1712 – Campaign in the Low Countries

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Hierarchical Path: War of the Spanish Succession (Main Page) >> Campaigns >> 1712 – Campaign in the Low Countries

The campaign lasted from May to October 1712


Since 1708, Prince Eugène de Savoie had assumed command of Imperial troops in the Low countries and, in conjunction with the Duke of Marlborough, had won several victories against the French. However, the attitude of Great Britain changed notably once Charles VI was appointed Emperor. Negotiations between France and Great Britain were initiated in Utrecht in January 1712, even though fighting continued.

After the campaign of 1711, 186 bns and 196 sqns of the Allied army had taken their winter-quarters in the Low Countries under the command of G.d.C. Claude-Fréderic Count Tilly. The Prussians and Palatine contingents spent winter in their homelands. At the beginning of the year, the Imperial troops were still in the Hereditary Lands (Hasslingen Infantry in Silesia, Holstein-Beck Infantry and Baden Infantry in Bavaria, Deutschmeister in Pressburg, Pálffy Cuirassiers, Falkenstein Cuirassiers and Fels Dragoons in Bohemia, Sainte-Croix Cuirassiers, Lobkowitz Cuirassiers and Splényi Hussars in Bavaria, Emanuel von Savoyen Cuirassiers and Savoyen Dragoons in Lower Austria and St. Amour Dragoons in Moravia). The regiments went by Cologne to the Low Countries (Hasslingen Infantry and Deutschmeister Infantry by ship to Cologne), before marching to Orchies.

Any action during winter should be led by the Dutch G.d.C. Count Albemarle.

The fortresses of Arras, Cambrai, Le Quesnoy, Maubeuge and Namur formed the first line of the French winter-quarters. The French commander, the Maréchal de Montesquiou had been instructed to act defensively.

The Allied troops assembled for the campaign of 1712 in the Low Countries consist of 206 bns and 307 sqns.

Origin Battalions Squadrons
Imperialist and Würzburg 16 65
Spaniards (Spanish Netherlands) 8 7
British 22 19
Danish 10 21
Prussians 10 39
Dutch, Scots and Swiss 73 63
Saxons 7 12
Palatines 8 12
Hessians 12 16
Wolfenbüttel 2 --
Holstein-Gottorp 3 8
Mecklenburg 2 --
Anspach 2 4
Württemberg 5 4
Münster 6 2
Osnabrück 1 --
Walloons 3 4
Electorate of Cologne 1 --
East Friesland 1 --
Total 206 307

From this army, 146 bns and 300 sqns would directly take part in the campaign. Prince Eugène intended to concentrate the army on 19 April in the plains of Orchies.


Map of the Spanish Netherlands in 1700 published in Wikimedia Commons by user Rebel Redcoat and released in the public domain


Winter Operations

In the first months of 1712, the Allies tried to threaten the French depots and to cut supply lines.

At the beginning of February, a detachment of 600 foot and 800 horse marched from Mons by way of Bavay to Landrecies to burn the French magazines there. The action failed.

On 9 February, the Allied commander of Douai, Lieutenant-General Hompesch, advanced in the direction of Arras with 200 grenadiers, 600 horse and 15 little mortars.

On 10 February at 2:00 a.m., Hompesch reached Arras and occupied the suburbs unnoticed. He opened against the fortress with his mortars but his small detachment was so heavily shelled from the fortress that he had to retreat.

On 1 March, Albemarle wanted to make another attempt against Arras with more troops. With around 20,000 soldiers, 2,000 workers, 20 mortars and guns and 300 ammunition wagons.

On 2 March, Albemarle arrived in front of Arras. The workers immediately built entrenchments for 8 guns and 6 mortars between Ronville and the citadel. The Maréchal de Montesquiou, who was in Arras, alarmed the garrison and made a sortie with 300 grenadiers against Ronville. The grenadiers burned some houses in the suburbs but were driven back by Albemarle's troops. Albemarle burned the magazines.

In the night of 2 to 3 March, Albemarle burned most of the supplies before retiring.

On 4 March, the Dutch General Count Dohna advanced with 15,000 men concentrated near Binche by way of the Bonne Espérance Abbey towards the Sambre River to interrupt shipping and destroy the nearby crossing. Some 150 British soldiers captured the Castle of Labussiére, while the rest of the troops crossed the river. The French abandoned their outposts and also Beaumont and Thuin. The Allies destroyed the bridge near Erquelinnes and the locks at Merbes and Labussiére.

On 5 March, Dohna's troops returned to their quarters.

On 7 March, Montesquiou concentrated 6,000 foot and 18 sqns under M. de Sailans near Charleroi and 10,000 men near Maubeuge , in preparation for the capture of Binche. However, his engineers told him that they would need three days to take necessary steps for an attack. Montesquiou expected a rapid intervention of the Allies posted at Mons and he decided to give up his plan for the siege of Binche. His troops returned to their quarters.

On 11 March, Montesquiou marched to Cambrai, where he reinforced the garrison with 22 bns and 2 cavalry sqns.

On 15 March, Montesquiou marched to Arras, where he reinforced the garrison with 22 bns and 2 cavalry sqns.

In mid-March, the Allied garrison of Binche evacuated the place after having demolished most of the fortifications.

On 22 March, the Allied garrison of Binche arrived at Mons.

Albemarle now intended to undertake an action on the Sensée River.

On 28 March, an Allied detachment of 800 foot and 100 horse advanced from Douai to the Sensée River and started to build a bridge, under the protection of 300 men, who had entrenched themselves in a village on the other bank. Montesquiou immediately sent 6,000 men from Arras, 1,000 from Bapaume and 3,000 from Cambrai led by the Comte de Broglie.

On 30 March at night, Broglie's Corps arrived at the village of Dury. Broglie detached Colonel Linck with 1,000 foot to attack the Allies in the rear. Even if the Allies had been reinforced by Savary's 200 horse, they could not resist the superior French forces. Savary wanted to retreat to Douai, but was surprised by Linck's detachment, In the heavy fighting that ensued, the Allies lost around 600 men which were taken prisoners, the rest was killed or wounded. The French destroyed the bridge erected by the Allies.

On 9 April, the Allies held a council of war where it was decided to concentrate the army on the Sensée River.

On 11 April, Albemarle assembled 30 bns and 53 sqns at Orchies, crossed the Montinal stream on a bridge recently built and advanced in three columns by way of Aubencheul-au-Bac and Arleux to Lécluse on the Sensée River. However, Montesquiou already occupied the region between the Scarpe and the Sensée with 72 bns.

In the night of 11 to 12 April, Montesquiou reinforced his troops on the Sensée with 6,000 men sent from Arras and Cambrai. French troops destroyed all bridges and built entrenchments. Albemarle had no choice but to retreat without giving battle.

On 14 April, Albemarle's troops arrived at Douai. On the same day, the Dutch General Count Tilly arrived at Douai with orders to cease all operations against the Sensée. Albemarle then encamped east of Douai, with his right wing at Déchy, his left wing at Montigny and his headquarters in Anchin.

G.d.C Prince of Hessen-Kassel took command from Albemarle.

On 21 April, the Maréchal de Villars assumed command of the French army, replacing the Maréchal de Montesquiou.

On 28 April, Prince Eugène joined his army assembling at Orchies.

On 29 April, the Prince of Hessen-Kassel reconnoitred the region around Bouchain.

Later on, the Prince of Hessen-Kassel accompanied by the Dutch G.d.C von Dopf and some others reconnoitred the region along the Sensée up to Aubencheul.

By the end of April, the French infantry was deployed along the Scarpe and Sensée rivers, between Montenescourt and Etrun, while the cavalry was posted behind Doullens, Bapaume and south and east of Cambrai.

On 3 May in the morning, as result of these reconnaissances, General Count Hompesch marched to Arleux with part of the garrison of Douai, 4 guns and many unskilled workers. From there, Hompesch began to fire at the French redoubts at Palluel. He also cleared the Moulinet which was filled up. The river route was then occupied and secured. At the same time, the Prince of Hessen-Kassel led 40 bns and 8 sqns with 20 guns and 6,000 unskilled workers under the command of General Fagel to Bouchain. Major-General Prince von Württemberg followed with 4,000 horses. The troops of the Prince of Hessen-Kassel crossed the Scheldt on bridges built near Neuville, while Württemberg observed the French on the Sensée. Fagel occupied Hordain, Lieu-Saint-Amand and Neuville and encamped. Villars immediately occupied the Line of the Scheldt at Etrun with 20 bns and the region between Cambrai and Marcoing with the Maison du Roi, the Gendarmerie and 9 cavalry rgts. However, when he learned that Fagel had stopped, he returned his troops to their garrisons.

Opening of the Campaign

Even though Prince Eugène had planned to assemble his army at Orchies by 19 April, the march of some units was delayed, the last would arrive at Orchies only on 23 May.

On 7 May, the British commander-in-chief, the Duke of Ormond, arrived at Orchies. From the beginning, the relationship between Prince Eugène and the Duke of Ormond was not so good. The Duke of Ormond had the order from London to subordinate all troops in British pay to his own command, thus creating two distinct armies.

The Allied armies in the Low Countries totalled around 120,000 men (Imperial, British, Dutch and Danish troops and contingents from various German principalities). Under the command of Prince Eugène were the Imperial, Dutch, Spanish, Palatine, Hessian, Württemberg and Münster contingents, totalling 77 bns and 162 sqns; under the command of the Duke of Ormond, the British, Danish, Palatine, Prussian, Hanoverian, Holstein and Anspach contingents, totalling 69 bns and 137 sqns.

Between 19 and 21 May, both Allied armies reached the camp south of the Scarpe River with their right wing (Imperial troops) near Gœulzin, and their left near Hélesmes. Fagel's Corps was on right bank of the Scheldt River, near the Fortress of Bouchain.

On 23 May, the siege artillery of the Allies arrived from Tournai. A bridgehead with two bridges of boats was established near Denain and eight bridges on the Scheldt between Neuville and Lourches. The Allies had 146 bns, 300 sqns and 150 guns while the French could oppose them only 131 bns, 256 sqns and 100 guns only. Prince Eugène desperately wanted to fight a battle.

Order of Battle
French army in the Low Countries in May 1712

By 24 May, the French army was completely assembled. King Louis XIV considered the protection of Cambrai and Arras to be the main task of the French army. The views of the King, Villars and Montesquiou for the coming campaign differed greatly.

On the same day, the Duke of Ormond received orders from London to avoid a battle or siege until further notice. The duke informed Prince Eugène of these new orders.

On 25 May, Villars was informed that the Allies were building bridges. He moved his troops closer to the Scheldt River.

On 26 May at 4:00 a.m., the Allies set off from their camps, crossed the Scheldt River. Prince Eugène's Army camped on the right wing with its headquarters in Haspres, and the Duke of Ormond on the left wing with his headquarters in Solesmes. Fagel's Corps (40 bns and 800 horse) joined Eugène's Army. The Dutch General of Cavalry Count Albemarle remained at Denain with his corps (14 bns and 30 sqns) to guard the line of communication with the large magazines in Marchiennes.

The French were informed by St. John about Ormond's new orders from London and the duke assured Villars that he would abide by these orders.

On 28 May, Prince Eugène sent G.d.C. Count Fels with quartermasters Cadogan and Dopf and 4,000 horses to reconnoitre the region between the source of the Scheldt and the Sambre to determine if the area would be suitable for a battle.

On 29 May, Prince Eugène held a council of war and declared that the current position of the French would be extremely favourable for an attack. When the Duke of Ormond was asked for his opinion, he had to admit that the troops under his command would not take part in any battle. Prince Eugène was very disappointed and reported on the new situation to the Vienna Court.

Prince Eugene then tried to obtain the transfer of the units in Dutch pay from Ormond's Army to his own. Under pressure from the Dutch deputies, Ormond finally agreed to participate with his troops in a siege.

On 30 May, quartermasters-generals Cadogan and Dopf at the head of a party of hussars attacked a detachment of French cavalry near Cateau-Cambrésis, killing 30 and capturing many prisoners.

On 5 June, Lieutenant-General Count Hompesch sent Colonel St. Amour and Count Splényi with 400 horse and 200 hussars to Vitry. This detachment had the order to surprise French foragers. However, two deserters informed the French and General Broglie prepared an ambush. Only Colonel Splenyi with most of his hussars and 100 other horse managed to escape and return to Douai. Colonel St. Amour and Major Petrasch of Lobkowitz Cuirassiers with 240 horse were taken prisoners, and 2 officers and 40 men of Lobkowitz Cuirassiers and Emanuel von Savoyen Cuirassiers were killed.

On 6 June, the Allies held another council of war where it was decided to lay siege to the Fortress of Le Quesnoy and, after its capture, to the Fortress of Landrecies.

On 7 June, Prince Eugène retreated to a new camp, establishing his right wing between Noyelles and Haspres, and his left from Cateau-Cambrésis to Landrecies.

Prince Eugène then prepared a foray into France. Major-General Grovesteyn was allocated 500 hussars and 1,120 horse for this enterprise:

  • Saxe-Gotha Prinz Wilhelm Dragoons (200 men) under Major Wilhelmsdorf
  • Dutch Dopf Dragoons (150 men) under Lieutenant-Colonel Lahaut
  • Dutch Garde Dragonders (150 men) under Lieutenant-Colonel Lottum
  • Austrian d'Audignies Dragoons (120 men) Walloon unit in Austrian service
  • Dutch Oranje-Friesland Cavalry (100 men) under Colonel Cavendish
  • Dutch Albemarle Cavalry (200 men) under Major Lalecq and Normann aka Karabiniers
  • Dutch Grovesteyn Cavalry (200 men)
  • Austrian Kollonits Hussars (100 men)
  • Austrian Splényi Hussars (100 men)
  • Dutch Coilin Lambert Free Dragoons (100 men)

The order of battle of Grovesteyn's detachment was later modified. Albemarle Cavalry was replaced by 100 carabiniers (note: Albemarle Cavalry was also known as Karabiniers…) and part of the Dutch Glinstra Cavalry (100 men) and the number of hussars was reduced from 500 to only 300.

On 9 June, Major-General Grovesteyn received the order to cross the Oise River, march to Crécy-sur-Serre, cross the Aise River near Berry and march directly to Reims. He was instructed to take hostages, raise contributions, and spread confusion everywhere.

On 10 June, Grovesteyn's detachment left the camp of the Allies and marched by way of Crécy-sur-Serre to Reims. From there, Grovesteyn sent a small hussar detachment 75 km from Paris, while he roamed Champagne. He made great booty everywhere and burned down several villages. Afterwards, he went to the dioceses of Verdun, Toul and Messins where he also raised contributions. After his incursion, Grovesteyn returned to Trarbach with 300 hostages and a lot of cattle. Maréchal Villars had sent some troops to follow Grovesteyn's detachment, but they arrived too late.

On 12 June, the first pieces of siege artillery arrived in front of Le Quesnoy. The Allies then undertook the siege of Le Quesnoy, which would surrender on 4 July. The fortress was defended by General de La Badie with 10 bns and 1 dragoon rgt.

Maréchal de Villars wrote to Duke Ormond to protest and accused him of having disregarded the orders of the London Court.

On 22 June, the conditions under which Queen Anne would agree to an armistice arrived in Paris. King Louis XIV. undersigned it immediately and sent a copy to the Maréchal de Villars, who informed the Duke of Ormond. The London Court had given Ormond the order to occupy Dunkerque.

On 24 June, the British General Lumley arrived at the camp of Prince Eugène and told him that the Duke of Ormond had been ordered, with all troops in British pay, to occupy Dunkerque. Nevertheless, Prince Eugène managed to persuade the generals of the Dutch troops in British pay to remain with him.

Villars informed Ormond that Dunkerque would not be evacuated unless all the troops under his command (including foreign troops in British pay) would march with him.

Under these circumstances, Prince Eugène decided to continue the siege and Le Quesnoy and to capture the fortress, in order to establish communication between Denain and the future camp necessary for the planned siege of Landrecies. Meanwhile, the Imperial hussars continued to harass the French.

The London Court informed the States General of the Dutch Republic that if the troops in British pay did not accompany the Duke of Ormond to Dunkerque, payments to them would cease. The Dutch government informed Prince Eugène that, even under these circumstances, they would allow their troops to participate in the operations..

On 4 July, La Badie capitulated at Le Quesnoy.

On 5 July

  • Allies
    • The Allies occupied Le Quesnoy.
    • An Allied detachment (400 heavy cavalry and 300 hussars) led by Colonel Count St. Amour and Baron Splényi reconnoitred on right bank of the Scarpe towards Arras.
  • French
    • Villars informed King Louis XIV of the results of his war council. The opinion of the generals, including Villars, differed from that of the King.

On 7 July, Lieutenant-General Comte Broglie marched with 1,200 horses against the Imperial detachment and surprised it. Colonel St. Amour, 16 officers and 240 troopers were taken prisoners and 40 troopers killed. Baron Splényi took refuge in Douai with the rest of the detachment.

On 9 July, Eugène held a council of war with the Dutch deputies, where it was decided, to lay siege to Landrecies, and – if possible – to give battle to the French. The Dutch representatives agreed.

On 10 July, Prince Eugène once again gathered the generals of the British-Dutch mercenary troops to convince them to join him for the planned siege of Landrecies. After a long discussion, the generals agreed to do so.

On 12 July, Villars was informed about the armistice between Great Britain and France

Order of Battle
Allied army in the Low Countries in July 1712

On 16 July

  • Allies
    • Prince Eugène's Army crossed the Écaillon River and encamped between the Écaillon and the Selle to prepare the siege of Landrecies. Prince Eugène knew about the Duke of Ormond's contacts with Villars and had therefore no confidence in his behaviour. When the army passed near Ormond's camp, the mercenary troops hitherto under Ormond's command, with the exception of 1 bn and 4 sqns of Holstein-Gotttorp and 2 sqns of Waleff Dragoons, joined Prince Eugène. His army now numbered 122 bns and 273 sqns.

On 17 July

  • Allies
    • The British Contingent under the Duke of Ormond left the Allied army and marched to Avesnes-le-Sec near Noyelles, on its way to Dunkerque. Once encamped, Duke Ormond let his troops know about the armistice between Great Britain and France. The troops were not pleased, many of the soldiers changed to Prince Eugène's army and the commander of the Wallef Dragoons explained that he would join Prince Eugène's Army if the payment of his troops would be guaranteed.
  • French
    • Villars was informed of the blockade of Landrecies.
    • Villars received a letter form Louis XIV in which the latter assured him of a free hand for further decisions.
    • Villars decided to concentrate the army behind Scheldt River and then march towards the Selle River.

On 18 July, the Duke of Anhalt-Dessau undertook the Siege of Landrecies.

On 19 July

  • French
    • The troops left the camp at Noyelles, crossed Scheldt and encamped between the Beaurevoir Forest and Vencelles.
  • Allies
    • The Duke of Ormond marched to Warneton on the Lys River.
    • Prince Eugène was informed about the movement of the French army, and several scouts and captured Frenchmen gave him more details. He concluded from these various reports that the French intended to relieve Landrecies.

On 20 July

  • French
    • The French army left Cambrai and encamped in front of Eugène's Army.
    • In the afternoon, Villars and Montesquiou reconnoitred the positions of the Allies on the left bank of the Sambre. He found the position unassailable and informed the king. The latter wanted to attack the Allies in any case. After a consultation with Montesquiou, Villars decided to cut the lines of supply of the Allies between Denain and Marchiennes. The plan called for 30 bns and 30 sqns to attack Denain, while the main army would make demonstrations against the left wing of the Allies. If this attempt failed then, Villars would focus on the relief of Landrecies.
    • However, when Villars learned that the Allies had returned to their old camp with their right wing, this plan was abandoned. Villars decided now to cross the Sambre River and to give battle on the right bank.
  • Allies
    • Prince Eugène ordered to erect entrenchments on the left bank of the Sambre River between Ors and Bousies and for the next movements of the French.

On 22 July

  • French
    • Villars' Army crossed the Selle River and encamped between Mazinghien and Cateau-Cambrésis.
  • Allies
    • Prince Eugène recognized Villars indecisiveness and adopted a wait-and-see attitude.
    • 12 bns with several guns under the command of General Fagel remained in the nearly completed entrenchments between the Sambre River and the sources of the Selle.

On 23 July

  • Allies
    • Prince Eugène was informed that the French had crossed the Selle River.
    • Ormond occupied Ghent and the 2 Swiss bns in Dutch pay garrisoning the city left.
  • French
    • Villars finally decided to give battle with his whole army and marched with 133 bns and 200 sqns towards Denain.

On 24 July

  • Battle of Denain
    • The French vanguard threw three bridges over the Scheldt near Neuville.
    • General Albemarle was informed too late.
    • Part of the French garrison at Valenciennes, led by the Prince de Tingry, marched against Denain to support the French attack.
    • Prince Eugene marched immediately from Landrecies towards Denain.
    • Meanwhile, the French attacked Albemarle's entrenchments. In the ensuing Battle of Denain, Albemarle's troops fled over the bridge which broke.
    • Arriving too late, the troops of Prince Eugène could not intervene in the battle and retired to the old camp.
    • After the French victory, Villars immediately sent the Marquis de Nangis to the King with the good news.

After this defeat, Prince Eugène concentrated his army in a large camp, where he remained until 25 July. The line of communication with his magazines in Marchiennes was now cut, and the last convoy bringing bread to the army was captured by Broglie's troops.

On 25 July

  • French
    • Villars believed that after his defeat at Denain, Prince Eugène would raise the siege of Landrecies, but he was wrong.
    • Villars launched an offensive on the Scarpe River. General Albergotti with 1 infantry brigade and 6 guns advanced to capture Hasnon,Saint-Amand (Saint-Amand-les-Eaux), Thun (Thun Saint-Amand) and Mortagne (Mortagne-du-Nord).
    • Broglie blockaded Marchiennes and vainly summoned Berckhoffer to surrender. The French began the siege.
    • The Maréchal de Montesquiou reinforced the siege corps before Marchiennes with 37 bns, 16 heavy guns and 4 mortars were sent from Valenciennes. Montesquiou led and attack against the Saint-Amand and Douai gates
  • Allies
    • Prince Eugène held a war council with General Claude-Frédéric Count Tilly and the Dutch deputies. He persuaded the Allied general to continue the siege of Landrecies.
    • Marchiennes was a very important place for the Allies. It was the main magazine and part of heavy artillery was assembled there. The Allies flooded the surroundings of Marchiennes. The garrison of 200 foot was reinforced by 1 Prussian bn, and 5 Dutch bns and 3 sqns of Schellart Cavalry with 23 guns and 6 mortars under General Berckhoffer.

On 26 July

  • French
    • Before Marchiennes, the Maréchal de Montesquiou attacked the redoubts along Scarpe River with 2,000 grenadiers.
    • General Broglie occupied Anchin.
  • Allies
    • The army changed its position and had now its right wing south of Bavay, and its left near Poix, north of Fontaine-au-bois. The siege corps remained in its positions.
    • Fagel with his 12 bns joined the main army.
    • The food for the army now had to be delivered from Ghent, Tournai and Bruxelles by way of Mons and Bavay. Bavay was reinforced by 1.000 infantry with 2 guns, The first supply convoy went from Mons to Givry, escorted by General Grovesteyn's cavalry and 200 foot.
    • Allies patrols spotted some movements of French troops around Valenciennes, and the Prince of Hessen-Kassel marched with 40 sqns to Malplaquet to protect the convoy of 800 wagons with bread, flour and other goods necessary.

On 27 July

  • French
    • The siege corps opened the trench in front of Marchiennes and erected batteries for 20 artillery pieces (24-pdr guns, 12-pdr guns and mortars).

On 28 July

  • French
    • The batteries opened on Marchiennes and set the place on fire.

On 30 July

  • French
    • Villars arrived at Marchiennes with 11 bns. The batteries intensified their fire and opened a breach in the ramparts. At 5:00 p.m., General Berckhoffer capitulated and the garrison (4,500 Imperialists, 1,500 Dutch, 800 sailors and 800 sick and wounded) became prisoners of war. The French also captured around 100 guns and 100 vessels with food etc.
    • With the King's agreement, Villars now decided to lay siege to Douai, to force Prince Eugène to abandon the siege of Landrecies.
  • Allies
    • The Allied supply convoy reached Le Quesnoy without problems.

Villars's army was divided in two parts on Scheldt River near Denain and on the Scarpe River near Douai. 20,000 workers from France prepared a huge entrenchment. In Fact, Villars was using the same position that the Allies had used during the siege of Douai in 1710.

On 2 August

  • Allies
    • With Douai threatened, Prince Eugène was forced to raise the siege of Landrecies. His army marched to Taisnière.

On 3 August

  • Allies
    • The army marched to Bélian where it encamped with its right wing south of Mons and its left near Havay. Prince Eugène's headquarter were established in Bélian, and Tilly's in Nouvelles.

On 4 August

  • Allies
    • The army crossed the Trouille and Haine rivers and marched by way of Cambron to a camp near Leuze (Leuze-en-Hainaut) on the plain of Cateau.
    • Prince Eugène was informed about the blockade of Douai.

On 6 August, Villars posted 30 bns and 60 sqns in a camp, with their right wing at Anchin, and their left at Écaillon near Lewarde,

On 7 August

  • French
    • 30 additional bns arrived at the camp near Anchin. The crossings of the Deule River at Auby, Pont-à-Sault and Pont-à-Vedin; and those of the Scarpe River at Râches, Anchin, Marchiennes, Hasnon and Saint-Amand were occupied.
  • Allies
    • The Allies crossed the Scheldt near Tournai.

On 8 August, the Allies reached the region of Lille and encamped near Seclin until 11 August. However, Prince Eugène decided to disrupt the siege of Douai. A direct attack was impossible, because the Allies had only 100 bns and 250 sqns available.

On 9 August, the Prince von Hessen and Quartermaster-General Dopf with 1,000 grenadiers and 1,500 horse reconnoitred the vicinity of Râches.

By 11 August, Villars had gathered all available troops (164 bns, 256 sqns) in preparation for the Siege of Douai.

On 12 August

  • Allies
    • Prince Eugène marched with his infantry, 30–40 sqns, 156 field guns and 20 heavy guns to Raimbeaucourt to prepare the relief of Douai, the rest of the cavalry was left at Seclin. General Count Vehlen with 20 sqns and Hessian and Palatine infantry took position near Carvin, while the rest of the infantry had its right wing at Raimbeaucourt. Prince Eugène established his headquarters in Château du Liez.
    • The Dutch generals did not believe that a successful action could be undertaken against Douai and Eugène could not persuade them. Under these circumstances, the relief of Douai was impossible.

On 14 August, the French began the siege of Douai under the supervision of Lieutenant-General Albergotti while de Valori led the engineers and the Chevalier Destouches, the artillery.

In mid-August, the Allies tried to supply Tournai from Ghent.

The French Colonel Pasteur was sent with a detachment to raise contributions in Brabant.

On 26 August, as a result of the reluctant attitude of the Dutch and the favourable position of the enemies, Prince Eugene returned to his camp near Seclin.

After the capture of Douai, Villars intended to besiege Le Quesnoy. When he heard about the 30 Allied sqns marching towards Bruxelles, he thought that the Allies intended to retrieve the heavy artillery stored in Le Quesnoy.

On 27 August

  • French
    • Pasteur returned safely to Namur with 30 hostages and a large booty.
    • Villars sent Lieutenant-General Count Coigny with the cavalry reserve to thwart the intention of the Allies. He also sent Picardie infantry brigade with 6 bns and 6 sqns to Denain to support Coigny.

On 28 August

  • Allies
    • A detachment of 5,000 men was sent to Menin to protect the supply convoy destined for Tournai.
    • Prince Eugène detached 30 sqns under Lieutenant-General Vietinghoff to Brabant to chase the detachment of the French Colonel Pasteur from the region. However, Vietinghoff arrived after Pasteur's withdrawal.
    • Prince Eugène was informed that Fort Scarpe had surrendered and that Villars now planned to besiege Le Quesnoy and Bouchain. The garrisons of Lille and Béthune were reinforced by 11 bns

On 30 August

  • Allies
    • Vietinghoff returned to Bruxelles after his unsuccessful mission.
    • Captain Türk from the Kollonits Hussars captured a French foraging party (1 captain, 15 dragoons and 104 horses) near Béthune.

On 2 September, as the Dutch refused to take part in further ventures against the French, Prince Eugène sent half of the army, led by Count Tilly towards Tournai.

On 3 September, the second half of the Allied army, led by Prince Eugene, marched towards Tournai. The entire army then encamped between Pon-à-Bouvines and Tournai.

On 6 September, Villars was informed that Prince Eugène intended to prevent the siege of Le Quesnoy and that his army was preparing to advance from Tournai.

On 7 September, Villars sent 30 bns to the Scheldt River and 30 bns to Denain.

On 8 September

  • French
    • Lieutenant-General Saint-Frémont received the order to blockade Le Quesnoy with 48 bns and 54 sqns.
    • Albergotti remained before Douai with 50 bns and 33 sqns to finish the siege.
    • Douai capitulated to the French and the garrison surrendered as prisoners of war.
  • Allies
    • Eugène's Army reached the lines extending from Cambron to Soignies, where Prince Eugène learned of the capitulation of Douai.

On 9 September, Prince Eugène and the Prince von Hessen reconnoitred the region around Bavay and learned, that the French army was already posted between Le Quesnoy and the Hongneau stream. Eugène led 40 sqns in the plains of Sars (Sars-la-Bruyère).

On 10 September

  • French
    • Villars crossed the Scheldt River and encamped behind the Hongneau stream to cover the siege of Le Quesnoy.
  • Allies
    • Eugène's Army crossed the Trouille stream and encamped between Saint-Ghislain and Gognies-Chaussée. Eugène still wanted to offer battle.

The French had pre-empted the Allies at Le Quesnoy. Prince Eugène tried again to convince the Dutch field deputies to give battle but they once more rejected his proposal.

After the long sojourn of the Allied army in the region, no food was available in the vicinity of Le Quesnoy and General Count Broglie had to send with 2,500 foot and 1,500 horse to forage on the banks of the Scheldt and Haine river in the vicinity of Condé. Prince Eugène tried to harass these foraging parties as much as he could.

On 16 September, Major-General Count Althann launched a raid with 1,200 horse, 600 grenadiers and 200 hussars in the region of Condé. He clashed with a French detachment of 600 grenadiers and 8 cavalry units and attacked immediately. The French lost 60 men taken prisoners and 300 horses, around 300 French were killed. Althann lost 14 men killed and 12 wounded.

On 18 September

  • French
    • Without waiting for the fall of Le Quesnoy, Villars made preparations to lay siege to Bouchain.
  • Allies
    • Major-General Count Schönborn advanced north of the Haine stream with 1,500 horse, 600 grenadiers and some hussars, but the French had already completed their forages in this region. He sent a cavalry brigade to Haspre and a detachment on the Sensée River to cut the line of communication of the Allies with Bouchain.

At the end of September, Prince Eugène sent his proposal about winter-quarters to the Dutch States General at The Hague. As expected, principalities of Brabant and Hainaut and Bishoprics of Cologne and Liège rejected the proposals. Prince Eugène threatened to return to the Hereditary Lands with the Imperial troops. After long discussions, all parties finally agreed.

On 1 October, the Marquis de Conflans undertook the Siege of Bouchain with 22 bns and 26 sqns.

Map of Fort Knocke – Source: Harald Skala Collection

On 4 October, the Allied commander of Ostende, Brigadier Caris, who had been informed that the garrison of Fort Knocke was very weak, sent Lieutenant-Captain La Rue with 189 men to make themselves master of this fort. In the morning when the gates were opened, they entered the fort and overwhelmed the guards. The rest of the garrison surrendered. The Allies captured 9 guns, 7,000 muskets and other material. Brigadier Caris then sent 1 engineer with 52 men to Fort Knocke to repair it.

On 5 October, Le Quesnoy opened its gates to the French.

On 6 October, when the French governor of Ypres learned of the fall of Fort Knocke, he appeared in front of the fort with 2,000 men and summoned La Rue to surrender but the latter refused. The French general then vainly tried to bribe La Rue.

On 7 October, the Allied commander of Lille, the Prince of Holstein sent 15 bns to support the small garrison of Fort Knocke and the French retired to Ypres.

On 19 October, the Fortress of Bouchain capitulated after a siege of 18 days.

At the end of October, the Allies left their camp at Mons and marched to their winter-quarters. The Imperial troops went to Brabant, Hainaut Cologne and Liège; the Hanoverian troops to Ath, Ghisdlain, Roermond and Maastricht; the Danes to Lille, Courtai and Mechelen; and the Prussians to Cologne. The rest of the country was occupied by Dutch troops except Ghent and Bruges, where the British troops spent the winter. The Hessians returned to their home land. Prince Eugène went to Bruxelles.

On 22 November, Prince Eugène left Bruxelles for Vienna and G.d.C Count Fels assumed interim command.


Edler von Eberswald, H.: Spanischer Successions-Krieg. Feldzug 1712 Series II, Vol. V, Vienna 1889

Wengen. F.: Geschichte des k. u. k. 12. Dragoner-Regiments Prinz Eugen v. Savoyen, Brandeis, 1879


Harald Skala for the initial version of this article