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Reign of Queen Anne page 6

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Villars, who should have reached and seconded the decisive actions of the elector of Bavaria, had not been so successful. He had first waited to be joined by count Tallard with another body of troops, and when this was effected, the combined host endeavoured to break through the lines of the prince o£ Baden at Stollhoffen. But the prince had, fortunately, been joined by eight Dutch battalions, and they repulsed the French with great loss, and Villars retreated towards Oflingen. Nevertheless, Villars eventually succeeded in joining the elector of Bavaria; and Stirum, who was endeavouring to reach the camp of the prince of Baden, was prevented, being attacked near Schwemmingen, and compelled to retire on Nortlingen.

The war was thus skilfully diverted by Louis from the Rhine into the very neighbourhood of the emperor.' On the other hand, Marlborough, who was the soul of the war on the lower Rhine, had been detained by his exertions to counteract the efforts of Louis XIV. in another quarter. Insurrections had broken out amongst Louis's protestant subjects in the Cevennes, who had been barbarously oppressed. Marlborough, who cared more for the paralysing of Louis than for the interests of protestantism, strongly proposed in the council that assistance should be sent to the mountaineers of the Cevennes. This was fighting Louis with his own weapons, who was exciting insurrection in Hungary and Bohemia amongst the subjects of the emperor. Lord Nottingham and others of the council as strongly opposed this measure, on the principle of not exciting -subjects against their legitimate sovereign; but Marlborough prevailed. Arms and ammunition were forwarded to the Cevennes, and direct communications were ordered to be opened with the insurgents, which would have compelled Louis to detain a large force for the subjugation of these rebels, which otherwise would have gone to the Rhine; but these aids never reached the unfortunate Cevennes.

Marlborough reached the Hague on the 17th of March, much earlier still than William used to arrive there. Nor had the war paused for his arrival. He had stimulated the Prussians to be in action much earlier. In February they had reduced the fortress of the Rhineberg, and then proceeded to blockade Guelders, the last place in the power of France on the frontiers of Spanish Guelderland. It was fortunate, for the unity of command, that Athlone and Saarbruck, Marlborough's jealous rivals, were both dead; so that now Marlborough had only the Dutch camp deputies as clogs on his movements, but they were quite sufficient often to neutralise his most spirited projects. He found Villeroi and Bouffiers posted on the frontiers of the Spanish Netherlands, and his design was to attack and drive them out of Flanders and Brabant. But here, in the very commencement, he was obliged by the States-General to give up his own views to theirs. They desired an immediate attack on Bonn, persuading themselves that the elector of Cologne would rather capitulate than risk the ruin of the town, Marlborough went reluctantly but not inertly into this plan, foreseeing that it would waste a great deal of precious time, and prevent his falling on Villeroi and Bouffiers at the right moment, when the attempt to support the elector of Bavaria had drawn many of their forces away into Germany. He was the more chagrined the more he saw of the want of energy in the allies. He proceeded to Nimeguen to arrange with Cohorn the plan of the siege of Bonn, He visited and inspected the garrisons at Venloo, Ruremond, Maestricht, and the other places which he took the last campaign on the Meuse. Arriving before Cologne, he found preparations were making for a siege, but in a most negligent manner; and Cohorn especially excited his disgust by coolly proposing to defer the siege of this place till the end of summer. But Marlborough knew too well the necessity of preventing an attack from that quarter; ordered the place to be invested, and then marched on Bonn with forty battalions, sixty squadrons, and a hundred pieces of artillery. The trenches were opened on the 3rd of May, and it was assaulted from three different quarters at once; on one side by the forces under the hereditary prince of Hesse-Cassel, on another by those under Cohorn, and on the third by lieutenant-general Fagel. The city capitulated on the 15th, and the commander, the marquis of D'Allegre, and his garrison were conducted to Luxembourg. During the siege continually arrived the news of the successes of the elector of Bavaria and the failures of the imperial troops; and Villeroi and Bouffiers advanced, took Tongres, and menaced the allies from that quarter with forty thousand men.

No sooner was Bonn reduced than Marlborough determined to prosecute his original plan of driving the French from Flanders. He now dispatched Cohorn, Spaar, and Opdam to commence operations at Bergen-op-Zoom, whilst he addressed himself to dislodge Villeroi and Bouffiers from Tongres. In order to divide the energies of the French, a part of his plan was that the powerful English and Dutch fleet was to keep the coast of that country in alarm from Calais to Dieppe, and actually to make a descent on the land near the latter port.

Marlborough without delay crossed the river Yaar, close under the walls of Maestricht, and near the heights of Hautain, between the Yaar and the Meuse, and came so suddenly on the French army that it retired in confusion. Villeroi and Bouffiers fled precipitately from Tongres, after first blowing up the walls with gunpowder. They did not halt till they were three leagues beyond Thys. Marlborough pursued them to Thys, and only waited for the coming up of Cohorn, who, instead of keeping Marlborough's great object, the reduction of Antwerp and Ostend, in view, diverged into the country of the Waes, and employed himself in forcing the French lines there. Marlborough, who was himself as fond of plunder as any one, attributed this object to Cohorn; for, being governor of West Flanders, he said he received the tenths of all the contributions. At length, however, Cohorn had forced the lines at the point of Callo, and baron Spaar in the country of Waes, near Stoken, and Marlborough then advanced his design against Antwerp. That city was garrisoned by Spanish troops under the marquis de Bedmar, and Marlborough intending to attack the enemy's lines with his main army on the side of Louvain and Mechlin, he detached Cohorn with his flying squadrons to amuse Bedmar on the right of the Scheldt towards Dutch Flanders, and he ordered baron Opdam to put himself, with twelve thousand men, near Antwerp, between Eckeren and Capelle, where the lines were held by the Spanish forces.

But the French resolved to cut off the division of Opdam from the main army. Bouffiers, with twenty thousand men, surprised him, and the Dutch falling into confusion, Opdam believed the day lost, and fled to Breda. It was a conduct which could not have been expected from a general who displayed a long career of courage and ability. His panic, however, was groundless, and the next in command, general Schlangenburg, rallied the troops and maintained his ground through the whole day, forcing the French eventually to retire. The Dutch lost about one thousand five hundred men, but the French lost more. Both Opdam and Bouffiers reaped only disgrace from the action. Opdam presented to the States-General a justification of his conduct, which, however, was not deemed satisfactory; and although Louis XIV. ordered a Te Deum as for a victory, Bouffiers was censured for his conduct, and never recovered again the confidence of the king. Schlangenburg received the thanks of the States-General, but, having ventured to blame Marlborough for sending only so small a number of troops to the dangerous post of Eckeren, he was, at the instigation of Marlborough, afterwards dismissed from the service.

This miscarriage of Opdam's had greatly deranged Marlborough's plan of attack on Antwerp. Spaar and Cohorn were already near Antwerp with their united forces, but the check received by Opdam's division delayed the simultaneous advance. Villeroi lay in the path of Marlborough near St. Job, and declared that he would wait for him; but the moment the duke advanced to Hoogstraat to give him battle, he set fire to his camp and retreated within his lines with all haste. Bouffiers had joined Bedmar in Antwerp, and Marlborough advanced and laid siege to Huy, which surrendered on the 27th of August. He now called a council of war to decide the plan of attack on Antwerp, and was well supported by the Danish, Hanoverian, and Hessian generals, but again found opposition from the Dutch officers and the deputies of the States, who deemed the attempt too dangerous. They recommended him to attempt the reduction of Limburg, by which they would acquire a whole province; and despairing now of accomplishing his great object, the reduction of Antwerp, this campaign - having the Dutch officers, the Dutch deputies, and the Dutch Louvestein faction all working against him - he turned aside to Limburg, and reduced it in a couple of days. This acquisition put into the power of the allies the whole country from Cologne, including Liege; and Guelders being afterwards stormed by the Prussian general Lottum, the whole of Spanish Guelderland remained theirs. There is little doubt that Antwerp might have been added too, completing a most brilliant campaign, but Marlborough's attention was distracted by affairs going on at home, where lady Marlborough was moving heaven and earth to effect a coalition between the whigs and her husband. She was doing all in her power to drive lord Nottingham from office, and to bring in whigs in the place of himself and colleagues.

When it is recollected how determinedly tory was the queen, we may conceive the arduousness of the enterprise; but lady Marlborough knew that she could still lead the queen contrary to her own wishes. Godolphin was the strong ally of Marlborough in the cabinet, but when he ventured to recommend whigs to the queen, he was met by the bitterest reproaches. Betwixt the plans of the Marlboroughs and the prejudices of Anne, the situation of Godolphin was such as frequently drove him to the point of resigning.

Whilst this political campaign was raging in England that of the allies continued in Germany and on the upper Rhine. If Marlborough had failed of his grand aim, the reduction of Antwerp, the king of France had equally failed in his, which was to penetrate into the very heart of the empire, and make himself master of Vienna. For this purpose he ordered Vendome to march from the Milaness through the Tyrol, and co-operate with the elector of

Bavaria; but he was defeated in this plan by the bravery of the Tyrolese, who rose in arms, drove the elector from Innspruck, and obstructed the passage of Yendome, who was therefore compelled to return to the Milanese. In Italy, however, the French avenged themselves by the invasion of the duke of Modena's territories, the reduction of the fortress of Barsillo and the duchy of Reggio. They also invested Ostiglia, though they could not take it.

Disappointed of the junction by Yendome, the elector of Bavaria united with Villars, and attacked and defeated Stirum, whilst the duke of Burgundy and count Tallard attacked and took Brisac, when the duke returned to Versailles in triumph, and Tallard laid siege to Landau. To relieve that place the prince of Hesse-Cassel, greatly to the discontent of Marlborough, was dispatched from the Netherlands with twenty battalions and eight squadrons, and joining the count of Nassau-Weilburg, the general of the palatine troops near Speir, they resolved to attack the French, but were on their part attacked by the united forces of Tallard and Pracontal at Spirebach, and notwithstanding a desperate resistance, were compelled to retreat with the loss of several thousand men. Pracontal, one of the French generals, was killed, but Tallard returned to the siege of Landau and took it, and the elector of Bavaria completed the campaign by making himself master of the! substantial old city of Augsburg, so late in the season as December.

The affairs of the emperor never appeared more gloomy; instead of recovering Spain, Louis was fast depriving him of his empire. He was supporting the rebellious Hungarians against him, who were in arms under prince Ragotski, and who had, in truth, plenty of oppressions and injuries to complain of. Suddenly, however, some gleams of light shot across his gloom. The duke of Savoy, who seldom remained true to one side long, grew alarmed at the French being masters of the Milanese, and was induced to open communications with the emperor. The secret negotiations, however, were speedily discovered by the French, and the duke of Yendome received orders to disarm the Savoyards who were in his army; to demand that the troops of Savoy should be reduced to the scale of 1696, and that four principal fortresses should be put into the hands of France. But the duke of Savoy was by no means inclined to submit to these demands. He treated them as insults to an ally, and ordered the arrest of the French ambassador and several officers of his nation. Louis, astonished at the decision of these proceedings, wrote the duke a most menacing letter, informing him that as neither honour, interest, religion, nor the oaths of alliance were regarded by him, he should leave the duke of Yöndome to deal with him, and who would give him four-and-twenty hours to determine his course in. This imperious letter only hastened the duke's alienation. He concluded the treaty with Vienna, and answered Louis's letter by a defiance. He acknowledged the archduke Charles king of Spain, and despatched envoys to Holland and England. Queen Anne immediately sent an ambassador to Turin, and a body of imperial horse under Visconti, followed by fifteen thousand foot under count Staremberg, issued from the Modenese, and in the midst of the most stormy weather and miry roads, marched to join the duke of Savoy at Canelli. The French harassed them fearfully on the march, but could not prevent their junction, by which Piedmont was placed in security.

On the other hand, Portugal had declared for the emperor. The fear of having Louis in possession of Spain, had operated with Portugal, as similar causes had operated with Savoy. The king of Portugal agreed to give his daughter to the archduke Charles, on condition that the right to the throne of Spain was transferred to him. England and Holland were to support the Portuguese and the new king of Spain from the sea. The treaty was concluded at Lisbon, and a fleet of forty-nine sail, under Sir Cloudesley Shovel, lay off Lisbon to protect the coasts from the French. Charles was to be conveyed to Lisbon by a powerful fleet, having on board twelve thousand soldiers, who were, on landing, to be joined by twenty-eight thousand Portuguese.

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