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Battle of Entzheim

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Battle of Entzheim
Part of Franco-Dutch War
Absolute ponts couverts 02.jpg

Bridge over the Rhine at Strasbourg
Date4 October 1674
Location
Result Inconclusive, French strategic victory
Belligerents
 France  Holy Roman Empire
Commanders and leaders
Kingdom of France Turenne
Kingdom of France Boufflers
Holy Roman Empire Bournonville
Holy Roman Empire de Caprara
Strength
22,000
30 guns
38,000
50 guns
Casualties and losses
3,500, killed, wounded and missing 3,000 - 4,000 killed, wounded and missing [1]

The Battle of Entzheim took place on 4 October 1674 during the 1672-1678 Franco-Dutch War, near Entzheim in modern Alsace, between a French army under Turenne and an Imperial force led by Alexander von Bournonville.

The battle was inconclusive but Turenne prevented a superior Imperial army invading Eastern France and set the scene for the subsequent Winter Campaign.

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Transcription

Contents

Background

Battle of Entzheim is located in Alsace
Strasbourg
Strasbourg
Entzheim
Entzheim
Molsheim
Molsheim
Offenburg
Offenburg
Haugenau
Haugenau
Colmar
Colmar
The 1674 campaign in Alsace; the Rhine forms the modern French-German border

During the 1667-1668 War of Devolution, France captured most of the Spanish Netherlands but under the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle, it was forced to relinquish most of these gains by the Triple Alliance between the Dutch Republic, England and Sweden.[2]

Louis XIV decided to destroy the Republic, before making another attempt on the Spanish Netherlands; this required him to break up the Alliance. In 1670, Charles II of England signed the Treaty of Dover, agreeing to a joint Anglo-French attack on the Dutch, as well providing 6,000 English and Scottish troops for the French army.[3]

It contained a number of secret clauses, not revealed until 1771, one being payment to Charles of £230,000 per year for the services of this Brigade.[4] Preparations were completed in April 1672 when Charles XI of Sweden accepted French subsidies in return for attacking areas of Pomerania held by Brandenburg-Prussia.[5]

When France invaded the Dutch Republic in May 1672, it seemed at first that they had achieved an overwhelming victory. However, by July the Dutch position had stabilised, while concern at French gains brought them support from Frederick William of Brandenburg-Prussia, Emperor Leopold and Charles II of Spain.[6] In August 1672, an Imperial army entered the Rhineland and Louis was forced into another war of attrition around the French frontiers.[7]

The French army in Germany was led by Turenne, (1611-1675), considered the greatest general of the period.[8] Over the next two years, he won a series of victories over superior Imperial forces led by Alexander von Bournonville and Raimondo Montecuccoli, the only commander contemporaries considered his equal.[9]

After 1673, it became a defensive campaign, whose objectives were to retain French gains in the Rhineland and prevent Imperial forces linking up with the Dutch. France was over-extended, a problem increased when Denmark joined the Alliance in January, 1674, while in February, England made peace with the Dutch Republic by the Treaty of Westminster.[10]

While the main campaign of 1674 was fought in Flanders, an Imperial army opened a second front in Alsace.[11] In September, Alexander von Bournonville crossed the Rhine at Strasbourg with over 40,000 men, a diplomatic coup for Emperor Leopold; despite being a Free Imperial city and technically part of the Holy Roman Empire, the city had previously been neutral and its bridge was a major crossing point. Bournonville expected to be joined by another 20,000 men led by Frederick William, Elector of Brandenburg; once the two combined, they would overwhelm the smaller French army and invade eastern France.[12]

Although England left the war in February, Turenne's army of 22,000 contained a number of English units, encouraged to remain in French service to ensure Charles continued to be paid for them.[13] One of these was commanded by John Churchill, later Duke of Marlborough.[14]

Since he was inferior in numbers, Turenne adopted an aggressive policy of attacking the different segments before they could combine. At Sinsheim on 16 June, he inflicted heavy casualties on an Imperial force under Aeneas de Caprara, although he was unable to prevent him linking up with Bournonville. Their combined army of 38,000 then moved to Entzheim, where they awaited the arrival of Frederick William. Turenne occupied Molsheim on the night of 2-3 October, cutting Bournonville off from Strasbourg; on the morning of 4 October, he advanced on Entzheim, covered by a thick mist that gave way to rain.[15]

The battle

As the French arrived, each army formed into two lines, with infantry in the centre and cavalry on the wings; Turenne also placed a cavalry reserve behind each line, and posted small units of musketeers to cover the gaps between his cavalry squadrons. Entzheim lay between the armies, in front of Bournonville's centre, with a vineyard, backed by woods, to the east; a forested area known as the Little Wood, and a ravine just to its south protected the Imperial left.[11]

French dragoons; Louis Francois de Boufflers led these into the assault on the Little Wood
French dragoons; Louis Francois de Boufflers led these into the assault on the Little Wood

Both sides recognised the importance of the Little Wood; Turenne sent eight battalions of infantry to assault it, in the face of a sustained Imperial artillery barrage. The future Marshall of France, Louis Francois de Boufflers, led his dragoons into the attack but rain and mud impeded the French artillery as it tried to move forward. Bournonville responded to the French assault by transferring most of the infantry from his second line and reserve, while Turenne reinforced the attack with three battalions from his first line and the cavalry of his right wing. The French managed to take Little Wood, but were then ejected by an Imperial counterattack.[16]

Seeing the French centre weakened by the transfer of so many units towards the wood, Bournonville launched his cavalry against what he hoped were two weak points in the French line. Part of the Imperial horse attacked the seven battalions in the centre of the French first line, while the rest under Count Aeneas de Caprara engaged the French cavalry on the left wing. The French infantry formed "in order to face all sides, with an unequalled silence," and held off the Imperial cavalry; Caprara's attack drove in the first line of the French cavalry but the second and reserve lines countercharged, forcing him back to the starting line.[15]

The battle had reached stalemate, until another assault by the English regiments captured the Little Wood, threatening the Imperial left; Marlborough reported his unit lost 11 of 22 officers, another suffered casualties of over 50%.[17] After a series of failed cavalry attacks on the French centre and left, Bournonville ordered a retreat, having sustained around 3,000 - 4,000 casualties.[1] The Imperials entered winter quarters near Colmar but Turenne did not pursue him, having lost over 3,500 men; he took his army north to Haguenau, where his exhausted could troops rest and refit.[16]

Aftermath

As both armies retreated after the battle, Entzheim was a tactical draw but a strategic French victory; despite superior numbers, Bournonville had been prevented from entering French-held territory.

The campaign that started in June 1674 and ended with his death in July 1675 has been described as 'Turenne's most brilliant campaign.'[1] Significantly outnumbered, he used stealth and boldness to fight the Imperial army to a standstill at Entzheim; with his enemy now inactive, he was able to plan the winter movement that would culminate in decisive victory at the Battle of Turckheim.[16]

Entzheim remains a small village, but most of the battlefield now lies beneath Strasbourg International Airport.

References

  1. ^ a b c Clodfelter 2008, p. 46.
  2. ^ Lynn 1996, p. 109.
  3. ^ Lynn 1996, p. 110.
  4. ^ Kenyon 1986, pp. 67-68.
  5. ^ Frost 2000, p. 209.
  6. ^ Smith 1965, p. 200.
  7. ^ Lynn 1996, p. 117.
  8. ^ "Turenne 1611-1675". Musée virtuel du Protestantisme. Retrieved 5 October 2018.
  9. ^ Guthrie 2003, p. 239.
  10. ^ Davenport, Frances (1917). "European Treaties bearing on the History of the United States and its Dependencies". p. 238. Retrieved 7 October 2018.
  11. ^ a b Chandler 1984, p. 40.
  12. ^ Chandler 1984, p. 7.
  13. ^ Kenyon 1986, pp. 83.
  14. ^ Holmes 2009, p. 80.
  15. ^ a b Lynn 1996, p. 131.
  16. ^ a b c Lynn 1996, p. 132.
  17. ^ Holmes 2009, p. 81.

Sources

  • Chandler, David (1984). Marlborough As Military Commander (2001 ed.). Penguin. ISBN 978-0141390437.
  • Clodfelter, Michael (1992). Warfare and Armed Conflicts: A Statistical Reference to Casualty and Other Figures, 1500-2000. McFarland & Co. ISBN 978-0786474707.;
  • Frost, Robert (2000). The Northern Wars; State and Society in Northeastern Europe 1558–1721. Routledge. ISBN 978-0582064294.
  • Guthrie, William (2003). The Later Thirty Years War: From the Battle of Wittstock to the Treaty of Westphalia (Contributions in Military Studies). Praeger. ISBN 978-0313324086.
  • Holmes, Richard (2008). Marlborough: Britain’s Greatest General: England's Fragile Genius. Harper Press. ISBN 978-0007225712.
  • Kenyon, JP (1986). The History Men: The Historical Profession in England since the Renaissance (1993 ed.). Weidenfeld & Nicolson.
  • Lynn, John (1996). The Wars of Louis XIV, 1667–1714 (Modern Wars in Perspective). Longman. ISBN 978-0582056299.
  • Smith, Rhea (1965). Spain; A Modern History. University of Michigan Press. ISBN 978-0472071500.

External links

This page was last edited on 28 September 2019, at 16:25
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