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Lifting the Siege of Lille.

By smacdowall, Aug 14 2013 08:22PM

On 13 August 1708 the allied army of Marlborough and Eugene began to besiege Lille. Eugene conducted the siege while Marlborough commanded a covering force. The French King Louis XIV ordered his armies under Vendome, Burgundy and Berwick to link up and break the siege.

On 13 August 2013 Dave Allen, Richard Lockwood and myself played a game of Close Fire and European Order based on a what if scenario from the 1708 siege. This assumed that when the combined French armies advanced on Lille to meet Marlborough’s covering force they attacked immediately. What happened historically is that they delayed, giving time for Eugene to reinforce Marlborough. When the Dutch Deputies ordered Marlborough to dig in, the position became too strong for the French to consider an attack. After 10 days they withdrew, leaving Lille to its fate.

A map showing the movement of the armies converging on Lille in 1708

Orders of Battle

To accommodate the figures we had and the size of the table (8’ x 5’), I reduced the number of units to about 35% of the historical number giving the following orders of battle:

General-Captain Duke of Marlborough: 25 Battalions, 51 Squadrons, 7 Guns

Left Wing, Field Marshal Hendrik van Nassau-Ouwerkerk

15 Squadrons Dutch Horse, 8 Squadrons Dutch Dragoons

Centre Left, General Count Tilly

1 Battalion English Guards, 1 Battalions Danish Guards, 13 Battalions English, Hanoverian, Prussian and Danish Foot, 3 Field Guns

Centre Right, The Prince of Orange

2 Battalions Dutch Guards, 8 Battalions Dutch Foot, 2 Field Guns, 2 Battalion Guns

Right Wing, General Herzog von Württemberg

14 Squadrons English and German Horse, 14 Squadrons English and German Dragoons

Louis Joseph de Bourbon, Duc de Vendome: 15 Battalions, 32 Squadrons, 2 Guns

Right Wing, Lieutenant General Dourches

20 Squadrons Horse, 12 Squadrons Dragoons

Centre Right, Lieutenant General Puiguion

15 Battalions Foot

2 Field Guns

Louis de France, Duc de Bourgogne: 17 Battalions, 32 Squadrons, 4 Guns

Left Wing, Lieutenant General le Chevalier de Luxembourg

8 Squadrons Maison du Roi, 8 Squadrons Royal des Carabiniers, 20 Squadrons Horse

Centre Left, Lieutenant General de Grimaldi

1 Battalion Garde Francaise, 16 Battalions Foot, 2 Heavy Guns, 2 Field Guns

A rough map of the table layout. The terrain is generally flat and open, however there is boggy ground in the area of the two streams.


Marlborough (Dave Allen) deployed his troops first. He formed up his foot in the centre using the villages as strong points. Fretin was held by Hanoverians and Prussians from Tilly’s command. They were supported by Ouwerkerk’s Dutch Horse and Dragoons. Tilly’s Danish brigade held the village of Ennetières along with three batteries of guns while the English foot were deployed to the left of Ennetières in the open ground. Noyelles and the surrounding area was held by the Prince of Orange’s Dutch foot with two batteries of guns. Von Württemberg’s English and German cavalry massed on the right flank.

The French High Command scouting out the allied positions. The village of Ennetières is in the background.

The allied position looked formidable. Burgundy (Richard Lockwood) and I (Vendome) took some time working out a viable plan of attack. Although still strong, the village of Noyelles on the allied right, held by Scots and Ansbach troops in Dutch service, seemed to us to be the most vulnerable part of Marlborough’s line.

We decided therefore to feint with Vendome’s army on the right against Ennetières. Burgundy was to press home a vigourous attack on the left concentrating all of Grimaldi’s battalions against Noyelles supported by 4 batteries of guns. We massed all our best horse on the left under the Chevalier de Luxembourg, including the Maison du Roi and elite Carabiniers. We hoped this would be enough to drive back von Württemberg’s cavalry even though they would be supported by musketry and guns from Noyelles.

Battle report wth pics to follow soon...

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