Of the Fight in the Dunes

An account of the Battle of Dunkirk as fought between the Anglo-French and Spanish Armies in the Dunes on 4th June 1658

Covent Garden, January 1698

On the 3rd of June, at four in the afternoon, the Spanish army had made a bridge of boats and crossed their army on the sands of Dunkirk. Drawing up into battalia within two miles of Marshal Turenne’s lines. Immediately, all the French horse drew out to face the enemy at a mile’s distance and Marshal Turenne sent immediate orders to Major-general Morgan to march with his six thousand English Foot and the French brigade of horse to his camp. The next day, about eight of the clock, Marshal Turenne gave orders to break avenues through the lines, so that the army might march out in battalia. When the avenues were cleared, both the French and English army advanced towards the Spanish. The Army was forced to march up in four lines for there was no room between Furnes and Dunkirk, and the sea. On marching above half a mile, the Army halted on rising hills of sand and redeployed into two lines. Major-general Morgan, seeing the enemy plain in battalia, said, before the head of the army, “See, yonder are the gentlemen you have to trade withal today!” upon which the whole brigade of English gave a such a shout of rejoicing, that it made a roaring echo between the sea and the canal. Thereupon, the Marshal Turenne came up, with above a hundred noblemen, to know the reason for the great shout. Major-general Morgan told him it was the usual custom of the red-coats when they saw the enemy to rejoice. Marshal Turenne answered, “They were men of brave resolution and courage.”

The Battle in the Dunes

After which, Marshal Turenne returned to the head of the army. Now at a second halt the whole brigade of English once more gave a shout, and cast up their caps in the air, crying that, “they would have better hats before this night”. When the English where within three quarters of a mile of the enemy, Marshal Turenne came up and desired that at the next halt, Major-general Morgan should keep an even front with the French; “For,” says he, “I do intend to halt at some distance, so that we may see how the enemy is drawn up and take our advantage accordingly.” Major-general Morgan demanded of his excellency, “Whether he would shock the whole army at one dash, or try one wing first?” Marshal Turenne’s reply was, “That, as to that question, he could not resolve him yet, till he came nearer the enemy. Major-general Morgan desired the marshal not to let him languish for orders, saying, ‘That often times opportunities are lost for want of orders in due time.’ Marshal Turenne said he would either come himself and give orders or send a lieutenant-general. With this Marshal Turenne parted from Major-general Morgan and returned once more to the head of his army. Major-general Morgan now gave orders to the English colonels and leading officers to have a special care that when the French came to a halt they keep an even front with them. Next, he told them that, “if they could not observe the French, they should take notice when he lifted his hat, for he marched above three score before the centre of the bodies.” Yet, when the French came to halt, it so happened, that the English pressed so fast upon their leading officers that they had come within a musket shot of the enemy before they saw that Major-general Morgan was in a passion. Only now, they put themselves to a stand. Major-general Morgan could have remedied their forwardness, but he was resolved not lose one foot of ground and would hold his line if he could.

Both sides were now so near that the soldiers fell into great friendship with each other, for Englishmen faced Englishmen. One asking, “is such an officer in your army?” another, “is such a soldier in yours?” and this passed on across the divide for some while. Major-general Morgan endured this friendship, but then came up to the centre of the body, and demanded, how long that friendship would continue for, “they would be cutting one another’s throats within a minute of an hour”. The whole brigade answered, that their friendship would continue no longer than he pleased. Then Major-general Morgan bid them tell the enemy, no more friendship but “Prepare your buff coats and scarfs, for we will be with you sooner than you expect us.”  Immediately after this friendship was broken, the Royalists poured a volley of shot into one of our English battalions, wounding three or four, whilst one dropped dead. Now the Major-general sent his adjutant-general to Marshal Turenne for orders. He wished to know whether he should charge the enemy’s right wing, or whether Marshal Turenne would engage the enemy’s left wing. He advised the adjutant-general to acquaint Marshal Turenne that his English had received some prejudice already. All a while the enemy poured in more volleys of shot into our battalions, wounding two or three more each time. As there was no return of the adjutant-general nor any orders and Major-general Morgan, observing that the enemy was opening intervals in their foot to bring horse through, he called all the colonels and officers of the field together. Telling them that he had sent the adjutant-general for orders and seen none return, Major-general Morgan now told them that if they concur with him, he would immediately charge the enemy’s right wing. Their answer was, they were ready whenever he gave the order. Now he told them, that he would try the right wing of the enemy with the blue regiment and the four hundred firelocks, that were in the interval of the French horse.  Major-general Morgan gave orders, that the other five regiments should not move from their ground, until they saw the blue regiment push the enemy’s right wing off their ground. Next, he showed the colonels what colours they were to charge, and told them moreover, “That if he was not knocked on the head, he would come to them.” In like manner, he admonished the whole brigade, telling them, that they “look upon the face of an enemy who had violated, and endeavoured to take away their reputation. That they had no other way but to fight it out to the last man, or to be killed, taken prisoners, or drowned. The honour of England did depend much upon their gallantry and resolution this day.”

Then Major-general Morgan did order the Blue regiment and the four hundred firelocks to advance and then to charge the enemy. The enemy’s right wing was posted on a sandy hill and had cast the sand into a breast-high work before them. Furthermore their horse had closed so that the Blues had to realign their line and fire a volley before closing.  The Blue regiment was now within push of pike when assaulted by the Spanish horse.  It was now that the Duke of York, with a party of horse, had cut into the blue regiment and started to do some slaughter. In the meantime, Major-general Morgan, knowing the enemy would all bend upon Blue did advance White regiment, so that it might be in the flank of the Blue. With the White now coming in the Royalist Horse where beaten back. With this great push of pike, the enemy were shocked off their ground. Now Major-general Morgan, saw his opportunity, and calling to the other four regiments, ordered them to advance and charge immediately. Such was the vigour, that when the red-coats came within ten pikes length, the enemy, perceiving they would not endure the such a charge, held up their handkerchiefs, and called for quarter. Yet the red-coats cried aloud as one, that they had no leisure for quarter, whereupon the enemy faced about, and not enduring the charge, fell to run. So, having the English colours over their heads, and the strongest soldiers and officers clubbing them down the Spanish right wing broke.  With this, just six thousand English, had carried ten or twelve thousand enemy horse and foot before them. All while, the French army was still about a musket-shot in the rear of the English. Still where they had come to a halt, and never moving off their ground.

The rest of the Spanish army seeing the right wing carried away, with the English colours flying over their heads, wheeled about in as good order as they could. It was now that the red-coats had the whole Spanish army before them. Major-general Morgan called out to his colonels, “to the right as much as you can, that so we might have all the enemy’s army under the English colours.”  With this the six thousand English carried off all the Spanish army, from as far as Westminster-abbey to Paul’s church-yard, even before a single Frenchman came in.  Then at last the French horse come pouring in on each wing with much gallantry but they never struck one stroke, only carrying prisoners back to their camp. When the English were at the end of the pursuit, Marshal Turenne and above a hundred officers of the army came up and quit their horses. Now they embraced the English officers, and said, “they never saw a more glorious action in their lives, and that they were so transported with the sight of it, that they had no power to move or do anything.”  This was a high compliment, for in one stroke, the battle of Dunkirk, had been won by only six thousand English red-coats and the French army did not strike a single blow.

After pursuing the enemy for some while, Major-general Morgan rallied these red-coats and marched over the sands where they had broken the enemy to see what slaughter there was made. Now, Marshal Turenne and Major-general Morgan brought the armies close to invest Dunkirk once again, and to carry on the approaches. The Spanish Governor, Marquis de Leda, happened to be in the counterscarp, and received a musket shot, whereof he died. Now the whole garrison, being discouraged at this death, came to capitulate in a few days, so the town was surrendered, and two regiments of English march into it as a garrison. Major-general Morgan kept the field, with Marshal Turenne, with his other four regiments of English. So, ended siege if Dunkirk with a Battle in the Dunes.

My next, will be the same but an Account from the Royalist English troops in Spanish service.

William Savage 

Of Related Accounts:
Of Life & Times
Image is not available

This site tells my story and details the events that are now long forgotten. In this age of intrigue, trust no one for no one trusts you. That is the Savage Truth.

This site tells my story and details the events that are now long forgotten. In this age of intrigue, trust no one for no one trusts you. That is the Savage Truth.

This site tells my story and details the events that are now long forgotten. In this age of intrigue, trust no one for no one trusts you. That is the Savage Truth.

Of the Siege of Dunkirk
Image is not available

An account of the siege of Dunkirk and the actions of the Anglo-French Armies before the battle in the Dunes of 1658 

An account of the siege of Dunkirk and the actions of the Anglo-French Armies before the battle in the Dunes of 1658 

An account of the siege of Dunkirk and the actions of the Anglo-French Armies before the battle in the Dunes of 1658 

Of the Fight in the Dunes
Image is not available

An account of the Battle of Dunkirk as fought between the Anglo-French and Spanish Armies in the Dunes on 4th June 1658

An account of the Battle of Dunkirk as fought between the Anglo-French and Spanish Armies in the Dunes on 4th June 1658

An account of the Battle of Dunkirk as fought between the Anglo-French and Spanish Armies in the Dunes on 4th June 1658

previous arrow
next arrow
Slider

Share

%d bloggers like this: