Obdam, Jacob II van Wassenaer

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Hierarchical Path: War of the Spanish Succession (Main Page) >> Personalities >> Obdam, Jacob II van Wassenaer

Obdam, Jacob II van Wassenaer

Dutch Major-General (1683-1691), Lieutenant-General (1691-1702) General of Cavalry (1702-1703)

born 25 August 1645, Heusden, Dutch Republic

died 24 May 1714, The Hague, Dutch Republic


Jacob II was born on 25 August 1645 in Heusden. He was the son of the renowned Dutch Admiral Jacob van Wassenaer Obdam and of and Agnes van Renesse van der Aa.

Contrarily to his father, Jacob II decided to join the Dutch Army instead of the Dutch Navy.

In 1672, Obdam was promoted to colonel of a cavalry regiment.

In 1683, Obdam was promoted to major-general.

On 24 March 1691, Obdam was promoted to lieutenant-general.

On 19 May 1676, Jacob II married Adriana Sophia Raesfelt in Delden.

In 1701, Obdam acted as Dutch envoy to the Duchy of Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel and to the King of Prussia.

On 9 March 1702, Obdam was promoted to general of cavalry. On 3 August, the Duke of Marlborough, whose army was deployed between Kleine-Brogel and Sint-Huibrechts-Lille, detached General Obdam to accompany the bread-wagons and paymasters arriving from Grave. The French moved to threaten the convoy but Marlborough took position to cover it and instructed Obdam to join him on the heath of Peer. On 23 August, Marlborough resumed his advance southwards, reaching Helchteren. The French and Allied armies deployed face to face and around 2:00 p.m., the Allied artillery opened on a village on the right of the French position. The Allies continued to establish batteries on all their front. The French did the same. At 5:00 p.m., Marlborough directed the whole of his right to fall on the French left but, to his surprise and dismay, the right did not move. General Obdam, who was in command of this right wing, refused to execute his orders. A lively cannonade ensued which was to last till nightfall. Each army lost a few hundreds mean. Tactfully, Marlborough excused Obdam's conduct in his public despatches. On 26 August, Marlborough detached General Obdam (10,000 men) towards Upper Guelderland to make a junction with the two German corps totalling 20 bns and some cavalry who had passed the Rhine at Wesel and Düsseldorf and encamped at Kempen between the Meuse and the Rhine. Obdam planned to lay siege to Venlo. On 27 August, Obdam arrived in front of Venlo and encamped on the west side of the Meuse. In the night of 10 to 11 September, Obdam opened three trenches towards Fort St. Michael (a fort defending Venlo). By 18 September, Obdam had almost reached the glacis of Venlo. He gave orders to make a lodgement to attack the covert way and to join the three trenches by a parallel line. He then stormed Fort St. Michael. On 23 September, Venlo capitulated but Marlborough was not entirely satisfied by Obdam's supervision of the siege. On 24 September, Obdam passed the Meuse and effected a junction with the corps of the Prince of Nassau-Saarbrück and then marched to Stevensweert and Roermond. On 2 October, Stevensweert surrendered. On October 6, Roermond did the same. The Meuse was now cleared of French garrisons up to Maastricht.

Towards the end of May 1703, several Allied corps (Obdam, Spaar, Coehoorn and Tilly) marched towards Brabant and Flanders. By mid-June, the Allied corps encamped at Bergen-op-Zoom and Lillo had effected a junction and taken position, under the command of Coehoorn and Tilly, with their right at Stabroek and their left behind Kapellen, only 12 km north of Antwerp. Obdam soon assumed command of this army (21 bns, 16 sqns). On 24 June, Obdam was still encamped at Stabroek but his corps had been reinforced and now counted 24 bns and 23 sqns. He detached Coehoorn to 's Gravenwezel with instructions to pass to the left bank of the Scheldt and to make a diversion against the Lines of Waasland near Calishoek (unidentified location) while Spaar would lead the main attack on Stekene. On 27 June, Obdam decamped from Stabroek and marched to Ekeren, only 5 km from Bedmar's camp at Merksem. Opdam then encamped with his right at Ekeren and his left at Brasschaat. When Marlborough was informed that Coehoorn had made a raid into Western Flanders, leaving Obdam in the air at Ekeren on the other side of the Scheldt, he said “If Obdam be not on his guard, he will be beaten before we can reach him”. Furthermore, he despatched messengers instantly to give Obdam warning. Indeed, by 30 June, the French had assembled an army of 28 bns and 49 sqns at Deurne. The same day, Obdam was surprised and encircled by this French army (approx. 20,000 men). At the beginning of the ensuing Battle of Ekeren, Obdam estimated that he had no chance to extricate his army from encirclement and fled the battlefield with an escort of 30 men disguised as French. Upon arrival in Breda, Obdam announced the total destruction of his army. However, unknown to him, his army under the command of General Slangenburg had managed to break through the encirclement late in the evening. Obdam's misconduct put an end to his military career. Nevertheless the same year, Obdam was appointed Governor of 's-Hertogenbosch.

From 1708 and 1712, Obdam acted as Dutch ambassador in the Palatinate.

Obdam died in The Hague on 24 May 1714.



The Spanish SuccessionJacob van Wassenaar heer van Obdam

N.B.: the texts covering the period from 1702 to 1703 are mostly derived from our articles depicting the various campaigns, battles and sieges.