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By smacdowall, Sep 17 2018 09:24PM

With a view to re-fighting Malplaquet next Spring, Dave Allen and I visited the actual battlefield a few weeks back — as close to the actual day of the battle (11 September) as we could manage. We wanted to understand what the ground was like, how the troops deployed and what they could see, in order to represent it accurately for the wargame.


The battlefield monument
The battlefield monument

Straddling the French-Belgian border just south of Mons the battlefield is easily accessible. The starting point is a monument standing just in front of the centre of the French lines a few metres south of the Belgian border.



Orientation map of the initial deployment
Orientation map of the initial deployment

There are some excellent orientation maps around the monument which give good detail of the units involved along with their deployment and movements. The French side of the battlefield benefits from a signed walking tour which can be followed with the aid of a most helpful app. This gives information and maps in English as well as French.



Bois de la Laniere on the French right
Bois de la Laniere on the French right

One thing that struck us was the very limited visibility. Although there are no significant hills, the gently rolling terrain generally limits visibility to less than 200 yards. The main French infantry lines were on a slight reverse slope with the result that troops on the opposing sides would have been unlikely to see each other until within less than 100 yards of each other.


The Bois de Sars at the point where Lottum attacked
The Bois de Sars at the point where Lottum attacked

The woods which formed the flanks of the gap which the French defended are still there. The Bois de Sars to the west still has the same outline as it did back in 1709. It is hard to imagine just how the tens of thousands of allied troops managed to attack through them to emerge on the other side.



Information board on the site of the French redans
Information board on the site of the French redans

There are no traces of the French redans or entrenchments but their locations are reasonable well marked and by walking along their lines it is possible to get a sense of what it must have been like.



The allied forward battery circled in red
The allied forward battery circled in red

Many accounts of the battle say that Marlborough’s grand battery of 40 guns first fired into the Bois de Sars to support Lottum’s attack. Then they switched their fire to engage the French cavalry that could be seen on a slope behind the French foot, hidden by their reverse slope position. Although we tramped over all the possible locations for this battery there are no good fields of fire to substantiate this. The maps by the monument suggest another battery of 10 guns and 3 howitzers well forward of the allied centre and indicate that is was probably indirect fire from this battery which inflicted casualties on the French horse to the rear.


Memorial to the French senior officers killed in action
Memorial to the French senior officers killed in action

The small church in Malplaquet has a memorial to the French officers killed (Lieutenant Colonels and above).


Malplaquet church
Malplaquet church

The church was there in 1709 and although it has since been re-built it was done so in a way to closely resemble the original.



Blairon farm cicled in red viewed from the French centre
Blairon farm cicled in red viewed from the French centre

Blairon farm forward of the French lines forms an obstacle we had not appreciated. It is not so much the farm itself as the deep north-south running stream that runs through it. This, and the now much depleted Bois Thierry to the north, break up the allied line of advance. Once committed beyond this point it would have been pretty well impossible to move troops from the allied left (east) to the centre or visa versa.


Scattered around the battlefield are several monuments as can be seen in the following photos:



Monument to the Swiss regiments on both sides
Monument to the Swiss regiments on both sides


Monument to the British regiments that fought at Malplaquet
Monument to the British regiments that fought at Malplaquet

Plaque at the position of the French artillery which decimated the Dutch
Plaque at the position of the French artillery which decimated the Dutch


Monument to the French carabiniers who held the left flank
Monument to the French carabiniers who held the left flank


19th century mural on the side of a barn
19th century mural on the side of a barn









By smacdowall, Mar 16 2018 05:21PM

It has always puzzled me how the Danes managed to provide so many troops for the Dutch, English and Austrian armies during the War of Spanish Succession, while fighting a bitter war with Sweden at the same time. Perhaps the cash from hiring their troops out was worth more to the war effort than the troops themselves.


When looking around at the miniatures we had to refight Oudenarde I realised that although we had a good contingent of Danish foot we had no Danish horse. This needed fixing as the Danes provided a significant body of horse to the Maritime Powers — something in the region of 4000 men.


Danish Cavalry Brigade
Danish Cavalry Brigade

I have therefore painted up a small brigade of Minifig 15mm Danish cavalry in Dutch pay, drawn from three regiments. This is nothing like the full contingent of Danish mounted troops serving with the Maritime Powers but at least they will have some representation in our upcomming battle.


Livregiment til Hest
Livregiment til Hest

First up is the Livregiment til Hest (Life Regiment of Horse). Their uniform is recorded as red coats with yellow lining but like most Danish Horse, they went into battle wearing thick elk skin coats. I decided that my Danes would wear the protective elk skins with cuirass to differentiate them from other troops rather than thier uniform coats. Blackened cuirasses were worn by all Danish horse from 1707 and some regiments are recorded as wearing them earlier. Saddle blankets were usually red, trimmed with the lining colour, although officers might have their's trimmed with gold or silver.


Livregiment close-up
Livregiment close-up

Minifigs do not make cuirassiers without pot helmets. The troopers came from the cavalry command set — presumably intended to be officers of horse. They do not have sashes so they can pass as troopers. The trumpeter and standard bearer come from the Austrian cuirassier command set -- the standard bearer having his lobster pot helmeted head decapitated to be replaced by a tricorn head from my spares.


Speculative cavalry standard
Speculative cavalry standard

I could find no reliable information about Danish cavalry flags from the early 1700’s so I made this one up, based on a later Napoleonic flag.


Danish Brigadier
Danish Brigadier

Officers occasionally wore reversed colours but I decided to paint the brigade commander in the uniform red coat while giving the trumpeter a yellow one. The brigadier is a Minifig Austrian cuirassier officer with his pot helmet replaced by a feather-trimmed tricorn from a French King’s Musketeer in my spares box.


2nd Sjaellandske
2nd Sjaellandske

Next up are two squadrons from the 2nd Sjællandske. I particularly like the unusual violet facing colour of this regiment. I think it is a particularly pleasing visual combination together with the dark buff elk skin coats.


Württemberg-Oels Dragoons
Württemberg-Oels Dragoons

The final squadrons are from the Prince of Württemberg-Oels’ Dragoons. The Danes seem to have increasingly treated their dragoons as cavalry rather than mounted infantry. By the end of the war most dragoon regiments had been reassigned and equipped as cuirassiers. An eyewitness account has Würtemberg-Oels Dragoons in white-grey coats with yellow lining while another source has them in blue. I gave the officer an orange sash as the unit was serving in the Dutch army.


I got much of the uniform information from the excellent tacitus website. This is a great resource for the Great Northern War (and other conflicts). It includes the details of those Danes in the pay of the English, Dutch and Austrians.






By smacdowall, Feb 18 2018 07:39PM

There are a few more units I want to paint up for the second part of our Battle of Oudenarde game in May. Mostly I need to flush out my French army and I have painted up a few more battalions which I may post pics of later. Taking a break from the French I have turned my attention to some missing Allied units.


Foremost amongst these is Van Goor’s Dutch battalion. This unit was part of the contingent sent to the upper Rhine valley to reinforce the Imperialists in 1703 and went on to fight at the Schellenberg and Blenheim. I have been slowly building Baden-Baden’s Imperialist army for campaigns on the Rhine led by Johan Winjand van Goor was sent to reinforce the Imperial Army of the Markgraf Ludwig von Baden-Baden. A previous semi-historical scenario involving them can be found here.



Van Goor was killed leadin the assault up the Schellenberg
Van Goor was killed leadin the assault up the Schellenberg

Van Goor died leading the first assault on the Schellenberg in 1704 after which command passed to Frederik Thomas van Hangest-Genlis d’ Yvoy. At Oudenarde the unit (regiment of foot number 14) was known as Regiment d’Yvoy following the usual practice of the time when units were known by their Colonel’s name.



Dutch 14th Regiment of Foot - Van Goor/d'Yvoy
Dutch 14th Regiment of Foot - Van Goor/d'Yvoy

The regiment’s uniform of light grey coats with red cuffs, waistcoat and breaches if fairly well attested to. It took me some time to find a source for a possible flag. I found it in the excellent CD of the uniforms and flags of the Dutch army available from Baccus (in German but with plenty of illustrations and regimental lists which need no translation).


d'Yvoy's regimental flag
d'Yvoy's regimental flag

The flag illustrated is for d’Yvoy which would be correct for Oudenarde but possibly not for earlier under Van Goor’s command in 1703/4. The phoenix rising from the fire and the motto “Ex Cinere Revivo” (more or less rising from the ashes) may refer to the regiment being re-recruited back up to strength after the heavy casualties of the 1704 campaign. I decided that if I took off the ‘Y’ monograms, which presumably were personal to d’Yvon, then it could also pass for van Goor even if the motto and image seem to suggest otherwise.


My painted version of the flag
My painted version of the flag

I find painted flags look so much better than printed ones. I copied the image from the Baccus guide and painted it with acrylics on paper, simplifying it a little to make it easier. The motto was the hardest part and you can just about make out the writing. I was very happy with the result once the two sides were glued together around the flag pole (using white glue).


Van Goor's Dutch and Sturler's Swiss
Van Goor's Dutch and Sturler's Swiss

The miniatures are all Minifigs 15mm with the exception of the officer on the left of the line who is Dixon. Supporting them in a rear line is Sturler’s regiment of Swiss in Dutch service. These two regiments fought together in the same brigade at Schellenberg, Blenheim. Ramillies, Oudenarde and Malplaquet.


Grenadiers on the right
Grenadiers on the right

Minifigs do not make a marching Dutch grenadier. In order to keep the ranks consistent I chopped the tricorn head off a Bavarian in march-attack and replaced it with a Dutch grenadier’s head from another miniature.






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