1709 – Siege of Mons

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Hierarchical Path: War of the Spanish Succession (Main Page) >> Sieges >> 1709 – Siege of Mons

The siege lasted from 19 September to 23 October 1709

Prelude

In late August 1709, the Allies captured Tournai. They then moved against Mons.

On 3 September, Prince Eugène de Savoie and the Duke of Marlborough sent their heavy baggage and their artillery towards Mons. They also detached the Prince of Hesse with 4,000 grenadiers and 60 sqns to make himself master of the Lines of the Trouille and to invest Mons.

On 4 September, the Prince of Hesse crossed the Haine River at Havré, downstream from Mons. Meanwhile, On 4 September, the main Allied army set off from Orchies and made several demanstrations against various parts of the French lines.

In the night of 4 to 5 September, the Allies crossed the Scheldt at Tournai, Antoing and Mortagne and encamped between Briffoeil to Estambruge (unidentified location).

On 5 September, the Allies marched towards Mons. Their army reached Casteau, The head of the corps of the Prince of Hesse reached the Trouille River.

Louis XIV ordered the Maréchal de Villars and Maréchal de Boufflers to prevent the loss of this important place.

Map

Map of the siege of Mons in 1709 – Copyright: Dinos Antoniadis

The fortifications of Mons were very impressive: a wall with 18-20 ravelins, several lunettes, flèches as well as hornworks and crownworks; the walls were surrounded by a double ditch, which was fed by the rivers Trouille and Haine. The fortifications of Mons were second only to the fortifications of Lille.

Furthermore, it was partly located on a hill and a plain protected by swamps, and a system of lock allowed the garrison to flood the vicinity of the place. However, the place was not well prepared to sustain a siege.

The Fortress of Mons had been placed under the command of Lieutenant-General Grimaldi, who commanded about 4,000 men in 15 bns (3 French bns, 9 Spanish bns and 3 Bavarian bns), 150 horse and 130 dismounted cavalrymen.. The garrison was much too small for the size of this huge fortress. In addition, the inhabitants were not well disposed towards the Franco-Spanish garrison.

Description

On 6 September

  • Allies
    • The corps of the Hereditary Prince of Hesse occupied the roads leading to Mons.
    • The main army moved closer to Mons. The Duke of Marlborough crossed the Haine River at Havré with all the left wing and deployed with his right anchored on the river and his left at Harmegnies on the Trouille River. Prince Eugène deployed the right wing with its right on the road leading from Mons to Bruxelles, near Saint-Denis, and its left near Havré.
  • French
    • In the morning, the Chevalier de Luxembourg, who was posted nearby in the Lines of the Trouille, seeing that he was facing the entire Allied army, decided to abandon these lines and to retire, after throwing a dragoon rgt into Mons.
    • Villars sent 4 Spanish bns to reinforce the garrison of Mons.

On 7 September In the afternoon, Marlborough crossed the Trouille and encamped with his right towards Quaregnon and his left towards Quévy-le-Petit, to cover the siege of Mons.

On 8 September in the morning, Prince Eugène crossed the Haine and Trouille rivers and deployed on the right of Marlborough's positions. Marlborough extended his left up to the wood of Lanières, near Feignies. The corps of the Prince of Hesse rejoined the army and the corps left near Tournai was ordered to do the same. The entire army encamped in two lines with the right at Quaregnon, the left at Bettignies and the headquarters at Grand Quevy (unidentified location), near the centre. The right wing was covered by the woods of Boussu, Grand-Blaugies and Sars (Sars-la-Bruyère). There were two gaps between the wood of Sars, Jansart and another little wood in front of the centre. The left was covered by the woods of Jansart and Lanières.

On 11 September, both armies engaged battle in the plain of Malplaquet, about 20 km south of Mons. The Allies won the sanguinary Battle of Malplaquet, suffering heavy casualties, and then turned their attention back to the Fortress of Mons.

On 19 September in the morning, the Chevalier de Livry with 3 bns reinforced the defenders of Mons.

On 20 September, the Allied army set off from Quevy and moved closer to Mons. The Prince de Orange-Nassau, destined to command the siege corps, invested the place with 30 bns and 30 sqns and established his headquarters in the Béliant Abbey. The army of observation encamped in three lines between Jemappes on the Haine River and Villers-Sire-Nicole on the Trouille River.

On 24 September, the Prince of Nassau attacked the outworks of the fortress

Did you know that...
The French term Battre la chamade designated an audible signal produced by the beating of a drum (beating the chamade) or by the sound of a trumpet (sounding the chamade) to warn the opposing party that a truce was requested for negotiations. The sound signal being often covered by the din of battle, it was doubled by a visual signal: the white flag.

Acknowledgement: Dinos Antoniadis

On 25 September, an Allied convoy of artillery (60 heavy guns and 18 mortars) and ammunition arrived from Bruxelles before Mons, escorted by a detachment sent by Prince Eugène.

In the night of 25 to 26 September, the Allies opened the trench before the Bertamont Gate and Havré Gate. Four bns and 2,000 workers were employed at the first attack; and 2 bns and 200 workers at the second.

On 26 September at daybreak, Grimaldi made a sortie. Lord Cadogan, who commanded in the trenches was severely wounded. In the afternoon, Grimaldi made a second sortie, this time against the attack directed on the Havré Gate. In this affair, the Allies lost 400 men.

In the night of 26 to 27 September, the Allies launched an attack from two sides against the fortress. However, in the darkness, many soldiers got lost. The garrison of Mons did not notice the approach of the Allies before the moon illuminated the scene. The defenders fired from the ramparts, killing 3 officers and 54 soldiers.

On 1 October, the Allied batteries (a total of 30 pieces) opened on the fortifications of Mons. Two isolated small forts defended by 3 officers and 40 men were also captured.

During the digging of parallels and trenches, the Allies were hindered by heavy rain and constant shelling by the defenders. The rain forced them to stabilize the ground with fascines and to create drainage trenches to drain the water into the Trouille River.

On 16 October at daybreak, the Allies attacked the covert way of the hornwork of the Havré Gate and established three lodgements.

On 17 October in the evening, the Allies attacked the hornwork of the Bertamont Gate and made themselves master of this defensive work after a combat of two hours.

On 20 October, the redoubt was finished and breaching batteries had been established. Around noon, before the Allies could launch an assault, Lieutenant-General Grimaldi beat the chamade. The garrison (now reduced to only 2,000 men) obtained the honours of war and had to evacuate the place on 23 October. The French would be escorted to Maubeuge and the Spaniards and Bavarians to Namur.

On October 23, the Franco-Spanish garrison left the fortress with flying colours. The French went to Maubeuge, while the Spaniards and Bavarians went to Namur.

During the siege, the Franco-Spanish had lost approx. 2,500 men.

Outcome

After the fall of Mons, the French were forced to evacuate the region between the Sambre and Meuse rivers. The place returned to the Spanish Netherlands after having been occupied by the French since 1691 and the States of Hainaut recognized the sovereignty of King Charles III of Spain aka Archduke Charles.

The capture of Mons put an end to the campaign of 1709, because the French were still too weakened by their defeat at Malplaquet to consider any offensive actions.

Order of Battle

Allied Order of Battle

The position of each individual unit during the siege is pretty clear from the following map. They are listed counter-clockwise from the southern bank of the Trouille River to the southern bank of the Haine River.

Commander-in-Chief: Prince of Orange

Summary: 36 bns (including 6 bns deployed from the coast of Gelein), 33 sqns for a total of 10,000 men

  • Würzburger Tastungen (1 bn)
  • Palatine Iselbach (1 bn)
  • Palatine Sachsen-Meiningen (1 bn)
  • Württemberg Herman (1 bn)
  • Holsteiner Dobrokoffsky (1 bn)
  • Osnabrück Beveren (1 bn)
  • Hessian Spiegel (1 bn)
  • Hessian Leibgarde zu Fuss (1 bn)
  • Saxon Fürstenberg (1 bn)
  • Württemberger Schwartz (1 bn)
  • Danish Württemberg-Oels (1 bn) aka Bonar
  • Danish Sjællandske (1 bn) aka Donop
  • Dutch Colyear (1 bn)
  • Hessian Prinz Wilhelm (1 bn)
  • Dutch Ockinga (1 bn)
  • Dutch Alberti (1 bn)
  • Dutch Crassaw (1 bn)
  • Prussian Markgraf Albrecht (1 bn)
  • Dutch Amama (1 bn)
  • Dutch Villegas (1 bn)
  • ??? Ras Cavalry (1 coy)
  • British Cadogan's Horse (1 coy)
  • British John Hill's Foot (1 bn)
  • British Owen Wynne's Foot (1 bn)
  • Dutch (Scot) Strathnaver (1 bn) should be designated as Campbell in 1709
  • ??? Gram (1 bn)
  • Hanoverian Croix de Fréchapelle Cavalry (4 coys)
  • Hanoverian Hahn Dragoons (2 coys)
  • Hanoverian Ranzow (1 bn)
  • Hanoverian Diepenbroick (1 bn)
  • Hanoverian Ranzow (1 bn) mentioned twice
  • Prussian Ansbach Dragoons (4 coys)
  • Prussian Heiden Cavalry (3 coys)
  • Prussian Grumbkow (1 bn)
  • Prussian Alt-Dohna (1 bn)
  • Prussian Markgraf Albrecht (1 bn)
  • Dutch Tilly Cavalry (6 coys)
  • Dutch Nassau-La Leck Cavalry (6 coys)
  • Dutch Graaf van Erbach Cavalry (6 coys)
  • Holstein-Gottorp Bauditz Dragoons (3 coys)
  • Dutch Oranje-Friesland Cavalry (6 coys)
  • Württemberg Dragoons (2 coys)
  • ??? Fellen Cavalry (2 coys) maybe Imperial Vehlen Dragoons
  • Imperial Pálffy Cuirassiers (2 coys)
  • Imperial Mercy Cuirassier (2 coys)
  • Palatine Hatzfeld Cuirassiers (3 coys)
  • British Prendergast's Foot (1 bn) among the 6 bns under Major-General du Trossel
  • Dutch Amelisweerd (1 bn) among the 6 bns under Major-General du Trossel
  • Palatine Haxthausen (1 bn) among the 6 bns under Major-General du Trossel
  • unidentified hussar unit (2 coys)
  • Hessian Erbprinz Friedrich Dragoons (2 coys)
  • Hessian Boyneburg Horse (3 coys)
  • Palatine Carabiniers (3 coys) aka Venningen
  • Danish Cheuses Cuirassiers (3 coys)
  • Danish 2nd Jyske Cuirassiers (3 coys) aka Brockdorff
  • Dutch Prins van Brandenburg (1 bn) aka Donhof or Denhof among the 6 bns under Major-General du Trossel
  • Dutch Baron van Dongen ter Klencke (1 bn) among the 6 bns under Major-General du Trossel
  • Württemberger Grenadier Battalion Sternfels (1 bn) among the 6 bns under Major-General du Trossel

Notes:

  • the six bns under Major-General du Trossel did not take part in the siege
  • also present at some point during the siege were the Dutch (Liège-Walloon) regiments of Delsuperche and Caris which are specifically mentioned by Quincy Vol. 6, p. 211

Franco-Spanish Order of Battle

Commander-in-Chief: General Grimaldi

Summary: 4,000 men in 15 bns and 280 cvalrymen

  • unidentified French units (3 bns)
  • unidentified Spanish units (9 bns)
  • unidentified Bavarian units (3 bns)
  • unidentified cavalry units (150 men mounted and 130 dismounted)

References

Pelet and François Eugène de Vault: Mémoires militaires relatifs à la Succession d'Espagne sous Louis XIV, Vol. 9, 1855, pp. 87-109

Wikiwand - Belagerung von Mons (1709)

Connaître la wallonie - 20 octobre 1709 : Prise de Mons par les armées alliées

Kartensammlung Moll - Plan du siège de Mons

Phenix UMons - Siège de Mons en 1709

Royal Collection Trust - Plan du Siège de Mons by Eugène Henri Fricx, published in 1710

Acknowledgements

Dinos Antoniadis for the initial version of this article and the accompanying map

Jörg Meier for additional information on the order of battle of the Allies