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Government having determined to send an expedition to North America, a body of troops, consisting of Lord John Murray's Highland regiment, and several others, under the command of General St Clair, embarked at Portsmouth for Cape Breton. They sailed on the ISth June, but, being driven back by contrary winds, the troops were relanded. On the 5th August, the armament sailed a second time, under the command of Rear-Admiral Lestock. Again forced back by adverse winds, they made a third attempt on the 24th, and after reaching Portland, were once more driven back to Portsmouth. Their destination was now changed to a descent on the coast of France; and, accordingly, the army was reinforced by 2000 of the Foot Guards, and a strong detachment of Artillery. The land forces amounted to nearly 8000 men. While the Highland regiment lay at Portsmouth, it was joined by so large a detachment from the additional companies in Scotland, as to increase the battalion to 1100 men.
On the 15th of September the expedition sailed from Portsmouth, and on the 19th anchored in Quimperly Bay. Immediate preparations were made for landing, which was effected by the Grenadiers and Highlanders without much opposition. They immediately commenced operations against L'Orient, which they reached on the 24th, and on the evening of the following day one mortar battery, and two twelve gun batteries, were completed. On the 28th the French made several sallies, in one of which they assumed the garb of Highlanders, and approached close to the batteries. On being discovered, they were saluted with a volley of grape shot, which drove them back with great precipitation, followed by those, whose garb they had partly assumed. The firing, which had done considerable damage to the town, ceased in the evening, and secret preparations were made for a retreat, as the enemy was collecting in great force. This was accordingly carried into effect, and the troops re-imbarked without interruption.
The expedition sailed from Quiberon, and formed itself into divisions, some of which sailed for England and some for Ireland. The Highlanders were destined for Cork where they arrived " on Saturday the 4th November. Lord John Murray's regiment of Highlanders marched in here with his Lordship, the colonel, at their head, who, with the whole corps of officers and men, were dressed in the Highland dress." From that city they marched to Limerick, where they remained three months, and in February 1747 returned to Cork, where they embarked for the Downs to join a large body of troops, assembled to reinforce the army in Flanders. The greater part of the troops that formed this reinforcement consisted of those who had been ordered from Flanders in consequence of the Rebellion. Lord Loudon's Highlanders, and a detachment from the additional companies of the Black Watch, joined this force, which sailed from Leith early in April 1747. *
The French having invaded Zealand and the adjoining part of Flanders, the first battalion of the Royals, Bragg's, and Lord John Murray's Highlanders, were ordered to Flushing, under the command of Major-General Fuller, and landing at Stopledyke on the 1st May, were marched to the relief of Hulst, then closely besieged. The commandant of the place, General St Roque, ordered Bragg's and the Highlanders to halt within four miles, and sent the Royals to the Dutch camp of St Bergue, appointed to watch the movements of the enemy, but too weak to attack or dislodge them. They remained here till the evening of the 5th of May, when the French, having advanced almost under the pallisadoes, began the assault with great resolu
* It is stated in the Caledonian Mercury of March 1747, that" Lieutenant John Campbell of Glenlyon, and Ensign John Grant of Glenmoriston, with a strong detachment from the additional companies of the Black Watch, sailed in the fleet for Flanders. When it was notified to the men that only a part of them was to join the army, all claimed the preference to be permitted to embark, and it was necessary to draw lots, as none would remain behind.1'
tion. The out-guards and picquets were quickly forced back into the garrison, when the Dutch regiment of Thiery, which " had behaved well in the former assault, • marched out to oppose the attack, but were so disconcerted by the vigorous resolution of the enemy, that they gave way. On this the Royals advanced, regained what little ground was lost, repulsed the French in every attack, and maintained the post with the greatest bravery, till relieved by the Highland regiment, on whose coming up the French retired." f
The loss of the Royals on this occasion was upwards of 90 killed, and more than 100 wounded. The loss of the Highlanders was trifling, being only five privates killed and a few wounded. The enemy, however, resolutely continued the siege, and, erecting several new batteries on the sandberg, on the morning of the 9th they opened the whole with great vigour on the town, which surrendered at three o'clock in the afternoon. This event was followed by the capitulation of the troops in Hulst, when Lord John Murray, who then commanded the British regiments, marched to Wellshorden, where they were joined by the Duke of Cumberland, who had left the main army to visit all the lower parts of Dutch Flanders, then blockaded and surrounded by the enemy. The intention of his Royal Highness was to superintend the defence of Hulst in person; but his object was defeated by the surrender of the place sooner than was expected, not without suspicion of misconduct on the part of the commander, who had notice that reinforcements were ordered to his relief. The British regiments were ordered to South Beveland. The Duke staid till he saw the troops embarked, and, in this position, exposed himself to considerable danger. Scarcely had he gone on board, when a great body of French came up, and
* The enemy made an attack on the 3d May, when this regiment repulsed them with great gallantry, f Hague Gazette.
"attacked 300 of the Highland regiment, who were the last to embark. They behaved with so much bravery, that they beat off three or four times their number, killing many, and making some prisoners, with only the loss of four or five of their own number.''"
In the beginning of June, Marshal Saxe collected his army, and encamped between Mechlin and Louvain. The French King arriving at Brussels on the 15th June, his army was put in motion, and marched towards Tirlemont, the Allies being as ready to accept as the French to offer battle. Prince Wolfenbuttle, with the reserve of the first line, was ordered through Westerloo to the Abbey of Everbode, and the second line to take post at Westerloo, to sustain the reserve. On the 17th, the whole Allied Army had reached their destination, and were formed in order of battle; but the enemy declining an engagement on that day, both armies manoeuvred till the 1st of July, making the necessary arrangements for the battle, which took place next morning at Lafeldt. This battle was obstinately contested; but the Allied Army was forced to retreat, with the loss of 5620 killed and wounded, while that of the enemy exceeded 10,000 men. That the loss of a vanquished should be less, by nearly one half, than that of a victorious army, must at first excite surprise. From nine in the morning till one in the afternoon, the Allies had the advantage. During that time, the village of Lafeldt had been thrice carried, and as often lost. The battle raged with the greatest violence round this spot . Thither the Duke of Cumberland ordered the whole left wing to advance. The enemy gave way to the vigour of this attack, and victory seemed within the grasp of the Confederates, when Marshal Saxe brought up some fresh troops, (the Irish and Scotch brigades in the service of France,) who charged the centre, under Prince Waldeck, with such impetuosity, that they were driven
* Hague Gazette.
back in confusion. q Some squadrons of Dutch cavalry, seeing what was passing in their front, turned to the right about, and instead of marching up to the support of the line, retreated at full gallop, overturning five battalions of infantry marching up from the reserve. So sudden were these movements, that it was with difficulty his Royal Highness could reach the left wing; and a complete rout would, in all probability, have ensued, had not General Lord Ligonier, with three British regiments of cavalry, and some squadrons of Austrians, charged the enemy with such vigour and success, as to overthrow the part of their force opposed to him, and thus caused such a diversion as enabled the Duke of Cumberland to effect his retreat to Maestricht. Lord Ligonier became the victim of his own gallantry; for, his horse being killed, he was taken prisoner. The Allies were not pursued in their retreat. The enemy seemed satisfied with a victory, of which, at one time, they had no expectation, and which was attributed to the second disposition of the Allies, by which only one half of their force
q In an account of this battle, printed at Liege in July 1747, it is said, that the King of France's brigade marched up under the command of Marshal Saxe, and carried the village of Lanhcry after a repulse of forty battalions, who had attempted it successively. A letter from an officer in the army to his friend at York says, " That the brigade consisted of Scotch and Irish in the French service, who fought like devils; that they neither gave nor took quarter; that, observing the Duke of Cumberland to be extremely active in defence of this post, they were employed, on this attack, at their own request; that they in a manner cut down all before them, with a full resolution, if possible, to reach his Royal Highness, which they certainly would have done, had not Sir John Ligonier come up with a party of horse, and thereby saved the Duke at the loss of his own liberty; that it was generally believed the young Pretender was a volunteer in the action, which animated these rebellious troops to push so desperately; and as what advantage the French had at Fontenoy was as well as now owing to the desperate behaviour of these brigades, it may be said that the King of France is indebted for much of his success to the naturalborn subjects of the crown of Great Britain." *
• Gentleman's Magazine, 1747. vOL. I. T