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The Battle of Blenheim 1704

A period account by Dr. Hare (Hilldale College, U.S.A)

It had been agreed that the Duke of Marlborough should cover the siege of Ingolstadt whilst it was carried on by Prince Louis of Baden. But as the Duke's army was much inferior to that of the enemy, he resolved to call in all his out-parties, and also to look for a position stronger and more convenient than that which he now occupied. For this end he went out early in the morning of the 7th August, accompanied by Prince Eugene and several other general officers, as well to examine the avenues to the camp as to view the ground betwixt it and the river Lech. His Grace did not return until very late at night, when he gave orders for the army to march the next morning nearer to Nieuburg. Accordingly it marched on the 8th to Sandizel, whence it advanced the next day (9th) to Exheim; and on this day Prince Louis took away twenty-three battalions and thirty-one squadrons to form the siege of Ingolstadt.

The Duke now received intelligence that the enemy's whole army was in motion towards Lavingen and Dillingen with intent to pass the Danube; and Prince Eugene, who had taken leave of his Grace in order to return to his camp, came back about two hours after with a confirmation of this intelligence. Having conferred some time together, the Prince then went back to his army, encamped between Munster and Erlinghoffen, with the river Kessel before it. His Highness was followed at break of day by a detachment from my Lord Duke's army of twenty-seven Imperial squadrons, commanded by the Duke-Regent of Wirtemberg. His Grace also detached Gen. Churchill with twenty battalions, and ordered them with the train of artillery to pass the Danube over the bridge of boats, which had been laid a little below the confluence of the Lech with that river, over against the village of Marxheim.

Both these detachments were ordered to make the best of their way to join Prince Eugene, who, as soon as he arrived at his camp, ordered several battalions to march towards the Schellenberg and to repair the intrenchments which had been taken from the enemy on the 2nd of July. The rest of his army, with all the baggage, followed thither; his Highness remaining behind himself, however, with twenty squadrons of dragoons as well to observe the enemy as with the intention of maintaining the camp he was in, if it should be found possible to do so.

In the meantime the Duke of Marlborough marched with the troops that remained with him and encamped with the right near Standa and the left extending beyond Rain, which was in front. Near that place was the cloister of Schonefeldt, where the Duke took his quarters, and from thence he sent to inform Prince Louis of the enemy's movements and of all the detachments he had made, and assured his Highness that he should take care to keep himself always between the enemy and the siege of Ingolstadt, requesting him at the same time to relieve Brigadier Baldwyn and send him forthwith to join his Grace at Donawert. It was late before the Duke gave out any orders that night, being in hourly expectation of receiving further advices from Prince Eugene of the motions of the enemy. About eleven at night an express arrived from his Highness that the enemy were marching directly towards him. Upon this his Grace immediately sent orders to Gen. Churchill to march as soon as it was light with the twenty battalions and the train of artillery over the Schellenberg, and commanded the second line of foot to cross the Danube and follow the same route. His Grace with the first line of foot and all the cavalry passed the Lech at Rain and the Danube at Donawert, and they all came in sight of Prince Eugene's camp about nine the next morning. The generals who commanded Prince Eugene's army in his absence, ordered the tents to be struck immediately on our appearing, and marched to rejoin the Prince in the camp they had quitted the day before. His Grace followed, and having passed the Wernitz, he drew up the cavalry on a high ground by Ebermergen till Gen. Churchill and both lines of foot were come up. After a little halt the whole army resumed its march, and joining Prince Eugene about six in the evening, encamped with the right at Oppertzhofen and the left at Munster, the river Kessel being in the front and the Danube upon the left flank. The train of artillery did not, however, come up to the army this evening, having already made a march of eight hours, or twenty-four English miles. The enemy had not moved this day otherwise than to endeavour to gain intelligence of our strength and position.

His Grace gave no other orders this night, but that every regiment should make bridges over the Kessel so as to be able to pass as many in front as possible. He also ordered that the grand guard of both wings of the army, making it all thirty squadrons, should be drawn up by break of day at the head of the English Guards, there to halt till further orders.

About daybreak Col. Blood brought up the artillery, and a little after his Grace, accompanied by Prince Eugene, put himself at the head of the grand guard and marched with it to gain intelligence of the enemy. They advanced towards Hochstett, and upon a rising ground about two miles on this side of that town they saw several of the enemy's squadrons appearing. But not knowing as yet whether the whole French army was behind them, or whether this was only a body of their horse sent out to reconnoitre, his Grace and Prince Eugene, the better to distinguish them, went up into the steeple of Dapfheim, from whence with their glasses they perceived the whole army of the enemy in full march towards the same hill where their squadrons of cavalry were, and that a camp was there marking out. Hereupon his Grace took a view of all the avenues to the enemy, and finding a ravine (or hollow way) running parallel with the Kessel above the village of Dapfheim, about two miles from our camp, he gave orders that a body of pioneers should be immediately employed to level it; and having commanded the piquet guard to draw up behind the ravine (or hollow way) to cover the workmen, he returned with Prince Eugene to his quarters at Munster. Just as they were sitting down to dinner, intelligence was brought that the enemy's squadrons had attempted to fall upon our workmen, but had been repulsed by the guard which covered them; whereupon the generals immediately ordered their horses, and taking some more squadrons with them, directed that all the rest of the cavalry should be ready when called for. The battalion of English Guards and Rowe's brigade of infantry were commanded to file off to the left of all, while Lord Cutts with twelve battalions more (taken out of the first line of the left wing) was ordered to march in two columns till he came to be on a line with the head of the village of Dapfheim, and there draw up. The Prince of Anhalt was ordered to march in the same manner with the Prussian infantry, close by a wood which was upon the right of the plain already possessed by our squadrons, where they were to halt till further orders. The rest of the army was commanded to be ready, and that in the mean time the soldiers should clean their arms.

By these arrangements his Grace made an admirable countenance against the enemy, and all under his command, as well officers as soldiers, showed an eager desire to come to an engagement; but as the enemy advanced no further, and as it began to be late, his Grace thought fit to defer the further advance of the army till the next morning. He ordered therefore that the Guards and all the troops he had brought out should return to their ground, except Rowe's brigade and four Hessian regiments of foot, the whole commanded by Major-Gen. Wilkes, which were ordered to continue in Dapfheim all night to maintain that post. Prince Eugene returned with the Duke to his quarters, and it was resolved by them to give the enemy battle on the following day.

This resolution having been taken, orders were given that the army should move before break of day and range itself in order of battle upon the plain between Gremheim and Unterglau. As Brigadier Baldwyn and several other parties were not come in, the army now consisted of 66 battalions and 160 squadrons. The right wing, commanded by Prince Eugene, was composed of seven Danish and eleven Prussian battalions, which was all the foot his Highness had under his orders, and of 74 squadrons of cavalry, in part composed of the Imperial and Prussian troops and in part of those of Suabia, Franconia, Wirtemberg, and other troops of the Empire.

In the left wing, under the Duke of Marlborough, there were 48 battalions, viz., 14 English, 14 Dutch, 7 Hessian, and 13 of Hanover, Lunenburg, Zell, and Swiss; and there were 86 squadrons, viz., 14 English, 22 Danes, 18 Dutch, 7 Hessian, and 25 of Lunenburg, Hanover, and Zell.

The army marched directly towards the enemy, then about four miles distant, in the following order, viz.:

The right wing in four columns, two of infantry and two of cavalry; the infantry being to the right of the cavalry upon a rising ground close by a wood which came down to the river Kessel before mentioned.

The left wing of the army moved off also in four columns, having to their right the two columns of Prince Eugene's cavalry and to their left successively the villages of Dapfheim and of Schwenningen, and the Danube. Major-Gen. Wilkes and Brig. Rowe, with their nine battalions which had been left in Dapfheim during the previous night, marched on the left of the whole by themselves next the Danube. The Imperial artillery followed the infantry of the right wing, and the English and Dutch artillery and the pontoons marched through the villages of Erlinghoffen, Dapfheim, and Schwenningen. All the baggage was sent back to Riedlingen, near Donawert, there to be parked till further orders.

His Grace having caused the whole army to halt, sent eleven battalions of the left wing to join the nine battalions already detached under Major-Gen. Wilkes near the Danube. The whole twenty were to be commanded by Lord Cutts, and under him were Majors-Gen. Wilkes and St. Paul, and Brigs.-Gen. Ferguson, Rowe, and Hulsen; and Major-Gen. Wood and Brig.-Gen. Ross were ordered with fifteen squadrons of dragoons to sustain them.

These twenty battalions and fifteen squadrons formed thus a ninth column of the army upon the left of all by itself next the Danube, and Lord Cutts had orders with these troops to attack the village of Blenheim, which was contiguous to that river.

These arrangements being completed, the army again moved forwards, his Grace and Prince Eugene advancing before all with some squadrons of the grand guard. They discovered the advanced parties of the enemy before six o'clock in the morning, and these, as our squadrons came up, retired by degrees towards their encampment. About seven our generals halted and took a full view of the enemy's camp from a rising ground over against it, and found the situation of it to be as follows: their right was on the Danube, having the village of Blenheim (where were Marshal Tallard's quarters) in front; and their left extended to a wood which covered the village of Lutzingen, where were the quarters of the Elector of Bavaria. All along this front there ran a rivulet twelve feet broad in most places and very difficult to pass, and in several parts the ground near it was very marshy. About the centre was the village of Oberglau (the quarters of Marshal Marsin), situated upon the side of a hill about musket-shot from the rivulet. The enemy were encamped upon this hill, which reached from the Danube to the wood, being of a very easy ascent and having a command of the whole plain in front all the way. From that part of it which is nearest to Blenheim there runs a little stream in two branches through the middle of that village into the Danube. The other rivulet, which covered the enemy's front, divided itself also into two branches about half-way between Blenheim and another village there was on our side over against Oberglau, continuing from thence to run in two branches till within a few paces of where it falls into the Danube; the meadows between the two branches of the rivulet being soft and marshy. One of the branches had two mills upon it, at each of which there was an easy passage over.

Whilst viewing these features of the enemy's position at a short distance, his Grace was also more particularly informed of the nature of them by Major-Gen. Natzmer, of the King of Prussia's troops, who had been wounded the year before in the defeat at this place of Count Stirum by the Elector of Bavaria and M. d'Usson. All this while, the morning being a little hazy, the enemy might suppose that we had only small parties abroad, and might not be aware that the whole army was in motion. However this may have been, they remained quietly in their camp during the early part of the morning.

Our columns began to appear a little after seven, both officers and soldiers advancing cheerfully and showing a firm and glad countenance, and seeming to be confident to themselves of a victorious day.

The enemy now beat to arms, and fired the signal for their foragers to come in. They also set fire to the villages of Berghausen, Weilheim, and Unterglau, and to the two mills and some other houses near the rivulet, with a view to prevent our passage. They likewise brought forward their cannon, and planted several batteries along the hill which formed their position, as also in the villages of Blenheim, Oberglau, and Lutzingen. Their army was ranged in the following manner:

In the village of Blenheim were posted twenty-six battalions, commanded by Lieut.-Gen. the Marquis de Clerambault; and twelve squadrons of dragoons were drawn up behind it. The enemy had thrown up intrenchments all round the village, and had lined the palings and hedges with troops; and to give additional strength to their post, they had brought out all the tables, doors, planks, chests, &c. from the houses, and had placed them so as to afford cover from our shot. On that side of Blenheim which was next the Danube, and was the most open, they had made a barricade with waggons and with pieces of timber laid across to cover their retreat, against our horse, in case of their post beig forced. From the village of Blenheim to that of Oberglau were posted eighty squadrons in two lines, having two brigades of foot intermixed near their centre. The last of these two villages was also occupied by fourteen of the enemy's battalions, among which were three Irish regiments commanded by the Marquis De Blainville, who had made the famous defence at Kaiserwert. To the left of these were drawn up in two lines the Elector of Bavaria's cavalry and the rest of Marshal Marsin's; and from their left to the wood, the remainder of their infantry, having the village of Lutzingen behind them.

The Duke now sent for all the generals to give them his final instructions as to the disposition to be made for passing the rivulet. His Grace ordered General Churchill to draw up the two lines of foot so that their right should be near the village of Unterglau, which was then burning; and he directed the Prince of Hesse to place the two lines of horse between the two lines of infantry. Thus the first line of foot was in front, the first line of horse behind that, then the second line of horse, and then the second line of foot in the rear of all. The reason for drawing up the first line of foot in front of the horse was because it was to pass the rivulet first, and to march as far in advance on the other side as could be conveniently done, and then to form and cover the passage of the horse, leaving intervals in the line of infantry large enough for the horse to pass through and take their post in front.

Lord Cutts, with his twenty battalions, still continued on the left of all towards Blenheim, drawn up in four lines; and Major-Gen. Wood with his fifteen squadrons was in two lines behind that body of foot.

About eight o'clock, the enemy began to cannonade our army as it advanced. Upon which his Grace ordered Col. Blood to plant several counter batteries upon the most advantageous parts of the ground, and his Grace visited each battery, and stood by to observe the range of the guns and the effect of their fire.

In the mean time the Imperialists had been in march to take their post on the right; and his Grace, in taking leave of Prince Eugene, desired his Highness to give him notice when the right wing was formed, that they might begin the general attack together. But the ground upon the right being found less practicable than it had been represented to be, Prince Eugene was forced on that account to make a greater circuit through the woods upon his right, and had to extend his wing further than had been anticipated. This took up much time; and his Grace becoming impatient to know what was doing, sent Col. Cadogan to bring him exact information of the Prince's progress. After some time Col. Cadogan returned, and gave his Grace an account that Prince Eugene had posted his infantry in two lines to the right of all; that his cavalry was to the left of the infantry, drawn up in the same manner, and that his Highness's corps de reserve was allotted to fill up the interval which had been occasioned by the unavoidable extension of the line.

All this while both armies continued to connanade each other very briskly, but the fire of the enemy's artillery was not so well answered by the cannon with Prince Eugene as it was by that in the left wing; for his Highness was obliged to sustain the fire of the enemy's artillery all the while he was drawing up his troops, but could not bring his own field-pieces to bear against them on account of many ditches and other impediments from one extremity of his wing to the other. His Highness was obliged therefore to order fascines to be prepared for the more easy passage of these ditches, and his cannon were kept in the mean time at too great a distance to reach those of the enemy with effect.

These difficulties being at length overcome, his Highness sent an aide-de-camp about half an hour past twelve to let the Duke of Marlborough know that he was ready. Upon this his Grace called for his horse, and sent the young Prince of Hesse with orders to Lord Cutts to begin the attack upon Blenheim. At the same time he ordered all the lines to move forward and to pass the rivulet over the pontoon bridges which he had caused to be laid. General Churchill advanced accordingly, having under him in the first line Lieut.-Gen. Ingoldesby, Majors-Gen. Herberville and Withers, and Brigadiers Wolven and Hulsen; and in the second line Lieut.-Gen. Lord Orkney, Majors-Gen. Luc and Rantzau, Brigadier Webb, &c.

Out of these two lines ten battalions were detached under the command of the Majors-Gen. the Prince of Holstein-Beck and Pallant; and Brigadiers-Gen. Berensdorf and Heydenbrecht to dislodge the enemy posted in Oberglau.

In Prince Eugene's wing the Prince of Anhalt Dessau, general of the Prussian foot, was on the right, and under him were Lieut.-Gen. Scholten, Major-Gen. Finck, and Brigadiers-Gen. Bielk, Caniz, and Rebstorf. The first line of cavalry was commanded by Prince Maximilian of Hanover, general of the horse, and under him were Lieut.-Gen. the Prince of Dourlach and Majors-Gen. the Count Fuggers and Nazmer. In the second line were the Duke-Regent of Wirtemberg and Count de la Tour, generals of horse; Lieuts.-Gen. the Marquis de Cusani and the Prince of Bareith; and Majors-Gen. Count Caraffa and Bibra.

It was near one o'clock when Lord Cutts made the first attack upon Blenheim. Brigadier-Gen. Rowe, on foot, led up his brigade, which formed the first line, and which was sustained in the second line by a brigade of Hessians.

Brigadier Rowe had proceeded within thirty paces of the pales about Blenheim before the enemy gave their first fire, by which a great many brave officers and soldiers fell, but that did not discourage their gallant commander from marching directly up to the very pales, on which he struck his sword before he suffered a man to fire. His orders were to enter sword in hand, but the superiority of the enemy and the advantages of their post rendered that mode of attack impracticable.

blenheim_battle_bigpic.jpg (69706 bytes)This first line was therefore forced to retire, but without its leader, who was left wounded by the side of the pales; and his Lieut.-Col. and Major were both killed upon the spot in endeavouring to bring him off. While this was doing, some squadrons of the French gens-d'armes fell upon the right flank of Rowe's brigade, put it partially in disorder, and took one of the colours of Rowe's regiment; but the Hessians in the second line, facing to the right, charged those squadrons so briskly that they repulsed them, and retook the colour. Notwithstanding this, Lord Cutts, seeing fresh cavalry of the enemy coming down upon him, sent his aide-de-camp to desire that some of our squadrons should be sent to cover his flank. Lieut.-Gen. Lumley accordingly ordered Col. Palmer to march over the rivulet with the three squadrons which were nearest the pass, and these were followed by Col. Leybourg with two more, all which had no sooner drawn up than eight of the enemy's squadrons moved down upon them, and ours advanced to meet them. Those of the enemy gave their fire at a little distance, but the English squadrons charged up to them sword in hand, and broke and put them to flight. But being overpowered by fresh squadrons, and galled by the fire of the enemy's infantry posted about Blenheim, our squadrons were repulsed in their turn and forced to retire.

The Duke of Marlborough, foreseeing that the enemy would pursue this advantage, resolved to pass the rivulet immediately with all the cavalry; and accordingly they began to pass as fast as the badness of the ground would permit them. The passage proved more difficult to the English squadrons than to any of the others, especially to those of Lieut.-Gen. Lumley's regiment, for they being opposite to where the rivulet was divided, the regiment had to cross both branches and the meadow between, which was very soft and marshy. However they surmounted these difficulties and got over, but they met with so warm a reception, the artillery and the infantry posted in Blenheim firing upon their flank, whilst the cavalry charged them in front, that they were obliged to retire: but Bothmer's, Villars', and one squadron of Bulow's dragoons advanced from the second line into the first, which gave time to our squadrons to recover and to form again.

The Duke of Marlborough, seeing that the enemy were resolute in maintaining the ground occupied by their cavalry, ordered the squadrons of dragoons that had advanced into the first line to continue there, and sent for five more squadrons from Major-Gen. Wood to strengthen them. These being come up with Brigadier Ross, passed the rivulet, and the Prince of Hesse posted them; and meanwhile the rest of the cavalry was getting over in several places. There was very great difficulty and danger in defiling over the rivulet in the face of an enemy already formed and supported by several batteries of cannon, yet by the brave examples given and great diligence used by the commanding officers, and by the eagerness of the men, all passed over by degrees and kept their ground. Lieut.-Gen. Lumley got over the English cavalry upon the left; Lieut.-Gen. Hompesch and Count Erbach that of the States in the centre; and the Duke of Wirtemberg, the Danish cavalry on the right. Lieut.-Gen. Bulow followed these with the second line, and stretched it out towards Oberglau, but near that village some Danish and Hanoverian squadrons were so resolutely attacked by the enemy, that they were beat back. They rallied however, and charged again, but with no better success, for they were outnumbered, and were also taken in flank by the enemy's infantry, whose fire they were unable to withstand till the Duke of Marlborough brought up some foot to sustain them.

Nor did the Prince of Holstein-Beck succeed much better in the attack of Oberglau, for he had no sooner passed the rivulet with two battalions than the infantry of the enemy poured down upon him and charged him with great fury. The Irish regiments in the French service attacked those of Goor and Beinheim, but they were so warmly received, that after a sharp dispute they were forced to retire. The Prince of Holstein-Beck was however wounded and taken prisoner in this attack; and the Duke of Marlborough seeing things in some confusion, galloped up, and ordered forward three battalions, commanded by Brigadier Berensdorf, which had not yet been engaged, and having posted them himself, and ordered some squadrons under Major-Gen. Averocks to sustain them, and caused a battery of cannon to be brought forward, affairs were re-established at this point, and his Grace returned to the left.

It was now past three o'clock in the afternoon, and the Duke sent Lord Tunbridge to Prince Eugene's wing to be informed as to his Highness's progress. That Prince had made his first attack about an hour before, and had done so with considerable advantage, for the Danish and Prussian infantry, notwithstanding the difficulty of the ground and the superior numbers of the enemy, had beat them from their positions, and had taken six pieces of cannon.

The imperial cavalry had also charged through the first line of that of the enemy, but they were repulsed by the second line and driven back to the wood in rear of the ground where they had first drawn up to make the attack; so that by this means the Prussian and Danish foot, being like to be surrounded by the enemy's squadrons, were forced to quit the advantage they had gained and fall back to the wood likewise. About half an hour afterwards Prince Eugene made a second attack, but the imperial cavalry being again repulsed by the great resistance and resolution of the Bavarian horse, they gave way and were driven back to the wood a second time. The consequence of this was, that some of the enemy's squadrons fell upon the flank of the Prussian battalions, which, notwithstanding the admirable defence they made, were obliged at length to fall back also to the wood, and to change their front, two squadrons only remaining to sustain them.

Prince Eugene, notwithstanding this bad success, put everything in order for a third attack, and the Elector of Bavaria was seen riding up and down, and inspiring his men also with fresh courage.

When Prince Eugene had given his troops time to recover, he made a third attack, himself leading the cavalry to the charge. This attempt succeeded, however, no better than the two former, for his squadrons still recoiled, but only to the wood, where they drew up again in order as before.

It was now past four o'clock, and the Duke of Marlborough had got the whole of the left wing of the allied army over the rivulet, and our horse were drawn up in two lines fronting that of the enemy; but they did not offer to charge till General Churchill had ranged all the foot also in two lines behind the cavalry. That general, as soon as he had got over the rivulet, had inclined to the left, extending himself towards Blenheim, and leaving intervals for our squadrons to pass through in case of a repulse. Perceiving, however, that the enemy had intermingled some regiments of foot with their cavalry immediately on the right of Oberglau, and being also applied to by Brigadier Bothmer (whose dragoons, with those of Villars, were in that part of the line), he ordered some Hanoverian regiments of foot to halt and make head against the enemy's foot; and Colonel Blood was ordered at the same time to march a battery of cannon over the pontoons, and bring it to bear upon the enemy's battalions. This was done with good success, and made a great slaughter of the enemy. They stood firm, however, for a time, closing their ranks as fast as they were broken, til being much weakened, they were at last thrown into disorder, when our squadrons falling upon them, they were cut down in entire ranks, and were seen so lying after the battle.

About five o'clock the general forward movement was made, which determined the issue of this great battle, which till then had seemed to remain doubtful. The Duke of Marlborough, having ridden along the front, gave orders to sound the charge, when all at once our two lines of horse moved on, sword in hand, to the attack. Those of the enemy presented their fusils at some small distance and fired, but they had no sooner done so than they immediately wheeled about, broke one another, and betook themselves to flight. The gens-d'armes fled towards Hochstet (which was about two miles in the rear), and the other squadrons towards the village of Sondersheim, which was nearer, and upon the bank of the Danube. The Duke of Marlborough ordered Lieut.-Gen. Hompesch, with thirty squadrons, to pursue those which had taken the direction of Hochstet, whilst he himself, with the Prince of Hesse and the rest of the cavalry, drove thirty of the enemy's squadrons down the banks of the Danube, which being very steep, occasioned the destruction of great numbers. But the greatest loss in this quarter was of those who were drowned in attempting to swim the river. Those who did not attempt the river endeavoured to escape by filing off to the right under its banks towards Hochstet, near which place they made an attempt to rally, but had scarcely done so before several of our squadrons arrived, and prepared again to attack them; perceiving which they faced about and fled again in the greatest confusion towards Morselingen, and did not again attempt to engage; but a body of our dragoons fell upon several of the enemy's battalions which had nearly reached Hochstet, and cut them to pieces.

Marshal Tallard was amongst those who endeavoured to escape by the village of Sondersheim, but finding noway to effect a retreat, he surrendered himself to M. Beinenbourg, aide-de-camp to the Prince of Hesse; and along with the marshal were taken some of his aides-de-camp and several other officers of note. They were brought immediately to the Duke of Marlborough, who desired that Marshal Tallard would make use of his coach; and his Grace immediately sent off Colonel Parke with a pencil note to the Duchess of Marlborough, containing the announcement of the victory.

The Duke having collected some squadrons from the pursuit, moved with them towards the flank of the Elector of Bavaria's wing of the enemy's army, which Prince Eugene had by a fourth attack succeeded in driving from its postion; and his Grace perceiving that the Elector's retreat was directed towards Hochstet from Lutzingen and Oberglau (which towns had been set on fire), he sent orders to our squadrons which were pursuing the enemy towards Morselingen to face about and join him, which was done as well to guard against the Elector falling upon their rear, as for the purpose of getting together a body strong enough to charge him. But the right wing of our army, which was at no great distance behind that of the Elector, being mistaken for a part of his troops marching in good order and in such a direction as might have enabled them advantageously to flank our squadrons had they charged the other part of the Elector's force; and as it was now growing too dusk to distinguish clearly the several corps, the retreat of the enemy was not further impeded in this direction. There was also a wood hard by, which greatly favoured it.

All this while the village of Blenheim had been incessantly attacked, but it still held out and gave employment to our infantry. For the moment that the cavalry had beaten off that of the enemy, and cleared the field of them, General Churchill had marched both lines of foot upon the village of Blenheim, and it was now so surrounded that there was no possibility of getting out of it except on the side next the Danube. And to prevent any of the enemy escaping that way, the Queen's regiment, commanded by Brigadier Webb, took possession of a barrier the enemy had constructed to cover their retreat, and having posted his men fronting the street which led down to the Danube, several hundreds of the enemy endeavouring to get off that way, were made prisoners by that regiment. Prince George's regiment also (commanded by Colonel Peyton), being posted next the Danube, on the other side the town, all those of the enemy who came out that way were either taken prisoners, or forced into the river. Some endeavoured to break out at two other places, but Major-Gen. Wood, with Lord John Hay's regiment of grey dragoons, perceiving it, immediately advanced towards them, and taking advantage of a rising ground, made them believe he had more squadrons behind, and so stopped them there, as Brigadier Ross did on the other side of the town with some squadrons, which Lieut.-Gen. Lumley had sent from the pursuit for that purpose; though part of these were soon after called away again by an order received from the Duke of Marlborough to bring all the squadrons that could be spared to where the Elector's army was marching off.

As soon as Gen. Churchill saw the defeat of the enemy's horse, he sent to inform Lord Cutts that he was himself coming to attack the village of Blenheim in flank, and requested that his Lordship would make another attack at the same time in front, if his troops were not too much worn out to do so, or at least that he would make a show of attacking. An attack was at once made accordingly, and the Earl of Orkney and Lieut.-Gen. Ingoldesby entered the village at two different places at the head of their respective lines: but being unable to make a front equal to that of the enemy, especially in the churchyard, which had high walls round it, they were forced to retire.

The repeated attacks which the enemy had already sustained however during several hours, the losses they had suffered by our cannon, and the great disorder they were put into by a battery of howitzers, the shells from which had set fire to the barns and houses, added to the circumstance of their commander, M. Clerambault, having fled, and been, as they were told, drowned in the Danube; and there being now no hope of relief--all these considerations together induced them to propose a cessation of hostilities, which being granted, Gen. Churchill gave orders to Lord Cutts to cease attacking, and Lord Orkney immediately sent in Captain Abercrombie, his aide-de-camp, on one side, as Lieut.-Gen. Ingoldesby did Lieut.-Col. Belville, of the Zell regiment, on the other. And Lord Orkney having met with the Marquis Desnonville, who had commanded the French regiment Royal, but who was already prisoner, he was suffered to go into the town upon his parole to return immediately. This he did, bringing with him to Lord Orkney several French generals; but as they were discussing the terms of capitulation, Gen. Churchill arrived, and telling them that he had no time to lose (it being now past seven in the evening), and that if they did not lay down their arms immediately, he must renew the attack, they submitted, and they were with all the troops in Blenheim made prisoners at discretion.

Thus was concluded and completed the victory of this great day, which proved even more successful than there had been reason to expect, there being so many advantages on the side of the enemy: first, their superiority in numbers, they having (as themselves acknowledged) eighty-two battalions and one hundred and forty-six squadrons, most of them the best troops of France, and the allies having but sixty-six battalions and one hundred and sixty squadrons; so that according to the ordinary computation of 500 men to a battalion and 150 to a squadron, they had 5900 more than the allies. Secondly, the strength of their position by the advantageous nature of the ground on which they were drawn up, and by the obstacles which everywhere obstructed the approaches to it. It must be acknowledged, however, that the allies had also advantages, for in the early part of the morning there was a mist, which, whilst it did not incommode them, was sufficient to mask the march of their army, so that the enemy saw nothing but the advanced squadrons. And it does not appear that they thought of there being anything more to be apprehended, in so much that when they discovered the whole army, there appeared to be much hurry and consternation amongst them; whilst our troops came up with the usual heartiness and confidence of aggressors. Besides, the sun and wind favoured the allies during the most difficult and critical part of the attack, which were deemed to be considerable advantages.

The field being now entirely cleared of the enemy, and night coming on, his Grace ordered the army to be drawn up, with the left to Sondersheim, and the right towards Morselingen, and that the soldiers should lie all night upon their arms on the field of battle. The several regiments quickly possessed themselves of the enemy's tents, which wer left standing, and which were found to contain great quantities of herbs and vegetables; and nearer to the Danube there lay about one hundred fat oxen ready skinned, which were to have been delivered out this day to the French troops, but which proved a welcome booty to the soldiers of the allied army after such long and hard service.


Marlborough, John Churchill. The Letters and Dispatches of John Churchill, First Duke of Marlborough, from 1702 to 1712. (London: 1845), I:394-409.

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