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17th Century Military Art
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Historical military art prints of the 17th century including the 30 Years War, Netherlands War of Independence, War of the Grand Alliance and the first English- Dutch War, shown in military giclee canvas prints published by Cranston Fine Arts.
War of the League of Augsburg 1689-1697 and the part played by the Grenadier Guards:
After the Revolution of 1688, many of the officers were removed and the command was given to Henry Sidney, afterwards Viscount Sidney and Earl of Romney, who had fought with the Englishmen in the pay of the States General of Holland. William did not bring the Guards to London for his coronation, nor venture to give them a share in the operations in Ireland. But the vigorous hostility of the French, and the operations of Tourville in the Channel, put the seal upon their allegiance to the new dynasty. In the Low countries the French made good headway, and the mismanagement by which the allies lost Mons in 1691, and the great stronghold of Namur the following year, laid Brussels open to the attack. Luxembourg, one of the most masterful soldiers of the age, was in command at Mons, and in order to defeat the purposes of his astute opponent, William marched westward to throw himself between that place and the capital. He had with him two battalions of the First Guards, one of the Coldstream regiment, and two each of the Scots and Dutch Guards, making a brigade of nearly 5,000 men, besides other English regiments, and a number of Dutch. It is interesting to remember that the Guards were reviewed by him in the course of this march at Genappe, between Quatre Bras and Waterloo, on the part of the field where long after they were to win undying fame. Luxembourg had marched from Mons to Enghien, and lay with his right resting on the village of Steinkirk, when William resolved to attack on August 3rd 1692. One of the leading regiments was 2nd battalion First Guards, under lieutenant-Colonel Warcup. If a surprise had been possible, as was intended, victory might have fallen to the allies, but the flower of the French army was before them, with overwhelming force at hand. A wood and broken group of field and hedgerows lay between the forces, but after a furious cannonade the Guardsmen steadily advanced, supported by other regiments and a stubborn fight ensued. Inch by inch the ground was contested, and repeatedly the Guards repulsed the fierce attacks, driving the enemy back into his very camp. A terrific struggle took place around a French battery, which Colonel Warcup led his battalion to attack. The fury of the attack swept the French from their guns, but not before they had cut the traces of the horses, which galloped back to the camp, and the First Guards could not carry off their prize. Sir Robert Douglas was shot dead as he lead his men to the charge, and the press grew thicker as the French fell back. It was but a momentary recoil, for Boufflers, coming up on their left, brought a large body of fresh troops into action, which poured volley after volley into the allied line. We were overpowered and bitter execrations were poured upon Count Solmes, who had failed to bring up the strong reserves that would have confirmed the day. Many corps were almost annihilated. "Cutts's, Mackay's, Angus's, Graham's, and Leven's all cut to pieces," pathetically exclaims Corporal Trim, whose fond descriptions of these fights in "Tristram Shandy" reflect the accounts of an eyewitness of them, "and so had the English Guards been too had it not been for some regiments on the right, who marched up boldly to their relief and received the enemy's fire in their faces before any one of their own platoons discharged a musket." Colonel Warcup and six other officers were left dead on the field.
Steinkirk was an engagement that spoke volumes for the dash and sturdy courage of the British infantry, and it did not fail of its menaced positions of Tournai, Lille and Courtrai. Still it was a battle in which William's military fame had been grievously diminished, for he had shown himself no match for his opponents. It would have been much to Louis's fancy to direct the capture of Brussels and Li?e, but when he found William in the field, in 1693 he retired to Versaille and to Madame de Maintenon, leaving the fighting in the far more capable hands of Luxembourg, who on July 19th confronted the allies at Landon on the road from Li?e to Tirlemont. More bloody and furious was that memorable fight than the last year's action at Steinkirk. The allies were in a strongly entrenched position behind Landen, and between the villages of Neerwinden and Laer. For eight hours the terrific contest was waged. Battalions of the First Guards, and of the Coldstream and Scots regiments, lining the hasty entrenchment in the centre, gave not an inch of ground.
The battle raged most fiercely round the village of Neerwinden on the right, where battalions of the First, Scots, and Dutch Guards were among the defenders. Most stubbornly was the place contested until the fields were filled with dead. Twice the French broke through, and twice they were driven out by a comparative handful of Guards and Hanovarians. But reinforcements again were wanting, and when Luxembourg dashed a third time at the village with fresh reserves of the French and Swiss household troops, and outflanked the position with four regiments of Dragoons, the remnant of the allies fell back across the bridges over the Little Gheet, and the day of Landen was lost. The First Guards had 7 officers killed and as many wounded and one a prisoner, and left heaps of dead on the fiercely contested field. "Brave! brave! by heaven! he deserves a crown," cried Uncle Toby of the King, when Trim recounted the fiery valour of the day, and we may catch his enthusiasm and apply his words to the gallant and unfortunate Guards.
The next year was one of tactical marches and sieges, but in 1695, the Guards displayed again their intrepid courage in the triumphant success of Namur. Luxembourg was dead and Villeroy, his successor was as much inferior as a soldier to William as William had been to the victor of Steinkirk and Landen. Namur was a fortress deemed impregnable, and a chef a'oeuvre of Vauban. It was besieged by 80 battalions, including 2 of the First Guards, 1 of the Coldstream and 1 of the Scots, and Cohorn, Vauban's pupil, directed the operations of the Sappers. The Guards displayed prodigies of valour, losing many officers and men in the carrying of the successive lines, which were defended by stubborn fury, and Boufflers surrendered the town, having lost 5,000 men in its defence. He retired with 7,000 others to the citadel, where a murderous fire from 160 cannon and 60 mortars was poured upon him. Villeroy advanced from the siege of Brussels to his relief, but unaccountably withdrew, and William determined to hasten forward the carrying of the breaches. On August 30th 1695, the forlorn hope of the grenadiers of the Guards issued from the trenches, and marched some 700 yards under pitiless fire right up to the ditch. They made a daring rush; but, owing to some mistake, the 3 regiments ordered to follow delayed their advance, and the grenadiers were hurled down shorn of half their numbers and with most of their officers killed. When, however, the other troops came up, the desperate resistance was overcome, and the breach was triumphantly gained. It had been a sanguinary business, for some 3,000 men were killed and wounded on both sides. Boufflers, thereupon, seeing his helpless state, surrendered the great fortress, the possession of which had been of such vast importance to the French. The stout defenders, 5,168 strong, with beating drums marched out honourably from the breach, and thus came to an end the last important operation of the fiercely contested war, which the Peace of Ryswick brought to satisfactory close. (Excerpt from the Navy and Army Gazette November 20th 1896 by John Leyland)
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History of the First Royal Scots at Tangier
John Ross, the author of "Tangier's Rescue", thus described the arrival of these celebrated veterans under Sir James Hackett: "After this landed the valorous Major Hackett with the renowned regiment of the Earl of Dumbarton; all of them men of approved valour, fame having echoed the sound of their glorious actions and achievements in France and other nations; having left behind them a report of their glorious victories wherever they came; every place witnessing and giving large testimony of their renown; so that the arrival of this illustrious regiment more and more increased the resolution and courage of the inhabitants, and added confidence to their valour."
Dumbarton's Scots were not long in giving a good account of themselves and the recital of their achievements reads like Homer's account of the combat around Troy. More than once they plucked the Lambs from the very jaws of the Moorish wolves, on one occasion forming the forlorn-hope in a sally having for its object the rescue of the garrison in a detached fort, and brilliantly succeeding with a loss of fifteen killed and several wounded, including their leader (Captain Hume). In another sally Captain Forbes and eight men were killed.
A general sally, or sortie, of the garrison had been ordered; and, when the signal for attack was given, "the Scots and their Grenadiers", wrote Ross, "charged first, if there was any time at all between their charging; for like fire and lightning, all went at once." The Moors - fourteen to fifteen thousand strong- were reposing behind their trenches, when suddenly, at the first dim dawn of the September day, they were aroused out of their sleep, like the soldiers of the rebel Arabi at Tel-el-Kebir, "by the sound of a trampling multitude rushing to battle", and the next moment they were thrown into confusion by a shower of bursting hand grenades. Dumbarton's veterans quickly carried the first trench, and "mixing in fierce combat with the Moors, soon proved that a valiant Scot was more than a match for one of the dusky sons of Africa. The first trench having been won, a portion of it was levelled for the cavalry, when the British and Spanish horsemen charged the Moors, and plunging amidst the dark masses, trampled and cut down the astonished Africans. At the same time the British Grenadiers were seen using their hatchets with dreadful execution on one side, the pikemen were bearing down all before them on the other, and the musketeers, having slung their muskets, were fighting sword in hand with an impetuosity which the Moors could not withstand.
(Excerpts from The Glories and Traditions of the British Army. (Naval and Army illustrated Feb 26th 1897). The First Royal Scots or Lothian Regiment by Chas Lowe)
History of the First Royal Scots at Sedgemoor
Now officially recognised as the Royal Regiment of Foot, their next battlefield was that of Sedgemoor - the last on English soil- (1685), where they formed the extreme right of the royal line, and behaved in such a disciplined manner as to secure the victory of King James II over the usurper Monmouth and his rustic levies. When viewing from a distance the royal infantry, Monmouth, as Macaulay wrote, "could distinguish among the hostile ranks that gallant band, which was then called from the name of its colonel, Dumbarton's Regiment, but which has long been known as the first of the line, and which, in all the four corners of the world, has nobly supported its early reputation. 'I know these men', said Monmouth, 'they will fight. If I had but them all would go well.'
What says Lord Wolseley in his "Life of Marlborough"? "Lord Grey (commanding Monmouth's cavalry) found himself facing Dumbarton's Regiment. The officers of this battalion, of greater experience in war than those of the other regiments, were somewhat more on the alert. As it was the only regiment present which still retained the matchlock, the others being armed with the newly-introduced snaphaunce or flint-musket, Grey was able to mark its position by the burning matches"; and thus he was lured on to his destruction as if by so many will-o'-the-wisps in that boggy region.
When trying to cross the broad ditch in front of them ( the famous Bussex Rhine) Grey's horsemen were challenged by Dumbarton's Regiment and a battalion of Foot Guards from the opposite side. "Who are you for?" "The King". "What King?" "Monmouth, and God with us!" was the prompt reply. "Take this with you then!" as the battalions poured a volley upon the startled troopers. Soon after this Monmouth hurried forward his foot, directing his advance upon the burning matches of Dumbarton's Scots, and on the royalist side this was the only regiment to return the fire of the rebels. The latter made a stout stand against repeated volleys and charges of cavalry, but the backbone of their resistance was at last broken " by a determined attack of the grenadier companies of the Guards and Dumbarton's Regiment", which the latter, being foremost in the pursuit, captured the Duke of Monmouth's standard.
(Excerpts from The Glories and Traditions of the British Army. (Naval and Army illustrated Feb 26th 1897). The First Royal Scots or Lothian Regiment by Chas Lowe)
History of the First Royal Scots at Steinkirk
For many years the Royals had shown what they could do when fighting for the French, and at Steinkirk (1692), they showed how terrible they could be when fighting against them.
Among the foremost in this action, as the old chronicler wrote, "was seen the brave Sir Robert Douglas at the head of the 1st battalion of his regiment, emulating the noblest actions recorded in the annals of war. Having led his battalion against the troops behind the first hedge, "he soon cleared it of its French defenders, and drove one of the battalions from the field in confusion. A second hedge was assailed and carried by the Scots in a few moments, a third was assaulted - the French stood their ground - the combatants fought muzzle to muzzle, but again the Royals proved victorious, and the third hedge was won. The toil of conflict did not cool the ardour of the veteran Scots, but forward they rushed with a loud huzza, and attacked the troops lining the fourth hedge. Here the fighting was severe but eventually the Royals overthrew a fourth French battalion and drove a crowd of combatants from their cannon."
In this desperate conflict the battalion lost one of its three colours. Sir Robert Douglas, seeing the colour on the other side of the hedge, leaped through a gap, slew the French officer who bore the colour, and cast it back into the midst of his own men; but this act of heroism cost him his life, a French marksman having shot him dead while in the act of rejoining his ranks. "Thus the Scots commander improved upon the Roman general. For the brave Posthumous cast his standard in the middle of the enemy for his soldiers to retrieve; but Douglas retrieved his from the middle of the enemy, and cast it back for his soldiers to retain."
Excerpts from The Glories and Traditions of the British Army. (Naval and Army illustrated Feb 26th 1897). The First Royal Scots or Lothian Regiment by Chas Lowe
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