Into the New Year

(This is a continuation of the ongoing campaign I am running solo. To follow it in order you should read the posts from bottom to top.)

November 17th, 1702

The Duc d’Orleans gathers his forces and heads east for the safety of his fortifications. Marlborough has an army of exhausted troops who are low on ammunition, and a supply line which has been stretched thinly and abused. He takes the opportunity for some much-needed rest.

November 18th, 1702

The Duc d’Orleans arrives at the minor fortification of Tirlermont. There he parades his troops and congratulates them on “Stopping the Alliance Army.”

Marlborough closes on Stevenswaert where he can get some much-needed supplies.

At the same time Ginkel is approaching the unoccupied Lines of Brabant with a small army of Netherlanders.

November 20th, 1702

Ginkel enters the Lines of Brabant with his Netherland troops and begins throwing down the defences.

November 23rd, 1702

Resupplied, Marlborough takes advantage of the fact that the siege train is still at Stevenswaert to move on Maastricht. Graf Lottum invests the place with his Prussians and allies while Marlborough with the British and Hanoverian contingents provides the covering force.

Ginkel is taking his time about wrecking the Lines of Brabant. This is not a problem as there is no opposition.

November 30th, 1702

Lines of circumvallation and contravallation are complete around Maastricht. Lottum calls on the commander to surrender, as there is no hope of relief. The commander, hoping that General Winter will come to his aid, replies in a strong and fiery negative.

December 1st, 1702

In the early hours of the morning a group of senior residents of Maastricht, not wanting their businesses and residences to be destroyed by mortar fire, arrange to open a gate to the besiegers. Before dawn the Prussian infantry have control of the place as the garrison surrenders piecemeal in their barracks.

December 4th, 1702

Time is short, the days are shorter and winter is approaching. Lottum moves on Liege while Marlborough covers him.

December 11th, 1702

Liege is surrounded, trenches are dug. The siege guns are coming up by the Maas river. The commandant of Liege has been offered honours of war and has refused. The Duc d’Orleans is not moving.

Up in the north, Ginkel has retired into winter quarters in Brecht and Bergen op Zoom after having dismantled only a few mines of the Lines of Brabant.

December 19th, 1702

The first batteries are barely in place, the first approach trenches have just been started when the garrison of Liege hangs out the flag of parley. Food is already on starvation rations and the Pox is spreading through the town.

December 20th, 1702

As part of the surrender agreement, Marlborough insists on giving the garrison of Liege honours of war. After all, he really doesn’t need enemy troops rife with the Pox being in close contact with his own army.

December 22nd, 1702

And so to winter quarters. The British troops are spread between Liege and Maastricht while the Hanoverian troops and Prussian mercenaries head home.

 

1703

April 3rd, 1703

British troops begin assembling at Liege. Fresh units and replacements have been promised. Rumour is that those reinforcements have landed at Breda and will be coming up the Maas River within the next couple of weeks.

The promised Hanoverian troops are said to be approaching Essen on the Rhine River and likely to join up within the week. They are commanded by Graf Gebhardt von Hauptburg.

No one is quite sure where the Prussian mercenaries are.

Even the Austrians have promised a small contingent of locally-raised troops. They are said to be convening on Roeremonde under the command of a young local noble, Johann, Ritter von Berwitz (thought to be a back-hand offspring of the Duc de Berwick.)

In the opposite camp, the Duc d’Orleans is no longer a factor. He has been replaced by the Duc de Berwick, ably assisted by Marshal Villeroi.

April 10th, 1703

Hexed Low Countries.jpg

The initial location and route taken to confound Berwick

The Hanoverian contingent has arrived at Venlo, where they find an order to begin gathering and/or building boats in preparation for moving up to Maastricht. Likewise the Austrian forces have been told to collect boats. They will receive movement orders forthwith.

Still no sign of the Prussians.

A huge reinforcement for the French has arrived at Avesnes under the command of Marsin. They have orders to join the Duc de Berwick as quickly as possible.

April 16th, 1703

A boat appears at Venlo, coming downstream. The person at the back with the fancy hat turns out to be Marlborough himself. He orders the Austrians to be ready to move within the hour. The destination is revealed to be downstream to Antwerp, not upstream to Maastricht.

The French reinforcements under Marsin have reached almost to Charleroi.

April 21st, 1703

The Austrians have arrived at Antwerp and moved forward. Close behind them come the Hanoverians, and a day later sees the arrival of the English contingent. The Austrians have advanced through the destroyed portion of the Lines of Brabant (No French commander saw fit to rebuild what was thrown down) to invest Termonde. The Hanoverians and English move forward to cover them. Spades are passed out as lines of circumvallation and contravallation are begun. Pontoon bridges are thrown over the Scheldt river, connecting the siege lines to the Netherlands fortification of Huest, and thence to Antwerp.

The Prussians are said to be approaching Venlo. Boats have been sent to that fortification in case this is true.

The Duc de Berwick has finally gotten wind of the sudden movement of the Alliance forces. “My God, I have been made to look like a little bug,” he was heard to exclaim. With unaccustomed haste he has gathered his local forces and headed for Brussels. Riders have been sent to find Marsin and redirect him there as well.

April 26th, 1703

After a certain amount of retracing his steps, Marsin arrives at Brussels to find the Duc de Berwick and his body of troops there before him. Marsin’s force barely gets a night’s rest before they are on the road again to the relief of Termonde.

Still no definite word from the Prussians.

April 30th, 1703

Termonde is situated between two rivers – the Scheldt and the Rupel – with barely 8 miles between them at their widest. Not the best place to try to attack an enemy. Berwick continues across the Scheldt to Ghent, with the intention of swinging around the Netherlands-occupied fortress of Huest and cutting Marlborough’s communications with Antwerp. Unfortunately for him he finds the Alliance army there before him, dug in with its flank on Huest and its center fortified in the town of St. Niklaas. Hesitant, he falls back on Ghent.

The Prussians are at Venlo.

1703-2.jpg

Berwick’s flank move

May 6th, 1703

Berwick recrosses the Scheldt to try a direct approach to Termonde. Once again he finds the Alliance army dug in with their right flank on the Scheldt. (It’s those accursed pontoon bridges they have over the Scheldt. It gives them a shorter route.)

Scouting cavalry indicate that the Alliance left flank is open. Berwick maneuvers that way, hoping to catch the Alliance unawares. They leave their trenches and follow him. Berwick shifts left until he reaches the Rupel, where he begins to array his army into battle order. The Alliance army has followed and still blocks his way to Termonde. Berwick summons Villeroi and Marsin to discuss how best to destroy the enemy. The heated discussion rages on into the night and is picked up the next morning.

While the French commanders argue, the Alliance soldiers dig. Marlborough has called up the Austrians, effectively ending the siege. The garrison of Termonde gleefully sorties and lays waste the approach trenches. Meanwhile the Prussians have been reported at Antwerp and are marching post haste for Huest and the pontoon bridges over the Scheldt. Will they arrive on time?

(The battle of Alost is to be fought out when I have time. However first I have to take Upton Games to a booth in the World Boardgaming Championships in Seven Springs, Pa. (Southwest of Pittsburgh.) With luck I might be able to start the setup before I go, but it is most likely the battle won’t actually commence until the first half of August.)

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