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I. FIELD MARSHAL His ROYAL HIGHNESS FREDERICK
DUKE OF YORK, K.G. G.C.B. COMMANDER IN CHIEF.
The Duke of York was born 16th of August, 1763, and elected Bishop of Osnaburg on Feb. 27, 1764. From his earliest age H. R. H. was destined to the profession of arms, the study of which formed an essential part of his education. In pursuance of this object, and the acquirement of the French and German languages, he was sent by the King to the Continent, in the year 1780, and continued abroad until 1787; bis established residence during that period being Hanover, from whence he made excursions to various parts of Germany, visiting Vienna, Berlin, and other capitals, and also attending the reviews of the immortal Frederick, and acquiring a minute knowledge of the theory and practice of Prussian tactics, at that period considered the model for imitation of every military man.
His first commission in the army was that of Colonel, and dated on the 1st Nov. 1780; shortly after he was appointed to the command of the Horse Grenadier Guards, and in Oct. 1784, to that of the Coldstream Regiment of Guards. He returned to the Continent in 1791, for the purpose of serving as a volunteer with the Prussian army, in the event of a war with Russia, which, however, did not take place.'
On the 29th Sept. 1791, His Royal Highness was married to the Princess Royal of Prussia, with whom shortly after he returned to England, where, with this amiable Princess, he R. M. Cal.
passed his days tranquilly in the enjoyment of domestic felicity, until the period when Great Britain took a part in the revolutionary war on the Continent, when His Royal Highness was selected for the command of a small corps of British troops destined to co-operate in the defence of Holland, which had been invaded by a French army under General Dumourier, to whom Breda and Gertruydenberg surrendered towards the end of February
H. R. H. having upon this occasion been promoted to the rank of Lieut.-General, proceeded with a brigade of Guards, and some artillery, which landed at Helvoet Sluys on the 1st March, and the successes of the Austrian arms having soon after removed the war from the frontiers of Holland, he joined the allied Austrian and Prussian army; his force having been increased at Antwerp by a brigade of the line, subsequently at Tournay by some regiments of British dragoons, and successively augmented by a considerable body of Hanoverian and Hessian troops, taken into British pay.
The first affairs at which H. R. H. assisted, occurred in the neighbourhood of Tournay, and near St. Amand and Vicogne, in the month of May, in the course of which he was promoted to the rank of General. In the subsequent battle of Famars, on the 23d May, he commanded a principal column of the allied army, and bore a distinguished share in the success of that brilliant day, the result of which was the investment and siege of Valenciennes. The direction of this operation was entrusted to H. R. H. while the Prince of Coburg covered it on the side of Bouchain and Cambrai, on the left bank of the Scheldt.
Valenciennes having capitulated on the 28th July, the Duke of York joined the main army, and co-operated on the 7th and 8th of August in the movements against the enemy's positions at the camp de Cèsar, Bois de Bourlon, &c. upon the line of the Scheldt, from all which they were dispossessed, or retired, although without material loss, thanks to the indecision and slowness of the movements of the allied army, against which H. R. H. had in vain remonstrated in frequent communications to the Prince of Hohenlohe, then Quarter-Master-General, who had objected to an earlier and more decided movement of
the army on the 8th, by which the enemy's retreat would have been intercepted.
The Prince of Coburg, after these operations, laid siege to Quesnoy, and subsequently invested Maubeuge, while the Duke of York continued his march in the direction of Orchies, Tourcoing, and Ménin, with the British, Hanoverian and Hessian troops, to which was added a body of Austrians, under the orders of Lieut.-General Alvintzy..
The object of this separation was the siege of Dunkirk, which had been determined upon by the British Cabinet, and which was viewed with regret, not only by the Austrian Chiefs, but also by H. R. H., who had remonstrated against it, as far as he could ; at the same time that, when he found his representations unavailing, he proceeded with the utmost zeal to the execution of a measure, from which may reasonably be dated the subsequent reverse of fortune on the French frontier. The Dutch troops were to cover the march of H. R. H.'s army by the frontier of West Flanders, but having on the 18th August been driven with loss from several posts, which they occupied during the passage of the British troops through Ménin, H.R. H. ordered the brigade of Guards to their support, which occasioned the action of Lincelles, in which that corps so greatly distinguished itself.
After this His Royal Highness proceeded without further interruption to Furnes, whence he advanced with a part of his force by Gyveldt towards Dunkirk, while Field Mar. Freytag, with the remainder, took the direction of Bergues and Mount-Cassel, in order to cover the operations of the siege. As it is not intended here to enter into any detailed narrative of the operations of the campaign, we shall content ourselves with stating, that after a succession of severe and sanguinary actions, fought by the besieging and covering armies with success, though without any positive effect, the principal of which occurred on the 24th August, (when the gallant General D’Alton fell,) and on the 6th and 8th Sept.; the Duke of York found himself under the necessity of raising the siege, and retiring to Furnes on the night of the 8th Sept. in consequence of the covering army being driven from Bambecke, Roesbrugge, Rexpoede, &c. on the 6th, and defeated on the 8th by Gen. Houchard, near Hondschoote, by which His Royal Highness's left flank and rear were exposed, and his communications rendered insecure. His Royal Highness had contended with perseverance against numerous and increasing difficulties, arising from the rapid accumulation of the enemy's means of resistance, the delay on the part of the British government in forwarding the necessary ordnance and stores, and the neglect in providing any means of naval co-operation, even such as might secure H. R. H.'s positions from molestation by the enemy's small craft on the coast. The retreat was effected in good order, and without any other loss than that of the heavy iron ordnance, which, being on ship carriages, could not be removed, and the army re-assembled at Furnes and Dixmude.
His Royal Ilighness's corps after this was stationed for some time on the frontier of West Flanders, (the head-quarters being at Dixmude and Thoraut,) occasionally co-operating with General Beaulieu in repelling the enemy's attacks upon Ménin, and other points. Towards the middle of October, H. R. H. moved with 6000 men, chiefly British, to the support of the Prince of Coburg, then before Maubeuge. He made a rapid march to Englefontaine, where he arrived on the 16th, the day on which was fought the battle of Wattignies, in consequence of which, although both parties, considering the advantage to be with the enemy, had retired from the field, and although the Austrian army was superior in number and quality of troops, the Prince of Coburg thought fit to abandon the operation in which he was engaged.
The Duke of York returned to Tournay, in which place, and the neighbourhood, he continued until the close of the campaign. On the 22d and 26th Oct. the enemy were repulsed in some attempts upon his advanced posts near Baisieux and Cysoing. On the 28th Oct. H. R. I. made an attack upon Lannoy, in co-operation with a movement, which General Walmoden undertook, by his direction, against Ménin, which the enemy had occupied. The result of these operations was the evacuation by the enemy of Ménin, and their abandonment of the investment of Ypres, and of the siege of Nieuport, which they had been encouraged by H. R. H.'s march to Englefontaive to undertake.
In the defence of Nieuport, part of a detachment which had landed at Ostend, under Sir Charles Grey, as a temporary reinforcement to the Duke of York's army, had co-operated.
On the 29th of October 'a very brilliant attack and surprise of the enemy and fortified post of Marchiennes, in which they lost more than 2000 men, was executed by General Kray, under the orders of H. R. H.
Some trifling affairs in front of Tournay, and on the Lys, towards the end of November, terminated the campaign in West Flanders.
The army went into winter quarters ; the Duke of York's head-quarters being at Ghent, whence, attended by General Mack, he proceeded to England, to concert the plan and measures for the ensuing campaign with the British government.
In the month of Feb. 1794, H. R. H. returned from England to Courtrai, to which place the British head-quarters had been removed upon a forward concentration of the cantonments. The army had been considerably reinforced by drafts for the British regiments, and by additional corps of Hanoverians, Hessians, and Darmstadt troops, taken into British pay. The troops under his command moved successively to Tournay, St. Amand, and the plains of Cateau, where the greater part of the allied army was united under the command of the Emperor on the 16th April. On the following day a general and successful attack was made upon the enemy's positions at Vaux, Prê. mont, Marets, Catillon, &c., and Landrécies was immediately invested. H. R. H. commanded the right wing of the covering army during the siege. A detachment of cavalry from his corps gained a considerable advantage on the 24th April, near Villers en Couché, towards Cambrai, and on the 26th H. R. H. completely defeated, near Troixville, with great slaughter, and the loss of 35 pieces of cannon, a corps of 30,000 men, which, under the orders of General Chapuy, attacked his position. General Chapuy was taken prisoner, with a considerable number of officers and men.
Io consequence of the serious diversion made by General