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Siege of Landrecies, 17-30 April 1794
The siege of Landrecies (17-30 April 1794) was the first Allied operation of 1794 in northern France (War of the First Coalition). Although the siege was successful, it did nothing to advance the Allied cause, which was soon threatened by a powerful French offensive further west in maritime Flanders.
Of the two sides, the French had the most ambitious plans for 1794. Carnot decided to attack on both flanks of the Allied army, towards Ypres and Ghent at the western end of the front line, and towards Namur and Liège at the eastern end, cutting both the British and Austrian supply lines. In contrast the Allies, now led by the Emperor Francis II in person, decided to begin the year with an attack on Landrecies (close to Le Cateau, and south west of the site of the great French victory at Wattignies in the previous October.
The siege of Landrecies was conducted by the main Allied army in Flanders at the start of 1794. This consisted of three main contingents – 43,000 Austrians under the Prince of Saxe-Coburg, the commander-in-chief until Francis arrived; 19,000 Dutch troops under the Prince of Orange, and 22,000 men under the command of the Duke of York. After deducting garrisons, Saxe-Coburg had 65,000 men free for active operations.
The Allies moved forwards on 17 April, driving the French out of their outposts around Landrecies. On 20 April the Prince of Orange pushed the French out of their positions on the left bank of the Sambre, and after a fight that cost him 1,000 casualties and the French 2,000, opened the first siege works outside the town.
On the next two days General Pichegru, command of the French armies being assembled for the great offensive, made a number of ineffective attempts to attack the Allies. Meanwhile Saxe-Coburg settled his covering army into a twenty mile long semi-circle, protecting the force carrying out the actual siege.
The French made two attempts to break the siege. On 23 April a force of about 10,000 men moved north-east from Cambrai, possibly in an attempt to catch the Emperor Francis, who was then travelling from Brussels to the army headquarters. On 24 April this French force was defeated by a smaller force of Austrian and British cavalry at Villers-en-Cauchies, while on 26 April a more serious attack on almost the entire covering force was beaten off (known as the battle of Landrecies or Beaumont-en-Cambresis, although this village was at the far right of the Allied lines).
After the attempt of this second relief effort, the garrison lost heart, and on 30 April Landrecies surrendered. By now the main French offensive was well under way. General Clerfayt had been defeated at Mouscron (29 April), while attempting to lift a siege of Menin (25-30 April), while on the Allied left General Kaunitz had been forced back from his position between Maubeuge and Dinant on the Meuse to the line of the Sambre, threatening Austrian communications to the east. The entire Allied position in Belgium was in serious danger.
Napoleonic Home Page | Books on the Napoleonic Wars | Subject Index: Napoleonic Wars
Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Morshead, Henry Anderson
MORSHEAD, HENRY ANDERSON (1774?–1831), colonel royal engineers, born about 1774, was the son of Colonel Henry Anderson of Fox Hall, co. Limerick. He entered the Royal Military Academy at Woolwich on 29 May 1790, and received a commission as second lieutenant in the royal artillery on 18 Sept. 1792. He served in the campaigns on the continent under the Duke of York in 1793-4, and was present at the action of Famars 23 May 1793, at the siege of Valenciennes in June and July, the siege of Dunkirk in August and September, and the battle of Hondschoote 8 Sept. He gained the esteem of his commanding officers, and in acknowledgment of his services was transferred, at his own request, to the corps of royal engineers on 1 Jan. 1794. He took part in the siege of Landrecies in April 1794, affair near Tournay on 23 May, and siege of Nimeguen in November. On his return to England he was sent, in June 1795, to Plymouth. He was promoted first lieutenant on 19 Nov. 1796, and in May 1797 he embarked with two companies of royal military artificers for St. Domingo, West Indies. On the evacuation of that island in 1798 he was attached to the staff of Sir Thomas Maitland [q. v.], who was his warm friend through life. When he returned to England in November 1798 he was employed in the Thames division, and stationed at Gravesend. He was promoted captain-lieutenant 18 April 1801, and was sent to Portsmouth, and subsequently to Plymouth. He was promoted captain 1 March 1805, and in that year he assumed by royal license the surname of Morshead in addition to that of Anderson.
In July 1807 he was sent to Dublin, and three months later was appointed commanding royal engineer of the expedition, under Brigadier-general Beresford, which sailed from Cork early in 1808, and in February took possession of Madeira. He remained in Madeira until 1812, and on his return to England in November of that year was posted to the Plymouth division. He was promoted lieutenant-colonel 21 July 1813, and sent to Dublin was appointed commanding royal engineer in North Britain (March 1814), and in July 1815 was transferred as commanding royal engineer of the western district to Plymouth, where he remained for many years, and carried out important works for the ordnance and naval services in consultation with the Duke of Wellington and Lord Melville. On 29 July 1825 he was promoted colonel.
In 1829 he was appointed commanding royal engineer at Malta, and died at Valetta on 11 Nov. 1831, while acting governor. He was honoured with a public funeral, and was buried in the old saluting battery overlooking the grand harbour. He married in 1800 Elizabeth, only daughter of P. Morshead, esq., of Widey Court, Plymouth, Devonshire, by whom he had eleven children. A man of frank and engaging manners, a good conversationalist, and a clear writer, he was fond of society, and exercised a genial hospitality. There is a bust in the royal engineers' office in Valetta, Malta.
The following plans by Morshead are in the war office: 1. Edinburgh Castle, two plans, 1814 and 1815. 2. Whiteforland Point and Defences, two plans, 1814. 3. Leith Fort and Breakwater, 1815. 4. Plymouth, Survey and Drawings of various parts of the Defences, Piers, and Ordnance and Naval Buildings, nineteen drawings, 1815-26. 5. Plan of Plymouth Sound, showing intended breakwater and the soundings, with an original pencil sketch by Mr. Rennie of the lighthouse, 1816. 6. Plymouth Citadel, 1820. 7. Devonport Lines, 1820. 8. Scilly Islands, St. Mary's, Plan of the Defences, 1820. 9. St. Nicholas Island, Plymouth, 1820. 10. Pendennis Castle, Falmouth, 1821. 11. Pendennis Castle, and Falmouth Harbour, two plans, 1828-9. 12. St. Mawes Castle, Falmouth, 1829.
[Royal Engineers' Records War Office and Board of Ordnance Records United Service Journal.]
Battle [ edit | edit source ]
Troops attached to the command of General Chapuis had already clashed with the Duke of York two days earlier, when a column had been repulsed with great loss by just 4 squadrons of light cavalry under Rudolf Ritter von Otto at Villers-en-Cauchies, now however Chapuis was advancing with all his force.
Chapuis left Cambrai with nearly 30,000 men in two columns consisting of the Cambrai garrison and part of Goguet's Division ΐ] and advanced towards Le Cateau through a thick morning fog. The larger column moved directly along the high road from Cambrai to Le Cateau, a smaller 4,000 strong second column moved parallel two miles to the south through the villages of Ligny-en-Cambrésis and Bertry. Before him the British lines were strung out across a ridge running south and facing Inchy, Troisvilles and Bertry. Suddenly the sound of musketry signaled the arrival of French columns looming out of the mist, and the allied advanced posts fell back in confusion through the village of Troisvilles. The French then deployed slowly and awkwardly while the alarm was raised, with the southern column moving to its left to join the battle near Troisvilles. For about two hours the French manoeuvered ineffectively in front of the British position while York's command planned a counter-move. Α]
York came galloping up from Le Cateau and took station on the ridge (either in a redoubt or at a mill, accounts differ), and was presently joined by Otto. As the fog lifted one of them (probably York Β] ) noticed that the French left was exposed 'in the air' and vulnerable to an outflanking movement. Orders were given to assemble a huge force of 18 squadrons of Austrian and British cavalry unseen on the right flank in a hidden fold between Inchy and Bethencourt to attempt to roll up the French left wing.
York repeated tactics that had worked well for him at the action at Vaux the previous week. While the turning force was assembling under Otto, the artillery under Sir William Congreve were ordered to keep up a regular fire to the front in order to draw French attention in that direction. Light troops were sent to engage the French left. Γ] Just before the attack began York ordered his light troops in front of Troisvilles to fall back through the village, which further encouraged the French infantry to follow up triumphantly.
Otto's flanking cavalry meanwhile were drawn up in three lines, the first consisting of six squadrons of Zeschwitz Cuirasiers (Austrian) under Prince Schwarzenberg, the second line of John Mansel's Dragoon brigade (i.e. 2 squadrons each of the Blues, the Royals and the 3rd Dragoon Guards)(British), and the third line of the 1st and 5th Dragoon Guards plus the 16th Light Dragoons (British).
Two days earlier Mansel's brigade had failed to support Otto at Villers-en-Cauchies, apparently due to a communication error, however although Mansel was officially cleared of responsibility a cloud nevertheless hung over the brigade, which was eager to redeem its honour. Before the attack York rode up to the head of the brigade, reminding it how he was 'displeased' with its conduct two days previously, but had every confidence it would 'regain its credit'. Δ]
When he placed his right wing divisions under a single leader in mid-April, Pichegru moved his left wing forward. From left to right, the divisions were led by General of Division Pierre Antoine Michaud at the port of Dunkirk with 13,943 men, General of Division Jean Victor Marie Moreau at Cassel with 15,968 troops and Souham at Lille with 31,865 soldiers. The 7,822-strong brigade of General of Brigade Pierre-Jacques Osten held Pont-à-Marcq.  In early May, General of Division Jacques Philippe Bonnaud's division arrived from the right wing and absorbed Osten's brigade, making a total of 23,000 men.  These were unusually large divisions. In the Army of Sambre-et-Meuse at a later period the divisions numbered between 8,000 and 12,000 men.  As late as 1 September 1794, Souham's division counted 20,000 soldiers, Moreau's had 13,000, Bonnaud's numbered 11,800 and General of Division Éloi Laurent Despeaux's had 6,600. 
Worried about the persistent French attacks along the Sambre, the Coalition high command shifted their weight to the east to cover Charleroi, taking troops from the Duke of York's force at Tournai. Encouraged by his enemies' weakness, Pichegru invested Ypres on 1 June 1794. Moreau's division was employed in the siege operations. Souham covered the siege with Michaud's division on his left and Despeaux's division on his right. Instead of concentrating their forces to crush one of the French wings, the Coalition forces shifted back and forth ineffectively. Meanwhile, the Duke of York was left uselessly guarding Tournai  with 30,000 Austrians. 
Austrian General-major Paul von Salis commanded the 7,000-man Coalition garrison of Ypres. The Austrian contingent was made up of two battalions of the Stuart Infantry Regiment Nr. 18, the 3rd Battalions of the Schröder Nr. 7 and Callenberg Nr. 54 Infantry Regiments and one company of the O'Donnell Freikorps. The Landgraviate of Hesse-Kassel units consisted of two battalions each of the Erbprinz, Lossberg and Prinz Karl Infantry Regiments, the Leib Squadron of the Gendarmes and 12 field pieces. The Hessians were led by Generals-major Heinrich von Borcke and Georg von Lengerke. Pichegru had about 50,000 troops in the vicinity of Ypres. 
Ypres became a cloth trading center in the Middle Ages and was first fortified in the period 1200–1400. The Spanish strengthened the medieval defenses early in the 1600s. The French captured the city but handed it back to Spain in the Treaty of the Pyrenees in 1659. The Walloon engineer Jean Boulengier greatly improved the works in 1669. Nevertheless, in a 1678 siege the city was captured by the French. The military engineer Sébastien Le Prestre de Vauban immediately set about making extensive changes to the defenses that year and later in 1682. The modernizations made Ypres a fortress of the first class. Ironically, Ypres was handed over to the Dutch Republic by the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713,  along with Veurne (Furnes), Fort Knokke, Menen, Tournai, Mons, Charleroi, Namur and Ghent. Though the fortresses were in the Austrian Netherlands, they were intended to serve as a barrier to protect Holland.  Emperor Joseph II slighted the defenses of Ypres though they were later partly restored. 
Relief efforts and surrender
On 6 June 1794 there was a skirmish at Vry-Bosch (Vrijbos) near Houthulst north of Ypres between 5,500 Coalition troops and an unknown number of French soldiers. General-major Rudolf von Hammerstein led the 3rd and 4th Hanoverian Grenadier Battalions, two battalions of the 14th Hanoverian Infantry Regiment, one squadron of the Hanoverian Leib Cavalry Regiment, the British 12th Foot and 38th Foot, three squadrons of the British 8th Light Dragoons, two battalions of French Royalists, one squadron of Hesse-Kassel Gendarmes and 11 Hanoverian guns. The Coalition lost about 80 casualties, including four killed, 33 wounded and nine captured among the Hanoverians. Aside from 30 men captured, French losses are not known. This was the first unsuccessful attempt to relieve Ypres. 
When Clerfayt took a position at Roeselare (Roulers), Pichegru attacked him with three divisions on 10 June. After some fighting the Coalition corps withdrew to Tielt (Thielt).  Souham was in tactical control of approximately 20,000 soldiers of whom about 1,000 were killed and wounded in the fighting. In this second attempt to break the siege, the Coalition lost 600 killed and wounded plus 400 captured out of the 20,000 men under Clerfayt. The Austrian troops engaged were two battalions of the Archduke Charles Infantry Regiment Nr. 3, two grenadier battalions, eight squadrons of the Latour Chevau-léger Regiment Nr. 31 and two batteries of foot artillery. Soldiers from the Landgraviate of Hesse-Darmstadt involved in the action were the 1st Battalions of the Leib-Grenadiers and Landgraf Infantry Regiments, two companies each of jägers and light infantry, four squadrons of chevau-légers and one foot artillery battery. Evidently, the Austrians suffered most of the losses because the Hessians reported only one killed and 16 wounded.  Roeselare is located about 22 kilometres (14 mi) northeast of Ypres. 
At 7:00 AM on 13 June 1794, Clerfayt launched a sudden assault on Despeaux's division. General of Brigade Philippe Joseph Malbrancq's brigade was routed and General of Brigade Jean-Baptiste Salme's brigade was pushed back to the south in the direction of Menen. The weight of the Coalition attack next fell on General of Brigade Jacques MacDonald's brigade at Hooglede, supported by an additional regiment on its left. MacDonald's men held their ground for six hours, fighting off repeated cavalry charges. Finally, General of Brigade (and later Admiral) Jan Willem de Winter's brigade advanced on MacDonald's left and Salme's rallied brigade came forward on his right. At this, the worn-out Coalition soldiers withdrew.  Hooglede is 5.1 kilometres (3.2 mi) northwest of Roeselare. 
At Hooglede Clerfayt brought 19,000 troops into action of whom 900 became casualties. These included British losses of 28 killed, 70 wounded and 13 missing and Hanoverian losses of 35 killed, 113 wounded and five missing. Feldmarschall-Leutnant Anton Sztáray led the Austrian forces, which included two battalions each of grenadiers, the Archduke Charles Nr. 3, Sztaray Nr. 33 and Wurttemberg Nr. 38 Infantry Regiments, six battalions of reinforcements under General-major Wilhelm Lothar Maria von Kerpen and three foot artillery batteries. General von Hammerstein led the Hanoverian contingent, the 1st, 3rd and 4th Grenadier Battalions, two battalions of the 14th Infantry Regiment, two squadrons of the Leib Cavalry Regiment and two foot artillery batteries. Other engaged troops included the British 38th and 55th Foot Regiments and two squadrons of the 8th Light Dragoons, the French Royalist Loyal Emigrants Battalion and one squadron of Hessen-Kassel Gendarmes. Altogether, the 24,000-strong French force under Souham and MacDonald suffered 1,300 casualties and lost one field piece. Hooglede was the third and final Coalition attempt to lift the siege. 
Ypres surrendered on the 17th  or 18th of June.  The surviving members of the garrison marched out with the honors of war and surrendered their weapons, 30 Hessian colors, four Austrian colors and 12 field guns. During the siege 400 defenders were killed. French losses are unknown. 
Siege of Landrecies, 17-30 April 1794 - History
June &ndash 4 troops to Flanders Ostend Camp Caesar Dunkirk Cateau
Cateau siege of Landrecies Villers-en-Cauchie Tournay 2 troops in England &ndash Salisbury, Weymouth, Dorchester
4 troops in Bremen to England
January &ndash regiment reunited at Dorchester July &ndash Barham Downs Canterbury
Canterbury October &ndash Birmingham Coventry
Coventry July &ndash Exeter Taunton
Taunton Radipole (Weymouth) November &ndash Salisbury
Salisbury July &ndash Swinley Common Croydon Epsom 1 squadron on coast duty in Sussex
Epsom May &ndash Canterbury on anti-smuggler duty
March &ndash reduced from 10 to 8 troops July &ndash Trowbridge riots October &ndash Exeter Taunton
April &ndash Radipole Wareham July &ndash Arundel Chichester 2 troops added
April &ndash Ipswich Woodbridge November &ndash Colchester
Colchester April &ndash York Newcastle on Tyne Birmingham
January &ndash Woodbridge March &ndash Edinburgh
January &ndash to Ireland Dundalk
Cork April &ndash Clonmel August &ndash Cork 8 troops to Portugal
January &ndash Santarem Torres Novas Niza Alverea Frexadas Bussaco Pombal
Redinha Casal Nova Sernadilla Alverca Sabugal Fuentes d&rsquoOnoro received draft from home Aldea de Ponte reduced from 8 to 6 troops El Bodon
Ciudad Rodrigo Alamarez Lleira Maguilla
Alcantara received horses from 4th Dragoons Alba de Tormes Vittoria
Bayonne Toulouse July &ndash Calais to England - Dover Richmond Bristol reunited with depot troops reduced from 8 to 6 troops December - Exeter
Truro Taunton Exeter April &ndash Canterbury May &ndash Ramsgate to Belgium &ndash Ostend WATERLOO Paris Rouen
Careers of Senior Officers (shown as highest rank attained in regiment in the period)
Lt Col Philip Goldsworthy
Born London 1737 served in the Seven Years War Major in 1st Dragoons 4 May 1776 Lieutenant-Colonel 18 April 1779 commanded 1st Dragoons 1779 to 1793 brevet Colonel 20 October 1784 Equerry to King George 1788 subsequently Major-General 20 December 1793 Colonel of 1st Dragoons 28 January 1794 Lieutenant-General 26 June 1799 died London January 1801.
Major in 1st Dragoons 1 May 1779 brevet Lieutenant-Colonel 18 November 1790 retired March 1794.
Born 1744 served in the Seven Years War Major in 2nd Dragoons Guards 5 June 1789 brevet Lieutenant-Colonel 8 October 1790 Lieutenant-Colonel in 2nd Dragoons Guards 1792 Lieutenant-Colonel in 1st Dragoons 28 January 1794 commanded 1st Dragoons in Flanders 1794 brevet Colonel 26 February 1795 Colonel of Sussex Fencible Cavalry June 1799 subsequently Major-General 7 January 1801 Colonel of 1st Dragoons 7 January 1801 Lieutenant-General 1 January 1805 General 4 June 1814 died November 1829.
Major William Spencer
Major in 1st Dragoons 18 May 1794 to Lieutenant-Colonel 17th Light Dragoons 6 June 1795.
Born 1759 Major in 1st Dragoons 9 September 1794 Lieutenant-Colonel 9 September 1794 to Lieutenant-Colonel 17th Light Dragoons 2 September 1796 subsequently Major-General 1 January 1805 Lieutenant-General 4 June 1811 Baronet 8 December 1812 took &ndashGallwey surname 1812 died 1831.
Lt Col Charles Dobson
Major in 1st Dragoons 9 September 1794 Lieutenant-Colonel 3 September 1796 retired June 1797.
Major in 1st Dragoons 6 June 1795 Lieutenant-Colonel 1 June 1797 exchanged to 10th Light Dragoons 18 October 1798.
Major Charles Sigismund de Cerjat
Born Lincolnshire 1772 Major in 1st Dragoons 2 September 1796 brevet Lieutenant-Colonel 29 April 1802 retired May 1807 died Switzerland February 1848.
Major Thomas Norton Wyndham
Born Wiltshire 1774 Major in 1st Dragoons 21 July 1797 brevet Lieutenant-Colonel 29 April 1802 brevet Colonel 4 June 1811 subsequently Major-General 4 June 1814 Lieutenant-General 22 July 1830 died Rome March 1839.
Born Somerset 1762 Major in 10th Light Dragoons 9 September 1794 Lieutenant-Colonel in 10th Light Dragoons 29 April 1795 exchanged to Lieutenant-Colonel in 1st Dragoons 18 October 1798 commanded 1st Dragoons 1798 to 1804 brevet Colonel 29 April 1802 Brigadier-General on staff 1804 commanded hussar brigade in Peninsula October 1808 to January 1809 subsequently Major-General 25 October 1809 commanded a cavalry brigade in Peninsula September 1809 to April 1814 Lieutenant-General 4 June 1814 General 10 January 1837 died Taunton August 1859.
Born London 1776 Major in 25th Light Dragoons 25 May 1795 brevet Lieutenant-Colonel 3 May 1799 Lieutenant-Colonel in 1st Dragoons 6 June 1799 (on transfer from 25th Light Dragoons) brevet Colonel 25 April 1808 commanded 1st Dragoons in Peninsula September 1809 to May 1810 commanded a cavalry brigade in Peninsula May 1810 to December 1811 subsequently Major-General 4 June 1811 Lieutenant-General 19 July 1821 died in a house fire 1831.
Major Richard Purefoy Jervoise
Born Wiltshire 1778 Major in 1st Dragoons 21 May 1807 served in Peninsula September 1809 to September 1811 again in Peninsula May to September 1811 died of illness in Portugal 17 September 1811.
Lt Col Arthur Benjamin Clifton, C.B.
Born Nottingham 1771 Major in 3rd Dragoons Guards 17 December 1803 served in Peninsula with 3rd Dragoon Guards May 1809 to November 1810 brevet Lieutenant-Colonel 25 July 1810 Lieutenant-Colonel in 1st Dragoons 22 November 1810 commanded 1st Dragoons in Peninsula December 1810 to March 1814 commanded cavalry brigade in Peninsula March to April 1814 commanded 2nd Cavalry Brigade at Waterloo after Ponsonby&rsquos death subsequently Major-General 22 July 1830 Lieutenant-General 23 November 1841 Colonel of 1st Dragoons 30 August 1842 General 20 June 1854 died June 1869.
Major Philip Dorville, C.B.
Born Fulham 1774 served in Peninsula 1808 to January 1809 again in Peninsula September 1809 to May 1813 Major in 1st Dragoons 17 October 1811 brevet Lieutenant-Colonel 4 June 1814 commanded 1st Dragoons at Waterloo after Clifton succeeded to brigade retired on half-pay 8 March 1827 died Malvern November 1847.
Born Suffolk 1777 served in Peninsula September 1809 to November 1811 Major in 1st Dragoons 7 May 1812 again in Peninsula May 1813 to April 1814 exchanged to half-pay of Canadian Fencibles 1818 died November 1859.
Captain Charles Edward Radclyffe
Captain in 1st Dragoons 1 December 1804 wounded at Waterloo brevet Lieutenant-Colonel 18 June 1815 on half-pay 1820 died February 1827.
War Office. Army Lists 1796 to 1815. London: various years.
Chichester, Henry Manners, and Burges-Short, Henry. The Records and Badges of Every Regiment and Corps in the British Army. London: William Clowes & Sons, 1895.
McKenna, Michael G. The British Army &ndash And Its Regiments and Battalions. West Chester, Ohio: The Nafziger Collection. 2004.
Fletcher, Ian. Wellington&rsquos Regiments. Staplehurst: Spellmount, 1994.
Hall, John A. A History of the Peninsular War: Volume VIII &ndash The Biographical Dictionary of British Officers Killed and Wounded 1808-1814. London: Greenhill Books, 1998.
Reid, Stuart. Wellington&rsquos Officers, Volume 1. Leigh-On-Sea: Patrizan Press, 2008.
Reid, Stuart. Wellington&rsquos Officers, Volume 2. Leigh-On-Sea: Patrizan Press, 2009.
War of the Spanish Succession: Battle of Denain
The year 1712 started promisingly enough for the armies of the Second Grand Alliance (the Hapsburg Empire, the Dutch Republic, Great Britain and a host of minor powers) operating in the Netherlands during the War of the Spanish Succession (1701-1714). After 10 campaigns and three battles, the armies of the French Sun King, Louis XIV, had been driven back toward the outer rim of la vieille France. Only a few key fortresses (Arras, Cambray and Landrecies), the last line of the famous frontiére de fer, or ‘iron curtain,’ designed by the French engineer Sebastien le Prestre de Vauban, stood between the victorious Allies and the gardens of Versailles.
If only one of those fortresses fell, Louis XIV would have no other option but to sue for peace under very dark conditions. Politically speaking, however, the situation was much more favorable for the French than for the Allies of the Grand Alliance. The weak link in the Alliance was Great Britain. In August 1710, Lord Treasurer Sidney Godolphin, who together with John Churchill, first Duke of Marlborough, had dominated English politics in the preceding years, was dismissed an replaced by Robert Harley, first Earl of Oxford. Parliament was dissolved, and the elections that were held in October resulted in a Tory victory. In January 1711, the new masters of Britain started secret peace negotiations with France. The situation intensified in April with the death of Emperor Joseph I. Overnight, the once unfortunate Archduke Karl of Austria, pretender to the Spanish throne, became Holy Roman Emperor Charles VI. This surprising development made the Tories even more inclined to peace. It was in no one’s interest, with the exception of the new emperor, to replace the threat of a Bourbon hegemony of Europe with that of a Hapsburg one. The Whig slogan ‘No peace without Spain’ was buried forever.
Even so, the military situation was still too favorable for the Allies, and Marlborough was still very much in the picture. He was removed in January 1712, however, on charges of embezzling government funds and was replaced by James Butler, second Duke of Ormonde. That same month, with Britain anxious to see the Dutch accept peace, a general peace conference was opened in the Dutch city of Utrecht. It was at that moment of political uncertainty that the fateful last campaign of the war came about.
Ever since Marlborough’s Pyrrhic victory in the bloody battle of Malplaquet (September 11, 1709), the War of the Spanish Succession had turned more and more into one of attrition. The main goal was no longer the crushing of the enemy on the battlefield instead, the Allies hoped to force France to seek peace by the employment of superior economic means. The taking of key fortresses and the collection of ‘contributions’ from the conquered local populace had become the most important military aim of the Allies. And a major item in this type of warfare was dry forage (i.e., oats and hay) for horses. Usually, armies could only take the field at the end of May, when the grasses had reached a certain length. The feed for the horses could then be gathered in the fields. After 1709, the French had been able to take very strong defensive positions covering their fortresses, which could only be taken with fearful losses or by surprise. By building up very large stores of dry forage, however, the Allies were in a position to take the field as early as April, while the French were still tied to their winter quarters. In 1710, as one result, the more mobile Allies captured the very important fortress of Douai without much opposition. In 1711, the French developed substantial forage magazines of their own, albeit with difficulty, because they had to transport all their fodder by road, whereas the Allies could use the major waterways (the Scheldt and Lys rivers) as avenues to build up their stores. Because the French now had the forage, the Allies could only conquer one minor fortress that year, Bouchain, although their penetration of the frontier defenses had been a blow to French morale.
The campaigns of 1710-1711 taught the Allies important lessons: first, that it was possible to make gains on the French only by taking the field early second, that forage magazines alone were no guarantee of success. It was imperative, though, that the Allies try to limit the amount of forage stored by the French because, with adequate supplies of fodder, the French could take strong defensive positions in April and deny the Allies easy victories.
Early in 1712 the French were building their magazines of dry forage in Arras, Cambray and Valenciennes. Arnold Joost van Keppel, Earl of Albemarle, commander of the Allied forces in Flanders during the winter, obtained accurate information about the state of those magazines from his spies. In February he wrote to the Council of State in The Hague that it was of the utmost importance to burn the French magazines because the French were preparing for the recapture of Bouchain.
On March 1, Allied forces totaling about 16,000 men, taking with them 20 pieces of artillery and mortars, marched swiftly toward Arras. They halted opposite the French and dug their trenches in less than three hours. The French attempted a sortie with all their grenadiers, but they were quickly beaten back. ‘The cannon,’ wrote the Dutch official Philip Frederik Vegilin van Claerbergen, ‘were put on the batteries towards the evening, and at midnight they started firing in such a way with red-hot cannonballs, fireballs and bombs that the [forage] magazine started to burn at two o’clock, which [the fire] spread itself so violently that everything was burned to the ground before dawn, without any house, as far as we know, in the city being damaged, because it was forbidden to throw in that direction.’
At 10 o’clock the next morning the Allied force’s units marched back to their respective garrisons without the loss of a single man. The operation had been a tremendous success — more than a million rations of fodder had been burned.
Although the French had suffered a considerable setback, they were still determined to take the field early with strong forces in defense of Arras and Cambray. Prince Eugene of Savoy, who was to command the forces of the Dutch States-General, was anxious to establish control of the Censee River. Otherwise, any siege of Arras or Cambray would be unfeasible.
Fortune turned her face away from the Allies at this crucial moment. Albemarle marched with about 50 battalions and 100 squadrons to the Censee on April 12, only to discover that the French infantry had already occupied all the posts alongside it. The entire Allied strategy fell to pieces. The bridgehead at Bouchain could not be used for an attack on Cambray because it was too small. After initial success for the Allies, the second action of 1712 clearly favored the French.
Even so, the months of campaigning time had to be used to advantage — the Allies could not afford to sit still. On April 26, the Allied army concentrated near Douai it comprised 119 battalions and 225 squadrons. But now the Allies had to wait for the arrival of the Imperial troops — 16 more battalions and 67 squadrons. They arrived one month late, on May 18! The delay represented another serious setback for the Allied campaign.
Nonetheless, it was decided that the Allies would cross the Scheldt and venture into battle — and if that was not feasible, they would besiege Quesnoy. On the 26th the armies marched and crossed the river below Bouchain. On the same day Albemarle was detached with 12 battalions and 30 squadrons to defend the supply line between Denain and Marchiennes. To ensure its safety, in fact, the Allies developed a new line of supply parallel to an abandoned French one of 1711 so that all the necessary supplies for the army could easily be transported from Marchiennes to Denain. An exception was made for bread, which was baked in Bouchain.
On May 28, the Allied quartermasters-general, Britain’s William, first Earl of Cadogan, and the Dutchman Daniel Wolff van Dopff, reconnoitered the upper Scheldt to see if it would be possible to enter the plain of Cambray and force the French to fight. The day after, a council of war was held with Ormonde, Eugene and the Dutch field deputies to decide between offering battle or undertaking sieges of Quesnoy and Landrecies. During that dramatic meeting, the Duke of Ormonde suddenly revealed that he had received special orders from England ordering him to ‘avoid engaging in any siege, or hazarding a battle, till you have further orders.’ He was further instructed to keep his orders a secret from the Allies and to communicate them to the French commander, Maréchal Claude Louis Hector, duc de Villars. These orders became infamous as the war’s ‘restraining orders.’ On June 4, the Allies held another council of war with Ormonde in which they asked him if he was willing to cover the siege of Quesnoy, to which, strangely enough, he consented. On the 19th, the trenches were opened, and on July 4 the fortress capitulated.
On June 17, meanwhile, the conditions under which Great Britain was willing to make peace with France had been proclaimed in the British Parliament by Queen Anne, and on the 25th Ormonde declared that the British and all the troops in British pay were to leave the Allied army and march to Dunkirk. The leaders of the’subsidy-troops’ replied, however, that they had no intention of quitting the Allied army. The Duke told them that in that case he had no other option but to stop their pay and supply of bread. The bread suppliers of the Dutch army, the brothers Juda and Salomon Pereira, then took it upon themselves to supply bread for the 30,000 to 40,000 British subsidy-troops.
Because only the British national troops (20 battalions and 20 squadrons) were to leave the Allied army, the French refused to ratify a cessation of arms. Secretary of State Henry St. John, the Viscount Bolingbroke, was determined, however, to make peace and decided to make Louis XIV a better offer. In exchange for Dunkirk, Great Britain was prepared to make a separate peace. Meanwhile, on July 10, a council of war was held among Eugene, the field-deputies and the foreign generals, and it was decided to lay siege to Landrecies. On the 15th, Ormonde declared that this time he would not participate in the siege and that his orders were to leave the army and march with the British troops to Dunkirk.
Landrecies was invested on July 17 by an Allied force of 34 battalions and 30 squadrons under the command of the Prussian General Anhalt-Dessau. The army of occupation under Eugene still comprised 67 battalions and 220 squadrons, and the supply line between Denain and Marchiennes still was guarded by 10 battalions and 23 squadrons under Albemarle. Marchiennes held a garrison of six battalions and two or three squadrons under Brig. Gen. Charles Berckhoffer.
By undertaking the siege of Landrecies, the Allies took the risk of compromising their supply lines. Everything, from siege guns and munitions to bread, had to travel from Marchiennes to Denain and from there to Landrecies, a total distance of about 40 kilometers and all along the front of the French army. The French, therefore, were in a position to choose a suitable point for attack, whereas the Allies were obliged to scatter their army along the entire line to defend it.
The sector most likely to be attacked was Denain-Marchiennes. If Villars was able to capture Denain and sever the communication between Marchiennes and the Allies, the enemy would be in trouble. Eugene was aware of this danger but hoped that he would be able to march with the bulk of his army in time to relieve the garrison at Denain if it came under attack.
The French generals, for their part, were wondering how to prevent Landrecies from being captured — but not for long. Louis XIV had given positive orders that Villars should risk battle if the Allies besieged Landrecies. Accordingly, on July 19, the French marched toward the Selle River. Eugene quickly countered by moving the Allied army closer to Landrecies, thereby increasing the distance between it and Denain. After a reconnaissance, Villars then concluded that it would be impossible to fight a battle on either side of the Sambre River. After appropriate consultation with Versailles, the French marshal decided that the only option left to relieve Landrecies was to attack Denain.
This would be a bold maneuver. The French would have to march about 30 kilometers (19 miles), cross the Scheldt and attack an entrenched position. Success would depend on secrecy — and luck. At 6 p.m on the 23rd, the French marched.
In his memoirs, J.M. de la Colonie, a veteran soldier and participant in the action of Denain, described the measures Villars took to disguise the true intentions of his march. ‘Twelve hundred workmen were mustered and set to work to make roads along the banks of the Sambre in the direction of Guise, although this was not the route our general had in his mind to take us. To deceive the enemy still more, he sent some dragoons…, who at fall of night took this road along the Sambre with measured tread, and so as to lead our opponents to believe that the whole of our army was on the march, they were accompanied by reliable men, extended at intervals, who shouted out in the darkness the names of our regiments, and drummers were posted here and there along the line who every now and then gave a few taps with their sticks as if to recall scattered soldiery.’
In the early morning of July 24, the French advance guard of 22 battalions, 40 squadrons, pontoon-men, and an artillery brigade, followed by 22 battalions and 40 squadrons, reached the Scheldt. The main force arrived at noon. It was half an hour after the French had reached the Scheldt that Albemarle was informed. He marched 16 squadrons to the crossing over the Scheldt but arrived too late to turn the tide. Denain was already under attack.
Albemarle and his force of 13 battalions and 30 squadrons had been busy since May 26, building up Denain’s defenses. Immediately after his arrival, he had given orders to develop entrenchments to guard against the enemy garrison at Valenciennes, which was only 7 1/2 kilometers (4 1/2 miles) distant. While not meant to withstand the assault of an army, the fieldworks became more extended than was usually necessary in order to accommodate an artillery train — providing the horses and breadwagons that would be coming and going constantly from Marchiennes with a place to stay during the night. As a result, Albemarle only had enough soldiers — three ranks — to properly man one-third of the entire length of the new defensive works. Another disadvantage was that the ground was so rocky that it proved impossible to make a strong entrenchment or to dig a second ditch about 30 meters (100 feet) in front. That was a serious omission — now the enemy would be able to advance very quickly toward the entrenchment before the defenders could pour volleys of deadly musketry into the attacking formations. A palisade was also lacking — if the French reached the entrenchment, they would be able to climb into it.
Between Denain and Marchiennes, Albemarle had constructed a double line of about 12 1/2 kilometers (8 miles). On May 31, General Berckhoffer had been detached with a small force to Marchiennes, the communications between the army and Denain ensured by two pontoon bridges across the Scheldt. On the other side, a small entrenchment had been made in which Eugene had posted six Imperial and Palatinate battalions. On July 12, Albemarle had received an order to send one of his two pontoon bridges to Landrecies to be used for the supply line between the besieging force on the east bank of the Sambre and the army of occupation on the west bank. He had refused three times because it would be impossible to send all the munitions and breadwagons across just one bridge. On the 14th he had been informed by Quartermaster-General Dopff that there were only 40 pontoons for the entire army (the British had taken the remainder with them) and that at least 30 were needed for the siege and two for Bouchain. Albemarle had given orders to start constructing a wooden bridge across the Scheldt that would be finished on July 24.
On the afternoon of July 24, seeing it was impossible to throw the French back across the Scheldt, Albemarle retreated to Denain and sent word to Eugene to give the alarm. Because the cavalry could be of no use in the defense of Denain, he sent his mounted troops across the Scheldt — and just in time, since only a short while later all the roads to the bridge were congested with baggage supply wagons.
At 10 o’clock in the morning, Eugene himself arrived in Denain. It was decided that all the wagons were to be sent to the other side of the river and that the six Imperial and Palatinate battalions were to cross the river and reinforce the garrison. The entire army would march as quickly as possible to the relief of the garrison. It was doubtful they would reach it in time, however, because the nearest units were still 15 kilometers (9 1/2 miles) away. Denain was therefore defended by 17 battalions, of which four were Dutch, eight Imperial or Palatinate and the rest subsidy troops. Eugene returned to the other side of the Scheldt.
In the meantime, the French army was crossing more slowly than Villars had expected, and he started to lose faith that the expedition would succeed. The French marshal, Joseph de Montesquiou, Comte d’Artagnan, managed, however, to convince Villars at this critical moment that the attack must go on — thus, the appropriate dispositions were made. The French decided to attack not in lines — with seven brigades (40 battalions) in the first line and two brigades (six battalions) in the second line, as was usually done — but in columns.
The attack would take place between the communication lines connecting Denain with Marchiennes. Each brigade would form two columns of one battalion in width and three in depth. Eighty companies of grenadiers would form the vanguard. Defending that sector were the Van Welderen, Fechenbach, Douglas, Isselbach and Efferen battalions. As French veteran de la Colonie recalled the action: ‘In the orders for the assault, the front ranks of our troops were directed to sling their muskets and use their swords, so as to have greater freedom in scaling the parapets. Those in rear followed with bayonets fixed and took no fascines. We doubled rapidly forward to the ditch and scrambled in, with each other’s aid, without meeting with much resistance or anything in the nature of a repulse, and although this was not effected without some loss, one does not wait to count the cost when one’s attention is taken up with what is going on in front.’
The fight was short, although it seemed in the beginning that the French attack would be repulsed as a result of the fire of six Allied cannons. But then quite suddenly, at 1 o’clock, the French advanced so furiously while shouting ‘Vive le Roi‘ that the defending battalions, after firing several volleys, turned about and fled toward the Abbey of Denain. The French followed close on their heels. After the French had penetrated the entrenchments, all the Allied battalions were thrown into confusion and tried to flee across the bridge. Unfortunately for the retreating Allies, the pontoons were broken by the baggage wagons. The only way left to escape the French was to swim across the Scheldt in the confusion and chaos many soldiers were drowned. The Earl of Albemarle was taken prisoner, together with four other generals. Two Dutch generals, Count Dohna and Cornelis van Nassau-Woudenberg, were killed or drowned.
The French lost 880 men killed and 1,186 wounded, but the losses of the Allies were about twice that number. In the beginning the Allied force had totaled about 8,500 men (i.e., about 500 men per battalion). Now, 2,000 of them had been killed, half by drowning 2,330 were taken prisoner and 4,080 made their escape and returned to the army. Although the Allied force lost about half its strength, some of its battalions had suffered much greater attrition than others. The hardest hit regiment, that of Van Welderen, was virtually massacred.
The loss of Denain was a serious military setback for the Allies, but politically it was a virtual disaster. The Dutch Republic lost all faith in continuation of the war. The Allied army was almost immediately without bread because the French had captured the last convoy in Denain. Dutch Field Deputy Vegilin van Claerbergen was therefore sent to Mons to make preparations for the baking of bread. It would be very difficult to supply the army from Mons, however, because not only would the bread wagons have to travel about 30 kilometers (19 miles) to Quesnoy, but the supplies for Mons would have to be carried in turn from Tournay or Brussels. On July 29 the first bread left Mons for the army. Sixty-five squadrons were needed to protect it from French raiders.
After the victory at Denain, Villars detached a force to capture Mortaigne, St. Amand and Anchin on the Scarpe, and on July 25 the French laid siege to the main prize: Marchiennes. After a stubborn defense of five days, the garrison there surrendered, and the main depot of the Allied army was lost to the French. ‘All these magazines,’ wrote de la Colonie, ‘were of the greatest use in the sieges undertaken by us later on. A hundred and twenty-five beautiful pieces of cannon, quite new, were found therein over and above the munitions of war and food.’
The loss of Marchiennes, coupled with that of Denain, put the Allies on the defensive and the French in a position to do what they pleased. Eugene still wanted to continue the siege of Landrecies, but it would take at least 14 days to obtain a new siege train, and in the meantime the French could lay siege to Douai. And obtaining the food supply from Mons still would be very difficult.
On August 2, it was therefore decided to march to Mons, although it would be impossible to prevent Douai from being besieged. Indeed, on the 7th the French surrounded Douai with 40 battalions and 34 squadrons, backed up by Villars with 124 battalions and 222 squadrons. The Allies had 100 battalions and 250 squadrons. On September 8 the fortress fell. After Douai, the French reconquered Quesnoy (between September 19 and October 4) and Bouchain (between October 1 and 19). On October 24, the Allied army went to winter quarters, and the French did the same the next day.
Since January 1712, meanwhile, the peace conference had been meeting in Utrecht. On April 11 and 12, 1713, the peace accords were signed between France, Great Britain, Savoy, Portugal, Prussia and the Dutch Republic. The first two got the best of the bargain. The Republic, which had exhausted itself in 40 years of conflict with France, was left with a diminished barrier to any future French ambitions in the north. Only Emperor Charles VI refused to end the war, but it was impossible for him to fight France alone. There were to be no more significant battles, and in 1714, the Hapsburg Empire and France signed the peace of Rastatt, which would mark the official end of the War of the Spanish Succession.
Although Louis XIV accomplished his original objective of seeing Philip V recognized as King of Spain, the French and Spanish Bourbons were never to be united. In that respect, the main goal of the Second Grand Alliance, namely preventing France from becoming the dominant power in Europe, had been achieved. Nevertheless, France’s recovery from its defeats in the highly publicized battles of Blenheim, Ramillies and Malplaquet represented a remarkable reversal of fortune. In material terms, or in tactical brilliance, Villars’ success at Denain was hardly comparable to Marlborough’s at Blenheim. But its long-term strategic consequences show that a small victory in the right place and under the right circumstances can produce disproportionate results.
This article was written by Olaf van Nimwegen and originally appeared in the February 1995 issue of Military History magazine. For more great articles be sure to subscribe to Military History magazine today!
After the Battle of Tourcoing on 17-18 May 1794, Jourdan was given the command of the Army of the Ardennes and four divisions of the Army of the North, about 96,000 men in total. This new group was then named the Army of the Sambre-et-Meuse. The new army was then given the task of capturing Charleroi.
On 12 June, the French army, accompanied and supervised by a member of the Committee of Public Safety, Louis de Saint-Just, had invested the town of Charleroi with about 70,000 men. On 16 June at Lambusart, an Austrian-Dutch force of about 43,000 men counterattacked in heavy mist. The Allies managed to inflict some 3,000 casualties on the French and drive them back over the Sambre. On 18 June, however, Jourdan attacked again and managed to retake Charleroi. The city surrendered on 26 June, just as a relieving force under the Prince of Coburg arrived to raise the siege.
Landing of William in Scheveningen on 30 November 1813
After Napoleon's defeat at Leipzig (October 1813), the French troops retreated to France from all over Europe. The Netherlands had been annexed to the French Empire by Napoleon in 1810. But now city after city was evacuated by the French occupation troops. In ensueing the power vacuum a number of former Orangist politicians and former Patriots formed a provisional government in November 1813. Although a large number of the members of the provisional government had helped drive out William V 18 years earlier, it was taken for granted that his son would have to head any new regime. They also agreed it would be better in the long term for the Dutch to restore him themselves, rather than have the Great Powers impose him on the country. The Dutch population were pleased with the departure of the French, who had ruined the Dutch economy, and this time welcomed the prince. ⎛] :634–642
After having been invited by the Driemanschap (Triumvirate) of 1813, on 30 November 1813 William disembarked from Template:HMS and landed at Scheveningen beach, only a few yards from the place where he had left the country with his father 18 years before, and on 6 December the provisional government offered him the title of King. William refused, instead proclaiming himself "Sovereign Prince of the Netherlands". He also wanted the rights of the people to be guaranteed by "a wise constitution". ⎛] :643
The constitution offered William extensive (almost absolute) powers. Ministers were only responsible to him, while a unicameral parliament (the States General) exercised only limited power. He was inaugurated as sovereign prince in the New Church in Amsterdam on 30 March 1814. In August 1814, he was appointed Governor-General of the former Austrian Netherlands and the Prince-Bishopric of Liège (more or less modern-day Belgium) by the Allied Powers who occupied that country, ruling them on behalf of Prussia. He was also made Grand Duke of Luxembourg, having received that territory in return for trading his hereditary German lands to Prussia and the Duke of Nassau. The Great Powers had already agreed via the secret Eight Articles of London to unite the Low Countries into a single kingdom. It was believed that a united country on the North Sea would help keep France in check. With the de facto addition of the Austrian Netherlands and Luxembourg to his realm, William had fulfilled his family's three-century dream of uniting the Low Countries.
Aside from the destruction of the main French column, a detachment that had been pushed forward to Troisvilles was driven back by two guns commanded by Congreve and joined the rest of the rout. Meanwhile, the 4,000 strong southern column had advanced beyond Maurois with its artillery, but on encountering the fugitives began to retire in good order. This was spotted by Major Stepheicz with two squadrons of the Austrian Archduke Ferdinand Hussars and four of the British 7th and 11th Light Dragoons, who followed up and drove the rearguard back onto the main body to the west of Maretz. A few miles further on he came up with the main body and completely dispersed it, capturing 10 guns.  In this part of the field alone 1200 were reported killed. Chapuis&apos command was pursued by a wide detour all the way to the gates of Cambrai.
Mansel&aposs son, taken prisoner by the retreating French as he tried to save his father&aposs life was later exchanged and declared that during the battle "there was not, on the 26th, a single French soldier left in the town" as Chapuis had drawn out the whole garrison of Cambrai to support the attack on Inchy. Had this been known at the time a detachment could easily have walked into Cambrai as the French retreated by a very circuitous route 
Siege of Landrecies, 17-30 April 1794 - History
|The Irish Rebellion 1796 - 1798|
|Battle of Arklow|
The same squadron, under Lt-Col Sherlock were instrumental in relieving the loyalists of Ballycarnen, with the aid of a small force of militia. The dragoon guards advanced against a barricade of carts formed across the road but were unable to make any impression on this defence. More infantry arrived later and with their help the rebels were routed and the dragoon guards were able to pursue them and cut them down.
Vinegar Hill 21st June 1798
The squadron were again engaged at Gorey where they had to charge the rebels once more. The more famous action at Vinegar Hill saw them in action against insurgents who had murdered many Protestants. They made a charge and again caused the rebels to flee so that many were killed or captured. A subsidiary action followed this at White Hills where a sharp contest took place and the rebels were scattered.
Another detachment of the 5th DG was operating in County Kildare and had several skirmishes with insurgents. A patrol commanded by Captain Pack encountered 100 rebels at Prosperous. They were mounted and armed but the dragoon guards attacked them so that the rebels fell back with the shock of the assault. Twenty were killed and 8 horse captured.
The French decided to bring aid to the flagging rebellion and sent a 1,000 strong force under a General Humbert. They landed at Killala on 22nd Aug and the 5th Dragoon Guards, under Captain William Ponsonby, marched from Dublin to join up with The Marquis of Cornwallis's troops. The action at Ballinamuck on 8th Sep was fought against a combined army of French and Catholic Irish rebels. The result of the conflict was the surrender of the French and the dispersal of the rebels.
Llerena (or Villagarcia) 11th April 1812
Six Troops of the regiment, now titled Princess Charlotte of Wales's, were embarked at Portsmouth to land at Lisbon on 4th Sep 1811. The Hon William Ponsonby was now in command of the regiment and they had a strength of 544 officers and men. They were brigaded with the 3rd and 4th Dragoons, their first task being to cover the siege of Badajoz in southern Spain. This fortress was captured on 6th April and the 5th DG made a forced night march to Bienvenida, covering 60 miles without a halt. At the village of Villagarcia they encountered a large force of French Cavalry the next day, and immediately charged them even though they were outnumbered 3 to 1. The 3rd and 4th Dragoons were in support in this action and the 16th Light Dragoons also charged. The result was the retreat of the enemy under cover of their infantry and artillery. The regiment inflicted heavy losses on the French, and took more than 140 prisoners and 100 horses. Lt-Col Ponsonby commanded the brigade for this action and the regiment was led by Major Prescott. They lost one corporal and 14 privates while 25 men were wounded including Major Prescott.
Garcia Hernandez 23rd July 1812
There was a follow-up engagement to Salamanca that occurred beyond Alba de Tormes which achieved fame for the heavy cavalry of Major-General von Bock's King's German Legion. They charged and broke an infantry square, and then went on to break another square, a very rare occurrence. The left squadron of the 5th Dragoon Guards was attached to the KGL for this and must therefore take credit for a part in this victory. The British Light Brigade was also in support, involving the 11th 12th and 16th Light Dragoons.
The regiment saw Wellington enter Madrid on 12th Aug and stayed there for 6 days. They proceeded to Burgos and helped provide cover for the siege. But the weight of superior French numbers brought about a general retreat to Portugal. From Hormillos the Heavy Brigade covered the retreat and staved off a large force of enemy cavalry. When they crossed the Carrion their HQ was set up at Duenas and two squadrons were detailed to mine the bridges of Palencia but the French captured them before they could do this. When they reached Portugal they stayed at Gallegos, then Ervidal and wintered at Goes. The year 1812 had been hard for the regiment, they had marched 2,000 miles within 12 months and lost many horses as a result.
The brigade ventured out in 1813, via Viride, Trasos-Montes, across the Esla on 26th May, past Valencia and onto Burgos. They overtook the enemy's rearguard on the heights of Estepar where the 14th Light Dragoons made a charge. The Wellington's army then proceeded over mountainous country and crossed the Ebro on 15th June to advance on the French defensive position at Vittoria. The battle was fought by the infantry using the bayonet for the most part, while the cavalry, unable to operate on the unsuitable terrain, could only act as support. But when the enemy were in retreat they pursued them and gave them no time to regroup. The 5thDG suffered only one casualty, a wounded private, in the battle, but were in pursuit on the following day. On 27th June they were detached to intercept General Clausel's division but they slipped through the pass of Jaca. The regiment spent 14 days at Tafalla then moved on to Mirando.
The brigade entered France in Feb 1814 and followed the retreating French. Marshal Soult found a strong position to cover Toulouse and a battle ensued, starting on 10th April, Easter Sunday, which again involved the infantry. The 5th DG were in support of Spanish troops with the task of stiffening their resolve in case they should feel unable to continue. They were able to accomplish this and to save the Portuguese guns from being captured. The French were driven off their position and took shelter in the town. The regiment again had few casualties, one corporal killed and Cornet Lucas wounded. The battle honours VITTORIA and TOULOUSE were awarded to the 5th DG on 14th Feb 1820. Thus they accrued 4 honours, PENINSULA being awarded on 6th April 1815. The Peninsula War was now over and the regiment marched to Boulogne, commencing on 1st June and reaching the port in mid-July. They sailed for Dover and marched to Woodbridge barracks and in October went to Ipswich.
Cholera in Varna July-Sep 1854
The British cavalry sent out to the Crimea in the summer of 1854 consisted of two brigades, the Light and the Heavy. Five regiments were to be represented in each brigade so that the Heavies contained the Scots Greys, the 6th Inniskilling Dragoons, The 1st Royal Dragoons, the 4th and the 5th Dragoon Guards. Each regiment was composed of 2 squadrons of at least 155 men, but they had difficulty finding enough men to provide that number. The 5th DG had to borrow 15 men from the 7th DG so that on embarkation they numbered 314 all ranks, and 295 horses. They sailed from Queenstown (Cobh), co.Cork, to the Black Sea on the 'Himalaya', a voyage that took 16 days. The voyage was terrible for the horses, and the men were fed very old salted food. They were taken to Varna where many died of cholera. The 5th DG suffered badly so that by 28th Aug three officers and 34 men had died. The army was mobilised and sailed eastwards across the Black Sea on 7th Sep 1854. The Heavy Brigade were left behind for some reason and had to wait for the empty transports to return for them. The first of the Heavies to arrive at the Crimea were the Scots Greys who came straight from England without stopping at Varna so were untouched by the cholera. The Battle of the Alma was fought on 21st Sep, before the Heavy Brigade set sail. They did not reach the Crimea until the end of September.
Command of the Regiment in the Crimea
|In the Crimea|
Balaklava was the port used by the British to supply the army camped around Sebastopol, the objective of the whole campaign. The cavalry, along with the 93rd Foot, were employed in defending the area around the port while the infantry and artillery laid siege to Sebastopol. In the days leading up to the 25th Oct there were clear signs of a build up of Russian forces and an attack on Balaklava was imminent. They were first going to attack the 6 redoubts placed on the hills between north and south valley. These were manned by Turkish soldiers and a few Royal Artillerymen and armed with 9 twelve-pounder guns. The Heavy Brigade were formed up in South Valley, near Canrobert's Hill but it was not a safe place as Russian cannonballs were being fired over the hills from north valley and bowling into their ranks. 7 horses and 2 men were lost. The redoubts had to be evacuated and the guns were spiked. The Heavies were moved further west after receiving an order from Lord Raglan and found themselves in vineyards. The area they vacated filled with Russian cavalry who were repulsed by the thin red line of the 93rd.
The Charge of the Heavy Brigade
The other half of the Russian cavalry, numbering around 2,000 made its way along the Causeway Heights between the valleys and descended into the South Valley. This force of cavalry were light horsemen dressed in dark grey coats and black bell-topped shakos, and riding black horses. They were referred to in orders transmitted between the British commanders as the 'black-looking mass'. It was by sheer chance that the Heavy Brigade was moving back eastwards following a second order from Raglan, and were at the same place where the Russian black mass was descending the hill. Scarlett ordered the Inniskillings and Greys to wheel left. The 5th Dragoon Guards wheeled left to take a position on the left of the Greys but interpreted Scarlett's order to mean that they should support the Greys.
'it was just like a melee coming out of a crowded theatre, jostling horse against horse, violent language, hacking and pushing, till suddenly the Russians gave way.'
The swords were found to be very inefficient. They could not pierce the thick coats of the enemy and often bent. They were more successful when they cleaved their opponents' heads from the position of their taller horses. Casualties on the British side were light, mostly because the Russians had not sharpened their blades. Captured enemy weapons revealed the swords to be extremely blunt. ADC Elliot received 14 sword injuries but was declared only slightly wounded. It seems that the bravery and discipline of the Heavy Brigade unnerved the Russian black mass so that a force of around 300 men defeated 2,000 in an uphill charge. The Horse Artillery also played a part, however, and galloped five and a half miles to reach the battle. They fired at a range of 700 yards as the enemy was withdrawing, and prevented them from regrouping.
The part played by the 5th Dragoon Guards was actually quite minimal compared to the Inniskillings, Greys and 4th DG, as they were more outside the melee than inside, although Brigadier Scarlett and his staff of three were all 5thDG and were the first four men to charge into the Russians. The regimental casualties were few and in fact they suffered more dead and wounded in the charge of the Light Brigade which took place later that day. In that action they were held in reserve but positioned in a dangerous place that was exposed to enemy fire from small-arms and artillery. Col Hodge who was in command of the 4th and 5th DG wrote, 'We advanced to cover their [the Light Brigade's] retreat but the batteries got our range and began cutting us up terribly. I was not sorry when we were ordered to retreat.'
Casualties in the Charge at Balaklava 1854
Out of the 5 regiments
16 men were killed in the charge
42 men were severely or dangerously wounded
45 men were slightly wounded
The Scots Greys sustained the heaviest casualties with 8 killed or died later, and 50 wounded. The 6th Inniskilling Dragoons had one man killed and 14 wounded. The 1st Royal Dragoons had 2 men killed and 10 men wounded. The 4th Dragoon Guards had one man killed and 5 wounded. The 5th Dragoon Guards had 3 men killed and 9 wounded. Their names are:
Killed or died of wounds
Private Bernard Callery
Corporal Charles McKeegan
Corporal James Taylor
Private Charles Babbington
Private Henry Herbert
Private Joseph Jenkins
Private Edward Malone
Private John McCabe
Captain Frederick Hay Swinfen
Private William Wilson
Private George Henry Dickson
Private William Morris
Camel Regiment Detachment
Sir Garnet Wolseley's expedition to Khartoum to rescue General Gordon from the Madhi's army comprised the Nile River boat column, and the Camel Corps which was to make the trip across the desert from Korti while the boats followed the Nile northeast for 300 kilometres before turning south. The Camel Corps consisted of 4 regiments: The Guards Camel Regiment, the Heavy Camel Regiment, the Light Camel Regiment, and the Mounted Infantry Camel Regiment. The Heavy Camel regiment was to have 43 men and two officers from each of the following cavalry regiments: 1st and 2nd Life Guards, the Blues, 2nd DG, 4th DG, 5th DG, 1st Royals, 2nd Scots Greys, 5th Lancers, and 16th Lancers. There were 24 officers and 376 men in the regiment under the command of Lt-Colonel R A J Talbot of the 1st Life Guards. They were in effect mounted infantry as they were not intended to fight as mounted troops.
Abu Klea 16th-18th Jan 1885
The column halted at the wells of Abu Klea and were threatened by a large force of Madhists. They were sniped at all night and the next day formed a defensive square with the camels kept inside. They were attacked, and the Heavy Camel Regiment were ordered by Colonel Frederick Burnaby to exit the square to support the Gardner Gun operated by the Naval Brigade. The weight of the attack by the dervishes forced the gun crew back when the gun jammed and several casualties were suffered. In this action 9 British officers were killed, including Major Walter Hyde Atherton of the 5th DG along with 10 men of the regiment. The enemy were driven off and the column continued to Khartoum where they found they were too late to save Gordon.
Elandslaagte 21st Oct 1899
The Boers entrenched on the heights were subjected to an assault by the infantry which turned into a horrendous ordeal for the Manchesters, Gordons and the dismounted Imperial Light Horse who were pinned down by accurate rifle fire and were also soaked in a tremendous thunderstorm. Theirs was a flanking attack which was intended to distract the Boers from a frontal assault made by the Devons who went in vigourously and achieved success but the Boers regained the heights again in a desperate fight. More hand-to-hand fighting took place and the British finally forced the retreat of the Boers who took to their horses and fled as the light of day began to fade. It was here that the Lancers and Dragoon Guards began their pursuit of the enemy. The ground was difficult for the cavalry at first, as St John Gore relates:
|The Boer Point of View|
They made three charges against the Boers. There was much blood spilt in these charges and the Boers harboured a deep hatred of the British after this 'massacre', especially the Lancers. They swore that any lancers they captured in the future would be killed. But there are conflicting accounts from those that took part in the charges at Elandslaagte. One lancer wrote home: 'They threw up their arms and fell on their knees for mercy but we were told not to give them any, and I can assure you they got none. We went along sticking our lances through them - it was terrible thing: but you have to do it in a case like this.'
The accounts written by men of the 5th DG all talk of taking prisoners. Troop Sergeant Savage said, 'The pace increased, on and on, until we could see and pick out our man. After this I no longer tried to follow my Troop leader, but rode as hard as I could for that one man. As I approached him, he dropped off his pony (a grey) and fired at someone to the right. I overtook him and rode on for another who was some little distance in front. This fellow, by the time I got up to him, was laid on his back, and looked so helpless and so much like a civilian, that I took his arms and ammunition, and as by this time the troops were rallying, I marched him up a prisoner and handed him over to Corporal Howard, who was taking over the prisoners. This man, whilst I had my lance to his breast, asked for no mercy, but handed over his arms like a soldier who could do no more. I took the precaution to make him hand me the butt first. There was nothing of the coward about him.'
This narrative is interesting as it indicates that the 5th DG were using lances. Lieut Philip Reynolds wrote, 'Men were dismounted by twos and threes to make a single Boer prisoner, and our ranks were soon thinned out. At last we came to a spruit and the whole line halted. A few Boers here were dismounted, and fired a few shots without doing any damage. I took a few men, and we surrounded them and made prisoners of them.' Thus it becomes obvious that the taking of prisoners was detrimental to the pursuit.
Lombard's Kop 30th Oct 1899
The battle of Ladysmith, or Lombard's Kop was General White's attempt to take the offensive against the combined forces of General Joubert's Boers, General Lucas Meyer's force, and a commando from the Free State. The British were outnumbered and the Boers had powerful artillery building up to besiege Ladysmith, especially their Long Tom positioned on Pepworth Hill. White's forces were split into three and concentrated their attacks on the hills ranging around Pepworth in the north and Lombard's Kop 5 miles east of the town. The cavalry were made up of the 5th DG, 5th Lancers, 18th and 19th Hussars and the Natal Carbineers. They were all jammed into a nullah one and a half miles long and 10 or 20 yards wide and came under heavy fire from the Boers who had out-manoeuvred the British completely. They were forced to retreat in a disorderly manner described by an infantry officer as 'very nearly a stampede' It was only the brave and efficient actions of 53rd Battery RA under Major Abdy that saved the cavalry from serious casualties. As it was, they came off lightly compared to the infantry who had many men taken prisoner, 954 in all, and 320 casualties.
|2nd Lieut Norwood VC|
|The Green Horse|
|Vestigia nulla restorsum |
We do not retreat
|The Gay Cavalier |
|Soldier's chorus from Gounod's Faust |
|Colonels in Chief|
|1685 - 1922|
|1685 - 1922|
|1685 - 1922|
|1685 - 1922|
|1685 - 1922|
|Band and Drumhorses|
|1685 - 1922|
|Sabretaches and Pouchbelts|
|1685 - 1922|
|1685 - 1922|
|Principal Campaigns and Battles|
|Shrewsbury's Horse (7th Horse) |
(1685 - 1687)
(1687 - 1688)
(1688 - 1691)
(1691 - 1697)
(1697 - 1703)
(1703 - 1712)
(1712 - 1717)
(1717 - 1740)
(1740 - 1744)
(1744 - 1745)
(1745 - 1746)
2nd Irish Horse
(1746 - 1788)
5th Dragoon Guards
(1788 - 1804)
The 5th (Princess Charlotte of Wales's) Dragoon Guards
|5th/6th Dragoons |
(1922 - 1927)
5th Inniskilling Dragoon Guards
(1927 - 1935)
5th Royal Inniskilling Dragoon Guards
(1935 - )
|The Story of a Regiment of Horse (5th Princess of Wales's Dragoon Guards) 1685-1922 (2 vols) Blackwood 1924 |
Tracks in Europe
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