Today marks the 232nd anniversary of the Battle of Roucoux. I shall mark it by starting work on my Dutch infantry.
By way of commemoration, here's something about the preeminent hero on the Allied side, General John, Earl Ligonier, the energetic commander of the British cavalry. He seems to have had the unenviable role of being left to pull what remained of the charred chestnuts out of the fires started by the unfortunate Duke of Cumberland.
John Ligonier, second son of Monseuquet, a gentleman of a noble Huguenot family, was born in France in the year 1687. He received his education in England; and, having a strong predilection for a military life acted, when only fifteen years of age, as a volunteer, at the storming of Liege, on which occasion, he was one of the two first who mounted the breach: his companion, a volunteer, of the noble family of Wentworth, was killed by his side.
In 1703, having purchased the command of a company in Lord North’s regiment, he fought at the battles of Schellenburgh (sic) and Blenheim; in the latter of which, every captain in the regiment was slain except himself. In 1706, he obtained the rank of major of brigade, for his daring exploits at the siege of Menin. At Ramillies, Oudenarde and Wynendale, he gained additional laurels; and at Malplaquet, twenty-two shots went through his clothes without wounding him. In 1719, he assisted, as colonel and adjutant-general, at the attack made by Lord Cobham on Vigo; and, after the capture of Ponte Vedra, reduced Fort Marin, at the head of only a hundred grenadiers, although it contained twenty pieces of cannon, and a garrison of two-hundred men.
During the war which commenced in 1739, Ligonier repeatedly distinguished himself. After the battle of Dettingen, in which his regiment had severely suffered he received the honour of knighthood, under the royal standard. At Fontenoy, where he commanded the infantry, he reluctantly complied with the Duke of Cumberland’s orders to retreat, and before he left the field, sent to the enemy’s commander, Marshal Saxe, requesting that the dead might be treated with honour, and the wounded with humanity. In 1746, he was appointed to the chief command of the forces in Flanders.
At Roucoux, after sustaining an impetuous onset, he effected so masterly a retreat as to excite the admiration of his opponent. At the battle of Laffeldt in 1747, he rescued the allied army from destruction, and enabled it to withdraw in good order, by charging at the whole line of French cavalry at the head of the British Dragoons.
His horse having been killed, he fell into the enemy’s hands; but his parole was immediately accepted and Marshal Saxe observed, on introducing him to the French king, “Sir, I present to your majesty a man, who by one glorious action, has disconcerted all my projects”. The monarch, who had witnessed the action from an eminence, warmly applauded the gallantry of Lignier, who was soon after exchanged, and resumed his command.
In 1748, though still in Flanders, without having made any application to the electors he became Member of Parliament for Bath. During the same year he was appointed lieutenant-governor of the island of Guernsey; and in 1752, governor of Plymouth. In 1757, he became an Irish peer by the title of Viscount Ligonier of Enniskellen; in 1763, an English baron; and three years afterwards, an English earl.
At the time of his decease, which occurred on the 28th of April, 1770, he was a field-marshal of the royal forces, a privy counsellor, colonel of the first regiment of the foot-guards, K.C.B and F.R.S. Soon after his death, a monument was erected in Westminster abbey, recording the various actions in which he had taken part.
Lord Ligonier acquired renown throughout Europe for the intrepidity which he displayed against his own countrymen. His abilities, as general, were quite equal to his courage. In the midst of difficulties he was never without resources; and his talents were always most conspicuous when exerted to avoid an impending disaster, or to alleviate the consequences of a defeat.
In private life, as in his public career, he frequently carried his point by some peculiar expedient. A military visitor from whose troublesome presence it was exceedingly difficult, by any of the usual hints, to obtain relief, Ligonier, on one occasion, dismissed in a moment, by beginning, with his fingers, to beat a retreat on the wainscot.
The Georgian Era