Wednesday, 27 September 2017

The War of the Spanish Succession: The Battle of Oudenarde July 11th 1708 (Part 6) Cry Havoc!

The view from the French side of the hill. The panorama is becoming rather disturbing to the French command as their troops are being hemmed in by the geography of the battlefield and their two brigades of infantry are now facing four deployed brigades of the Allies. The question is even if the French want to deploy more troops where can they fit them in? They need to push forwards with all haste to create some breathing space (see below): 

From Marlborough's and Prince Eugene's perspective although the Allies are fully deployed the fight is far from over. The Allies need to press forwards and break the last line of French and Bavarian resistance or the French will have time to fully deploy their reserves (see below):

At this point the Allies face a new moment of crisis as the guns of the French from across the river find the range of the most advanced Prussians forming the final part of the "closed gate". The Prussians panicked and retired, flinching at the fire. If the enemy had been near it would have been a rout. As it was it was an ungainly display of mob rule. As it was the "gap" was serious enough. Thankfully (for the Allies) the last Prussian cavalry arrived in force to plug the gap (see below):

Meanwhile the British infantry started once again on their remorseless advance, John Churchill with them every step of the way, picking his way through the corpse strewn field being an inspiration to his troops. Then with an impressive display of ordered musketry the British infantry disordered the French battalions facing them (see below): 

The French line was shattered and turned tail and fled, causing havoc (disordering) amongst the Bavarian infantry behind who in turn were swept away (umpire's ruling). The crisis was now turned on the French as their infantry flank melted away (see below):

To the north a flood of fresh Prussian cavalry engulfed the last remaining fresh French cavalry regiment. All that remained to stop the Allies now were composite squadrons of tired French horse and a few, although still fresh, compacted battalions of infantry (see below):

Seeing the debacle unfold the French troops still north of the river yet to cross were ordered by their officers to halt. The troops already across were promptly about faced and retired. The French army was in full retreat and needed a stiff rearguard action to avoid complete destruction (see below):

A sight for Queen Anne! The mass of Allied infantry advancing, some four lines deep was an awe inspiring sight, but put the fear of God into the French rearguard troops that had to face them (see below, Hanoverian's and Prussians, the British are out of the picture to the left):

Next: Closing Time

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