch Gardes du Corps (? sqns)
37. Dutch Junius Infantry (1 bn) unidentified
38. Mecklenburg Schwerin Infantry (? bn) in Dutch pay
39. Dutch Erbach Cavalry (? sqns)
40. Münster Schwartz Infantry (? bn) in Dutch pay
41. Dutch (Walloon) Nassau-Waale (1 bn)
42. Dutch (Scots) Hepburn Infantry (? bn)
43. Dutch Els Infantry (1 bn)
44. Dutch Tengnagel Cavalry (? sqns)
45. Palatine [[Bourscheidt Infantry|Bettendorf Infantry (? bn)
46. Dutch Nassau-La Leck Cavalry (? sqns)
47. Palatine Lybeck Infantry (? bn)
48. Palatine Venningen Gensdarmes (? sqns)
49. Dutch Vegelin van Claerbergen Infantry (1 bn)
50. Hessian Prinz M. von Hessen Infantry (? bn) unidentified
51. Dutch Nassau-Woudenberg Infantry (1 bn)
52. Dutch (Swiss) Tscharner Infantry (? bn)
53. Danish I./Fynske Infantry (1 bn) aka Fühnen
54. Danish Oldenburgske Infantry (? bn) aka Sonderburg
55. Danish 5th Jyske Cuirassiers (? sqns) aka Schmettau
56. Danish Livgarden til Hest (? sqns)
57. Danish Holstenske Cuirassiers (? sqns) aka Dewitz

Artillery

  • 90 heavy guns
  • 70 mortars and howitzers

French

Commander-in-Chief: Brigadier de Saint-Pierre

Summary: approx. 2,000 men (6 bns)

The French order of battle is highly tentative, the only source is Fouré, but he does not give an exact reference and his order of battle could not be verified. A number of flags supposedly captured at Ath are shown in an engraving by Anna Beek, but these are even more problematic. Pelet speaks of six battalions at Ath.

II./Foix Infanterie (1 bn)
II./Sennectere Infanterie (1 bn)
I./Lachau-Montauban Infanterie (1 bn)
II./Lannoy Infanterie (1 bn) reported in Catalonia at that time
I./Mailly Infanterie (1 bn) reported in Catalonia at that time
I./Choiseul Beaupr/ Infanterie (1 bn)
unidentified Swiss battalion (1 bn)
Grenadiers d'Houdetot (1 bn) probably a converged grenadier battalion from the aforementioned infantry units

Fouré also lists two unidentified dragoon rgts: Coëtman and Octo...

References

Feldzüge des Prinzen Eugen von Savoyen, Feldzug 1706, Vienna 1882, pp.396-398

Fouré: Trophées de la guerre de succession d'Espangne, p. 61

Pelet and François Eugène de Vault: Mémoires militaires relatifs à la Succession d'Espagne sous Louis XIV, Vol. 6, 1845, pp. 120-128, 563-568

Quincy, Charles Sevin de: Histoire Militaire Du Règne De Louis Le Grand, Tome V, Paris 1726, pp.46-48

Acknowledgements

Jörg Meier for the initial version of this article and Dinos Antoniadis for the map