Wednesday, 21 October 2020

The Battle of Ooderen :The Spanish Netherlands, June 31st 1703


The details of this clash of arms are a bit sparse in English sources, so this is my interpretation of the events leading up to this battle. Some of the details could be wrong.

 This battle was one of many in what is known as The Malburian Wars or The War of the Spanish Succession. The British and Dutch were fighting the French. Louis the 14th had sent his army North, to invade the Spanish Netherlands, which roughly equates to the country of Belgium in present times.

The Dutch government had sent their army South  into the Netherlands to try and forestall the French army in its advance. The British General, The Duke of Marlborough had warned General Obdam the Dutch General not to advance to far.

Obdam disregarded the Dukes advise wanting to show that the Dutch did not need the British to give them instructions. At this time the country of Holland was known as The United Provinces.

The French C-in-C, the Duc De Boufflers was no fool and as the Dutch army advanced saw an opportunity to surround it. At Eckeren this manoeuvre came about.

Realising what was happening, Obdam with his army tried to fight his way out of the encirclement. First, he directed an attack against Eckeren  but the French forced the Dutch to retreat. Next, he directed an attack against against Hoevenen, but this was not pushed home.

Hoevenen was where the majority of the French Cavalry was stationed. The area consisted of open country. The Dutch Generals realised that their mainly infantry army would be cut to pieces if caught in open country in marching column.

The Dutch Army was camped in enclosed territory ideal for defense but they were surrounded on three sides with their backs to the Scheldt river ( pro: Skeld ).

The Dutch Commander knew there was only one thing he could do; he deserted!!.

Disguising himself as a French Officer, Obdam went South, leaving his Officers and the army in a dire situation. Luckily for the Dutch troops, the second in command, General Slangenburg was made of sterner stuff,.

He realised that the only way out was through Ooderen. When the Scheldt river was at low ebb, the polder (a very large drainage gully ) near the village would be passable.

Even at low tide the drainage ditch and the dike further east would be an obstacle for cavalry so would provide some defence should the Duc De Merode become aware of the Dutch manouvres.

Having decided on a plan General Slangenburg and his fellow General Friesham got the army moving.

The Army of The United Provinces ( Holland)

8,500 foot ( inc; Generals and Artillery) = 8.5 points x  4 = 34 points.

1,500 Horse= 1.5 x 4= 6 points.

1 General ( Slangenburg) @ 2points.

1 General (Friesham) @ 1 point.

3 stands of Cavalry @ 2 points = 6 points.

3 stands of Light artillery @ 1 point = 3points.

2 stands of Grenadier infantry @ 4 points =8 points.

10 stands of Line Infantry @ 2 points = 20 points.


The French "Division" at Ooderen.

9,500 Foot = 9.5 x 4 = 38 points ( inc Generals and Artillery ).

2000 Horse = 2 points x 4 = 8 points.

1 General ( the Duc De Villaroi ) @ 1 point.

2 stands of Heavy Field Guns @ 2points = 4 points.

8 stands of Line Infantry @ 3 points = 24 points.

1 stand of Dismounted Dragoons @ 1 point.

2 Stands of Grenadier Infantry @ 4 points = 8 points.

4 stands of Cavalry @ 2 points = 8 points.

Here is a map of the battle;



The battlefield;


Notes;

The Dutch get the Initiative Point on every  Game-Turn. This is for their bravery born out of desperation and for the French not expecting the Dutch to attack!.

Any stands being forced into the water West of the village bridge will be lost. This was the flood plain of the Scheldt so very deep and soft mud. The left side of the board from the Dutch base edge is river so stands will be lost if they are forced to retire off that side.

Any Dutch stands retiring over the dike will be lost ( they would eventually be caught by the French troops to the East).

The polder East of the Bridge is treated as a river that under the rules can be crossed with penalties.

The winner of the battle after 8 Game-Turns will be the side with the least number of stands lost and/or the Dutch have stands on the bridge at the village. The Dutch have only one way to go. That is North.

The other parts of The French Army didn't take part in the battle. I'm surmising that either Generals Boufflers and Merode assumed that General Villeroi could defeat the Dutch ,or, the acoustics of the area muffled the sound of the battle.

General De Bedmar,s Spanish " Division" was at Wilmarsdonk to the South, but he did not move. I'm assuming that he also thought that Generals Villaroi and Merode would be able to stop the Dutch escaping.

For completeness, here is my interpretation of the remainder of the Franco/ Spanish Army;

The French "Division" at Hoevenen

6,500 horse = 6.5 points x 4 = 26 points.

1 General ( Merode) @ 1 point.

8 stands of Cavalry @ 3 points = 24 points.

1 stand of Mounted Dragoons @ 1 point.


The French "Division " at Eckeren.

11,000 Foot ( inc: Generals and Artillery)= 11 points x 4 = 44 points.

2,000 Horse = 2 points x 4 = 8 points.

1 General, C-in-C ( Boufflers) @1 point.

1 stand of Heavy Artillery @ 2points.

3 stands of Light Artillery @ 1 point = 3 points.

2 stands of Grenadier Infantry @ 4 points = 8 points.

10 stands of Line Infantry @ 3 points = 30 points.

4 stands of Cavalry @ 2 points = 8 points.


The Spanish "Division" at Wilmarsdonk.

8,500 Foot ( inc: Artillery and Generals = 8.5 points x 4 = 34 points. 

1,500 Horse = 1.5 x 4 = 6 points.

1 General ( De Bedmar) @ 1 point.

2 stands of Grenadier Infantry @ 4 points = 8 points.

7 stands of Line Infantry @ 3 points = 21 points.

4 stands of Light Artillery @ 1 point = 4 points.

3 stands of Cavalry @ 2 points = 6 points.

Credits;

I set this battle up on a 2 foot (60cm) x 2 foot (60cm) board as there seem to be very little manoeuvring space according to one Period map I have seen.

The figures are mostly Miniature Figurines with some from Peter Pig and Essex Miniatures. They represent the middle 18th century rather than the earlier Malburian era.

The buildings are from Total Battle Miniatures. The bridge at the village is scratchbuilt, as are the dike sections. The rivers and roads are thin card.

The bases of the figures are made from picture framing card and the round 40mm mdf  bases are from Minibits














 



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