CAMPAIGN SEVENTH, 1708.
Invasion of Scotland—Failure of the Expedition—The Campaign— Battle
of Oudenard—Siege of Lisle—Major Blackader wounded— Action at
Wynendale—Surrender of Lisle—Passage of the Scheldt —Major Blackader
returns to Rotterdam.
The fortune of war seemed to delight in
alternatives. The balance of success, which last year inclined to
the side of France, now preponderated visibly in favour of the
Allies. The selfish and mercenary views of some, and the secret
jealousies of others, had weakened the hands of the Confederacy, and
introduced discord into their councils; circumstances which Louis
resolved to avail himself of, and hoped to turn to his advantage. He
had two grand projects in view, the one to make a descent on the
eastern coast of Scotland, to re-instate in his ancient kingdom the
young Pretender, whom he had already acknowledged by the title of
James III. For this the extraordinary tumult and discontent which
the Union had excited, seemed to offer a favourable opportunity; and
from the symptoms of general disaffection, he augured the speedy
reduction of the whole British Empire. His next scheme was to push
the war with vigour in the Spanish Netherlands, expecting that the
recall of the. English troops to defend their own territories,
would, lay the whole country at-the mercy of his victorious arms.
Had these views been carried into effect with the same wisdom and
resolution with which they were formed, they must have, placed
Britain and her Allies in a .critical and perilous situation.
Happily, however, by the activity and address of Marlborough and
Prince Eugene, the plans of Louis were rendered visionary and
abortive. The Allies augmented their forces by drafting as many of
the Imperial troops as could be spared from the, service on the
Upper Rhine, to reinforce the army in Flanders, where their
principal operations were to be carried on. Preparations being ready
for. opening the campaign, the two armies took, the field towards;
the end of May. We now return to the. Diary, .leaving any other,
explanatory rer marks to he made in. the order of events.
February 8. Sabbath. Composed and serious, enjoying ordinances; butL
observe this difference in myself now, from what was in my younger
years; it was then.an act of the affections and the heart; now it
is, more an act. of* the mind; the .understanding has cooled the.
ardour of the. affections.
February, 16. The afternoon taken up in innocent diversion; at night
in. good company. I bless, God for his mercy to, u,s here,, that,
gives us such respect and favour in this place.
February-19. Leaving Rotterdam. Praying for the blessing of God with
us on our voyage back to our garrison.
February 22. Contrary winds for two days : But now we are free of
them. We came ashore this day at eleven o’clock.
February 25. Going through paying my duty to the General and
superior officers. I have been so long down in Holland in good and
quiet company, that I find myself, as it were, a stranger here.
March 8. Hearing of several providences. Black clouds seem hanging
over our heads.
March 10. Getting orders to he in readiness to march for embarking
for Scotland, in consequence of hearing that the French fleet have
sailed, notwithstanding of our fleet being so strong. But armies and
fleets are hut broken reeds when we trust too much to them.
March 18. This day spent in reading, prayer, and meditation.
Concerned for the public affairs, and the work of God in Scotland. I
trust their confusions and troubles shall ultimately turn out for
their good, and the disappointment of their enemies.
The fleet, with the Pretender on hoard, known by the romantic title
of the Chevalier St. George, set sail from Dunkirk on the 6th of
March, with above 5000 soldiers, 10,000 muskets, and a supply of
other warlike stores. The most sanguine hopes of success were
entertained. The Jacobites in Scotland were all in arms. Many, who
had hitherto been enemies to the Pretender, declared themselves
ready to join his standard, so soon as any insurrection should he
attempted in his favour.
The intention of the invaders was to land, at Dunbar or Leith, and
on the 13th, they reached the mouth, of the Frith; but
providentially they out-sailed their, port, and were carried several
leagues to the northward. Their appearance struck Edinburgh with
alarm, and spread consternation over the whole kingdom. :AU the
troops in England were ordered to march to the North, and several
battalions in Flanders were in, readiness to embark at Ostend. But
fortunately, their mistake gave the English Admiral, Sir George
Byng, full time to overtake them ; and ere they could, rectify their
error, he had, with a superior fleet, come to anchor in the Frith.
The French refused to venture an engagement, and stood out to sea,
followed by Byng, who made all the sail he could in pursuit. After
being tossed a whole month in tempestuous weather, they reached
Dunkirk with the loss of a single ship, which was taken without
resistance; and about 4000 men who perished by sickness and other
accidents. This gave a death blow to the hopes of the Pretender and
his party, both in Scotland and France, and left the Allies at
liberty to concentrate their efforts for prosecuting the war on
March 20. Hearing great and good news this day, that our fleet has
beat, and totally ruined the French fleet upon the coast of
Scotland. If this be true, I confess I am in a wide mistake about
this providence, and the design of it. I did not at all think it
likely that Providence had sent out the Prince of Wales and the
French fleet, and taken all rubs out. of their way, and blasted all
attempts on our side to oppose them; and thus to bring them to the
coast of Scotland to be immediately beaten there. I was of opinion
that he might be sent there to be: a scourge for a while to that
Island. But we are blind creatures, and know nothing. When we are
expecting God to come one way, he comes in another. He acts in his
sovereignty, often disappointing our expectations. When, we expect
him in a way of mercy, he comes in a way of judgment; and when we
look for judgments, he often comes in mercy. I am very glad to be
disappointed tliis way. But unless the Lord gives a spirit of grace
and repentance, all these mercies will be lost upon us; for we
frequently use his own mercies to fight against himself. They swell
us with pride and insolent boasting, for we put too much confidence
in fleets and armies. O Lord, get glory to thyself, and let not man
rob thee of it.
March 22. By this day’s news our great hopes are vanished into
smoke. The great victory which we thought so sure, amounts, only to
the taking, of onex ship. I suspected we were triumphing before the
victory, and always thought there was more in this providence than
our rational reasoners would see; who can never he brought, to look
aboye probabilities and second causes.
March 23. Getting better confirmation for our good; news, and the
French king’s design being broke, which I look upon as a surprising,
act of the divine mercy.
March 24. Most people are of opinion the danger is now over ; I wish
it may be so, and. hope it is so. I confess I was expecting
confusion and war in Britain ; perhaps a melancholy cast of mind
leads farther into such thoughts than I. am aware. But several good
men who walk close with God, and. observe his. providences, believe
that troubles are awaiting Britain, and these by the French. But
God’s, ways are. not. our ways, nor his thoughts our thoughts..
April 14. This day being appointed by the States, to be kept a
fast-day through the Seven. Provinces, to implore the blessing of
God upon their arms this campaign, I was resolved to spend the
morning and forenoon in secret prayer at home, but was diverted,
from it by business I could not shun. O Lord, pity, and accept of
the will instead, of the form.
April 18. This Sabbath employed in seeking the blessing and presence
of God to go with me. I ask not great things. I am seeking no
advancement, nor making court to any man for favours and. posts,
only beg grace to help in time of need.
April 20. Well directed in business; getting my horses and equipage
April 21. I am sure I am one of those men in the world that owe
least to my own conduct and management, and most to the goodness and
kind Providence of God. Lord, make me thankful, and give me thy
blessing with all my enjoyments.
April 29. Got orders in the morning to go upon command for a week.
Somewhat troubled at this, for it is the most terrible to me of all
my employment, to be chained, as it were, in hell so long. I could
cheerfully undergo the fatigues and dangers of our trade, to be free
of that shocking company, the dregs and scum of the earth. But I am
not to choose my own lot. Thy will he done.
Going out to my post in the afternoon, I found that which I feared
was come upon me; for I had the offscourings of the garrison along
with me, both officers and soldiers, most abominable vermin whom my
soul abhors. O Lord, how long shall I dwell among men whose tongues
are set on fire of hell! O when wilt thou deliver me out of this
horrid and noisome company. All night in hurry and confusion.
April 30. Marching all day, on command; and troubled with several
occurrences, not knowing what course to take. In such junctures, I
find my mind is so confused that I cannot apply to a throne of grace
with any distinct thought or serene mind.
May 1. One of the worst days I ever had in this employment. My mind
chafed and vexed the whole day with villany and abominations of all
sorts, both against the laws of God and man. Cursing, swearing,
drunkenness, robbing, thieving, mutiny, &c. I made some severe
examples of punishment, but was ill assisted by some officers, who
rather encouraged the villains; so that I believe I shall not be so
well liked among many of the English; hut I shall h e glad to he
hated by such. I should he had enough before such beings would love
me. O Lord, thou who knowest my heart, knowest that a battle would
not he so terrible to me as this day has been ; hut thou seest this
trial needful for me. Arrived at Willebrook in the afternoon; and
there I was somewhat relieved of this sad company, by getting con-veniency
to live by myself in peace and quietness.
May 3. Marching, and making some more exemplary punishments.
Retiring, in thought, from the world, between hands, to converse
with God. I was pretty serene, and well secured with what I had the
May 4. Marching homeward (to Ghent,) my mind more tranquil than it
has been since I came out. Riding frequently on before the party out
of the noise of their tongues.
May 9. I bless the Lord for this Sabbath of rest before we set out.
I know not when I shall get another. I go to the campaign, trusting
in thee, O Lord, and hoping in thy mercy. I am free from all
despondency and ill-boding fears. I am not afraid of dangers or
battle; through grace I shall do valiantly. I am more afraid of the
snares and sin of the wretched company I must be chained to; but thy
grace can make me escape that pollution also. I cheerfully leave my
dearest concern upon thee, trusting thou wilt again compass us about
with songs of deliverance. Thou hast done great things for us, and
thou canst do still greater. If we believe, all things are possible.
May 10. I never went out of the garrison more serene.
May 11. We had an easy inarch, and reached the camp at night.
May 12. Pretty severe march. The day of Ba-millies, a day well to he
remembered by. me.
May 15. Marching all day. This irregular, campway of living is a
pleasure to. many, but it is a most unpleasant, hateful life to me ;
and only because of ill, company. Otherwise I should like it very
I bless God, I keep good health, and am no way afraid of the
dangers, to which this way of living exposes me. Nay, I would with,
pleasure fight a battle to-morrow, if I thought it would put an end
to this war, and this sad way of living.
May 19. Resting this day,, and busy with the affairs of the
regiment. There are orders to-night, that this day-week there shall
be preaching and prayer through the army to implore the blessing of
heaven upon our arms. To-morrow we are going to march, for we. hear
the French are in motion some way.
May 22. Orders coming unexpectedly for marching to the enemy* We are
observing the motions of the French, and must take our measures from
them; whereas,, before we came out, we thought ourselves a so far
superior to them, that we expected to find them behind, their lines,
May 23. A, sad Sabbath both, by fatigue and ill company. Marching
all day. in. the., middle of an English army. I need say no more to
give a notion what a hell on earth it is. It was, also a sore day
for fatigue, for we marched all yesterday, all night, and all this
day. There was a constant heavy rain most
of the time, which made the roads very bad, and the march very
tedious. We were sometimes four hours in marching half-a-mile. I was
thirty hours on horseback, which is the longest time ever I was in
my life, either the last war or this. I know not how things will
turn, but I think there are appearances of a battle; for the French
seem not to shun it much, if we be very keen in courting the
occasion, as we still pretend to be. Lord, I commit myself and all
to thee, and, through grace, will be very easy,, come what may.
May 26. Resting these two days. This day kept by public orders
through the army for preaching and prayers. Grant, O Lord, the
English army be. not found mocking thee, and aggravating their own.
guilt on such occasions, when there is not so much as. the
appearance of seriousness, or a. belief that there is a God who
either can give or mar our success. We had sermon, and I retired as
much as possible from company. O Lord, let me be among the Lots that
are in this Sodom, whom thou wilt spare in the day of thy wrath.
May 28. Taken up the whole fore-day in reviewing the regiment. Well
guided and directed; I cannot but see the kindness of Providence in
every thing. Last winter I nearly lost all my horses; yet I have got
all made up, again, and better provided than ever I was; and
equipage better than most of my station in the army. May I have
grace to lay myself out for his service who takes such care o.f me
and all that concerns me.
May 29. Diverting myself with seeing the troops reviewed. We are
here, a huge army if God he with us; but if he be not, we are only
so many cyphers.
May 30. Sabbath. I kept my tent till four o’clock in the afternoon,
and in the evening heard sermon.
June 1. Attending a court-martial,' a very unpleasant part of my
duty; prosecuting a deserter for his life. Yet I have peace of mind
in this affair,. for I pardoned this same man once before for
desertion, and recommended him to mercy. Now Providence has cast him
in the way again. I know not what is in it, but all God’s ways are
holy and just. He brings mens’ sins to light, and malefactors to
punishment, when they are least thinking on it; and when men punish
for one crime, he often discovers other crimes in them for which
sentence of death has passed against them in heaven.
June 2. This day about some means to advance a titulary step in my
employment. I bless God I am very easy whether it succeed or not. I
have enough, and far more than I deserve.
June 4. Awake most of the night. I could not sleep; my thoughts
being taken up about that poor wretch in my company, who is to die
to-morrow by the hand of public justice. Serious with God for the
welfare of his soul.
June 5. I attended the poor creature at his death, He seemed
penitent; and I am not without hopes of him. .
June 8—12. On command these four days. Very stormy, bad weather. I
am never easy among a club of English officers; but I have got all
the English sent from me to other parts, and I keep the Germans; for
they are not such bold profane sinners, and do not swear so much;
and when they do, it does not make my flesh creep, or sound in my
ears with that hellish ringing echo that English oaths do. .
June 15. This day I was with the Duke in his quarters on business.
June 16. In the forenoon the Electoral Prince of Hanover (afterwards
King George II.) came along the line ; we drew out without arms.
June 20. Sabbath. No sermon. We are here a great army; but what do
we signify, we are chained and fettered as it were, that we cannot
stir to the right or the left, backward or forward, without
June 22. We have accounts that Prince Eugene is to join us in two
June 24. We marched at two o’clock this morning, the enemy also
being upon their march. Between four and five in the evening we came
within sight of them ; and they advanced as if they designed a
battle. We took post, as the Generals thought, to the best
advantage, and lay at our arms all night, having orders to be ready
in the morning for the attack. I committed myself to God, believing
he can keep me as safe in a battle as in my chamber in a garrison.
June 25. But when the light appeared, we found the enemy were
marched off; and that their design was not to fight, but to give us
the go-by, and possess themselves of Ghent, which they have done. I
commit my dear concern there to thee, O Lord. Keep her in perfect
peace, for I trust we shall yet praise thee.
June 26. There is great appearance of action suddenly.
June 27. Concerned for the present posture of our affairs, and
somewhat anxious about the surprisal of Ghent.
June. 28. Marched at two in the morning, a tedious march. We camped
about three times in the evening for a feint, and then marched all
night, which was great fatigue to the army. Our mistakes and
weakness give us trouble. What a vain thing is man,, and the wisdom
and courage of man ! He who, one day, performs great actions and is
extolled as more than man, the next is as much decried and guilty
of; great blunders. We have still a prospect of sudden action if the
enemy defend what they have got.
June 29. A fatiguing, march to retrieve our past mistake. Passed the
Dender. In all probability it will he retrieved, and the French will
quit what they have taken. It seems to he little else than a piece
of vanity and gasconade.
June 30. This is another great Ebenezer; of my life,, to be added to
Hochstet, Ramillies, &c. We fought; the French, and, by, the. great
mercy of- God,: beat Ahem. I was liberally supplied 'with courage,
resolution and a calm mind. All is the gift of God.
The losses and fatigues of Abe; Allies were compensated by the
decisive battle of Oudenard, to which the Diary, alludes. The town
from which this victory takes its name, stands on the Scheldt,,
thirteen miles south of Ghent.. Being the only pass on that river
which was left to the Allies, the French; had the vanity to suppose
they could reduce or take it by surprise, as they had done Ghent and
Bruges; and thus completely intercept a very important line of
communication. But these projects were defeated by the diligence and
extraordinary expedition of the Confederates^ who. came upon them on
the,30th so unexpectedly, that they hesitated much whether to retire
or venture an engagement. The Commanders-in-Chief, the Dukes of
Burgundy and Vendome, differed in their opinions. Both were inclined
to retreat; but. the ardour of the younger officers, who had more
fire than prudence, induced the former to declare for battle, and
the latter to submit with reluctance. This irresolution, which
continued until three in the afternoon, the Allies did not fail to
turn to their advantage.
The attack commenced with the cavalry, before most of the infantry
had time to form or reach the place. It was obstinately contested by
both sides; and about seven o’clock the action became general
throughout the whole line. The enemy finding themselves charged so
determinedly, fled in the. utmost confusion, having, lost above
14,000 men. The, slaughter would have been much greater, and few*
perhaps would have escaped, had not night put an end: to the
carnage, and prevented all’pursuit; the; darkness rendering it
impossible to distinguish friends from foes. The fugitives made a
scattered retreat to Ghent, which they reached early next morning,
The Confederates remained- on the spot all night under, arms,
ignorant as yet of the extent of their victory. Their loss was very
inconsiderable, scarcely exceeding in all 2000 men. The share Major
Blackader’s regiment had in this, victory, and his reflections on
the occasion, we shall continue in his own words.
June 30. The-battle began about five in the afternoon, and lasted
till night put a screen of darkness between us and them; and thereby
saved them,. in all. probability,, from as great a defeat as ever
they, got; The: battle, came by surprise, for we had no thought of
fighting through the day. My frame was more serene and spiritual
than ordinary. My thoughts were much upon the 103d Psalm, which I
sung (in my heart) frequently upon the march. Our regiment, properly
speaking, was not engaged in the attack; hut what was worse, we were
obliged to stand in cold blood, exposed to the enemy’s shot, by
which we had several killed and wounded, for there was heavy firing
for about two hours. Throughout the whole course of it I was
constantly engaged, sometimes in prayer, sometimes in praise,
sometimes for the public, sometimes for. myself. We lay all night
upon the field of battle, where the bed of honour was both hard and
cold; but we passed the night as well as the groans of dying men
would allow us; being thankful for our own preservation. I was
mercifully supplied with the comforts of life, and wanted nothing
good for me. We marched again by day-break, and formed our lines,
the enemy making still some appearance ; but it was only their
rear-guard, which was easily repulsed; so we returned to our camp. I
went again through the field of battle, getting a lecture on
mortality from the dead. I observe this of the French, that they are
the most easily heat and cowed of any people in the world, did we
but second Providence in pushing them when the opportunity is put in
our hand. Arise, O Lord, and let thine enemies be scattered. Let the
fruits of our victories be the advancement of Christ’s kingdom on
July 3. Marching to Tournay.
July 4. Marching towards Lisle. We are got within the enemy’s lines,
and they seem to have shut themselves up so, that their army runs
the risk of being lost if we act vigorously.
July 5. Employed in demolishing the French lines.
This was in accordance with the resolution taken immediately after
the battle, that the Duke of Marlborough’s army should pass the Lys,
and level the enemy’s lines between Ypres and Warueton, to intercept
the retreat of the French in that direction. Meantime the Dukes of
Burgundy and Vendome, being somewhat recovered from their late
consternation, sent a detachment of 10,000 men on a foraging
expedition into Dutch Flanders, to burn and plunder the country hy
way of reprisals.
July 6. I went in the afternoon to take a view of the French lines.
There are strange turns of Providence this campaign. The French are
got into our country, and we are in theirs. They are closed up by
the canal (between Bruges and Ghent,) so that by remaining there,
they run the risk of losing their army. But yet, so long as they
stay, we can get nothing done here. O Lord, guide and direct our
General, and thy presence be with us; then canals, ramparts, walls,
&c. shall be levelled like the walls of Jericho. Give us courage and
conduct, as thou has sent upon them a spirit of terror and panic
fear. Let this he the time, in thy wise and holy dispensations, for
unriddling that dark providence, the French tyrant. Waste him, as he
has wasted thy church; get glory upon him as thou didst upon
Pharaoh. For this cause, I trust, thou hast raised him up.
July 7. My deafest concern is now in the midst of the enemy (at
Ghent;) yet she is kept safe and in peace. They are fettered and
restrained as the lions in Daniel’s den, that they can do no harm:
Yea they are made to befriend and protect, when we expected they
would plunder. Let others take this for chance or for their
generosity; I take all as mercies from thee, O Lordi Thy promise is
accomplished, That when a man’s ways please the Lord, he maketh even
his enemies to he at peace with him,—and who shall harm you, if ye
he the followers of that which is good? Praying for the downfal of
the French tyrant and of Antichrist. O let the time come when thou
wilt avenge the hlood of thy servants. Let the cry of the souls
under the altar come up and he heard by thee (Rev. vi. 9.) Let all
this great-assembly know that the battle is the Lord’s, and that he
saves notby sword or by spear.
July 8. This day kept by public. orders through the army, a
thanksgiving for our victory, and a feu-de-joi at night.
July 11. Anxious about my wife, how she maybe disposed of. Though
enemies have been restrained from doing harm; yet I know not hut it
is her duty to leave the place, and go back to Holland where-she may
enjoy the gospel and kind friends.
July 14. Got orders-to march from the army. We decamped at three in
the afternoon, and marched all night. We have had more fatigue and
night marches this campaign already, then we had all the last war.
July 15. We have been full twenty-four hours under, arms-marching,
and the horses as long under their loads. There was an appearance of
action too, and of an advantage on our side of taking a place and a
body of their troops in it, hut it turned to small account. Whether
we acted prudently or not, I shall not say: It-does not become me to
blame Generals, hut to obey. .
July 17. After a day’s rest, we marched again at twelve - at night,
and came at six next morning to Leuse. We are much farther advanced
into the enemy’s country than ever we were, either last war or this.
It appears, now when we are upon the spot, that we might have
attacked the enemy here the other day -with success: hut men are
wisest behind hand, and human prudence cannot foresee all things. We
are kept very busy in preventing the town from being plundered.
July IB. Sabbath. Dining abroad, and too long engaged in company. I
wish I had dined on bread and water, rather than been in
conversation so foreign to a Sabbath.
July 23. Marched this day back to our camp, and so our expedition
ends. It is. certain we might have done more than we have done; but
all things are ordered by an over-ruling providence. The French save
themselves often by our weakness and mistakes. Since I returned, I
have got accounts that my wife is gone for Holland, to her friends
This expedition-was commanded by Count Tilly, who had orders to
penetrate into the French: territories, and lay the country under
contribution. The body of troops they. attacked, was a detachment of
800 cavalry of the Duke of Berwick’s army, of which a considerable
number was either killed or taken. There were 1400 infantry in Leuse
who made, their escape; but in Major Blackader’s: opinion,, they
might have been all cut off or made prisoners.
August 1 Sabbath. But we are so far <from. knowing it, or seeing any
marks of it here, that it is 'more like hell than any other day. O
how is grace wasted in this dry barren land of Popery, and,
idolatry, and wickedness. How long shall I be banished from the
gospel and Christian conversation.
August 8. The army was drawn out in the morning to review before the
Prince of Hesse-Cassel, and King Augustus of Poland; and this is the
first time I recollect of our reviewing on a Sabbath these twenty
years by-gone. Lord, pardon our sin, that we regard the day so
little. I kept in my tent all the afternoon, and shunned company.
August 12. Short march over the Scheldt. There will be an action
again if the enemy attempt to relieve Lisle.
August 15. Sabbath. At night, hearing of some immorality in the
regiment among the officers, I went to bring them to order. They
thought I was unreasonably passionate and severe in the matter. I
will not say but my own fiery spirit mixes itself with my reproofs
on these occasions. But I was provoked, and I hope it was zeal
against sin, for I had no selfinterest in being angry, or prejudiced
against any of them. Their abominable practices vex me, (the
officers I mean) for I think they grow daily worse, and more
impudently shameless in vice.
August 21. Marching forward to cover Lisle, which is under siege.
August 23. I went this day into the trenches and batteries. The
French are come up this night close to us, and give out that they
will fight us, and relieve the town ; so that there is all
appearance of a battle, and like to be the most deliberate one we
have ever fought. May the Lord of Hosts be upon our side, and go
before us as our Captain. Let the fruit of all this be the
advancement of his honour and glory.
August 24. The army drew out and formed the line of battle, and made
all the necessary dispositions to receive the enemy, whom we
expected to attack us; hut they came not. They were lying close by
us, and we were alarmed twice or thrice by them. They do not think
fit to attack us, for Prince Eugene has joined us from the siege.
August 27. At night there Was ah attack made upon the counterscarp
of Lisle. I went up to the top of a wind-mill to see it at a
distance. Serious all the time in prayer for success. We know not
how it has gone, but we hope all is well. The close firing lasted
about two hours. I went back after all the company was gone to the
top of the mill, and sat alone some time in meditation. Next morning
we heard that the counterscarp was taken, and the loss not very
August 31. Employed all this forenoon in perfecting our trenches. At
two o’clock the enemy appeared marching towards us. We ran to arms,
and took post behind our retrenchments. About four the French had
raised a battery of twenty-six pieces of small cannon, and played
upon our lines, but with little effect.
September 1; We lay at our arms all night, expecting they would
attack us by break of day. But we were disappointed, for they only
continued to cannonade us as the day before, and to as little
September 2. We had no disturbance from them this day, and we are
persuaded they have no mind to attack us here if they can do any
thing else. It is the Lord that gives us a spirit of firmness and
resolution, and takes it from them that they dare not venture a
September 17. The siege proves very tedious and troublesome. The
French army have now got between us and Brussels.
The siege of Lisle was by far the most remarkable that had happened
since the reduction of Namur. This city was the capital of French
Flanders, and second to Paris in wealth and importance. Its
situation amidst pools and marshes-—its immense merchandise and
extensive maritime power, made it the Venice of the Netherlands. Art
and nature had done every thing to render it impregnable. There
Louis had expended the vast resources of his treasury, and thd
engineer Vauban exerted his utmost skill. Marshal Boufflers was the
Governor, and it was filled with troops that composed an army
instead of a garrison. A more than ordinary value was set upon the
place, and the possessors made corresponding preparations to defend
it. They looked upon any attempt to reduce it as a rash and hopeless
enterprise, and boasted they would compel the Allies to abandon the
siege without striking a blow. But the Allies were not to be
deterred by these threatening predictions; and on the 13th of August
the city was invested, on one side by Prince Eugene, and on the
other by the Prince of Orange-Nassau. The Duke of Marlborough with
the main army covered the siege. Both parties, in expectation of the
greatest obstinacy and resolution, had concentrated upon Lisle all
the strength and talent of their armies. The fame of the siege
attracted illustrious strangers to the spot, among whom were the
King of Poland, and the Landgrave of Hesse, to share in the dangers
and the glory of so bold an enterprise.
On the 22nd. the trenches were opened, and for sixteen (lays the
besiegers continued to batter the town with 100 pieces of cannon. A
large breach in the wall was effected, and the ditch almost filled
with the ruins. On the 7th of September preparations were made for
storming the counterscarp, which was carried, but with considerable
loss; the enemy having kept up a tremendous fire, and destroyed
great numbers by the springing of mines. During all this time, as
the Writer of the Diary has already informed us, the French
continued to amuse the covering army of the Allies with marches and
counter-marches, and feints of attack. But they had no Peal
intention to engage; their object Was to fatigue the troops, and
retard the siege. Perceiving this, the Duke of Marlborough caused
intrenchments to be thrown up in front of the army, Which secured
them against any sudden surprise; and permitted detachments to be
sent occasionally to the camp before Lisle. One of these parties was
sent under Major Blackader, who had the honour to command at the
attack on the Tenaille, the 12th of September, O.S. Of this assault
he has given a more than ordinary interesting and lively account.
September 11. Ordered on command this afternoon with 400 grenadiers,
to go upon some attack at the siege. I was easy and calm, committing
myself to God. This is no surprise to me, for I have been laying my
account •with it; for since the commencement of the siege, (though
our regiment was not there,) I have had constant impressions that I
should have a share of some attack or other before it ended. So it
is God that commands me there. I take the order from him, and not
the Brigade-Major. We were so late in arriving, that the attack is
deferred till tomorrow, and we are sent to Marquett Cloyster to
lodge all night. We lay down upon the beds prepared for the soldiers
that may he wounded upon the attack; and probably, by to-morrow at
this time, many of us may be lying here groaning with wounds and
In the morning (Sabbath) I was serious, in view of the hot and
dangerous service we are to be employed on at night. Yet I was very
easy still, supplicating grace to do my duty every way, and
believing I may be as safe as in my own chamber. We got orders that
we are to attack the counterscarp. I went into one of the chambers
of the Cloyster alone, and took out my Bible and read over several
comfortable promises, such as Joshua i. 9. 2 Samuel viii. 6. 14. I
Chron. v. 20. Psalm xviii. xxxii. 7, 8. lx. 24. Isaiah xl. 29, 30,
81. xli. 10. 13, 14. xliih to the 5th verse. I sung the 91st Psalm.
When I had done, and was walking up and down, I cast my eyes upon
the chimney-piece. There was a coat-of-arms, and the motto deus
fortitudo me a, (God is my strength.) I laid hold of that, and was
strengthened, and encouraged myself in the Lord.
We marched into the trenches about twelve o’clock. There my thoughts
were not so distinct, being fatigued, and my spirits dissipated. I
went up and down to see where our attack was to be. Prince Alexander
of Wirtemberg came in about four, made the dispositions, and gave us
our orders. When he posted me, he bade me speak to the grenadiers,
and tell them that the Duke of Marlborough and Prince Eugene
expected they would do as they had always done—chase the French; and
that it was better to die there, than to make a false step. I
answered, “ I hope we shall all do our dutyso he shook hands with
me, and went away.
Near seven, the signals being given by all our cannon and bombs
going off together, I gave the word upon the right, Grenadiers, in
the name of God attack ! Immediately they sprung over the trenches,
and threw their grenades into the counterscarp; but they fell into
some confusion. I then ordered out fifty more to sustain them, and
went out myself, and in a little time I got a shot in the arm. I
felt that the bone was not broken; and all the other officers being
wounded, I thought it my duty to stay still a-while, and encourage
the grenadiers to keep their warm post. About a quarter of an hour
afterwards, the fire continuing very hot, I got another shot in the
head. I then thought it was time to come off. Both these shots were
so mercifully directed, that there is not a bone broken; and I still
say, notwithstanding these two wounds, that God put a hedge round
about me, and gave his angels charge over me. The nice ordering of
the bullets to touch there, and go no deeper, is to me a clear proof
of it; and that he only wounds to make me a greater monument of
mercy and kindness. I had a great deal of trouble to get out of the
trenches in three hours space. I was mercifully provided for at
night with a good bed, a house, and good company. I rested well,
although my wounds broke out and bled in the night.
September 13. Most of this day was taken up with visits; our kind
officers coming to see me. I wrote to nay wife; the Lord support and
comfort her, and make her thankful for his goodness to me. Next day
I rode to Menin in very good health, and very easy. I am well
provided with good quarters, an excellent physician, and expert
surgeon. Lord, he thou my physician ; thy mercies are great to me;
for most of the other officers that were with me, are now lying
groaning with broken hones.
September 15. Our regiment marched through this town. Still visited
by our kind officers, and my wounds easy.
September 17. I was sent for to see an officer who was on the attack
with me, who is very weak, and lying in great torment. O how
thankful should I be that I am so tenderly dealt with. Next day I
was sent for again to see the same gentleman, but ere I got there he
was dead. May the Lord be a father to his poor wife and children.
September 20. There are more of our officers come in wounded at this
late action down the country, where God’s goodness has been very
great to us in giving us victory, though they were more than two to
one. He has been peculiarly merciful to our regiment; there is not a
man killed or wounded that was with it, except one officer who had
his finger shot through.
The action here alluded to was the battle and victory of Wynendale,
gained on the 17th O.S. by a detachment from the Duke’s army. In
this action was Colonel Preston, with a detachment of the Cameronian
Regiment. Its object was to hinder the enemy from intercepting a
convoy of ammunition and British troops which were landed at Ostend
for the use of the siege.
To prevent this communication, the French had laid the greater part
of the country between Ostend and Nieuport under water, by cutting
the dykes at Leffinghen. All their arts, however, proved fruitless;
and during the action at Wynendale the convoy marched undisturbed,
and in a few days reached the camp before Lisle. In this engagement,
the Confederates had not more than 6000 men, while the enemy was
computed at nearly 24,000. The loss of the former was about 900, and
of the latter above 6000.
September 21. My wound is not at all painful, considering the place
where it is, the elbow, where the roots of the tendons and ligaments
of the hand and fingers are collected.
September 22—25. Continuing quiet and easy; though this day I have
had more pain in my wound than for several days. They have made a
small incision, and enlarged the wound in my head lest matter should
lodge about it; and because it runs more than they would have it.
September 26. Sabbath. All night and all this day there is nothing
but noise and hurry of marching. The army is going through this
town, down the country again towards Bruges, (to repulse the French
who were making another attempt to cut off communication with
Ostend.) Probably there may be another action in a few days. This
campaign has still a strange drumly aspect; our enemies are
compassing us about, while we are wasting ourselves before the town.
O Lord, be upon our side; let our extremity be thy opportunity. My
wounds are mending well, and I have still many people coming to
October 2. My condition is less sad than many others that I see in
this town. Lord, sanctify thy providence to those poor creatures,
officers and soldiers, who are lying here under thy hand wounded. I
cannot he thankful enough that I recover so well and have so little
pain, considering that, by the wound in my arm, several tendons are
broken and bruised j yet I have the use of my hand and fingers as
well as I could desire. An unhappy accident has fallen out in the
October 5. I was calm and serene through the day, but at night put
out of order by a dismal melancholy object in the same house with
me—a poor gentleman who is wounded, and has gone perfectly mad and
furious, and is forced to be tied. He blasphemes God in his fits,
and is a most terrible instance of the judgment of God.
October 6. The poor creature is growing worse and worse: he tears
open all his wounds, continues to blaspheme, and is likely to die
so. It is a dreadful and heart-rending spectacle.
October 19. God is the hearer of prayer. He heals the diseases and
distempers both of soul and body. I have had sweet experience of
both. He sweetens my temper by his grace into a thankful contented
frame, and he eases the pains of my body also, for I have been in
trouble by the toothach. I was directed to the use of means, and I
take this as much from God as if he had healed me with his hand, or
as Christ did to poor sinners in the days of his flesh on earth.
While the Major continued at Menin he was attacked by a malignant
fever with inflammation, which however did not prove dangerous. His
wounds heing perfectly cured, he began to think of rejoining the
regiment, and on the 13th of November he returned to Lisle. “Should
I be afraid,” says he, “to go back, where I have one of the greatest
preservations of my life? It is my duty; and I will go, trusting to
that promise, I will never leave thee nor forsake thee. The very
sight of Lisle, instead of fear, should stir me up to songs of
praise to my great Deliverer.
By this time Lisle had surrendered, having sustained an obstinate
siege of two months, and presented difficulties which nothing but
the greatest intrepidity and perseverance could have overcome. The
citadel, however, held out two months longer, and did not capitulate
until the 10th of December. While these operations were going on,
the enemy began to annoy the Confederates in a different quarter:
finding it impossible to intercept convoys from Ostend, they laid
siege to Brussels, which was invested by the Elector of Bavaria, and
resolutely defended by General Pascal the Commandant, who compelled
the Elector to abandon the siege with the loss of 3000 men. This
sudden retreat of the besiegers was unexpected, but occasioned by
the intelligence that the Duke of Marlborough and Prince Eugene had
passed the Scheldt, and were on their march to relieve the city.
The passage of the Scheldt was deemed an extraordinary feat, the
banks being strongly fortified with lines which had cost the enemy
nearly three months in erecting. But the Allies conducted their
march with such secrecy and expedition, that they crossed the river
in a moon-light night, while the French were sleeping securely in
their intrenchments. When the alarm was given in the morning, their
only thought was to provide for their safety, and setting fire to
their huts and barracks they fled udth precipitation. The
Confederates hung upon their rear, and pursued them till dark,
dispersing and killing vast numbers of them. The Duke went to
Brussels, and Prince Eugene returned to the siege, Which he had the
honour to conclude by the capitulation of the citadel. The surrender
of Lisle was speedily followed by the reduction of Ghent, the
abandonment of Bruges, and the retreat of the enemy within their own
territories, which closed the important transactions of this
campaign. Major Blackader’s regiment, it appears, was on the
expedition to the Scheldt, though he himself was not with them,
being yet unable to undergo much fatigue.
October 14. Things look rather with a dark and melancholy aspect at
present, and we know not well what hand to turn to. Our regiment got
sudden orders to march away, and there is great appearance of action
October 16. I went out in the afternoon and viewed the breach in
this town, and the place where I got my wounds. The goodness of God
to me is very great. It was by his mercy that I was not killed or
wounded this day by a cannon-ball from the citadel, while walking in
a street where I did not apprehend danger. The bullet came hard by,
and battered upon the wall close beside me. They mark expressly at
officers. O Lord, let me not forget thy mercies. I would have had no
peace to have been wounded in this manner, where I had no call. We
have got the agreeable news this afternoon that we have beat the
French from the Scheldt, though we have not yet the particulars.
October 17. Our good news is confirmed. The French have made hut
very little opposition to us in passing the Scheldt. Help Us, Lord,
to improve this victory to better purpose than we have done several
others, both as Christians and as soldiers, for we have failed in
both. Thou lettest not our foes triumph over us, though they
compassed us about like bees, and boasted they would famish and
starve us here.
October 18. Our regiment Came in to the toWn this evening. This
success that we have got is the Lord’s doing, and wonderful in out
eyes. The French have been fortifying these posts on the Scheldt
these two months, and made tliem so strong that they boasted they
would starve Us; yet the Lord hath so taken heart and hand from
them, that they suffered us to pass at all the places we attempted,
October 20. In the afternoon, I went out to the place where I got my
wound, and desired to offer up the sacrifice of praise to God for my
merciful deliverance, with a thankful heart.
October 24. Kept as a day of thanksgiving and joy for beating the
French from the Scheldt, and relieving Brussels. The Duke never
fails to give thanks after victory and success. But these things are
mocked and ridiculed in our army. I usually observe, that the
greatest Atheists among us despond most, and are most sunk when
things go cross.
October 26. I took a resolution to go down the country with the
first escort I can get, and made all ready accordingly. On the
morrow we were surprised with the agreeable accounts that the
citadel had hung out the white flag, and they are capitulating. We
did not expect it so soon. God is very kind tp us, and his
Providence has been wonderfully favourable to us this campaign, so
as to be taken notice of even by the graceless creatures in the
army. On the 29th I went into the citadel, and saw the interview
between two great men, Prince Eugene and Marshal Boufflers. I
thought it all ceremony and compliment, and no reality.
October 30. I left Lisle; desiring to be very thankful for the
goodness and mercy I have met with.
The Major was now on his return to Holland, by way of Oudenard,
Dendermond, and Antwerp. On the 1st of December he left Courtray,
and came to Oudenard. Here he reviewed with emotions of gratitude
the field of battle. Next day he continued his journey to Alost,
where he arrived very late. The town was so full, that he and his
escort were almost obliged to fie in the streets, and could get no
other accommodation than (t a sort of a lodging among the canaille
in a soldier’s house.” On the 3d he arrived at Dendermond; and in
two days came to Antwerp. On the 6th he set out by water to
Rotterdam, which he reached on the 8th, and was cordially welcomed
by all his friends.