Saturday, 18 February 2017

Battle of Wijnendale 1708 - Beneath the Lilly Banners

Chas took us back in time to his youth in Queen Anne's army, running a recreation of the battle of
Wijnendale, to the excellent "Beneath the Lily Banners - 2nd Edition" rules.

League of Augsburg - Beneath the Lilly Banners

In 1708 Marlborough had the city of Lille under siege. He relied on supplies being brought up from the port of Ostend to his siege lines by cart.

A convoy of seven-hundred wagons was en-route with a strong guard of 7500 men, when the screen of dragoons spotted a French army over 20,000 strong marching across open country towards the road. The one hundred and fifty British dragoons aggressively harassed the French, forcing them to deploy. This allowed the convoy guard to form up in three lines between two large woods, in the open fields flanking the road. More infantry was deployed in the woods on either side of the Allied line. The scene was set for the start of our scenario, with the French coming on in force towards the Allied lines, which stood between them and the vital convoy.

Chas and Steve M took the French (boo !), whilst myself and "Lucky" Andy commanded the Allied contingent.

The French gun line fired a volley, before the infantry masked their fire. The first casualties fell on
some luckless Dutch infantry. The French infantry stepped forward, leaving their cavalry on the flanks and rapidly fell to "first fire" from the steady allied ranks. Several French units retired, causing
discomfort and disorder to the successive lines behind them.The next French line re-ordered and
stepped up to take fire, but now the casualties were starting to mount in the Allied first line and the
French pressed on.

The French command looking very happy with their day

Both sides were now struggling to get fresh units into action, without ruining the discipline of their new troops. A melee was fought in the centre and both sides suffered badly, with several French units
routing or retiring. Meanwhile the Allied troops in the woods stared at their opposite numbers, with the Allies unwilling to leave cover and the French unwilling to step into the woods. The Allied right
exchanged fire with their opposite numbers, but on the left both sides sat out of effective range.

The convoy crawled slowly past the scene of carnage.

The second lines of infantry clashed and both sides took losses. Now an Allied unit was cut down and
one retired. Seeing a chance to force the issue, the British dragoons charged a reduced and shaken
French battalion. The French suffered, but stayed locked in combat. Now French horse joined the fray
and musketry rippled along the line. The dragoons broke, as fresh Allied infantry moved from the
woods towards the centre in an effort to support the third line.

Lines of French horse were now visible through the gaps in their infantry line. The Allied third line of foot stood ready, as they eyed the fresh horse and a fresh Allied battalion from the woods fell into line.

There we called it a day. An honourable draw and a very close fought game. The main problem suffered on both sides was that the close terrain made getting shaken troops out of line and fresh ones in, was no easy matter.

Many thanks to Chas for making the refight a balanced contest and to all involved for playing in a
"gentlemanly" style. I let the side down with my dice rolls, but Andy more than made up for it. He
threw a bucket full of sixes at every asking. Last I saw Steve was still inspecting the dice he was

As a footnote, General Wade's Allied force suffered 900 casualties and inflicted 4 or 5,000 on the
French, who quit the field. For his efforts, Wade received the thanks of parliament and the queen.
Some years later he was set aside from command for "being a Scotsman". No one said life is fair.



  1. As I said on TWS an excellent post, beautiful figures. Many thanks for such an 18th century visual treat.

  2. Hello,
    I’am a veterinary surgeon in wijnendale where this battle took place. Most residents of my village never heard of the battle of wijnendale, mostly because the first and second World war left greater scars (battle of passendale, the exhausting war in the trenches near Diksmuide,…).I read it on the internet that the battle is more known in England than here and its true .But i must admit that i am obsessed by the battle of wijnendale since recently i discovered a new hobby : metal detection. Very little is found until today in the sand of wijnendale concerning this battle, just because there was little interest untill now and our little village is more and more covered with houses. I found the maps of the battle on the internet and i am still puzzling out where exactly most of the action took place. Although my profession gives me not plenty of time to search, i hope to find some objects. The sandy soil is not a very good soil to left traces of it but objects of for instance cupper should still survive. Musket bullets of lead also. But very difficult to make the difference between shrapnel and a bullet from a gun used in the battle of wijnendale. Finding objects of the first world war is not a problem here. The only two objects that eventually can be linked to the battle of wijnendale that i found are a horse shoe (with a special design) and a cupper embleme. I searched for the emblemes and uniforms used by the allies and the french in the battle of wijnendale but i am a little bit confused about it. Maybe you can help and give your opinion when i can post a picture of it. I would be very greatfull ! THANKS IN ADVANCE !
    Erwin Louagie, wijnendalestraat 23, Torhout

    1. Hi Erwin,
      Thank you for your very interesting post. The Duke of Marlborough alongside the Duke of Wellington are perhaps the two greatest British Generals and thus there is more interest in their campaigns and battles in the UK than many other periods, and certainly in the horse and musket era.
      I would imagine Belgium and the Netherlands probably have more battle sites crammed into the square miles those two countries occupy than almost any other part of Europe so perhaps given the centuries of warfare conducted there that it is not surprising that the locals are a bit uninterested. It is great to hear some folks are interested in the history of their local area.
      It would be great to see a picture of your find and it might be associated with a British regiment of the time.
      Thanks for your comment

  3. Jones,
    if i am right allies consisted of English, prussian, hannovarian, and duth regiments, so if this embleme has to do with this battle, a knowledge of there uniforms and emblems is essential.

    1. Hi Erwin, if you care to send your pictures to our club secretary's email link, top right on the blog page, I will look at getting them posted here on the club blog referring to this game post and see if others can help contribute to identifying your finds.