The Battle of Roucoux 1746


From the Gentlemen's Magazine Vol. XVI 1746 page 540.

The London Gazette Extraordinary, Oct. 9.
Giving an Account of an Action near Liege,
between Part of the Allied and French Armies.

At the camp of Orondza, October 9, N.S. The passage of the Saar was effected the 7th Inst. The army marched at 4 in the morning in eight columns, the artillery making the ninth. This march was made so near the enemy, that we gave them a fair opportunity of attacking what part of the army they pleased, and measures were taken to give them a good reception. Sir John Ligonier led the left wing of the horse, and after they were passed, he remained with the prince of Lorrain and the marshall at the head of the defile, till the rear-guard and every thing was passed without seeing an enemy, tho' they heard the alarm, and the general beat in their camp. This being done they went towards the left, to see the position of our new camp. During which time, the enemy having posted batteries where our left was before, and also on the rising grounds on this side of the Saar over against the prince of Waldeck's old camp, seven brigades of their foot appeared on the rising grounds, as also about 50 or 60 squadrons of horse, and all their light troops. The cannonade then began, and was very hot on both sides. The French were beginning to pass the river, and to form upon the rising ground where the Dutch were encamped in the morning. The prince and marshal Batbiani being come up with the eight battalions and eight squadrons commanded by Lieut. Gen. Drukleben, made such a disposition, and gave such orders, that tho' our irregulars were a little roughly handled, being but a few in number, what had passed of the French were immediately attacked, broken, and beaten back into the Ravine. In the mean time, our army was ordered to be under arms, and lay so all night ; the enemy retired about midnight ; and yesterday morning we encamped. This affair has cost us about 350 men ; and the enemy, who were repulsed, double the number. The Hanoverian troops have lost some few officers, the Hessians more men in proportion, and the English very few. Johnson's regiment petitioned to attack the enemy, and did it with so good a countenance, that they got great reputation. There is not yet any list of the killed and wounded. Count Clermont joined marshal Saxe yesterday, so that they are now in full force, and are reckoned to amount to 198 battalions. The three English battalions under the command of Brig. Gen. Houghton, are to be this day at Maestricht. Two Bavarian battalions arrived yesterday.

From the camp at Ambie near Maestricht, Oct. 12, N.S. Count Clermont having joined the grand army under marshal Saxe upon the 9th, the enemy made a motion upon the 10th, and passed the Saar that afternoon with their whole force. The motion having convinced us that their intention was to attack us, our heavy baggage was that night sent to Maestricht ; orders were given for the foot to lie with their accoutrements on, the horse to be saddled, and the whole army to be under arms an hour before day. The dispositions were made at Pr. Charles's quarters for receiving the enemy by the prince and marshal Batbiani, with great skill and judgement, and every person being at his post, early the next morning we perceived the enemy in the plain, marching towards us, their foot being form'd into three columns, with a large train of artillery at the head of each column.

Our right was extended upon a plain half a mile beyond Grondza, having the villages of Endist, Sling, and Fexbe in their front, which they occupied with twelve battalions. Betwixt the last village and Liers was a plain, and this was in front of the Hanoverian infantry. In front of the British and Hessian foot was the village of Liers : in front of the Hanoverian cavalry was that of Warem, and betwixt the Scotch grays and the left of the Dutch line was the village of Roucoux. Major Gen. Zastrow, with two British, four Hanoverian, and two Hessian battalions, having Brigadier Douglass under him, was ordered to defend these three last villages, prince Waldeck, who was to have defended that of Roucoux, having been obliged to post a great detachment in the suburbs of Liege, upon the intelligence that the French designed to take post there that night. The Pr. of Hesse and Gen. Howard, with the foot that remained were to endeavour to support these three villages, and the cavalry to fall upon any of the French horse, that might attempt to pass betwixt them, or as much as possible to protect our flank to the Dutch.

The enemy in three columns was by this time advanced so near, that three batteries, which we had erected began to play upon them. They immediately attacked prince Waldeck's left with great fury, but were repulsed several times with extraordinary bravery, by that prince and the troops under him. The scotch brigade particularly behaved extremely well. They were however overpowered by numbers, and forced to give way after a very gallant defence. Our three villages were at the same time attacked by 55 battalions, in columns, by brigades ; and as soon as one brigade was repulsed, another came on : and our eight battalions under major general Zastrow, after having done wonderfully well, were at last obliged to abandon the villages of Warem and Roucoux, the major general supporting himself still at Liers, with the battalions under Pr. Frederic and Major Gen. Howard. Sir John Ligonier rallied the battalions, which had suffered so much, the Hanoverian regiment of Maidell, and the Hessian r4egiment of Manspach, having stood their ground to the last, and refused quarter, so that few of them escaped. The battalions of Boetslayer and Donop suffered likewise extremely, notwithstanding which they rallied, and drove the enemy, who were advancing into the plain, back again to the village. the battalions of Graham and Howard, which were in Roucoux, lost also a great many men, but to the last maintain'd a hollow way, where they were posted by Sir John Ligonier, and were of great use, brigadier Douglass, who commanded them, having done everything that a good and gallant officer could do. As soon as Pr. Waldeck, whose troops had begun to give way, was informed that the villages were lost, he retreated in good order, and taking behind our left, marched towards the Meuse, by St Peter'sBerg.

In these circumstances our retreat was resolved, and executed in the following manner.

The three battalions, which Sir John Ligonier had sent for in the night from Maestricht, and who arrived with Brig. Gen. Houghton as the action was beginning, were placed in a right angle with the Scotch grays facing the flank, which the Dutch had before, when this came even with the Pr. of Hesse, he had orders to join that. Gen. Somerseldt had formed another flank a little farther to receive us, and the prince and marshal another under prince Dourlack, and when we came there we found by the prince's and marshal's disposition, a rear guard of 20 squadrons, 12 battalions, and 12 companies of grenadiers ; so that in spite of perhaps 100 pieces of cannon, and all the musket shot they could bring to bear, the retreat was made with great regularity and order ; the rearguard consisted of the Imperialists, the marshal insisting upon it, as they had not suffered in the action. we have certainly quitted the field with a little disadvantage as could be in a battle, if that may be called a battle, where two thirds of our army were not engaged, the action being wholly upon the left. The enemy did not think fit to pursue us ; but not being able, for want of wood in this advanced season, to stay on the other side of the Meuse, we passed that river this morning. we have not yet the list of the killed and wounded ; the French cannot have lost less than 10,000 men, and our loss, in the gross, in not more than 5000. The cannonading was terrible on both sides.

Count la Lippe and Lieut. Gen. Smissart are wounded, Major Gen. Veldtman killed, Lt. Col. Montague is killed, major Seaule wounded and taken, Major Kendall has lost a leg, Sir Harry Nisbet is killed, and many others who are not as yet known. Manspach's regiment has six captains killed, and Maidell's has not one officer left. The enemy has not less than 170 battalions upon the field of battle. Our cavalry showed the greatest desire to fall upon that of the enemy, but they kept themselves constantly under the protection of their foot and cannon ; and when the French infantry came out upon the plain, they gallop'd up with great spirit to charge them, Lord Rothes being at the head of the first line, and Ld Crauford at the second of the English, and drove them back sword in hand into the hedges much faster than they came on.

What contributed greatly to our ill success in this action, was, that the people of Liege had the night before introduced the French into the town, and put them into possession of it, just in Pr. Waldeck's back, whose disposition was excellently made before the accident, having a flank upon his left of eight battalions with a great ravine, and very difficult ground before them, and his left wing of horse to support it.

Prince Charles of Lorrain, and marshal Bathiani, gave their orders in all parts through the whole action with the greatest judgement and intrepidity.

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