Saturday, October 11, 2008

Roucoux Day!

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, Earl Ligonier

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
(Author unrecorded)
London, 1833
p. 45


Steve-the-Wargamer said...

Brilliant.. what was it Napoleon always asked?? "Yes I know he's skilled, but is he lucky?" I suspect he would have like Ligonier...

Bluebear Jeff said...


Thank you for this brief bio.

-- Jeff

Anonymous said...


naturally i'll send you photos of Roucoux. If you are interested, I have photos of Laffeldt and Fontenoy( around the two monuments for the Irish Brigade) I also have photos of Maurice de Saxe's tomb in St. Thomas Church too. [ I am a big fan of the Comte] I'll have to learn how to post photos; I am a ludite. And In case you don't know it already, (????) has great panoramas of Laffeldt and Fontenoy.

Do you have any info on the OBs for Roucoux?

And your websight is just great. Very innovative and informing with a wonderful sense of humour. i now read it daily. All the best.


Robert said...

John, I'd really love to get some photos of Roucoux and of those monuments- perhaps you would let me post some here?

Orders of battle for Roucoux have been elusive, at least for me! I'm sure that the information is out there, but getting hold of it is proving to be challenging, especially with me being stuck here in East Asia. I can't seem to get hold of any of the old Courier magazines or old copies of the SYWA journal, which apparently have a lot of info.

I have been working on an Excel table, listing units that are known to have been part of the Pragmatic Army at one time or another, and the battles they are known to have been involved in. It is not complete, but once I get the British and German Auxiliary troops added, I will post it in the hope that others out there can correct and/or add to it.

Finally, thanks so much for your kind words- it encourages me to keep the blog going!

October 18, 2008 11:23 PM

Anonymous said...


i would be delighted if you would post the photos. i am not the world's worst photogapher, but i'm close to being the worst.

how do i send you the photos?

have you tried clash of arms "flint and steel?" perhaps more "chrome" than KoenigKreig, but the melee system is quite dynamic; leading to swirling cavalry duels and nail bitting.


Robert said...

That's great, John!

I'd love to post the pictures- if you could scan them as jpeg files, you can contact me at:

ookishiratori at yahoo dot ca

and I'll put them up. Any notes on the photos, where exactly they were taken and what direction, etc. would be most welcome.

Can't say I've ever heard of "Flint and Steel" before now, but I'll give them a look.

Anonymous said...

i'm back from Flanders. Rocourt is now engulfed by Liege. But I took some photos of the ground looking to what i suspect would have been the pragmatic army's view looking to the French Army.

The Irish Brigade monument at Fontenoy was covered up with protective plastic and the nearby pub "Les Irlandais" sadly did not serve guiness, but it had excellent belgian beer. so a toast to the comte de saxe and the irish brigade was made anyway. i took photos in vezon of the british army marker and a wonderful marker quoting Louis XV's remark to his son on the greater glory of peace. i also took some more photos the markers to the Regt. Normandie and the Irish Brigade at the local cemetary wall just outside fonteony, beside the beet sugar processing plant, where the is now a good dispaly plate showing diagrams of the phases of the battle. I can email those photos to you if you wish.

all the best


Robert said...

John, that would be great, and the photos of the regiment markers would be of interest to a lot of WAS enthusiasts I am sure.

I tend to have the attention span of a moth, and I've been working on an Italian front First World War project for the past while, so I haven't updated this blog for an age- it is high time I did so.

I still have your photos you sent me last time that need to be posted, so if you can send me the one you mentioned I'll add a Roucoux photo gallery to the site.

Koenig Krieg 3rd edition is due for publication soon, so I am sure I will be returning to the WAS "fold" sooner rather than later!