CAMPAIGN TENTH, 1711.
Continuation of Hostilities—Colonel Blackader proposes to resign—
Campaign—Passing of the French Lines—Siege of Bouchain—
Letters—Colonel Blackader sells his Commission, and leaves the
Army—Arrives in London—Peace of Utrecht.
Advances were still making towards
peace, and the British Cabinet was much inclined for pacific
measures, but the mutual jealousies of the Allied Powers prevented
them from acting with decision or unanimity : These divisions
abroad, and the party contentions among the ministry at home,
emboldened the French King to renew his exertions in the
Netherlands; and Marshal Villars, as Commander of the forces, opened
the campaign with a more numerous army than any that had taken the
field since the commencement of the war. The Duke of Marlborough,
notwithstanding his friends had lost their influence in the Queen’s
councils, continued to preside over the Confederate arms, and this
year gave fresh proofs of his extraordinary talents, and military
capacity. The two most remarkable of his exploits were the passing
of the French lines by stratagem, and the reduction of Bouchain.
This was his last campaign, for such is the instability of human
greatness, that on his return to England, he was prosecuted by the
Attorney-General for the dishonest application of the public money,
in consequence of a petition from the House of Commons to the Queen,
and was by her removed from the command of the army, and from all
his public offices.
This was also the last of Colonel Blackader’s campaigns, having
quitted his regiment in the month of October, during the siege of
Bouchain; and in course of next year, disposed of his commission. He
never had any delight in the society of the army; and now that he
was, from his office, unavoidably more exposed to it than he could
wish, he became anxious to resign his post, and contemplated every
new campaign with terror and aversion. He had begun, while in
garrison, to negotiate about this affair, but the early summons to
take the field, prevented the matter from coming to any conclusion..
January 6. I have this day been making a proposal that may be a
crisis of my life, in quitting this employment. I commit it to thee,
O Lord. I have only proposed, do thou dispose, and prosper it as far
as thou seest fit for thy glory and my good. Let me have no wrong
bias, or leaning to any selfish or worldly interest, but have thy
glory singly before my eyes in every thing I do.
February 26.- Got orders to be ready to march, which is likely to
make me begin my campaign very early. Serious and thoughtful about
it. I see that most men of the world keep up their hearts by vain
imaginations, and make themselves easy and cheerful; . B 4 is it not
then a sad thought, that religion and reason should not have a like
effect upon them ? O to live by faith ! That would do it. That would
make us rejoice in infirmities, in temptations, in losses and
sufferings. O for grace to practise more what we profess.
March 10. .We marched out of Ghent. This is an early commencement of
the campaign. I have been uneasy about this command, as it chains me
too much to ill company, which is not my element. The care about
doing my duty properly, and other things, trouble me, which ought
not; for I should commit all to God by faith. I have that
unhappiness of temper which forms melancholy ideas of things before
hand, that vanish away when it comes to the acting part.
March 13. Marching yesterday, and this morning I went upon command
to take possession of a post which we were apprehensive the enemy
designed to possess, but it fell out well, for we took peaceable
possession of it. We posted our men the best way we could, I
committed myself and my charge to him who is a fortress and a high
tower to all that put their trust in him. I remembered and applied
that promise in Josh. i. 9. and I observe Providence has ordered it
so, that I am the first this campaign that has begun hostilities,
qnd taken post in the enemy’s country. In thy name, O Lord, will we
set up our banners.
March 15. We have been busily employed and much fatigued in
fortifying ourselves, and guarding this post; but unless the Lord do
keep it, the watchi men watch in vain,
March 26. Going abroad early to St. Amand, where I dined with the
General. I committed all my way to God, for I find business never
goes on well till I do this. An affair committed to God by prayer,
is as good as done.
April 10. Went into Douay, and took a view of our attack at the
siege. I had a serene, thankful frame of mind. Sitting alone in my
chaise by the way, I meditated on the goodness of God, and his
singular mercies to me. My business went well and smoothly on, and I
had the same serene frame coming back at night. But Providence lets
me see that all our earthly enjoyments are like Jonah’s gourd. There
is a worm at the root of them. I observe that no sooner do I begin
to rest any pleasure or satisfaction in any earthly comfort, than
Providence gives some check, and lets me see there is nothing but
vanity and emptiness in all; for when I arrived at home, the chaise
going in at the coach-house gate, by some accident startling the
horses, they took fright, and broke it in pieces. I should learn
from this the unsatisfactoriness of earthly enjoyments, for at the
very time we are hugging ourselves in our conveniences and
pleasures, the Lord may be preparing a worm to gnaw and eat out the
comfort of them,
April 17. Now the armies are taking the field on both sides, and
probably will enter soon into action. I flee to thee, O Lord, to
hide me under the shadow of thy wings, to enter into those chambers
which thou hast provided for thy people in a day of trouble. This is
my refuge. I received orders from Douay, to be ready to march in
case the enemy make any attempt that way as they threaten to do. All
the rest of the cantonment are marched.
April 19. This has been a quiet retreat these five weeks past, hut
now that all the British. cantonment is come here—a hundred men of
each of twenty regiments—it is become, as it were, a hell—nothing
about me but cursing, blasphemy, violence, &c. All this while I was
glad to stay here, now I would gladly march to get free of such
May 9. Was at the Duke’s quarters all the forenoon. Hearing of my
brother’s death in Scotland, I took the resolution to go to Courtray
to communicate the melancholy news to my wife. I arrived on the
11th, and bless the Lord who has given us a comfortable meeting with
each other again.
May 15. We had a great alarm here this day, expecting the French
were on their way to attack this town ; but their design was not
May 23. Left Courtray, and came to Tournay at night. Next day I came
safe home to the army to my cottage. I praise thee, O Lord, who
preservest my outgoings and my incomings, and lets no evil befall
me—no plague come nigh my dwelling.
May 28. Taken up all day in reviewing before the Duke. All going
well. I dined at a great man’s table, where others fell into snares
by drinking, while I escaped. It is thy goodness, O Lord, and
nothing in me.
June 3. Sabbath. Marched this day, (from the camp near Douay,) which
was one of the severest I ever saw, by excessive heat. Several men
marching in the ranks, fell down and died upon the very spot. The
whole fields were like a field of battle, men lying panting and
fainting. Most of the regiments did not bring above sixty or seventy
men to the camp with their colours. I bless the Lord for his mercies
to me. I have got the accommodation here of a cottage, though it is
like to he pulled down about ray ears by the soldiers searching for
wood and straw. If we would look more to those who are below us, and
compare their condition with ours, it would make us more thankful
and contented with our lot; for what makes us to differ? It is only
the goodness of God that makes our circumstances better—the men are
every whit as good as we.
June 22. In the afternoon I went out upon' command, where I
continued for two days, doing my best to keep things in order upon
my post. I came home at night, and bless God I have been kept out of
snares and temptation.
June 26. Dining with company. This is a great folly in the army,
that when a friend dines with ano-. ther, they are pressed to drink
too much. I am always uneasy on these occasions. It is really an
admiration to see men endowed with reason, and with immortal souls,
so degrade themselves of that dignity, and lead such poor, animal,
sensual lives as they do. O what fools,—what brutes,—what fiends has
sin made man ! All this, I know, would sound harsh with the genteel
world, whose example has dignified these customs, and given them the
reputation of virtues. But that does not change the nature of the
thing. Make me, O Lord, to escape the pollution that is in the world
through sin. Most people think there can be no good company, or
welcome without drinking; and many, even good sober men, have too
warm a side to this custom. It is a great thing to get above the
opinion of the world. This ruins many.
About this time the Colonel’s Lady had received letters from her
father in Scotland, who had expressed an anxiety to see them, as
some events had occurred in the family which rendered a visit
desireable. The following from the Colonel, refers partly to that
affair, and partly to the business of his commission.
Sabbath, June 24.
I received yours of yesterday, this forenoon. It is a satisfaction
when letters come so soon to hand. I shall write to your father, God
willing, when I can get leisure. You have done well in writing. I am
hopeful he is not so anxious about seeing of you and me as you
apprehend. I presume I know his temper as well as you do. He has
affections that are strong enough, but they are masculine and
reasonable, and that shew themselves more in doing good offices to
his friends, than in fond desires of seeing them; and this is
certainly the finest sort of love—most disinterested, for the other
may rather be called self-love, the indulging of our own soft
inclinations. But you must be a philosopher to enter into these
sentiments and ways of reasoning.
I have been on command since I wrote last. I went out on Friday and
came home yesternight. It was on a foraging party, an easy and short
command; and the Major was with me. I have spoken to my Lord Stair
about my affair; he relishes it very well, and says he had employed
Captain Kennedy to speak to Colonel Preston ahout it when the
regiment went out of camp to Harlebeck. We have not spoken about the
terms, and there is no haste, for it cannot be finished until
winter. I have not spoken of it to the Colonel; only in general I
have told him that he must allow me to make my retreat out of the
army. So now that I have tabled the affair I commit it entirely to
kind Providence. I desire not to he anxious about it; for why should
we he eager about any earthly concern ? It is not the change of
place or employment that can make us easy.
When Captain M‘Leod comes here, I shall he very well satisfied, if I
have time, to come and see you. For besides the attractive power
that Courtray has by your being there, to bring me out of the army,
it has also several other charms by the company I get there. But I
should not tell this, for wives are jealous creatures. We are to be
reviewed this week by my Lord Orkney, as General of the Foot, and
are busy about our recruits. I am thine. J. B.
Madam Blackader, chez Mons. Col. Cunningham,
Commandant a Courtray,
July 5. Riding alone all day and coming to Lisle. I bless God who
has defended and guarded me all this while in camp, where I was much
exposed. This Lisle should be a continual remembrance to me,
whenever I see it, for here I was compassed about with deliverance.
(September 12, 1708 I went in the afternoon and visited the post I
had at the attack, and was thankful for my escape. - :
The passing of the French lines, which we have already mentioned as
the first memorable exploit this campaign, took place on the 25th.
It was effected by stratagem, and celebrated by the writers of the
times, as a feat of the most consummate generalship. These lines ran
along the Scheldt from Bouchain to Arras, and by getting possession
of them, a way was opened for besieging the former place, and even
penetrating into the interior of France. The design was executed
with the greatest secrecy. The army had orders to march in the
evening, so soon as it was dark enough to strike their tents without
being perceived by the enemy. They advanced with incredible
expedition, and had possessed themselves of the passes on the river,
before Marshal Villars was apprised of their destination, or
prepared to oppose them. By this bold russe de guerre the Allies
obtained a victory without striking a blow; and without losing one
man, became masters of an important conquest which they would
willingly have purchased at the expense of some thousand lives.
July 25. Last night we marched at nine o’clock, and continued it all
night, and this day till three in the afternoon, and by the blessing
of God have taken possession of the French lines without losing a
man. This was performed by the excellent conduct, and to the great
honour of our General, being one of the finest projects and best
executed that has been during these wars. Not unto us, O Lord, but
unto thee be the glory. It is thou who givest a spirit of judgment
and conduct to those who have the direction and command, and a
spirit of strength to those who are to execute these commands. Our
enemies are taken in their own craftiness. We were long chained up,
but when thy time comes, thou goest before us as the Captain of our
host, and then we do great things. This was a sore fatiguing march
of ten or twelve leagues: most of the army fell ill by the way, so
that in the afternoon, when the French made a mien to oppose us, we
had but a handful of men to oppose them, not more than 60 or 80 in a
regiment. But the enemy retired, and we lay at arms all night. I
bless God I was very well; cheerful and thankful. The Lord makes
good that promise to me. Isa. xl. 29—31.
July 26. This morning we marched forward, the enemy being also on
their march to oppose us. Their army drew up on a plain before us.
We hear that it was very nearly carried in a council of war, that we
should attack them; hut it was resolved otherwise to the regret of
most part of the army. In such cases it may he said vox exercitus
vox Dei. Our soldiers were much encouraged by their success in
passing the lines, and the enemy much disheartened. I confess I was
uneasy at it, for I look upon such fair opportunities of fighting as
probable opportunities of defeating their army and ending the war.
We are not to expect moral certainties; but when God delivers our
enemies into our hand, and we let them escape, he oftentimes lets
them he more troublesome afterward. I pray God it may not he so with
On the other hand, we are not to be suspicious of our General’s
conduct. We have more reason to admire it, and to believe he knows a
thousand times better what is to he done than we do. Submissive
obedience is our duty, and I give it heartily. If any man deseiwes
implicit obedience I think he does, both in respect of his capacity
and his integrity. The Lord he blessed for what he has done, and
direct us by his counsel what is further to he done for the
improving this success. May he send peace and truth upon the earth.
We marched most part of this night also, and stormy weather it was.
I slept a little in a soldier’s tent till it was blown down about my
ears, and the rain came in upon me. I bless God even for these
little accommodations. We are more thankful in such circumstances
for a^ small mercy, than for much greater ones when we are living at
our ease and nothing to trouble us.
July 27. This morning we had a small march, and very bad weather. My
mind was poring too much about public matters, and grudging lest the
fruits of our good success he lost. This is not much my business; my
duty is to he very thankful for the mercies we have met with.
Providence will dispose of all for his own glory, Our design seems
now to be the siege of Bouchain; and though this appears but a small
thing, and no such enterprise as we might have hoped from our
passing their lines, yet let us be thankful it is so well as it is,
that we are gaining ground of the French in their own country, and
baffling them. We are like to get a great deal of fatigue and
trouble during this siege, the enemy’s army being entire and strong.
July 30. Quiet these two days. We got a sudden alarm this day by the
French passing the Scheldt and coming over to us. Our army drew out
in great haste, and marched to the right to our line of battle, and
there expected them. But it turned out only a feint to cover their
design on the other side, and to amuse us till they should take post
between us and Douay, which, it is said, they have done. I always
thought they would make this siege troublesome to us, and that we
should have fought them. The enemy soon retired over the river, and
we returned to our camp. In the afternoon we marched again to the
right to cover the General’s quarters.
In the following letter to his Lady, of this date, he recapitulates
very concisely the events of the preceding days.
Hordain, Tuesday, July 31. I have received both your letters, and
hope you have received mine giving account of our passing the lines.
We have reason to be very thankful that God is pleased still to
favour us with success, though we are so unworthy of it. But I
observe also, that Providence does it in such a manner as seems to
make the war spin out longer; for on whatever side France has the
thickest and strongest nests of garrisons, Providence turns our arms
that way. He is dashing the potsherds of the earth together. Our
march that time was very fatiguing; for we marched from nine at
night till three in the afternoon next day; so that when we came to
Arleux, where the French made some mien of opposing us, when the
line drew up there was hardly above 70 or 80 of our regiment
together that had not fallen by. We had another night’s march also
on Wednesday’s night crossing the Scheldt, and yesterday again the
line was drawn out and formed, the enemy having passed a
considerable body of troops over the Scheldt towards us; so that
every body expected a battle: but the French drew off again. It was
but a feint their coming over, to cover their design of taking post
on the other side between us and Douay, where they will be
troublesome and make the siege uneasy.
I bless God I am very well, and was never better than yesterday,
when we expected to have come to an engagement. God forbid that I
should boast of myself, for I find I have not that fund of natural
gifts that some have, and may complain of much weakness. But in God
will I boast. It is he that supplies me liberally with
through-bearing grace. Of myself I can do nothing, but through him I
can do all things. And, indeed, I am so weary of the war, that I am
glad when I see it likely to come to a decisive action. Besides, the
fatigues we have had, and are likely to have during this siege, make
me believe that we should rather have brought it to a decision. But
Providence does all for then best. It is our duty to obey and
follow, and not to dictate or prescribe rules. There are six British
Regiments to be at this siege, and it comes just to us; so that we
lie by for a warrant as we did at the siege of Douay. And in
appearance it would he better to be at this, than the next which
probably may be Valenciennes, both a stronger town, and a worse time
of the year. But in this also, let us be very easy. The disposing of
.our lot, and every circumstance in it, is in the hand of a kind and
gracious God. Let this make you easy and cheerful. It is better to
have these experiences in our lot, than to be becalmed in the midst
of our enjoyments, without these rousing providences. We are not
lying in the line, but on the right of the army, covering the
General’s quarters. I would not for the price of my Commission have
been from the army upon this march. It was well ordered I came that
day with General Murray. Give my humble service to Colonel
Cunningham and his kind family. The Lord’s presence be with you.
Thine. J. B.
Madam Blackader, chez Mons. Col. Cunningham, Commandant Courtray.
August 1. We are busy fortifying our camp, expecting alarms from the
near neighbourhood of the enemy.
August 3. On command this day, overseeing the workmen at our
trenches, which we have now put into so good posture of defence,
that we do not fear the enemy’s attack.
August 5. Sabbath. Much of my time spent in company and
conversation, unsuitable to a Sabbath. Alas, how can it be
otherwise, living in this army, where there is so much to check the
growth of grace, and so little to strengthen it.—We were likely to
have marched to-night upon some expedition about this siege, and it
being referred to lot by throwing the dice, Providence ordered it so
that we stay here.
August 10. Lying quietly these five days. I met with an occasion of
being put out of humour, but I bless God, who, by his grace, subdues
my corruption, and gives me any thing of a meek and quiet spirit. I
find that heat and passion, and unreasonable humour, I am least able
to bear of any thing. I am fond, by all means, of living peaceably
with all men, and would have them live so with me,
Of the proceedings and situation of both armies at this time, the
letters contain more particulars than the Diary. We shall therefore
transcribe one or two of them.
Camp near Bouchain, August 5.
I received yours of Tuesday; but I cannot get writing so oft as I
would incline, for it has been an unsettled sort of time since we
passed the lines—much hurry mad alertness. Things begin now to come
to some better settlement, and the siege to have a much better
aspect. The town is now fully invested, and it is not doubted but we
shall be able to make the siege, and we even hope it will not prove
so troublesome as we at first apprehended; and it is thought the
French may march off when they find they cannot hinder it. We ought
not to murmur that we do not immediately reap all the fruits that we
proposed to ourselves; or that we find difficulties in prosecuting
our good success. Providence could as easily have made us defeat
their army, as surprise their lines; and as easily have opened a
door to us into their country and their strongest towns, as into
this fortress. But it is our concern to do our duty, and leave the
disposal of events to him who orders all for his own glory.
I told you in my last what regiments are to be at the siege. Our
regiment is upon command now too, lying out of the line on the
right. We are very well intrenched over all, and lie very peaceably
and quietly, though we are lying so near one another, that our
soldiers and theirs sometimes speak together, the river only being
between us. But both armies are well intrenched, so that there is no
appearance of either of us making attempts upon each other. I have
not got quarters here, the village being all occupied before we
came. But I am very well in my tent. Keep your mind easy, and let us
not grudge to be crossed in our inclinations and humours, as to the
possessing of our earthly comforts and satisfactions, for we should
not consider what is pleasing, but what is best for us. The Lord’s
blessing and presence be ever with you. Thine. J. B,
Madam Blackader, chez Mons. Col, Cunningham,
Commandant a Courtray,
Camp, Friday, August 10.
——Our post here is still very peaceable; for as near as we lie to
one another, there is no disturbance. The Siege is likely to go on
very well. We have altogether cut off their communication with the
town, so that this siege, we hope, will not be so tedious as we
feared.1 It is thought the enemy may make some movement, and march
off from this post, when they cannot relieve the town. I can give no
guess how long it may last, or what 'more will be done, or if any
other siege will be taken in hand. No doubt, if time allow, they
design to make as great progress as possible this campaign. But our
great concern is to do our duty on every occasion where Providence
posts us. Some of us are wishing to be on this siege, as being
easier than it would be at the end of the campaign, at a stronger
town and worse weather. For my part I have neither wishes nor fears
upon the subject.
I think you have no reason to be uneasy about not hearing from
Scotland. You know your father writes but seldom; if he were worse
we would have heard. I have no letters or news from thence, hut what
the public gives us. You hear of that business of the Faculty of
Advocates about that medal, and the Pretender. I do not well
understand it; hut there seems to he mad humours a-breeding and
going through the Island. I can scarce believe what they say, that
the Lord Arniston has the chief hand in it. He was always looked
upon as very well affected to the government. It is like enough to
be his son indeed. There is good news that we hear yesterday of the
Muscovites beating the Turks, and making a peace with them. This
will be mortifying to the French King.
It is a great mercy, and we ought to be very thankful that
Providence gives us such success. We are apt to be weary and
discontented, because the steps are so slow, and that the war spins
out so long that there is yet no prospect of ending it, by gaining
those ends for which we entered into it. But God’s ways and thoughts
are as far above ours, as the heavens are above the earth; and there
is a day coming wherein the infinite wisdom, and justice, and
holiness of God shall be displayed before all the world, as to all
that falls out hear.
We hear there are eleven regiments coming up, and Murray’s is said
to be one, and the Fuzileers. Captain Dalrymple is gone down to
Antwerp for money ; let me hear if you want any, and I shall write
him to leave you some as he comes through. We have no reason to want
or to complain, we have enough, and I trust the blesting of God with
it. My humble service to Colonel Cunningham; I shall give myself the
honour to write him when I get more time. I am thine. J. B.
Madam Blackader, chez Mons. Col. Cunningham, I Commandant a Courtray.
Bouchain, August 13. Monday.
The trenches were opened on Saturday, on this side of the town.
There is to he an attack also on this side; and we would have been
upon it; but it is otherwise ordered. The whole army that lie on
this side are to be concerned, and to carry it on, which will make
it easy to us all. There are to be three regiments in the trenches
every day, and there being sixty. it will not come above once to our
turn. We broke ground last night on this side, with four battalions
of Guards covering, with little or no loss. I was on command on
Saturday, which was both short and easy, having gone out at nine in
the morning, and returned in the evening. We were perfecting the
lines of our army in front. They are so strong, that we do not think
the French will try them. Monsieur Villars is reckoned to have lost
much reputation, since our passing the lines. They say most of his
Generals are much discontented.
Let us be living by faith, cheerfully committing future events to
the direction of God, possessing our souls in patience. We are too
hasty, and would have all great events crowded into our own times,
that we might see God’s enemies destroyed by battles and victories.
.. But we should consider that providences run in a parallel to the
time of the world’s duration; some accomplished in one age, some in
another, but all in their right and proper season, which will make a
beautiful and comely prospect when all is perfected.
I am thine. J. B.
Madam Blackader, chez Mons. Col. Cunriingham, Commandant a Courtray.
Colonel Preston, about this time, having obtained the appointment of
Brigadier, Colonel Blackader, had his ambition prompted him, might
have risen to a higher command. But he had ceased to look upon these
things with an eye of youthful vanity, or mercenary hope,
considering them as encumbrances, to be shunned rather than coveted.
August 17. Abroad at court all the forenoon. He who is above me in
the regiment, has now got a greater post which takes him, in a
manner, out of the regiment* whereby my charge becomes greater. I do
not now look upon it with the eyes of youthful vanity and ambition,
as a step of rising and pushing forward. I view it as a heavier
charge and burden upon my shoulders, which, the Lord knows, I am not
able for. But this is all my hope and confidence, that he who sends
none a warfare on their own charges, when he calls me to any duty,
be it never so difficult, will give me grace to go through with it.
I have greater inclination to leave this employment, than to rise in
it. Our Brigadier’s commission, we hear, is come over with Brigadier
August 21; Getting an alarm this morning between twelve and one; we
marched to our alarm post, and remained till five. I was calm and
composed. This post which the French have taken makes us uneasy.
August 22. This night we were again at arms all night, and marched
to our alarm post, where we lay till sun-rising. In the midst of all
these confusions God is a refuge. This is all my comfort and peace,
for from every other quarter, nothing but trouble. The humour of
those we have to do with, and the society we live in, are among the
greatest uneasinesses we meet with in the world. There is nothing I
have a greater aversion and fear of than living in strife and
contention. I would live with all the .world peaceably, quietly, and
innocently, and would have every body about me calm and easy.
August 25. I visited the siege on all sides, seeing what was most
observable and curious about all the works and trenches.
Of this alarm, and some other particulars, the Colonel gives an
account in a letter to his Lady, of this date.
Thursday, August 23. :
Since I last wrote to you we had an alarm which has given us both
fatigue and trouble. On Monday night, about twelve, they gave the
alarm at the village where we lie* by firing upon a redoubt and
battery we have. We hurried out immediately and^ marched down to our
alarm post; but the French retired from this place, and in the
meantime attacked Hordain, and took some of our Generals there; but
the regiments there repulsed them, and then they came up our side of
the river and attacked a post we have at Etrum, and took it, and
have fortified themselves there. But we, to prevent any trouble from
them, have made a strong line between us and them, all the way. from
this to Hordain; so we reckon ourselves better and safer than we
were before. It has given us fatigue; for Monday and Tuesday both
nights we lay at our arms, upon our alarm posts; and our picquets
are to lie at arms on the lines every night as long as. the siege
This is one of the most troublesome sieges we have ever made, by the
near, neighbourhood of the French army; but yet we hope, by the
blessing of God, to finish it with success and honour, which will
indeed give a great reputation to our, General. It is hoped we may
have the town in eight, days. Our regiment has mot been, in the
trenches yet. We are to be in on Monday if the Basse-Ville he not
over before that time. I bless God who strengthens me for fatigue,
and carries me through: the doing of: my duty. I see his goodness in
defending and taking care of1 every thing about, us; for our
regiment might have been at Hordain when it was attacked. We threw
the dice for going there when we came to this village, and so we
missed it. The lot is cast into the lap, but the disposing of it is
of the Lord. I am. thine. J. B.
Madam Blackader, chez Mons. Col. Cunningham,
Commandant a Courtray.
August 29. This day our regiment went into the trenches. I bless the
Lord who made them safe and easy to us, and that .we had no loss. I
spent the day quietly though among the noise of cannon, bombs, &c.,
and no accident befel me.
Thursday, August 80.
We are just come from the trenches, where we have had a quiet night;
and none wounded save a serjeant of Captain Ferguson’s. We still
expect to be masters of the town in four or five days. Time runs
away, this, is- the. day the battle of Tanniers was, fought. The
remembrance.- of,,..the, many, experiences of . God’s .goodness to.
us, should! encourage us to. trust in him. cheerfully in time;
coming. I have got a house hard, by the. , regiment, by Colonel*
Kerr’£ regiment marching out of .this. camp.. I have, got Mr
Harris,’ commission, to. give .him; and have thanked the Brigadier
for the- regard he has: paid/to our; recommendation. ... It is one;
of the greatest comforts have if. I were to leave, the regiment,
that I,haye got that charitable good office carried through.
You .will, excuse, me. not enlarging in this, letter, being fatigued
all yesterday, having no sleeplast night, nor this day,. nor. will
not till night. The.-Lord’s peace and blessing rest with you. J. B.
Madam Blackader, chez Mons. Col. Cunningham,
Commandant a Courtray.
September. .1. I was. on command yesterday,; and came off this
morning.> Every thing went on. smoothly? The Lord makes all I do to
prosper well., The-town is capitulating this night. Blessed he God
who. countenances, and gives success to. all; our undertakings.
September 4. I went in to see the town- which we have just taken..
It. is. nothing but a heap of rubbish; so ruined. Mankind , are made
the scourges of the earth, to punish each other, for their sins.
While the army was lying at Bouchain, , Colonel Blackader was
negotiating with the General respecting the disposal, of,, liisj
commission. As .nothing remarkable occurs during, this period of,
inactivity, we shall transcribe two. or. three, of. his letters: for
this month, which contain more particulars than the Diary.
Bouchain, September 2.
You will probably have heard before this reaches you, that this town
has at last fallen into our hands. They began to capitulate
yesterday about two o’clock. They are to be prisoners of war; which
still seems to throw the' greater discredit upon Marshal Villars, to
see a garrison taken prisoners in his sight, and that he could not
relieve them. We have reason to bless God it is so well over, for
our army has been in very critical circumstances, has had many posts
to defend^ and many accidents to fear. But the goodness of God has
brought us well and honourably through, and, to him be the praise,
.where it is originally due. It is thought we may lie here eight or
ten days till we repair the works, and put the town in some posture
of defence. What we shall do after that, time only can discover.
September 3. The garrison marched out this forenoon. The soldiers go
to the French army, for we were in debt to them about 1500 men; but
the officers are prisoners till they be relieved.—I am sorry that
you are complaining. Take care of yourself. Be not anxious or
melancholy, for you have no reason. God deals bountifully and kindly
with us, and grants us the same blessings that he did to Jabez: He
keeps u3 from all evil that it may not grieve us, and what would we
have more? Should we complain that our enjoyments are out of our
sight, and lying at the mercy of Providence? No; we should rather
rejoice that there is an occasion of exercising faith and
dependence, and a larger field of experiences of God’s faithfulness
in fulfilling his promises to us. We have need of all these things.
If we look into our own hearts we shall find it so. We hear that
Lord Albemarle is gone down to the Hague to advise about the further
operations of the campaign.
The Lord’s presence and blessing rest with you. I am thine. . J. B.
Madam Blackader, chez Mons. Col. Cunningham
Commandant a Courtray.
Bonchain, September 8. ~ There is no news since my last. We are busy
about this town; and would as gladly have it up now, as before to
throw it down. I believe we shall yet lie here ten days. We are at
an utter uncertainty still about our future operations. Some are
wagering we shall make another siege, others that we shall not; and
every body wishes the last may gain. I see none so public-spirited
in the army as to wish for another siege.
I am very well pleased with your scheme sent in your last letter,
for the rest of the campaign, to go and lie where the most and best
forage is. It is really very naturally expressed, and one can see,
from your style, that you profit by the conversation of men of
business and Commandants of frontier places. But if we should take
your advice, to go and lie where there is best forage, what if that
should prove to be about Ypres, and the neighbourhood of the poor
Cas-tellany of Courtray; then, I am afraid, some of your family
would wish us back again at Cambray or Valenciennes. But without
jesting, there is such a talk that our army, if we do no more, may
come to lie thereabout to- consume the forage about Ypres : so you
had best advertise the boors to bring their corn to that-town ; it
will be an act of charity done to the poort boors, and the Governor
will be no loser.
I shall also consider of your other' scheme, Which seems' to' be
pretty well laid, except that of Running over in a dogger, which I
do not like. I know1 you mean only of taking that occasion of going
to Ghent. I can give no resolution on that head till we see farther
about us. I am ready to determine whatever way duty calls, which I
think is a better temper than to be bent upon any thing. In such, a
case Lgene-fally find there is a snare. I desire to be seriously
concerned to know what is duty, and beg .grace to follow it when
discovered; and I hope the Lord will direct-by his spirit, and cause
us to walk in alright way wherein" we shall not stumble, Jerem.
xxxi.9, and be as a voice behind us, saying, To-morrow is Ordered
tofbe kept a day of thanksgiving for the taking of Bouchain. It is
to be Wished that repentance and reformation were joined with
itrmore than we see. I am thine. J. B.
TVladamBlackader, chez Mons. Col. Cunningham
Commandant a Courtray.
I am very glad to find your thoughts so just . and moderate on the
subject of my last. It is what i expected from one who is so
reasonable, and so resigned to the will of God. It is a mercy that
both of us are so easy upon that head, for this is a frame of mind I
greatly desire, and for which I have often prayed.—I can say nothing
yet about my obtaining leave to go to Scotland, the Brigadier
himself being yet undetermined about his own going. Meantime, let us
put all our concerns into His hands, who taketh care of us, and
knows best what is good for us.
I have just received yours, and your father’s letters. I own I have
not foresight enough to foresee or answer all the difficulties that
can be proposed in the affair; and I believe it would he easy to
find flaws and failures in all human . securities and
determinations; because such is tlie nature of human affairs, that
they are not capable of an infallible security. All we can do is, to
act according to the best of our judgment. When things come to an'
anxious perplexity, that they must be managed by a cunning
dexterity, they are then above my reach and calibre. Every one has
their proper talents; artifice is not mine. I see no better
foundation to put it on than this: At such a day as I give, you are
to pay me such a sum of money, and then you are to be Lieutenant
Colonel; if you fail in payment, then I have my post, aifd yon have
your money. But I will riot break my heart about these things. The
Lord direct and guide by his Spirit. In am thine. J. B.
Madam Blackader, chez Mons. Col. Cunningham.
Commandant a Courtray
The person with whom
the Colonel was bn terms regarding the disposal of his commission,
was Lord Forrester. But the Brigadier having signified that a
fellow-officer would be more acceptable to him than, a stranger, the
Major of his own regiment was advised to become the purchaser. The
sum, however, which he was able to advance, £2000 sterling, not
being thought adequate to the value of the commission, this project
was laid aside, and the former negotiation continued.
Saturday, September 29.
This proposal of the Major’s that I told you of is now over; for
upon second thoughts he does not find it convenient for him. It was
also the Brigadier’s advice to him not to lay out the small stock he
had that way, for he thought it too great a risk for a man that has
a family. So the affair is gone into its former train again, and my
lord and I have very nearly agreed. I put it upon this foot. I am to
have £2600 sterling, for it, with a draw-back of a shilling per
pound; if free of this, then £2500. I give him till the 20th of
March to pay the money; failing which, or if proper security is not
given, the bargain is dissolved. I make £1600 to be paid in London,
and the rest in Edinburgh. So let it take what course Providence
pleases to give it.
My lord has a mind to go away, if he get leave, in three or four
days; and I intend also to ask leave; but I know Lord Orkney is very
nice in granting it. If I come, I think of bringing the chaise.
Tournay is now the ordinary road. The Brigadier told me yesterday
that both General Murray and Colonel Cunningham had intelligence
from Ypres, that the French may probably have some design on the
Lys, so it is expected some troops may march that way.. I know not
what to do with Andrew, (his servant,) I would gladly do something
for him, now he is growing old. I propose getting him into Chelsea,
as a sergeant. He inclines to stay in my service, and to dispose of
the other which, he says, will give £30 to £40. I am just going on
command, which, I hope, will be short, as it is but the piquet I
came off in the morning. I am thine. . . J. B.
Madam Blackader, cbez Mons. Col. Cunningham
Commandant a Courtray.
The Colonel readily obtained leave of absence, and took his
departure; uncertain whether his arrangements with Lord Forrester
might not miscarry, and call him hack to the regiment next campaign.
His apprehensions, however, were never destined to berealized, for
the commission was disposed of, and the stipulations punctually
fulfilled at the appointed time. Before quitting Bouchain, he
addressed a petition to the Commander-in-chief, soliciting
permission to retire from the service, which was granted. The
following is a copy of the petition :—
To His Grace the Duke of Marlborough, The Petition of
Lieutenant-Colonel Blackader, &c.
That I have served in this regiment since the late happy Revolution,
and have been several times wounded in the service, particularly at
the battle of Blenheim, and at the siege of Lisle.
My Lord, If my natural strength and vigour were' any way equal to
the zeal with which I have served these twenty-two years, the hopes
of seeing an end put to this long and troublesome war, by your
Grace’s wise and happy conduct,’ would still support me under all
its growing fatigues: But, my Lord, my grey hairs increasing fast
upon me do give me notice that it is time I should think of a
retreat. Also, the circumstances of my private affairs in North
Britain, do require my attendance there.
May it therefore please your Grace to allow me (by disposing of my
commission to a gentleman much better qualified for the service) to
retire out of the army, and turn my sword into a plough-share.
October 1. Yesterday having taken my resolution to depart, I went in
the afternoon to ask leave, and found all the Generals so easy and
accessible, that I met not with the smallest difficulty. This
morning I left the army at Bouchain. The Lord only knows whether
ever I shall return to it again. I refer my life to his will and
disposal. If his presence go with me, I am glad to go; if it be his
pleasure I should return, I am also satisfied. I was melancholy in
the morning at parting with some of my kind friends, and the corps I
have lived in these twenty-two years. But through the day I had a
serene, thankful mind, while riding alone in my chaise. I applied
that saying of Jacob’s, Gen. xxxii. 10. So may I say, I am less than
the least of all his mercies, for with my Lieutenant’s Partisan, I
passed over to this country about twenty-one years ago, and now the
Lord sends me out of the army with abundance of reputation, and the
conveniences of life; for I was ashamed to hear of the kind and
obliging things which my Lord Duke spoke about me to the Generals
with him, after I was gone out I say not this to flatter myself, or
to be fuel to vanity; but to stir up thankfulness. O the goodness
and mercy with which God has followed me these twenty-two years
since I came to this employment, how wonderfully preserved,
protected, and honoured! in so much that there has scarce heen an
action in which I have been, but Providence did kindly make some
accidents fall out, which procured me greater reputation in the
army. Not unto me, but unto thee be the praise; for hadst thou
withheld thy grace I should have misbehaved on every occasion; and
had contempt and shame instead of honour. I have seen officers more
deserving in themselves, who have been toiling through fatigues and
dangers for twenty or thirty years, and who had gathered a good
stock of reputation,—I have seen them lose it all in one day, or in
an hour. And it would have been so with me, if the Lord had left me;
but he has always furnished me very liberally. I praise him who
enabled me to live in such an army, suitable to the profession of
religion, though, I confess, with much weakness, and many failings
on my part. This is a great and wonderful mercy, and it is also
remembered in the army, I hope, to the honour of God and the credit
I came safe to Tournay at night. I have, not had more serenity of
mind and thankfulness than I had all this day. I take this for a
good omen that the presence of the Lord shall go with me. I spent
the next day there quietly, meditating on the goodness of God to me.
Thou hast been my hiding-place, my shield, my glory, the uplifter of
October 3. Travelling to Courtray, where I arrived safe. I bless God
for giving us a happy meeting and bringing the campaign to a
October 9. We left Courtray and travelled all day to Ghent.
October 16. Left Ghent and came with an escort to Sas, where we
intend taking ship for Rotterdam. We were to have sailed early next
morning; but by an accident of a rope breaking, and the water
failing, we were stopped all day. This at first made us uneasy ; but
it turned out very fortunate; for there came a very great storm,
which might have put us in danger if we had gone. It frequently
happens so with us, that things which we are vexed at and reckon to
be crosses, are by the wise providence of God made to be our
October 18. Sailed this morning, and with a good wind came to
Rotterdam at twelve o’clock next day.
While at Rotterdam Mrs. Blackader was seized with a violent fever,
in which she was dangerously ill, and confined for nearly a month.
In December she recovered so far as to enable them to prosecute
December 25. This day we left Rotterdam. Thy goodness and mercy, O
Lord, has followed us here; may thy presence be with us during this
December 28. This forenoon we embarked in the yachts that carry over
Prince Eugene and the Prussian Ambassador to London. We essayed to
get over the shallows and out of the Maese, but could not, and cast
anchor and lay there all night. Next day we got over, and in the
evening stood out to sea; but not finding the Man of War that was to
convoy us, we were obliged to come back and anchor before Helvoet,
where we lay tossing all night.
December 30. In the afternoon our convoy came out: we weighed anchor
and prosecuted our voyage till midnight with a good wind. But the
wind then turning contrary, we were obliged to change our course
more northerly towards Yarmouth.
December 31. In the afternoon we came to anchor between Yarmouth and
Harwich. There we were tossed for another night, and next morning we
wrought up to Harwich and landed.
January 2. We had a pleasant voyage up the river to Ipswich, and in
two days arrived safe in London. > Now that thou has brought us to
Britain again, O Lord, let us have thy presence and blessing here as
we have had abroad.
The Colonel continued in London until the 23d of March, to await the
final conclusion of his transaction with Lord Forrester. This matter
was conducted amicably, and without further interruption, and
terminated to the entire satisfaction of both parties. “We have now
finished our bargain about my post, according to our previous
appointment, and having made my demission, I now look upon myself as
out of the army. I remark the kind dealing of Providence with me;
for the 25th, two days hence, is the day on which, by Act of
Parliament, I would have lost my post if I had gone to a
Presbyterian meeting. Now by the goodness of God I am delivered out
of this snare, for this law does not touch me, having no post. I
knew not this, nor did I suspect it last summer when I entered into
the agreement. But God who leads the blind by the way they know not,
was leading me by the hand and taking me out of the army in the best
and fittest time. I desire to adore and admire the mercy and
goodness of God, to me in his providence, and to trust in him
cheerfully in the time to come. Make thy way plain to me, that I who
am a way-faring man, and a fool may not err therein.” The remainder
of the continental war presented nothing memorable. Marlborough
being disposted, the command was bestowed on the Duke of Ormond; but
as negotiations for peace had been set on foot, he had secret orders
to refrain from offensive hostilities. This prevented him from
co-operating with Prince Eugene, who was resolved to press the war
with vigour; and in consequence, the French gained some advantages
and recovered several of the towns they had lost. The whole campaign
was, on the part of England, a studied artifice to deceive the
Allies. But it was destined to be the last, for the conference which
had been opened at Utrecht, in the beginning of the year, terminated
in a treaty of peace,, which was concluded and signed April 11,