Ramillies 1706: Year of Miracles
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On Sunday 23 May 1706, near the village of Ramillies in modern Belgium, the Anglo-Dutch army commanded by John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough, inflicted a devastating defeat on the French army of the Duke de Villeroi. Marlborough's triumph on that day ranks alongside Blenheim as one of the great feats of his extraordinary military career. The French army was shattered physically and morally and, as a result, Marlborough's army overran almost all of the Spanish Netherlands in the next six weeks, and gained an unshakeable advantage over the armed might of Louis XIV's France during the long War of the Spanish Succession.In this expert guide to the battle and the battlefield, James Falkner offers a gripping and authoritative account of the campaign and the action, and he takes the reader across the battleground itself, relating the course of the fighting to the terrain as it can be viewed today.
Dutch generals and field deputies, and, a little reluctantly, the States recalled the most awkward of the deputies and transferred General Slangenberg, an undoubtedly very brave soldier but one whose conduct towards Marlborough had been particularly uncooperative, elsewhere. To Villeroi, despite his own doubts, and an undoubted element of tactical fumbling in the last campaign, it seemed possible to believe that he had, in fact, foiled Marlborough. This encouraging tale grew in the telling as he
to threaten Turin and the Duchy of Savoy. Then, in early May, Baden (who still suffered from a wound to the foot received in July 1704 at the Schellenberg battle) was defeated near Landau on the upper Rhine by Marshal Villars, who had been reinforced by Marsin with troops from the Moselle valley. Baden lost his lines of defence and important depots and magazines, and had to try and reform his battered army to the east of the river. With so many reverses, and with French military power apparently
formidable opponent, and his efforts against the Dutchman were rather unsuccessful. Prior to the outbreak of the War of the Spanish Succession, Villeroi was sent by Louis XIV to northern Italy as army commander, in place of Marshal Catinat, but his army was beaten in 1701 by the Imperial troops, led by Prince Eugene, at Chiari. Soon afterwards he allowed his army to be surprised in its camp at Cremona and the Marshal was taken prisoner, although he was exchanged before very long. Villeroi
– Offuz ridge-line, preparing to deploy across the watershed; as Colonel Jean-Martin De La Colonie wrote, ‘We were able to march our army on a broad front as we desired, and the result was a magnificent spectacle ... France had surpassed herself in the quality of these troops.’ He remarked to a companion, that ‘if defeated now, we could never again hope to withstand them.’ William, 1st Earl Cadogan. Allied Quartermaster General, the first to see the French army in position at Ramillies. Alerted
to the bearer, Colonel Richards, for having been on horseback all Sunday, and after marching all night, my head aches to the degree that it is very uneasy to me to write. Poor Bringfield, holding my stirrup for me, and helping me on horseback, was killed. I am told that he leaves his wife and children in a poor condition. Marlborough had ordered his victorious troops to close up to the Dyle, heading to bridge the water obstacle with the pontoon train of the army without delay. Coming immediately