Maurice de Saxe
Casualties and losses
10,000 to 12,000:
7,000 to 7,500:
War of the Austrian Succession
Flanders and the Rhine
Bergen op Zoom
Bohemia and Moravia
Jacobite rising of 1745
Black Watch at the
Battle of Fontenoy
Battle of Fontenoy by William Skeoch Cumming
The Battle of Fontenoy, 11 May 1745, was a major engagement of the
War of the Austrian Succession, fought between the forces of the
Pragmatic Allies – comprising mainly Dutch, British, and Hanoverian
troops under the command of the Duke of Cumberland – and a French
army under Maurice de Saxe, commander of King Louis XV's forces in the
Low Countries. The battle was one of the most important in the war and
considered the masterpiece of Saxe, serving France; Louis XV, and his
son, the Dauphin, were present at the battle.
Saxe went on the offensive in April 1745 with a large French army,
looking to build on the previous year's gains. His initial aim was to
take control of the upper
Scheldt basin and thereby gain access to the
heart of the Austrian Netherlands. To these ends, he first besieged
the fortress of Tournai, protecting the siege with his main force
about 5 miles (~9 km) southeast of the town. In order to relieve
Tournai, the allies first decided to attack Saxe's position – a
naturally strong feature, hinged on the village of Fontenoy and
further strengthened by defensive works.
After failing to make progress on the flanks – the Dutch on the
left, Brigadier Ingolsby's brigade on the right – Cumberland decided
to smash his way through the centre without securing the flanks of his
main attack. Despite devastating flanking fire the allied column, made
up of British and Hanoverian infantry, burst through the French lines
to the point of victory. Only when Saxe concentrated all available
infantry, cavalry, and artillery was the column forced to yield. The
allies retreated in good order, conducting a fighting withdrawal. The
battle had shown, however, the strength of a defensive force relying
on firepower and a strong reserve.
Casualties were high on both sides, but the French had gained the
Tournai fell shortly after the battle. This success was
followed by a rapid advance against the less organised and outnumbered
allied army: Ghent, Oudenarde, Bruges, and
Dendermonde soon fell to
French forces. The British army's withdrawal to England to deal with
the Jacobite rising facilitated the French capture of the
strategically important ports of
Ostend and Nieuwpoort, threatening
Britain's links to the Low Countries. By the year's end, the
Saxon-born Saxe had completed the conquest of much of the Austrian
Netherlands, and with his successes he became a national hero in his
adopted country. The battle had established French superiority in
force and high command.
2.1 Preliminary skirmishes
3 Opposing armies
4.1 French defensive position
4.2 Allied flank attacks
4.3 Allied column
4.4 Final French counter-attacks
4.5 Allied retreat
5.1 French gains
6 In popular culture
7 See also
In 1744, France went over to the offensive in the Low Countries. King
Louis XV and the Duke of Noailles scored early successes with the
capture of the frontier fortresses of western Flanders: Menin, Ypres,
Fort Knokke fell in June, while Furnes was taken in July. The
whole southern sector of maritime Flanders was soon in French hands,
but the strategic situation abruptly changed when Prince Charles of
Lorraine led 70,000 imperial troops across the
Rhine and into
Alsace. To counter this threat,
Louis XV and Noailles led a large
number of reinforcements south, while Maurice de Saxe, illegitimate
Augustus II the Strong
Augustus II the Strong and, since March, a Marshal of France,
was left in charge in Flanders with a reduced army of between 50,000
and 60,000 men facing an allied army of 96,000. Opposing Saxe was
the Pragmatic Army, the bulk of which was made up of British and
Hanoverian troops under General George Wade, and Dutch troops under
Prince Maurice of Nassau. Much had been expected of the allies in 1744
but the timidity of their generals had produced nothing against a
numerically inferior enemy. Although Wade eventually advanced towards
Lille, he did little more than bicker with the Austrians about the
cost of moving his siege train from Antwerp. Saxe was able to
maintain his position at Courtrai and along the lines of the Lys, and
remained relatively untroubled throughout. In part, the risible
results of the allied campaign in the
Low Countries had led to the
fall of the Carteret government in Britain, leading to a new
administration led by
Henry Pelham and his brother, the Duke of
Elsewhere, the Pragmatic Allies had scored considerable success in
late 1744. A joint Austro-Saxon force under Charles of Lorraine and
Count Traun drove Frederick II's Prussian army from Bohemia; and
Piedmont-Sardinia had expelled the Bourbons from northern Italy.
Further success followed with the death in January 1745 of the French
puppet emperor, Charles VII. When his successor, Maximilian III
Joseph, hesitated over peace proposals, the Austrians launched a rapid
campaign, culminating in April with the Franco-Bavarian defeat at the
decisive Battle of Pfaffenhofen. Joseph sued for peace and gave his
support for the candidacy of Maria Theresa's husband, Francis Stephen,
in the coming imperial election for the vacant throne. With
Bavaria out of the war the Austrians could now try to win back Silesia
from Frederick II. Likewise, Bavarian repudiation of its French ties
meant France was freed of its German involvement, and could now
concentrate on its own military efforts in Italy and the Low
As early as December 1744, Saxe had prepared plans for a spring
offensive in the Low Countries. He had made up his mind not only as to
what he would do, but what he would compel his enemy to do, correctly
calculating the operational and political difficulties that such a
diverse opponent would face. This opponent comprised Britain, the
Dutch Republic, Austria, and Saxony, who had concluded the defensive
Treaty of Warsaw in January 1745 – the Quadruple Alliance – by
which all contractants committed themselves to uphold the Pragmatic
Sanction and the House of Austria's claim to the imperial crown.
To the Low Countries, the British sent the son of King George II, the
24-year-old Duke of Cumberland, as the new captain general of
Britain's army, while
Maria Theresa sent the experienced Count
Königsegg to command Austrian forces. The trio of generals was
completed by Prince Waldeck, commander of the Dutch contingent in
theatre. They hoped to gain the initiative by the establishment of
forward magazines and an early opening of the campaign season. Major
supply and ammunition depot magazines were set up for the British by
General Ligonier at Ghent, Oudenarde and Tournai, while the Dutch
general, Vander – Duyn, placed theirs at Mons, Charleroi and
Low Countries: War of the Austrian Succession. Fontenoy: red dot
The Duke of Cumberland – the nominal commander-in-chief of the
allied force – arrived at
The Hague on 18 April 1745; two days later
he arrived at
Brussels where the Allied army was to concentrate. Here
he met Königsegg, Waldeck, and General de Wendt, commander of the
Hanoverian contingent who had orders to fight in close coordination
with the British. According to a "State of the Allied Troops",
sent home by Cumberland, the allied army's effective strength was less
than 43,000 consisting of 30,550 infantry and 12,000 cavalry.
However, this number was growing and reinforcements would eventually
bring his army up to 53,000, and for a brief time an irrepressible
optimism pervaded the allied councils of war. The youthful Cumberland
had designs on a campaign that would culminate in Paris, but the more
experienced Ligonier – Cumberland's mentor and commander of the
British infantry – warned that France's numerical advantage meant
the allies must "by their situation, be masters of besieging wherever
they please". And so the allies fell back on a defensive strategy
while awaiting clear evidence of Saxe's intentions.
Maurice de Saxe, by Maurice Quentin de La Tour. Commander of French
forces in the
Low Countries during the War of the Austrian Succession.
Saxe, stricken with dropsy (regarded in the eighteenth century as a
fatal disorder), left Paris for the front in Flanders on 31 March. On
20 April he reached his base of operations at Maubeuge, gathering his
army totalling some 95,000 men consisting of 69,000 infantry and
25,600 cavalry. In this campaign Saxe had one primary aim: take
control of the upper
Scheldt basin and hence the heart of the Austrian
Netherlands. For this he had enlisted the services of the Duke of
Noailles and Count Löwendahl, a Dane who had gained experience in the
Great Northern War.
The French campaign to gain the initiative began immediately. On 21
April Comte d'Estrées set off in the direction of
Mons with a force
of cavalry, while Du Chayla, pursuing a different route, set out with
the intention of uniting with d'Estrées in the vicinity of that town.
However, this movement was only a feint to disguise Saxe's real
intention of besieging Tournai; it was a deception that had the
desired effect on the allied command. "By all the intelligence I have
from different parts", wrote Cumberland on 23 April, "the real design
of the enemy is to besiege Mons." Adding, "The Marshal Count Saxe is
Maubeuge and is in so low a state that his death is daily
While the allies were at
Brussels making dispositions to march to the
relief of Mons, Saxe slipped down the
Scheldt with the main body of
the army towards his real target; one column on the left bank of the
river, and two columns on the right to cover the march and engage the
allies in battle. The capture of
Tournai would consolidate and
extend the gains that had been made in the previous campaign, and
provide the French with the key to the approaches of
Oudenarde, threatening British communications with
Ostend and the
sea. Yet the siege was also a decoy for a much more original
manoeuvre – the prompt engagement of the enemy in a place favourable
to the French army, and at a time before the allies could reach their
full strength. Although Saxe favoured movement over siege warfare he
knew there was nothing more likely to provoke an early encounter than
to threaten one of the allies' larger fortresses, which only the most
confident and able commander could ignore.
The French opened their trenches around
Tournai on 30 April, exactly
in accordance with the memorial presented by Saxe to Versailles in
December 1744. Saxe entrusted the investment to Löwendahl, while
he himself turned his attention towards the gathering Allied army.
The true intentions of the French were not discovered by the allies
until 28 April. "After a good deal of variety and contradiction",
wrote Cumberland's secretary, "our advices for two or three days past
agree that the enemy's army is before Toumai". Due to indecision
the allies had not begun their march until 30 April, reaching Soignies
on 2 May where they were detained due to bad weather. On 5 May the
allies reached Cambron. Here, a reserve corps was formed under the
Hanoverian general, Moltke, and detached towards Leuze where 50 French
squadrons under Du Chayla were stationed as a corps of observation. Du
Chayla at once withdrew in the direction of Tournai, but he had
achieved his objective: he had satisfied himself as to which road the
allies would approach.
Louis XV of 30 April to 22 May 1745 by Louis
Nicolas van Blarenberghe. Taking
Tournai was the first step in Saxe's
campaign. The fortress fell shortly after the Battle of Fontenoy.
From Cambron the allies marched to Moulbay and to within the sound of
the siege guns at Tournai. Even now Cumberland was still unsure of the
situation facing him, "I cannot come at any certain knowledge of the
enemy's numbers, but I have concurring information that the body on
this side the Schelde does not exceed 31 battalions and 32 squadrons.
The reports vary of the progress of the siege, the weather is so bad
that, tho' we are within a distance to hear the canon very distinctly,
yet no true judgement can be formed from thence whether the enemy are
retir'd over the Schelde or not." On the evening of 9 May the
allies at last reached the final stage of their tiring march,
encamping their left wing on Maubray, and their right on Baugnies,
almost within musket-shot of the French outposts.
Tournai lay six
miles (~10 km) to the north-west.
French reconnaissances had confirmed Saxe in his belief that the
allies would endeavour to relieve
Tournai by attempting to force a
passage from the south-east via the hamlet of Fontenoy and the small
Antoing on the Scheldt. The French commander now cast
about for a good spot where he might await the attack in security,
finally settling on a potentially strong defensive position on the
eastern side of the Scheldt, about 5 miles (~9 km) south-east of
Tournai. To guard against any break-out by the Dutch from within the
besieged city the Marquis of Dreux-Brézé was left with 21,550 men in
the trenches, and orders to contain the garrison of about 8,000 men at
Louis XV took to the field in person, accompanied by
his son Louis, and their enormous retinue. After observing the siege
at Tournai, the King moved on to the Château de Calonne between
Tournai and Antoing. That same day, 8 May, Saxe began to move his
main troops into position to face the Pragmatic Army.
During a hasty reconnoitre late on 9 May, Cumberland, Königsegg, and
Waldeck found the French fortifying the hamlet of Fontenoy; they also
discovered the enemy's pickets at the villages of Vezon and Bourgeon.
These outposts were dealt with on the following day: on the right the
British under General Campbell moved to take Vezon, where Cumberland
subsequently moved his headquarters; while the Dutch on the left
possessed themselves of Bourgeon. The allied forward units now
held the Peronne–Bourgeon–Vezon line. After another reconnoitre
the allied commanders resolved to defer the battle until the morning
of the 11th, but all agreed that the French position – the barrier
between themselves and
Tournai – must be attacked.
Main article: Order of Battle for the Battle of Fontenoy
When the two armies finally met on the field they were approximately
equal in numbers. While there is not complete agreement among
historians on the exact numbers there is general agreement that there
were about 50,000 on each side with the French having more cavalry and
the allies having more infantry. Some historians put the French as
more numerous and others the allies.
The allied army consisted of some 53,000 men in 52 battalions and 85
squadrons of which 22,000 were Dutch, 21,000 were British, 8,000
Hanoverian and 2,000 Austrians. They had 80 to 105 cannons.
The French army had some 48,000 men 32,000 infantry in 55 battalions
and 14,000 cavalry in 101 squadrons and 90 to 110 cannons at least 86
of which were small four-pounder battalion guns.
The French army was commanded by one of the great captains of the age
but it had fallen behind some of the other powers in tactics, training
and discipline. Historian David Chandler quotes Saxe:
our infantry, though the bravest in Europe, is not fit to stand a
charge in a position, where infantry less brave, but better drilled
and in a better formation, can close with it.
Chandler also states that Saxe admired the superior discipline and
formations of the allies and quotes from a letter that Saxe wrote to
Frederick the Great
Frederick the Great in September 1746:
The French are what they were in Caesar's time, and he has described
them, brave to excess but unstable ... As it is impossible for me to
make them what they ought to be, I get what I can out of them and try
to leave nothing of importance to chance.
In contrast, the Pragmatic Army contained some of the better trained
and disciplined troops of Europe in the British and Hanoverian
contingents but did not have a great captain to command them. The
young, 26-year-old, Cumberland owed his position to his high rank and
he had no prior experience commanding an army. He would win only one
battle in his career with a very small army, Culloden, and he is
described by historian Armstrong Starkey as "a very good
French defensive position
The position which Saxe had chosen to make his defence was naturally
strong: the right of his army rested on Antoing, the centre on
Fontenoy, and the left was covered by the Wood of Barry. This
defensive line rested on the edge of a crest of high ground. Here lay
the strength and advantage of Saxe's choice: the descent in many
places along the position formed a natural glacis, and throughout the
whole length, from
Antoing to the wood, the prolonged slope offered an
even and deadly field for cannon and musketry fire. This position
was further strengthened by the construction of redoubts. Two were
built along the Fontenoy-Barry gap, defended by two regiments of the
Brigade of Eu, and each supplied with four cannons – the first
breastwork (nearest Fontenoy), known as the
Redoubt of Eu, played a
central part in the battle. In the rear of these works and extending
northeast to the village of Ramcroix stood the French left wing,
including the six battalions of the Irish Brigade. Between
Fontenoy and the larger village of
Antoing on the French right a
further three redoubts were built along the ridge-line. These defences
were manned and supported by the regiments of Crillon, Bettens,
Diesbach, and Biron, and three dismounted dragoon regiments. Antoing
itself was defended by seven battalions, including four veteran
battalions of Piedmont, and six guns. Additionally, six
12-pounders were mounted on the far side of the
Antoing, targeting the left flank of any force attacking in that
Map of the Battle of Fontenoy
The hinge of the French line consisted of the small hamlet of
Fontenoy. This position was held by the Brigade Dauphin, comprising
three battalions of the Regiment Dauphin, and one of Beauvoisis,
supported by six guns commanding the approaches. But it was the
Fontenoy–Barry gap which was of particular danger to Saxe. Here the
line comprised the Gardes Suisses, four battalions of the Gardes
Françaises, as well as the brigade of Aubeterre composed of three
battalions of the Swiss regiment of Courten and one battalion of the
Regiment Aubeterre. Immediately to the rear of Fontenoy there were
three battalions of the regiment Le Roi. Behind the first line
were further infantry supports, and behind these stood the whole body
of French cavalry, with their left resting on the Leuze–Tournai
causeway, and their right some distance back from Fontenoy. In total
Saxe had 60 battalions and 110 squadrons, of which about 6,000 were
thrown into the bridgeheads at Calonne and Vaulx to secure possible
lines of retreat and/or to guard against any sortie from
the rear of his position. This left the French commander with
approximately 50,000 troops to fight the coming battle. One
hundred guns were disposed along the whole line, between
the Wood of Barry.
Allied flank attacks
At 2:00am on 11 May, the allied regiments took up their stations. The
British were posted on the right wing with the Hanoverians to their
immediate left, while the Dutch took the left wing, supported by the
small Austrian contingent made up mainly of mounted troops. A
large battery of allied guns, some 40 to 50 according to French
accounts, began to bombard the French positions at long range. The
allied bombardment was to little effect however, as most of the French
were in the woods, in redoubts, behind the swell of ground leading to
their position, or fortified in Fontenoy. Accounts from both sides
speak to the three-hour duration and intensity of the other's
Cumberland's reconnaissance on the evening of the 10th had failed to
Redoubt of Eu near the woods, but during the night
information had been brought to him of its whereabouts. The strength
of the French left was only now appreciated, and the position became a
matter of the greatest importance. The task of neutralising the
strong-point was given to Ingolsby, for which he was given command of
Duroure's (12th), Pulteney's (13th), the Highland Regiment (43rd), and
Böschlanger's Hanoverian regiment. While this attack went in on
the right, the Dutch and the Austrians with the Hanoverians in the
centre would strike to Cumberland's left in all-out assaults on
Fontenoy and Antoing. Once the flanks were under heavy attack, the
massed body of the British infantry could storm the Fontenoy–Barry
gap and dislodge the main French army.
William Augustus, Duke of Cumberland by Arthur Pond
Ingolsby had explicit orders from the Duke to capture the
Eu, and either spike the guns or turn them on the enemy. At around
6:00am Ingolsby moved his brigade forward, but he halted in a 'hollow
way' a short distance from the wood. Here he remained, telling Lord
Bury (one of Cumberland's six aides-de-camp), "that he saw troops in
the wood, that he did not know the number of them, and had consulted
with his officers, who were of opinion it was impracticable."
These 'troops in the wood' were the Grassins, a combination of light
infantry and light cavalry who tenaciously defended the position
against the allied attack. Ingolsby continued to falter and
hesitate. He asked for cannon before he advanced and was immediately
sent three 6-pounders but he still made no attack. At last
Cumberland himself confronted the Brigadier, but by this time the
British infantry were drawing up on the plain beyond Vezon in
readiness for the main attack, while to their left the Dutch were
preparing to advance on Fontenoy and the redoubts between that village
and Antoing. With French cannon taking a heavy toll on these dense
formations it was clear that the opportunity for Ingolsby's attack had
slipped by, and the Duke simply ordered him to move his brigade
forward in line with the main British formation under Ligonier.
Cumberland had decided to ignore the danger on his right flank. To
compound his troubles General Campbell, commander of the British
cavalry, had earlier been mortally wounded while screening the
infantry advance onto the plain, and had been carried from the field
without having revealed his orders to any other officer. With no
one knowing what to do, the cavalry simply formed to the rear of the
infantry where they remained until the battle was virtually
Ligonier finally sent word to Cumberland that he was ready to advance
as soon as the Dutch carried out their attack on Fontenoy. The night
of the 10th had seen the left wing of the allies more advanced towards
the enemy than the right. Prince Waldeck was thus able to complete his
dispositions for battle in the morning more rapidly than Ligonier. The
Dutch line, from left to right, was formed of: 36 squadrons of
cavalry, next eight infantry battalions, then four squadrons and
finally, facing Fontenoy, 12 battalions in two lines. However,
Waldeck also had not sufficiently reconnoitred his objectives, and was
unaware of the strength of the enemy position in the village. The
Dutch advanced, moving up three batteries of artillery to support
their attack. The French infantry, secure behind their barriers,
allowed the Dutch to draw very close before releasing a devastating
volley upon them. Those Dutchmen who were not killed, fled.
Meanwhile, a second column, with cavalry in its rear, advanced on
Antoing. Encountering a terrible fire from the three redoubts and the
battery on the far side of the Scheldt, the Dutch in this sector also
wavered. Their cavalry turned about; but while the bulk of them halted
within cannon-shot, a minority of them fled. Colonel Appius took
flight with his regiment all the way back to Ath.
It was now around 10:30pm, and the British and Hanoverian infantry
stood ready to march forward. However, both flank attacks –
Inglosby on the right and the Dutch on the left – had failed. With
Fontenoy and the
Redoubt of Eu still in French hands Cumberland and
Königsegg had to decide whether to move forward or retreat and wait
for a more propitious opportunity. Cumberland chose to attack.
Moreover, he personally chose to lead the column in what was to become
one of the great infantry advances of the eighteenth century.
"Fire, Gentlemen of England". French troops at the Battle
The British and the Hanoverians were deployed in two lines. The first
British line, from right to left, was composed of three brigades:
first, on the right, the Guards Brigade composed of the 1st, 3rd and
2nd foot guards; second, Ponsonby's brigade of the
Royal Scots (1st
Foot), Scots Fusiliers (21st Foot), Handaside's (31st Foot); third,
Onslow's brigade of Onslow's's (8th Foot), Rothe's/Sempill's (25th
Foot), Johnson's (33rd Foot) and Howard's (19th Foot). The second
British line was three brigades, from right to left: first Howard's
brigade with Howard's 'Buffs' (3rd Foot) on the right, the Welsh
Fusiliers (23rd) Foot and Skelton's (32nd Foot); second, Bland's
brigade of Sowle's (11th Foot) and Bragg's (28th Foot); and third
Skelton's brigade of Cholmondeley's (34th Foot) and Bligh's (20th
Foot). The Hanoverian regiments were on the left of the British lines.
The Dutch now made a second attempt on Fontenoy, reinforced with
Austrian cavalry and two battalions of British infantry, including the
Highland Regiment. The Brigade of Dauphin were surprised by the
irruption of these "Highland furies, who rushed upon us with more
violence than ever sea did when driven by a tempest." However,
concerted French fire drove the allied forces off again. This
dispirited the Dutch who retired out of range and did not participate
in the main attack. Along the French right flank the allies had been
routed; but the battle was not yet over. On being congratulated by
Monsieur de Bauffremont, Saxe simply replied, "all is not said; let us
go to the English, they will be harder to digest", and, at about
10:15, he abandoned his wicker carriage and mounted his famous white
Louis, the Duke of Gramont. He was killed during the battle.
As the second Dutch attack on Fontenoy went in, the main allied
formation moved towards the French position on the plateau. Cumberland
took up his place alongside Ligonier at the head of 20 battalions, 15
British and 5 Hanoverian to their left, led by the British Guards
Brigade, each with their two battalion guns, about 13,000 to
15,000 men, drawn up in two disciplined lines, each six ranks
deep. However, the narrowness of the defile through which the
attack had to pass forced the Hanoverians back to form a third line
behind the British. As the British and Hanoverians advanced the French
pushed forward the four small three-pounder battalion guns of the
Gardes Françaises Brigade and the four of Aubeterre Brigade, the fire
from these was added to the bombardment from the
Cumberland responded by deploying seven of the Guards Brigade's
three-pounder battalion guns to push them back. The Duc de Gramont, of
Dettingen infamy, was killed by a shot from these. As the column
advanced up a slight rise, the British brought up a battery of twelve
six-pounder cannons to the front of the column at such close range
Gardes Françaises left their supported defensive position
against orders, as they had at Dettingen, and advanced,
unsupported, in an attempt to take the guns. Both sides exchanged
fire at close range. From the
Redoubt of d'Eu and Fontenoy the
French cannon poured tremendous flanking fire. Whole allied ranks were
swept away, but still they pressed forward in perfect order as if on
parade, the better to foster cohesion and the better to overawe their
opponents. Saxe had never believed that the allies would conceive
or execute such a manoeuvre, and here was the one weak spot of his
defence – a third redoubt between Fontenoy and the
Redoubt of Eu
would have rendered the allied advance impossible.
Colonels of the French Guards and British Guards politely discussing
who should fire first at the battle of Fontenoy (1745).
On obtaining the summit of the ridge the allied column found itself
facing the French infantry line. The French guards rose and advanced
towards the crest, whereupon the two forces confronted each other at a
distance of 30 paces. The moment was immortalised by Lord Charles
Hay of the 1st Regiment of Guards who later wrote that he stepped
forward, took out a hip flask and drank with a flourish, shouting out
to his opponent, "We are the English Guards, and we hope you will
stand till we come up to you, and not swim the
Scheldt as you did the
Main at Dettingen." He then led his men in three cheers.
Voltaire's version of this famous episode has become proverbial. He
wrote: "The English officers saluted the French by doffing their hats
… the French, returned the greeting. My Lord Charles Hai, captain in
the English Guards, cried, 'Gentlemen of the French Guards, fire.' The
Comte d'Auteroche, then lieutenant of Grenadiers, shouted, 'Gentlemen,
we never fire first; fire yourselves.'" The French were the first
to fire, the volley was somewhat ineffective but threw the Third
Guards into some confusion and wounded George Churchill, the commander
of the guards brigade. Captain Lord Panmure led the unbroken companies
of the Third Guards to the flank of the First Guards. Up to this
point the British column had not fired a single musket shot, but now
the allied infantry poured a devastating discharge into the French.
The volley of musketry with the battalion guns delivering numerous
rounds of grape-shot, swept away the front rank of the ten
battalions of the French first line, killing and wounding between
700–800 men, breaking the Gardes Françaises, while the Gardes
Suisses and the four battalions of the Brigade Aubeterre were driven
back by the British advance.
Historian David Chandler writes that upon the order "first firing,
take care", in the British platoon firing system, the six platoons of
the first firing with the whole of the front rank of each British
battalion fired together – explaining the efficacy of the British
first volley. Additionally, Chandler describes the advance as also
a British development of the platoon firing system in which troops
mounting an attack continue to advance to give fire by stepping out
ahead of the rest of the marching battalion, when they are done and
reloading the other platoons advance ahead of them and give fire in
turn. This explains the slow advance of the column noted in many
first hand accounts.
The French now faced an unexpected crisis. Although the allied attack
on Fontenoy had failed, the commander of the second line of the French
centre had dispatched much of this line to support the brigade in
Fontenoy so there was now no support infantry line behind the part of
the line formerly held by the
Gardes Françaises and the British
Guards advanced deep into this gap.
The Battle of Fontenoy, 11 May 1745 by Louis Nicolas van Blarenberghe.
Left: Wood of Barry and
Redoubt of Eu, with left of centre the red
lines of the Irish Brigade leading the attack on the British right
flank. Right: two lines of French cavalry. Centre: British redcoats
push onto the plateau. Foreground:
Louis XV observing from near the
chapel of Notre Dame de Bois. (See map).
Saxe was still seriously ill on the day of the battle and had spent
the early part of the engagement in his wicker carriage. By the time
of the British-Hanoverian advance, however, he had mounted his horse
and, despite great pain, directed French actions personally. Saxe now
ordered his cavalry to attack the advancing foe, but they too
recoiled, broken by shattering fire. From his vantage point near
Notre Dame de Bois, Louis XV, attended by the Dauphin, Noailles, the
Duke of Richelieu, and Louis XV's minister of war, the Marquis
d'Argenson, had witnessed his best infantry fall back in disorder.
Convinced it was over, Noailles had implored the King to seek safety;
but Saxe reassured him that the battle was not lost. With his defiant
oath that "We must all conquer or die together", the French commander
rode off to restore order at the front. The King stayed.
By now the allied foot had penetrated the French lines for a distance
of 300 yards, and into the French camp. However, the incessant
fire from the flanks – from Fontenoy and the
Redoubt of Eu –
followed by the constant cavalry and infantry attacks, had caused the
British and Hanoverian infantry to yield ground, forcing them slowly
back towards the crest of the plateau. Endeavouring to restore order,
Cumberland personally exhorted and inspired his men, halting their
retreat, rallying them with the cry:
"Don't you know me my countrymen? Will you leave me? I don't ask you
to do anything without me: all I beg you is to share my danger."
Newly encouraged, the allies once again began to move forward.
Gradually, however, the French onslaught had brought about a change in
the column's formation. The wings of the line had moved round on
either flank in order to face the enemy to their left and right, thus
forming a hollow, three sided square, against which Saxe now flung his
second line of cavalry. The brigade of the Maison du Roi, the
carabiniers, the gendarmerie, the finest cavalry of France, charged
and charged again, but each time were driven back by the steady
discipline and fire of the British infantry. The regiments of
Vaisseaux, Hainault, Normandie, and part of the Irish Brigade, were
all beaten back. Ligonier later recorded, "Having had orders to
make a second attempt, our troops … a second time made the enemy
give way; and they were once more pushed as far as their camp with
great loss of men, which we too felt upon our side."
Final French counter-attacks
Portrait of King
Louis XV 1710–74 1748 by Maurice Quentin de La Tour
After the allied attempts on the left had failed the French had become
more and more focussed on the British infantry, and on the retreat of
the Dutch all the guns of Fontenoy had been turned to face
Cumberland's men. The British and Hanoverians themselves overlooked
the opportunity to attack Fontenoy on its unbarricaded side with the
French cannon either out of shot or running low on ammunition, a
much easier task than that the Dutch had faced. The garrison from
Tournai was contained by the French besiegers.
Although the constant charges of the French cavalry had been thrown
back, their perseverance at last achieved Saxe's aim: they had made
time for his infantry brigades to reform. Long after the battle Saxe
justified his tactics writing:
"While Fontenoy remained untaken, the enemy's success in the centre
was disadvantageous to them, for they had no pivot. The farther they
penetrated the more were they exposed to the fire of our troops and
batteries in their rear. It was essential to distract their attention
by repeated cavalry charges, which were, it is true, unable to produce
a decisive effect, but gave us time to organise the general attack on
which all depended."
The hollow "square" had again progressed several hundred yards beyond
the flanking batteries, but Cumberland had become increasingly
isolated in the centre with his shrinking mass of British and
Hanoverian infantry. The allies grew indecisive. Löwendahl saw
the true state of affairs, and galloped off to meet with Saxe. "Well,
monsieur le maréchal, here is a great day for his Majesty. These
fellows will never get themselves out of a fix like that." After
a council with
Louis XV it was resolved to unite all available forces,
and at around 2:00pm, Saxe made a final concerted effort to repulse
the enemy. Four pieces of reserve artillery, loaded with
grape-shot, were brought into action, and every available regiment
mustered. Saxe rallied six Irish battalions of the "Wild Geese"
supported by the remnants of Vaisseaux and Normandie for a final
assault and flung themselves into the attack with the wild Gaelic cry
of "Cuimhnigidh ar Luimnech agus feall na Sassonach!" – "Remember
Limerick and Saxon Perfidy". The Irish Brigade, as a brigade,
would suffer the heaviest overall casualties on the French side,
losing 656 men including one-quarter of their officers. Sergeant
Wheelock of Bulkeley captured a colour and the attack of the
Irish compelled the British Guards to retire. A simultaneous
attack on the allied left was made by all the regiments which had
faced the Dutch between Fontenoy and Antoing. Meanwhile, the French
Guards, now led by the Comte de Chabannes, eager for revenge, with
fixed bayonets charged the front so closely that fire was exchanged
muzzle to muzzle. As Saxe and Löwendahl led the infantry,
D'Estrées, and Richelieu brought up the whole Household Cavalry.
The fighting was extremely close and deadly, some British regiments
lost half their strength such as the
Royal Welch Fusiliers
Royal Welch Fusiliers which lost
322 soldiers, over 200 killed, while the brigade of British Guards
suffered over 700 casualties. The French counter-attacks
eventually halted and then repelled the British column, taking the
The French and allied armies confronting each other at Fontenoy. The
blue-clad French in the foreground are Gardes Françaises.
The initial disorder of the allied column was soon checked as each
battalion rallied around its colours; the compact formation was
restored, and the British and Hanoverians accomplished their retreat
in good order. Attacked from three sides the allies performed a
fighting withdrawal – the rearguard of the column facing about at
measured intervals to fire at their pursuers. Ligonier made provisions
for covering the retreat. Skelton's (32nd) and Cholmondeley's (34th)
formed the rearguard, the Buffs were ordered to hold the churchyard,
while hedges and ravines were lined with the Black Watch. On either
flank the British cavalry closed in to form a screen for the infantry
Royal Horse Guards
Royal Horse Guards to the fore especially distinguished
themselves. The army reformed behind Vezon, before retreating on
Ath. Upon reaching the safety of Ath, Cumberland burst into tears over
his disappointment at the defeat and the huge number of lives the
Saxe was blamed by the "carpet generals" for halting the pursuit
100 yards from the battlefield and not turning the defeat of the
allies into a rout. But the enemy were not, even now, lacking in
discipline or morale, and the allied cavalry were at last admirably
handled. He later explained that while the allied cavalry were still
relatively intact, his own had been decimated. Afterwards he gave his
reason for not pursuing the allies further – "As we had enough of
it, I thought only of restoring order of the troops engaged in the
Louis XV rode over to congratulate his commander for
avenging Poitiers, Saxe's personal guard helped their ailing
Marshal onto his horse to meet and embrace his sovereign.
Battle of Fontenoy, 11 May 1745. Oil painting by Pierre Lenfant. Louis
XV pointing at Maurice de Saxe, victor at Fontenoy.
Although the details have not been precisely established, casualty
figures were high for both sides: the French amounting to at least
7,000 killed and wounded; the allies are estimated as 10,000 to
12,000. This casualty rate was the highest in western Europe
Battle of Malplaquet
Battle of Malplaquet in 1709 during the War of the Spanish
Succession in the reign of Louis XIV, where, as a 13-year-old boy,
Saxe personally witnessed the carnage. After surveying the field,
Louis XV told his son the Dauphin, Louis-Ferdinand "See how much blood
a triumph costs. The blood of our enemies is still the blood of men.
The true glory is to save it." Kneeling before his king after the
battle Saxe remarked, "Sire, now you see what war really means."
Nevertheless, he was gratified to receive a letter from
Louis XV in
acknowledgement of his services. "If I owe this triumph to the valour
of my troops … you also contributed to it no less by your steadfast
daring, by your sage counsel and by your remarkable foresight." Saxe
wrote to his brother, King Augustus III, at Dresden, ""The engagement
lasted nine hours and although I was half-dying by the end of it, I
resisted my fatigue as though I was in perfect health. It is very
sweet to win battles … "
Louis XV lavished gifts on Saxe, including the royal Château de
Chambord, for Saxe had been present where needed, in spite of his
debilitating illness, to deal with every crisis of the battle from
rallying troops, to directing and leading reserves, encouraging the
King and counseling with his officers. With his victory at Fontenoy,
Saxe would become a great hero of
Frederick the Great
Frederick the Great of Prussia, his
ally, and would visit Frederick at
Sanssouci in 1746.
For the allies there were recriminations with the Dutch getting most
of the blame in English accounts with no explanation as to why the
Hanoverian advance on Fontenoy failed to occur. However,
Cumberland's official report praised his co-commander, Königsegg,
who, fighting between the first and second lines of infantry "was
present on horseback during the whole action, and gave his orders with
great calmness." Cumberland was universally praised for his
bravery, but also criticised for his generalship, in particular for
neglecting to clear the Woods of Barry at the beginning of the battle
or to establish an adequate intelligence system, the failure of which
gave Saxe ample time to prepare his position. He failed to make his
orders clear and Ingolsby's hesitation on the allied right was in part
due to receiving conflicting orders. Ingolsby was court-martialled on
the charge 'That he received orders from the Duke to attack a redoubt
or battery in the last action near Fontenoy, which orders he did not
execute'. The charge of disobedience of orders was found proved.
Ingolsby's contention that he had been harassed by inconsistent orders
was amply borne out by the evidence, and he was acquitted on the
charge of cowardice. The court concluded his failure arose 'from an
error of judgement, and not from want of courage.' He was suspended
from service and allowed to sell out.
Cumberland failed to make effective use of his cavalry. He was so
absorbed in the infantry attack that he left his horse regiments idle
in the rear until the time for useful action had passed. In
effect, the Duke relied not on manoeuvre but on force; it was a direct
approach that fell victim to Saxe's clever exploitation of his
defensive position. Additionally, with Cumberland at the head of
the allied column he was in no position to capitalize on his own
attack through efforts elsewhere: he could not prevent the French from
concentrating against his column because he was behaving more like a
battalion commander than a captain general. Although British
leadership was found lacking, British infantry's superior discipline
showed that however much French infantry had improved under Saxe's
tutelage, France could not match the best that Britain could put in
the field. Fontenoy dispelled the notion of British military
superiority held in Europe since Marlborough and demonstrated French
battlefield superiority over the British and their allies.
The victory was followed by a rapid French advance. Without hope of
Tournai surrendered to Saxe on 21 May and the citadel of
Tournai capitulated on 20 June. After Moltke's repulse at Melle, the
Ghent followed in mid-July with an immense amount of
supplies and material along with its garrison consisting of 2,200
Dutch troops; and some 700 British troops. The allied field army,
now reduced to 35,000 men, was less than half the number of the French
and they fell back to
Diegem in the vicinity of Brussels.
Oudenarde soon capitulated, and by the end of July the French stood on
the threshold of Zeeland, the south-western corner of the Dutch
Additionally, the triumph of de Saxe over the British inspired
the second Jacobite rising, the Forty-Five, under the Young Pretender,
Bonnie Prince Charlie. Charles, with a small contingent of troops,
returned to Scotland and invaded England. He had some reason to
believe in his ultimate success as all but 8,000 British
troops were away on the continent and recently defeated at
Fontenoy. Charles' return to Scotland combined with a stunning victory
Battle of Prestonpans
Battle of Prestonpans obliged Cumberland to pull his army back
to England to deal with the Jacobite invasion. The British
government was greatly concerned with developments in Flanders but the
military tide had turned in France's favour.
Dendermonde and the
vital port of Ostend, where a battalion of British
Foot Guards and a
garrison of 4,000 fell to French forces in August, and Nieuport
in early September. The only good news for the British came in North
William Pepperrell captured the key French fortress of
Louisbourg at Cape Breton in late June.
In three months Saxe had achieved his grand design: he had established
himself on the shores of the English Channel and the River Scheldt.
Britain was perilously near to exclusion from the mainland of Europe,
and would find it hard to make contact with its continental allies.
With the capitulation of
Ath in early October France controlled much
of the Austrian Netherlands. Saxe, now raised to heroic status in his
adopted country, was soon threatening
Brussels and Antwerp.
Historian Reed Browning described the effect of the French victory at
Fontenoy thus: "The margin of victory had been narrow; the fruits
thereof were nevertheless abundant."
Napoleon later declared that
the victory at Fontenoy prolonged the
Ancien Régime monarchy in
France by 30 years.
In popular culture
Doctor Livesey, a character in Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure
Island, is mentioned as having been in the
Battle of Fontenoy
Battle of Fontenoy some
years before the book's plot takes place, and there are several
references to his having been there throughout the book.
Jacques, the title character of Denis Diderot's Jacques the Fatalist,
is said to have been severely wounded in the knee while serving in the
French army at the Battle of Fontenoy. His recovery from that wound
led him to meet the woman he loves, a story he attempts to tell his
master throughout the book, only to be constantly interrupted.
Battle of Fontenoy
Battle of Fontenoy makes an appearance in the 2009 videogame
Empire: Total War as a playable scenario.
Battle of Fontenoy
Battle of Fontenoy is central to the plotline of Liam Mac Cóil's
prizewinning Irish novel Fontenoy (Leabhar Breac, 2005).
Battle of Fontenoy
Battle of Fontenoy is recreated in the war boardgame "The Battle
of Fontenoy 11 May 1745" from
Clash of Arms games.
Place de Fontenoy
Jean Thurel, notable soldier (b.1699, d.1807) who served in the
Touraine Regiment some 90 years
Bonnie Prince Charlie: A Tale of Fontenoy and Culloden, a novel by G.
A. Henty, which contains a description of the battle
A Day of Battle, a novel by
Vincent Sheean (1938), describes events of
^ a b This article uses the
Gregorian calendar (unless otherwise
stated). See the article
Old Style and New Style dates
Old Style and New Style dates for a more
detailed explanation of the dating issues and conventions.
^ a b Browning: Austrian Succession, 212, 392 Browning states both
Colin and Chandler give the allies the larger force. Strengths differ
depending on source. Weigley (p.204) and Black (p.66) put the Allies
strength at 46,000 (about half of whom were Dutch; the other half
mostly British and Hanoverian) without any attribution. Townshend, Sir
Charles Vere Ferrers. The military life of Field-Marshal George first
marquess Townshend, London, 1901, pp. 51–52, gives the British as
21,000. Other sources, Rolt, p. 190, Townsend, pp. 51–52, Colin put
the figure of around 52,000–53,000. Duncan, Francis. History of the
Royal Regiment of Artillery, London, 1879, Vol.1, p. 127, "The
strength of the allies did not exceed 53,000".
^ Duncan, Francis. History of the Royal Regiment of Artillery, London,
1879, Vol.1, p.127, gives a total of 47 cannon for the British
contingent alone: ten 6-pounders, twenty-seven 3-pounders, six
1&1/2 -pounders, four 8-inch howitzers. Skrine, Fontenoy, 146,
gives 80 guns.
^ Browning: Austrian Succession, 212; Black: Britain as a Military
Power, 1688–1815, 66; Weigley: The Age of Battles, 204.
^ The Journal of the
Battle of Fontenoy
Battle of Fontenoy Published by Order of His Most
Christian Majesty Translated from the French, Published LONDON MDCCXLV
Published: M. Cooper: London, 1745; "We had one hundred and ten pieces
of cannon in the villages and redoubts and in the Front of our first
^ Browning: Austrian Succession, 212. White puts the total casualty
figure for the Allies at 10,000 (inc. 4,000 British and 2,000
Hanoverians). Chandler states 12,000 (inc. 3,000 prisoners).
^ Skrine, Francis Henry. Fontenoy and Great Britain's Share in the War
of the Austrian Succession 1741–48. London, Edinburgh, 1906, p.215,
mentions D'Estrées capturing 3,000 stragglers on the 12th and then
another 1200 allied wounded.
^ Townshend, Sir Charles Vere Ferrers. The military life of
Field-Marshal George first marquess Townshend, London, 1901, p. 69,
notes 21 British guns lost and 19 Dutch guns lost. O'Callaghan, John
Cornelius. History of the Irish Brigades in the Service of France,
London, 1870, p.366.
^ Browning: Austrian Succession, 212; White states 7,000 casualties.
Chandler states 6,000. Skrine uses figures taken from Voltaire's
Guerres sous Louis XV, vol. III which gives a total of 7,137
^ Browning: Austrian Succession, 173; Skrine: Fontenoy, 99–100
^ White: Marshal of France, 138; Browning: Austrian Succession,
^ Black: Britain as a Military Power, 1688–1815, 66
^ Browning: Austrian Succession, 195
^ Browning: Austrian Succession, 203
^ Browning: Austrian Succession, 204
^ Charteris: Duke of Cumberland, 168
^ Simms: Three Victories and a Defeat, 336–37
^ Rolt, pp. 170–173.
^ Charteris: Duke of Cumberland, 165
^ Skrine: Fontenoy, 128; Browning: Austrian Succession, 206
^ Rolt, p. 193, the allies are joined by part of the garrison of Namur
^ Browning: Austrian Succession, p.207
^ a b Browning: Austrian Succession, 207
^ Browning: Austrian Succession, 206; Skrine: Fontenoy, 137. This
equated to 160 squadrons, and about 100 battalions. The number of
battalions vary depending on source.
^ Browning: Austrian Succession, 206
^ Charteris: Duke of Cumberland, 166
^ Charteris: Duke of Cumberland, 170.
Mons and Charleroi had offered
possible targets for Saxe – they were the outer bastions of
Brussels, the capital of the Austrian Netherlands.
^ White: Marshal of France, 149
^ Charteris: Duke of Cumberland, 169
^ Browning: Austrian Succession, 208
^ Skrine: Fontenoy, 141
^ Skrine: Fontenoy, 142–43; Charteris: Duke of Cumberland, 170–71
^ Charteris: Duke of Cumberland, 171
^ Charteris: Duke of Cumberland, 173
^ Skrine: Fontenoy, 146–47
^ Charteris: Duke of Cumberland, 172; Skrine: Fontenoy, 151–52
^ Skrine: Fontenoy, 153
^ Skrine: Fontenoy, 152
^ White: Marshal of France, 152; Browning: Austrian Succession, 208
^ Charteris: Duke of Cumberland, 176
^ Charteris: Duke of Cumberland, 178
^ Browning: Austrian Succession,p. 212
^ Townshend, pp. 51–52. Rolt, p.190. Colin, p. 373.
^ Rolt, p. 190, Townsend, pp. 51–52.
^ Sources vary, Chandler, p.306 gives 101 guns, Skrine, p.146, gives
80; Boyle, p.428, gives 93. Individual sources from army returns add
up to 93.
^ Sources vary, Pichat, Le Campagne du Maréchal de Saxe, Paris, 1909,
p. 331, shows an official return for Saxe's army with 100 cannon 8
X12-lb, 6 X 8-lb, 86 X 4 lb. Archived 5 November 2016 at the
^ Chandler, p.105
^ Chandler, p.126. Tsouras, p. 66.
^ Starkey, p.146.
^ a b Charteris: Duke of Cumberland, 174
^ The Irish Brigade comprised the Clare, Ruth, Lally, Berwick, Dillon,
Bulkeley regiments, totalling 3,870 men.
^ Charteris: Duke of Cumberland, 176–77; Skrine: Fontenoy, 154
^ Skrine: Fontenoy, 154
^ Charteris: Duke of Cumberland, 177; Skrine: Fontenoy, 155
^ Skrine: Fontenoy, 155. Charteris puts the total number of French
forces at 52,000, with 5,000 of these positioned to the north.
^ Chandler: The Art of Warfare, 211; Charteris: Duke of Cumberland,
178; Skrine: Fontenoy, 154
^ Skrine: Fontenoy, 149–50
^ Grimoard, Philippe-Henri de. Lettres et mémoires choisi parmi les
papiers originaux du Maréchal de Saxe, pp.190, 173.
^ Grimoard, Philippe-Henri de. Lettres et mémoires choisi parmi les
papiers originaux du Maréchal de Saxe, p.223, "...pendant 5 heures,
le plus terrible feu d'artillerie que nos vieux Officiers aient jamais
entendu...". p.173, "... après avoir canonné pendant 3 heures d'un
feu épouvantable d'artillerie...". Colin : " Les campagnes du
maréchal de Saxe ", vol. 3, pp. 333–338. Townshend, The Military
life of Field-Marshal George first marquess Townshend, p. 60, " ...
and by 4:30 am the artillery fire was general on both
sides.".O'Callaghan, John Cornelius. History of the Irish Brigades in
the Service of France, London, 1870, p.351, "... after a severe fire
of artillery, on both sides...".
^ Charteris: Duke of Cumberland, p. 179.
^ Charteris: Duke of Cumberland, pp. 178–179.
^ Skrine: Fontenoy, 158–59. Charteris: Duke of Cumberland, p. 179.
^ Charteris: Duke of Cumberland, 180–81.
^ Chandler: The Art of Warfare, 72. The Grassins were raised in 1744,
900 strong, and were the forerunners of the French rifle regiments.
^ Skrine, p.159-160.
^ a b Charteris: Duke of Cumberland, 181.
^ Browning: Austrian Succession, 210; Charteris: Duke of Cumberland,
^ Skrine: Fontenoy, 163.
^ Charteris: Duke of Cumberland, 183, Colin 160.
^ Colin: Les Campagnes du maréchal Saxe, vol. 3, pp.307–314, "Cette
infanterie était précédée de trois batteries de huit à douze
pièces de canon...".
^ a b c Browning: Austrian Succession, 210
^ Charteris: Duke of Cumberland, 121
^ Hamilton, p. 120
^ Fortescue, p. 114.
^ Skrine: Fontenoy, p.168
^ Browning: Austrian Succession, p. 210; Charteris: Duke of
Cumberland, p. 185
^ Fortescue, History, V.II, p. 114. Charteris, Duke of Cumberland, p.
^ Chandler: 126. Skrine states 16,000 men.
^ Charteris, Duke of Cumberland, p. 181.
^ Weigley, Russell Frank. The Age of Battles: The Quest for Decisive
Warfare from Breitenfeld to Waterloo, Indiana University Press, 1991,
ISBN 0-253-36380-2, p. 206.
^ Hamilton, Lieutenant-General F.W..Origin and History of the First or
Grenadier Guards, London, 1874, Vol. II, p.120.
^ Skrine, Francis Henry. Fontenoy and Great Britain's Share in the War
of the Austrian Succession 1741–48. London, Edinburgh, 1906, pp.
163–171, 204 Cumberland: "... continually galled by the fire of
^ Weigley: The Age of Battles, 205
^ Mackinnon, Daniel.Origin and services of the Coldstream Guards,
London 1883, Vol.1, pp. 368, note 2
^ Charteris: Duke of Cumberland, 182.
^ Skrine: Fontenoy, 171; Weigley: The Age of Battles, 206. This
passage is taken from Thomas Carlyle's History of Friedrich II of
Prussia, Volume 3. It is taken from a letter written by Hay to his
brother three weeks after the battle. The letter was obtained by
^ Mackinnon, Daniel. Origin and services of the Coldstream Guards,
London 1883, Vol. 1, p. 368, note 2
^ Hamilton, Lieutenant-General F.W..Origin and History of the First or
Grenadier Guards, London, 1874, Vol. II. p. 121
^ Fortescue, History, V.II, 116. de Sismond, Histoire, p. 126. "En
tête de leur colonne ils avoient plusiers pièces de canon...".
^ Chandler: A Guide, 19; Skrine: Fontenoy, 173; Weigley: The Age of
Battles, 206. The first British volley is said to have struck 50
officers and 760 men. French official returns shown in Colin's Piéces
Justificatives and Broglie give the ten battalions in the French first
line, a total loss over the course of the battle as 1266: 375 officers
and men killed and 891 wounded with the single battalion of the
Regiment Aubeterre suffering the highest loss, some 328 killed and
wounded compared to the 411 overall losses for the four battalions of
the Gardes Françaises. Colin, PJ, pp. 380–397.
^ Chandler, p. 119.
^ Chandler, p.126.
^ Simonde de Sismond, J. C. L.. Histoire des français. XXVIII.
1726–1750, Paris, 1821–1844.
^ Starkey, Armstrong. War in the Age of Enlightenment 1700 -1789
Praeger Publishers, 2003, ISBN 0-275-97240-2, p. 120.
^ Charteris: Duke of Cumberland, 185.
^ Skrine: Fontenoy, 175; Browning: Austrian Succession, 211
^ Chandler: The Art of Warfare, 216; Charteris: Duke of Cumberland,
^ Charteris, p.187.
^ It is unclear when the allied column changed formation. Charteris
states that this change of formation happened just prior to the first
partial retreat; Skrine states just after.
^ a b Skrine: Fontenoy, 177
^ Chandler: The Art of Warfare, 126.
^ Fortescue, J. W. A History of the British Army, MacMillan, London,
1899, Vol. II, p.120. Skrine, Fontenoy, 178, "He found the cannon
firing blank cartridge. Their whole provision of round-shot and grape
^ Browning: Austrian Succession, 211.
^ Skrine: Fontenoy, 178–80
^ White: Marshal of France, 161; Skrine: Fontenoy, 180
^ Richelieu, Louis François Armand Du Plessis, Memoires du maréchal
duc de Richelieu , Tome Septieme, Paris, 1793, p. 135. Skrine,
^ Black: Britain as a Military Power, p. 67.
^ McGarry, Stephen. Irish Brigades Abroad, p. 99. Boyle P. The Irish
Brigade at Fontenoy from The Irish Ecclesiastical Record, Vol. XVII,
1905, Dublin, p. 442, infantry totals, officers and men of the six
regiments, less Fitz James' cavalry, are 656 drawn from French records
of Ministère de la Guerre, also seen in Colin. The four battalions of
Brigade Aubeterre show 629 casualties in official reports reproduced
^ O'Callaghan, John Cornelius. History of the Irish Brigades in the
Service of France, London, 1870, p.359, p.366 refers to two colours
captured. Grimoards – Letters and submissions chosen from the
original papers of Marshal Saxe – p.165, "The Irish took a flag".
Richelieu, Memoires, p. 136: "Les Irlandois prirent un drapreau."
^ This flag may not have been from the
Coldstream Guards as was
thought, but from Sempill's Regiment of Foot (the forerunner of the
King's Own Scottish Borderers) according to a new book from Stephen
McGarry entitled Irish Brigades Abroad. McGarry, Stephen. Irish
Brigades Abroad, p. 94, 98.
^ Mackinnon, Daniel. Origin and services of the Coldstream Guards,
London 1883, Vol.I, p. 371, "The encounter between the British and
Irish Brigade was fierce, the fire constant, and the slaughter great;
but the loss on the side of the British was such, that they were at
length compelled to retire." Townshend, The military life, 66.
^ Hamilton, Origin and History of the First or Grenadier Guards, 123.
^ Skrine: Fontenoy, 182
^ Skrine, Francis Henry. Fontenoy and Great Britain's Share in the War
of the Austrian Succession 1741–48. London, Edinburgh, 1906, p.190
^ LII. LOUIS XV., THE MINISTRY OF CARDINAL FLEURY., 1723–1748
Archived 18 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine.. Web-books.com.
Retrieved on 14 September 2010.
^ Chandler: A Guide, 19; Black: Britain as a Military Power, 67;
^ White: Marshal of France, 163; Skrine: Fontenoy, 183
^ a b Browning: Austrian Succession, 212
^ Skrine, Fontenoy, p.185, 'Carpet generals' were sycophantic, rival
courtiers in Louis' court that continually undermined the efforts of
the Marshals in the field.
^ Skrine: Fontenoy, 186, White: Marshal of France, 163
^ The Battle of Poitiers in 1356 was the last time a French King and
his son had 'fought' side by side.
^ Weigley: Age of Battles, p. 207
^ White: Marshal of France, 163; Weigley: The Age of Battles, 207
^ Estimates of allied losses vary. Smollett, Tobias. History of
England, from The Revolution to Death of George the Second, p.472,
gives 12,000 allied. Chandler states 12,000.The Journal of the Battle
of Fontenoy Published by Order of His Most Christian Majesty
Translated from the French Published LONDON MDCCXLV, Published: M.
Cooper: London, 1745; "... killed, wounded, prisoners and deserters
fifteen thousand ...cannon ... forty nine".
Voltaire gives 21,000
^ History Ireland, Volume 12, Issue ", The Battle for Fontenoy,
^ a b White: Marshal of France, 164
^ MacDonogh, Giles, Frederick the Great: A Life in Deed and Letters
St. Martin's Press, 1999, ISBN 0-312-25318-4, p.206
^ Charteris: Duke of Cumberland, pp. 178–179, "the Hanoverians in
the centre were to advance on Fontenoy; the Dutch on the left were to
force the French right towards Antoing, and combine with the
Hanoverians in the attack on Fontenoy." Also p.183.
^ Skrine: Fontenoy, 199
^ Skrine: Fontenoy, 233
^ Skrine: Fontenoy, 234
^ Skrine: Fontenoy, 195–98; Browning: Austrian Succession, 213
^ a b Black: Britain as a Military Power, 68
^ Weigley: The Age of Battles, 207
^ Browning: Austrian Succession, 211; Weigley: The Age of Battles,
206; Chandler: The Art of Warfare, 126
^ Black: Britain as a Military Power, 33. Browning: Austrian
^ Chrystin, Jean-Baptiste. Les délices des Pays-Bas, Paris,
MDCCLXXXVI, Vol.II., p.324
^ Browning: Austrian Succession, 219
^ Lecky, W.E.H..A history of England in the eighteenth century, New
York, 1878, Volume 1, p. 456. Browning: Austrian Succession,
221–222. Also, Skrine: Fontenoy, 245–246.
^ Black: Britain as a Military Power, 30.
^ Browning: Austrian Succession, 221. Beatson, Robert. Naval and
Military Memoirs of Great Britain, from 1727 to 1783, London, 1804,
Vol I, p. 252.
^ Browning: Austrian Succession, 241-244.
^ Simms: Three Victories and a Defeat, 341–42
^ Mackinnon, Origin, 373,p.376: London Gazette, 25 October 1745.
^ Browning: Austrian Succession, 220
^ Browning, p. 212.
Black, Jeremy (1998). Britain as a Military Power, 1688–1815.
Routledge. ISBN 1-85728-772-X.
Boyle, P. (1905). The Irish Brigade at Fontenoy. The Irish
Ecclesiastical Record. vol. XVII. Dublin. p. 442.
Browning, Reed (2008). The War of the Austrian Succession. St.
Martin's Griffin. ISBN 0-312-12561-5.
Chandler, David G (1998). Christopher Duffy, ed. A Guide to the
Battlefields of Europe. Wordsworth Editions Limited.
Chandler, David G. (1995). The Art of Warfare in the Age of
Marlborough. New York. ISBN 1-885119-14-3.
Chandler, David G. (1990). The Art of Warfare in the Age of
Marlborough. Spellmount Limited. ISBN 0-946771-42-1.
Charteris, Evan (1906). William Augustus Duke of Cumberland: His Early
Life and Times, (1721–1748). London. Archived from the original on 9
Colin, Jean Lambert Alphonse (1901–1906). "Fontenoy in Piéces
Justificatives Revue d'histoire rédigée à l'État-major de
l'armée, Section historique". Les Campagnes du Maréchal de Saxe.
Volumes 1–3: Vol. 3. Paris: R. Chapelot. pp. 500 pages.
Archived from the original on 22 December 2016.
Duncan, Francis (1879). History of the Royal Regiment of Artillery.
Fortescue, J. W. (1899). A History of the British Army. Vol. II.
Grimoard, Philippe-Henri (1794). Lettres et mémoires choisis parmi
les papiers originaux du maréchal de Saxe, : et relatifs aux
événements auxquels il a eu part, ou qui se sont passés depuis 1733
jusqu'en 1750, notamment aux campagnes de Flandre de 1744 à 1748.
Hamilton, Lieutenant-General F.W. (1874). Origin and History of the
First or Grenadier Guards. Vol. II. London. Archived from the original
on 23 December 2016.
McGarry, Stephen (2014). Irish Brigades Abroad: From the Wild Geese to
the Napoleonic Wars. The History Press. ISBN 1-845887-999.
Mackinnon, Daniel (1883). Origin and services of the Coldstream
Guards. Vol.I. London.
O'Callaghan, John Cornelius (1870). History of the Irish Brigades in
the Service of France. London.
Pichat, Henry (1909). La Campagne du Maréchal de Saxe dans les
Flandres. Paris. Archived from the original on 22 December 2016.
Rolt, Richard (MDCCLXVII). Historical memoirs of His late Royal
Highness William-Augustus, duke of Cumberland. London. Check
date values in: date= (help)
Skrine, Francis Henry (1906). Fontenoy and Great Britain's Share in
War of the Austrian Succession
War of the Austrian Succession 1741–48. London.
Smollett, Tobias (1848). History of England, from The Revolution to
the Death of George the Second. vol.II. London.
Simms, Brendan (2008). Three Victories and a Defeat: the Rise and Fall
of the First British Empire. Penguin.
Starkey, Armstrong (2003). War in the Age of Enlightenment
1700–1789. Praeger Publishers. ISBN 0-275-97240-2.
Townshend, Sir Charles Vere Ferrers (1901). The military life of
Field-Marshal George first marquess Townshend. London.
Tsouras, Peter G. (2005). The Book of Military Quotations. Zenith
Press. ISBN 0-760-32340-2.
Weigley, Russell F (1991). The Age of Battles: The Quest for Decisive
Warfare from Breitenfeld to Waterloo. Indiana University Press.
White, Jon Manchip (1962). Marshal of France: the Life and Times of
Maurice, Comte de Saxe. Hamish Hamilton.
White, Jon Manchip (1962). Marshal of France, The Life and Times of
Maurice de Saxe. Rand McNal