1708-09-28 – Engagement of Wijnendale

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Hierarchical Path: War of the Spanish Succession (Main Page) >> Battles and Encounters >> 1708-09-28 – Engagement of Wijnendale

Allied victory

Prelude to the Battle

In September 1708, during the siege of Lille, the Duc de Bourgogne and the Duke of Berwick took positions along the Scarpe and the Scheldt from Douai to Ghent, to cut off all Allied convoys from Bruxelles.

On September 21 and 22, Erle, disembarked at Ostend with 4,700 men and a large supply of ammunition after his unsuccessful expedition on the coast of Normandie.

The Duke of Marlborough planned to get a large convoy of 700 wagons escorted by 6,000 foot and 1,500 horse from Ostend with the supplies, especially ammunition, which were of vital importance to the maintenance of the siege. The French were as anxious to intercept as the British to forward it.

On 23 September, the Duc de Bourgogne sent reinforcements (4 bns and 4 sqns) under M. de Chemerault to the Comte de la Mothe at Bruges.

On 24 September, Erle seized two passages over the Nieuport Canal at Leffinge and Oudenburg and prepared to send off his first convoy.

On 25 September, the Duke of Berwick sent the Perche Infantry Brigade, Chartres Infanterie, Nassau Infanterie, 2 dragoon rgts to reinforce the corps of the Comte de La Mothe.

On 26 September, the Comte de La Mothe received new reinforcements. He was now at the head of 34 bns and 63 sqns.

Marlborough despatched 12 bns and 1,500 horse to Ostend itself; 12 bns under General Webb to Torhout; and 18 sqns under Cadogan to Roeselare, at two different points on the road, to help the convoy to its destination.

On 27 September, Cadogan's cavalry and Webb’s infantry effected a junction at Torhout.

On the night of 27 to 28 September, the Comte de La Mothe set off from Bruges and encamped at Zedelgem. He had sent forward a force of 1,200 foot and 50 horse under M. de Villemort to made themselves masters of Oudenburg, which was occupied by an Allied detachment (400 men). Villemort’s attack was driven back.

The same night, the convoy of the Allies set off from Ostend, advancing in the direction of Gistel and Moerdijk.

On 28 September, the Duc de Bourgogne sent another reinforcement (19 bns) to the Comte de La Mothe but this force arrived too late to take part in the engagement.


Tentative reconstruction of the map of the engagement of Wijnendale.
Courtesy: Dinos Antoniadis
A French Infantry
B French Cavalry
C Artillery (40 cannon)
D Allied Infantry
E Grenadier Battalions
F Grumbkow Regiment
G Kronrinz von Preussen Regiment
H Grenadier Platoons
I Hanoverian Platoons
K Rearguard
L Lottum Cavalry
N Heukelom Regiment

Description of Events

On 28 September at daybreak, the Comte de La Mothe set off from Zedelgem and marched in the direction of Moerdijk, intending to intercept the convoy as it crossed the bridge there. However, he arrived too late, part of the Allied troops had already crossed the bridge and were marching towards the wood of Wijnendale. La Mothe decided to retire on his left towards Wijnendale where the convoy had to pass to reach Roeselare.

In the morning Cadogan sent forward Count Lottum with a 150 horse from Roeselare to meet the convoy.

At noon, Lottum returned to Torhout, where Webb’s Corps stood, with the intelligence that he had struck against the advanced-guard of a French force at Ichtegem, about 3 km beyond Wijnendale and some 6 km from Torhout on the road to Ostend. Webb collected the 22 bns within his reach and marched with all speed for Ichtegem, with Lottum's sqn in advance.

On emerging from the defile of Wijnendale, Lottum’s sqn found the French advancing towards it into the plains that lay beyond Wijnendale. Lottum retired slowly, skirmishing, while Webb pushed on and posted his infantry in two lines at the entrance to the defile. The strait was bounded on each side by woods. Webb posted the Dutch Heukelom Infantry (1 bn) in the woods on his right flank and the Prussian Kronprinz von Preussen Infantry (1 bn) in the woods on his left flank, to take the French in flank. The convoy continued to advance under the cover of this formation.

When the Comte de La Mothe arrived near Wijnendale, he found the Allies already deployed in two lines of infantry totalling 22 bns. Their left and their right were anchored on the woods.

Without waiting for his rearguard (3 infantry brigades and a few cavalry and dragoon rgts under M. de Senneterre), the Comte de La Mothe deployed his forces (10 French bns, 8 Spanish bns, and 27 cavalry and dragoon sqns) in four lines of infantry, two lines of dragoons and two lines of cavalry. The Royal-Marine Brigade was deployed in the bushes on the right wing to advance through the woods and cover the right flank; while 3 grenadier coys searched the woods on the left flank (these 3 coys were recalled without informing La Mothe).

At 2:00 p.m., the French artillery (40 pieces, including 10 three-barrels guns) opened fire. Lottum’s sqn then retired, while just in the nick of time 3 more bns (2 infantry bns and 600 grenadiers sent from Lansberg’s detachment) reached Webb from the rear and formed his third line.

The French cannonade was prolonged for nearly two hours, but with little effect, for Webb had ordered his men to lie down.

Seeing that the French were marching some troops by the right wing, Webb sent the Prussian Grumbkow Infantry to contain them.

At 5:00 p.m., the four lines of French infantry advanced. They came on with great steadiness and entered the space between the two woods, their flank almost brushing the covert as they passed, serenely unconscious of the peril that awaited on their left flank. Instead of charging at the point of the bayonet as ordered, the infantry fired. Then from right and left a staggering volley crashed into the French units from the German bns concealed in the woods. The French left wing broke and retired on wards the right wing and all fell in disorder.

De la Mothe sent forward some dragoons to support his infantry, which finally rallied and pressed on against the lines before them. So vigorous was their attack that they broke through 2 bns of the first line. Albemarle Infantry, a Swiss rgt in the Dutch service, advancing against the French cavalry, giving time to Bernstorf Infantry and Lindeboom Infantry to fill the gap.

Again the French struggled forward, trusting by the sheer weight of number to sweep their enemy away. But the continual fire on front and flank became unendurable, and notwithstanding the blows and entreaties of their officers the whole eight lines broke up in confusion, while Webb's bns, coolly advancing by platoons “as if they were at exercise,” poured volley after volley into them as they retired.

Cadogan, who had hastened up with a few sqns to the sound of the firing, was anxious to charge the broken troops, but his force was considered too weak.

The engagement ended at nightfall.

The rest of La Mothe’s Corps (16 bns, 36 sqns) finally arrived on the battlefield.


The convoy reached Lille intact with the necessary ammunition for the continuation of the siege.

The French lost between 3,000 and 4,000 men (only 150 men killed and 300 wounded according to La Motte). Don Pantoja, nephew of Cardinal Porto-Carrero, M. Grimaldi, the Comte de Copigny, the Marquis de Caraccioli, the Marquis de Wemmel, the Marquis d'Acquaviva and the Baron de Lacren, were wounded.

The Allies lost 912 men killed or wounded.

Order of Battle

Allied Order of Battle

Commander-in-chief: Major-General Webb

Summary: 24 bns, 2 sqns

The Allies initially deployed in two lines each of 9 bns (2 Dutch bns were in the first line, Albemarle's 2 bns in the second, presumably also Bernstorff and Lindebloom as they were moved forward to replace the units that were pushed back)

  • Infantry (24 bns)
    • Prussian Kronprinzen (1 bn) (positioned in the woods on the Allied left wing)
    • Prussian Grumbkow (1 bn) (positioned in the woods on the Allied left wing)
    • Prussian Markgraf Christian Ludwig (1 bn)
    • Prussian Markgraf Albrecht (1 bn)
    • Prussian unidentified unit (1 bn)
    • Dutch Heukelom (1 bn) (positioned in the woods on the Allied right wing)
    • Dutch Lindeboom (1 bn)
    • Dutch (Swiss) Albemarle (2 bns) under Colonel Hirtzel
    • Dutch (Scots) Murray (1 bn)
    • Dutch (Scots) Colyear (1 bn)
    • Danish I./Fynske (1 bn) under Colonel Voigt
    • British Converged Grenadiers (600 men) under Colonel Preston including those of the Cameronians
    • British Royal Scots (1 bn) aka Orkney's under Colonel Hamilton not in the casualty list in Het Staatse Leger which mentions the Royal Regiment of Ireland instead
    • Hanoverian Bernstorf (1 bn)
    • Hanoverian Gauvin (1 bn)
    • Hanoverian Coseritz (1 bn) not in the casualty list in Het Staatse Leger
    • Hanoverian Gohr (1 bn)
    • Dutch Salisch (1 bn)
    • Dutch Soutelande (1 bn)
    • Dutch Pallandt (1 bn)
    • Dutch (Swedish) Oxenstierna (1 bn)
    • Dutch Dedem (1 bn)
    • Dutch Fagel (1 bn)
    • Dutch Ranck (1 bn)
  • Cavalry (2 sqns) under the Count von Lottum
    • Hanoverian Eltz Dragoons (1 sqn) not in the casualty list in Het Staatse Leger
    • Prussian unidentified mounted unit (1 sqn) under the Count von Lottum probably dragoons

Franco-Spanish Order of Battle

Commander-in-chief: Comte de La Mothe

Summary: 34 bns and 63 sqns (only 18 bns and 27 sqns took part in the combat, the rest arriving too late)

N.B.: this order of battle is still incomplete, it lists only the units of the corps of M. de Puiguion (25 bns and 20 sqns). This corps had reinforced the Comte de La Mothe on 26 September

Infantry (25 bns)

  • French Royal Marine (1 bn)
  • French Agénois (2 bns)
  • French Gassion et Courrières (1 bn)
  • French Vendôme (1 bn)
  • French Condé (2 bns)
  • French Beauce (2 bns)
  • French La Fère (2 bns)
  • French Provence (2 bns)
  • French Guyenne (2 bns)
  • French ex. Spanish (Walloon) Pantoka (1 bn)
  • Spanish Grimaldi (1 bn)
  • Spanish Ruppelmonde (1 bn)
  • ??? Schowenbourg (1 bn)
  • Spanish Reales Guardias Valonas (1 bn) aka Bergeyck
  • Spanish (Walloon) Laern (1 bn)
  • Spanish (Walloon) Hamalle (1 bn)
  • Spanish (Walloon) Billand (1 bn) probably a battalion of Pantoka Infanterie
  • French Doigny (1 bn)
  • French (Walloon) Bournonville (1 bn)

Cavalry (12 sqns)

  • Spanish Cano (2 sqns)
  • French Vaudray (2 sqns)
  • French Autanne (2 sqns)
  • French Latour (2 sqns)
  • Spanish Egmont (2 sqns)
  • Spanish Fresin (2 sqns)

Dragoons (8 sqns)

The Duke of Berwick had also sent the Perche Infantry Brigade, Chartres Infanterie, Nassau Infanterie and 2 dragoon rgts.


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

  • Fortescue, J. W.: A History of the British Army, Vol. I, MacMillan, London, 1899, pp. 506-508
  • Kane, Richard: Campaigns of king William and queen Anne, from 1689 to 1712, London: J. Millan, 1745, p. 79
  • Pelet and François Eugène de Vault: Mémoires militaires relatifs à la Succession d'Espagne sous Louis XIV, Vol. 8 pp. 101-106, 443-453
  • Abtheilung für Kriegsgeschichte des k. k. Kriegs-Archives: Feldzüge des Prinzen Eugen von Savoyen Vol. 10 (1708), Vienna 1876, pp. 436-440

Other sources

Atkinson, C.T.: Wynendael, in: Journal of the Society for Army Historical Research, Vol. 34, No. 137 March 1956, p p. 26-31

English Wikipedia – Battle of Wijnendale

Grant, Charles S.: From Pike to Shot 1685 to 1720, Wargames Research Group Publication, p. 111

Rijksmuseum – Plan van de slag bij Wijnendale, 1708, anon., ca. 1708, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, Netherlands


Edwin Groot for additional information on the Allied order of battle