Variant Accounts of a Battle
As there is nothing more partial than the Accounts given of Battles, all of them lessening or magnifying the Loss or Gain on either Side, just as the Writers are affected; we find it necessary to publish several Accounts on both Sides, when there has been any important Action, that so the Reader may be the better enabled to form a true Judgment: And therefore to the Relations we have already publish’d of the late important Battle in Italy, we shall add the following.
Guastalla, Sept. 18. Long had the brave Count Koningsegg meditated Revenge for the fatal Battle of Parma, and Relief for the Honour of the Imperial Arms, by giving the Allies some desperate Blow. He had made several Attempts, but was constantly betrayed; his Designs always took Air, and he could never discover the Traitors: At last, however, he has carried them into Execution. There is an old Saying in Lombardy, That if a Man would execute any Grand Design, he must take Care to possess himself of the Seraglio, (a Spot of Ground between Mantua and the Po). Count Merci neglected this Advice; but Count Koningsegg thought it very just and solid, and posted the 4000 Croatians there, supported by three Regiments of Horse under the Command of General Berlinger, whom he ordered to act along the Oglio as Opportunity should offer. On the 4th, Count Koningsegg ordered the whole Army to be upon its Guard, and every Man in his Post, as if he had received Notice that he should be attacked by the Allies. About Five o’Clock in the Evening, he gave Orders, at the same time that he discovered to them the Design he was going to execute. The Guards were doubled, and Notice was given, that no Person should stir out of the Camp without Leave. The Retreat was beat, as usual, that they might hear it in the Enemy’s Camp; and the Trumpets having flourished as at other times, every one retired. At Midnight the Army began its March in three Columns, and in Order of Battle, the Soldiers only in their Wastecoats, without Coats or Knapsacks; We shall find enough in the Enemy’s Camp, said their Officers to them, if you have any Hearts. 13,000 Foot and 6 Regiments of Horse advanced first towards the Secchia above Quistello, and forded it, there not being above three Foot Water. The Count de Waldebeck staid with his Brigade facing Quistello, to make a faint Attack there, as soon as he should hear that they had surprized the Head-Quarters at Bondanello. The French had at Quistello, (which they had well retrenched) 1000 Men and nine Pieces of Cannon; and they had at that time above sixty Officers there. As soon as the Germans had passed the Secchia, they fell upon the Marshal de Broglio’s Quarters, who was so sound asleep, that our Granadiers were in his Court-Yard, before he was well awake: Fifty Men and the Officers of the Guard made some Resistance, to give him Time to make his Escape at the back Door in his Shirt, with his Breeches in one Hand, and his two Sons in the other. The Guard then surrendered; and we advanced to the Bridge over-against Quistello, and carried that Quarter; but here the Count de Waldebeck was killed, greatly lamented. During these Preliminaries, the Army advanced apace, and fell upon the Count de Broglio’s Body, which consisted of 28 or 30 Battalions, who fled in their Shirts and left their very Arms behind them. The brave Regiments of the King and Picardie were among these; every Man made the best Shift he could for himself, and carried the Alarm to the Right. The Marshal de Coigny made the Troops under his Command take Arms, all in a Hurry and Disorder, and was advancing to the Right; but perceiving that the Imperial Army was marching towards him in three Columns, he halted and called a Council of War; and the Imperialists just then moving towards their Left, it was imagined that they would endeavour to cut off the Army’s Retreat towards the Bridge of Guastalla; and therefore it was instantly resolved to make a Retreat that way in the best Order they could. Some Battalions were left with Artillery in the neighbouring Cassines, to stop the Enemy; but those Troops made but a very slender Resistance, and were obliged to yield themselves Prisoners of War. Count Koningsegg seeing the Enemy’s Disorder on all Sides, sent 10,000 Men this way, under the Command of Prince Lewis of Wirtemberg, and advanced towards San Benedetto, where were the Head-Quarters of the Savoyards: The King of Sardinia made his Escape in his Night-Gown and Slippers; but two Regiments of his Troops were cut off from the rest and taken. Some Squadrons of Dragoons and the Hussars broke and put into Disorder the Enemy’s Rear-Guard, who are divided into Bodies of 2 or 3000 Men each, most of them without Arms, Baggage or Artillery, which we hope to cut off and take one after the other; for we are still pursuing them. The Booty already taken, amounts to upwards of 15 Millions of Livres; for we have taken the Arms of one Third of the Gallo-Sardinick Army, all the Artillery, 12 or 1500 Waggons, all the Baggage, heavy and light, all the Tents; and between 6 and 8000 Prisoners. There were doubtless 1000 or 1200 of the Enemy killed. Never was seen such Confusion. But the Generals who suffered themselves to be thus surprized, how will they come off.
Next here follows a more particular Account of the Second Battle between the same Armies, which happened on the 19th of Sept. viz.
Mantua, Sept. 24. We have here the following Particulars of the Battle fought the 19th near Guastalla. Count Konigsegg broke up from Luzara the 16th about Nine in the Morning, and at Ten he ordered the Enemy, who were posted under Guastalla, to be attack’d by seven Battalions of Foot and 12 Companies of General Valpereve and Colmenero, who made the Onset in a very brave and intrepid Manner. The Enemy pour’d on fresh Troops continually; whereupon our Troops were reinforc’d with 17 Companies of Grenadiers and 19 Battallions of Foot: Then the Action became general in a Moment, and thereupon we order’d 50 Squadrons to engage: The Enemy’s Horse were then on a Plain, where they were, most advantageously posted behind the Cassines, very deep Ditches, and a great many Bushes, from whence they made a terrible and constant Fire upon our Men, which prevented our knowing their Number. The Generals Valpareve and Colmenero were killed in the Beginning of this Attack, as were all the Field Officers; so that only one Lieutenant-Colonel was at the Head of the seven Battalions who began the Attack. The Prince of Wirtemberg was killed in the Middle of this Action, when his Presence was most necessary to lead on the Foot. Count Koningsegg then seeing that it was impossible for him to break the Enemy’s Cavalry, after a continual Fire of about six Hours, order’d his Army to retire, which they did in so good Order, that the Enemy durst not pursue him; and he went and encamped at Luzara, where his Army was encamped the Day before. Notwithstanding the great Loss of Officers above-mentioned, whereby the Attack was something slackened, and our Troops brought into some disorder, our Men did not retire or lose one Inch of Ground, till they were ordered to draw off from the Field of Battle. The Number of our killed and wounded Men amounts to between 4 and 6000. For six or seven Hours nothing was to be seen but Fire and Sword, Dead and Wounded, and Rivulets of Blood. The Field of Battle was indeed left to the Enemy, where they could find nothing to give them Occasion to boast of a Victory; for as the Fire on both Sides was equally strong and continual, we judge their Loss must be equal to ours.
The Velt Marshal Konnigsegg has been join’d since the last Battle by 4000 Croatians and three Regiments of Horse. His Excellency is actually making new Dispositions for another Combat.
The Retreat of the Imperial Army was owing to the unhappy Loss of the Prince of Wirtemberg, and the Wounds receiv’d by the Generals Valpariso and Watchtendonck; most of the prime Officers were also disabled, by which means none but Lieutenant-Colonel de Uhlenfeld was left to command the seven Battalions engag’d in the heat of Action. Our Loss amounts to between 4 or 5000 Men; that of the Enemy must be as considerable, if not larger.
Paris, Octo. 6. By our last Account from Italy the Battle of the 19th past was very bloody; for during the Combat wherein the Enemy had between 12 and 13000 kill’d and wounded, they sent away 200 Waggons full of wounded Men; but towards the End, being press’d closely, were oblig’d to leave 900 wounded in the Field, whom our General had remov’d in order to be taken care of. We reckon between 6 and 7000 killed and wounded on our Side. After the Battle the Enemy intrench’d themselves on the Banks of the Po, over-against Burgo-Fort, where they have a Bridge to retire over into the Mantuan in case of Occasion.
On the 3d Te Deum was sung in the Church of Notre Dame for the signal Victory in Italy.
London, Octo. 5. Letters from Paris intimate, that his Most Christian Majesty has been pleas’d to order 100,000 Crowns to be distributed among the Officers who lost their Equipages, when Count Koninsegg surpriz’d the Marshal de Broglio’s Quarters; and at the same Time sent Instructions to Marshal Coigny, to inform him of the Number of Officers who had been kill’d in the Surprize, as well as at the Battle, in order to settle Pensions upon their Widows and Children.
A private Letter from Paris, dated the 29th, tells us, that the Germans, on the 19th being Sunday, with uncommon Valour attack’d the Allies in their Intrenchment at Guastalla. At 10 the whole Armies were engaged, Sword in Hand. The Fight lasted till 5 in the Afternoon, when the Germans retired, without being pursued, to Luzara, and left behind them some Pieces of Cannon, and a few Colours and Standards. That 15000 Men were kill’d on both Sides, among them 800 Officers. That Marshal de Coigny was wounded, M. d’Harcourt lost one Arm. ‘Tis agreed on all Hands, that the Allies were much superior in Number, notwithstanding which, putting the two Actions together, the Loss on both Sides was supposed to be equal.