Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAPTER XVII.: THE WAR OF 1701—CONDUCT OF PRINCE EUGENE, MARSHAL VILLEROI, THE DUKE OF VENDÔME, THE DUKE OF MARLBOROUGH, AND MARSHAL VILLARS; UNTIL THE YEAR 1703. - The Works of Voltaire, Vol. XII (Age of Louis XIV)
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CHAPTER XVII.: THE WAR OF 1701—CONDUCT OF PRINCE EUGENE, MARSHAL VILLEROI, THE DUKE OF VENDÔME, THE DUKE OF MARLBOROUGH, AND MARSHAL VILLARS; UNTIL THE YEAR 1703. - Voltaire, The Works of Voltaire, Vol. XII (Age of Louis XIV) 
The Works of Voltaire. A Contemporary Version. A Critique and Biography by John Morley, notes by Tobias Smollett, trans. William F. Fleming (New York: E.R. DuMont, 1901). In 21 vols. Vol. XII.
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THE WAR OF 1701—CONDUCT OF PRINCE EUGENE, MARSHAL VILLEROI, THE DUKE OF VENDÔME, THE DUKE OF MARLBOROUGH, AND MARSHAL VILLARS; UNTIL THE YEAR 1703.
The first general to put a check to the superiority of the French arms was a Frenchman, for so we should call Prince Eugene, though he was the grandson of Charles Emanuel, duke of Savoy: his father, the count de Soissons, had settled in France, where he was lieutenant-general of the king’s armies, and governor of Champagne, and had married Olympia Mancini, one of the nieces of Cardinal Mazarin. From this match, so unfortunate in other respects, was born this prince, who afterward proved so dangerous an adversary to Louis XIV., and was so little known to him in his youth. He was known at first in France by the name of the Chevalier de Carignan; he afterward took the petit collet, and was called the Abbot of Savoy. It is said that he asked the king for a regiment, which his majesty refused him, on account of his being too much connected with the princes of Conti, who were then in disgrace. Not being able to succeed with Louis XIV., he went to serve the emperor against the Turks in Hungary, in 1684, together with the princes of Conti, who had already made a glorious campaign there. The king sent an order to the princes of Conti, and all those who had accompanied them in this expedition, to return home. The abbot of Savoy was the only one who refused to comply with this mandate: he continued his journey, openly declaring that he renounced France forever. The king, when he was told of this, said to his courtiers, “Don’t you think I have had a great loss?” and these gentlemen gave it as their opinion that the abbot of Savoy would always be a mad-headed fellow, and fit for nothing. They founded their judgment on certain sallies of youth, by which we are never to judge of men. This prince, who was held in so much contempt at the court of France, was born with all the qualifications which form the hero in war and the great man in peace. He had a just and lofty mind, and the necessary courage, both in the field and cabinet. He was guilty of faults, as all generals have been, but these were lost in the number of his great actions. He shook the greatness of Louis XIV. and the Ottoman power: he governed the empire, and in the course of his victories and ministry showed an equal contempt for vainglory and riches. He cherished, and even protected, learning, as much as could be done at the court of Vienna. At this time he was about thirty-seven years of age, and had the experience of his own victories over the Turks, and the faults which he had seen committed by the imperialists in the late wars in which he served against France. He entered Italy by the country of Trent, in the territories of Venice, with thirty thousand men, and with full liberty to make such use of them as he pleased. The court at first forbade Marshal Catinat to oppose the passage of Prince Eugene, either because they would not commit the first act of hostility, which was bad policy when the enemy had already taken up arms, or else because they would not disoblige the Venetians, who were, however, less to be feared than the German army. This first mistake in the court occasioned Marshal Catinat to commit others. That person rarely succeeds who follows a plan that is not his own; besides, we well know how difficult a matter it is, in a country cut through with rivers and streams, toprevent a skilful enemy from passing them. Prince Eugene, to a great depth of scheming, added a lively promptitude of execution. From the nature of the ground on the banks of the Adige, the enemy’s army was more compact, while that of the French was more extended. Catinat was for marching to meet the enemy; but the generals started difficulties and formed cabals against him. Instead of making them obey him, he gave way; the mildness of his disposition led him to commit this great error. Eugene began on July 9, 1701, by forcing the post of Carpi, near the White Canal, which was defended by St. Fremont, who neglected the general’s orders in some respects, and occasioned his own defeat. After this success, the German army had the command of all the country between the Adige and the Adda, and penetrated into Bressan, while Catinat retreated behind the Oglio. Several good officers approved of this retreat, which, in their opinion, was a very prudent one; to which we may further add, that the failure of the provisions and ammunition promised by the ministry rendered it absolutely necessary. The courtiers, and especially those who had hopes of succeeding Catinat in the command, represented his behavior as a scandal to the French name. Marshal Villeroi persuaded them that he could retrieve the honor of the nation. The confidence with which he spoke, and the liking the king had for him, procured him the command in Italy; and Marshal Catinat, notwithstanding his former victories at Staffarde and Marseilles, was obliged to serve under him.
The marshal duke de Villeroi was son of the king’s governor; had been brought up with his royal master, and always enjoyed a principal share of his favor; he had been with him in all his campaigns, and made one in all his parties of pleasure; he was of an agreeable and engaging figure, extremely brave, a very worthy man, a good friend, sincere in his connections and magnificent in all his actions. But his enemies said he was more taken up, after he came to be general, with the honor and pleasure of commanding than with the schemes of a great captain, and reproached him with being so much wedded to his own opinion as to slight the advice of everyone else.
He now repaired to Italy, to lord it over Catinat, and disgust the duke of Savoy. His behavior showed that he thought a favorite of Louis XIV. at the head of so powerful an army was infinitely superior to a prince. He never called the duke by any other name than M. de Savoy, and treated him like a common general in the pay of France, and not like a sovereign. In a word, the friendship of this prince was not regarded so much as was necessary, considering that he was master of the barriers which nature had placed between France and Italy. The court thought that fear was the surest knot to bind him; and that a French army, surrounding about six or seven thousand Piedmontese, was a sufficient pledge for his fidelity. Marshal Villeroi behaved to him as his equal in common correspondence, and his superior in the command. The duke of Savoy had the empty title of generalissimo, but Marshal Villeroi was so in fact. He immediately gave orders for attacking Prince Eugene in the post of Chiari, near the Oglio. The general officers were of opinion that it was against all the rules of war to attack this post, for these essential reasons: that it was of no consequence; that the intrenchments were inaccessible; that nothing could be gained by forcing them, and that, if they failed, the reputation of the whole campaign would be lost. Villeroi, however, told the duke of Savoy that he must march, and sent an aide-de-camp to order Marshal Catinat in his name to begin the attack. Catinat made the messenger repeat the order to him three different times; then turning toward the officers who were under his command: “Come on then, gentlemen, we must obey.” They marched directly up to the intrenchments, and the duke of Savoy fought like a person who had no subject of complaint against France. Catinat fought everywhere for death; he was wounded, but nevertheless, on seeing the king’s troops repulsed, he made a retreat; after which he quitted the army, and returned to Versailles, to give an account of his conduct to the king, without complaining of any one.
Prince Eugene always maintained his superiority over Marshal Villeroi; at length, in the heart of the winter of 1702, one day when the marshal was sleeping in full security in Cremona, a strong town, and provided with a very numerous garrison, he found himself awakened with the noise of a discharge of small arms; upon which he rose in haste, mounted his horse, and the first thing he met with was a squadron of the enemy. The marshal was immediately made prisoner and led out of the town, without knowing anything that had passed there, and unable to conceive the cause of so extraordinary an event. Prince Eugene was already in the town of Cremona; a priest called Bozzoli, provost at St. Mary la Nova, had introduced the German troops through a common sewer. Four hundred men having been conveyed through this sewer into the priest’s house, immediately killed the guard at the two gates, which were opened, and Prince Eugene entered the city with four thousand men. All this was done before the governor, who was a Spaniard, had the least suspicion, or Marshal Villeroi was awake. The whole affair was conducted with the greatest secrecy, order, and diligence. The Spanish governor, on the first alarm, appeared in the street with a few soldiers, but was presently shot dead; all the general officers were either killed or made prisoners, excepting Lieutenant-General Count de Revel, and the marquis du Prâlin. Chance, however, confounded the prudent measures of Prince Eugene.
It happened that the chevalier d’Entragues was that day to review the regiment of marines, of which he was colonel; the soldiers were assembled at four o’clock in the morning, in one of the outskirts of the city, exactly at the time that Prince Eugene entered at the other part; d’Entragues began to run through the streets with his soldiers; he repulsed those of the enemy that came in his way, and by this means gave the rest of the garrison time to repair thither. The streets and squares were filled with officers and soldiers, confusedly mingled together, some with arms, some without, and others half naked, without any commander at their head. The fight began in the utmost confusion, and they intrenched themselves from street to street, and from square to square. Two Irish regiments, that made part of the garrison, checked the efforts of the imperialists. Never was greater prudence shown in the surprise of a town, nor more valor in defending it. The garrison consisted of about five thousand men; Prince Eugene had as yet introduced only four thousand; a large detachment of his army was to have joined them by the bridge over the Po; the measures were well concerted, but another stroke of chance rendered them all fruitless. This bridge, which was guarded only by a hundred French soldiers, was to have been seized upon by the German cuirassiers, who were ordered to go and make themselves masters of it, the instant Prince Eugene entered the town. For this purpose, as they came in by the south gate, next to the common sewer, they were to go out into the country of Cremona at the northern part of the city, through the Po gate, and then immediately make the best of their way to the bridge. As they were going through the city, the guide who conducted them was killed by a musket-shot from a window; the cuirassiers mistook one street for another, and wandered out of their way. During this interval, the Irish assembled at the Po gate, attacked and repulsed the cuirassiers; and the marquis du Prâlin, seizing this lucky moment, ordered the bridge to be broken down; the aid which the enemy expected could not cross, and the town was saved.
Prince Eugene, after having fought the whole day, and constantly keeping possession of the gate by which he entered, at length retired, taking with him Marshal Villeroi, and most of the general officers prisoners, but disappointed in taking Cremona, which his activity and prudence, together with the negligence of the generals, had once made him master of; and which chance, and the valor of the French and Irish troops, had snatched from him again.
Marshal Villeroi, who was extremely unhappy on this occasion, was condemned by the courtiers at Versailles, with all the severity and acrimony that his share of the royal favor, and the loftiness of his character, which was taken by them for vanity, could inspire. The king, who blamed but did not condemn him, was not a little displeased to find his choice so highly censured, and in the heat of his resentment suffered these words to escape him: “They take a pleasure in abusing him, because he is my favorite;” a term that he never before in his life made use of in regard to anyone. The duke of Vendôme was immediately ordered to go and take the command in Italy.
The duke of Vendôme was grandson of Henry IV., and like him, intrepid, mild, beneficent, and humble; a stranger to hatred, envy, and revenge; he showed pride only among princes, and behaved with equality to everyone else: he was the only general under whom the common men were not led to fight merely from principles of military duty, and that mechanical instinct which obeys the orders of an officer. They fought for the duke of Vendôme; and would have laid down their lives to extricate him out of a false step into which his fiery genius sometimes hurried him. He was thought not to equal Prince Eugene in the coolness and depth of his designs, and the art of subsisting his troops; he was too apt to neglect little matters, and suffered military discipline to languish in his army; he gave too much time to sleep and the pleasures of the table. This overindulgence put him more than once in danger of being carried off: but in the day of battle he made amends for all these faults, by a presence of mind and discernment which seemed to grow from danger; these opportunities he was continually seeking, being not so well qualified for a defensive war as Prince Eugene, but fully equal to him in the offensive.
The same disorder and negligence that he introduced into the army were visible to a surprising degree in his household, and even in his own person. From his great aversion to show or ostentation he contracted a slovenliness almost unparalleled; and disinterestedness, the most noble of all virtues, became in him a fault, by making him lose more by carelessness than he would have expended in acts of bounty. He has been often known to want even common necessaries. His brother, the grand prior, who commanded under him in Italy, had all his faults, which he carried to a still greater excess, and made amends for by the same valor. It is surprising to see two generals never rising from bed till four o’clock in the afternoon, and two princes, grandsons of Henry IV., neglecting their persons in a manner that the meanest soldier would have thought shameful.
What is still more surprising is that mixture of activity and indolence with which Vendôme carried on so smart a war against Eugene; a war of artifice, surprises, marches, crossing of rivers, petty skirmishes, often as fruitless as bloody; and murderous battles, in which both sides claimed the victory; such as that of Luzzara—Aug. 15, 1701—for which Te Deum was sung both at Paris and Vienna. Vendôme always came off conqueror, when he had not to deal with Prince Eugene in person; but as soon as that general appeared at the head of his troops, the French had no longer the advantage.
In the midst of these battles, and the sieges of so many towns and cities, private intelligence was brought to Versailles that the duke of Savoy, grand-nephew of Louis XIV., father-in-law of the duke of Burgundy and Philip V., was going to quit the Bourbon interest, and was actually in treaty with the emperor. Everyone was astonished that he should at once leave two sons-in-law, and give up what appeared to be his true interest: but the emperor had promised him all that his sons-in-law had refused him: Montferrat, Mantua, Alexandria, Valencia, and the countries between the Po and the Tanaro, with more money than he received from France. The money was to be furnished by England, for the emperor had hardly sufficient to pay his troops. England, the richest of all the allies, contributed more than any of them toward the common cause. Whether the duke of Savoy showed any regard for the laws of nature and nations is a question in morality which has very little to do with the conduct of sovereigns. The event, however, proved in the end that he was not at all wanting to the laws of policy in the treaty he made; but he was wanting in another very essential point of politics, in leaving his troops at the mercy of the French, while he was treating with the emperor. The duke of Vendôme ordered them to be disarmed; they were indeed no more than five thousand men, but this was no inconsiderable object to the duke of Savoy.
No sooner had the house of Bourbon lost this ally, when she heard that Portugal had likewise declared against her. Peter, king of Portugal, acknowledged the archduke Charles for king of Spain. The imperial council, in the name of this archduke, dismembered, in favor of Peter II., a monarchy, in which he was not as yet master of a single town; and, by one of those treaties which are never executed, ceded to him Vigo, Bayonne, Alcantara, Badajoz, a part of Estremadura, all the countries lying to the west of the river La Plata in America; in a word, he made a partition of what he had not to give, in order to acquire what he might.
The king of Portugal, the prince of Hesse-Darmstadt, minister to the archduke, and the admiral of Castile, his creature, implored the assistance of the king of Morocco. They not only entered into a treaty with these barbarians, supplying them with horses and corn, but they likewise asked for a body of troops. The emperor of Morocco, Muley Ismael, the most warlike and politic tyrant at that time in the Mahometan nation, would not send his troops but on such terms as were dangerous to Christendom, and shameful to the king of Portugal; he demanded a son of that king’s as a hostage, together with a certain number of towns. The treaty did not take place; and the Christians contented themselves with tearing each other to pieces with their own hands, without calling in barbarians. The assistance of Africa would not have done the house of Austria so much service as that of England and Holland did.
Churchill, earl, and afterward duke, of Marlborough, was declared general of the confederate armies of England and Holland, in the year 1702. This man proved as fatal to the French greatness as any that had appeared for many ages. He was not one of those generals to whom a minister delivers the plan of the campaign in writing, and who, after having followed the order he has received from the cabinet, at the head of his army, returns home to solicit the honor of being employed again. He at that time governed the queen of England; both by the occasion she had for his service, and by the authority his wife had over her affections. He had the command of the parliament by his powerful interest, and by that of the treasurer, Godolphin, whose son married one of his daughters. Thus having the direction of the court, the parliament, the war, and the treasury, more a king than ever William had been, as great a politician, and a much greater general, he exceeded the most sanguine hopes of the allies. He possessed in a degree superior to any general of his time that tranquil courage in the midst of tumult, and serenity of soul in danger, which the English call a cool head. It is perhaps to this qualification, the principal gift in nature for a commander, that the English are indebted for their victories over the French in the fields of Poitiers, Crécy, and Agincourt.
Marlborough, who was indefatigable as a warrior during the campaign, was no less active a negotiator in the winter; he went to The Hague, and visited all the courts of Germany; he persuaded the Dutch to drain themselves to humble France; he roused the resentment of the elector palatine; he flattered the pride of the elector of Brandenburg, who wanted to be king, by which he drew from him a supply of eight thousand men. Prince Eugene, on his side, had no sooner finished one campaign than he went to Vienna to make preparations for another. We may easily judge whether an army is better supplied, where the general is at the same time the prime minister.
These two great men, who had sometimes the command jointly, sometimes separately, always understood each other. They had frequent conferences at The Hague, with the grand pensionary, Heinsius, and the secretary, Fagel, who governed the United Provinces with equal abilities, and better success than the Barneveldts and DeWitts. They, in concert, continually set the springs of one-half of Europe in play against the house of Bourbon; and the French ministry was at that time much too weak to oppose those combined forces for any length of time. The plan of operations for the campaign was always kept an inviolable secret. They settled their designs among themselves, and did not intrust them even to those who were to second them until the instant of execution. Chamillard, on the contrary, being neither a politician, a warrior, nor even acquainted with the management of the revenue, and who yet acted as prime minister, was unable to plan any designs of his own; and was, therefore, obliged to be dependent on inferior people for their assistance. His secret was almost always divulged, even before he himself knew exactly what was to be done. Of this the marquis de Feuquières accuses him with great justice; and Madame de Maintenon acknowledges, in her letters, that she had made choice of a man who was not fit for the ministry. This was one of the principal causes of the misfortunes which befell France.
Marlborough, as soon as he came to the command of the allied army in Flanders, showed that he had learned the art of war of the great Turenne, under whom he had in his younger days made his first campaigns as a volunteer. He was then known in the army only by the name of the handsome Englishman: but Turenne soon perceived that this handsome Englishman would one day be a great man. He began his command by raising several subaltern officers in whom he had discovered merit, and who were till then unknown, without confining himself to the order of military rank, which we in France call the order of the Tableau. He was sensible that, when preferment is only the consequence of seniority, all emulation must perish; and that an officer is not always the most serviceable because the most ancient. He presently formed men. He gained ground upon the French without hazarding a battle. Ginkel, earl of Athlone, the Dutch general, disputed the command with him the first month, and, before six weeks were at an end, was obliged to yield to him in every respect. The king of France sent his grandson, the duke of Burgundy, against him, a wise and upright prince, born to make a people happy. The marshal de Bouflers, a man of indefatigable courage, commanded the army under the young prince. But the duke of Burgundy, after having seen several places taken before his face, and being by the skilful marches of the English, obliged to retreat, returned to Versailles before the campaign was half over, leaving Bouflers to be a witness to Marlborough’s successes, who took Venlo, Ruremonde, and Liège, and continued advancing without losing the superiority one instant.
When Marlborough returned to London at the close of this campaign, he received all the honors that could be bestowed in a monarchy and a republic. He was created duke by the queen; and, what was still more flattering, he received the thanks of the two houses of parliament, who sent deputies to compliment him at his own house.
But now there arose a person who seemed likely to restore the drooping fortunes of France. This was the marshal duke de Villars, then lieutenant-general, and whom we have since seen, at the age of eighty-two, commander-in-chief of the armies of France, Spain, and Sardinia; this man was bold and confident, and had himself been the architect of his own fortune, by his unwearied perseverance in the discharge of his duty. He sometimes offended Louis XIV., and what was still more dangerous, his minister, Louvois, by speaking to them with the boldness with which he served. He was accused of not having a modesty becoming his courage. But at length it was seen that he had a genius formed for war, and to command Frenchmen. He had been greatly advanced within a few years, after having been left a long time unnoticed.
Never was there a man whose preferment created more jealousy, and with less reason. He was marshal of France, duke, and peer, and governor of Provence: but then he had saved the state; and others who had ruined it, or had no other claim but that of being courtiers, had met with as great rewards. He was even upbraided with the riches which he acquired by contributions in the enemy’s country, a just and reasonable reward for his valor and conduct; while those who had amassed fortunes of ten times the value by the most scandalous methods continued to enjoy them with the approbation of the public. He did not begin to taste the sweets of the reputation he had acquired till he was nearly eighty; and he must have outlived the whole court to have enjoyed it undisturbed.
It may not be amiss to acquaint the world with the reason of this injustice in mankind. It was owing to the want of art in Marshal Villars: he had not enough to make himself friends, with integrity and understanding; nor to set a proper value upon himself, by speaking that of himself which he deserved that others should say of him.
One day as he was taking leave of the king, he said to him before the whole court: “Sire, I am going to fight against your majesty’s enemies, and leave you in the midst of mine.” He said to the courtiers of the duke of Orleans, regent of the kingdom, who had all grown rich by that subversion of the state called system: “For my part I never got anything but by the enemies of my country.” These speeches, which were accompanied by the same courage as his actions, were too humbling to those who were already sufficiently incensed at his good fortune.
At the beginning of the war he was one of the lieutenant-generals who had the command of the detachments in Alsace. His army was at that time in the mountains of Breisgau, which border on the Black Forest; and this immense forest separated the elector of Bavaria’s army from the French. Catinat, who commanded in Strasburg, had too much circumspection in his conduct to think of attacking the prince of Baden at such a disadvantage; as in case of a repulse, the French army must be hopelessly lost, and Alsace laid open. Villars, who had resolved to be marshal of France, or to die in the attempt, hazarded what Catinat did not dare to undertake. He wrote to court for permission; and then marched toward the imperialists at Friedlengen, with an inferior army, and fought the battle of that name, Oct. 14, 1702.
The horse engaged in the plain, the foot climbed up to the top of the hill, and attacked the German infantry which was intrenched in the woods. I have more than once heard Marshal Villars himself say, that after the battle was won, and as he was marching at the head of his infantry, a voice was heard crying out, “We are cut off;” upon which the whole body immediately took flight. He directly ran up to them, crying out, “What is the matter, friends? we have gained the victory, God bless the king.” The soldiers, all pale and trembling, repeated, “God bless the king,” and began to fly as before. He declared that he never met with more difficulty than in rallying the conquerors, and that if only two of the enemy’s regiments had showed themselves at that instant of general panic, the French would have been beaten; so frequently does the fate of battles depend on mere chance.
The prince of Baden, though he lost three thousand men, with all his cannon, was driven out of the field of battle, and pursued for two leagues, through woods and defiles, while as a proof of his defeat, the fort of Friedlengen capitulated. Nevertheless, he wrote to the court of Vienna that he had gained the victory, and ordered Te Deum to be sung, which was more shameful to him than even the loss of the battle.
The French recovered from their panic, proclaimed Villars marshal of France on the field of battle; and a fortnight later the king confirmed the title which the soldiers had conferred on him.
Marshal Villars, having joined the elector of Bavaria with his victorious army, found him also a conqueror, gaining ground of the enemy, and in possession of the imperial city of Ratisbon, where the assembly of the empire had lately vowed his destruction.
Villars was better qualified to serve his country when acting only according to his own genius than in concert with another. He carried, or rather dragged, the elector across the Danube; but no sooner had they passed that river than the elector began to repent of what he had done, perceiving, that on the least check, he should be obliged to leave his dominions at the enemy’s mercy. The count of Styria, at the head of nearly twenty thousand men, was marching to join the grand army under the prince of Baden, near Donauwörth. The marshal told the elector that this must be prevented, by marching directly and attacking Styria. The elector, willing to temporize, replied that he must consult his ministers and generals on that head. “Am not I your minister and general?” answered Villars. “Do you want any other counsel but me when you are to give battle?” The prince, realizing the danger which threatened his dominions, still kept back, and even grew angry with the general. “Well, then,” said Villars, “if your electoral highness will not embrace this opportunity with your Bavarians, I will begin the battle with the French;” and immediately gave orders for the attack. The prince was incensed, and regarded Villars as a madman, but was obliged to fight against his will. This was in the plains of Höchstädt, near Donauwörth.
After the first charge there appeared another instance of the effect of chance in battles. Both armies were seized at the same time with a panic, and fled; and Marshal Villars saw himself left alone for some minutes on the field of battle; however, he rallied his troops, led them back to the charge, and gained the victory. Three thousand of the imperialists were left dead on the field, and four thousand taken prisoners, with their cannon and baggage. The elector made himself master of Augsburg. The road to Vienna was open, and it was even debated in the emperor’s council whether he should quit his capital.
The emperor was excusable for his apprehensions; he was beaten everywhere. The duke of Burgundy, with Marshals Tallard and Vauban under him, had just taken old Breisach; and Tallard had not only taken Landau, but had also defeated the prince of Hesse, afterward king of Sweden, near Spires, as he was attempting to relieve the town. If we believe the marquis de Feuquières—a most excellent officer and competent judge in the military art, though rather too severe in his decisions—Marshal Tallard won the battle by a fault and a mistake. However, he wrote thus to the king from the field of battle: “Sire, your majesty’s army has taken more standards and colors than it has lost private men.”
In this action there was more execution done by the bayonet than in any other during the war. The French have a singular advantage in the use of this weapon, on account of their natural impetuosity; but it has become more menacing than fatal; quick and close firing has prevailed in its stead. The English and Germans were accustomed to fire in divisions with greater order and readiness than the French. The Prussians were the first who loaded with iron rammers. The second king of Prussia taught his troops such an exercise, that they could fire six times in a minute, with great ease. Three ranks discharging their fire at once, and then advancing briskly, decide the fate of the battle nowadays. The field-pieces produce a no less formidable effect. The battalions who are staggered with the fire do not wait to be attacked with the bayonet, and are completely defeated by the cavalry; so that the bayonet frightens more than it slays, and the sword is absolutely useless to the infantry. Strength of body, skill, and courage are no longer of any service to a combatant. The battalions are great machines, and those which are best formed naturally bear down all that stand in their way. This was the very thing which gave Prince Eugene the victory over the Turks in those famous battles of Temiswar and Belgrade; while the latter would in all probability have had the advantage from their superiority of numbers, had these battles been what we called mixed fights. Thus the art of destroying each other is not only entirely different from what it was before the invention of gunpowder, but even from what it was a century ago.
As the French arms maintained their reputation with such success at first in Germany, it was presumed that Marshal Villars would carry it still further by an impetuosity which would disconcert the German phlegm: but the qualifications which made him a formidable chief rendered it impossible for him to act in concert with the elector of Bavaria. The king would not suffer his generals to show haughtiness to any but his enemies; and the elector of Bavaria unhappily wrote for another marshal of France.
Villars then, whose presence was so necessary in Germany, where he had gained two battles, and might possibly have crushed the empire, was recalled and sent into the Cévennes, to make peace with the rebellious peasants. We shall speak of these fanatics in the chapter on religion. Louis XIV. had at this time enemies that were more terrible, successful, and irreconcilable than the inhabitants of the Cévennes.