Published by permission of the estate of the late Arthur Barbera.
As a service to our readers, this article has been translated from the original by Google Translate (2021). The original work may be downloaded from this link.
The assaults of the Prince of Orange on September 11, 1709.
This article is a summary of our work entitled L’Affaire des Suisses à Malplaquet, [s.l.]: Editions Ledant, 1997 (in collaboration with Daniel Penant).
The War of the Spanish Succession (1701-1714) was perhaps a war too many for Louis XIV. During this long and murderous conflict, fate turned resolutely against France. The king’s army was defeated by the Allies at Blenheim in 1704 and at Ramillies in 1706. Two years later, in 1708, it suffered a new defeat at Oudenaarde. A few months later, Lille, the “queen of the citadels”, succumbs in turn, paving the way for an invasion. At the beginning of 1709, the situation was desperate: threatened with collapse, subject to stubborn famine and great financial difficulties, France tried in vain to open up peace, while enemy armies were massing on its borders. The fate of the kingdom now rested on the next battle. On September 11, 1709, shortly after the capitulation of Tournai, Europe saw three great armies clash, led by the greatest captains of the time: Prince Eugene of Savoy (1663-1736) for the Imperialists, the Duke de Marlborough (1650-1722) for the Anglo-Dutch and Marshal de Villars (1653-1734) for France.
This study does not attempt to rewrite the history of the Battle of Malplaquet. It is dedicated to the assaults led by the Dutch alone during this memorable day. This part of the battle, which particularly concerns the Swiss regiments, is undoubtedly the least studied; few historians have dared to deal with it, no doubt for lack of well-established certainties Il existe tout de même plusieurs études dont celle de WIJN, Jan Willem, «Les troupes hollandaises à la bataille de Malplaquet», in : Revue internationale d’ histoire militaire, 19 (1957), … Continue reading. It is true that the horror of the carnage imposed a relative silence on witnesses, both on the Allied side and on the French side. Add to this the polemics born after the battle, the reproaches made by the English against the young Prince of Orange and those made against Marshal Boufflers by subalterns frustrated at having remained on the defensive and we will understand why the historiography has remained silent about these events.
On the night of September 8 to 9, 1709, Marshal Villars, who was trying to save Mons, on the verge of being besieged by the Allies, marched with his army towards the Malplaquet gap. The following night, learning that the forces of Marlborough and Prince Eugene had taken up position south of the city, he ordered his troops to entrench themselves. Engineers, helped by troops, work to cut trees and dig trenches, while artillery officers seek the best locations for their batteries. On the Allied side, we are also preparing for battle, as the testimony of this Dutch officer shows: “On the 9th of this month, the left wing of our army took up position in front of the Bois de Lanières. The enemies were discovered in front of the said wood which they wanted to occupy, and that day a terrible fire or cannon was made. We would have attacked well if we had not had to wait for a reinforcement of 26 battalions  Sur ces 26 bataillons hollandais se trouvant à Tournai, seuls 21 partiront finalement pour Malplaquet. arriving from Tournai, and which arrived during the night of 10-11. During this time the enemy had strongly entrenched themselves. ”  « Relation faite le 12 septembre 1709, du Camp d’Aulnois », in : Gazette d’Amsterdam, 17 septembre 1709
On September 10, determined to give battle, the allied generals issue an order of attack for the left of the army, after a council of war held at the Sars mill:
“All the Dutch infantry, with those coming from the siege [of Tournai], will be destined for this attack, and it will be carried out by as many battalions as the ground will be able to contain, arranged in three or four lines. The generals will take care that these lines are not too close to each other, and that there are intervals such that a battalion can pass through to relieve or support the attacks. On the left, in the flank, five or six battalions would be made to march to attack the grenadiers which covered the enemy’s right flank. It is believed that the attack to the right of the path where the Zoutelande regiment was stationed that night would be too difficult, because of the funds and the hedges there. Thus, only two or three battalions will be left there, which will stand properly on the defensive, and the surplus will be used for the attack on the front. To the right of the Zoutelande regiment, where the ground is more open, it will be necessary to make an attack of six or eight battalions to keep the enemies in occupation, and prevent them from being able to reinforce the attack in the woods. Large pieces of artillery will be in the most convenient places to beat enemy entrenchments in ruins. Small pieces will work with brigades and it will be used according to the situation of wood. When the infantry have driven that of the enemies out of the woods and the hedges, they will not enter the plain; but will take up position behind the last hedges or ditches, and the generals will take care to make openings through which the cavalry can enter the plain to arm themselves there, and support the infantry in the plain. “  DUMONT, Jean, ROUSSET DE MISSY, Jean, Histoire militaire du prince Eugène de Savoie, du prince et duc de Marlborough et du prince de Nassau-Frise, vol. I, La Haye : L van der Kloot, 1729, pp. 92-93.
Originally, 51 Allied battalions were to be opposed on the left wing to 67 French. This very relative balance is upset after the curious improvised interview by the Count of Albergotti, bringing together officers and soldiers from both camps  Cette rencontre «spontanée» est passée dans l’histoire sous le nom d’«embrassades» de Malplaquet (Saint-Simon). . This event, which allows the officers to observe the respective devices for a long time, will lead the Allied generals to modify the initial plan of attack to the detriment of the Dutch forces: the 21 battillions arriving from Tournai will finally be placed to the right of the army, thus depriving the Prince of Orange of part of his troops  SCHULENBURG, Friedrich Albrecht von der, Leben und Denkwürdigkeiten Johann Mathias Reichsgrafen von der Schulenburg , vol. I, Leipzig : Weidmann,1834, p. 411. . This last minute change will, as we shall see, have unfortunate consequences for the Dutch.
The attacking front of the Dutch army measures approximately 1,800 meters and goes from the extreme south of the Bois de Thierry to the Bois de Lanières. The entire sector is placed under the orders of Claude Frédéric t’Serclaes de Tilly (1648-1723); Prince Johann Willem Friso of Orange-Nassau (1686-1711) commands the Dutch infantry, assisted by General François Nicolaas Fagel.
Spread out in two lines, the infantry is divided into five unequal columns. Behind her, placed in support, are 21 squadrons of cavalry under the prince of Hesse-Cassel. Lieutenant-General van der Werve left an interesting testimony on the positions of the Dutch army:
“These 30 battalions will be further divided and ranged as follows: Brigadier Douglas’s brigade made up of Pallandt’s regiments, Mestral a battalion, Tullibardine and Hepburn, for attacking enemy flanks in Jansart Wood. The regiments of the Blue Guards of two battalions, the second battalion of Mestral, Berkhoffer, Dohna, Fournier, Rechteren, Oxenstiern and Keppel, commanded by the lieutenant-generals Count of Dohna and Murray, the generals-majors Els and Keppel and the brigadiers Stein-Callenfels and Cronstrôm were posted on the right of the aforesaid brigade to attack outside the wood, to the left of the village of Taisnières, between the battery that we had made there and the hedges on the side of the wood of Jansart. Schmid’s two battalions, two from May, one from Kuffel and one from Vegelin, were posted to attack in the plain between the aforementioned regiments and the hedges where the Zoutelande regiment was posted, these six battalions were commanded by the lieutenant- General Colyear and Major General Yvoy and Brigadier Rechteren. The two battalions of Stürler, one of Nassau-Woudenberg and one of Heyde, commanded by Lieutenant-General Welderen, Major-General Rank and Brigadier Ockinga, were posted to two front battalions on the right of the aforementioned regiments in the hedges where the Zoutelande regiment was stationed, which was placed elsewhere. The two Orange battalions, that of Zoutelande, van der Beek, Welderen, Yvoy and Heukelom were posted to attack in the plain, on the right of the attack of Mr. Welderen, these seven battalions were commanded by the lieutenant-generals de Pallandt and Lauder, Major Generals Amama and Nassau-Woudenberg, and Brigadier May. ”  Koninlijke Bibliotheek DenHaag, 71 G 18, WERVE, M. C. van der, Mémoires de ce qui s’est passé de considérable pendant la campagne de 1709, p. 134 et suivantes. .
Nine Swiss battalions in the service of Holland took part in the Battle of Malplaquet: Dohna (1), Schmid (2), Mestral (2), May (2) and Stürler (2). These regiments had as colonels or brigadiers the following officers: Gabriel May von Hüningen for the two battalions of May, the baron of Cronstrôm for the two of Mestral, van Welderen for the two of Schmid von Grüneck, Vincenz Stürler for that of Dohna. For his part, Daniel de Chambrier is at the head of the two battalions of Orange-Frize and Berkhoffer leads those of Stürler  On trouvera un ordre de bataille complet des armées alliées dans COXE, William, Memoirs of John Duke of Marlborough with his Correspondence, vol. 2, London : Longman, 1819 , pp. 82- 83. .
Contrary to the allied dispositions, the positions of the French army are well known to us  Voir notamment le Plan de la bataille de Malplaquet le 11 septembre 1709, levé sur les lieux parle St Naudin, capitaine et ingénieur du Roi à la suite des armées de Sa Majesté,1709. : the right wing of Marshal de Villars’ army is made up of what we will call a center right and an extreme right. The right center is formed by two lines of entrenchments spread out from west to east from the Chemin de Mons on a front of approximately 850 meters for the first and 950 for the second. A little behind the so-called Château-vert crossing, the first line is defended by two battalions of the Swiss Guards, two of the French Guards, one from Deslandes, two from Royal-Roussillon three from Picardy, two from Lannoy and four from Alsace. At this point, the entrenchment forms an elbow entering nearly 200 meters. The line, located opposite the Bléron cense, was placed under the orders of Prince de Montbasson and Brigadier Steckemberg. The second line, generally elevated, spreads out in front of the Bois de Lanières and is defended by two battalions from Boulonnais, one from Royal-ltalien, three from Royal, two from Burgundy, three from Piedmont, two from Bourbonnais and , behind, two from Lorraine. The device does not form an elbow at its end and thus leaves Bourbonnais unprotected on its right flank. This line is under the orders of the Count d’Artagnan, assisted by the Count de Beuil and the Marquis de Monchy. The Duke of Mortemart has entrenched two battalions of his regiment between this line and the edge of the Bois des Lanières, facing east. Finally, on the far right, in the Bois de Lanières, there are three lines of 500 meters each. The first, which is also the most advanced, is oriented north-south and is occupied by pickets, two battalions of La Marck, one of Châteauneuf and one of grenadiers, under the orders of the Duke of Mortemart. The other two lines are spaced about 200 meters apart so as to cover each other. The first is defended by two battalions from Perche, two from Foix and two from Santerre sous Céberet. The second, which is closest to Malplaquet, is made up of two battalions from Touraine, two from La Fère, one from Montroux, two from Agénois under the orders of M. de la Motte and Boufflers-Remiencourt, nephew of the marshal by Boufflers.
Finally, on the heights of Malplaquet, not far from the site of the current cemetery, in reserve at a place called Long-Pré, the Swiss Jost Brendlé commands, in addition to the three battillions of his regiment, three of May and two de Greder, under Johann Ludwigvon Roll. A little further south, in the plain, to the northeast of the Hermit cense, stand the three battalions of Navarre and that of Nice, under the orders of the Marquis de Gassion. The Marquis de La Frézelière, lieutenant-general of the Flanders artillery, command the second line with the Marquis de Saint-Hilaire. Behind this device is still the cavalry of the Maison du Roi and, further south, the reserve of the Chevalier de Luxembourg, which holds the path from Bavay to Gognies with 50 squadrons. On the evening of September 10, when the French were finishing their entrenchments, they began to dig a new trench behind the front. We cannon ourselves all day and there are even several discharges of musketry between the regiments of Pallandt and Mestral and the outposts of Villars. The French army, all the baggage of which has been sent to the rear, is lying in battle. For their part, the Allies patrolled to prevent the enemy from learning about their preparations. Prayer is said and brandy is distributed to the troops.
The next day, September 11, at 7 o’clock, Villars mounted his horse; he begged Marshal de Boufflers to take command of the right wing. In the camp of the Allies, the national character of their troops was expressed in a less noisy way; obeying punctually, they displayed only cold disdain, sarcastic contempt. And all alluding to the French entrenchments, exclaimed: “that once again we were going to be obliged to wage war on molehills.“  COXE, William, op. cit. , p.86. La traduction est de nous.
The first Dutch asault: the first column
The signal for the start of the battle is given by a discharge of the Allied artillery at the stroke of eight in the morning. The action begins with an attack of the right wing under the orders of Prince Eugene against the wood of Sars. The Dutch assault began about half an hour later. Jan Willem Wijn gives us his version of this first assault: “On the far left wing of the Allies, the attack of the first column was directed against the regiments of La Marck and Châteauneuf, which defended the edge of the forest of Lanières. and who flanked the front of the Bourbonnais brigade. From the outset, the combat took on a character of extreme fierceness. After having resisted for a long time, the above regiments had to give way; but in the forest the struggle continued. There, the attackers came up against the La Perche brigade, established behind abattis, and despite all the bravery displayed on this occasion, it was impossible for them to push further. This is why the attackers turned more to the right, to clear a passage between the edge and the positions of the Bourbonnais brigade. They now pushed south and threatened to overtake the defenders of the hamlet of Grosse-Haie. These were pulled out of their perilous situation by a counter-attack by the Navarre brigade placed in reserve […]. Already exhausted by the previous combats, the Allies were powerless to resist the attack of these fresh troops, and had to let go of the conquered ground, after having suffered heavy losses ” WIJN, Jan Willem, op. cit . , p. 358. .
The Chevalier de Folard, who was the aide-de-camp of the Marquis de Goësbriand at Malplaquet, left a long record of the combat; he describes the attack in these terms:
“The enemies having been formed on several lines and columns, attacked first of all the front of the entrenchments of M. d’Artagnan, who had posted himself to the brigade of Piedmont; They pushed at the same time in the wood of Jansart, to penetrate on that side; but stopped by abattis, and having encountered the brigades of Fere and Perche, they thought they had found their account better by placing themselves to their right, on the edge of the wood, they attacked at the same time. Thus, the combat being ignited on all sides, one fought on both sides with all the ardor and stubbornness imaginable. The Bourbonnais brigade, the La Marck and Châteauneuf regiments supported their efforts for a long time. Finally, overwhelmed by the number and the weight of their columns, they found themselves obliged to bend. The enemies having penetrated began to form, the Marquis de Hautefort, who saw this maneuver, marched at the head of the Navarre regiment straight to the enemies. This brave regiment attacked them with incredible boldness and knocked them over one on top of the other, crossed the entrenchments and pursued them to their cavalry, after having done a great butchery and won several flags. “ SHD – DAT, Série correspondance Al, carton 7. FOLARD, Jean-Charles de, Relation de la bataille de Malplaquet le 11 septembre 1709.
The Chevalier de Quincy, who was also in the front line, evokes this assault in these terms:
“With regard to our infantry of the right, of which we were, they supported the attack of the Dutch with so much firmness and valor. for an entire hour – the officers on either side crossing their spontons and the soldiers their rifles – that at last they were obliged to withdraw hastily. It was the six Scottish regiments, long serving the Dutch, who attacked us. We must do them this justice, it was with all the ferocity possible. At least two-thirds of these regiments were lying on the ground. ” QUINCY, Joseph Sevin, comte de, Mémoires, 1703-1709, t. Il , Paris: Renouard,1899, pp. 365-366. Quincy se trompe aussi quant au nombre exact de bataillons écossais.
The Second Column
“At the same time as this action,” Wijn tells us, “an attack took place on the front lines which defended the hamlet of Grosse-Haie, that is to say against the brigades of Bourbonnais, Piedmont and Royal. The defense of the hamlet was led by d’Artagnan, commander of the left wing infantry, from his post in the Piedmont brigade. It is especially the second Allied column which must have started the attack there. According to La Frezelière, it was pushed back along the entire length of the front; Folard, he asserts that the Bourbonnais brigade was forced to give in, and this is not improbable, because it is not very clear how without that, the left column, which was only four battalions strong, could have break through between the Perche brigade and that of Bourbonnais. What is certain is that in front of the Piedmont brigade and Royal’s brigade, it was necessary, after a bitter struggle and following incredible losses, to abandon the assault. All eyewitnesses agree that never before has a battlefield been littered with so many dead … ”  WIJN, Jan Willem, op. cit., pp. 358-359.
M. des Bournays, aide-de-camp to Marshal de Boufflers and captain of the Belle-Isle dragoons, evokes the dead who remained at the Piedmont post: “On the day of the affair, I was present at the attack supported by Piedmont. I have seen many actions, but nowhere in such a small space have I seen such a huge number of deaths. They were, from the front of the column to the range of the rifle, piled up to two or three one on top of the other and, during the attack, the wounded who retreated formed like a procession, which led to believe that the column was fighting long before it took this side … ”  SHD-DAT, Série Correspondance Al, n°2258, Relation de M. des Bournays.
Third, fourth and fifth columns.
“The attack on the three columns on the right, unleashed shortly after the previous one, was initially more successful. Led fiercely by the valiant Jean Guillaume Friso, only 22 years old, it was directed against the front of the Alsace and Picardy brigades The position of the Alsace brigade occupied a set of entrenchments forming a sort of bastion and bordering on the right side to a field in the open air dominated by the aforementioned big battery. A short distance in front of this position was the castle of Bléron […]. According to the various informants, the attackers entered the enemy positions by first dislodging the Picardy brigade and the Lannoy regiment from theirs. Then, it was the Alsace regiment which, attacked from the flank, had to cede the ground after a stubborn resistance during which it lost half of its workforce in killed and wounded. The situation for the French became critical. It was in vain that Boufflers tried to restore it by intervening personally with the Picardy brigade. Four squadrons from the Maison du Roi were engaged to stop the fugitives. The salute, the French owed it to the counter-attacks of the Swiss brigade strong of eight battalions under the orders of the field marshal Brendlé  Ceux de Brendlé, May et Greder précédemment évoqués. , as well as of the Royal regiment which, having already helped to push back the attack of the second column , now comes into action for the second time. At this double counter-attack, the Dutch troops, weakened as they were by their previous combat and probably embarrassed in the labyrinth of entrenchments, could not resist. The assault was therefore finally repulsed over the entire length of the front of the French right wing … “ WIJN, Jan Willem, op. cit. , p. 359.
William Coxe provides precious details on the affair:
“The Prince of Orange had hardly taken a few steps when the brave Oxenstiern was killed nearby. His horse having been killed, Orange rushed forward on foot. When he came to stand in front of the opening where the great French battery was located, taking him from the flank, entire files were mown. However he reached the entrenchment and waving a flag which he held in his hand, he dragged the Dutch Guards and the Highlanders, who in the blink of an eye they removed the parapets at the point of the bayonet. But before being able to deploy, they were repulsed by an impetuous charge of the troops of the French right, which had been rallied by Marshal de Boufflers. At that moment, Dohna’s body moved valiantly against the battery which was in position on the road, entered through the embrasures and took some flags. But before reaching the parapet, he was struck down by the battery established on his side. So it was a terrible carnage in all the troops who took part in this attack. Spaar lay dead on the battlefield. Hamilton was carried away wounded, and the lines of the Allied infantry, beginning to hesitate, retreated a few paces. Drawing new ardor from this failure, the heroic Prince of Orange mounted another horse and when the latter fell dead under his master, the prince’s natural energy was in no way shaken. Rallying the surrounding troops, he seized a flag of May’s regiment and advanced towards the entrenchment, on foot and almost alone. Planting his flag on the parapet, he shouted to his people: “Follow me my friends, this is our post”. At the head of the attackers was the heir of Atholl, the valiant Marquis of Tullibarbine followed by his faithful Highlanders. Seeking glory in the service of the foreigner, he fell as a hero. Lieutenant-General Week shared his glorious fate and Swiss Brigadier May was seriously wounded. The assault recommenced, but it was no longer possible to force the adversary: in fact, its second line had completely tightened, the entire parapet was bristling with bayonets and its crest was all on fire … ”  COXE, William, op. cit., pp. 89-90. La traduction est de nous.
The image of this first assault will remain that of the unexpected meeting of the Swiss in the service of France and Holland. Paul de Vallière, sometimes leaving aside the historical truth, communicates to us his vision of things:
“Fifty meters away, through the tears in the smoke, the blue Swiss saw the king’s Red Swiss rise in front of them … The brothers were in front of the brothers. The combat resumed, pitiless, these men silencing nature, approached with fury, thinking only of proving their fidelity. May-France received the shock of May Hollande, regiments raised in the same regions, in the same villages of Bern and the Pays de Vaud. A madness of carnage had replaced the enthusiasm of the battle; the blues and the reds tore the palisades with their butts, in bloody clinch, the ditches filled with corpses. Finally, those of Holland slowly retreated and the white fleur-de-lis crosses crowned the reconquered batteries … ”  VALLIÈRE, Paul de, Honneur et fidélité, Lausanne: Éditions d’art ancien suisse, 1940, pp. 401- 402.
The Trêve and the second Dutch assault
The first Dutch assault therefore ended with a bloody failure: it was around 10:30 am. Relative calm settled on the Allied left, while fighting raged everywhere else on the battlefield, especially in Sars wood, carried by Prince Eugene’s troops. For about an hour and a half, only cannonades and a few shootings are exchanged. The Allies take various marches to keep the enemy in suspense. Marlborough and Eugene, who came to the scene, decide to avoid further sacrifices because “we had done enough and even more than enough” to prevent Boufflers from helping the French left. Despite this decision, a second assault will finally be launched. “The fight on the French right wing rekindled around half an hour in the afternoon,” Colonel Wijn told us,
“when the fight for the Sars forest took a turn favorable to the Allies and the French had to strip the center. Seeing in fact victory in perspective, the Dutch feared that it would be their allies alone who thus reap, indirectly, the fruit of bloody sacrifices which had not been their own. And, in spite of the crushing losses already suffered, from top to bottom, representations were made to avenge the outrage suffered by the fact of the repulsed attack, and to confirm the old glory of the Dutch infantry. Jean Guillaume Friso yielded to these general urges and, while Orkney marched on the redans of the center and that he occupied them without too much difficulty, the Dutch troops, vigorously supported by the fire of the artillery, launched a second time. in the attack, this time from the front of the Alsace and Picardy brigades and the French and Swiss Guards. Two Hanoverian battalions joined in the Dutch assault and captured the Swiss Guards in the left flank. The French and Swiss Guards offered little resistance … “ WIJN, Jan Willem, op. cit., pp. 360-361.
Folard is moreover very hard with the Guards:
“This infantry had not arrived sooner and this movement stolen from M. d ‘Artagnan, than we attacked our entrenchments where was the brigade of the Guards which, having seen them from strong away and fired a few shots in the air, abandoned them with so much terror that the soldiers fled passing between the legs of the horses of the King’s House who wanted to hold them back, and without looking behind, they went away and are still running … “ SHD-DAT, Série correspondance Al, carton7. FOLARD, Jean-Charles de, Relation de la bataille de Malplaquet le 11 septembre 1709.
M. des Bournays also witnessed the scene:
“Marshal [de Boufflers] ordered me to go along with the Swiss Guards on their left to occupy this land and try to deprive the enemy of knowledge. that he was bald. On returning, I represented that they occupied too large a front to be able to withstand an attack. M. de Visé, assistant major of the French Guards, was dismissed to return them to their post. At this time, a column came out of the woods and marched to the French Guards regiment (it is said that they had just shaken off as well as the Swiss Guards). The marshal stopped to provide the effect. Seeing the flags and the heads of the battalions of the French Guards flying, being young and lively, I could not help saying: “This will flee”. The marshal turned to my side angrily, saying: “Sir, what a speech!” But, at that very moment, the effect justified the prognosis. After a discharge without orders and from too far, this regiment withdrew in disorder and threw itself into the legs of the horses of the bodyguards, who, to close their passage, had advanced and pressed, bad maneuver which ended in ‘put terror there. A brutal guard even wounded one of the main officers. We tried in vain to rally them. At that time, Prince Eugene, who had noticed the stripped center, had the intrenchments in reverse occupied by infantry, and having made a large opening, made his cavalry advance … ”  SHD-DAT, Série Correspondance A1,n°2258, Relation de M. des Bournays.
This second Dutch attack will be the occasion of a lively controversy after the battle, the Dutch reproaching the Hanoverians for not having supported their movement. Lieutenant-General Rantzau, who was in command of the Hanoverians, denies this: “Some time later, I saw the state troops attacking the enemy’s entrenchments a second time. I noticed that they found it very difficult to take them away. Whereupon I sent to their aid, without anyone asking, the two battalions of Gouvain and Tecklenburg, which entered the entrenchment with the state troops and forced the enemies to withdraw. It is there where these battalions lost all but three of their officers, so that there remained with the Gouvain battalion only one ensign with the Tecklenbourg, the captain Limbourg with the captain-lieutenant . The others were all killed or wounded there … “ LAMBERTY, Guillaume de, Mémoires pour servir à l’histoire du XVI IIe siècle, t. V, Amsterdam : Pierre Mortier, p. 370.
William Coxe partially confirms Rantzau’s statements:
“During this unequal struggle, Goslinga Siccovan Goslinga (1664-1731) était l’un des députés permanents des États généraux auprès de l’armée en campagne. had led the troops with unparalleled courage. Witnessing the danger his brave compatriots were running, he sprang up on horseback and came to the right to ask for help. Meeting Lieutenant-General Rantzau, posted with four Hanoverian battalions on the banks of the stream flowing towards Tiry Wood, he represented to him the critical situation in which the Dutch found themselves. When Rantzau had informed him of the formal instructions he had not to move without having received the order, Goslinga, by dint of insistence, succeeded in extorting assistance from two battalions. While, still not satisfied with this help, the Dutch deputy roamed the battlefield in search of Marlborough, the fighting resumed on the left, and thanks to the reinforcement of the Hanoverians the entrenchment was removed. ” COXE, William, op . cit., pp. 91-92. La traduction est de nous.
The French right center is apparently depressed. La Frézeliere rushed to this point with three Royal battalions, but he did not reach it until the Guards fled, dragging everything in their path. Threatened to be cut off, Picardy and Alsace in turn retreated. The Allies now hold the positions ranging from the Swiss Guards to Alsace. Faced with this allied breakthrough, the Swiss battalions of Brendlé, May and Greder, as well as those of Navarre and Nice, regroup around the large battery of 20 pieces to try to counter the enemy. On the far left allied, General Hamilton, who replaced Douglas, launched a third time the Dutch and Scottish battalions to attack the French positions. But these troops are so weak that the charge soon stops. In the center, on the other hand, the great intrenchment of the nine redans was opened to him by the English infantry of Orkney, supported by a large part of the artillery.
At the beginning of the afternoon, the Allied cavalry flowed into the breach, quickly charged by the French cavalry, A large melee ensued in the center.
M des Bournays wrote, however:
“I heard […] that, during the cavalry charges, our infantry made another one and even regained part of the ground which the French Guards had lost …” SHD-DAT, Série Correspondance Al, n°2258, Relation de M. des Bournays.
La Frézelière confirms the fact:
“While all these different cavalry charges were going on, the Marquis d’Hautefort had come with two infantry brigades from the right to the aid of the center, and that of Navarre who marched first, having found the infantry of the enemy which was gaining our large battery to fire on the flank of the King’s House, it attacked it with the bayonet at the end of the rifle, and pushed it back to the entrenchment of the Guards. It is an action which does more honor to this corps than it could be useful, for the enemies are breaking through on all sides, our cavalry was finally obliged to cede the ground to them, and it was time to have these two brigades withdrawn. infantry, which would have been cut to pieces if they had waited longer … “ SAUTAI, Maurice, Les Frézeau de la Frézelière, Lille : Lefebvre-Ducrocq, 1901.
” On the French right wing once again luck had turned, continues Wijn, the Dutch troops who occupied the entrenchments of the brigade of the Guards up to and including those of the Alsace brigade, had already approached the French battery of 20 pieces, when a counter-attack launched by the Marquis d’Hautefort with two brigades, that of Navarre at the head, drove them back with heavy losses even in the entrenchments conquered from the Guards. Some cannons that the attackers had already advanced fell into the hands of the French. “ WIJN, Jan Willem, op. cit . , p. 362.
The end of the day.
The cavalry battles ended the tragic day of September 11, 1709. Villars having been wounded, Boufflers took command. He orders the retreat, as night falls on the battlefield. On the front of the Allied left, the French redans are now empty of defenders. Prince Eugene’s biographer writes: “The battlefield itself presented a truly horrible sight to frightened eyes. Where battalions of the Dutch Guard had been found lay around 1,200 horribly mutilated corpses, most of them stripped of their clothing and in tight ranks in front of the French entrenchments. The bodies of those who had been in front appeared to have been extended evenly, the upper part of the body resting against the parapet. Behind them the ditch was so full of corpses that you couldn’t see an inch of land. Add to this spectacle the cries of pain, lamentations and moans of those who were seriously wounded and we can get an idea of the night of horror that followed the battle ” ARNETH, Alfred, Prinz Eugen von Savoyen , vol. Il, Vienne : K. C. Zamarski. p. 88 . La traduction est de nous. .
While the French army withdrew towards Bavay, Le Quesnoy, Valenciennes, Maubeuge and Avesnes, the surviving Dutch returned to their camp:Paul de Vallière tells us:
“On the evening of the battle, the Duke of Marlborough saw the six Swiss regiments of Holland. Before the decimated battalions of the regiment of Mestral walked a fifteen-year-old child, François-Noé de Crousaz, from Lausanne. The only surviving officer, he held against him the flag which had almost cost him his life and which he had defended so well. Lieutenant Victor Stürler, himself wounded, had gathered the survivors of the Hirzel regiment Il n’y avait pas de régiment Hirzel à Malplaquet; Vallière fait peut-être référence ici au régiment Dohna. .
A cadet-grenadier, Jérôme Linder, of Basel, two wounds, appointed lieutenant on the battlefield by the major of Constant, marched at the head of his company. We will meet him later as a camp marshal. Ensign Emmanuel de Watteville brought back a handful of men torn by bullets and saber blows; there were seventy of them, all that remained of the 1,200 men of Stürler’s regiment. Marlborough, Prince Eugene, generals, soldiers, all greeted the tragic parade of the Swiss … “ VALLIÈRE, Paul de, op. cit., pp , 401- 402.
Malplaquet was the deadliest battle of the 18th century. As was fashionable at the time, victory belonged to the army that remained on the battlefield. The Allies therefore consider themselves legitimately victorious. But it will not have escaped anybody that by inflicting almost double losses on its adversary, the army of Louis XIV gave a brutal stop to the progression of the Allies. This bloody confrontation will have an echo in all European chanceries, leading states like England to reflect on a negotiated outcome. It is the beginning of what one could qualify as a French recovery.
The results of the Battle of Malplaquet are indeed appalling. French losses were estimated at 8,000 or 10,000 dead and wounded. Estimates for the Allies vary between 18,000 and 22,000 dead and wounded Il existe de grandes disparités dans les bilans des per tes publiés sur la bataille de Malplaquet. Pour un état de ta question, voir CORVISIER, André, op. cit . , pp . 129 -132. . The Marquis de Quincy QUINCY, Charles Sévin de, Histoire militaire du règne de Louis le Grand, roy de France, vol. VI, Paris : J.-B . Delespine, 1726, pp . 205-206. , who reports the figures published in the Dutch and French gazettes, gives the following breakdown for the latter:
With nearly 10,000 dead and wounded, the Dutch suffered, according to estimates, nearly half of the Allied losses, while they made up only 25% of the troops. In detail, the Marquis de Quincy gives the following figures for the Dutch army (dead and wounded) Ibid., p. 206. Ces chiffres corn prennent les 21bataillons hollandais venus de Tournai étayant combattu sur l’aile droite de l’armée alliée. Les régiments suisses sont à deux … Continue reading:
|Stürler ( swiss)||24||28||641|
Regarding the losses of the Swiss regiments, the Dutch gazettes give a rather precise figure  Europaische Mercurtus, vol. XX, 1.1, Leiden : Daniel van den Dalen, 1709, pp. 252-253. :
According to the report of Brigadier Glinstra, the troops of the Prince of Orange alone had 2,141 killed and 5,400 wounded, or 7,541 victims WIJN, Jan Willem, op. cit., p. 370. Ce chiffre ne prend donc pas en compte les 21 bataillons ayant combattu dans les rangs de l’armée du prince Eugène, sur l’aile droite alliée. . Of this number, the Swiss in the service of Holland left 963 killed and 1971 wounded at Malplaquet, or about a third of the Dutch losses. A look at these figures shows us that all 30 battalions engaged in the attack suffered. With the exception of the Dutch Guards, who were to the far left of the second column, it was the Fournier (far right of the second column) and Stürler (first line of the fourth column) regiments that suffered the most losses. We note that the battalions of the second line were also affected: Keppel, Heukelom, Ivoy, May, Schmid and Mestral. On the far left allied, only Tullibardine suffered losses clearly superior to the other battalions of his column. Vegelin, Orange, Berckhoffer and Rechteren curiously seem to have suffered less than their position suggested. There is no statement of losses suffered by the French at the Battle of Malplaquet. On the other hand, there is a list of the officers killed and wounded  VAULT, François Eugène de, Mémoires militaires relatifs à la Succession d’Espagne sous Louis XIV, t. IX , Paris : Imprimerie impériale, 1855, pp. 378-381. , which gives us a good idea of the most damaged regiments. Information on the regiments of Santerre, Foix, Perche and Châteauneuf has been lost. The bodies have been listed below according to their order in the battle line:
|Swiss Guards Parmi ces officiers, il y avait «Machet, commandant le premier bataillon, Salis, commandant le second, Demont et Gravizet[sic], capitaines, Fœgly[sic] et Chuvalier[sic], enseignes de la compagnie … Continue reading||–||4||3||7|
Count d ‘Albemarle, who is also colonel general of the Swiss and Graubünden, reports his first impressions and pleads for accelerated appointments: “It is not possible that we can acquire more glory than that which our troops have acquired. , but I assure that the thing costs us dearly, because our poor infantry is almost completely cut to pieces […]. We did not lose any of our cavalry generals, but of the infantry we lost the wounded Earl of Oxenstiern, Sparre, Week, Heyden, Els and Keppel. I also fear that the first will die of it. […] We went this morning with our leaders to visit the terrain of the battlefield. We have never seen so many deaths in any action […]. Our Swiss battalions, numbering seven, which were in action, suffered greatly. I believe that we should not waste time replacing loads; the colonels will appoint me good subjects and I will admit them, I hope the state will approve.  Lettre du comte d’Albernarie au grand-pensionnaire Heinsius, le 12 septembre 1709. Ibid., pp. 248-249. The action of the Prince of Orange was severely criticized by contemporaries as well as by posterity: “The Prince of Orange, who led his troops to assault some of the most powerful enemy positions, was not only incapable of to advance significantly before the French but came close to defeat and suffered heavy loss of life and Marlborough had to raise his troops from the right of the Allied front to restore order to this part of the battlefield. ”  HAMILTON, Frederick William, The Origin and History of the First or Grenadier Guards, vol. Il, London : J . Murray, p. 42. Nous traduisons.
Admitting that the losses of officers are proportional to those of soldiers, it is not surprising that the regiments most affected are those which were in front of the most wounded Allied units: thus, Alsace, Lannoy and Royal for Stürler, Woudenberg and Vegelin; La Marck and La Perche for the Dutch Guards and Tullibardine; Piedmont and Bourbonnais for May, Schmid and particularly Fournier; finally the French and Swiss Guards for Zoutelande, Heukelom and Ivoy. If the Navarre regiment suffered a lot in support of La Marck, we see that the Swiss brigade (Brendlé, May and Greder) suffered relative losses. We therefore detach three very deadly sectors along the French line: the Lannoy-Alsace front, the Piedmont front and that of La Marck. The Dutch army comes out of Malplaquet in shock. The dispatches sent to The Hague by the Dutch officers do not hide the extent of the tragedy: General Fagel, who took part in the assaults, wrote the day after the battle: “I had the honor. to follow today the Princes of Savoy and Marlborough in visiting the battlefield and that everyone was astonished seeing the firmness of the troops of Their High Powers by the dead bodies on the ground in ranks and files, on, in and in front of the entrenchments where they attacked what, I believe, deserves the attention of the State. […] There was no general of the infantry of the State in this affair, or those which followed them, that they were not touched or their horses, of bullets of the musketry. For me, thank God, I got off with a bruise. “ Lettre du général Fagel au grand-pensionnaire Heinsius, le 12 septembre 1709, De Briefwesseling van Anthonie Heinsius 1702-1720, vol. IX , s’Gravenhage : Martinus Nijhoff, 1988, p. 249.
Did the prince have to sacrifice so many lives? Did he break the orders as the English readily assert? Hadn’t he received them on time? Should he attack at the same time as the right or half an hour later? Would the Prince of Orange have taken advantage of these orders and counter-orders to do as he pleases? In fact, it is mainly criticized for having launched a new assault when the first had failed and the turn of the fighting did not really impose it. Eager to share the honor of victory, the Prince of Orange probably did not want to be outdone. The pride of this young general of 22 years, yet seasoned by multiple battles, is undoubtedly one of the causes of the massacre.In defense of the prince, it can be said that the instructions received by the Dutch were not absolutely precise. Prince Eugene’s attack order, quoted above, however stipulated that the Dutch infantry had to content themselves with driving the enemy out of the woods and stationing themselves at the last hedges of the ditch without entering the plain. Colonel Grison Christoffel Schmid von Grüneck, whose two battalions were placed next to May’s, in the second line, perhaps gives in his diary one of the reasons for the disaster: “The misfortune was that the 26 battalions [expected de Tournai] did not arrive at the same time as they were expected, so the attack from the center was delayed, instead of the left attacking at the appointed time and was made in a short time. It is said that Mr. Goslinga carried the orders to postpone the attack and that the Earl of Oxenstiern was sent by my Lord Duke with the same orders, but passing through the lines he was shot dead. ”  StAGR, B 60, Journal de ma vie, 1711, pp. 90-91.
We therefore come back to the allocation of the famous battalions from Tournai, whose late arrival at Malplaquet causes a modification of the initial attack plan. The Prince of Orange, deprived of these troops, then led a frontal attack against vastly superior forces, entrenched in addition. Neither Tilly nor Fagel, moreover, dwell on the orders received. As it turns out, the Dutch don’t even know the exact shape to be given to their assault. In uncertainty, they are forced to rely on their own experience.
In any case, the criticism remains bitter: “The more closely one studies the unfolding of the battle, the more one is convinced that of all the battles led by Marlborough, this one was the least in conformity with its own principles … ]. And then there was this almost criminal madness of the Prince of Orange who upset all plans, unnecessarily sacrificed thousands of human lives and not only allowed the French to retire in good order at the end of the day but almost changed fate. from the start of the day. ”  FORTESCUE, John, A History of the British Army, vol. I, London : Macmillan & Co,1899, p. 526. . If British historians have always had a hard tooth against the Prince of Orange, the sad reality is that the Dutch army, though seasoned by successive campaigns, was left to fend for itself at Malplaquet.
On the French side, Boufflers, the valiant defender of Lille in 1708, was not spared by critics. He is accused of having remained motionless during the battle, especially after the failure of the first Dutch assault. The Allies have, in several relations, recognized that if the French right had attacked after this halt, it could have changed, for a time at least, the face of the battle. Saint-Simon writes on this subject: “It was also suspected that the wing of Marshal de Boufflers, which was always victorious, might have re-established the affair if he had first pushed his point with less precaution. “ SAINT-SIMON, duc de, Mémoires (1707-1710), vol. Ill, Paris : Gallimard, 1984, p. 607. . The Chevalier de Folard, always very verbose in his comments, will drive the point home:” If the general or the general officers who commanded in that place had taken advantage of this advantage and had the rest of the infantry followed. was in the second line, and several lines of cavalry at the head of which was the Maison du Roi, which was dying of vexation to see people moving and acting no more than statues, the day was over and the war over. . ” FOLARD, Jean- Charles de, Histoire de Polybe nouvellement traduite du grec par Dom Vincent Thuillier, avec un commentaire ou un corps de science militaire, t. Ill, Paris : P. Gandouin. pp. 297-298. The two examples of the Prince of Orange and of Boufflers show that the valor of an officer is very little compared to the outcome of a battle. On the one hand, a general who is reproached with excess of temerity, on the other a marshal who is demonstrated to the contrary. Judgments all in all a bit like this battle of 1709, which struggles to reveal a winner. Because who really won Malplaquet? As a song begins to spread in the French countryside  Marlbrough s’en va t’en guerre. , the United Provinces cry tears of blood. Malplaquet has indeed just turned the tide of history and saved France.
|↑1||Il existe tout de même plusieurs études dont celle de WIJN, Jan Willem, «Les troupes hollandaises à la bataille de Malplaquet», in : Revue internationale d’ histoire militaire, 19 (1957), pp.340-370. LINDEN, M.G. J. van der, «Een glorieusedoch seer sanglante bataille. Malplaquet 1709», in Armamentaria, 32,1997, pp. 33-49. Sur l’histoire générale de la bataille, on peut également consulter SAUTAI, Maurice, La bataille de Malplaquet d’après les correspondants du duc du Maine à l ‘armée de Flandre, Paris : R. Chapelot,1904, ou plus récemment CORVISIER, André, La bataille de Malplaquet 1709 : l’effondrement de la Franceévité, Paris : Economica, 2013.|
|↑2||Sur ces 26 bataillons hollandais se trouvant à Tournai, seuls 21 partiront finalement pour Malplaquet.|
|↑3||« Relation faite le 12 septembre 1709, du Camp d’Aulnois », in : Gazette d’Amsterdam, 17 septembre 1709|
|↑4||DUMONT, Jean, ROUSSET DE MISSY, Jean, Histoire militaire du prince Eugène de Savoie, du prince et duc de Marlborough et du prince de Nassau-Frise, vol. I, La Haye : L van der Kloot, 1729, pp. 92-93.|
|↑5||Cette rencontre «spontanée» est passée dans l’histoire sous le nom d’«embrassades» de Malplaquet (Saint-Simon).|
|↑6||SCHULENBURG, Friedrich Albrecht von der, Leben und Denkwürdigkeiten Johann Mathias Reichsgrafen von der Schulenburg , vol. I, Leipzig : Weidmann,1834, p. 411.|
|↑7||Koninlijke Bibliotheek DenHaag, 71 G 18, WERVE, M. C. van der, Mémoires de ce qui s’est passé de considérable pendant la campagne de 1709, p. 134 et suivantes.|
|↑8||On trouvera un ordre de bataille complet des armées alliées dans COXE, William, Memoirs of John Duke of Marlborough with his Correspondence, vol. 2, London : Longman, 1819 , pp. 82- 83.|
|↑9||Voir notamment le Plan de la bataille de Malplaquet le 11 septembre 1709, levé sur les lieux parle St Naudin, capitaine et ingénieur du Roi à la suite des armées de Sa Majesté,1709.|
|↑10||COXE, William, op. cit. , p.86. La traduction est de nous.|
|↑11||WIJN, Jan Willem, op. cit . , p. 358.|
|↑12||SHD – DAT, Série correspondance Al, carton 7. FOLARD, Jean-Charles de, Relation de la bataille de Malplaquet le 11 septembre 1709.|
|↑13||QUINCY, Joseph Sevin, comte de, Mémoires, 1703-1709, t. Il , Paris: Renouard,1899, pp. 365-366. Quincy se trompe aussi quant au nombre exact de bataillons écossais.|
|↑14||WIJN, Jan Willem, op. cit., pp. 358-359.|
|↑15||SHD-DAT, Série Correspondance Al, n°2258, Relation de M. des Bournays.|
|↑16||Ceux de Brendlé, May et Greder précédemment évoqués.|
|↑17||WIJN, Jan Willem, op. cit. , p. 359.|
|↑18||COXE, William, op. cit., pp. 89-90. La traduction est de nous.|
|↑19||VALLIÈRE, Paul de, Honneur et fidélité, Lausanne: Éditions d’art ancien suisse, 1940, pp. 401- 402.|
|↑20||WIJN, Jan Willem, op. cit., pp. 360-361.|
|↑21||SHD-DAT, Série correspondance Al, carton7. FOLARD, Jean-Charles de, Relation de la bataille de Malplaquet le 11 septembre 1709.|
|↑22||SHD-DAT, Série Correspondance A1,n°2258, Relation de M. des Bournays.|
|↑23||LAMBERTY, Guillaume de, Mémoires pour servir à l’histoire du XVI IIe siècle, t. V, Amsterdam : Pierre Mortier, p. 370.|
|↑24||Siccovan Goslinga (1664-1731) était l’un des députés permanents des États généraux auprès de l’armée en campagne.|
|↑25||COXE, William, op . cit., pp. 91-92. La traduction est de nous.|
|↑26||SHD-DAT, Série Correspondance Al, n°2258, Relation de M. des Bournays.|
|↑27||SAUTAI, Maurice, Les Frézeau de la Frézelière, Lille : Lefebvre-Ducrocq, 1901.|
|↑28||WIJN, Jan Willem, op. cit . , p. 362.|
|↑29||ARNETH, Alfred, Prinz Eugen von Savoyen , vol. Il, Vienne : K. C. Zamarski. p. 88 . La traduction est de nous.|
|↑30||Il n’y avait pas de régiment Hirzel à Malplaquet; Vallière fait peut-être référence ici au régiment Dohna.|
|↑31||VALLIÈRE, Paul de, op. cit., pp , 401- 402.|
|↑32||Il existe de grandes disparités dans les bilans des per tes publiés sur la bataille de Malplaquet. Pour un état de ta question, voir CORVISIER, André, op. cit . , pp . 129 -132.|
|↑33||QUINCY, Charles Sévin de, Histoire militaire du règne de Louis le Grand, roy de France, vol. VI, Paris : J.-B . Delespine, 1726, pp . 205-206.|
|↑34||Ibid., p. 206. Ces chiffres corn prennent les 21bataillons hollandais venus de Tournai étayant combattu sur l’aile droite de l’armée alliée. Les régiments suisses sont à deux bataillons.|
|↑35||Europaische Mercurtus, vol. XX, 1.1, Leiden : Daniel van den Dalen, 1709, pp. 252-253.|
|↑36||WIJN, Jan Willem, op. cit., p. 370. Ce chiffre ne prend donc pas en compte les 21 bataillons ayant combattu dans les rangs de l’armée du prince Eugène, sur l’aile droite alliée.|
|↑37||VAULT, François Eugène de, Mémoires militaires relatifs à la Succession d’Espagne sous Louis XIV, t. IX , Paris : Imprimerie impériale, 1855, pp. 378-381.|
|↑38||Parmi ces officiers, il y avait «Machet, commandant le premier bataillon, Salis, commandant le second, Demont et Gravizet[sic], capitaines, Fœgly[sic] et Chuvalier[sic], enseignes de la compagnie générale». Voir SOURCHES, Louis-François du Bouchet, Mémoires du marquis de Sourches sur le règne de Louis XIV , vol. 12, Paris : Hachette, 1892, p. 80.|
|↑39||Lettre du comte d’Albernarie au grand-pensionnaire Heinsius, le 12 septembre 1709. Ibid., pp. 248-249.|
|↑40||HAMILTON, Frederick William, The Origin and History of the First or Grenadier Guards, vol. Il, London : J . Murray, p. 42. Nous traduisons.|
|↑41||Lettre du général Fagel au grand-pensionnaire Heinsius, le 12 septembre 1709, De Briefwesseling van Anthonie Heinsius 1702-1720, vol. IX , s’Gravenhage : Martinus Nijhoff, 1988, p. 249.|
|↑42||StAGR, B 60, Journal de ma vie, 1711, pp. 90-91.|
|↑43||FORTESCUE, John, A History of the British Army, vol. I, London : Macmillan & Co,1899, p. 526.|
|↑44||SAINT-SIMON, duc de, Mémoires (1707-1710), vol. Ill, Paris : Gallimard, 1984, p. 607.|
|↑45||FOLARD, Jean- Charles de, Histoire de Polybe nouvellement traduite du grec par Dom Vincent Thuillier, avec un commentaire ou un corps de science militaire, t. Ill, Paris : P. Gandouin. pp. 297-298.|
|↑46||Marlbrough s’en va t’en guerre.|