« PreviousContinue »
(3.) The Duke of Marlborough's despatch, announcing the victory of Blenheim :
To Mr. Secretary Harley.
Camp at Hochstet, Aug. 14th, 1704. Sir,
I gave you an account on Sunday afternoon of the situation we were then in, and that we expected to hear the enemy would pass the Danube at Lavingen, in order to attack Prince Eugène. At eleven that night, we had an express from him that the enemy were come over, and desiring he might be reinforced, whereupon, I ordered my brother Churchill to advance at one o'clock in the morning with his twenty battalions, and by three the whole army was in motion ; for the greater expedition, I ordered part of the troops to pass over the Danube, and follow the march of the twenty battalions; and with most of the horse and the foot of the first line, I passed the Lech
Ι at Rain, and came over the Danube at Donauwert, so that we all joined the prince that night, intending to advance and take this camp of Hochstet, in order whereto we went out on Tuesday, early in the morning, with forty squadrons to view the ground; but found the enemy had already possessed themselves of it, whereupon we resolved to attack them, and accordingly we marched between three and four, yesterday morning, from the camp at Münster, leaving all our tents standing. About six, we came in view of the enemy, who, we found, did not expect so early a visit. The cannon began to play at half an hour after eight. They formed themselves into two bodies; the Elector, with M. Marsin and their troops, opposite our
right; and M. de Tallard, with all his, opposed to our left, which last fell to my share. They had two little rivulets, besides a morass, before them, which we were obliged to pass in their view, and Prince Eugène was forced to take a great compass to come to the enemy, so that it was one o'clock before the battle began; it lasted with great vigour till sunset, when the enemy were obliged to retire, and, by the blessing of God, we obtained a complete victory. We have cut off great numbers of them, as well in the action as in the retreat, besides upwards of thirty squadrons of the French, which we pushed into the Danube, where we saw the greatest part of them perish, M. de Tallard, with several of his general officers, being taken prisoners at the same time; and in the village of Blenheim, which the enemy had entrenched and fortified, and where they made the greatest opposition, we obliged twenty-six battalions and twelve squadrons of dragoons to surrender themselves prisoners at discretion. We took likewise all their tents standing with their cannon and ammunition, as also a great number of standards, kettle-drums and colours in the action, so that I reckon the greatest part of M. Tallard's army is taken or destroyed. The bravery of all our troops on this occasion cannot be expressed; the generals as well as the officers and soldiers behaving themselves with the greatest courage and resolution, the horse and dragoons having been obliged to charge four or five several times.
The Elector and M. Marsin were so advantageously posted, that Prince Eugène could make no impression upon them till the third attack, at or near seven at
night, when he made a great slaughter of them ; but, on being near a wood-side, a good body of Bavarians retired into it, and the rest of that army retreated towards Lavingen, it being too late, and the troops too much tired to pursue them far. I cannot say too much in praise of the prince's good conduct, and the bravery of his troops on this occasion.
You will please to lay this before her Majesty and his Royal Highness, to whom I send my Lord Tunbridge with the good news.
I pray you, likewise, inform yourself and let me know her Majesty's pleasure as well relating to M. de Tallard and the other general officers, as for the disposal of near 1200 other officers, and between 8000 and 9000 common soldiers, who, being all made prisoners by her Majesty's troops, are entirely at her disposal ; but as the charge of subsisting these officers and men must be very great, I presume her Majesty will be inclined that they be exchanged for any other prisoners that offer.
I should likewise be glad to receive her Majesty's directions for the disposal of the standards and colours, whereof I have not yet the number, but guess there cannot be less than a hundred, which is more than has been taken in any battles these many years.
You will easily believe that in so long and vigorous an action, the English, who had so great a share in it, must have suffered, as well in officers as men, but I have not yet the particulars.
I am, Sir,
(4.) Lord Nelson's celebrated despatch of the battle of the Nile :
To Admiral the Earl St. Vincent, K.B., Commander
Vanguard,” off the mouth of the Nile,
August 3rd, 1798. My Lord,
Almighty God has blessed his Majesty's arms in the late battle by a great victory over the fleet of the enemy, who I attacked at sunset on the 1st of August, off the mouth of the Nile. The
enemy were moored in a strong line of battle for defending the entrance of the bay (of shoals), flanked by numerous gun-boats, four frigates, and a battery of guns and mortars on an island in their van; but nothing could withstand the squadrons your Lordship did me the honour to place under my command. Their high state of discipline is well known to you, and with the judgment of the captains, together with their valour, and that of the officers and men of every description, it was absolutely irresistible. Could anything from my pen add to the character of the captains, I would write it with pleasure; but that is impossible.
I have to regret the loss of Captain Westcott, of the “Majestic,” who was killed early in the action ; but
l the ship was continued to be so well fought by her first lieutenant, Mr. Cuthbert, that I have given him an order to command her till your Lordship's pleasure is known.
The ships of the enemy, all but their two rear ships, are nearly dismasted; and those two, with two frigates, I am sorry to say, made their escape; nor was it, I assure you, in my power to prevent them. Captain Hood most handsomely endeavoured to do it; but I had no ship in a condition to support the “ Zealous," and I was obliged to call her in.
The support and assistance I have received from Captain Berry cannot be sufficiently expressed. I was wounded in the head, and obliged to be carried off the deck ; but the service suffered no loss by that event: Captain Berry was fully equal to the important service then going on, and to him I must beg leave to refer you for every information relative to this victory. He will present you with the flag of the second in command, that of the Commander-inchief being burnt in "L'Orient."
Herewith I transmit you lists of the killed and wounded, and the lines of battle of ourselves and the French. I have the honour to be, my Lord, your Lordship’s most obedient servant,
Subjects for Despatches. 1. The outbreak of a mutiny. 2. A march through an enemy's country. 3. A riot at an election. 4. The proceedings at a meeting. 5. A night attack on an outpost. 6. An accident on a railway. 7. Recent events in a British colony. 8. A cruise along an enemy's coast. 9. The bombardment of a sea-port. 10. The storming of a fortress. 11. The passage of an army through a defile. 12. An audience of a foreign prince.