The Battle of Dettingen 1743


From the Letters of Richard Davenport in the 4th troop of Horse Guards
Bergen near Frankfurt, 29th June, 1743.

'The day before yesterday, we decamped in the night and marched towards Frankfurt, but we were attacked by the French near Dettingen, a little village upon the river where the pass between the river and a thick wood was not more than a cannon shot across. The French had passed the river in the night, to the number, as is believed, of 30,000, and began to cannonade us, both from the other side of the water, upon our left flank and from a battery of thirteen 12 pounders in our front and had placed a great body of infantry in the wood upon our right, all of which poured a vast fire on us for above three hours. It was particularly the English Horse which was exposed to this fire, of which the Horse Guards formed the right, till our cannon coming up with the Austrians and some of our Foot and after about an hour and a half of incessant firing on both sides, the enemy fled in great confusion, leaving us the field of battle and nine pieces of cannon with several colours and standards. Their Maison du Roy have suffered more than any of their troops. After all, I don't imagine we have lost a thousand men nor they above three thousand, several of which were drowned in re-passing the river.'

'We have lost but two men and four horses, and two men wounded, which is to me very surprising, as we were within 20 paces of the Foot during all the fire of the small arms.'

'The king was all this time in the field and the Duke1 behaved with great bravery and is slightly wounded. The French are returned to there old camp and we have removed near Bergen.'

Bergen, 1st August, 1743.

'We have been in this village ever since the battle, having thrown away all our camp equipage, which the men carry on horse back during the engagement.'

'You are curious to know what the Horse Guards did during the action. We were during he cannonade, which lasted nearly four hours, drawn up about the right of the centre of the first line of Horse, after which we moved through the second line of Foot, about 20 yards in the rear of the first line, and received three fires of the French infantry, which was returned so briskly by our Foot that the enemy turned their backs and ran away in confusion. We then passed through the first line of Foot, ready for what order we should receive, but none came, nor was their the least pursuit of the enemy by any part of our army.'

1. The Duke of Cumberland.

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