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1711. in execution, under the direction of lieutenant-general Ca
On the other hand, the French forces beginning about the middle of April to assemble near Cambray and Arras, the duke set out from the Hague, and arrived in three days at Tournay, near which place the troops were incamped in several bodies. At a council of war, it was resolved, that those troops should join, and form the army; which was done at Orchies between Lifle and Doway. The next day the duke of Marlborough passed the Scarpe, and incamped between Doway and Bouchain, and found, that the enemy
had assembled a numerous army behind the Sanset in a Some boats most advantageous post, which was judged inaccessible. Nodeftroyed by thing material happend till the 9th of May, when three the French
thousand French, detached from Valenciennes and Condé, attacked a convoy of forty-five boats, laden with hay and oats, which set out for Tournay under a guard of two battalions commanded by brigadier Chambrier. But, the garrifon of St. Amand advancing to the assistance of the guard, the enemy retired, having first set on fire twelve of the boats, with the loss of about an hundred men killed and wounded ; and the allies lost about the same number.
The duke of Marlborough continued in his camp, where he expected the rest of the troops, which were to form his army, and the arrival of prince Eugene. That prince was obliged to stay fome days at Francfort, to concert with the elector of Mentz the necessary measures for the security of the empire, upon the unexpected death of the emperor Joseph ; after which he proceeded to the court of the elector Palatine, to regulate several matters with that prince, who, as one of the vicars of the empire, was to have the chief administration thereof during the interregnum. By this means prince Eugene did not join the grand army till the 23d of May. The duke and prince were resolved to continue in their camp as long as possible, in hopes that the scarcity of forage would oblige the enemy to decamp; for, after the several attempts, that were made at the post of Arleux, which was taken and retaken, there was no 'likelihood to force their lines.'
In the mean time the French hoping, that the elector of Bavaria had many friends in the empire, who would declare for him ; and believing, that the Germans, being deprived of their general in chief, would hearken to a neutrality, if that elector appeared in Germany at the head of
a powerful army ; refolved to send him thither; and, to that 1711.
The preparations of the enemy alarming the empire, Prince Eu-
marches to for securing Germany. Upon this the two armies decameed, the 14th of June, and repassed the Scarpe, prince Eugene taking his way towards Tournay, and the duke of Marlborough marching towards the plains of Lens in fight of the French, who did not offer to insult his rear. The duke The duke continued there till the 20th of July, when he advanced to
of Marlbo. wards Aire, to make the enemy believe, that he designed prises the
rough surto besiege St. Omer, or attack their lines on that fide. This French lines. obliged Villars to reinforce the garrison of that place, and to draw all his troops to defend his lines between the Scarpe and the Canche, which both armies believed the duke designed to attack, because of the preparations he had made. The duke, upon a view of the enemy's lines, finding it would be too hazardous to endeavour to force them, resolved upon a stratagem. To make the enemy believe, he really intended to attack them, he ordered twelve hundred men out, to make roads and bridges in the front, and advanced, with the whole army, to Rebreuve, and from thence to Villars-Brulin, within two leagues of the lines. Here he set all his troops to work, in making fascines, and gave out, that he intended to attack the lines the next morning. Villars was so fully persuaded of it, that he fent orders to a strong detachment, commanded by count d'Estain, which had been sent upon a secret expedition, to halt at Perenne, and to the garrisons of Ypres and St. Omer, to join his army, which he drew together behind the lines. The duke, to amuse the enemy more effectually, went, the 4th of August, N. S. by break of day, with several of the general officers and two thousand horse, to take a nearer view of
1711. the situation of the enemy's camp; but his real design, when
he advanced from Coté near Aire, was to endeavour to get within the enemy's lines, by attempting the passage of the Sanset by Arleux, which he believed was ungarded, as indeed it happened to be. To this end he ordered Cadogan and Hompesch to repair, with all expedition, to Doway, and assemble fome troops that were left there on purpose, which, with a detachment of that, and the neighbouring garrisons of Lisle and St. Amand, made a body of three and twenty battalions and seventeen squadrons. Their farther orders were to march directly with their troops to Arleux, and endeavour to pass the Sanset, while the duke himself would advance with the whole army to support them. And, that nothing might retard this extraordinary march, brigadier Sutton was sent beforehand with the artillery and pontons to make bridges over the Scarpe near Vitry, and over the canal of Arleux near Goulezin.
These things were managed so privately, and the feint carried on so well, that the confederate generals themselves thought of nothing but attacking the lines the next morning. These amusements had so good an effect upon Villars, that he kept his troops under arms night and day, and reinforced them with all the strength he could possibly draw together, on that side, not leaving any number of troops in the posts he had upon the Sanset.
The confederate army, in the mean time, were expecting orders to march, which were not given till fix in the evening. The march was to begin between eight and nine, as soon as it was dark enough to strike their tents, without being seen by the enemy; but, whether the march was to be to the right or left, was not known. They were only told, that the several columns, which the army was to march in, should find an officer at the head of each, at such an hour, who fhould lead them the way they were to take, when the time came, About nine the whole
army, to their great surprize, were ordered to march by the left, in four columns, without beat of drum; and the duke himself, with the horse of the left wing, led the van, and advanced with such extraordinary expedition, that, the next morning by five, he passed the Scarpe at Vitry. Here he received advice, that Hompesch had passed the Sanset without opposition, and taken poffeßion of the passes on that river, and on the Scheid at Oify, the French, having, some time before, withdrawn the detachments they had on that lide. The duke, upon this, hastened his march, left the
enemy should get there before him ; and, at the same time, 1711. dispatched orders to the grand army, to pursue their march with the utmost diligence. The duke, with his van-guard of fifty squadrons, having passed the Scarpe, hastened towards' Arleux and Bacà Bachuel, where he arrived before eight of the clock, and the heads of the columns joined him there about ten, having marched above ten leagues without halting; a thing scarce to be paralleled in history.
Villars, though he had notice of this unexpected march of the confederate army about eleven at night, was so pofsessed with the belief that the design was to attack his lines near Avesnes le Compte, that he waited till two the next morning for certain intelligence. Then he decamped with his whole army, and, putting himself at the head of the king's houshold, marched all night with such diligence, that he appeared with the head of his line about eleven o'clock, soon after the duke of Marlborough had joined count Hom pesch, and passed with twenty squadrons through the defile of Marquion. But, when he saw the duke was advancing with his horse to attack him, he retreated to the main body of his army, which was, by that time, advanced to the high road between Arras and Cambray. Mean while the allies advanced with all possible diligence, and, having all passed, the army incamped upon the Scheld between Oify and Estrun.
Thus the confederate army entered the French lines, which they had so vainly boasted to be impenetrable; the boldest attempt that had been made during the whole war : and the honour of it was the greater to the duke of Marlborough, as his army was not only weakened by the detachment, which prince Eugene had carried to the Rhine, but by the calling over five thousand of the best troops in his army
for an expedition designed by sea ; so that the enemy were superior to him in number. This raised his character beyond all that he had done formerly; the design was so well Jaid, and so happily executed, that, in all men's opinions, it passed for a master-piece of military skill, the honour of it falling intirely on the duke of Marlborough, no other perfons having any share, except in the execution.
The next day, August 6, while the allies expected the enemy lying upon their arms, advice was brought to the duke of Marlborough, that they were in motion towards the Scheld, in order to pass it at Crevecoeur, and incamp between Cambray and Bouchain, to prevent the fiege of the batter. The duke detached forty squadrons, with orders to
1711. fall upon their rear ; but they found it impracticable, by
reason of the morass that was between them : and, a council of war being called, the field-deputies of the states-general proposed to pursue the enemy, and hazard a battle, since this surprize had put them in no small disorder. The duke of Marlborough was of a different opinion. He thought the attempt might be too hazardous: the army was much fatigued with so long a march, in which the cavalry had been eight and forty hours on horseback, alighting only twice, about an hour each time, to feed their horses. The French were fresh, having had a much nearer march within their lines, than the confederates round them; and the allies were not in a condition for action, till some time were allowed for refreshment. Besides, the duke foresaw, in case of a misfortune, their being within the enemy's lines might be fatal.
The duke having disapproved of the proposal made by the deputies, it was expected he should make another. Accordingly he proposed the besieging of Bouchain, which he thought would oblige the French to endeavour to raise the fiege ; and that might give occasion to their engaging on more equal terms; or it would bring both a disreputation and a discouragement on their army, if a place of such importance should be taken in their fight. But both the Dutch deputies and the general officers thought the enterprize too bold, yet they submitted to his judgment. It seemed impracticable to take a place situated in a morafs well fortified, with a good garrison in it, in sight of a superior army; for the French lay within a mile of them. There was also great danger from the excursions, which the garrifons of Valenciennes and Condé might make, to cut off their provisions, which were to come from Tournay. All about the duke endeavoured to divert him from so dangerous an undertaking, fince a misfortune in his conduct would have furnifhed his enemies with the advantages they waited for. All this he was sensible of; but he had laid the scheme so well, that he refolved to venture on it. But, before this resolution was executed, the duke dispatched brigadier Sutton to England with the news, that he had without the loss of à man entered those lines, which had cost the enemy so much time and labour to fortify, and of the strength of which they had so much boasted. The field-deputies sent also an account of that affair to the states-general. The news was received in Holland with an universal joy, and no encomiums were too great for the conductor of the great de