Ramillies (1706)

The Battle of Ramillies was fought under the command of the Duke of Marlbourgh during the War of the Spanish Succession.

He led his Army of 60.000 British, Dutch and Danish Troops against Villeroy's slightly larger army of French, Spanish and Bavarians. The two armies met on the great plain of Flanders, the plain of Waterloo and Mons, and the focus of their meeting was Ramillies. It was on Whit Sunday, May 23rd 1706, that Marlbourgh's Army marched to battle through a dark night of fog and rain. At ten in the morning, when they had been marching for six hours, the mist cleared away, and the advance party halted on rising ground and saw spread before them the whole of Villeroy's army in battle order.

Marlbourgh began with a feint, advancing the British foot on his extreme right against the French left wing. The feint was effective, for Villeroy drew off many units from other parts of his line to reinforce his left. The British foot were then withdrawn carefully behind some high ground, and returned to the centre, out of sight of the enemy. The first phase of the battle was fought by the cavalry, charging and counter-charging. During this Marlbourgh was nearly captured. Whist this was taking place the Infantry fought a long battle at Ramillees itself.

It was a strongly defended position on high ground, and the access was steep and broken, except on one side, where a long, gradual slope gave the defenders a perfect field of fire. The Infantry fought their way up this slope in spite of heavy casualties, fought their way into Ramillies itself, and finally, after furious hand-to-hand fighting, drove the French out. After this action the Infantry took part in the pursuit, they marched far into the night, slept for an hour or two by their arms, and at three in the morning they were on the move again., they overtook broken enemy units and stragglers extracting the last ounce from their victory. This became the Regiments first Battle honour.