The Storming of the Schellenberg
July 2, 1704

Re-fight in 25mm June 15, 2002


Click for larger ImageThe Background 

This is a 25mm "Age-of-Reason" re-fight of the Storming of the Schellenberg (select the image for a larger view)

It is early in the War of the Spanish Succession. The allies fear a union of the French Army of the Rhine and the Bavarian Army of the Elector Maximillian Emanuel. Austria is fighting in Northern Italy which has left Vienna virtually defenseless. Fearing that Austria will be attacked by the Franco Bavarians,  John Churchill Duke of Marlborough marches his polyglot army through Europe to Bavarian in a move that will be regarded as one history's greatest military maneuvers.

After meeting with Prince Eugene and Prince Louis of Baden, Marlborough seeks to cross the Danube for further operations in Bavaria. The obvious crossing point is Donauworth, which is anticipated and defended by the Bavarians.

The Ground

Donauworth is a fortress town situated on the north bank of the Danube. It is dominated to the east by a 500 ft hill, the Schellenberg, the top of which is flat and about 1/2 mile across. On the north end of the Schellenberg is a thick forest, the Boshberg, impenetrable to formed troops.

On the western slopes of the Schellenberg are the remains of Fort Augustus, dating back to Gustavus Adolphus' time. The old fortifications run east before tuning south to meet the Danube (off map to the left). This north east sector is in good repair, but to the west as far as the city walls, the fortifications are in ruins.

There is a section of dead ground on the northern slope of the hill.  The hill is steepest close to Boshberg. From Berg, the whole position can be observed.

The Deployment

The Franco Bavarian Army

June 30, 1704: Count Maffei has been sent with a small force and some guns to speed up the improvements being made to the defenses. The next day, Marlborough's intentions become clear and Marshal D'Arco is dispatched to Donauworth with 13,500 men.

D'Arco believes it will be two days before Marlborough will attack, so tasks his men with speeding up the repairs to the fortifications, which prior to his arrival have not been conducted with any haste.

In his rush to work on the fortification, D'Arco makes some errors of judgment. He has his troops working on the fortifications without their weapons. As the enemy arrives, he must send his troops back to the river to prepare themselves. He still believes that Marlborough will not attack until the next day and retires to Donauworth with his senior staff for lunch.

Hearing that the Bavarian outposts are falling back and have set fire to Berg, D'Arco rushes back to the Schellenberg. D'Arco deploys his troops, with the majority of his 21 battalions, 15 squadrons and 16 guns deployed between Fort Augustus and the Boshberg.

D'Arco orders  4 battalions to deploy between the fort and Donauworth's wall and orders a battalion, the Regiment Nettancourt to deploy outside of the fortifications in front of the fort.
 

The Allied Army of the Grand Alliance.

Marlborough approaches Donauworth from the north on July 1. Seeing a French camp being thrown up across the Danube, he realizes that once French reinforcements arrive, he will not be able to take the position. He is determined to attack the next day before the defensive positions can be finished.

To avoid flanking fire from the guns of Donauworth, Marlborough realizes he must attack the walls where they are strongest and most heavily defended.  He hand picks 130 men from each of 45 battalions and forms an assault column of 6000 men (divided into 8 battalions) with the First Foot Guards as the Forlorn Hope led by Lord Mordaunt. This is supported by 8 Battalions of Imperial Infantry with artillery to the right.

While the rest of his army forms up on the right, Marlborough prepares his attack.

 

ORDER OF BATTLE
Allied Army
THE LEFT WING: 
John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough - 48 Battalions & 62 Squadrons

The Advance Guard (A & B)
1st Line: Lt General Goor - 14 Bns
Fergusson's Bde [5 Bns]: 1st Guards, Orkney [2 bns], Ingoldsby, Meredith (English)
Beinheim's Bde [6 Bns]: Goor, Beinheim & Rechteren (Dutch); Hirzel & Sturler (Swiss/Dutch); & Heidebrecht (Ansbach)
Montfort's Bde [3 Bns]: Imperial Grenadiers (Austria); Erffa's Grenadiers (Franconia) & Monfort's Grenadiers (Swabia) - from the Right Wing.
Lt General Lumley - 17 Sqns
Wood's Bde [10 Sqns]: Wood [2], Wyndham [2], Schomberg [2], Cadogen [1] & Lumley [3] (English)
Ross's Bde [7 Sqns]: Erbprinz Dragoons [4] (Hesse-Kassel); Ross's [2] & Hay's Dragoons [1] (English)
Lt General Hompech - 20 Sqns
Schulenburg's Bde [8 Sqns]: Schulenburg Dragoons [4] (Hanover); Erbach [2] & Baldwin [2] (Dutch)
Auroch's Bde [6 Sqns]:  Schmettau Dragoons (Ansbach) & Leib zu Pferde [2] (Hesse-Kassel)
Noyelles's Bde [6 Sqns]: Noyelles [2], Voight [2] & Leib zu Pferde [2] (Hanover)
 

The Main Body: 
General Charles Churchill (C) 
Lt General Ingoldsby - 8 Bns (Left)
2nd Line: Wither's Bde [4 Bns]:  North & Gray, Derby, Fergusson & Marlborough (English)
3rd Line: Pallandt's Bde [4 Bns]:  Erbprinz Hesse-Kassel, Varenne & Wulffen (Prussia); Schwerin (Mecklenburg)
Lt General Herbeville - 8 Bns (Right)
2nd Line: Bernsdorf's Bde [4 Bns]: Bernsdorf, 1/Rantzau, Tozin, & 1/Gardes (Hanover)
3rd Line: De Luc's Bde [4 Bns]: Hulsen, De Breuil, de Luc & Tecklenburg (Hanover)
4th Line: Lt General Horn - 8 Bns
Seckendorff's Bde [4 Bns]: Leib Grenadiers, Hermann & Sternfels (Wurtemburg); Seckendorf 
    (Ansbach)
St Paul's Bde [4 Bns]:  St Paul (Hanover); Wartensleben, Stuckrath & Schopping (Hesse-Kassel)

The Reserve
Lt General Orkney - 13 Bns
Hamilton's Bde [5 Bns]: Churchill, Webb, Howe, Hamilton, & Rowe (English)
Wilken's Bde [4 Bns]: Leib, Prinz Wilhelm, Erbprinz & Grenadier (Hesse-Kassel)
Rantzau's Bde [4 Bns]: Gauvin, D'Herleville, 2/Gardes & 2/Rantzau (Hanover)
Lt General Bulow - 25 Sqns
Hesse-Homberg's Bde [7 Sqns]: Grieffendorf Dragoons [3] (Saxe-Gotha); Sachsen-Heilburg [2] (Dutch) & Bannier [2] (Hanover)
Erbach's Bde [7 Sqns]: Hardenberg Dragoons [3] (Saxe-Gotha); Erbach [2] (Dutch) & Spiegel [2] (Hesse-Kassel)
Villers' Bde [11 Sqns]: Bothmar Dragoons [4], Villars Dragoons [4] & Bulow Dragoons [3] (Hanover)

The Artillery (D) was commanded by Colonel Holcroft Blood and consisted of 36 guns & 4 howitzers (6-12pdrs, 10-9pdrs & 20-3pdrs), deployed facing the Schellenburg on the hill just south (on the map just above) of the village of Berg. 

THE RIGHT WING: 
Prince Louis of Baden - 24 Battalions & 90 Squadrons (E)

The Foot: General Thungen - 21 Bns
1st Line: Lt General, Graf von Frise - 10 Bns
Fuchs' Bde [6 Bns]: Baden [2] & Salm [2] (Austrian); Bibra & Fuchs (Wurzburg)
Bevern's Bde [4 Bns]: Tollet [2] (Austrian); Bevern & Bernsdorff (Brunswick)
2nd Line: Lt General, Graf von Furstenburg - 11 Bns
Wald's Bde [6 Bns]: Erff [2], Schebelin [2] & Wald [2] (Franconia)
Reisbach's Bde [5 Bns]: Torte (Franconia); Reisbach [2] & Roth [2] (Swabia)

The Horse: General, Count von Styrum - 90 Sqns
3rd Line: Lt General. Baron von Bibra - 22 Sqns
Prinz Alexandre's Bde [10 Sqns]: Styrum Dragoons [6] (Austrian) & Fechenbach Dragoons [4] (Wurzburg)
Cusani's Bde [12 Sqns]: Gronsfeld [6] & Hohenzollern [6] (Austrian)
4th Line: Prince von Wurtemburg - 22 Sqns
Mercy's Bde [12 Sqns]: Mercy [6] & Alt-Hanover [6] (Austrian)
Erff's Bde [10 Sqns]: Helmstatt Dragoons [4] (Wurttemburg) & Castell Dragoons [6] (Austrian)

The Reserve: Lt General. Count de la Tour - 46 Sqns & 3 Bns of Grenadiers (Detached)
Fugger's Bde [17 Sqns]: Xanthe [6] & Alt-Darmstadt [6] (Austrian); Aufsess Dragoons [5] (Franconia)
Bayreuth's Bde [15 Sqns]: Leutsch [2] (Saxe-Gotha); Oettingen Dragoons [4] & Erbprinz Wurtemburg [4] (Swabia); Bayreuth [5] (Franconia)
Bibra's Bde [14 Sqns]: Bibra [6] (Mainz); Cusani [6] (Austria) & Osten [2] (Holstein)
Montfort's Bde [3 Bns]: Imperial Grenadiers (Austria); Erffa's Grenadiers (Franconia) & Monfort's Grenadiers (Swabia) - to the Left Wing.

 

Franco Bavarian Army
FRANCO-BAVARIAN ORDER OF BATTLE

Officer Commanding: Count E D'Arco - 23 Battalions & 35 Squadrons

THE FOOT
Brigadier de Montandre's 'French' Brigade: 3 Bns (1)
1st Line: Bearn [2] / 2nd Line: Nivernais [1]
Major General Lutzelburg's 'Bavarian' Brigade: 6 Bns (2)
1st Line: Leib Grenadiers [1], Leib [1] & Lutzelburg [1]  / 2nd Line: Boismorel Grenadiers [1], Leib [1] & Lutzelburg [1]
Major General Maffei's 'Bavarian' Brigade: 8 Bns (3)
1st Line: Mercy [2], Maffei [1] Kurprinz [1] / 2nd Line: Mercy [1], Maffei [1] & Kurprinz [2]
Major General Lee's 'French' Brigade: 3 Bns (5)
1st Line: Nettancourt [1] & Toulouse [1] / 2nd Line: Nettancourt [1]
Donauworth Garrison: 3 Bns (7)
De Bordet's Bde: Toulouse [1] (French) & Croonders [2] (Bavarian Militia)

Artillery (4): 8 Guns posted in the Angle (in the center of the Franco-Bavarian Line) and 8 in Ft Augustus. These guns were all 6pdrs.

THE HORSE AND DRAGOONS
Monasterol's Dragoon Bde [9 Sqns]: Deployed in direct support of the Foot. (6)
Fontbeausard's French Dragoons [3], Monasterol's Bavarian Dragoons [2], Santini's Bavarian Dragoons [1] & Listenois's French Dragoons [3]
Lt General Torring-Seefeld - 26 Sqns (All Bavarian): Deployed behind the Schellenberg.
Weickel's Bde [12 Sqns]: Arco's Kuirassiers [6] & Weickel's Kuirassiers [6]
De Costa's Bde [14 Sqns]: Wolframsdorff's Kuirassiers [6], Costa's Kuirassiers [6] & Locatelli's Hussars [2]

Thanks to Iain Stanford for the OOB
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Eyewitness Account of the Storming of the Schellenberg 2nd July 1704 
by by Colonel Jean de la Colonie, one of the defenders.

The enemy's battery opened fire upon us and raked us through and through. They concentrated their fire on us, and with their first discharge carried off Count de la Bastide, the Lieutenant of my own company with whom at the moment I was speaking, and twelve grenadiers, who fell side by side in the ranks, so that my coat was covered with brains and blood. So accurate was the fire that each discharge of the cannon stretched some of my men on the ground.... Hardly had our men lined the little parapet when the enemy broke into the charge, and rushed at full speed, shouting at the tops of their voices, to throw themselves into our entrenchments.... 

The English infantry led this attack with the greatest intrepidity, right up to our parapet, but there they were opposed with a courage at least equal to their own. Rage, fury and desperation were manifested by both sides, with the more obstinacy as the assailants and assailed were perhaps the bravest soldiers in the world. The little parapet which separated the two forces became the scene of the bloodiest struggle that could be conceived.... It would be impossible to describe in words strong enough the details of the carnage that took place during this first attack, which lasted a good hour or more. We were all fighting hand to hand, hurling them back as they clutched at the parapet; men were slaying, or tearing at the muzzles of guns and the bayonets which pierced their entrails; crushing under their feet their own wounded comrades, and even gouging out their opponents' eyes with their nails, when the grip was so close that neither could make use of their weapons.... 

At last the enemy, after losing more than eight thousand men in this first onslaught, were obliged to relax their hold, and they fell back for shelter to the dip of the slope, where we could not harm them.... The ground around our parapet was covered with dead and dying, in heaps almost as high as our fascines, but our whole attention was fixed on the enemy and his movements; we noticed that the tops of his standards still showed at about the same place as that from which they had made their charge in the first instance, leaving little doubt but that they were reforming before returning to the assault. As soon as possible we set vigorously to work to render their approach more difficult for them than before, and by means of an increasing fire swept their line of advance with a torrent of bullets, accompanied by numberless grenades, of which we had several wagon loads in rear of our position. These, owing to the slope of the ground, fell right amongst the enemy's ranks, causing them great annoyance and doubtless added not a little to their hesitation in advancing the second time to the attack. They were so disheartened by the first attempt that their generals had the greatest difficulty in bringing them forward again, and indeed would never have succeeded in this... had they not dismounted and set an example by placing themselves at the head of the column, and leading them on foot. 

Their devotion cost them dear, for General Stirum and many other generals and officers were killed. They once more, then, advanced to the assault, but with nothing like the success of their first effort, for not only did they lack energy in their attack, but after being vigorously repulsed, were pursued by us at the point of the bayonet for more than eighty yards beyond our entrenchments.... 
They arrived within gunshot of our flank, about 7.30 in the evening, without our being at all aware of the possibility of such a thing, so occupied were we in defence of our own particular post.... 

But I noticed all at once an extraordinary movement on the part of our infantry, who were rising up and ceasing fire withal. I glanced around on all sides to see what had caused this behaviour, and then became aware of several lines of infantry in greyish white uniforms on our left flank.... I verily believed that reinforcements had arrived for us, and anybody else would have believed the same. No information whatever had reached us of the enemy's success, or even that such a thing was the least likely, so... I shouted to my men that they were Frenchmen, and friends, and they at once resumed their former position behind the parapet. 

Having, however, made a closer inspection, I discovered bunches of straw and leaves attached to their standards, badges the enemy are in the custom of wearing on the occasion of battle, and at that very moment was struck by a ball in the right lower jaw, which wounded and stupefied me to such an extent that I thought it was smashed. I probed my wound as quickly as possible with the tip of my finger, and finding the jaw itself entire, did not make much fuss about it; but the front of my jacket was so deluged with the blood which poured from it that several of our officers believed that I was dangerously hurt. I reassured them, however, and exhorted them to stand firmly with their men.... I at once, therefore, shouted as loudly as I could that no one was to quit the ranks, and then formed my men in column along the entrenchments facing the wood, fronting towards the opposite flank, which was the direction in which we should have to retire. Thus, whenever I wished to make a stand, I had but to turn my men about, and at any moment could resume the retirement instantaneously, which we thus carried out in good order. 

Jean de la Colonie. Chronicles of an Old Campaigner, 1692-1717. (London: 1904), pp. 182-192.