The Battle of Lauffeldt 1747
War: War of the Austrian Succession or King George’s War.
Date: 2nd July 1747
Place: In the ground to the West of Maestricht between the Meuse and the Demer rivers in the Netherlands.
Combatants: French against British, Hanoverians, Austrians and Dutch.
Generals: Marshall Saxe (French) and the Duke of Cumberland.
Size of the armies: 80,000 French. 60,000 Allied troops in 110 battalions of foot, 160 squadrons of cavalry and 220 guns.
Winner: the French
British Regiments: Lauffeldt is not a battle honour for British Regiments. The British regiments present at the battle were: the Royal Scots Greys (2nd), 4th, 6th, 7th and the Duke of Cumberland’s dragoons; 1st and 3rd Foot Guards, Howard’s Old Buffs (3rd), Barrel’s (4th), 13th, Howard’s (19th), Campbell’s Royal Scots Fusiliers (21st), Royal Welch Fusiliers (23rd), Sempill’s (25th), 32nd, 33rd, 36th, 37th and Conway’s (48th) Foot.
The Duke of Cumberland planned to attack a detached French army under the Prince of Clermont. Saxe marched fifty miles in two days and took up the ground Cumberland had intended to occupy himself. General Ligonier opposed the advanced force of French cavalry with his cavalry regiments. The Allied infantry arrived on the battlefield.
The position was marked by a line of villages. There was a considerable dispute between Ligonier and Cumberland as to the use to be made of these villages. Ligonier urged that they should be fortified and held by the infantry while Cumberland directed that the line of foot should be positioned behind them in open country.
As a result the regiments moved in and out of the villages as the intention changed. The villages of Lauffeldt and Vlytingen lay in the centre of the line. The French attacked capturing two villages on the Allied left and then launched an attack on Lauffeldt and Vlytingen. They were repulsed.
Cumberland requested assistance from the Austrians posted on the right of the army but they declined to move. Saxe renewed his attacks on the villages and slowly drove the English foot out. Cumberland’s counter attack began to drive the French back until further reinforcements enabled the French to secure their hold.
A Dutch attack from the right was repelled by French cavalry. Saxe then gathered the French army for an attack along the line. The English infantry were threatened with annihilation. At this point Ligonier attacked with the Scots Greys (2nd), the Irish (6th) and Cumberland’s dragoons. These three regiments suffered substantial casualties and Ligonier was captured but the attack enabled the Pragmatic Army to draw off the field.
The Battle of Laufeldt
Click here or on image to buy a Print
The British lost 2,000 men. The Scots Greys lost 160 men, the 6th Dragoons lost 120 men and Cumberland’s dragoons lost 100. The Allies lost 6,000 and the French lost 10,000. The British regiments captured nine French infantry colours and five French cavalry standards.
The 1747 campaign ended with the French capturing more cities and towns and in 1748 the War was brought to a close by the Treaty of Aix La Chapelle. The French abandoned their conquests in the low countries in exchange for the return of Louisburg in Nova Scotia, captured by New England colonial troops.
Regimental anecdotes and traditions:
It is considered that Lauffeldt showed the Duke of Cumberland in his true colours as a general. He failed to grasp that the line of villages once fortified would have provided a powerful position. At the crisis of the battle he lost his nerve and ordered the infantry withdrawal that Ligonier attempted to retrieve with his cavalry attack. It is said that Cumberland was bitterly jealous of Ligonier’s courage and decisiveness in the battle. He is said to have resented the casualties inflicted on his regiment of dragoons in Ligonier’s charge.
- Field Marshall Lord Ligonier by Rex Whitworth
- Fortescue’s History of the British Army Volume 1 Part II