Princes, Posts and Partisans: The Army of Louis XIV and Partisan Warfare in the Netherlands (1673-1678)

Princes, Posts and Partisans: The Army of Louis XIV and Partisan Warfare in the Netherlands (1673-1678)

Princes, Posts and Partisans: The Army of Louis XIV and Partisan Warfare in the Netherlands (1673-1678)

Princes, Posts and Partisans: The Army of Louis XIV and Partisan Warfare in the Netherlands (1673-1678)

Synopsis

This volume explores French partisan warfare in the Spanish Netherlands during the Dutch War (1672-78). It considers such practices as contributions, fire-raids, and blockades before sieges. The author relies extensively on archival sources, and in many cases explores events that have been passed over by similar studies. Louis XIV and his generals used partisan warfare to fit a strategy of exhaustion to ensure territorial conquest. The French armys reliance on partisan warfare reveals the limitations of the war-making potential of Louis XIVs state; at the same time it leads to the emergence of a more modern practice of military operations to pursue theater-strategic objectives.

Excerpt

The dying lieutenant urged on his men, “My friends, there is the road to glory, do not dwell on me and go to your duty.” Fatally struck in the chest by a musket ball, Lieutenant Seneville of the Picardy Regiment mustered the strength to point out the party of Spanish infantry concealed in a sunken road, and bid his men to attack. Seneville had been detached to protect foragers outside the main camp of Louis XIV’s army that bloody day in May of 1675. He was not the only one to die in the skirmish. The two Bellemare brothers died in the same fusillade that felled Seneville. The younger was slain on the spot; the older died the next day, barely able to form a word when Louis XIV came to visit the wounded.

Earlier that day, some French officers had spotted a hermit. Halfjoking, they asked him if he might have seen a Spanish party nearby, since the last few days several French foragers had inexplicably disappeared. The hermit gestured toward a large expanse of trees not far from the French camp and said there were about 100 men hidden there. Hearing of the enemy party, Louis XIV sent Colonel La Fitte with a detachment from the élite Gardes du Corps to kill or capture the Spanish. Lieutenant Seneville, some companions from his company in the Picardy Regiment, and the Bellemare brothers volunteered for the fight. About 50 Spanish soldiers were encountered in the woods, and they immediately tried to retreat when discovered. La Fitte however had enveloped them with a part of his command. Trapped at the sunken road, the Spanish soldiers presented their muskets and fired. After disrupting the French, they broke off and fled in small groups. One group of the Spanish infantry, pursued by some French, ran right into a swamp, where the water reached to the middle of their chests. They could not reload their weapons, and so they surrendered. The Spanish party had been quietly following the French from wood to wood for eight days.

The incident is described in the journal of Paul Pellisson (1624–93), royal historiographer, who wrote what he heard from the officers and men in the army of Louis XIV. Paul Pellisson, Lettres historiques de monsieur Pellisson, 2 vols. (Paris, 1729), vol. 2, pp. 259–267.

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.