Page:EB1911 - Volume 25.djvu/621

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600
SPANISH SUCCESSION, WAR OF THE


of finding a new supply area about Brescia. This was executed on the 28th of July, Catinat's cavalry, though coming within sight of Eugene's bridges, offering no opposition. It seems that the marshal was well content to find that his opponent had no intention of attacking the Spanish possessions in the Peninsula, at any rate Catinat fell back quietly to the Oglio. But his army resented his retreat before the much smaller force of the Austrians and, early in August, his rival Tesse reported this to Paris, where- upon Marshal Villeroy, a favourite of Louis, was sent to take com- mand. The new commander was perhaps the least competent of all the French senior officers, and ere long he attacked Eugene in a well entrenched position at Chiari (Sept. 1), and was thoroughly defeated, with a loss, it is said, of 3000 to the Austrians' 150. Both armies then stood fast until the exhaustion of supplies compelled them to move, when Villeroy retreated to the Adda. Both Villeroy and Catinat (who had remained with him as second- in-command), warned the king of the duplicity of the duke of Savoy, who, for all the reckless bravery that he had displayed in attempting to storm his cousin's entrenchments, was in reality already intending to change sides.

As yet there was no declaration of war by either party. Preparations were made by both sides during the year, most vigorously of all by Louis, who set on foot no less than 450,000 regulars and embodied militia, and had always prided himself on being first in the field. But the debut was disheartening, and in the winter a fresh mishap befell the French. Eugene, who had taken up his winter quarters in such a way as to play upon Villeroy's fears of an invasion of Naples, surprised Cremona on the night of the 1st of February 1702, and, after a confused fight, drew off, taking with him Villeroy as a prisoner. The brave but incapable marshal was however little loss, and the French troops, many of them surprised in their beds, had yet managed to expel Eugene's men. The rest of the French army, instead of marching to the guns in the 19th-century manner, retreated in the 18th-century manner, while Eugene quietly resumed his winter quarters and his blockade of Mantua. ,

With the year 1702 the real struggle began. Villars and one or two others of Louis's best counsellors urged the king to concentrate his attention on the Rhine and the Danube, where, they pointed out, was the centre of gravity of the coalition. This advice was disregarded, and with political aims, which it is hard to imagine, the largest French army was employed on the side of the Meuse, whib the Rhine front was entrusted to smaller forces acting on the defensive. In Italy the balance of power remained unchanged, except that one of Louis's best generals, Vendome, was sent to replace the captured Villeroy. In the Low Countries, Ginckell, earl of Athlone, the interim commander of the allies (English, Dutch and minor German states), was at the outset outmanoeuvred by the French (Boufflers), and although, in fact, the material advantage was with the allies, who captured Kaiserswerth on the Rhine, the momentary threat of a French invasion had a lasting effect on the Dutch authorities, whose timidity thereafter repeatedly ruined the best-laid schemes of Marlborough, who was obliged to submit to their obstruction and their veto. This handicap, moreover, was not the only one Marl . under which Marlborough suffered. Unless it is

borough's realized and borne in mind that the great captain First was struggling against factiousness and intrigue in

Campaign. E n g] an( j an d f rom jealousies, faint-heartedness and disagreements amongst the states who lent their contingents to his miscellaneous army, the measure of his achievements in ten years seems small. But in fact it was marvellous. Under 18th- century conditions of warfare, and with an army so composed that probably no other man in Europe could have held it together at all, obstructed and thwarted at every turn, he yet brought Louis XIV. and France to the very edge of ruin.

In this theatre of war the French, in concert with the garrisons of the Spanish Netherlands, had fortified a line of defence more than 70 m. long from Antwerp to Huy, as well as another line, longer but of only potential importance, from Antwerp along the Scheldt-Lys to Aire in France. Besides the " lines of Brabant " Boufflers held all the Meuse fortresses below Huv except Maastricht. Marlborough concentrated 60,000 men (of whom 12,000 only were British) about Nijmegen in June, and early in July, having made his preparations, he advanced directly by Hamont on Diest. Boufflers, who had drawn together his field army in Gelderland for the relief of Kaiserswerth and the late attack on the earl of Athlone, hastily fell back, in order to regain touch with the Brabant lines. Marlborough, with the positive object of bringing his opponent to battle at a disadvantage, won the race and awaited the arrival of Boufflers' tired army to strike it a paralysing blow. But at the critical moment the Dutch deputies forbade the battle, content to see the army that had threatened Holland with invasion driven off to a safe distance without bloodshed (July 22). Ten days later Boufflers, thus easily let go, again advanced from Diest, was trapped by Marl- borough and released by the Dutch. This time it was a dis- obedient general, not the civilian commissioners at headquarters, who did the mischief, but after this second experience Marl- borough thought it prudent to pacify the Dutch by besieging the Meuse fortresses, several of which fell in rapid succession (Sep- tember-October). His return to the Meuse led Boufflers to suppose that the enemy had a Rhine campaign in view and he at once sent off a corps under Tallard towards Cologne, standing on the defensive himself at Tongres, where for the third time in the campaign he was outmanoeuvred by Marlborough and saved by the deputies at Marlborough's headquarters. Boufflers hurriedly fell back within the defended area of the lines of Brabant, and the campaign closed with the capture of Liege by the allies (Oct. 12). Marlborough was created a duke on his return to England in November. He had checked the main enterprise, or at least (for an enterprise commensurate with the force employed had scarcely been imagined) the main army, of the French. Every man in the army knew, moreover, that but for the Dutch deputies the enemy would have been destroyed.

On the Rhine the campaign was, except for two disconnected episodes, quite uneventful. The Imperialists under a methodical general, the margrave Louis of Baden, gathered in the Neckar country and crossed the Rhine above Spire. Catinat, now old and worn out, was sent to Strassburg to oppose the threatened invasion of Alsace, and, like MacMahon in 1870, he dared not- assemble his whole force either on the Lauter or on the 111. The margrave invested Landau (July 29) and with a covering army occupied the lines of the Lauter about Weissenburg, which Catinat did not attack. Hence Landau, valiantly defended by Melac, had to be surrendered on the 12th of September. But at the same time the elector of Bavaria took the side of France, surprised Ulm, and declared a local war on the house of Austria and the " circles " of Swabia and Franconia. The margrave then, in order to defend his own country, prevent the junction of Cati- nat's forces with the elector, and win back the latter to the Austrian side, recrossed the Rhine and hurried to Kehl with the greater part of his army, leaving a garrison in Landau and a corps of observation on the Lauter. To co-operate with the elector, Catinat had made up a corps out of every available battalion and squadron (keeping for himself not more than a personal escort) and placed it under Lieut. -General Villars. This corps drew away into Upper Alsace and the margrave followed suit until the two armies faced one another on opposite sides of the Rhine near Huningen. But the corps that the elector on his part was to send to meet Villars * nge "' halted east of the Black Forest, and although, on the 14th of October 1702, after a series of skilful manoeuvres, Villars crossed the Rhine and won the first victory of his brilliant career at Friedlingen (opposite Huningen), it was profitless. Soon afterwards Villars placed his army in winter quarters in Alsace, and Louis of Baden disposed his troops in two entrenched camps opposite Breisach and Strassburg respectively. In Italy Ven- ddme, superior in numbers but handicapped by instructions from Versailles and by the necessity of looking to the Italian interests of King Philip, gained a few minor successes over Eugene. A very hard-fought and indecisive battle took place at Luzzara on the Po on the 15'th of August.

In the next two years Bavaria was the centre of gravity of the