The Battle of Blenheim, 1704

The Battle of Blenheim fought on August 13, 1704 was one of the turning points of the War of the Spanish Succession (1701-14), saving Vienna from the Franco-Bavarian army and preventing the collapse of the Grand Alliance.

To bring the war to a swift end, Louis XIV of France planned to seize the Emperor Leopold’s capital and knock Austria out of the war. The French armies and those of its Bavarian allies, together with a revolt in Austrian-controlled Hungary, threatened Vienna from several sides. Realising the danger, the Duke of Marlborough marched his forces 250 miles from the Low Countries to the River Danube in just five weeks, brilliantly keeping his destination a secret from both friend and foe. At the village of Blindheim (Blenheim), Marlborough and Prince Eugene of Savoy engaged the French and Bavarian forces and scored an overwhelming victory. Bavaria was knocked out of the war, and Louis’s hopes for a quick victory came to an end. France suffered more than 30,000 casualties, including the commander-in-chief, Marshal Tallard, who was taken captive to England. By the end of the year, the Alliance had taken Landau, Trier and Trarbach and stood poised to take the war into France itself.

The role of Meredith’s Own at Blenheim is not entirely clear, nor are the regiment’s casualties. However, the ‘Blenheim Roll’ does name the 32 officers entitled to share in the £65,000 bounty given by Queen Anne after the battle. Of these, the Colonel received £72, Lieutenant Colonels £51, Majors £45, Captains £20, Lieutenants and Quartermasters £14, Surgeons £12, Ensigns £11 and the Surgeon’s Mate £7 10s 0d. Further down the ranks, the regiment’s 29 sergeants were each entitled to £2 and the 34 Corporals and 480 privates and drummers to 30 shillings and £1 respectively.

Blenheim was, in fact, the second battle which Meredith’s Own fought. Their baptism of fire had come few weeks earlier in the Alliance victory at the Battle of the Schellenburg in Bavaria. The regiment lost four officers killed and 19 wounded, including Meredith himself.