1708 – Campaign in the Low Countries
The campaign lasted from May to December 1708
For the campaign of 1708, Louis XIV agreed to the request of his young grandson and heir, the Duc de Bourgogne, who wanted to command in the Low Countries. The king placed him at the head of a great army and gave him the Duc de Vendôme as mentor. The Maréchal de Matignon the Duc de Berry and the Pretender(aka Chevalier de Saint-George) also served under the command of the Duc de Bourgogne. However, the latter was pious, mild-mannered, unambitious of military glory and also obstinate, and to unite him with the fiery, loose-living and daring Vendôme, was, as Saint-Simon says, " mixing fire and water."
Elector Maximilian II Emanuel of Bavaria assumed command of the French Army of the Rhine with the Duc de Berwick to advise him. The Maréchal de Villars assumed command of the Army of Dauphiné. The Duc d'Orléans assumed command of the Army of Spain, where he was assisted by the Comte de Besons. The Duc de Noailles assumed command of the Army of Catalonia. The general plan of Louis XIV called for a vigorous offensive in the Low Countries, while the French would remain on the defensive in the other theatres of operation.
On the side of the Allies, the Duke of Marlborough commanded the Army of the Low Countries; Prince Eugène, the Army of the Moselle; and the Duke of Hanover, the Army of the Rhine. The Duke of Savoy continued to command in Italy and Archduke Charles in Spain.
At the beginning of April, M. de Chamillart, the French Minister of War, visited the fortresses on the frontier. Some 131 bns and 216 sqns were destined to form the Army of the Low Countries. The sieges of Huy and Liège would be the first objective, followed by the siege of Maastricht. The Maréchal de Matignon would supervise these sieges, while the Duc de Bourgogne would command the army covering them. The main army of the French was markedly superior in numbers to Marlborough's and hardly inferior to Marlborough's and Eugène's combined.
In April, the Duke of Marlborough, Prince Eugène de Savoie and the Grand Pensionary Heinsius met at The Hague. They foresaw the shift of the centre of gravity towards the Low Countries, and Prince Eugène agreed to transfer his own army, which was ostensibly destined for the Rhine campaign, to Brabant, thus repaying the debt of 1704. Marlborough and Eugène visited several courts in Germany to convince them to contribute additional troops.
The French exchanged secret correspondence with officials installed by the Allies since 1706 in several towns of the Low Countries. The latter agreed to deliver these towns to the French whenever their army appeared before them.
At the beginning of May, the French generals were informed that the Allied garrison of the Meuse River were marching towards Louvain (aka Leuven) and Bruxelles, and that the Allied army should be assembled by 20 May. The Allies had large magazines at Antwerp.
On 9 May, the Duc de Vendôme and the Maréchal de Matignon arrived at Mons.
On 14 May, the Elector of Bavaria left Mons, where he had spent the winter, to assume command of the Army of the Rhine. On the same day, the Duc de Bourgogne with the Duc de Berry left Versailles to assume command of the Army of the Low Countries.
On 16 May, the Duc de Bourgogne arrived at Valenciennes to take command of the Army of the Low Countries. There he was joined by the Pretender and the Duc de Vendôme.
The Duc de Bourgogne arrived to take command of the French army. He was accompanied by the Duc de Berry and the Pretender.
Beginning of the Campaign
On 20 May
- The French formed several camps at Le Quesnoy, Valenciennes, Condé, Mons, Maubeuge and Charleroi, while another corps encamped in the Lines of Comines under the Comte de Lamothe, who established his headquarters in Warneton.
- Louis XIV began to hesitate about the siege of Huy, mentioning that it should be undertaken only if the Duc de Bourgogne could strongly protect Flanders while a siege corps would make itself master of Huy. The Duc de Bourgogne then decided to abandon this design and to advance on Bruxelles.
On 23 May, the Allies encamped with their right at Sint-Kwintens-Lennik and their left at Anderlecht near Bruxelles. The British, the Danes and the garrisons of Flanders had not yet reached this camp.
On 24 May, the French troops encamped at Le Quesnoy, Valenciennes and Condé marched to new camps between Saint-Ghislain and Mons. The troops encamped near Charleroi and Maubeuge moved closer to Mons.
On 25 May, the whole French Army of the Low Countries assembled on the plain of Saint-Symphorien near Mons and encamped in two lines with its right on the height of Palisel (unidentified location) in front of the Trouille River and its left towards Boussoit, near the Haine River. The headquarters were established at Saint-Symphorien.
Marlborough continued to concentrate his forces at Tarleank (unidentified location), between Louvain and Bruxelles, and threw bridges on the Senne River. The British and Danish contingents joined the Allied army in its camp. However, the garrisons of Menin (aka Menen), Courtrai, Bruges and Ghent were still on their way and the French generals decided to manoeuvre to cut them from the main Allied army.
On 26 May
- The main army (110,000 men) decamped from Saint-Symphorien, crossed the Haine River near Mons and advanced to Soignies where it encamped in three lines with its right at Naast and its left at Chaussée-Notre-Dame-Louvignies.
- Marlborough's Army marched to Halle to cover Bruxelles and encamped with its right and Marlborough's headquarters at the Bellingen Abbey and its left and Nassau-Ouwerkerk's headquarters at Halle. The garrisons of Flanders joined the army there. Marlborough was now at the head of 102 bns and 154 sqns.
- Prince Eugène de Savoie arrived at Koblenz where he planned to assemble 46 bns and 60 sqns and make a junction with the Allied army operating in the Low Countries, leaving only 24 bns and 30 sqns in the Lines of Ettlingen.
Marlborough's Army having effected its junction with the garrisons of Flanders. The Duc de Vendôme proposed to lay siege to Huy, hoping to force the Allies to an open battle. However, the Duc de Bourgogne preferred to march to Braine-le-Comte and Tubize.
On 29 May
- Marlborough's Army marched from Halle towards Sainte-Renelde and encamped with its right at Hautecroix (aka Heikruis) and it left at Lembeek on the Senne River, while a large detachment advanced on Tubize.
- Louis XIV wrote to the generals commanding in the Low Countries and on the Rhine to make sure that they would collaborate together and asking the Elector of Bavaria and the Duc de Berwick to fix the forces of Prince Eugène of the Rhine.
On 30 May, the Duc de Bourgogne sent the heavy baggage of the army to Mons.
On 1 June at 8:00 p.m., the army of the Duc de Bourgogne decamped from Soignies and marched in five columns towards Nivelles.
On 2 June
- At daybreak, the army of the Duc de Bourgogne reached the plain of Bois-Seigneur-Isaac where it encamped in three lines with its right at Genappe and its left and the headquarters at Braine-l'Alleud.
- At 8:00 a.m., Marlborough was informed of the march of the French army. His troops were foraging in the vicinity of Vilvorde (aka Vilvoorde) and Malines (aka Mechelen). He immediately recalled the foragers.
- At noon, Marlborough force marched from Sainte-Renelde and precipitously retired to his former camp between Sint-Kwintens-Lennik and Anderlecht.
On June 3, Marlborough's Army crossed the Senne River at Bruxelles and encamped behind this place.
On June 4
- Leaving 4 infantry rgts and a cavalry detachment near Bruxelles, Marlborough resumed his retreat towards Louvain. His army encamped with its right at Voskapel and its left at Eure (unidentified location), near Louvain. This manoeuvre left a countryside rich in forage to the French.
- Vendôme insisted again to lay siege to Huy.
On 5 June, Louis XIV authorised the siege of Huy and gave orders to prepare the artillery, which would be necessary for this siege.
On 8 June, the Duc de Bourgogne reviewed his army. He made new representations at the Court against the planned siege of Huy.
On June 11, Louis XIV was informed that Prince Eugène had already assembled 46 bns and 80 sqns (some 30,000 men) at Kastellaun and intended to march towards the Meuse to reinforce Marlborough's Army. Louis XIV immediately instructed the Duc de Bourgogne to cancel the planned siege of Huy.
For the rest of June, the Duc de Bourgogne having won the first move, his army remained idle despite its numerical superiority, much to the chagrin of the Duc de Vendôme.
At the end of June, the army of Prince Eugène (36 bns, 70 sqns) crossed the Moselle River and marched by way of Andernach, Münstereifel and Düren towards Maastricht to make a junction with Marlborougn's Army. The Elector of Bavaria made several detachments (a total of 34 bns and 65 sqns) towards Namur to reinforce the Duc de Bourgogne in the vicinity of Namur.
The French recapture Ghent and Bruges
During the first days of July, the French secretly prepared expeditions to recapture Ghent and Bruges, which were planned for 5 July. Their agents had already won over many of the officials who had been installed in these cities by the Allies since 1706.
On 3 July
- In the evening, MM. de Chemerault and de Ruffey left at the head of 2,000 horse and 2,000 foot (including 1,000 grenadiers) and marched in the direction of Ghent by way of Petit-Enghien.
- In the evening, M. de Lamothe set off from the Lines of Comines with 10 bns, 7 sqns and 6 field pieces and marched in the direction of Bruges.
- The Duc de Bourgogne sent the heavy baggage to Charleroi, preparing to support the two attacks.
On 4 July
- At noon, Chemerault and Ruffey crossed the Dender River at Ninove and then marched directly on Ghent.
- At 7:00 p.m., the army of the Duc de Bourgogne decamped from Braine-l'Alleud and marched westwards by its left in four columns all night under constant rain.
On July 5
- At 3:00 a.m., the Allies, who had been informed of the march of the French army, advanced from Voskapel to Bruxelles, where they crossed the Senne River. They encamped with their right at Sint-Kwintens-Lennik and their left at Anderlecht, sending a large detachment against the French rearguard.
- At daybreak, the army of the Duc de Bourgogne reached Braine-le-Château, two columns crossed the Senne River at Lembeek and two columns at Tubize. These four columns then debouched on Hautecroix and Pepingen. A brigade of the second column marched by way of Bois-Seigneur-Isaac and Nivelles, then by Braine-le-Comte towards Enghien and Hérinnes.
- The main army then halted for a couple of hours before resuming its march in two columns: one by way of the road of the mill of Goyck, the other by the roads of Ninove and Steenberg.
- In the morning, Chemerault's detachment got closer to Ghent. Chemerault sent M. de la Faille forward with seven men of his regiment, who pretended to be deserters. The sentinel recognised a sergeant among them and fired at him but missed. Immediately, the eight French made themselves masters of the gate and were soon joined by 60 foot and all of Chemerault's 2,000 horse, who deployed in the main square and took possessions of the other gates. With all gates occupied, Murray, who was encamped at Wondelghem with an Allied detachment of 4 bns and 4 sqns, was unable to come to the support of the city. Chemerault sent 300 horse to the canal to prevent Murray from crossing it, and the latter was forced to retire to Sas van Gent. The Allied garrison of Ghent took refuge in the castle.
- Lamothe appeared in front of Bruges with his corps and summoned the commandant of the place to surrender.
- At 8:00 p.m., the heads of the columns of the main army began to cross the Dender River. Grenadiers occupied Alost (aka Aalst).
On 6 July
- Before daybreak, Marlborough's Army marched to a new camp, with its right towards Dendermonde and its left at Asse, in pursuit of the French army, which was cutting its line of communication with Ghent. However, Marlborough was stopped by demands for protection from the officials of Bruxelles.
- Immobilised near Bruxelles, Marlborough sent orders to the governor of Ath to collect as many troops as he could and throw himself into Oudenarde.
- At daybreak, the army of the Duc de Bourgogne marched in two columns, passed Alost, and encamped in two lines with its right at Erondegem, on the road leading from Alost to Ghent, the centre and the headquarters at Lede, and the left at Schellebelle, on the bank of the Scheldt, where 3 infantry brigades were posted.
- The French artillery and baggage were lagging behind at Pollare, due to the bad road conditions. There, its escort was attacked by the Allied detachment sent against the French rearguard but drove it back. The French artillery then took position at Oordegem on the road to Ghent. The reserves and 2 infantry brigades encamped on the other side of the road towards Ninove.
- In the morning, learning the fate of Ghent, the magistrates of Bruges opened the gates of the city to Lamothe.
- In the evening, M. de Bergeyck received the capitulation of the Allied garrison, which had retired into the Castle of Ghent.
To regain for King Philip V all the country west of the Scheldt, it only remained to take Oudenarde.
On 7 July
- The last elements of the cavalry of Prince Eugène crossed the Meuse River at Maastricht and Smermaes (unidentified location) on their way to reinforce Marlborough.
- The Duc de Berwick left the Moselle with the last detachment sent by the Elector of Bavaria. Berwick was placed in command of all the detachments marching towards Namur.
On ? July, Lamothe marched on the Fort of Plassendale, an important position because of its sluices and the communication between the Bruges Canal and Dunkerque. The fort was defended by 200 men, 2 cannon and 2 frigates. Lamothe stormed the fort. Its commandant was mortally wounded and the French captured 3 officers, 130 men and 1 frigate. In this affair, Lamothe lost only 20 men killed or wounded.
On 8 July, the Citadel of Ghent surrendered to the French.
The Battle of Oudenarde
On 9 July
- At 2:00 a.m., Marlborough's Army set off from the vicinity of Bruxelles in five columns. By noon, it had reached Herfelingen on its way to the Dender River.
- At 4:00 p.m., Marlborough sent Cadogan forward with 8 bns and 8 sqns to occupy Lessines and throw bridges over the Dender.
- The cavalry of Prince Eugène reached Tirlemont (aka Tienen) after marching by way of Erff (unidentified location) and Borgloon.
- Vendôme proposed to lay siege to Oudenarde but the Duc de Bourgogne decided to wait and see what the Allies would undertake after the junction of Marlborough's and Eugène's armies.
- The Elector of Bavaria left the Moselle with the rest of the Army of the Rhine and returned to Alsace by way of Sarrelouis and Bitche.
In the night of 9 to 10 July
- At midnight, Cadogan reached Lessines. He then laid his bridges.
- Marlborough's main body followed Cadogan's vanguard and reached Lessines.
On 10 July
- Marlborough's Army crossed the Dender River.
- Prince Eugène personally visited Marlborough at this new camp to discuss future operations. Marlborough was half inclined to wait for Eugène's troops before giving battle, for he knew that Vendôme was no ordinary opponent, but Eugène counselled immediate action lest the French should escape, and relying on his own skill and on the well-known disunion in the French headquarters, Marlborough decided to move forward.
- The last elements of the infantry of Prince Eugène crossed the Meuse River and marched towards Tirlemont.
- The army of the Duc de Bourgogne set off from Lede and marched to Gavere and Schelderode and encamped along the Scheldt, establishing three bridges on this river.
- The first division of Berwick's Corps reached Givet. The Duc de Bourgogne, fearing for Namur and Charleroi, ordered M. de Saint-Fremont, who commanded this division, to detach 4 bns to Namur and to camp under Charleroi with the rest of the division.
On 11 July
- Battle of Oudenarde
- At dawn, Cadogan marched with 16 bns and 30 sqns and 24 guns (a total of approx. 11,000 men) to prepare the roads, construct bridges and make dispositions to cover the passage of the Scheldt downstream of Oudenarde.
- Before daybreak, Marlborough's Army set off from the banks of the Dender River near Lessines and advanced towards Oudenarde.
- At 10:00 a.m., ignoring that the Allies were already advancing from the Dender, the army of the Duc de Bourgogne slowly marched towards Oudenarde, passing the Scheldt at Gavere.
- At 10:30 Cadogan reached the Scheldt just above the village of Eyne.
- Meanwhile, Marlborough's Army was passing the Scheldt upstream and downstream from Oudenarde.
- When the Duc de Bourgogne was informed of the march of the Allies, he hastened his march but it was too late. When the heads of his columns came in sight of Oudenarde, they could see that the Allies were already posted in an advantageous terrain forming a sort of amphitheatre surrounded by ravines, woods and hedges which they already occupied.
- The two armies were so close from each other that a general engagement was unavoidable. In the ensuing Battle of Oudenarde, Marlborough destroyed the French right wing. The French retreated in disorder on Ghent with a loss of 15,000 men.
- The Duc de Berwick reached Florenne where he made a junction Saint-Fremont's Division.
- Louis XIV, ignoring that a large battle was taking place, wrote to the Duc de Bourgogne, supporting his views that he should not undertake the siege of Oudenarde but should just blockade the place.
In the night of 11 to 12 July, the army of the Duc de Bourgogne reached Ghent, closely followed by Allied units. Marlborough's Army passed the night under arms.
On 12 July
- As soon as it was light, 40 sqns, for the most part British, were sent forward in pursuit.
- Marlborough's Army encamped near Oudenarde.
- Prince Eugène went to Bruxelles, where his cavalry was just arriving.
- The Palatine Baron von Frankenberg, who had been appointed commander of the Palatine Contingent, which would be transported from Italy to Spain, left for the port of Vado in Italy.
- In the morning, the army of the Duc de Bourgogne encamped behind the canal between Ghent and Bruges with its right at Bellem, its left on the Lieve River and its headquarters at Lovendegem in the centre. The infantry was placed in first line and the cavalry in second with the reserve between the Lieve and Ghent.
- Approx. 9,500 men belonging to the units which had suffered the most and had become isolated from the main body, had retired to Tournai, Lille and Ypres.
- The Duc de Berwick marched to Buissière with his whole corps. There he received news of the battle of Oudenarde. The Allies were now blocking his way to join the main army.
On 13 July
- The infantry of Prince Eugène assembled at Tirlemont.
- The corps of the Duc de Berwick encamped at Hyon, near Mons. Berwick then personally went to Tournai.
The Allies threaten the French Provinces of Artois, Hainaut and Picardie
On 14 July
- Marlborough's Army decamped from Oudenarde, marched upstream along the left bank of the Scheldt and encamped with its right at Helchin (aka Helkijn) and its left at the mill of Clare near the bridge of Espierres (aka Spiere-Helkijn).
- A large Allied corps (50 sqns, 30 bns) under Count Lottum advanced up to Halluin and crossed the Lys River.
- The infantry of Prince Eugène marched from Tirlemont to Louvain.
- The French placed 21 bns (among the most decimated) in Ghent and assembled 1,600 wounded there.
- To prevent Marlborough from recapturing Ghent and Bruges, the French entrenched the canal. Lamothe's Corps remained at Bruges.
- The Duc de Berwick personally went to Lille to establish communication with the army of the Duc de Bourgogne. M. de Saint-Fremont was instructed to follow him with his corps by way of Valenciennes and Tournai.
- Upon his arrival, the Duc de Berwick was entrusted with the defence of the places and lines.
On 15 July
- At 7:00 a.m., Lottum's Corps appeared in front of the Lines of Comines and stormed them. The French also evacuated Warneton. Lottum's Corps then marched upstream along the Lys towards Armentières and put the country to contribution.
- Marlborough's Army crossed the Lys River at Menin and encamped with its right at Wervik and its left near Warneton.
- Berwick decided to assemble his corps near Douai to be able to cover Lille and Ypres. Saint-Fremont marched from Mons to Valenciennes.
On 16 July
- The infantry of Prince Eugène marched from Louvain to Bruxelles. Eugène then encamped at Anderlecht to cover the convoys destined to Marlborough's Army.
- Saint-Fremont arrived at Douai with Berwick's Corps.
On 18 July
- The army of the Duc de Bourgogne was still in its positions near Lovendegem. There were 20 bns in Ghent, 12 bns in Bruges and a few detachments on the dykes near Ostend.
- M. d'Artaignan was detached with 1,000 foot and 1,000 horse to attack the Fort Rouge on the canal of Sas van Gent.
- Berwick joined his corps at Douai. He sent reinforcements to Lille, bringing the garrison to 11 bns, 1 dragoon rgt and 500 soldiers who had taken refuge in the place after the battle of Oudenarde. Berwick also sent approx. 550 men to Ypres and 3,000 men to Tournai.
On 19 July before daybreak, d'Artaignan's detachment arrived before the Fort Rouge and immediately stormed it, capturing 5 officers and 109 soldiers with 9 cannon.
On 20 July
- Prince Eugène was still encamped at Anderlecht near Bruxelles.
- Berwick asked the Duc de Bourgogne for a reinforcement of cavalry, because he planned to cross the Scheldt River between Mortagne and Condé with 30 bns and 60 sqns to threaten Marlborough's line of supply. However, Berwick still had to put large detachments in Douai and Béthune to cover the Province of Artois. Similarly, he had to put 5 bns and 24 sqns under M. de Chamillart in Valenciennes to cover the Province of Hainaut.
On 21 July
- At daybreak, the army of Prince Eugène marched from Anderlecht, escorting a large convoy (flour and the heavy baggage of Marlborough's Army).
- The Duc de Bourgogne sent 34 sqns under M. de Cheyladet to reinforce Berwick's Corps.
- Berwick suggested to the Duc de Bourgogne to march against the supply convoy, the Duc de Vendôme supported this proposal by the Duc de Bourgogne remained in his positions at Lovendegem.
On 22 July in the evening, the Allied convoy reached Ath.
On 24 July, the Allied convoy resumed its advance by way of Celles and reached Pottes on the Scheldt River, where it met with a large detachment sent by Marlborough.
On 25 July
- The Allied convoy reached Marlborough's camp, while Eugène's troops returned to Ath.
- The Count of Tilly marched to La Bassée with an Allied corps of 16 bns, 50 sqns and 6 cannon, threatening the Province of Artois with devastation if he did not immediately received contributions.
At Lille, the French were making preparations for a siege and the moat was filled with water.
On 26 July, Berwick sent M. de la Chastre to Arras with 19 sqns. He also ordered M. de Cheyladet, who was on his way with the reinforcement of 34 sqns, to take position between Hesdin and Arras. M. de Mortani remained at Béthune with 1,200 horse. Berwick remained in his camp near Douai with 18 bns and 41 sqns. Berwick then proposed to the French Court to intercept the large artillery convoy sent by the Allies from Antwerp to join Marlborough's Army near Bruxelles, even if it meant to momentarily leave the Province of Artois at the mercy of the Allies.
The French Court approved of Berwick's plan and authorised the inhabitants of Artois to pay a contribution of 1,500,000 livres.
On 27 July
- The Duc de Bourgogne detached 2 infantry brigades and 1 cavalry brigade, 500 men of the Maison du Roi, 400 dragoons and 1 artillery brigade under M. d'Artaignan to put the Cadzand Island to contribution.
- Louis XIV wrote to the Duc de Bourgogne, ordering him, if the Allies lay siege to Lille or Tournai, to join his two armies and to attack them; and if they preferred to lay siege to another place, to reply with the siege of Oudenarde.
On 28 July
- Another convoy of artillery, escorted by 1,200 foot and 1,000 horse, was sent from Maastricht towards Bruxelles, by way of Hasselt, Diest, Aarschot and Malines.
- Tilly's Corps marched from La Bassée to Lens. Other Allied troops immediately replaced his corps at La Bassée, they were supported by 20 bns posted at Armentières. Altogether, these Allied troops totalled 40 bns and 60 sqns.
- From the camp of Lens, a large detachment advanced up to Saint-Éloy Abbey and sent approx. 550 horse forward up to Doullens. Meanwhile other detachments reached Péronne, Saint-Quentin and Guise in the Province of Picardie.
- To protect Picardie, Berwick was forced to abandon his design against the artillery convoys of the Allies. He asked for an additional reinforcement of 500 horse.
- The Maréchal Boufflers, who had been appointed governor of Lille, arrived in the city.
Cheyladet's cavalry, which had just reached Hesdin, was ordered to march towards Arras and to collaborate with La Chastre's detachment to block all roads in these quarters. Cheyladet encamped near Framecourt and advanced towards Doullens with 1,300 horse.
The Allies had already summoned Doullens to surrender. Their summon was ignored and, after burning a few villages, they retired to Saint-Éloy where they joined the grenadiers, who had been left behind. From there, the detachment returned to Lens. All other Allied parties also managed to rejoin the main army without being intercepted.
To prevent any new incursions, the Duc de Berwick sent Cheyladet with his 34 sqns to Boiry (probably Boiry-Sainte-Rictrude) on the road leading from Arras to Bapaume. Cheyladet left only 500 horse behind at Avesne-le-Comte to block the roads leading to Doullens and Abbeville. Berwick also sent 1,300 horse (500 previously posted at Ypres and 800 from Béthune) to Saint-Pol. There were now only 400 horse in Béthune. M. de La Chastre remained encamped near Arras with his 19 sqns. Berwick remained near Douai with the rest of his corps, awaiting instructions from the Court.
On 29 July, d'Artaignan's Corps reached Cadzand Island, where it was reinforced by 4 additional bns. This corps raised contribution up to the vicinity of Ijzendijke and Biervliet.
The Duc de Bourgogne also intended to besiege Fort Saint-Philippe and Ostend, but the project was soon abandoned.
In the first week of August, the Duc de Bourgogne planned to make a junction with Berwick's Army between the Dender and the Scheldt rivers if Lille was attacked; or between the Lys River and the sea if Tournai was the target of the Allies. Furthermore, 18 seriously depleted bns were disbanded and their troops incorporated into other bns, bringing down the strength of the Army of the Duc de Bourgogne to 107 bns. The duc also intended to leave 8 bns in Ghent.
D'Artaignan's Corps returned from its expedition in the Cadzand Island.
On 2 August, the Allied corps posted at Lens retired and encamped between Armentières and La Bassée.
On 3 August
- The Allied corps returning from Lens crossed the Lys River at Armentières and rejoined Marlborough's Army, which was posted between Warneton and Wervik.
- Berwick detached M. de Saint-Fremont with 11 bns and 30 sqns with a few cannon from Douai to Valenciennes.
In the night of 3 to 4 August, Prince Eugène crossed the Lys River at Comines and encamped at Helchin, near the bridge of Espierres.
On 4 August
- In the evening, Prince Eugène crossed the Scheldt.
- M. de Chamillart wrote to the Duc de Bourgogne and the Duc de Vendôme to let them know that the king was worried about Mons and to instruct them to lay siege to Oudenarde as soon as the Allies would besiege Mons.
- Leaving 3 bns near Valenciennes, Saint-Fremont reached Saint-Ghislain.
- Berwick marched with the rest of his cavalry to Valenciennes, leaving 12 bns and 900 horse near Douai. He also detached some cavalry to Tournai, some troops to Mortagne under M. de Mortani and 3 bns to Namur.
On 5 August
- Prince Eugène rejoined with his troops the part of his army which he had left near Ath.
- Saint-Fremont's detachment marched to Mons where it made a junction with the Chevalier de Croissy.
- The Duc de Bourgogne, convinced that Prince Eugène would be entrusted with the escort a convoy to Marlborough's Army, detached from his camp at Lovendegem MM. du Rosel and de Coigny with 3 infantry brigades, the carabiniers, 1 cavalry brigades and all the dragoons of his army.
The Siege of Lille
Marlborough and Eugène had decided to besiege Lille.
On 6 August
- At noon, a large convoy set off from Anderlecht near Bruxelles, escorted by the troops (including a Saxon corps) that Prince Eugène had left there under the command of the Prince of Hesse. It took the road towards Soignies. This convoy consisted of:
- 70 x 24-pdr guns
- several 12-pdr guns
- 60 mortars
- 5,000 carts and wagons loaded with ammunitions
- Prince Eugène marched from Ath to Soignies with his corps to rendezvous with the convoy.
- At noon, a large convoy set off from Anderlecht near Bruxelles, escorted by the troops (including a Saxon corps) that Prince Eugène had left there under the command of the Prince of Hesse. It took the road towards Soignies. This convoy consisted of:
- Rosel and Coigny marched by way of Ghent and encamped near Melle, in a position to threaten Eugène's convoy.
On 7 August
- Convinced that the Allies intended to lay siege to Mons, Berwick marched from Valenciennes to the Hongnau and encamped with 53 sqns on the left bank of this stream, with his right at Quiévrechain and his left at Crespin near Condé (Condé-sur-l'Escaut). He also detached M. de Vérac to Maubeuge with 4 bns and 4 dragoon rgts, instructing him to reinforce Charleroi and Namur if the Allies marched in the direction of Mons.
- Berwick left M. de Saint-Fremont near Saint-Ghislain with 26 sqns, and M. de Mortani at Mortagne with 800 horse to observe the movements of the Allies. Some 700 horse remained at Douai, 200 horse at La Bassée and 200 horse at Arras.
On 8 August, Prince Eugène marched with his corps (with the exception of 5 bns and 18 sqns, which were sent back to Bruxelles) and the convoy and took the road of Louvignies and Cambron, reaching Ath in the evening.
On 9 August
- At daybreak, the convoy escorted by Prince Eugène crossed the Dender on four bridges, which had been thrown on the river near Ath. The convoy then advanced towards Celles protected on each side by a column of the escort which consisted of 50 bns and 100 sqns.
- The French generals finally realised that the Allies were not planning the siege of Mons but that of Lille.
- Berwick decamped from Quiévrechain and marched to Mortagne. On his way, he was joined by the cavalry detachment led by Saint-Fremont. Berwick was at the head of 79 sqns when he encamped near Mortagne, between the Scarpe and the Scheldt rivers, with his right anchored on the Scheldt and his headquarters at Château-l'Abbaye.
- Berwick recalled the detachments which he had sent to Maubeuge as well as the infantry he had at Mons, Namur and Douai, deploying these troops along the Scarpe as they arrived. He sent 2 bns and 1 dragoon rgt to reinforce Tournai; and 1 dragoon rgt, 3 bns and 200 horse to Lille.
On 10 August, Prince Eugène arrived at Pottes and Escanaffles on the Scheldt River with the convoy without having met any obstacle.
On 11 August, the convoy of the Allies began to cross the Scheldt River on four bridges at Pottes. Prince Eugène encamped at Helchin on the left bank of the Scheldt to cover the crossing.
In the night of 11 to 12 August, the Duke of Marlborough detached the Prince of Nassau with 30 bns and 28 sqns. This corps crossed the Lys at Wervik.
On 12 August
- At 8:00 a.m., Nassau's Corps arrived in sight of Saint-André-lez-Lille and encamped with its right at Marquette-lez-Lille on the Deule River, where Nassau established his headquarters, and its left on the road leading to Menin opposite the Madeleine Gate.
- To cover the march of the convoy and to prevent any attack by the garrison of Tournai, Prince Eugène marched from Helchin with the main body of his army, crossed the Espierres stream on several bridges and encamped at Templeuve with his right at this village and his left towards Chin (unidentified location) some 4 km from Tournai.
- The convoy of the Allies completed the crossing of the Scheldt. The four bridges previously established near Pottes were removed and the artillery (80 siege pieces, 20 field pieces and 60 mortars) marched by way of Rekkem to Menin.
- Marlborough's main body decamped from Warneton and Wervik, crossed the Lys at Menin and marched to Helchin where it joined the detachment that Prince Eugène had left behind. Marlborough established his headquarters and his right at Helchin and extended his left beyond the mill of Clare towards Menin. Marlborough was now in a good position to cover the planned siege.
- Eugène's hussars, who had been sent to capture some cattle in the plain of Tournai, were attacked by detachments of the garrison, losing some 80 men killed.
- When Berwick saw that the Allies were targeting Lille, he detached M. de Croissy with 6 bns and 1 dragoon rgt towards Pont de Râches on the Scarpe River near Douai. Croissy was ordered to break all bridges on the Scarpe with the exception of drawbridges which he manned with small detachments.
In the night of 12 to 13 August, Nassau's Corps invested Lille from the side of Saint-André-de-Lille.
On 13 August
- In the morning, Prince Eugène's Corps marched by way of Pont à Tressin and completed the investment of Lille. Eugène established his headquarter in the Los Abbey on the Deule River.
- Marlborough re-established four bridges at Pottes to facilitate his communications with Eugène's siege corps.
- In the morning, Croissy's detachment reached Pont de Râches.
- Berwick remained in his camp at Château-l'Abbaye, near Mortagne, awaiting the orders of the Duc de Bourgogne. He also wrote to the duke, proposing him to make a diversion in the direction of Bruxelles.
The Allies then undertook the Siege of Lille which would last until 22 October, for the city proper, and 9 December for the citadel.
On 14 August, Louis XIV wrote to the Duc de Bourgogne, reiterating his orders to assemble all his forces and to march to the relief of Lille.
On 17 August
- The siege artillery, which had been assembled at Menin, arrived at the camp before Lille along with an escort provided by Marlborough and destined to reinforce the corps of Prince Eugène.
- The Duc de Bourgogne decided that his army would set off from its camp from 22 to 25 August to make a junction with Berwick's Corps at Grammont on the Dender River and then to advance to Douai. But Louis XIV rejected this plan fearing that, after Berwick's departure, the provinces of Picardie and Cambrésis would be at the mercy of the Allies.
On 19 August, Louis XIV ordered the Duc the Bourgogne to set off from his camp on 22 or 23 August, and to march from Ghent to Alost or Ninove, to cross the Dender River and to march by way of Enghien and Soignies to Mons, where Berwick's Corps would join the main army.
On 21 August
- The Duc de Bourgogne informed Louis XIV that he continued to privilege his own plan of a junction with Berwick's Corps at Grammont. He had assembled 100 bns and 145 sqns in his camp at Lovendegem and had had 100 artillery pieces prepared at Douai. The baggage had been sent to Bruges and Dunkerque.
- Berwick recalled to his camp at Chateau-l'Abbaye the 4 bns, which he had detached to Ypres under M. d'Hautefort, and 3,000 men who had taken refuge in Ypres after the Battle of Oudenarde. He had now assembled 25 bns and 98 sqns to make a junction with the main army, planning to leave 1 bn and 900 horse in Douai and 1 bn, 800 horse along with 2,500 additional men from the remnants of the force which fought at Oudenarde.
On 22 August
- Marlborough sent his heavy baggage to Menin, in preparation for his manoeuvres to prevent the French armies from effecting a junction. Prince Eugène sent him a large detachment from his siege corps to assist him in his enterprise.
In the night of 22 to 23 August, Prince Eugène opened the trench before Lille.
On 23 August
- Marlborough's Army set off from Helchin, crossed the Scheldt on the bridges at Pottes and encamped at Wadripont (unidentified location), between the Ronne and Laye rivers, with its right at Forest (unidentified location) and Amougies and its left at Escanaffles on the road to Lessines.
- A detachment of Prince Eugène's siege corps advanced to Lambonpont (unidentified location), on the road leading from Lille to Esperierres, within distance to make a junction with Marlborough's Army.
On 24 August, Louis XIV asked once more to the Duc de Bourgogne to march, cross the Dender at Ninove and make a junction with Berwick's Corps.
On 26 August
- Berwick set off from Château-l'Abbaye and marched to Quaregnon, between Mons and Saint-Ghislain for the planned junction with the main army. He had left only 800 horse, 300 dragoons and 300 foot behind under M. de Cherisey to guard the passages of the Scarpe River.
- Informed that the Allies had opened the trench in front of Lille, Louis XIV changed his mind and instructed the Duc de Berwick to advance against the siege corps of the Allies and the Duc de Bourgogne to try to make a junction with Berwick. But these new instructions would arrive too late.
On 27 August
- The artillery of Prince Eugène opened against Lille.
- The army of the Duc de Bourgogne marched from Lovendegem, crossed the Scheldt at Ghent and encamped at Melle, with its left on the Lower Scheldt and its right at Merelbeke. The duke had left 7 bns and some cavalry under M. de Lamothe behind the canal to cover Ghent and Bruges.
On 28 August
- At daybreak, the army of the Duc de Bourgogne crossed the Dender on two bridges between Ninove and Pollare and encamped near Ninove, its right on this town and its left at the woods of Rachepaille (unidentified location). The last troops reached the camp around midnight.
- Berwick's Corps marched from Quaregnon by way of Enghien and encamped at Hérinnes (aka Herne). The cavalry reached the camp at 6:00 p.m. and the infantry during the night.
On 29 August at daybreak, Berwick's Corps set off from Hérinnes and reached the Viane stream, where it encamped with it right anchored on the Dender River. Berwick personally went to Ninove to meet the Duc de Bourgogne.
On 30 August, Berwick's Corps made a junction with the main army at Lessines. The Duc de Bourgogne could now march directly on Lille.
In the night of 30 to 31 August, the Duc de Bourgogne was informed that Marlborough had recrossed the Scheldt and returned to his camp at Helchin.
On 31 August
- The army of the Duc de Bourgogne marched from Lessines to Braffe, some 16 km from Tournai.
- Marlborough's Army left Helchin, marched upstream along the left bank of the Scheldt and encamped at Templeuve, 20 km from Tournai.
On 1 September
- The army of the Duc de Bourgogne marched to Tournai, where it encamped on the right bank of the Scheldt. Two bridges were thrown on this river, upstream and downstream from Tournai.
- Marlborough's Army took position behind the Marcq stream, with its right at Pont à Tessin and its left at Pont-à-Marcq.
On 2 September, the army of the Duc de Bourgogne crossed the Scheldt in eight columns and encamped with its left anchored on the left bank with its right extending towards Blandain and its left at Ere. All dragoons were deployed in front of the right wing, and the artillery in front of the left wing.
On 3 September, the army of the Duc de Bourgogne marched in four columns towards Cysoing. About 4 km from this village, the army turned left and entered the defiles. The march was then resumed in eight columns and the army encamped near Orchies. The rearguard had to march all night to reach this camp.
On 4 September
- In an attempt to turn Marlborough<s right, the army of the Duc de Bourgogne marched to Mons-en-Pévèle, where it encamped in four lines (two lines of infantry and two lines of cavalry) with its right at the Blocus stream and its left at the wood of Phalempin. The Duc de Bourgogne and the Duc de Vendôme then rode to the heights of Mons-en-Pévèle where they could see the Allies on the move with their right behind Seclin, their left towards Fretin and their centre behind the village of Ennetières. Since the Allies still had a large corps at Pont-à-Marcq, the French detached M. d'Artaignan with 7 infantry brigades from their right. As d'Artaignan approached Pont-à-Marcq, the Allies evacuated this position which he occupied, encamping on the right bank of the Marcq.
- The heavy artillery sent from Douai to attack the Allies arrived at the camp of the Duc de Bourgogne, bringing the total force of his artillery to approx. 200 pieces, including several 36-pdrs and 24-pdrs.
- Marlborough rearranged his positions, placing his right towards Wattignies on the road to Douai, and his left towards Péronne (Péronne-en-Mélantois).
On 5 September
- Around 8:00 a.m., the Duc de Bourgogne and his generals reconnoitred the approaches leading to the enemy and ordered to clear some passages. The Duc de Bourgogne then decided to postpone his advance for a few days.
- Prince Eugène with the largest part of the siege corps made a junction with Marlborough's Army. Marlborough extended his right to Noyelles (Noyelles-lès-Seclin), behind Seclin, in front of Templemars, anchored to the marshes of the Upper Deule near the circumvallation lines and covered by a hollow road. His right extended towards the Marcq River between Fretin and Péronne, covered by a ravine.
In the night of 5 to 6 September, the Allies fortified the village of Ennetières (Grand and Petit Ennetières) in the centre of their positions and established batteries there. They also entrenched their whole front.
In the French camp, opinions were divided: the Duc de Vendôme strongly advocated an attack on the Allied positions before they could become too strong; the Duc de Berwick estimated that these positions were already too strong. The Duc de Bourgogne tended to follow Berwick's advice.
On 7 and again on 9 September, Louis XIV reiterated his orders to attack the Allies and relieve Lille.
On 9 September, M. de Chamillart, the Minister of War, arrived at the camp of the Duc de Bourgogne and realised that his hesitations had allowed the Allies to make their positions unassailable.
On 10 September, the Duc de Bourgogne finally decided to advance against the positions of the Allies.
On 11 September
- The army of the Duc de Bourgogne set off from Mons-en-Pévèle, crossed the Marcq River and encamped with its right behind Ennevelin, its centre at Antroeuilles et Avelin, its left towards Seclin and its headquarters at Pont-à-Marcq.
- The advanced troops posted in front of the Allied centre were driven back on Ennetières. Marlborough deployed his army in order of battle and recalled the troops, which he had sent back to the siege of Lille.
On 12 September in the morning, the Duc de Bourgogne ordered to attack the village of Seclin which was still occupied by Allied troops. The Allies evacuated the village after setting fire to part of it. As soon as the French occupied the village, the Duc de Bourgogne advanced his left wing there. The French artillery cannonaded the village of Ennetières and other parts of the front until nightfall. The French generals repeatedly reconnoitred the positions of the Allies but considered them unassailable.
On 14 September, the French generals decided to make two distinct attempts to relieve Lille: the main army would take position to block all convoys destined to the besiegers, and a detachment of 1,000 grenadiers and 4,000 foot would be sent to Lille during the night. However, the second measure was soon abandoned.
On 15 September, the army of the Duc de Bourgogne recrossed the Marcq River, marched in four columns and encamped in four lines near Bersée, with its right extending towards Auchy (Auchy-lez-Orchies) and its left at Mons-en-Pévèle.
On 16 September
- Marlborough's Army reoccupied its camp on the left bank of the Marcq River, with its right at Fretin and its left at Annappes, behind Pont à Tessin.
- The army of the Duc de Bourgogne marched in four columns and encamped at Orcq, near Tournai, with its right at the Templeuve stream and its left at Ere. The Duc de Bourgogne planned to entrench his positions and to send cavalry detachments to prevent any supply convoy from reaching the camp of the besiegers, but the latter project was soon abandoned.
- M. de Chamillart quitted the main army and personally went to Douai.
On 17 September
- The army of the Duc de Bourgogne crossed the Scheldt at Tournai and encamped at Saulchoi (unidentified location) with its right at Hérinnes, its centre at Obignies and its left at Tournai. The infantry was in first line, and the cavalry in second. The front of the positions was covered by the Scheldt.
- The Duc de Bourgogne then sent several detachments to occupy key positions along the Scheldt: M. de Chemerault (25 bns, 34 sqns) at Melden, on the heights of Oudenarde, M. de Coigny (20 dragoon sqns) at Berchem, M. de Souternon (9 bns, 10 sqns) at Escanaffles, between the Laye and Ronne rivers, M. de La Chastre (9 bns, 10 sqns) at Pottes. Fortified bridges were thrown on the Scheldt at Escanaffles and Pottes.
- The Duc de Bourgogne detached 23 sqns under the Chevalier de Luxembourg near Douai behind the Scarpe River to cover the provinces of Artois and Picardie.
- M. d'Avelda (10 Spanish bns) made a junction at Mons with the detachment of the Comte de Bergeyck for the planned raid on Bruxelles.
- M. de Chamillart left Douai to return to Versailles.
On 18 September
- Marlborough's Army crossed the Marcq River and encamped at Templeuve with its right at Willems and its left on the Scheldt River between Pont-à-Chin and Pont-à-Vasnes (unidentified location), opposite Obignies and the French centre.
- The Duc de Bourgogne sent M. d'Ourches with 1 infantry brigade and 1 cavalry brigade to reinforce the Comte de Bergeyck for his enterprise against Bruxelles. Furthermore, 12 heavy cannon were sent from Douai to Mons.
- M. de Lamothe had already taken position near Bruxelles with troops recalled from Ghent and Bruges, but he was ordered to return to Ghent. Furthermore, additional troops were posted between Tournai and Oudenarde to be able to rapidly support Lamothe if Ghent or Bruges were threatened.
The various French detachments were rearranged: M. de Coigny made a junction with Chemerault's detachment near Oudenarde and was replaced by Souternon's detachment in his previous positions at Berchem. La Chastre's detachment went to Escanaffles and was replaced by M. de Croissy (8 bns, 8 sqns) in his previous positions at Pottes.
On 20 September
- Marlborough's Army encamped at Lannoy with its right at Ilem (unidentified location) near the Marcq River and its left extending towards Menin and Courtrai. These new positions suggested that Marlborough intended to establish communication with Ostend to receive some supply convoys.
- Fearing for Bruges, the French generals ordered the commandant in Nieuport to flood the vicinity of the canal between Bruges and Plassendale.
On 21 September
- Erle, disembarked at Ostend with 4,700 men and a large supply of ammunition after his unsuccessful expedition on the coast of Normandie.
- M. de Lamothe marched from Ghent with some troops and took position between Bruges and Plassendale.
- The Duc de Bourgogne detached 11 bns and 6 sqns under M. de Grimaldi to Lessines to reinforce the corps destined to attack Bruxelles.
On 22 September, Grimaldi's detachment marched from Lessines to Halle. With the arrival of this detachment, M. de Puiguion was now at the head of 25 bns and 20 sqns for his enterprise against Bruxelles. However, the Allies had so strongly reinforced Bruxelles that the project was abandoned.
On 23 September, the French generals were informed of the arrival at Ostend of an Allied fleet transporting troops and ammunition. The Duc de Bourgogne immediately sent orders to M. de Puiguion to make a junction as soon as possible with Lamothe's Corps in the vicinity of Bruges. He also detached M. de Chemerault from his camp with 4 bns and 4 dragoon rgts to reinforce Lamothe's Corps.
On 24 September
- Erle seized two passages over the Nieuport Canal at Leffinge and Oudenburg and prepared to send off his first convoy.
- Lamothe decided to recapture Oudenburg.
On 26 September
- The Duc de Bourgogne ordered M. de Coigny, who was still posted near Oudenarde, to join Lamothe near Bruges. Coigny's detachment was replaced at Oudenarde by 9 sqns.
- The Duc de Berwick and the Comte de Bergeyck personally went to Lamothe's camp to confer with him about the best way to intercept the Allied convoy expected to depart Ostend.
- Puiguion's Corps and Coigny's detachment made a junction with Lamothe's Corps. He was now at the head of 34 bns and 63 sqns.
On 27 September, the Allied convoy left Ostend and marched towards Gistel,
In the night of 27 to 28 September, M. de Lamothe left Bruges with his corps and encamped at Zedelgem, between Oudenburg and Torhout. He had sent forward M. de Villemort with 1,000 foot to capture Oudenburg, which was defended by 400 men. Villemort attacked the place but was repulsed.
On 28 September
- Marlborough's Army encamped with its right at the bridge of Marquette (Marquette-lez-Lille) and its left at Roncq near Menin to be closer to the expected supply convoy.
- The Duc de Bourgogne sent 19 additional bns to reinforce Lamothe.
- At daybreak, Lamothe's Corps marched from Zedelgem towards Moere to stop the Allies at the bridge on the Moerdyck. However, he arrived too late, part of the Allied corps had already crossed the Moerdijk Canal.
- At 3:00 p.m., the Maréchal de Camp Chevalier de Luxembourg left Douai with 150 grenadiers and 2,000 horse. Each cavalryman carried a musket, a bayonet and a bag of 50 lbs of powder. This force advanced by way of Pont à Râches and Ennetières and arrived around midnight at a barrier of the circumvallation lines surrounding Lille. The French carried the marks of Dutch troops and pretended that they were bringing ammunition to the besiegers and that they were pursued by French troops. They had no problem persuading the guards. Most of the detachment had already crossed the barrier when the guards finally realised that they were indeed French troops. The Palatine Wittgenstein Dragoons and Hahn Dragoons, dressed only in their shirts, opened a fierce fire on the intruders. Nevertheless the Chevalier de Luxembourg managed to enter Lille by the Malades Gate with 1,500 horse and 40,000 lbs of powder. Only 2 cavalry rgts and the 150 grenadiers had been unable to cross the barrier and they returned to Douai For his conduct, the Chevalier de Luxembourg would be promoted to lieutenant-general by King Louis XIV.
- Engagement of Wijnendale
- Lamothe was defeated in the Engagement of Wijnendale and failed to intercept the Allied convoy. He retired to Zedelgem. With their convoy safely underway towards Lille under the protection of their cavalry, the infantry of Allied escort retired to Leffinge, Gistel and Slijpe. The convoy reached Menin unmolested, there it was received by a detachment of Marlborough's Army.
On 30 September, Lamothe's Corps marched from Zedelgem to Oudenburg with its right on the Moerdijk and its left extending up to Jabbeke on the Canal of Ostend. There, he was joined by the 9 bns which had been sent as reinforcements. He was now at the head of 43 bns and 63 sqns.
On 2 October
- The Duc de Vendôme left the camp of the main army to assume command of Lamothe's Corps at Oudenburg.
- The Duc de Bourgogne ordered to erect entrenchments along the Scarpe River, he sent 1 additional bn to Saint-Amant and sent 3 cavalry rgts to Douai under M. de l'Isle, who replaced the Chevalier de Luxembourg as commander of the place. The Duc de Bourgogne also asked the Maréchal de Boufflers to defend the city of Lille as long as he could before retiring into the citadel.
On 3 October
- The Duc de Vendôme arrived at Oudenburg to assume command of Lamothe's Corps. He ordered to cut the dykes, thus making the bridges of Leffinge and Slijpe unpracticable. He also placed a detachment of 4,000 men in Gistel.
- Louis XIV asked the Duc de Bourgogne to cut the line of communication the Allies between Lille and Ostend and to concentrate as much troops as possible on the Scheldt River.
On 6 October, Marlborough sent a new detachment to escort a convoy from Ostend.
On 7 October, Marlborough marched from his camp at Roncq with 25 bns and 30 sqns, crossed the Lys at Menin and encamped at Roeselare. He had left 20 bns and 20 sqns between Roncq and Pont-à-Marcq within reach to support the siege corps of Prince Eugène.
In the night of 7 to 8 October, the Duc de Vendôme decamped from Oudenburg and took refuge under the walls of Bruges. He then sent several detachments along the canal between Bruges and Ghent. He also placed 15 bns and 1 dragoon brigade under M. de Puiguion in the polder near Zantvoorde (unidentified location).
On 8 October, the Duc de Bourgogne sent a reinforcement of 8 bns under the Comte d'Estrades to Vendôme's Corps.
In the night of 8 to 9 October, Marlborough advanced from Roeselare to Torhout where he encamped with his right at Torhout and his left at Aartrijke. He then sent forward a large number of wagons to try to cross the inundations but they were forced to turn back.
On 9 October
- The Duc de Bourgogne sent an additional reinforcement of 15 bns and 10 sqns to Vendôme.
- In the evening. Marlborough retired to Roeselare.
On 11 October
- Marlborough recalled the troops, which he had left behind to assist Prince Eugène, and made various detachments to occupy Hooglede, Koekelare, Torhout, Wijnendale, Kortemark, Sevecote (unidentified location), Saint-Peeters-Capelle (unidentified location), Zande, Moere and Dixmude, in an attempt to establish a line of communication with Ostend.
- The Duc de Vendôme, who was strongly posted between Nieuport and Ghent with 41 bns and 60 sqns, sent back the last reinforcements to the Duc de Bourgogne. He also ordered to cut the dyke of Steene, increasing the inundation of the Camerling-Ambacht region, and isolating the Allied garrison of Leffinge.
On 12 October, the Allies, taking advantage of the inundations, transported supplies aboard small boats.
On 13 October, the Chevalier de Langeron advanced from Dunkerque to Tempelhof with several armed small boats and 1 bn but he was unable to intercept the supplies sent to the Allies.
By mid-October, the Allies were master of the covert way of Lille.
On 17 October at 10:00 p.m., M. d'Artaignan reached Justice de Renard (unidentified location), near Ath, with 300 men of the garrison of Mons. He then made himself master of the ravelin of Ath but the other troops, which should have rendezvous with him arrived only on October 18 at 4:30 a,m., too late to surprise the place. D'Artaignan was forced to retire.
In the night of 17 to 18 October, the French launched an amphibious attack against the magazines of the Allies at Leffinge. They managed to set fire to some stores and wagons.
In the night of 20 to 21 October, the French opened the trench in front of the village of Leffinge.
On 21 October, with the arrival of new ammunition, the Allied artillery opened a lively fire against Lille.
On 22 October, the Duc de Bourgogne made preparations to make a junction with Vendôme's strong corps and to attack Marlborough at the end of the month.
On 23 October, Boufflers surrendered the city of Lille under condition that he would retire in the citadel with the garrison on 25 October.
In the night of 24 to 25 October, M. de Puiguion with 5,000 men launched an assault against Leffinge, attacking in five different locations. Puiguion was assisted by the Chevalier de Langeron, who had 2,500 men aboard his small flotilla. The French captured the village, taking 72 officers and 900 men prisoners.
On 25 October, the Allies sent 13 bns and 30 sqns with 12 artillery pieces under the Prince of Hesse to La Bassée.
After the capitulation of Lille, the Duc de Bourgogne abandoned his plan to offer battle to the Allies.
On 27 October, the Prince of Hesse began to entrench his camp at La Bassée. Allied detachments were raiding the Province of Artois and another corps had taken position at Armentières.
On 28 October, the Duc de Bourgogne sent a reinforcement of 6 bns to the Duc de Vendôme.
On 1 November, M. de Chamillart, who had been sent by Louis XIV to discuss the situation with his generals, arrived at the camp of Saulchoi. The Duc de Vendôme also participated in this council of war. It was decided to remain on the Scheldt River and on the canals and to prevent the Allies from living of the land.
On 7 November, the Chevalier de Langeron sailed from Nieuport with 6 brigantines and 3 gunboats. He would be reinforced on his way by a few frigates and galleys from Dunkerque. Furthermore, M. de Lamothe had sent 100 grenadiers and 1 dragoon rgt from Bruges to assist him.
On 8 November, Marlborough detached 10 bns and some 30 sqns under Fagel from his camp of Roeselare. Fagel crossed the canal of Furnes between Dixmude and the Knocke and made himself master of the redoubt at Haut-Pont, taking 4 grenadier coys prisoners. Fagel then encamped between Dixmude and Essene (unidentified location) with 7 bns and 12 sqns. He established another camp near Loo (probably Lo-Reninge) and occupied Hondschoote. He then foraged in the Furnembach.
On 10 November
- Vendôme ordered Lamothe to send 6 bns, 2 cavalry rgts and 3 dragoon rgts under M. de Monroux from the camp of M. de Puiguion by way of Nieuport to the Furnembach.
- Vendôme sent 4 bns and 6 sqns from the camp of Saulchoi to join M. de Cheyladet, who was posted at Arras to protect the Province of Artois. With these reinforcements, M. de Cheyladet made a junction with the troops posted at Douai and together they forced the Allies to retire to La Bassée.
On 12 November, Monroux's detachment reached the Furnembach.
In the night of 13 to 14 November, Monroux's detachment stormed the Allied outpost of Hondschoote, which was defended by a Prussian detachment (2 bns, 2 sqns), taking 54 officers and 900 soldiers prisoners. In this affair, the Allied also lost 200 men, 7 colours and 2 standards.
Fagel soon received a strong reinforcement from Marlborough and was able to maintain his positions in the vicinity of Loo. Fagel was now at the head of 19 bns and 14 sqns at Loo and had another 7 bns and 12 sqns between Dixmude and Essene.
Monroux's detachment retired to Bergues. Lamothe marched to Furnes with some troops, bringing this force to 9 bns and 12 sqns.
On 14 November, the Allied troops posted at La Bassée made themselves masters of Saint-Venant and began to entrench their new position. They also established outposts along the Upper Lys River at Calonne, Merville, Gorgue and Estaires. They then seized the harvest of this region.
On 17 November, the Duc de Berwick quitted the army of the Duc de Bourgogne and went to Germany where he would replace the Elector of Bavaria as commander-in-chief of the Army of the Rhine.
On 18 November, the Duc de Bourgogne sent a reinforcement of 6 bns and 6 sqns to M. de Cheyladet.
The French fail to capture Bruxelles
At about this time, the Elector of Bavaria, who had ceded command of the Army of the Rhine to the Duc de Berwick, returned to the Spanish Netherlands, where, without having any formal authority, he devised a plan in collaboration with the Comte de Bergeyck to capture Bruxelles by surprise. The Elector was confident that, by assembling 10 bns and 12 sqns from the garrisons of Ghent, Condé, Mons, Charleroi and Namur, with 4 bns and 6 sqns contributed by the Duc de Bourgogne, he could easily make himself master of the place. Bruxelles was then defended by Count Pascal with 3 Saxon rgts and 100 Imperial companies for a total of less than 5,000 men.
On 21 November, the Elector set off from Mons with 14 bns and 18 sqns and encamped at Halle.
On 22 November
- The Elector arrived before Bruxelles. He expected that the inhabitants would rise in his favour, but even though they were in good dispositions towards the Elector, the general situation convinced them to remain quiet. When his arrival did not create the expected upheaval in the city, the Elector decided to undertake a formal siege.
- Marlborough was still encamped near Roeselare with troops at Wijnendale and along the canal of Loo, and 12 sqns near Oudenarde. Prince Eugène was still besieging the Citadel of Lille but also had a large corps at La Bassée.
On 25 November
- When Marlborough heard of the Elector attempt against Bruxelles, he set off from his camp at Roeselare with his army, crossed the Lys River, marching in the direction of the Scheldt River, and encamped with his right at Courtrai and his left at Winckel-Saint-Éloy (unidentified location) with his headquarters in Harelbeke.
- Prince Eugène marched to Roubaix, leaving only 24 bns in front of Lille.
In the night of 25 to 26 November, the Elector opened the trench in front of Bruxelles, and established a battery (10 cannon) at 100 m. from the covert way. The attack was directed against the Namur Gate and the Louvain Gate.
On 26 November
- M. de Nangis was detached from the army of the Duc de Bourgogne with 9 bns and took position at Berchem, to be able to support M. de Sousternon. One infantry brigade was also sent to Pottes. The Duc de Bourgogne now had only the guard brigade and the Maison du Roi with him at the camp of Saulchoi and asked M. de Cheyladet to send him back part of his troops from the Province of Artois.
- Upon approaching the Scheldt, Marlborough made two detachments: one under the command of the Earl of Orkney and Count Loatain; the other under Lieutenant-General Cadogan and Brigadier Evans. At 4:00 p.m., the three columns (Marlborough's, Orkney's and Cadogan's) set off from Harelbeke.
- Prince Eugène set off from Roubaix and reached Outrijve, opposite Pottes and Escanaffles.
In the night of 26 to 27 November
- The Elector established some of his troops in the two angles of the covert way in front of Bruxelles and created a breach in the wall.
- At 1:00 a.m., Orkney's column reached Gavere; Marlborough's, Oudenarde; and Cadogan's Kerkhove, opposite Berchem.
On 27 November
- At daybreak, Orkney's column crossed the Scheldt near Gavere and encamped at Zottegem without meeting any opposition.
- Cadogan began to cross the Scheldt at Kerkhove and Elsegem. He already had 12 bns and 12 sqns across the river when M. de Souternon advanced with 3 bns and 10 sqns against him. Cadogan's units forced Souternon to retire.
- Marlborough marched to Kerkhove with the main army and passed the Scheldt. He then advanced on Bruxelles.
- An Allied detachment (300 men) managed to make itself master Saint-Ghislain, which had been left almost defenceless by the Elector,
- In the morning, the troops of the Elector were driven back from the two angles of the covert way of Bruxelles with considerable losses by a vigorous sally of the garrison.
- Souternon retired to Berchem and asked M. de Nangis with his 9 bns for his assistance. Nangis arrived too late and Souternon was forced to recross the Ronne and to retire to the camp of Escanaffles.
- M. d'Hautefort, who was posted before Oudenarde, retired to Grammont (aka Geraardsbergen).
- The Duc de Bourgogne refused to give battle. In the evening, having recalled Vendôme's Corps, the he reached Tournai. He had abandoned all the defensive works that he had erected along the Scheldt.
- In the evening, the Elector of Bavaria raised the siege of Bruxelles, abandoning 10 artillery pieces, his ammunition and his wounded, and retired towards Mons.
On 28 November
- Now that Marlborough had successfully crossed the Scheldt, Prince Eugène set off to return to Lille.
- M. d'Hautefort marched to Enghien.
- The Duc de Bourgogne detached M. d'Albergotti with 25 grenadier coys, 2 dragoon rgts, 1,000 horse and 8 cannon to recapture Saint-Ghislain.
- The Duc de Bourgogne detached M. de Villiers with 1 infantry brigade to seize and complete the fortifications that the Allies had erected at La Bassée.
- The Elector reached Mons.
On 29 November
- Marlborough's Army, which had assembled at Oudenarde, marched to Oombergen and encamped between this town and Alost.
- M. d'Hautefort reached Mons. His force consisted of 20 bns and 25 sqns and M. de Nangis joined him with an additional 9 bns.
- The Duc de Bourgogne, after having taken his dispositions to march in three days from Tournai to Douai, sent his infantry forward to Saint-Amand (Saint-Amant-les-Eaux).
On 30 November, the infantry of the Duc de Bourgogne marched to Escaudain. His cavalry marched to Hélesmes, Raismes and Vicoigne. The Chevalier de Rosel was left behind at Tournai with 3 bns and 9 sqns. Furthermore, 4 sqns were sent to Mons and 3 sqns to Condé. These detachments had been instructed to harass the convoys of the Allies.
On 1 December
- The Allied garrison (300 men) of Saint-Ghislain capitulated to M. d'Albergotti and M. d'Hautefort.
- The Duc de Bourgogne arrived at Douai with his cavalry and was joined the same day by his infantry.
- In the Province of Artois, M. de Cheyladet was at the head of 12 bns and 36 sqns and 1 hussar regiment. He distributed these troops to guard the Deule River from Berclau to La Bassée.
- M. de Lamothe had 67 bns and 53 sqns at Ghent and along its canals.
- When the Duc de Bourgogne was informed of the recapture of Saint-Ghislain, he instructed Albergotti and Hautefort to move closer to Douai with their corps, leaving garrison in Saint-Ghislain and Mons.
- The Duc de Bourgogne cantoned Albergotti's and Hautefort's troops in the villages between Douai and La Bassée. The Gardes du Corps and the Grenadiers à Cheval were sent to Arras, Bapaume and Péronne.
On 6 December, the Duc de Bourgogne went to La Bassée and Saint-Venant to inspect the new defensive works.
The Allies recapture Ghent and Bruges
The French generals then received intelligence that, after the siege of Lille, the Allies intended to lay siege to Ghent and Bruges, which they considered necessary to establish a supply line to Lille and Menin. Vendôme proposed to the Duc de Bourgogne to suspend the dispersion of the army in its winter-quarters; to transfer 20 bns, which were initially destined to winter in the Province of Artois, to Ypres, Furnes, Bergues and Nieuport; to post the bns, which were destined to winter on the Meuse, between Douai and La Bassée; and to send the whole cavalry to Valenciennes and the towns of Artois. Vendôme also urged the Duc de Bourgogne to postpone his departure for Versailles. However, on the instance of the Duc de Bourgogne, Louis XIV ordered to resume the dispersion of the army to its winter-quarters, ignoring Vendôme's advice and recalling him to Versailles.
On 8 December, the Duc de Bourgogne ordered the dispersion of the army to its winter-quarters and went to Arras, from where he intended to return to Versailles.
On 9 December, the brave old Maréchal Boufflers surrendered the Citadel of Lille, Eugène complimenting him by allowing him to dictate the terms of capitulation. Boufflers obtained the honours of war. He had defended the place during 3 months and 16 days…
After the capitulation of the Citadel of Lille, Prince Eugène returned to Oudenarde. Conferring with Marlborough, they decided to resume operations despite bad weather conditions.
On 10 December, the Duc de Bourgogne set off from Arras with the Duc de Berry and the Chevalier de Saint-Georges to return to Versailles.
On 11 December
- Prince Eugène set off from Lille with the siege corps, leaving 20 bns (including several Saxon bns) and 2 sqns as garrison, and marched to Ghent.
- Boufflers marched to Douai with the garrison of Lille.
On 12 December
- Marlborough's Army decamped from Oombergen and marched to Melle, on its way to Ghent.
- The Duc de Vendôme left Arras for Versailles. M. de Saint-Fremont was left on the frontier with 18 bns and 31 sqns cantoned between La Bassée, Lens and Douai. There were also 31 bns in Ypres, Tournai and Condé, which had been ordered to remain there until the Allies would take their winter-quarters.
- M. de Lamothe had 67 bns and 53 sqns to cover Ghent and Bruges. He sent supplies to these two cities and put most of his units in these places despite Vendôme's advice to keep the field.
On 13 December in the morning, Marlborough's Army crossed the Scheldt River. Marlborough then divided his army into three corps, which blockaded Ghent: the first and largest corps, under Marlborough, took position between the two arms of the Scheldt River; the second under the Prince of Hesse, between the Upper Scheldt and the Lys rivers.; and the third, under General Lottum, between the Lower Scheldt and the canal of Sas van Gent.
On ?? December, Prince Eugène placed 20 bns and 3 sqns in Lille, sent his artillery aboard vessels on the Lys to Deinze and marched with the rest of his army to the Lower Lys, taking position between Deinze and Nazareth. Prince Eugène then waited a few days near Deinze to cover the supply convoys destined to Lille, Menin, Courtrai and Oudenarde.
On 15 December
- The city of Ghent had only one line of communication left open towards Bruges. Lamothe sent back a few units to Bruges and kept 34 bns and 20 sqns with him in Ghent. Even though there were now 33 bns and 33 sqns in the vicinity of Bruges, the French left only 29 bns and 9 sqns under M. de Grimaldi in Bruges because there were no provisions for the cavalry. The remaining units, with the exception of a few bns left at Leffinge, were sent to Nieuport under M. de Puiguion.
- Boufflers set off from Douai for Versailles after having sent his troops to their winter-quarters. For his conduct, Louis XIV promoted him to governor of Flanders.
On 16 December
- The Court ordered M. de Saint-Fremont to raze the defensive works of La Bassée.
- Field Marshal Count Nassau-Weilburg informed Prince Eugène that he had received orders from the Elector to march with the Palatine Contingent to winter-quarters in the Electorate of Palatinate. The contingent marched by way of Bruxelles, Mecheln and Roermond.
On 17 December, the French Court ordered M. de Grimaldi to keep only 14 bns and 9 sqns in Bruges if he were attacked and to send the rest of his corps to Nieuport.
On 18 December, Prince Eugène set of from the vicinity of Deinze and took position before Ghent, between the Lys River and the Great Canal, thus completing the investment of the city, which was now surrounded by 110 bns and nearly 200 sqns. Part of the Allied cavalry was sent on the Dender River to cover the convoys.
By 22 December, M. de Saint-Fremont had razed the defensive works of La Bassée. The 18 bns and 31 sqns previously posted there took up their winter-quarters.
In the night of 23 to 24 December, the Allies opened the trench at Ghent in front of the Saint-Pierre Gate, a palisaded earthwork, with a badly designed covert way.
On 27 December, Louis XIV sent the Maréchal de Boufflers from Paris to Flanders to act as commander-in-chief.
On 28 December
- The first pieces of artillery opened against Ghent.
- Boufflers arrived at Douai.
On 29 December
- The besiegers were within 32 m. of the covert way of Ghent and already had 90 artillery pieces in their batteries.
- Boufflers wrote to Versailles to suggest that the French army should be assembled and should advance on Lille, which was defended by only 20 bns, to force the Allies to raise the siege of Ghent. Louis XIV authorised Boufflers to assemble 86 bns and 130 sqns for his design against Lille.
On 30 December, M. de Lamothe capitulated at Ghent and obtained the honours of war. The garrison would leave Ghent on 2 January and march to Grave; on 3 January, to Renaix; and on 4 January, to Tournai. After the capitulation of Ghent, the Allies immediately marched on Bruges.
On 31 December, the Allies summoned M. de Grimaldi to surrender the place of Bruges.
In the night of 1 to 2 January 1709, M. de Grimaldi evacuated Bruges. At the same time, the French evacuated Leffinge.
On 2 January, the French infantry, which had evacuated Bruges and Leffinge, arrived at Nieuport, while the cavalry arrived at Furnes.
With the fall of Ghent, Bruges, Lille and Menin, the Allies could now easily occupy Armentières, La Bassée, Lens and the Upper Lys up to Saint-Venant. They could also threaten the Province of Picardie. Therefore, Boufflers proposed to the French Court to assemble the army and to take position near La Bassée.
On 5 January, the Allies finally decided to take their winter-quarters. Boufflers abandoned his project of assembling the Army of Flanders.
To add to the disasters of Oudenarde and Lille, a terrible winter almost completed the ruin of France.
In despair Louis XIV negotiated for peace, but the Coalition offered such humiliating terms that not only the king, but what in the 18th century was a rare and memorable thing, his people also resolved to fight to the end.
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. 8, 1848, pp. 4-168
- Kane, Richard: Campaigns of king William and queen Anne, from 1689 to 1712, London: J. Millan, 1745, pp. 72-81
- Fortescue, J. W.: A History of the British Army, Vol. I, MacMillan, London, 1899, pp. 492-510
- Bezzel, O.: Geschichte des Kurpfälzischen Heeres, Bayrisches Kriegsarchiv, IV. File, part 1 and 2, Munich 1925
- Dedekind, F.: Geschichte des k. k. Kaiser Franz Joseph I. Dragoner-Regimentes Nr. 11, Vienna 1879
- Treuenfest, A. v.: Geschichte des k. k. Infanterie-Regiments Nr. 20 Friedrich Wilhelm, Kronprinz von
Preussen, Vienna 1878
- Schuster/Francke: Geschichte der Sächsischen Armee part I, Leipzig 1885
Harald Skala for his participation in the creation of this article