The Battle of Ramillies, 1706
The Battle of Ramillies fought on May 23, 1706 was an overwhelming victory for the Grand Alliance forces of England, Holland and Denmark over the army of King Louis XIV of France during the war of the Spanish Succession (1701-14). The battle followed an indecisive campaign in 1705 when the Alliance failed to build on their success at Blenheim the previous year. The Alliance did succeed in capturing Barcelona in 1705, but their campaigns on the Moselle and in the Spanish Netherlands stalled and they suffered defeat in Italy. However, by this stage of the war Louis XIV wanted peace, albeit on reasonable terms. To strengthen his bargaining hand at any future negotiations, the French went on the offensive in 1706 and scored early successes in Italy and Alsace. Louis then ordered Marshal Villeroi to attack in the Spanish Netherlands with the aim of gaining a victory which would pave the way to a ‘fair’ peace. To this end Villeroi’s 60,000-strong Franco-Spanish-Bavarian force confronted the 62,000 men of the Alliance army under the Duke of Marlborough close to the village of Ramillies, about 15 miles north of Namur. Here they were routed in less than four hours, losing 13,000 killed, wounded and captured along with 52 guns. The Alliance lost 1,066 men killed and 2,567 wounded.
This time the Alliance armies fully exploited their victory, capturing Brussels, Bruges and Antwerp in quick succession to wrest control of the Spanish Netherlands from the French. In September Prince Eugene was also successful at the Battle of Turin in northern Italy, making 1706 the high water mark for the Alliance in the war.
Meredith’s was one of 19 British infantry battalions at Ramillies and formed part of a brigade of six battalions, with their own Colonel as Brigadier. The brigade’s role may have been restricted to a holding attack in support of the Buffs and Royal Scots Fusiliers but, by disrupting Villeroi’s plans and dispositions, it nevertheless played an important part in the victory. Casualty figures among Meredith’s are not known but it is unlikely they were heavy.