Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

bling all the troops, palling the Scarpe, and forming the 1712.
armies on the 21st between Doway and Marchiennes,
where prince Eugene and the duke of Ormond designed to
join their respective forces, and there concert such further
measures, as might be requisite for carrying on the service of
the campaign

The duke had, some days before, received two expresses
from Mr. secretary St. John, who, in his letter of the 16th
of April, told his grace, “ That he found, by very certain

intelligences from Holland, that the Dutch ministers " were not without their fears of their new general : that " they began to consider, he was a papist, and a German,

at least in interest: that the emperor, his master, had no

thing to lose on the side of the Netherlands: that a bat« tle won might give ground for insisting on higher terms * than the house of Austria was now likely to obtain : that * a battle lost might ftill continue to prolong the war; ts and that, in either case, the expence of blood would fall

to the share of the queen and states : that he was of opi" nion, that these reflections had occafioned private direcis tions to their generals, to use more caution than the prince 26 would perhaps approve: and that his grace inight see, at that this measure was not very consistent with the comt's pliment of an unlimited command, made to that prince to by Mr. Lathmer, in the name of the states.” And, on the 25th of April, O. S. (which was before it was known, that France had agreed so much as to propose to the king of Spain the alternative of the two monarchies, which was not till the 18th of May) Mr. secretary St. John began to give the duke of Ormond fome diftant hint of the scene, which was afterwards to be opened, and told him, “ That o the queen inclined to be of opinion, that all the troops, " whether subjects or foreigners, belonging to her, should “ be immediately under his grace's command. That there “ might have been formerly reasons for using a different jesty and the states, together Holstein, 2 battalions and 8 with a regiment of Hussars : Squadrons; Wolfenbuttle, 2 batEnglish, 22 battalions and 19 talions; Walloons, 4 squadrons; fquadrons; Danes, 9 battali- Anspach, 2 battalions and 4 lions and 21 squadrons ; Pruf- squadrons ; Nassau Dillenburg, fians, 10 battalions and 36 i battalion ; Otringhen, I batta squadrons ; Saxons, 7 battalions lion; and Husfars, 5 squadrons: and 12 squadrons; Hanoverians, in all 70 battalions, and 138 14 battalions and 29 squadrons; squadrons.

li 2

<< method;

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

1712.

[ocr errors]

" method; but there seemed at present to be some of a “ very strong nature for taking this; and perhaps these

might every day grow still stronger. That there could “ be no need for him to enter into the grounds, which they .“ had, in this conjuncture, to be jealous of prince Eugene's “ conduct: his grace would see and know them all better " than they could be repeated ; but that on this occasion " the queen directed him to inform his grace, that shę

thought, he was to be more cautious, for some time, of “ engaging in any action, unless in the case of a very ap“ parent and considerable advantage, because he would « daily be strengthened by the arrival of the imperial troops: " and it was but just, these should have their part, if

any thing of that kind was to happen. That the great arti

cle of preventing the union of the two monarchies was “ not yet entirely settled; the expedients were hard of di

geftion to the French ftomachs; but, if this was got “ over, he did not see any formidable difficulty in the way." The duke returned an answer to these dispatches, wherein he gave an account, what the Dutch had done in regard to the point of command : “ That he was intirely of the “ secretary's) pinion, that a battle, either loft or won, " would at this time make very great alterations in the treais ties now on foot. But that the secretary might remem“ber, that in his instructions he was ordered to act in con“ junction with the allies, in prosecuting the war with vi“ gour ; fo that, should there happen a fair opportunity “ to attack the enemy, he could not decline it, if proposed “ by the prince and states : but he hoped to hear from him

by a messenger, before the armies were formed, which « would be on the 21st.” The duke added, in a second letter of May the 20th, “ That, if there were a good op“portunity to attack the enemy, and get into France, by “ the way of Champagne, he was sure, the prince and the “ states would press it, unless they heard from England, that ~ the peace was

near being concluded : that he wished it very heartilybut, if it were delayed, he hoped, he s. Thould have the good fortune to force the French to com

ply with the queen's demands.”

The armies having marched on the day appointed, the duke took his quarters at Marchiennes, where, in concert with prince Eugene, and the foreign generals, he resolved to go nearer the enemy; and it was agreed, that the two armies fhould pass the Scheld, and encamp, the right of prince Eugene's at Neufville, and the left of the duke of Ornond's

[ocr errors]

1712.

at Solemes, where they had the river Selle in their rear. But, on the 24th of May, in the evening an express came from Mr. secretary St. John, with a letter dated May 10, O. S. to acquaint the duke, “ That, since her majesty had « reason to believe, that she should come to an agreement “ upon the great article of preventing the union of the two « monarchies, as soon as a courier sent from Versailles to Ma" drid could return, it was her majesty's positive command, " that he should avoid engaging in any fiege, or hazarding a " battle, till he received further orders from England.” The secretary acquainted the duke likewise, “ That the “ queen would have him disguise the receipt of this order; 66 and that she thought he could not want pretences for

conducting himself so, as to answer her ends, without “ owning that, which might at present have an ill effect, “ if it was publicly known. That she could not think « with patience of facrificing men, when there was a fair “ prospect of obtaing her purpose another way; nor would « The suffer herself to be exposed to the reproach of hav"sing retarded, by the events of the campaign, a negotias6 tion, which might have been as good as concluded in “ few days.” He added, “ That this order was communi« cated at the same time to the court of France; so that, if “ the marshal de Villars should take any private notice of " it, the duke was to answer accordingly.”

On the 25th of May, N. S. the duke wrote two letters to Mr. secretary St. John, a private and a public letter. In the first, which was his private letter, and all written with his own hand, he “ acknowledged the receipt of the secre66 tary's orders, not to engage in fiege or battle; to which “ he promised an exact obedience, and to keep secret his “ having received any such command; and that he would “ endeavour to hinder its being suspected. But that prince “ Eugene and the states having proposed to attack the enemy; or, if that be found too hazardous, to besiege

Quesnoy, he feared it would be very difficult for him to

disguise the true reason of opposing all proposals, that “ fhould be made for undertaking any thing, having no “ excuse for delays, all the troops expected and the heavy “ cannon, being to be there on Saturday. And that, if he “ could have found forage there, he would have made some “ pretence to delay the march, though the dispositions of « it were made before he received this letter." But, on the same day, the duke wrote another public letter of the

Toth,

li 3

1712. Toth, wherein he took no notice of his orders, not to en

gage in siege or battle, but spoke of his having reviewed the English troops, and found them in so good a condition, as mult convince all the allies, how groundless the complaints were, that had been made of our backwardness, “ of which, f he faid, I believe you will now hear no more.” And he added, “ If we find an opportunity to bring the enemy to

a battle, we shall not decline it.” On the 28th of May, N. S. the duke in his letter to the secretary faid, “ Yes66 terday prince Eugene, and the states-deputies desired, « that I would consent to send the quarter-masters to view $ the French camp; which I could not refuse, without giv“ing them some fufpicion of what I am ordered to dif“ guise ; but I was sure, that nothing of action could hap“pen, the enemy being behind the Scheld. The detach« ment, that went with them, were forty squadrons, and « all the grenadiers of my army to support them, and “ make good their retreat, should the enemy have endea66 voured for to have attacked them. They went as far (I “ mean the horse) as Catelet, where the right of the ene© my's army lies, and are come back without seeing any of 56 the French on our side the Scheld. The distance between 56 the head of the Somme, and that of the Scheld, is not «c above a league and a half, which is a plain, and the enemy $s have not yet offered to throw up any retrenchment. May “ be to-morrow they will begin to work, since they have « seen our troops reconnoitring that way.” Prince Eugene and the deputies being to dine with the duke the next day, he was under apprehensions, that they would press him to undertake something immediately, which it would be very hard to conceal the true reason of his refusing, having no reasonable excuse for it. In this letter he gave an account of a letter, which he had received from the marshal Villars, and the answer, which he had written to the marshal. For May the 25th, N. S. the marshal acquainted the duke, “ That he had the king's orders, and the queen's consent, 6 to write to him, as soon as he received the courier ; and, “ whatever glory was to be acquired against a general, ực whose valour was so well known among them, he desired “ him to be assured, that he never received more agreeable S news, than that they were to be no longer enemies : « and that it was the king's particular injunctica to him ço to keep this matter with an inviolable secrecy.” The duke, according to the intimation given him by Mr. St. John, answered, “ That he had received orders on that

¢¢ subject

on

[ocr errors]

of Ormond

« subject from the queen, and should be sure to conform 1712.
himself punctually to them: but the keeping the secret
enjoined would very much depend on the mealures the
" marshal himself should take. The duke, on his part,
“ let him know, that the march, he should be obliged to
“ make, was chiefly for the subsistance of the troops ;
" and that the marshal need not be in any apprehensions

that account; at least, the duke would answer for
" the army, which he had the honour to command.” It
is imposible to account for this transaction, unless the duke
had orders, not only not to act against France, but to
give the French general intelligence of all that was de-
Tigned in the confederate army. The report being made
by the quarter-masters-general, who went with the detach,
ment to view the French camp, and they all agreeing, that
the ground was as advantageous as could be, their situation
being such, as gave an opportunity of falling upon their
flank and rear, it was proposed to the duke to march with-
out delay to the enemy, and to attack them. What the The duke
duke did upon this occasion appears from this letter of May

refuses to the 29th, N. S. to Mr. St. John : “ You may easily ima- fight. “ gine, says he, the difficulty that I was under to excuse Fr the delaying a matter, which, according to the informá“ tions I had frɔm the quarter-masters-general, and feve“ ral other general-officers, that went out with the detach“ ment, seemed to be so practicable. The best excuse I 6 could make was lord Strafford's sudden voyage to England, “ which gave me reason to believe there must be something “ of consequence transacting, which a delay of four or five “ days would bring to light: and therefore I desired they “ would defer this undertaking, or any other, till I should “ receive fresh letters from England, since so short a delay "? could not be of any ill consequence.” Upon which both prince Eugene, and the staies deputies, told the duke plainly, “ That his answer was agreeable to the fufpicions

they had for some time entertained, particularly since fr the express of the 24th, which they knew had brought “ him letters from England.” And they were the more confirmed in these suspicions, because marihal Villars, “who “ had on all occasions shewn himself very vigilant, did f6 not send out a man to observe their motions, nor take

any other precautions to secure his camp, where it lay so & much exposed ; and he could not be ignorant, how strong

detachment had been abroad on that fide.” The duke could not divert the proposal, which had been made

to

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

a

T

[ocr errors]
« AnteriorContinuar »