1709-08-26 – Combat of Rumersheim

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Hierarchical Path: War of the Spanish Succession (Main Page) >> Battles and Encounters >> 1709-08-26 – Combat of Rumersheim

French victory (note the battle is sometimes designated as the "Battle of Münikhausen")

Prelude to the Battle

In mid-August 1709, hearing that the Imperial General Claude Florimond de Mercy intended to cross the Rhine and march in Alsace, Harcourt, who commanded in this province, sent reinforcements under Léonor Marie du Maine Comte de Bourg to Desrozeaux, who was posted between Huningue and Marckolsheim with 2 bns and 9 grenadier coys.

An Imperial force penetrated into Alsace after marching across the Canton of Basel and marched on Ottmarsheim.

On the night of 20 August, 12 Imperial sqns crossed the Rhine at Rheinfeld.

The Comte du Bourg assembled his small force at Neuf-Brisach.

On 22 August, Harcourt sent an additional detachment to join du Bourg's detachment while he remained in the Lines of the Lauter with his main army.

By 25 August, du Bourg's forces (7 bns, 18 sqns) were assembled in Biesheim, near Brisach.

Map

Map of the engagement of Rumersheim.
 
Courtesy: Dinos Antoniadis
1 French Right Wing
2 French Centre
3 French Left Wing
4 Compagnies franches de Reignac
5 Volontaires de Liotot
6 French 5 grenadier coys
1 Imperial First Line
2 Imperial Second Line
3 Hildesheim Infantry
4 Grenadiers of the Salzburg Infantry
5 Imperial Right Wing
6 Imperial Left Wing

Description of Events

On 26 August at 3:00 a.m., du Bourg set off in the direction of Mercy's camp. His corps marched in three columns: the right column was led by the Maréchal de Camp d'Anlézy, the centre column by du Bourg and the left column by the Maréchal de Camp de Quadt.

In the morning, Mercy learned from a French deserter that a strong French detachment was advancing against him from Neuf-Brisach

On 26 August before noon, du Bourg's forces, still in columns of march, halted about 1 km from Rumersheim to rest. Du Bourg was informed that Mercy had left his camp on the island of Neuenburg and saw his army advancing against him in order of battle.

Du Bourg then deployed his troops in order of battle. He threw the Volontaires de Liotot in the farmstead of Hamerstatt to anchor his right wing.

Mercy sent part of his infantry to attack the farmstead of Hamerstatt and du Bourg immediately sent the Brigadier Desrozeaux with the Lautrec Dragoons to support the Volontaires de Liotot. The dragoons dismounted and fought alongside the volontaires, defending the farmstead.

Meanwhile Mercy extended his right wing to outflank the French left wing, taking advantage of the fact the the Bretagne Dragons had not yet taken position at the extreme left of the French line. Du Bourg immediately ordered the Bretagne Dragons to rapidly advance through the intervals of the cavalry of his left wing and to occupy their assigned position. As a result, it was Mercy's right wing which was now outflanked.

Then the French wings and the centre all charged simultaneously and the Imperials broke and retired everywhere. General Breuner and Colonel Stein both fell at the beginning of the cavalry combat.

The Comte de Fontanier at the head of his cavalry brigade pursued the enemy, riding towards the first bridge on an arm of the Rhine River. M. de Conche then crossed this bridge with 2 sqns of the Bretagne Dragons, crossed a second bridge on another arm and made himself master of the redoubt on the bank of the Rhine.

Meanwhile the Lautrec Dragons, who had remounted, deployed in front of the French infantry.

Du Bourg was then informed that 2 sqns of Breuner Cuirassiers had penetrated the French lines. He instructed M. de Marboeuf to take position with 1 dragoon sqns near the farmstead of Hamerstatt. He then sent the 3 sqns of Lautrec Dragons towards the bridges on the Rhine, followed by his infantry.

Du Bourg then personally rode to the bridge to evaluate the situation. He saw that that the dragoons, who had crossed to the island of Neuenburg, were the target of the Imperial artillery were retiring to the left bank of the Rhine. He vainly tried to rally them and to send them back against the Imperials.

Once the French dragoons had recrossed to the left bank. du Bourg rallied them and ordered them to dismount. He then sent them back to the island under the command of M. de Conche and they recaptured the redoubt.

Du Bourg then advanced with his grenadiers to another bridge which had collapsed under the weight of the retiring Imperial units.

Outcome

The French lost 131 men killed, including Colonel de Saint-Aulaire of Enghien Infanterie and Lieutenant-Colonel de Saint-Linière of Rennepont Cavalerie.

The Imperials lost 1,200 men killed and approx. 3,000 men taken prisoners.

The French also captured 12 colours, 2 standards, 2 pairs of kettle-drums, 4 guns, hundreds of carts, and dozens of boats and barges on the Rhine.

After the French victory, the peasants of Rumersheim were requisitioned to clean up the battlefield, evacuating the wounded and throwing the dead bodies in the Rhine.

Order of Battle

Franco-Spanish Order of Battle

Commander-in-chief: Léonor Marie du Maine, Comte du Bourg

Summary: 9 bns and 19 sqns with 8 artillery pieces

Farmstead of Hamerstatt near a wood on the extreme right wing

  • Volontaires de Liotot (1 bn)
    • Berry Infanterie (150 men from the garrison of Strasbourg)
    • Rosières Infanterie (2 grenadier coys from the garrison of Alt-Breisach)
    • Grandlieu Infanterie (2 grenadier coys from the garrison of Alt-Breisach)
    • III./Toulouse Infanterie (1 grenadier coy from the garrison of Alt-Breisach)

Right Wing under the Maréchal de Camp d'Anlézy

  • Lautrec Dragons (3 sqns)
  • Rennepont Cavalerie (2 sqns)
  • Montrevel Cavalerie (2 sqns)
  • Forsac Cavalerie (2 sqns)

Centre under the direct command of the Comte du Bourg

Left Wing under the Maréchal de Camp de Quadt

  • Fontanier's Brigade
    • Lessart Cavalerie (2 sqns)
    • Du Châtelet-Clefmont Cavalerie (2 sqns)
    • Fontaine Cavalerie (2 sqns)
  • Bretagne Dragons (3 sqns)
  • Compagnies franches de Reignac (1 sqn) under Lieutenant-Colonel Lenderick

Artillery (8 pieces taken from the Fortress of Alt-Breisach)

Imperial Order of Battle

Commander-in-chief: General Mercy

Summary: 6 bns, 11 sqns, 350 light cavalry with 9 artillery pieces

N.B.: du Bourg mentions that the Imperials had initially 10 bns but had sent 2 bns back to the right bank and had thus 8 bns during the engagement.

Right Wing

Centre (including 5 artillery pieces)

Left Wing

Hildesheim Infantry (1 bn) guarding the bridgehead on the left bank of the Rhine)

Bavarian Salzburg Infantry (2 grenadier coys)

Swabian picked cavalrymen (150 men)
Austrian Esterházy Hussars (350 men)

Artillery (9 pieces)

References

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

  • Pelet and François Eugène de Vault: Mémoires militaires relatifs à la Succession d'Espagne sous Louis XIV, Vol. 9 pp. 250-261, 461-462
  • Abtheilung für Kriegsgeschichte des k. k. Kriegs-Archives: Feldzüge des Prinzen Eugen von Savoyen Vol. 11 (1709), Vienna 1876, pp. 141-147

Other sources

Vial, J.-L.: Nec Pluribus Impar – Combats de Rumersheim ou Münikhausen le 26 août 1709

Acknowledgement

Dinos Antoniadis for the research, the initial orders of battle and for the accompanying map