Solms, Heinrich Maastricht (DNB00)

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SOLMS, HEINRICH MAASTRICHT, Count of Solms-Braunfels (1636–1693), born in 1636, was a younger son of Count John Albert Solms, governor of the fortifications of Maastricht, the descendant of an ancient family, holding one of the early German countships, and settled at Schloss Braunfels as early as 946; the family is still numerously represented in Württemberg and Hesse. His aunt, Amalie Solms of the Braunfels family (whose portrait by Vandyck adorns the Imperial Gallery at Vienna), was the wife of Prince Frederic Henry of Nassau (1584–1647), the younger brother of Maurice, and grandfather of William III. Solms entered the Dutch army about 1670, distinguished himself in August 1674 by his bravery when leading the foot-guards in the van of the attack at the battle of Seneffe, and two years later, on the death of Count Karl Florentius von Salm (one of William's most trusted military officers) at the siege of Maastricht, was given the command of the famous regiment of blue guards. The house of Orange had been well served by cadets of the Solms family, and William placed implicit confidence in Count Heinrich. The efficiency which enabled the Dutch footguards to meet those of the French army on equal terms was held to reflect special credit on him and his colleague, George Frederick of Waldeck. Solms was promoted to the rank of general in 1680. He was on board the prince's own frigate when it sailed from the Brill at the close of October 1688. On the evening of 27 Dec. Solms led three battalions of his guards down the mall with colours flying, drums beating, and matches lighted, in order to occupy Whitehall. A conflict seemed imminent until James ordered Earl Craven, at the head of the British footguards, to retire (Clarke, Life of James II, 1816, ii. 264–5). In June 1689 Solms marched with his blues through Cheshire to embark for Ireland. On 1 July he was the first to cross the Boyne with his men. On 27 July William left Ireland, and entrusted the command in chief to Solms, then in camp at Carrick. Next summer Solms directed the first siege of Limerick until William's arrival; but he showed little aptitude for the business of a siege, and allowed a large artillery train to be cut off by the enemy. William, on arriving, effected nothing, operations being greatly impeded by the rains. Solms followed him to England in October, shortly afterwards sailed for Holland, and next March (1691) was promoted a general in the Dutch army. In Ireland, where nearly all the commanders were foreigners, he was replaced by Godert de Ginkel [q. v.] In the winter of 1691 he replaced Waldeck in the command of the Dutch troops in Belgium. During the campaign of 1692 he was high in command, and at Steinkirk (3 Aug.), where he commanded the third corps, he was much censured for not giving any effective support to General Hugh Mackay [q. v.], whose brigade of five English regiments was cut to pieces. William himself was said to have exclaimed ‘Oh! my poor English, how they are abandoned!’ Solms, whose military arrogance and unintelligible punctilio had rendered him detested by both English officers and men, was credited with an expression of curiosity as to ‘how the English bulldogs would come off.’ A year later (29 July 1693) his regiment was decimated, and Solms had his leg carried off by a cannon-shot at Neerwinden. He died in the French camp a few days afterwards. A capable divisional leader, Solms was brave to a fault, and his conduct in the field justified the esteem in which he was held by William.

[Luttrell's Brief Hist. Relation, i. 564, 615, ii. 84, 101, 111, 125, 199, 205, 318, 469, 636, iii. 146; Boyer's William III, pp. 6, 94, 103, 160, 258, 267, 278, 282, 323, 340; Harris's Life of William III; Rietstap's Armorial, 1887, ii. 796; Dangeau's Journal, ii. 437, 447, iv. 335; Dumont de Bostaquet's Mémoires, 1864, pp. 290 seq.; Story's Impartial History of the Wars in Ireland; Wilson's James II and Berwick, pp. 105, 368; Bramston's Autobiography, p. 327; Hatton Corresp. pp. 194, 196; Hist. MSS. Comm. 11th Rep. App. v. 181; Wolseley's Marlborough, ii. 164; Macaulay's History, 1883, i. 613, ii. 82, 191, 207, 376–8, 438; Klopp's Der Fall des Hauses Stuart, 1876, iv. 289; Muller's Wilhelm III von Oranien und Georg Friedrich von Waldeck, 1873, passim.]

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