Siege of Bouchain (1712)

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Siege of Bouchain (1712)
Part of the War of the Spanish Succession
Lille PdBA - plan relief Bouchain.JPG
Plan-relief of the Bouchain fort.
Date1 October – 19 October 1712
(2 weeks and 4 days)
Location Bouchain, France
Result French victory
Royal Standard of the King of France.svg  France Banner of the Holy Roman Emperor (after 1400).svg  Holy Roman Empire
Statenvlag.svg  Dutch Republic
Commanders and leaders
Royal Standard of the King of France.svg Duc de Villars Banner of the Holy Roman Emperor (after 1400).svg Major General Grovenstein
40 artillery pieces
23 guns
2 mortars
2 swivel guns
Casualties and losses
400 killed and wounded 2,000 killed or captured

The Siege of Bouchain (1 October – 19 October 1712), was a siege of the War of the Spanish Succession, and a victory for the French troops of the Duc de Villars. A French army of 20,000 men besieged and captured the Allied-controlled fortifications after an 18-day siege, with the 2,000-strong Dutch-Imperial garrison under Major-General Grovenstein capitulating on 19 October.

Siege military blockade of a city or fortress

A siege is a military blockade of a city, or fortress, with the intent of conquering by attrition, or a well-prepared assault. This derives from Latin: sedere, lit. 'to sit'. Siege warfare is a form of constant, low-intensity conflict characterized by one party holding a strong, static, defensive position. Consequently, an opportunity for negotiation between combatants is not uncommon, as proximity and fluctuating advantage can encourage diplomacy. The art of conducting and resisting sieges is called siege warfare, siegecraft, or poliorcetics.

War of the Spanish Succession major European conflict (1700–1714) after the death of Charles II

The War of the Spanish Succession (1701–1714) was a European conflict of the early 18th century, triggered by the death of the childless Charles II of Spain in November 1700. His closest heirs were members of the Austrian Habsburg and French Bourbon families; acquisition of an undivided Spanish Empire by either threatened the European balance of power.

Dutch Republic republic in Europe existing from 1581 to 1795

The Dutch Republic or United Provinces was a republic that existed from the formal creation of a confederacy in 1581 by several Dutch provinces until the Batavian Revolution in 1795. It was the predecessor state of the modern Netherlands and the first nation state of the Dutch people.



Having taken advantage of the overstretched Allied lines of communications by crushing a Dutch-Imperial detachment at Denain in July 1712, Villars' army captured the forts of Marchiennes, Douai and Le Quesnoy over the next three months. Displaying great energy, Villars' advance guard besieged Bouchain on 1 October even before the French siege of Le Quesnoy was complete on 4 October. [1] Villars and Louis XIV decided to conduct a siege instead of a blockade, to spare their troops the discomfort and because cutting off the water-logged town would be too difficult. [2] Villars wrote

Battle of Denain battle

The Battle of Denain was fought on 24 July 1712, as part of the War of the Spanish Succession. It resulted in a French victory under Marshal Villars against Dutch and Austrian forces under Prince Eugene of Savoy.

Bouchain Commune in Hauts-de-France, France

Bouchain is a commune in the Nord department in northern France.

Le Quesnoy Commune in Hauts-de-France, France

Le Quesnoy is a commune and small town in the east of the Nord department of northern France; accordingly its historic province is French Hainaut. It had a keynote industry in shoemaking before the late 1940s, followed by a chemical factory and dairy, giving way to its weekly market, tourism, local commuting to elsewhere such as Valenciennes and local shops.

I am pressing vigorously to open the trenches...two days saved will be of great benefit when the rains arrive. [3]


French provincial intendants provided the French army with siege material and peasant workers. [1] The Allied garrison had 23 guns, 2 mortars and 2 swivel guns, while the French besiegers had 40 artillery pieces. [4] The French approach on the left was slowed by Allied countermines that forced the French to sap the counterscarp. [5] Eight grenadier companies stormed and captured the covered way on the right at the cost of 18 killed and 100 wounded. [5] Thanks to the protection provided by sapping, the French troops on the left lost only 12–15 men while making their attack on the covered way. [5] Villars was aware of the heavy casualties caused by assaults only lightly supported by artillery fire and without preparatory sapping, but judged the increased speed worth it against the protestations of his engineers. [6] The French also made use of a feint attack to distract the garrison and constructed only two trench parallels instead of Vauban's recommended three. [7]

Peasant member of a traditional class of farmers

A peasant is a pre-industrial agricultural laborer or farmer, especially one living in the Middle Ages under feudalism and paying rent, tax, fees, or services to a landlord. In Europe, peasants were divided into three classes according to their personal status: slave, serf, and free tenant. Peasants either hold title to land in fee simple, or hold land by any of several forms of land tenure, among them socage, quit-rent, leasehold, and copyhold.

Cannon class of artillery which fires at a low or flat trajectory

A cannon is a type of gun classified as artillery that launches a projectile using propellant. In the past, gunpowder was the primary propellant before the invention of smokeless powder in the 19th century. Cannon vary in caliber, range, mobility, rate of fire, angle of fire, and firepower; different forms of cannon combine and balance these attributes in varying degrees, depending on their intended use on the battlefield. The word cannon is derived from several languages, in which the original definition can usually be translated as tube, cane, or reed. In the modern era, the term cannon has fallen into decline, replaced by guns or artillery if not a more specific term such as mortar or howitzer, except for high calibre automatic weapons firing bigger rounds than machine guns, called autocannons.


Villars' victory nullified the Duke of Marlborough's conquest of Bouchain a year earlier and concluded the Anglo-Dutch portion of the war in the Treaty of Utrecht on terms that kept the fortified zone constructed by Vauban in northern France under French control.

John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough English soldier and statesman

General John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough, 1st Prince of Mindelheim, 1st Count of Nellenburg, Prince of the Holy Roman Empire, was an English soldier and statesman whose career spanned the reigns of five monarchs. From a gentry family, he served first as a page at the court of the House of Stuart under James, Duke of York, through the 1670s and early 1680s, earning military and political advancement through his courage and diplomatic skill.


The French lost 400 killed and wounded (2% of their force). [8] The Allied garrison was taken prisoner. [8]


  1. 1 2 Ostwald 2006, p. 190.
  2. Ostwald 2006, p. 225.
  3. Ostwald 2006, p. 240.
  4. Ostwald 2006, p. 368.
  5. 1 2 3 Ostwald 2006, p. 249.
  6. Ostwald 2006, p. 250.
  7. Ostwald 2006, p. 256.
  8. 1 2 Bodart 1908, p. 169.

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