The Meanderer's Copy of the subject volume.
The History of the Last Campagne in the Spanish Netherlands, Anno Dom 1693, Edward D'Auvergne, can be read online or downloaded in pdf form via Google Books.
In this post, dear readers, we take a diversion (a meander) into the the eighth installment of my e-book for antiquarians series. In these, I share passages and commentary on an open access e-book of interest that has been scanned and made available in its original form on the interwebs, rendering as close to an authentic reading experience as possible--for free--of an antiquarian volume of interest. If you click the "e-book" link in the blog labels to the right, you can find the other e-book posts. In this case, we visit a contemporary English language account of one of the the wars of Louis XIV: specifically, an account of the campaign of 1693 of the Nine Years War (or War of the Grand Alliance.). This account was done by Edward D' Auvergne, Chaplain to the Scots Guards, and has first hand accounts of the campaign--it was also penned in November 1693, so is told from a contemporary viewpoint as events were unfolding. The 1693 campaign had the major battles of the war, Steenkerke and Neerwinden (or Landen) primary among them, as well as the engagement of Leuze and several major siege operations, such Charleroi and Namur. In addition, this narrative provides a complete picture of a military campaigning of the era, providing both information and inspiration for big battles and small unit actions. The latter is perfect stuff for rules such as The Perfect Captain's Actions series, Osprey's Pikeman's Lament or my very own modest Smalle Warre system. Finally, for those peculiar fellows who, like me, derive some small and unreasonable pleasure from reading 17th century typology where "f" is "s"--this book is right up your alley!
ORDERS OF BATTLEDespite being from an English perspective, this little tome has complete orders of battle for both the French and Grand Alliance. Of particular interest is the contemporary convention for publishing army lists, which runs in order of preference: Page 1 is the Right Wing of Horse. Page 2 is the "Body" of Foot. Page 3 is the Left Wing of Horse. Each section is then divided into a first and second line, with the squadrons and battalions bracketed into brigades. Interestingly, this format provides both a listing and an abstract representation the army deployment--albeit "mirrored" since we read from left to right but the list proceeds from right to left. Also of interest is the term of art of the era, which provides insight into operations. The middle of the army is not referred to as the "center" but as the "body"--and this is synonymous with the infantry lines (ie, the "body" of foot). In this post, as in previous ones, I have included images from the original text as samples: you should be able to clix pix for BIG PIX in order to view them for yourself in this blog. Nevertheless, I encourage more in depth reading via the online text:
(Detached Allied Body of Horse)
HORSE THIEVERY AND OTHER "SMALLE WARRE" INCIDENTS
Although often mentioned, this narrative brings home how much operations were shaped by the imperatives of logistics--particularly with multiple large armies operating in a relatively small theater of operations. It is safe to say that pitched battles represented one form of conflict, but there was an equally, if not more important, form of conflict going on all the time as armies fought to both control resources and deny them to the opposing sides. All of these provide grist for the gaming mill.
The imperative to provide grazing and fodder for the thousands of livestock, the cavalry in particular, was often a major consideration in army operations as well as a security challenge. Here is a fascinating narrative of combat between small bodies of troops over grazing horses, one that probably is not unique to this campaign:
Below is an account of a more sizeable mission to gather forced "contributions" from enemy territory (something we would call a "raid" nowadays). It is interesting to note in the below how flexible these armies actually were. Note the specific task organization of the raiding force gathered together for this kind of mission ( also the types involved: dragoons, grenadiers, etc):
There are several accounts of combats brought about by either protecting or trying to intercept convoys--another common component of warfare in the era that is not often mentioned:
There are fascinating glimpses into assumptions and imperatives for managing armies on campaign during this era, such as avoiding wooded areas in order to limit desertions. In this particular passage, a common set of woods between the armies becomes an avenue for desertions from both. It is also interesting to note the illustration of another bit of 17th Century military culture--captured or deserting troops taking up service in opposing armies. In this case, it mentions Swiss deserters from the French army getting rounded up and impressed into service with the Swiss regiments in Dutch service:One normally associates lines of entrenchments stretching across (modern day) Belgium and the low countries with the Great War. However, this was also the case during the War of the Spanish Succession and the Nine Years War. In order to control territory (and to prevent the enemy from raiding and denuding territory) there were extensive "lines" dotted with redoubts stretching across the landscape. For instance, during the War of the Spanish Succession the "Lines of Brabant" consisted of an arc of 70 miles of fieldworks stretching from Antwerp to Namur. The same thing happened during the Nine Years War, which preceded the WSS. Punching through these lines in order to raid the territory on the other side provides another model of operation not often thought of. Below is a particularly interesting narrative of the allied operation to storm the Point David Redoubt in order to break through the French lines, led by four battalions with a task organized group of grenadiers and pikemen in support--the pikes being bundled together in fours to be used as planks over which fascines would be laid to get over the ditch: try finding that in a set of wargame rules!
The full account of this action is too extensive to reproduce here. I would recommend finding it and reading it in the online text (it starts on page 41). After the above breakthrough, there is an account of the ongoing operation into enemy territory. It provides both an example of how the armies operated in these missions as well as a reminder of the brutality of warfare, in this case the burning of towns prior to withdrawing in order to denude the area of resources.
Well, I think that's more than enough to give a sense of this small text. There are also quite detailed accounts of the major battles and sieges, which I will leave to you, dear reader, to discover for yourself in the readily available online e-text. Highly recommended for anyone with an interest in the era!