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The position of the enemy at the moment when Marlborough’s march to the Danube from the Netherlands was conceived.

Under Villeroy, who must be regarded as the chief of the French commanders of the moment, lay the principal army of Louis XIV., with the duty of defending the northern front and of watching the Lower Rhine.

It was this main force which was expected to have to meet the attack of Marlborough and the Dutch in the same field of operations as had seen the troops in English pay at work during the two preceding years. But Villeroy was, of course, free to detach troops southwards somewhat towards the Middle Rhine, or the valley of the Moselle, if, as later seemed likely, an attack should be made in that direction.

On the Upper Rhine, and in Alsace generally, lay Tallard with his corps. This marshal had captured certain crossing-places over the Rhine, but had all his munitions and the mass of his strength permanently on the left bank.

Finally, Marcin, with his French contingent, and Max-Emanuel, the Elector of Bavaria, with the Bavarian army, held the whole of the Upper Danube, from Ulm right down to and past the Austrian frontier.

Over against these forces of the French and their Bavarian allies we must set, first, the Dutch forces in the north, including the garrisons of the towns on the Meuse which Marlborough had conquered and occupied; and, in the same field, the forces in the pay of England (including the English contingents). These amounted in early 1704 to 50,000 men, which Marlborough was to command.

Next, upon the Middle Rhine, and watching Tallard in Alsace, was Prince Eugene, who had been summoned from Hungary by the Imperial government to defend this bulwark of Germany, but his army was small compared to the forces in the north.

Finally, the Margrave of Baden, Louis, with another separate army, was free to act at will in Upper Germany, to occupy posts in the Black Forest, or to retire eastward into the heart of Germany or towards the Danube as circumstances might dictate. This force was also small. It was supplemented by local militia raised to defend particular passes in the Black Forest, and these, again, were supported by the armed peasantry.

It is essential to a comprehension of the whole scheme to understand that before the march to the Danube the whole weight of the alliance against the French lay in the north, upon the frontier of Holland, the valley of the Meuse, and the Lower Rhine. The successes of Bavaria in the previous year had given the Bavarian army, with its French contingent, a firm grip upon the Upper Danube, and the possibility of marching upon Vienna itself when the campaign of 1704 should open.

The great march upon the Danube which Eugene had conceived, and which Marlborough was to execute so triumphantly, was a plan to withdraw the weight of the allied forces suddenly from the north to the south; to transfer the main weapon acting against France from the Netherlands to Bavaria itself; to do this so rapidly and with so little leakage of information to the enemy as would prevent his heading off the advance by a parallel and faster movement upon his part, or his strengthening his forces upon the Danube before Marlborough’s should reach that river.

Such was the scheme of the march to the Danube which we are now about to follow; but before undertaking a description of the great and successful enterprise, the reader must permit me a word of distinction between a strategic move and that tactical accident which we call a battle. In the absence of such a distinction, the campaign of Blenheim and the battle which gives it its name would be wholly misread.

A great battle, especially if it be of a decisive character, not only changes history, but has a dramatic quality about it which fixes the attention of mankind.

The general reader, therefore, tends to regard the general movements of a campaign as mere preliminaries to, or explanations of, the decisive action which may conclude it.

This is particularly the case with the readers attached to the victorious side. The French layman, in the days before universal service in France, wrote and read his history of 1805 as though the march of the Grand Army were deliberately intended to conclude with Austerlitz. The English reader and writer still tends to read and write of Marlborough’s march to the Danube as though it were aimed at the field of Blenheim.

This error or illusion is part of that general deception so common to historical study which has been well called “reading history backwards.” We know the event; to the actors in it the future was veiled. Our knowledge of what is to come colours and distorts our judgment of the motive and design of a general.

The march to the Danube was, like all strategic movements, a general plan animated by a general objective. It was not a particular thrust at a particular point, destined to achieve a highly particular result at that point.

Armies are moved with the object of imposing political changes upon an opponent. If that opponent accepts these changes, not necessarily after a pitched battle, but in any other fashion, the strategical object of the march is achieved.

Though the march conclude in a defeat, it may be strategically sound; though it conclude in a victory, it may be strategically unsound. Napoleon’s march into Russia in 1812 was strategically sound. Had Russia risked a great battle and lost it, the historical illusion of which I speak would treat the campaign as a designed preface to the battle. Had Russia risked such a battle and been successful, the historical illusion of which I speak would call the strategy of the advance faulty.

As we know, the advance failed partly through the weather, partly through the spirit of the Russian people, not through a general action. But in conception and in execution the strategy of Napoleon in that disastrous year was just as excellent as though the great march had terminated not in disaster but in success.

Similarly, the reputation justly earned by Marlborough when he brought his troops from the Rhine to the Danube must be kept distinct from his tactical successes in the field at the conclusion of the effort. He was to run a grave risk at Donauwoerth, he was to blunder badly in attacking the village of Blenheim, he was to be in grave peril even in the last phase of the battle, when Eugene just saved the centre with his cavalry.

Had chance, which is the major element in equal combats, foiled him at Donauwoerth or broken his attempt at Blenheim, the march to the Danube would still remain a great thing in history. Had Tallard refused battle on that day, as he certainly should have done, the march to the Danube would still deserve its great place in the military records of Europe.

When we have seized the fact that Marlborough’s great march was but a general strategic movement of which the action at Blenheim was the happy but accidental close, we must next remark that the advance to the Danube was the more meritorious, and gives the higher lustre to Marlborough’s fame as a general, from the fact that it was an attempt involving a great military hazard, and that yet that attempt had to be made in the face of political difficulties of peculiar severity.

In other words, Marlborough was handicapped in a fashion which lends his success a character peculiar to itself, and worthy of an especial place in history.

This handicap may be stated by a consideration of three points which cover its whole character.

The first of these points concerns the physical conditions of the move; the other two are peculiar to the political differences of the allies.

It was in the nature of the move that a high hazard was involved in it. The general had calculated, as a general always must, the psychology of his opponent. If he were wrong in his calculation, the advance on the Danube could but lead to disaster. It was for him to judge whether the French were so nervous about the centre of their position upon the Rhine as to make them cling to it to the last moment, and tend to believe that it was either along the Moselle or (when he had left that behind) in Alsace that he intended to attack. In other words, it was for him to make the French a little too late in changing their dispositions, a little too late in discovering what his real plan was, and therefore a little too late in massing larger reinforcements upon the Upper Danube, where he designed to be before them.

Marlborough guessed his opponent’s psychology rightly; the French marshals hesitated just too long, their necessity of communicating with Louis at Versailles further delayed them, and the great hazard which he risked was therefore risked with judgment. But a hazard it remained until almost the last days of its fruition. The march must be rapid; it involved a thousand details, each requiring his supervision and his exact calculation, his knowledge of what could be expected of his troops, and his survey of daily supply.

There was another element of hazard.

Arrived at his destination upon the plains of the Danube, Marlborough would be very far from any good base of supply.

The country lying in the triangle between the Upper Danube and the Middle Rhine, especially that part of it which is within striking distance of the Danube, is mountainous and ill provided with those large towns, that mobilisable wealth, and those stores of vehicles, munitions, food, and remounts which are the indispensable sustenance of an army.

The industry of modern Germany has largely transformed this area, but even to-day it is one in which good depots would be rare to find. Two hundred years ago, the tangle of hills was far more deserted and far worse provided.

By the time Marlborough should have effected his junction with his ally in the upper valley of the Danube only two bases of supply would be within any useful distance of the new and distant place to which he was transferring his great force.

The most important of these, his chief base, and his only principal store of munitions and every other requisite, was Nuremberg; and that town was a good week from the plains upon the bank of the Danube where he proposed to act. As an advanced base nearer to the river, he could only count upon the lesser town of Nordlingen.

Therefore, even if he should successfully reach the field of action which he proposed, cross the hills between the two river basins without loss or delay, and be ready to act as he hoped upon the banks of the Danube before the end of June, his stay could not be indefinitely prolonged there, and his every movement would be undertaken under the anxiety which must ever haunt a commander dependent on an insufficient or too distant base of supply. This anxiety, be it noted, would rapidly increase with every march he might have to take southward of the Danube, and with every day’s advance into Bavaria itself, if, as he hoped, the possibility of such an advance should crown his efforts.

We have seen that the great hazard which Marlborough risked made it necessary, as he advanced southward up the Rhine during the first half of his march, to keep Villeroy and Tallard doubtful as to whether his objective was the Moselle or, later, Alsace; and while they were still in suspense, abruptly to leave the valley of the Rhine and make for the crossing of the hills towards the Danube. So long as the French marshals remained uncertain of his intentions, they would not dare to detach any very large body of troops from the Rhine valley to the Elector’s aid: under the conditions of the time, the clever handling of movement and information might create a gap of a week at least between his first divergence from the Rhine and his enemy’s full appreciation that he was heading for the south-east.

He so concealed his information and so ordered his baffling movements as to achieve that end.

So much for the general hazard which would have applied to any commander undertaking such an advance.

But, as I have said, there were two other points peculiar to Marlborough’s political position.

The first was, that he was not wholly free to act, as, for instance, Cæsar in Gaul was free, or Napoleon after 1799. He must perpetually arrange matters, in the first stages with the Dutch commissioner, later with the imperial general, Prince Louis of Baden, who was his equal in command. He must persuade and even trick certain of his allies in all the first steps of the great business; he must accommodate himself to others throughout the whole of it.

Secondly, the direction in which he took himself separated him from the possibility of rapidly communicating his designs, his necessities, his chances, or his perils to what may be called his moral base. This moral base, the seat both of his own Government and of the Dutch (his principal concern), lay, of course, near the North Sea, and under the immediate supervision of England and the Hague. This is a point which the modern reader may be inclined to ridicule until he remembers under what conditions the shortest message, let alone detailed plans and the execution of considerable orders, could alone be performed two hundred years ago. By a few bad roads, across a veritable dissected map of little independent or quasi-independent polities, each with its own frontier and prejudices and independent government, the messenger (often a single messenger) must pass through a space of time equivalent to the passage of a continent to-day, and through risks and difficulties such as would to-day be wholly eliminated by the telegraph. The messenger was further encumbered by every sort of change from town to town, in local opinion, and the opportunities for aid.

More than this, in marching to the Danube, Marlborough was putting between himself and that upon which he morally, and most of all upon which he physically, relied, a barrier of difficult mountain land.

Having mentioned this barrier, it is the place for me to describe the physical conditions of that piece of strategy, and I will beg the reader to pay particular attention to the accompanying map, and to read what follows closely in connection with it.

In all war, strategy considers routes, and routes are determined by obstacles.

Had the world one flat and uniform surface, the main problems of strategy would not exist.

The surface of the world is diversified by certain features rivers, chains of hills, deserts, marshes, seas, etc. the passage across which presents difficulties peculiar to an army, and it is essential to the reading of military history to appreciate these difficulties; for the degrees of impediment which natural features present to thousands upon the march are utterly different from those which they present to individuals or to civilian parties in time of peace. Since it is to difficulties of this latter sort that we are most accustomed by our experience, the student of a campaign will often ask himself (if he is new to his subject) why such and such an apparently insignificant stream or narrow river, such and such a range of hills over which he has walked on some holiday without the least embarrassment, have been treated by the great captains as obstacles of the first moment.

The reason that obstacles of any sort present the difficulty they do to an army, and present it in the high degree which military history discovers, is twofold.

First, an army consists in a great body of human beings, artificially gathered together under conditions which do not permit of men supplying their own wants by agriculture or other forms of labour. They are gathered together for the principal purpose of fighting. They must be fed; they must be provided with ammunition, usually with shelter and with firing, and if possible with remounts for their cavalry; reinforcements for every branch of their service must be able to reach them along known and friendly (or well-defended) roads, called their lines of communication. These must proceed from some base, that is from some secure place in which stores of men and material can be accumulated.

Next, it is important to notice that variations in speed between two opposed forces will nearly always put the slow at a disadvantage in the face of the more prompt. For just as in boxing the quicker man can stop one blow and get another in where the slower man would fail, or just as in football the faster runner can head off the man with the ball, so in war superior mobility is a fixed factor of advantage but a factor far more serious than it is in any game. The force which moves most quickly can “walk round” its opponent, can choose its field for action, can strike in flank, can escape, can effect a junction where the slower force would fail.

It is these two causes, then the artificial character of an army, with its vast numbers collected in one place and dependent for existence upon the labour of others and the supreme importance of rapidity which between them render obstacles that seem indifferent to a civilian in time of peace so formidable to a General upon the march.

The heavy train, the artillery, the provisioning of the force, can in general only proceed upon good ways or by navigable rivers. At any rate, if the army departs from these, a rival army in possession of such means of progress will have the supreme advantage of mobility.

Again, upon the flat an army may proceed by many parallel roads, and thus in a number of comparatively short columns, marching upon one front towards a common rendezvous. But in hilly country it will be confined to certain defiles, sometimes very few, often reduced to one practicable pass. There is no possibility of an advance by many routes in short columns, each in touch with its neighbours; the whole advance resolves itself into one interminable file.

Now, in proportion to the length of a column, the units of which must each march one directly behind the other, do the mechanical difficulties of conducting such a column increase. Every accident or shock in the long line is aggravated in proportion to the length of the line. Finally, a force thus drawn out on the march in one exiguous and lengthy trail is in the worst possible disposition for meeting an attack delivered upon it from either side.

All this, which is true of the actual march of the army, is equally true of its power to maintain its supply over a line of hills (to take that example of an obstacle); and therefore a line of hills, especially if these hills be confused and steep, and especially if they be provided with but bad roads across them, will dangerously isolate an army whose general base lies upon the further side of them.

What the reader has just read explains the peculiar character which the valley of the Upper Danube has always had in the history of Western European war.

The Rhine and its tributaries form one great system of communications, diversified, indeed, by many local accidents of hill and marsh and forest, with which, for the purposes of this study, we need not concern ourselves.

In a lesser degree, the upper valley of the Danube and its tributaries, though these are largely in the nature of mountain torrents, forms another system of communications, nourishing considerable towns, drawing upon which communications, and relying upon which towns as centres of supply, an army may manoeuvre.

But between the system of the Rhine and that of the Danube there runs a long sweep of very broken country, the Black Forest merging into the Swabian Jura, which in a military sense cuts off the one basin from the other.

At the opening of the eighteenth century, when that great stretch of hills had but a score of roads, none of them well kept up, when no town of any importance could be found in their valleys, and when no communication, even of a verbal message, could proceed faster than a mounted man, this sweep of hills was a very formidable obstacle indeed.

It was these hills, when Marlborough determined to strike across them, and to engage himself in the valley of the Upper Danube, which formed the chief physical factor of his hazard; for, once engaged in them, still more when he had crossed them, his appeals for aid, his reception of advice, perhaps eventually a reinforcement of men or supplies, must depend upon the Rhine valley.

True he had, the one within a week of the Danube, the other within two days of it, the couple of depots mentioned above, the principal one at Nuremberg, the advanced one at Nordlingen. Nevertheless, so long as he was upon the further or eastern side of the hills, his position would remain one of great risk, unless, indeed, or until, he had had the good fortune to destroy the forces of the enemy.

All this being before the reader, the progress of the great march may now be briefly described.

In the winter between 1703 and 1704 domestic irritation and home intrigues, with which we are not here concerned, almost persuaded Marlborough to give up his great rôle upon the Continent of Europe.

Luckily for the alliance against Louis and for the history of British arms, he returned upon this determination or phantasy, and with the very beginning of the year began his plans for the coming campaign.

He crossed first to Holland in the middle of January 1704, persuaded the Dutch Government to grant a subsidy to the German troops in the South, pretended (since he knew how nervous the Dutch would be if they heard of the plan for withdrawing a great army from their frontiers to the Danube) that he intended operating upon the Moselle, returned to England, saw with the utmost activity to the raising of recruits and to the domestic organisation of the expedition, and reached Holland again to undertake the most famous action of his life in the latter part of April.

It was upon the 5th of May that he left the Hague. He was at Maestricht till the 14th, superintending every detail and ordering the construction of bridges over the Meuse by which the advance was to begin. Upon the 16th he left by the southward road for Bedburg, and immediately his army broke winter quarters for the great march.

It was upon the 18th of May that the British regiments marched out of Ruremonde by the bridges constructed over the Meuse, aiming for the rendezvous at Bedburg.

The very beginning of the march was disturbed by the fears of the Dutch and of others, though Marlborough had carefully kept secret the design of marching to the Danube, and though all imagined that the valley of the Moselle was his objective.

Marlborough quieted these fears, and was in a better position to insist from the fact that he claimed control over the very large force which was directly in the pay of England.

He struck for the Rhine, up the valley of which he would receive further contingents, supplied by the minor members of the Grand Alliance, as he marched.

By the 23rd he was at Bonn with the cavalry, his brother Churchill following with the infantry. Thence the heavy baggage and the artillery proceeded by water up the river to Coblentz, and when Coblentz was reached (upon the 25th of May) it was apparent that the Moselle at least was not his objective, for on the next day, the 26th, he crossed both that river and the Rhine with his army, and continued his march up the right bank of the Rhine.

But this did not mean that he might not still intend to carry the war into Alsace. He was at Cassel, opposite Mayence, three days after leaving Coblentz; four days later the head of the column had reached the Neckar at Ladenberg, where bridges had already been built by Marlborough’s orders, and upon the 3rd of June the troops crossed over to the further bank.

Here was the decisive junction where Marlborough must show his hand: the first few miles of his progress south-eastward across the bend of the Neckar would make it clear that his object was not Alsace, but the Danube.

He had announced to the Dutch and all Europe an attack upon the valley of the Moselle; that this was a ruse all could see when he passed Coblentz without turning up the valley of that river. The whole week following, and until he reached the Neckar, it might still be imagined that he meditated an attack upon Alsace, for he was still following the course of the Rhine. Once he diverged from the valley of this river and struck across the bend of the Neckar to the south and east, the alternative he had chosen of making the Upper Danube the seat of war was apparent.

It is therefore at this point in his advance that we must consider the art by which he had put the enemy in suspense, and confused their judgment of his design.

The first point in the problem for a modern reader to appreciate is the average rate at which news would travel at that time and in that place. A very important dispatch could cover a hundred miles and more in the day with special organisation for its delivery, and with the certitude that it had gone from one particular place to another particular place. But general daily information as to the movements of a moving enemy could not be so organised.

We must take it that the French commanders upon the left bank of the Rhine at Landau, or upon the Meuse (where Villeroy was when Marlborough began his march), would require full forty-eight hours to be informed of the objective of each new move.

For instance, on the 25th of May Marlborough’s forces were approaching Coblentz. To find out what they were going to do next, the French would have to know whether they were beginning to turn up the valley of the Moselle, which begins at Coblentz, or to cross that river and be going on further south. A messenger might have been certain that the latter was their intention by midday of the 26th, but Tallard, right away on the Upper Rhine, would hardly have known this before the morning of the 29th, and by the morning of the 29th Marlborough was already opposite Mayence.

It is this gap of from one to three days in the passage of information which is so difficult for a modern man to seize, and which yet made possible all Marlborough’s manoeuvres to confuse the French.

Villeroy was bound to watch until, at least, the 29th of May for the chance of a campaign upon the Moselle.

Meanwhile, Tallard was not only far off in the valley of the Upper Rhine, but occupied in a remarkable operation which, had he not subsequently suffered defeat at Blenheim, would have left him a high reputation as a general.

This operation was the reinforcement of the army under the Elector of Bavaria and Marcin by a dash right through the enemy’s country in the Black Forest.

Early in May the Elector of Bavaria had urgently demanded reinforcements of the French king.

The mountains between the Bavarian army and the French were held by the enemy, but the Elector hurried westward along the Danube, while Tallard, with exact synchrony and despatch, hurried eastward; each held out a hand to the other, as it were, for a rapid touch; the business of Tallard was to hand over the new troops and provisions at one exact moment, the business of the Elector was to catch the junction exactly. If it succeeded it was to be followed by a sharp retreat of either party, the one back upon the Danube eastward for his life, the other back westward upon the Rhine.

Tallard had crossed the Rhine on the 13th of May with a huge convoy of provisionment and over 7000 newly recruited troops. Within a week the thing was done. He had handed over in the nick of time the whole mass of men and things to the Elector. He had done this in the midst of the Black Forest and in the heart of the enemy’s country, and he immediately began his retirement upon the Rhine. Tallard was thus particularly delayed in receiving daily information of Marlborough’s march.

Let us take a typical date.

On the 29th of May Tallard, retiring from the dash to help Bavaria, was still at Altenheim, on the German bank of the Rhine. It was only on that day that he learnt from Villeroy that Marlborough had no idea of marching up the Moselle, but had gone on up the Rhine towards Mayence. Marlborough had crossed the Moselle and the Rhine on the 26th, but it took Tallard three days to know it. Tallard, knowing this, would not know whether Marlborough might not still be thinking of attacking Alsace: to make that alternative loom large in the mind of the French commanders, Marlborough had had bridges prepared in front of his advance at Philipsburg though he had, of course, no intention at all of going as far up as Philipsburg.

It was on June 3rd, as we have seen, that the foremost of Marlborough’s forces were nearing the banks of the Neckar, and upon the 4th that anyone observing his troops would have clearly seen for the first time that they were striking for the Danube. But it was twenty-four hours before Tallard, who had by this time come down the Rhine as far as Lauterberg to defend a possible attack upon Alsace, knew certainly that the Danube, and not the Rhine, would be the field of war.

All this time it was guessed at Versailles, and thought possible by the French generals at the front, that the Danube was Marlborough’s aim. But a guess was not good enough to risk Alsace upon.

By the time it was certain Marlborough was marching for the Danube June 4th and 5th Tallard’s force was much further from the Elector of Bavaria than was Marlborough’s, as a glance at the map will show. There was no chance then for heading Marlborough off, and the chief object of the English commander’s strategy was accomplished. He had kept the enemy in doubt as to his intentions up to the moment when his forces were safe from interference, and he could strike for the Danube quite unmolested.

Villeroy at once came south in person, and joined Tallard at Oberweidenthal. The two commanders met upon the 7th of June to confer upon the next move, but at this point appeared that capital element of delay which hampered the French forces throughout the campaign, namely, the necessity of consulting with the King at Versailles. The next day, the 8th, Tallard and Villeroy, who had gone back to their respective commands after their conference, sent separate reports to Versailles. It was not until the 12th that Louis answered, leaving the initiative with his generals at the front, but advising a strong offensive upon the Rhine in order to immobilise there a great portion of the enemy’s forces.

The advice was not unwise. It did, as a fact, immobilise Eugene for the moment, and kept him upon the Rhine for some weeks, but, as we shall see later, that General was able to escape when the worst pressure was put upon him, to cross the Black Forest with excellent secrecy and speed, and to effect his junction with Marlborough in time for the battle of Blenheim.

But, meanwhile, Baden had chased the Elector of Bavaria out of the Black Forest and down on to the Upper Danube. Marlborough might, at any moment, join hands with Baden. The Elector sent urgent requests for yet more reinforcements from the French, and Tallard, in a letter to Versailles of the 16th of June, advised the capture and possession of such points in the Black Forest as would give him free access across the mountains, the proper provisioning of his line of supply when he should cross them, and the accomplishment of full preparations for joining the Elector of Bavaria in a campaign upon the Upper Danube.

Let the day when the French court received this letter be noted, for the coincidence is curious. At the very moment when Tallard’s letter reached Versailles, the 22nd of June, Marlborough was effecting his junction with Baden outside the gates of Ulm at Ursprung. The decision of Louis XIV., that Tallard should advance beyond the hills in force to the aid of the Elector, exactly coincides with the appearance of the English General upon the Danube, and it was on the 23rd of June, the morrow, that the King wrote to Villeroy the decisive letter recommending Tallard to cross over from Alsace towards Bavaria with forty battalions and fifty squadrons, say 25,000 men.

But this advance of Tallard’s across the Black Forest and his final junction with the Elector and Marcin before the battle of Blenheim did not take place until after Marlborough had joined Baden and the march to the Danube was accomplished. It must therefore be dealt with in the next division, which is its proper place. For the moment we must return to Marlborough’s advance upon the Danube, which we left at the point where he crossed the Neckar upon the 3rd and 4th of June. He had, as we have just seen, and by methods which we have reviewed, completely succeeded in saving the rest of his advance from interference.

Safe from pursuit, and with no further need for concealing his plan, Marlborough lingered in the neighbourhood of the Neckar, partly to effect a full concentration of his forces, partly to rest his cavalry. It was a week before he found himself at Mundelsheim, between Heilbron and Stuttgart, and at the foot of the range which still divided him from the basin of the Danube. Here Eugene, the author of the whole business, met Marlborough; between them the two men drew up the plans which were to lead to so momentous a result, and knitted in that same interview a friendship based upon the mutual recognition of genius, which was to determine seven years of war.

Upon the 13th of June these great captains met and conferred also with the Margrave, Louis of Baden, who commanded all the troops in the hills, and who was to be the third party to their plan. He was a man, cautious, but able, easily ruffled in his dignity, often foolishly jealous of another’s power. He insisted that Marlborough and he should take command upon alternate days he would not serve as second and in all that followed, the personal relations between himself and Marlborough grew less and less cordial up to the eve of the great battle. His prudence and arrangement, however, his exact synchrony of movement and good hold over his troops, made Marlborough’s decisions fruitful.

Upon the 14th of June the passage of Marlborough’s column over the hills between the Rhine and the Danube began. Baden went back to the command of his army, which already lay in the plain of the Upper Danube, and awaited the arrival of Marlborough’s command, and the junction of it with his own force before Ulm.

A heavy rain, drenched and bad roads, marked Marlborough’s crossing of the range. It was not until the 20th that the cavalry reached the foot of the final ascent, but in two days the whole body had passed over. It was thus upon the 22nd of June that the junction between Marlborough and Baden was effected. From that day on their combined forces were prepared to operate as one army upon the plain of the Upper Danube. They stood joined at the gates of Ulm, and in their united force far superior to the Franco-Bavarians, who had but just escaped Baden’s army, and who lay in the neighbourhood watching this fatal junction of their rivals.

I say, “who had but just escaped Baden’s army,” for it was part of the general plan (and a part most ably executed) that not only should the seat of war be brought into the valley of the Upper Danube by Marlborough’s march to join Baden, but, as a preparation for this, that the army of the Elector, with his French allies under Marcin, should be driven eastward out of the mountains and cut off from the main French forces upon the Rhine.

This chasing of the Franco-Bavarians down on to the Danube and out of the Black Forest was begun just after the spirited piece of generalship by which Tallard had, as we have seen, reinforced the Elector of Bavaria in the middle of May. That rapid and brilliant piece of work had been effected only just in time. Hardly was it accomplished when Baden’s force in the mountains marched, as part of Marlborough’s general plan, against the Elector, with the object of forcing him back into the Danube valley at full speed.

It was on the 18th of May that the British regiments were crossing the Meuse, and the advance upon the Danube had begun.

It was on the 18th of May that Louis of Baden appeared at the head of his army in the Black Forest and initiated that separation of the Bavarian forces from the French which was a necessary part of the general plan we have spoken of. It was but a few hours since Tallard had stretched out his hand and passed the recruits and the provisions over to the Franco-Bavarian forces.

The Elector of Bavaria had with him certain French regiments, and Marshal Marcin was under his commands, while Marlborough’s plan was still quite unknown. Therefore no large French force could apparently be spared from the valley of the Rhine to help the Elector in that of the Danube; the Duke of Baden could have things his own way against the lesser force opposed to him.

On the 19th he was advancing on Ober and Neder Ersasch. The Duke of Bavaria had evacuated these villages upon the 20th, and on the same night the Duke of Baden reached Meidlingen. Pursuer and pursued were marching almost parallel, separated only by the little river of Villingen. Now and then they came so close that Baden’s artillery could drop a shot into the hurrying ranks of the Elector.

On the 21st Baden was at Geisingen, threatening Tuttlingen. On the 23rd he had reached Stockach, and was pressing so hard that his van had actually come in contact with the rear of the Bavarians, a situation reminiscent of the Esla Bridge in Moore’s retreat on Coruña.

The valley of the Danube opened out before the two opponents. The Elector found it possible to maintain his exhausted but rapid retreat, and, ten days later, he had escaped. For by the 3rd of June the Franco-Bavarian forces lay at Elchingen, the Duke of Baden was no nearer than Echingen, and the former was saved after a fortnight of very anxious going; but, though saved, they were now completely cut off for the moment from French reinforcement. Marlborough was approaching the hills; he would cross them in a few days. He would join Baden’s army; and the moment Marlborough should have joined Baden, the Elector would be in peril of overwhelming adversaries.

We have seen how the plan matured. Three weeks after the Bavarian army’s escape from the Black Forest, upon the 22nd of June, Marlborough’s force had crossed the range and made one with Baden’s before Ulm.