1712 – Second Siege of Le Quesnoy

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Hierarchical Path: War of the Spanish Succession (Main Page) >> Sieges >> 1712 – Second Siege of Le Quesnoy

The siege lasted from 8 September to 3 October 1712

Introduction

From July 1712, the French took advantage of the neutrality of the British to turn all their might against the rest of the Allied army which was under the command of Prince Eugène de Savoie. On 24 July, they defeated an isolated corps in the Battle of Denain. Gradually, they recaptured the fortresses lost recently: Marchiennes and Douai, which capitulated on 9 September. The siege of the latter fortress was not yet completed when the Maréchal de Villars decided to lay siege to Le Quesnoy.

Map

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The garrison of Le Quesnoy consisted of 6 bns (see the section Order of battle for details) and 120 artillerymen, bombardiers and miners for a total of 2,020 men.

The fortress was equipped with 56 guns and 20 mortars. The commander of the place was Major-General Ivoy, a skilled and experienced officer. There was enough ammunition and other necessary provisions available.

Description

On 8 September, the French siege corps (48 bns and 54 sqns) led by Lieutenant-General Saint-Frémont started with the erection of a circumvallation line. The siege artillery (72 guns, 42 mortars) along with 30,000 pounds of gun powder and 24,000 projectiles were sent from the fortresses of Condé, Valenciennes, Maubeuge, Landrecies and Douai.

The Maréchal de Villars reconnoitred the surroundings of the fortress several times, before ordering to attack the part between the Saint-Martin Gate and Valenciennes Gate.

On 14 September, the circumvallation was completed.

By 18 September, all the siege artillery was arrived.

In the night of 18 to 19 September, the French opened trenches in three direction: on the left against the César lunette, in the centre against the Valenciennes Gate and on the right against the Saint-Martin Gate.

On 25 September, 49 guns began firing on the Fortress of Le Quesnoy.

On 28 September, 10 guns and 12 mortars were added to the French batteries. After that, the cannon of the fortress fell completely silent.

On 29 September, the Maréchal de Villars arrived and ordered the assault: on the right 8 grenadier coys led by Lieutenant-Generals Marquis Coigny and Saint-Savin; in the centre 7 grenadier coys led by Lieutenant-Generals Galmoy and Marnay; and on the left, 6 grenadier coys led by Brigadiers de Maillebois and de Boufflers. All these attacks were supported by the rest of the battalions, acting as reserve. The Maréchal de Villars with engineer commander Valori and General Vallières were between the left and centre of these attacks. The attackers detonated four mines of which two failed. Most of the defenders abandoned their positions without opposing any resistance and took refuge inside the fortress.

On 1 October, the French erected two batteries inside the covert way.

On 2 October, the two new French batteries opened.

On 3 October, Villars made preparations to storm the fortress. In the afternoon, Major-General d'Ivoy asked to surrender with "military honours" but Villars refused to grant these honours. From the 2,020 men garrison 1,500 were taken prisoners, and around 500 remained in the fortress hospitals wounded or ill.

The French captured 102 guns, 47 mortars, 75,000 pounds gun powder, 9,000 pounds lead, 4,200 bombs, 8,000 grenades and other military material worth of 3 millions Francs. Part of the captured guns was used during the siege of Bouchain, part was transported to Valenciennes, and the rest remained in Le Quesnoy.

General Valori was appointed fortress commander. He immediately began to repair the damage to the fortifications.

Order of Battle

Allied Order of Battle

Commander of the place: Major-General Ivoy

Summary: 6 bns for a total of 2,020 men

Infantry (6 bns)

  • Dutch (Swiss) Sturler (1 bn)
  • Dutch (Scot) Wood (1 bn)
  • Dutch (Scot) Douglas (1 bn)
  • Dutch Ivoy (1 bn)
  • Dutch Els (1 bn)
  • Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel Erbprinz August Wilhelm or Bevern (1 bn)

Artillery

  • 120 artillerymen, bombardiers and miners

French Order of Battle

Commander of the siege corps: Lieutenant-General Saint-Frémont

Summary: 40 bns, 54 sqns

References

Eberswald, H. S. v.: Spanischer Successions-Krieg Feldzug 1712, II. ser. V. file, Vienna 1889

Acknowledgement

Harald Skala for the initial version of this article