Tuesday, 3 October 2017

The War of the Spanish Succession: The Battle of Oudenarde July 11th 1708 (Part 7) All Good Things Come to an End

The Hanoverian infantry faced-off against the French rearguard. Pressing the French "too hard" meant that the French artillery would strike with deadly effect so an impasse was in effect (see below):

So gradually the French rearguard trickled away as the Allies marched forward in an orderly fashion, wary of a potential French counter stroke and content in squeezing the French back over the river. Inevitably the disordered French in retreat were faster than the Allies in steady advance, however the detritus of war that was left on the battlefield indicated how many of the French soldiers were shedding their valuable equipment in pure flight (see below):

One final cavalry skirmish was sufficient to remove the remnants of the French cavalry regiments from the field leaving only a gaggle on infantry on the wrong side of the river (see below):

Alas one French Line regiment was caught between desperate fires. Its situation was clearly hopeless. It had formed square because of cavalry threat and was thus immobile, but then saw solid lines of Prussian infantry advancing on it readying their muskets, just outside of range. They felt too that the eyes of the recently unlimbered Allied artillery was on them, it was going to be a brutal end. With Bourbon colours flying they awaited the onslaught, resolute to die as fighting men of France for their King Louis XIV (see below):

However an Allied commander stepped forth and called a halt to proceedings. The game was over and he could not bear to see brave soldiers of his former country be slaughtered for no reason. Prince Eugen sent forth a parley (see below):

An Aide de Camp (ADC) spoke to the French Colonel of Foot:

"Sirs, Prince Eugen has seen your bravery and declares that you are the bravest French regiment on the field of battle today, for when all else were fleeing you stood. Lesser men have escaped. You have given them time to do so. For this he salutes you as you have performed a soldiers job well. Indeed he sees that you were willing to pay with your lives.Your colours are steady and have you conducted yourselves in the proud traditions of the French army. Prince Eugen and his staff salute you."

There was a pause and the ADC continued:

"Price Eugen on behalf of the Allied Command offers you terms. He personally guaranteed your safety if you lower your flag and avoid senseless bloodshed. You are offered honours and your men will be the first in prisoner exchange and parole. Your colours will not be taken from you. What say you?"

The Colonel of Foot bows and the colours were lowered. The men let out a sigh of relief for this unexpected salvation. The men were formed into columns, their muskets are shouldered but upside down, a bullet in the mouth however they walk to captivity (see below):

Night falls on a convincing Allied victory. Marlborough and Eugen consult in yet another 'council of war' for the next day brings yet more trials of strength. The war goes on!


Robert (Bob) Cordery said...

I've really enjoyed reading each episode of this battle report, and although this is a period that I have very rarely wargamed, I can see why it is enjoyed by so many.

All the best,


Geordie an Exiled FoG said...

Cheers Bob

This is a completely new period for me and together with the Glorious Revolution of 1688 something that is not really taught in schools

It places Winston Churchill in context and gives birth to the British parliamentary system in its loose modern form

I'll be onto colonial next ;)