1707 – Allied offensive in Southern France

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Hierarchical Path: War of the Spanish Succession (Main Page) >> Campaigns >> 1707 – Allied offensive in Southern France

The campaign lasted from June to October 1707


Both in the north and in the south, the tide had now receded to the frontiers of France itself. Louis XIV could now hope to gain the objects of the war only partially and by sheer endurance. But it is from this very point that the French operations ceased (though only gradually it is true) to be the ill-defined and badly-joined patchwork of forays and cordons that they had hitherto been.

In the place of Tallard, Marsin and Villeroy, Louis XIV made up his mind to put Villars, Vendôme and Berwick, and above all the approach of the Allied armies roused in the French nation itself a spirit of national defence which, under the prevailing dynastic and professional conditions of warfare, was indeed a startling phenomenon.

For the coming campaign, the Elector of Bavaria kept overall command in the Low Countries. He was seconded by the Duc de Vendôme. The Army of the Rhine remained under the command of the Maréchal de Villars. The Maréchal de Tessé received the command of the Army of Italy; and the Duc d'Orléans, assisted by the Maréchal de Berwick, the command of the Army of Spain. The Duc de Noailles received command of a corps posted in Roussillon and the Duc de Roquelaure, of a detachment in the Cévennes.

For their part, the Allies confided command on the Rhine to the Margrave of Bayreuth. They also planned to invade the provinces of Dauphiné and Provence from Piedmont. Their first objective was the capture of Toulon, for which large fleets were being prepared in Great Britain and in the Dutch Republic. Meanwhile, Count Daun should march from Lombardy towards the Kingdom of Naples to create an uprising in favour of the Habsburg. Finally in Spain, Archduke Charles was confident that he could conquer the rest of the peninsula with the help of Portuguese, British and Dutch troops.

In Italy, after the disastrous campaign of 1706, France and Spain had managed to keep the Province of Savoie, Susa, Perosa Argentina and the County of Nice. For the coming campaign, Louis XIV wanted to remain on the defensive in the Alps while he would reinforce his armies in Flanders, on the Rhine and in Spain. All places in Provence and Dauphiné were made ready to oppose a long resistance. Louis XIV sent the Maréchal de Tessé to Grenoble to assume command of the army which would defend the provinces of Dauphiné and Provence.


Preparations for the campaign

On 19 February 1707, Tessé arrived at Grenoble. He was then instructed to pay particular attention to the Barcelonnette Valley, which was the easiest road to invade Provence from Piedmont. M. Dillon would command in this valley, while M. de Médavy-Grancey would command a corps posted near Fenestrelle. M. de Saint-Pater would be posted in Savoie.

Meanwhile the French Court was negotiating with Prince Eugène for the evacuation of the French and Spanish troops from the places of Lombardy and for their return to France. It was estimated that, once these troops would have returned to France, Tessé would be at the head of 60 bns and 45 sqns for the defence of Savoie, Dauphiné, Provence and the County of Nice. The rest of the French and Spanish troops, under the command of the Duc d'Orléans, would be redirected towards Spain and Roussillon. A park of 40 field artillery pieces was also assembled at Cesana near Susa; and corn magazines were established at Lyons, Grenoble and Queue d'Isère (unidentified location).

In March, France and the Allies signed the Convention of Milan, by which the French agreed to evacuate Lombardy and retire to France.

At the beginning of March, Tessé went from Grenoble to Chambéry, where he was informed that Prince Eugène would soon join Duke Victor Amadeus of Savoy in Piedmont, in preparation for the invasion of France. He was also informed that the Allies were assembling considerable magazines at Saluzzo and Cuneo, which induced him to think that Provence would be the target of the invasion. However, an intercepted letter of the Marquis de Saint-Thomas, a minister of the Duke of Savoy, mentioned that the Allies intended to advance in the Tarentaise Valley. Tessé inspected this valley and realized that Conflans, Moutiers and Séez were all indefensible. He then reported to Versailles that the only way he saw to defend Savoie, was to station an army corps (with a large number of dragoons) in the province.

From 12 March, Tessé went to Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne and reconnoitred the country up to Mont Cenis. From there, he went to Susa and then returned to Briançon and Embrun. On his way, he was informed that the Duke of Savoy continued to assemble magazines in Saluzzo, Cuneo, Mondovi and Demonte. Tessé was now convinced that the Allies planned to enter Provence by the Barcelonnette Valley. Tessé instructed M. de Le Guerchois to occupy this valley with 5 bns.

By 20 March, Le Guerchois had assembled 4 bns at Briançon for his mission in the Barcelonnette Valley.

On 22 March, Le Guerchois advanced southwards from Briançon in the direction of the Vars Pass with his 4 bns. He had to make his way through snow.

On 23 March, Le Guerchois arrived at Barcelonnette. He posted 2 bns in Tournoux and 2 other bns in Saint-Paul-sur-Ubaye and Melzen (unidentified location).

A few days later, 2 additional bns, arriving from Gap and Embrun, joined Le Guerchois' detachment in the Barcelonnette Valley. He was now at the head of 6 bns). He decided that Tournoux would be the centre of his defensive positions. He also planned to post 3 other bns, which were on their way to reinforce his detachment, on the road leading from Piedmont to Tournoux. Le Guerchois also blocked the Argentières Pass to prevent the Allies from advancing into Dauphiné from Demonte.

In the first days of April, the Franco-Spanish garrisons of Finale and of the Castle of Milan (a total of 14 bns) arrived at Susa. The 2 French bns were sent to Savoie, while the 12 Spanish bns set off for Languedoc.

Tessé then went to Perosa Argentina to reconnoitre the defensive works erected by M. de Muret. He suggested some improvements and then returned to Susa.

On 15 April, Tessé was informed that Allied troops were assembling. Louis XIV authorised him to retain 19 additional bns from those returning from Lombardy so that he would be at the head of an army of 79 bns. From these, 20 bns were destined for the entrenchments at Susa; 12 bns for Perosa Argentina, Fenestrelle and the Saint-Martin Valley; 9 bns for Montgenèvre; 2 bns for the Queyras Valley; 10 bns for the Barcelonnette Valley and 10 bns for Savoie. The cavalry would be sent on the Rhône to ease its subsistence.

On 30 April, the last units, which had evacuated Lombardy, arrived at Susa. They were accompanied by the Prince de Vaudémont and M. de Médavy-Grancey, who both left for Versailles a few days later. The strongest French bns arriving from Lombardy numbered only 250 men, Spanish bns were even weaker.

In the first days of May, the French bns arriving from Lombardy went to the quarters assigned to them by the Maréchal de Tessé. Meanwhile the Spanish bns continued their march towards Languedoc, from where they would join the armies of Philip V in Spain. M. de Toralba was the only Spanish general officer who remained with Tessé. M. de Saint-Pater assumed command in Savoie, and M. Dillon in the Barcelonnette Valley. The Comte de Muret remained at Perosa Argentina and the Maréchal de Tessé established his headquarters at Chaumont, leaving command of the corps defending Susa to M. de Chamarande, and of the corps of Provence and Dauphiné to M. de Sailly.

With the preparations of the Allies, Louis XIV became worried for the Province of Savoie and decided to place 20 bns and 15 sqns under the command of M. de Médavy-Grancey to protect this province.

On 5 May, Tessé wrote to Versailles to inform that he planned to make himself master of the village of Morgex located at the head of the Aosta Valley. He explained that from this position, he could interdict the regions of Chablais and Faussigny and the Tarentaise Valley to the Allies. He had already sent 2 bns (Bretagne and Beauvoisis) to the region of Faussigny and some bns of Lyonnais and Châteauneuf to the region of Chablais in preparation for this plan.

On 20 May, M. de Saint-Pater, who had been charged of the capture of Morgex, took position at Conflans, where he assembled the main body of his corps, sending a few detachments to the regions of Chablais and Faussigny.

A few days later, Saint-Pater advanced to the foot of the Petit-Saint-Bernard but the difficulties encountered and the news that 3 Savoyard bns had reached La Thuile persuaded him to abandon the project. He then established entrenchments between Séez and Saint-Maurice at the foot of the Petit-Saint-Bernard.

In the first days of June, Tessé was informed that an Allied corps of approx. 16,500 men was forming camps in the plain of Piedmont, at Rivoli, Avigliana, Vigone and between Savigliano and Cuneo; while another Allied corps of approx. 11,000 men was advancing on Ivrea and in the Aosta Valley. Tessé, fearing for Savoie, transferred 3 bns and 2 dragoon rgts from Dauphiné.

On 5 June. M. de Médavy-Grancey, who would command in Savoie, arrived at Chambéry. Tessé asked him to immediately go to the head of the Tarentaise Valley to complete the entrenchments that M. de Saint-Pater had already started to erect. Médavy-Grancey's Corps, once all reinforcements would be arrived, would number 22 bns and 15 sqns for the defence of the Province of Savoie.

On 10 June

  • French
    • Tessé assembled his cavalry in a camp at Sablons under M. de Montgon. In this position, his cavalry would be able to rapidly join Médavy-Grancey's Corps by moving upstream along the Isère River.
    • M. de Médavy-Grancey inspected the entrenchments near Saint-Maurice, at the foot of the Petit-Saint-Bernard, and started to improve them.

On 13 June, M. de Sailly arrived at Aix-en-Provence to take command of his corps (10 bns, 7 sqns): 6 bns in the County of Nice, 2 bns near Toulon, and 2 bns at Seyne and Colmars. Sailly asked that M. de Grignan, who commanded in Provence, assembled the militia, and that M. de Paratte, commanding in Nice, would send back the 6 bns stationed there as soon as the enemy would appear.

The camp of Sablons had only 17 sqns (with only 800 horses fit for service) since M. de Montgon had sent some dragoons to Fenestrelle and some cavalry to Provence.

The French received intelligence that the Allies had approx. 55,000 men in the region of the Alps. Their forces were subdivided into four corps:

  • 16,000 men assembling between Saluzzo and Cuneo
  • 17,000 men at Orbassano, near Pinerolo
  • 12,500 men at Rivoli on the Dora Riparia
  • 9,000 men at Tina, near Ivrea

They also learned that an Allied detachment (8,500 men) was marching across the Papal States on the Kingdom of Naples and that an Anglo-Dutch fleet (40 warships and 60 transports) under Sir Cloudesley Shovell had reached the coast near Finale and Genoa.

On 15 June, Tessé urged the Court to supply Toulon with engineers, ammunition, provisions and powder. To reinforce Provence, he also asked to redirect 10 bns and 20 sqns from Spain; and 10 bns and 10 sqns from Germany. Meanwhile, he was determined to remain in Savoie and in Dauphiné with the main body of his army to prevent an invasion by the Allies.

The French Court gave orders to M. de Paratte, commanding in Nice, to make himself master of Saorgio (present-day Saorge); and to M. de Grignan, Lieutenant-General of Provence, to assist Paratte. Grignan also sent 2 cavalry rgts, arriving from Sablons, to Hyères; and 1 dragoon rgt to Fréjus. He also instructed the Garde-Côte coys of Toulon to march towards Antibes and asked to the Navy to form bns with their troops posted in Toulon. The militia of Provence were destined to the defence of the Estérel defile.

For his part, M. de Sailly made preparations to encamp along the Var River with 4 bns. He also asked for a reinforcement of 30 bns to establish an entrenched camp on the Var. Louis XIV considered that this river did not constitute a serious obstacle but he nevertheless ordered to send a total of 12 bns and 15 sqns from Guyenne, Flandres and Germany to reinforce Tessé's Army. The king also sent M. de Langeron to take command of the fleet at Toulon; and M. de Saint-Pater to defend the city.

On 17 June, the dragoon rgt sent by Grignan arrived at Fréjus and took position along the Argens River from Fréjus to Le Muy.

On 20 June

  • French
    • Louis XIV sent M. de Besons to assume command on the Rhône, from its source to the sea.
    • The 2 cavalry rgts sent by Grignan arrived at Hyères.

Work began to make a covert way at Toulon and to establish an entrenched camp on the heights overlooking the city. The Gardes-Côtes coys were deployed along the coast and the militia of Provence were assembled. M. de Paratte took disposition to quickly evacuate Nice in front of the Allies, this town being defenseless since the destruction of its castle.

On 23 June, M. de Grignan was informed that a quartermaster of the Duke of Savoy had instructed the inhabitants of the Saint-Martin Valley to repair the road leading to Saint-Martin on the Var River, as well as the road leading from the Tende Pass and Saorgio to Sospello (present-day Sospel), and the road leading from Breglio (present-day Breil-sur-Roya) to Sospello. He immediately instructed M. de Paratte to take measure to keep his line of retreat open.

On 24 June, a third of the Allied corps posted at Orbassano set off towards Busca.

On 25 June, another third of the Allied corps posted at Orbassano followed the first detachment.

On 26 June, the last part of the Allied corps posted at Orbassano followed the two other detachments.

Tessé received intelligence that an Allied corps of 20,000 men would remain in Piedmont to make a diversion in Dauphiné or Savoie, while the rest of the Allied army would march on Toulon.

The Allies invade Provence

On 28 June, Tessé was informed that the main body of the Allied army was marching towards Cuneo; that 5,000 foot were embarking aboard the Allied fleet at Finale to make a landing in Golfe Juan; that a corps of 9,000 men had just been reviewed by Prince Eugène at Bollengo, near Ivrea; that a corps of 6 bns and 2,000 horse was posted in the Susa Valley; that approx. 5,500 men were posted near Pinerolo and a similar corps was posted near Demonte. Tessé decided to wait for further developments before sending troops to Provence.

On 29 June, M. de Paratte placed 2 bns in Villefranche, Montalban (unidentified location) and Sospello. He then recrossed the Var River and took position near Antibes with 4 bns. The garrison of the place consisted of only 700 men and its fortifications were in poor conditions, without any battery.

On 30 June, M. de Grignan sent 2 cavalry rgts and 1 dragoon rgt (previously stationed at Hyères and Fréjus) to reinforce M. de Paratte at Antibes and moved 2 of the 4 bns near Toulon. Grignan also urged the Maréchal de Tessé to send him reinforcements by sending the 17 sqns posted at Sablons and the infantry posted in Savoie to Sisteron; the infantry posted in and around Susa to Seyne and Digne; and the infantry posted at Tournoux and Queyras to Colmars, Annot and Entrevaux.

Tessé finally sent 1 cavalry rgt and 3 dragoon rgts (2 from Savoie, 1 from from Dauphiné) to Sisteron. He also instructed the 17 sqns encamped at Sablons to march to Forcalquier and Manosque. He also gave orders to prepare boats at Grenoble and Pont-Charra on the Rhône to embark infantry.

On 3 July

  • Allies
    • Eugène's Army set off from its camps for Provence, advancing in four separate corps.
  • French
    • Tessé was informed that the Allies had entered the County of Nice. He immediately sent a courier to M. de Médavy-Grancey with the orders to hurriedly march towards Provence with most of the corps (17 bns, 9 sqns) he commanded in Savoie, leaving only 5 bns and 1 dragoon rgt under M. de Thouy and M. de Vallière to defend this province. Her also recalled 3 bns from the Barcelonnette Valley, they marched under M. Le Guerchois to Entrevaux. Similarly, he recalled 2 bns from the Queyras Valley but he left 7 bns at Perosa under M. de Muret to keep control of the Saint-Martin Valley.

On 5 July

  • French
    • The Maréchal de Tessé personally left Chaumont and went to Briançon, leaving command in Dauphiné to M. de Chamarande.
    • M. de Médavy-Grancey left Saint-Maurice and went to Conflans to assemble his troops there. He was informed that an Allied corps of approx. 7,000 men was posted near Morgex and that the corps encamped near Ivrea numbered some 7,000 men. He informed Tessé of the situation and was authorised to keep most of his corps in Savoie and to send only 10 of his best bns to Provence.
    • M. de Sailly requisitioned a large number of peasants to entrench, in collaboration with the militia, the banks of the Var River. He also ordered to burn the ferryboat at Saint-Martin.

On 6 July

  • Allies
    • The vanguard, which had marched by way of the Tende Pass, reached Sospello and the garrison (100 men) surrendered without opposing any resistance.
  • French
    • M. de Sailly took position at Saint-Laurent-du-Var with 4 bns, 7 sqns, and approx. 3,500 militiamen.
    • Tessé reached Embrun where he was informed that the head of the Allied army had almost reached Nice, where it would be completely assembled in a week.

On 7 July

  • Allies
    • The vanguard reached L'Escarène.
  • French
    • Part of the 9 bns that Médavy-Grancey had decided to send to Provence set off from Conflans.

On 8 July, an Allied corps (approx. 7,500 men) joined the vanguard at L'Escarène and encamped between Menton and Villefranche.

On 9 July at noon, the Allied fleet (48 warships, bombs and a large number of transports) under Admiral Shovell appeared in front of Nice.

On 10 July

  • French
    • Sailly's Corps was finally joined by the 3 bns sent from the Barcelonnette Valley under M. Le Guerchois. At his camp of Saint-Laurent-du-Var, Sailly was now at the head of 7 bns, 7 sqns and the militia.
    • The Maréchal de Tessé arrived at Toulon.
    • The rest of the 9 bns that Médavy-Grancey had decided to send to Provence set off from Conflans. Médavy-Grancey was now at the head of only 13 bns and 2 dragoon rgts to defend the Province of Savoie.
    • Louis XIV wrote to Tessé to inform him that he considered that the 2 bns, the 2,000 men of the Navy and the militia would be able to hold Toulon by themselves and that Tessé should form an army to fix the enemy and threaten its line of retreat. The king specified that Tessé should evacuate all towns and posts unable to oppose a serious resistance but to hold Antibes with 1,000 men.

Unable to spare troops for the defence of Marseille, Tessé decided to confide its defence to its inhabitants and 30 coys of 100 men each were formed. They were supplemented by 1 gentlemen coy (100 men) and 1 mounted coy (50 men). These forces were placed under the command of M. de Forville. Furthermore, 4,000 peasants of the region were armed.

On 11 July

  • Allies
    • A corps of approx. 8,500 men reached the Var River. It then crossed the Var, which was easily fordable, in several locations and encamped at Saint-Laurent-du-Var.
    • A grenadier detachment crossed the Upper Var to turn Sailly's left flank.
    • Some vessels got closer to the coast at the mouth of the river as if planning a landing on Sailly's right flank. Two frigates opened on 5 cavalry troops and the militia posted there to oppose a landing. The militia broke and fled.
  • French
    • Threatened on both flanks, M. de Sailly retired in good order to Cagnes with his cavalry at the head of the column and M. Le Guerchois forming the rearguard with 5 grenadier coys and 100 horse.
    • Tessé returned to Sisteron which was the rendezvous of all his troops arriving from Savoie and Dauphiné.

On July 12

  • Allies
    • The main body of the Allied army reached Saint-Laurent-du-Var and extended its right wing up to Cagnes.
  • French
    • Sailly's Corps retired to Grasse, leaving only 2 bns in Antibes.

On July 13

  • Allies
    • The Allies made themselves masters of Saint-Paul-de-Vence.
  • French
    • Sailly's Corps (now only 7 bns and 7 sqns) encamped near Le Muy, behind the Estérel Defile. Sailly was unable to rally the militia.
    • The Maréchal de Tessé arrived at Sisteron. He had decided to send 29 bns to the entrenched camp on the heights overlooking Toulon, in addition to Sailly's Corps and to the garrison of Toulon.
    • The head of the column arriving from Dauphiné reached Sisteron. The column arriving from Colmars by way of Castellane was subdivided into three divisions: the first division (5 bns) under M. de Raffetot could not reach Sisteron before 15 July; the second division (9 bns) under M. Destouches, before 17 July; and the third (5 bns) under M. de Cadrieu before 18 July.
    • Médavy-Grancey was informed that there remained only 6 Allied bns in the Aosta Valley, and decided to send 4 additional bns and 3 dragoon rgts to reinforce Provence.

In the night of 13 to 14 July, the garrison (1 coy) of the Castle of Saint-Paul-de-Vence surrendered without opposing any resistance.

On July 14

  • Allies
    • The Duke of Savoy met with the consuls of Grasse, Vence, Cannes, Fréjus and other towns of the region to establish the contributions, which consisted mainly in provisions. The duke promised to leave the inhabitants unmolested as long as they did not take arms against the Allies.
  • French
    • Cadrieu's Division reached Tournoux where M. Dillon covered the Barcelonnette Valley with 8 bns.
    • Dillon, who had been informed that the Allies detachments previously posted at Busca, Cavaglio and in the Stura Valley had marched to join the army invading Provence, considered that he did not have to protect the Barcelonette Valley anymore and decided to evacuate the camp of Tournoux and accompany Cadrieu's Corps to Toulon.

On 15 July

  • Allies
    • The Allied army encamped between Grasse and Cannes.
      • French
    • The first division (7 bns) of the troops assembled at Sisteron set off from this place for Toulon under the command of M. de Montsoreau.
  • French
    • Dillon's Corps (8 bns) and Cadrieu's Division (5 bns) set off from Tournoux for Toulon by way of Castellane. Dillon left 100 men in Castelet and 100 men in Arches.

On 16 July

  • Allies
    • The Allied army marched in three columns. The central column forced M. de Sailly to retire from the Defile of Estérel and to take a new position at Le Muy behind the Luc River.
  • French
    • Montsoreau's Division reached Riez.

On 17 July

  • Allies
    • The three columns of the Allied army (30,000 foot, 8,000 horse) made a junction at Fréjus where they would sojourn until 20 July to wait for the artillery and some additional units and to recover from the very hot weather.
    • A corps of 15,000 men had been left behind to protect the lines of communication and to lay siege to Monaco, Villefranche, Montalban and Antibes.
    • The Anglo-Dutch fleet took post near the Hyères Islands.
  • French
    • A second division (9 bns), arriving from Castellane, reached Riez.
    • 6 bns arriving from Savoie reached Sisteron. The 3 other bns were supposed to arrive on 20 July.

On 18 July

  • French
    • M. de Goesbriant, who was commanding the three divisions destined for Toulon, marched with the second division from Riez by way of Roquevaire.
    • The Maréchal de Tessé personally went from Sisteron to Riez to get closer to Toulon, leaving M. de Toralba in command at Sisteron to assemble the artillery and to wait for the troops arriving from Dauphiné and Savoie.
    • The last units sent by Médavy-Grancey to reinforce Provence left Savoie. Médavy-Grancey accompanied these reinforcements, leaving command in Savoie to M. de Thouy with 8 bns and 2 dragoon rgts. Médavy-Grancey reached Riez.

The Maréchal de Tessé estimated that 32 bns could reach Toulon between 22 and 25 July. Meanwhile, he planned to assemble the rest of his forces, including his cavalry, on the Verdon River, and to redirect 4 bns arriving from Languedoc on Aix and Marseille. In preparation for these various manoeuvres, he established a bridge of rafts on the Durance River, between Manosque and Mirabeau. and sent 500 dismounted cavalrymen, who had been assembled at Valence, to reinforce the infantry defending Toulon. He also instructed M. de Sailly to hold the defile of Estérel as long of possible.

By 19 July

  • French
    • Tessé's cavalry and dragoons were assembled at Manosque under M. de Montgon.
    • Sailly's Corps retired from Le Muy to Cuers.

On 20 July, Sailly's Corps retired from Cuers to La Valette, only 2 km from Toulon.

On 21 July, the Allied army marched to Les Arcs on the Argens River, where it encamped.

On 22 July

  • Allies
    • The Allied army crossed the Argens River and marched up to the Luc River.
  • French
    • Montsoreau's Division (7 bns) and the 500 dismounted cavalrymen arrived in Toulon. Furthermore, one of the 4 bns arriving from Languedoc, was at one march from Aix.
    • The third division destined for Toulon, finally arrived at Riez and followed the same road as the second division. Nevertheless, Tessé's cavalry was much inferior to the Allies. He could field only 3,800 horse, including the 7 sqns serving with M. de Sailly at the Estérel, while the Allies had 8,000 horse.
    • The Maréchal de Tessé went from Riez to Aix, accompanied by M. de Besons and M. Dillon.

On July 23

  • Allies
    • The Allied army reached Pignans where it sojourned.
  • French
    • Tessé went to Toulon, on his way he reconnoitred a position between Aubagne and Gémenos, where he could assemble his army. At Toulon, he detached M. de Nizas to the Saint-Antoine Defile with 1,000 men.
    • Goesbriant reached Toulon with his second division (9 bns). The forces defending Toulon, including Sailly's Corps, now numbered 2,000 soldiers of the Navy, 27 bns, 500 dismounted cavalrymen and 7 sqns. There were also some 5,000 sailors destined to serve the batteries. A corps of 4,000 militiamen had also been assembled but it soon dispersed when it became apparent that they would not be paid.
    • Work to improve the defensive works of Toulon was well underway, and work had begun to establish two entrenched camps on the heights overlooking the city.

On 25 July

  • Allies
    • The Allied army advanced up to Cuers and Solliès.
  • French
    • The third division (13 bns) arriving from Dauphiné, reached Toulon.
    • Tessé was now at the head of 40 weak bns. He allocated 36 bns (only 12,000 men) to the entrenched camps and various outposts. These 36 bns encamped in two lines with their right at a salient angle of the covert way and their left on the Sainte-Anne Height. The 4 other bns, 2 bns of the Navy, some Gardes-Côtes militia and the Caylus Dragons (only 1 mounted sqn and the rest dismounted, their horses being sent away to Arles) were assigned to the defence of the city.

The Allies lay siege to Toulon

On 26 July

  • Allies
    • In the morning, the Allied army appeared in front of Toulon and encamped between the mountains and the sea, with its right at La Valette and its left anchored on the woods of Fort Sainte-Marguerite. The headquarters of Prince Eugène and of the Duke of Savoy were established at La Valette, behind the cavalry.
    • The Allies immediately chased the French from the heights of Croix-Faron. Thus began the Siege of Toulon which would last until 22 August.
  • French
    • The 500 dismounted cavalrymen previously posted in Toulon left for Marseille.
    • The 2 cavalry rgts forming part of Sailly's Corps were sent to Beausset to cover the road leading to Marseille. The Gardes-Côtes along with the militia of Ollioules, Evenon and Beausset were posted on the height of Evenon and at the defile of Ollioules.
    • The Maréchal de Tessé returned to Aix to take measures for the defence of Marseille, the Durance River and the Province of Languedoc. He also asked the Court for a reinforcement of 20 bns in addition to the 12 bns already on the march to join his army.
    • Tessé was then informed that the Allies planned to land approx. 4,500 British marines and and a few land units on the coasts of Languedoc with ammunition and 20,000 muskets to arm the Protestants, planning to make themselves master of Camargue and thus control the mouth of the Rhône.

On 28 July

  • Allies
    • The Allies sent back part of their cavalry from their camp near Toulon to Solliès to ease its subsistence.
  • French
    • The reinforcements arriving from Savoie under M. de Médavy-Grancey were all assembled at Sisteron.

On 29 July, at Toulon, the Allied artillery opened against the French outpost on the Sainte-Catherine Height while the fleet blockaded the city from the sea.

On 30 July, at Toulon, Allied troops made themselves masters of the Sainte-Catherine Height and established batteries there and on the height of La Malgue.

On 31 July

  • French
    • Médavy-Grancey reached Manosque with the reinforcements (13 bns, 3 dragoon rgts) arriving from Savoie.
    • Goesbriant then asked to the Maréchal de Tessé to send some bns to reinforce M. de Nizas at the Saint-Antoine Defile and to move from Aix-en-Provence to Beausset, closer to Toulon, with the rest of his own corps. Tessé replied that the expected reinforcements had not yet reached his camp near Aubagne. Nevertheless, he sent a few detachments of the garrison of Marseille to replace Goesbriant's troops in the area of Le Brusc. Goesbriant was thus able to recall M. de Barville.

With the Anglo-Dutch fleet at Le Brusc and off La Ciotat, M. de Forville, who commanded in Marseille, asked Tessé for reinforcements.

On 4 August, Louis XIV wrote to Tessé to inform him that he was assembling a reinforcement of 23 bns and 9 dragoon sqns but that these forces could only reach Toulon gradually between 31 August and 20 September.

On 5 August, at Toulon, the Allies established a line of entrenchments from the Sainte-Catherine Chapel to the heights of La Malgue, near the sea.

On 6 August, the Maréchal de Tessé personally went from Aix-en-Provence to Toulon where he found the entrenched camp completed. Tessé then decided to send M. de Médavy-Grancey to Brignolles and Saint-Maximin with a few bns and all the cavalry to threaten the line of communication of the Allies.

On 7 August at Toulon, the new batteries of the Allies opened on Fort Saint-Louis.

On 8 August, Tessé assembled 17 bns, 33 sqns and 2 dragoon rgts at the camp of Aubagne. Part of these troops belonged to Montgon's Corps, part to Médavy-Grancey's Corps and part to reinforcements recently arrived.

On 9 August, Tessé marched from Aubagne to Beausset with 15 bns.

On 10 August, Tessé's Corps moved closer to Toulon and encamped with its right and its headquarters at the Castle of Missiessy and its left towards Saint-Antoine, facing the city and the camp of Sainte-Anne. Furthermore, 2 dragoon rgts were posted at Beausset to secure the line of communication. They were joined there by the dragoon rgts previously posted in Toulon. Baggage were sent to Ollioules.

On 10 August, M. de Médavy-Grancey marched from Aubagne with 6 bns, most of the cavalry and 2 dragoon rgts and encamped near Trets. He left only the field artillery and 2 cavalry rgts at Aubagne.

On 11 August

  • French
    • M. de Médavy-Grancey encamped at Seillons and placed 200 men in Saint-Maximin. He also sent detachments to Tourves and Bajols. At the approach of Médavy-Grancey's detachments, the Allies evacuated these outposts and retired to Saint-Julien (probably Saint-Julien-du-Verdon) where they joined a large detachment of 700 horse. Form his new positions, Médavy-Grancey protected Aix-en-Provence and made it more difficult for the Allies to raise contributions.
    • Médavy-Grancey soon received a reinforcement of 13 sqns arriving from the interior of the kingdom. He was now at the head of 46 sqns.

On 13 August

  • Allies
    • In the morning, most of the Anglo-Dutch fleet appeared in front of the roadstead of Toulon.
  • French
    • Tessé was informed that the Duke of Savoy had detached 4,000 horse and 2,000 foot to march against Médavy-Grancey's Corps in the vicinity of Saint-Maximin. He then decided to launch an assault to reconquer the heights dominating Toulon.
    • Tessé also instructed Médavy-Grancey to retire from Seillons towards Aubagne and Roquevaire to cover Marseille and to link with his own army at Toulon. However, Médavy-Grancey represented that his current positions deprived the Allies from access to a vast region where they could requisition provisions, forage and supply. Médavy-Grancey also mentioned that, with a corps of 6,000 horse, he would be able to threaten the line of retreat of the Allies. His arguments convinced Tessé to send him reinforcements.

On 15 August at Toulon, the French reconquered the heights of the Croix-Faron and Sainte-Catherine overlooking Toulon. They also managed to damage the line of entrenchments between these heights and La Malgue.

On 16 August, the Allies started shelling the city of Toulon with their heavy artillery and made themselves master of Fort Sainte-Marguerite.

On 20 August, Tessé sent 8 bns to reinforce Médavy-Grancey's Corps at Seillons.

The Allies raise the Siege of Toulon

On 21 August

  • Allies
    • 5 galiots sailed close to Fort Saint-Louis and bombarded Toulon and the vessels in its harbour.
  • French
    • Tessé sent 5 additional bns to reinforce Médavy-Grancey's Corps at Seillons.
    • Tessé sent 1 dragoon regiment under M. de Montgeorges to reinforce the 4 bns occupying Antibes. He also instructed the commanding officer to assemble forage there to supply his army, as it would advance in this direction.
    • Tessé also asked M. de Thouy, who commanded in Savoie, and M. de Chamarande and M. de Muret, who commanded in in the valleys to send troops to occupy Entrevaux on the Upper Var to impede the retreat of the Allied army across the County of Nice.
    • Tessé detached the Chevalier de Miane to Draguignan with 50 dragoons and 600 militia to induce peasants to take up arms.

In the night of 21 to 22 August, the Allies, who had insufficient provisions and were threatened by a French relief army, lifted the Siege of Toulon and retired to Cuers, while their fleet sailed towards the Hyères Islands.

On 22 August

  • French
    • Tessé took measures to follow the retiring Allied army.
  • Allies
    • The Allied army encamped near Cuers.

On 23 August

  • French
    • In the morning, Tessé set off from Toulon with 40 grenadier coys, 1,000 foot and 2 dragoon rgts. He advanced up to Cuers with the dragoons while the infantry reached Solliès.
    • Tessé had left 40 bns under M. de Goesbriant near Toulon to wait for the baggage which had to be brought back from Arles. Only 2 bns along with 4 bns of the Navy were destined to remain in Toulon as garrison.
  • Allies
    • The Allied army set off from Cuers and reached the Luc River, where it was joined by its cavalry arriving from Brignolles.

On 24 August

  • French
    • Tessé's dragoons reached Pignans and his infantry, Cuers.
    • Médavy-Grancey, who had just been joined by the 8 bns sent from Toulon on 20 August, set off from Seillons with all his force (18 bns, 46 sqns) and marched to Barjols, where he crossed the river. He then detached M. de Courtade forward to Carcès on the Argens River.
  • Allies
    • The Allied army encamped at Les Arcs on the Argens River.

On 25 August

  • French
    • Tessé's Corps reached Besse-sur-Issole, where it was joined by 6 of the 40 bns left behind at Toulon.
    • M. de Caylus reached the Luc River with the dragoons.
    • M. de Médavy-Grancey marched to Carcès.
    • M. de Courtade advanced towards Les Arcs.
    • M. de Montgeorges reached Antibes with 1 dragoon rgt.
  • Allies
    • In the morning, the Allied army marched from Les Arcs to Fréjus.
    • An Allied corps (approx. 4,500 men) previously posted in the County of Nice, arrived at Cannes.
    • The Allied fleet sailed from the Hyères Islands to the Saint-Honorat Island near Antibes.

On 26 August

  • French
    • Tessé's Corps marched to Cabasse.
    • M. de Médavy-Grancey sojourned at Carcès to rest his infantry but sent M. de Verac to occupy Tournon on the Siagne River with 500 horse.
    • M. de Caylus with the dragoons reached Le Muy, where he was joined by Courtade's detachment.
    • A large number of armed peasants took position in the Forest of the Estérel.
    • The Chevalier de Miane was still with 50 dragoons and 600 militia at Draguignan, where he was attacked by an Allied detachment of 1,500 men, who were driven back.
    • The baggage of the 34 bns left behind at Toulon under M. de Goesbriant finally arrived at their camp.

On 27 August

  • French
    • The corps of Tessé and Médavy-Grancey made a junction at Lorgues. Tessé was now at the head of 24 bns, 34 grenadier coys, 800 picquets detached from the troops still posted near Toulon and approx. 4,000 horse. The rest of the cavalry was still dispersed in various posts in the vicinity of Aubagne, Toulon and Marseille.
  • Allies
    • The Allied army reached Cannes.

On 30 August, the Allied army crossed the Var River.

The Allied army then retreated over the mountains in five columns towards Piedmont by way of Nice, Scarena, Sospello, the Tende Pass, Limnone and Saluzzo.

On 16 September, the Allied army encamped at Scalengha.

On 21 September, the Allies finally reached Susa in Piedmont where the French garrison occupying the town immediately surrendered. However, the fortress resisted for a longer period.

On 3 October, the Fortress of Susa finally surrendered to the Allies.

The Allied infantry was then sent to Rivalta and Pinerolo, and the cavalry remained in the plains without further actions.

Afterwards, Allied troops took their winter-quarters.



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. 7, 1848, pp. 5-8, 57-155
  • Wengen. F.: Geschichte des k. u. k. 12. Dragoner-Regiments Prinz Eugen v. Savoyen, Brandeis, 1879
  • Spanish Succession, War of the, in Encyclopaedia Britannica (c1910-1922), Vol. 25, pp. 604, 608
  • Dedekind, F.: Geschichte des k. k. Kaiser Franz Joseph I. Dragoner-Regimentes Nr. 11, Vienna 1879


Harald Skala for his participation in the creation of this article