CAMPAIGN FOURTH, 1705
Preparations and Sketch of the Campaign——Captain Blackader embarks
for Holland—Rejoins the Regiment—Letters—Army march to the Moselle—Return
disappointed—French lines forced—Misconduct of the Allies—Captain
Blackader’s Remarks—Letters— He returns to Rotterdam—Obtains a
The exploits of Marlborough and Prince
Eugene were now the theme of universal admiration. They were
regarded as twin constellations in glory, and all Europe resounded
with their applauses. On his arrival in England, the Duke was
complimented iii the most flattering terms, and received the thanks
of both Houses of Parliament. The memory of his distinguished
services was perpetuated by the most substantial marks of royal
favour. The manor of Woodstock was bestowed upon him, where a
magnificent palace was huilt, and named in honour of his great
victory at Blenheim. Foreigners were not less grateful than his own
country. He was created, by Leopold, a Prince of the Empire; the
territory of Mindelheim being, for that purpose, erected into a
But these splendid conquests were not productive of all the
advantages that might have been expected to result from them.
France, though impoverished and discontented, was not yet exhausted.
The despotism of Louis, in a great degree, rendered him superior to
his straits and embarrassments. By arbitrary compulsions, he was
enabled to overcome the reluctance of his subjects, and replenish
the coffers of his treasury; and to the astonishment of Britain and
her Allies, he again entered the field with armies as numerous and
well equipped as they had been in any year since the commencement of
the war. Marshal Villars, with 70,000 men, lay encamped on the
Moselle; while Villeroi, with a smaller force, commanded in
The Duke of Marlborough’s plan was to open the campaign, of this
year, on the Moselle, by attacking Villars, and pushing the war into
the interior of France. D’Auverquerque, as formerly, was to carry on
operations in the Netherlands. On the 26th of March, the Duke
departed for Holland; and having concerted measures at the Hague, he
marched his army towards the Moselle, which he reached on the 30th
of June. In a few days he was within sight of the enemy, who were
encamped on the same river, near Syrk. Magazines of ammunition, and
stores of all sorts were formed at Triers. The Prince of Baden was
expected to join the Confederate army, and to co-operate with them
in the same plan. Various events, however, concurred to disconcert
the Duke’s projects, and render his schemes abortive. He was
mortified with disappointments from the quarter where be had looked
for succour, and at the very time when he hoped to reap unfading
laurels, by giving a. final blow to the power of France. The Prince
of Baden failed to perform his engagement. In a fit of pretended
sickness, which was supposed to be at the reputation of his
illustrious colleague, he - quitted his army; and neither expresses
nor expostulations could prevail with them to hasten their approach.
Villars was too advantageously posted, and too strongly fortified,
to he attacked by an inferior force. He had swept the country of
forage and provisions, and thus rendered it impossible for a large
army to subsist in his neighbourhood.
By the treachery and tardiness of his friends, and the masterly
arrangements of his foes, the Duke saw himself constrained to
relinquish his designs of offensive hostilities on the French
frontier. Under these mortifying circumstances, he was compelled to
march back to the Maese, where the state of the war demanded his
assistance. The enemy, in that quarter, had not failed to profit by
his absence, having retaken Huy, and attempted the reduction of
Liege. He left Triers on the 19th of June, and with incredible
expedition, arrived before Liege, in time to save the citadel; for
upon his approach, Villeroi caused his artillery to be drawn off,
and sent back to Namur. This changed the whole face of affairs in
the Netherlands, and enabled the Allies to become the assailants in
their turn. In order to retrieve his misfortunes on the Moselle, and
make atonement for the misconduct of Prince Lewis, he resolved to
attack the French within their own lines, and force them from their
intrenchments, which was immediately accomplished, the /enemy being
repulsed with great slaughter. This, with some other successes,
under Baron Spar, closed the operations for this year; hut from the
sluggishness of the Germans, and an envious opposition on the part
of some of the Dutch officers, it was far deficient in military
glory to the preceding campaign. We now return to Captain Blackader,
who was on a recruiting party in Scotland; and this short sketch
will prepare the reader for the extracts we are to lay before him.
January 5. Hearing a sermon this day, on a subject I was much
delighted with—how the angels were employed in taking care of the
saints, and the many offices of kindness they do us, and how we are
given in charge to them to look after us. It reminded me how
wonderfully I was delivered last campaign—the angels encamping about
me, and putting a hedge of security around me and all that I had.
January 6. This morning set apart for secret and joint prayer. I
hope we had access to God, and were accepted.
January 12. My mind harrassed all day with business. In the evening
taken up with company, and involved in sin by idle, foolish
conversation, which defiles the soul.
January 14. Taking great pleasure in hearing a sermon on the
Providence of God directing and disposing all things. This is a
comfortable doctrine to me, who am as great an instance of the care
and kind conduct of Providence as any in the world.
Some proposals for his advancement being made about this time, he
remarks with his characteristic diffidence and humility:—
January 18. I am so far from seeking preferments or great things for
myself, that I am really afraid of higher posts in the world, and
sincerely think I am unfit for what I have already. Lord, teach me
in every thing to be humble, and to seek thy. council and conduct,
even in the smallest particulars.
January 26. Easy and cheerful. In the evening I designed to go
abroad, hut was kept at home by Providence; and I bless God for it.
I was alone all the evening, which I employed in reading, meditation
and prayer. I had access to the throne of grace, and one of the
kindest visits that I have had since I came to Scotland. I poured
out my soul to God, and told him every thing in my heart without
reserve. My former petitions that I had put up were answered, and I
had that word fulfilled, I ham heard thee in an accepted time. My
doubts and fears that seemed before like great mountains, were now
cast into the sea, and I saw, as it were, this promise written, Be
it unto thee, even as thou wilt.
February 15. This vexing trade of recruiting, depresses my mind. I
am the unfittest for it of any man in the army, and have the least
talent that way. Sobriety itself is here a bar to success. I see the
greatest fakes are the best recruiters. I cannot ramble, and rove,
and drink, and tell stories, and wheedle, and insinuate, if my life
were lying at stake. I saw all this before I came home, and could
have avoided coming ; but it was the hopes of enjoying the blessings
of the gospel that brought me to Scotland, more than recruiting;
though I do not deny that I had an eye to that also.
February 20. Hearing of our going abroad, and much encouraged by
that promise, Exod. xxxiii. 14/
My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest.
February 25. I complain of disappointments in Scotland. I have not
got that good of gospel ordinances that I wished and expected. I
experience also vexation in other things about the business of the
regiment. But I shall wait and have patience. I hope to have reason
to praise God before I leave the country, That his way is the best,
and that he orders all things well.
At this time he expresses an inclination to have left the army,
intending to purchase a property, that he might reside in Scotland;
hut was dissuaded by his friends.
March 10. I see the hand of Providence appearing about our going
abroad. O Lord, do as seemeth good to thee, either by stopping or
furthering us; thou only canst direct our ways. I desire to he
March 23. Toiling all the morning embarking men. Business prospering
and going on well. I see Providence orders every thing better than I
could do myself.
March 25. Sabbath. Heard a sermon upon that subject, Exod. xiv. 15.
the passage of the Israelites through the Red Sea. It was lively and
suitable, and came home to me with power and life. I hope it is by
the Lord’s command I go forward, and having his orders, I trust I
shall have his presence and conduct; and though they had the Red Sea
in their way, and insuperable difficulties, yet they obeyed, and
this engaged Omnipotence to work miraculously on their behalf. He
can do the same still to those who trust in him,
March 31. Embarking this day at Kirkaldy; committing myself, my wife
and family, to the conduct and care of a kind God and Father, who
must he our convoy and safe-guard.
April 1. Weather blowing and tempestuous.
April 4. Alarmed this morning by the motions of some French
privateers appearing and coming close to us, and waiting on us most
of the day. In the afternoon the ships retired, but appeared again
and came up to us in the evening, and followed us all the night. I
bless God I was easy and composed.
April 5. Disordered by stormy weather, contrary winds, and fears of
a tedious voyage. Privateers hovering about us all the day. A life
at sea is the true emblem of a-Christian’s life, tossed up and down
while here; But there remains a rest.
April 7. Landed this day, but not at the port designed; being chased
in here by fear of enemies and storms.
April 8. Reached Rotterdam.
April 12. Leaving Rotterdam and going up to the regiment; at night
came into the Busse.
April 17. Taken up all day in preparations for marching. More easy
and composed this year in going out to the camp than last.
April 20. Marching out of the Busse. I trust God will accompany me,
and keep me from the infection of bad company, which is the greatest
discouragement I have in the army.
April 22. Sabbath. Marching all day. This is what I hate most.
Nothing but cursing, swearing, and profaneness, as if hell itself
had broken loose about me.
April 23—30. Marching every day.
May 1. Arrived at Maestricht.
May 2. Got account this day that we are to inarch to the Moselle. I
will not fear any evil, for God is a tried God to me there already.
I remember the 15th of May last year, one of the most notable
deliverances I have met with. .
The same day he wrote to his wife at Rotterdam, giving her a farther
account of his destination, of which he had till then been
Maestricht, May 2.
You see I neglect no opportunity of letting you hear from me. We are
come up this length, though I could not give you any account in my
last, how we were to he disposed of; but now I can tell you. We are
to be reviewed to-morrow by the Duke, and we are to march on Friday
straight up the country to the Moselle. I commit myself to the same
God who has hitherto dealt so bountifully with us, and wrought such
great deliverances for me. I bless his name that I am every way well
as I could wish, hearty and cheerful. I hope to hear the same
account of you. Live by faith and you shall not want comfort. I know
not where this shall find you, for the Colonel tells me his Lady is
not at the Busse, so I think you are probably all gone to Rotterdam
together. I have not seen William Young, (my nephew,) his regiment
is just now marching to join the camp. You see I have altered my
seal and chosen another motto, Separez de corps et non de coeurs. I
write in haste, as I have many things to do in this town before
marching. The Lord’s blessing rest with you. I am thine.
To Mrs. Blackader, Mr. Montier’s, 7 Merchand, Scots Dyke, Rotterdam.
From Maestricht the army marched to Treves, which they reached on
the 17th of May. From, the camp near this place he wrote again the
following letter to his wife:
Near Treves, May 15.
We are now come within two days march of Treves, and are resting
this day, which gives me the opportunity of writing. It is said we
are to join Prince Lewis’ army on the other side of the Moselle, and
what we are to do next I do not pretend to tell you. Perhaps the
French will he so strong that we will not think it advisable to
attack their lines; and you know Prince Lewis is not thought rash of
fighting. But all this is hut poor comfort, and not to trust to I
confess, so I recommend you to go for support where you have already
had it, and where all needy humble believers should always have it.
The name of the Lord is a strong tower, the righteous flee to it and
are safe. I told you before, that I in particular, beyond many
others, need not fear to go to the Moselle, for God is a tried God
to me, and I have the experience of a remarkable preservation there
I bless God I am well, easy, and cheerful, more than I have been
since I went to Scotland,—and now, except my being absent from my
dearest joy on earth, there is almost nothing else that troubles me;
but in that as in all things else, I desire to trust God cheerfully,
hoping a comfortable meeting in God’s own time. All things about me
have been right and well ordered. My company is very well, and my
horses hold out well upon this long journey. At writing this we have
the worst weather I have seen at this time, of the year. It is just
now showering snow and hail, and so cold that I am forced to lay
aside the pen to draw on my hoots. The Lord’s blessing rest with
you. I am, &c. J. B.
To Mrs. Blackader, 7 Scots Dyke, Rotterdam, j
The march still continuing, he reached Treves on the 17th. A letter
to his friend Mrs. Balderstone, in Edinburgh, is dated from this
place, two days after his arrival.
Treves, May 19.
I have never had time, before now, to salute you and your kind
husband by a line; for we were not well in our garrison till we had
orders to march out, and we have been marching now this month almost
every day. The Lord was merciful to us on our voyage; for though we
had the French privateers about us almost every day, and sometimes
within cannon shot, yet by the goodness of God they did us no harm.
Dear friend, I invite you to extol the Lord with me, and let us
exalt his name together. He has in mercy removed much of that
melancholy and chagrin that I was sometimes troubled with in
Scotland, and helps me to trust in him cheerfully : the sweet
experience of the last campaign, and the wonderful deliverances I
met with, do help much to strengthen and bear me up, and I am no way
afraid of going into Germany again this year. We have indeed a very
wicked army, which is a great discouragement; and I am weary of
dwelling in the tents of sin. I see not how good people can pray
with confidence for success to it, only that we have a good and just
cause, though we be foul-fingered hands that manage it; and we see
by our last year’s success, that God can in his sovereignty use any
instruments he pleases for carrying on his own work, and I doubt not
hut he shall get glory by us, either one way or other. We know not
well yet where we are going, or Avhat we are to do. I know I need
not hid you mind me, for, as you tell me, I am laid on you as a
charge, that you must mind me; and pray, go on, for you are well
paid for your pains. You serve a good master, and get something for
yourself when you ply the throne of grace for your friends. The
Lord’s blessing rest with you and your family. I am, &c.
Mrs. Balpeiistone, Edinburgh. .
The following is another letter to his wife, of the date of the 20th
Camp near Treves, Sabbath.
I wrote to you from Treves on Friday last. The same night, when I
came home to the regiment, I found a letter from you, dated May 5—8,
wherein you tell me of the Colonel’s Lady going to Coblentz, and the
inclination you had of going with her, if you had orders from me;
and that you think I consult your ease more than my own inclination.
I answer, you need not doubt hut my inclination would lead me to
have you always near me, and if both of us had our wills and wishes,
we would never be parted at all. But you must consider, it is not by
inclinations we are to be led, but by duty,—and I am persuaded it is
your duty to stay still at Rotterdam; considering that you have the
gospel there, good company, edifying conversation, time and
opportunity to serve God, advantage of living by faith, and trusting
him with a husband who is far from you.
On the other hand, you will find no solidity or weight in reasons
for coming up the country, hut the fond inclination of seeing that
which we love. There is no pleasure in living in a Popish country
without the gospel. Make good use of it; it is a mercy not to be
slighted. You know you are not fitted for travelling, and should you
meet with any accident by the way, you would not have peace. But I
need not use many words, when I know you would obey the very
thoughts of my heart if you knew them ; and I hope you shall be no
loser by being in your duty. You will remember last campaign, how
Providence gave us a comfortable meeting several months sooner than
others who travelled many miles to see their husbands.—We are lying
still here near Treves, and what we are to undertake I know not, nor
care not. There is no great probability of fighting this summer,
that I can see; but this is not to make you secure. It is all one
for God to preserve from danger, or in the midst of danger. The
Lord’s blessing rest with you. I am, &c. J. B.
Mrs. Balckader, Rotterdam.
May 20—24. Marching every day. Walking alone, and meditating along
the banks of the Moselle. Drawing near the enemy, and in prospect of
June 2. Resting this day; quietly reading over the 126th Psalm, and
applying the promises to myself.
The army at this time was encamped near Syrk ; and from this place
he dates another letter to his wife.
Camp near Syrk, June 2.
I received your letter with the inclosed to Captain
Lawson. You have no reason to quarrel, for I have taken all
occasions upon the march to write; and sometimes after fatiguing
marches, when others lay down to sleep, I sat up and wrote to you.
Many of my fellow-officers write their wives only once in two
months. I ought, both as a soldier and a Christian, to wish that I
loved earthly enjoyments less, and that I kept a looser hold of
them. I think I could part with all other comforts pretty easily,
without much regret, except thyself. I wish I may not provoke a holy
God who seeketh the whole heart, and ought to have it all.
There is no news since my last. We are still lying here, expecting
more troops to join us. But we must look above all human help, to
that God who hath hitherto covered my head in the day of battle; he
only is my sure defence. We hear the French are making progress in
Flanders, and besieging Huy. Brigadier Hamilton’s Regiment is in it.
Let me know what you are at present reading. I find Mr. Rutherford’s
book very sweet and comfortable. May the experience of God’s
goodness to us both, make you cheerful and easy; and trust in him
generously without fear or doubting. You will always find that God
bestows mercies on his people, proportionably as they believe on
him, and according to the trust they put in him. Let us not then
bind up his hand, nor stop the course of our own mercies by
misgiving fears, unbelief, or narrowness of heart, My love to all
who are kind to you. I am thine.
To Mrs. Blackader, 7 Mr. Montier’s, Rotterdam. J
June 5. Getting account this day that we are to inarch hack again,
just down the same way we came up. Travelling all night, yet easy,
and committing my way to God.
Camp near Treves, June 7.
When I wrote to you last, I had no news; but now this is to acquaint
you with news which, I believe, will not be displeasing to you.. We
are upon our march back, down to Holland, the French are so strong
there, and making such progress; and measures here being a little
disconcerted, appear to be the reasons of this march. We are to go
towards Liege or Maestricht, but it is all one to me, up the country
or down; for the earth is the Lord’s, and wherever he gives his
presence, I care not what place it be. I just now received your
letter, wherein you beg a thousand pardons, for quarrelling me
without reason. I take your submission, and pardoned you before you
sought it. You know I have that in my breast, that you need never
fear .my resentment; though indeed I take it ill to be quarrelled
with on these two very heads that I piqued myself most upon—writing
often, and writing kindly. But I see I should not make an idol of
any thing I do. There is always most ease and satisfaction, when we
are found precisely in the way of duty. Then we are kept in perfect
peace, or else the being sure that we are in the road of duty, makes
trouble easy. I am very thankful to God.I have such a wife, who
needs not commands or authority to oblige to duty, and needs no more
but to have duty pointed out, and to be advised to it; and I do you
but justice to say, that I have always found that duty, and the
sense of duty, pleasantly determines both your judgment and your
will, to whatever side it calls, though inclination should murmur
against it. May the Lord prepare you for the approaching solemn
occasion, and doubt not but I shall mind you. Have exalted noble
thoughts, by faith, of the Master of the feast, of his liberality
and bounty, then shall you Taste and see that God is good. I am
thine. J. B.
To Mrs. Blackader.
June 10. Still marching down the country. Being Sabbath, I retired
much of the day, and rode alone, to be out of the hearing of such
company and such language.
June 19. Coming back to Maestricht again. I bless God for his
preservation of me all this long march, up and down. Wherever we set
up our standards, there have I some memorial of his mercy to set up.
If we encamp on the banks of the Maese, there I had my Ebenezers
fourteen years ago, and also great deliverances two years ago. If we
encamp on the Moselle, I had my preservations there last year. If on
the banks of the Danube, I have Schellenberg and Hochstet. Wherever
I go, I meet with some remembrancer to stir me up to gratitude and
thankfulness, and to beget confidence and trust for the time to
June 21. Crossing the Maese. This day has been a fatiguing long
march, continuing from three in the morning, till eleven at night. A
great many of the army fell by with weariness, and some died, it
being a scorching hot day. I bless God for his mercies to me, for my
health and strength, and the good accommodation I have in a camp,
which make me live easy and well, while others (better than I) are
miserable, and serve in bitterness of soul.
June 23. Marching all day. Uneasy with hot weather. A soldier’s life
is an odd unaccountable way of living. One day too much heat,
another too cold. Sometimes we want sleep, meat, and drink; again,
we are surfeited with too much. A bad irregular way of living.
June 26. Short march. Lying near the enemy (at Liege.) I commit
myself to thee, O Lord, and put my trust in thee. I will not be
afraid, though an host encamp against me. Through thee I shall do
valiantly. I fetch all my supplies from thee.
June 27. Taken up during the day, judging of criminals in a court
martial. Seeking the conduct of the Spirit of God to judge uprightly
July 2. On command these three days. I had the charge of about 1500
artillery horses, which made me somewhat uneasy, as fifty men might
easily have come and taken hundreds of them. I have just got notice
from the officer who succeeded me in that post, that the enemy fell
in and carried off 100 of them. I own it was neither my care, nor
prudence, nor conduct that prevented this misfortune, but purely the
goodness of Providence to me, who watches over me continually.
Employed again this day in a court martial; well guided and
directed; I bless God I was there as a judge, and not as a criminal.
It is only his grace that makes me differ from the worst of men.
July 4. This morning putting my hand to a small affair before
prayer, it went wrong. I checked myself that I should undertake any
thing before prayer, so I went to my knees; and after prayer I set
about the same affair, and went through it with easel. I observe
this, that I may he encouraged, the first thing I do in the morning,
to commit myself and all my ways to God; and put all I have within
the hedge of his protection. . . '
July 6. The day quietly spent. In the evening I went out to meditate
in the fields, and I observe it as a mark of the Spirit of God
guiding and influencing me, I had more access and enlargement in
prayer than ordinary, and was helped to act faith very strong,
trusting in God, and believing that if he were with me, I durst
attack the French lines alone; and that a straw in the hand of
Omnipotence, is better than Go-liah’s spear. In returning home, it
came into my mind to ask a sign; but I immediately checked the
thought as sinful, saying to myself, “I’ll trust the Lord’s word and
promise without any sign,” I had no sooner said this, than a bullet
came whistling close by my head, shot at'random by a soldier
cleaning his piece. I wist not what to think of it; but I said
within myself, this is the promise accomplished, Psalm xci. He will
give his angels charge over thee; thou shalt not he afraid of the
arrow (or bullet) that flieth by day.
All this while I knew nothing of what was doing in the army; but
when I came home, I found that our regiment and the whole army had
orders to march immediately. We guessed it was to attack the French
lines; accordingly we marched at nine o’clock at night in great
silence, and marched all night. It was one of < the sweetest nights
I ever had in my life. Faith lively; access to God, and communion
with him; trusting him, and securing myself in the chambers of his
grace and mercy, so that I had no manner of fear or concern of any
danger that might be before me; the stock of strength and courage
being in Christ’s hands, and not in my own. Sensible of my weakness,
I was determined to come every moment, as the occasions of the day
might require, to draw fresh supplies out of Christ’s fulness. I did
so, and he was a liberal master, he supplied me bountifully with
courage to do my duty creditably in the functions of my post. O
Lord, I give thee all the praise and glory; none of it belongs to
me, for I trade hut with a borrowed stock. I desire to allow myself
in no other ambition, hut of serving thee, and laying out myself and
all thou givest me for thy glory and service; and if thou give me
any credit in this army, I desire to lay it down at thy feet. If it
make me more capable of serving thee in the army, I seek no other
advantage of it. I find that a good exhortation, Be careful about
nothing ; for though I am far from a pushing ambitious temper as
others are, yet Providence takes care and gives me occasions, like
this, of acting honourably, and puts me in posts that I was neither
expecting nor seeking; and when these occasions are over, I can
return to my own way again with contentment.
July 7. We attacked the French lines this morning, and got in much
easier and cheaper than we expected. The lines were partly forced
and partly surprised, for the French had a part of their army there,
hut not sufficient to make head against us ; not knowing that we
were to attack them at that place; for there was a feint made to
attack them in another part, which made them draw their forces that
way. Our horse had some action with them, and heat them wherever
they encountered them. Our foot had nothing to do, for the enemy
fled before they came up. As I said before, the Lord assisted me,
and gave grace and strength as I needed. Through the day, and in the
intervals of action, I plied the throne of grace by prayer, and he
carried me through well.
July 8. Sabbath. Marching all day. We seem to have committed a great
error, neglecting the opportunity of pushing our victory by marching
straight on between them and Louvain. The French, by marching all
night, have prevented us, and got before us, and stopt us. This
shews us men are but men; that there are flaws and weaknesses in the
wisest mens’ prudence. One day a great heroic action, and the next,
perhaps, a great blunder. We seemed also, by too much wariness, to
have neglected a fair opportunity of attacking them on their march,
or in their camp. But let God alone have the glory, and all flesh be
It was confessedly an oversight in the Allies to allow the enemy,
when they were driven from their lines, and might have been attacked
a second time with advantage, io possess themselves, without
molestation, of the strong camp at Parck, whereby they secured
Louvain, Brussels, and Antwerp. But this error is not to be imputed
to the Duke of Marlborough, who had projected a second attack before
they had time to recover from their consternation, and was preparing
to put it into execution. In this scheme, he was supported by M.
D’Auverquerque, but opposed by the other Generals of the States,
especially by Schlangenburg, who, it is said, had a personal pique
against the Duke. He persuaded some others of the Dutch commanders
to join him, representing the enterprise as neither advisable nor
practicable. The Duke, in consequence, was obliged to submit, though
with great reluctance, and much mortified that his sanguine hopes
should be disappointed of closing the campaign with distinguished
glory. He mentions himself, in a letter, that he had formed the
troops in order of battle; but that the Deputies of the States
having consulted their other Generals, would not consent to it, so
that he was compelled to abandon a project which promised all
imaginable success. The Deputies themselves appear to have become
sensible of their mistake, and approved of the Duke’s conduct, so
far as to remove Schlangenburg from the army.
July 9. Resting this day over against the enemy. The town (Louvain)
between us, which is firing upon us, and some of the bullets coming
in among our tents; but little hurt done.
July 10—11. The firing still continuing briskly, but no hurt done:
that promise was made good, Psalm iii; I laid me down, and slept; I
awaked, for the Lord sustained me. I will not fear though ten
thousand were against me round about. I lay at my post two days; and
just as I was writing this, some cannon balls, shot from the town,
came close over my tent, and lighted among those in the rear, but
did me no harm. We are all fretting and uneasy about this
mismanagement and blunder, that we have not im-proven our victory as
we ought to have done; and I am fretting among the rest.
July 12. Removing our camp this day out of the reach of the town’s
cannon. To-morrow is appointed by the General to he observed through
the army in thanksgiving for our success, and prayer. God grant that
we be not found mocking him in this exercise, when these mouths come
to His service hot from cursing and swearing, pretending to thank
“God for mercies they have no sense of; and when the work is over,
return to their trade of swearing and blasphemy. But, Lord, whatever
the army do, make me single, and fervent, and tune my heart to
praise and gratitude.
I see plainly the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the
strong. Providence laughs at men’s projects, and often works by
disappointments, and contrary to their expectations. Our passing the
lines was a pleasant disappointment, for we were far from expecting
such success, a victory so cheap. But then again, here was a gallant
army, that (humanly speaking) might have carried all before them,
beat the enemy, and possessed all this country; yet Providence steps
in and again disappoints us, for we stopt short by blundering in the
midst of so fine a career. It is the Lord’s doingsj and wonderous in
our eyes; he says to the purposes of men, as to the raging waves,
Hitherto shall ye come and no farther.
There is a letter to his wife, of this date, from the camp near
Louvain, in which he makes a recapitulation of some things already
taken notice of.
Thursday, July 12.
I wrote you the good news of our having passed the lines, and I now
write you again in an advanced post, near the enemy. Yesterday we
had a bickering with them, but the water was between us, and it was
only the picquets of regiments that were engaged. Lieutenant
Dalrymple was wounded in the head, but not badly. We have hot lost
one man in the regiment as yet. We are all fretting that we have
made such a mistake—as we might probably have been masters of this
I believe you will be pretty much concerned for me at present,
considering the circumstances we are in, and the news you will be
hearing daily; but be not afraid for me, be not concerned, I am in
good hands.—The Lord is my defence, I shall not be moved; he is my
fortress, my shield and buckler, and my strong tower.—Continue you
to trust him cheerfully. You must not only believe when all goes
fair before the wind; then any body may believe;'but you must
believe when all is in hazard; and there must be a time between the
promise and the accomplishment ; and this is the season of the trial
of faith.— My best advice to you is, to be humble, watchful,
circumspect, and self-denied.
I was on command some days ago, and had the charge of, 1500
artillery horses : it was an alert post, and par ties, thick about
me, &c. I can give you no account of our operations, or what we are
to undertake next; probably we must try to make some farther
progress, and to reap some fruits of our passing the lines. Be not
you anxious about it. Take no notice of reports of news or stories
flying about. .You are too much impressed with these. Providence
often works against all our probabilities, and it signifies not what
people, even the wisest of them, either think or say. I am thine. J.
To Mrs. Blackader, Mr. Montier’s, I Merchand, Scots Dyke, Rotterdam.
July 18. Here (near Louvain) have we been stopt these ten days; hut
we are now going to march again, towards the enemy I believe. If the
Lord would lead Us on as the Captain of our host, then we would do
great things; hut without his presence the smallest obstacle will
stop us. Marching all night to attach the enemy: it has been a
pleasant night to me. I rely on the Divine promises, and cast the
weight of my soul upon the well-ordered Covenant. Acting again in an
honourable post, wherein I was well assisted to go through it
creditably. In all the intervals of business and of action, I was
sensible of the goodness of God. Our army got another check and
mortification this day, (19) for we did not succeed in passing the
water, (the Dyle) and dislodging the French. They did not heat us,
nor did Ave lose any men; hut our General, it seems, found the thing
in prudence not practicable, and that we could not pass at that
place. Such of our troops as did pass,' beat the enemy from their
posts. I observe this throughout the campaign, that in all our
encounters with the French, Providence lets us see we are fully
masters of them, and-can easily heat them, for they appear in our
hands like a cur matched against a mastiff. But at the same time we
are prevented, and kept, as it were, in a chain from giving them a
total rout: For either we let occasions slip when they are put in
our power, or we greedily pursue occasions when it is not the will
of Providence to firvour us. But I hope our chain shall yet he
loosed, and Ave shall he successful. Arise, O Lord, let thy enemies
he scattered; for they are thy enemies as well as ours. I am very
much fatigued with our march, for we were twenty-two hours under
arms, and so my spirits are not lively, especially for want of
sleep. The enemy cannonaded us on our march, hut did us no harm, for
we came safe to our camp at night.
The skirmish here referred to, was that which took place on the 30th
of July, between Louvain, and the village of Neerysche. The Duke
being informed that several posts on the Dyle, between these places,
were but slightly guarded, resolved to force them, in order to pass
the river. The Duke of Wirtemberg, and Count Oxenstiern, with a part
of the troops, were ordered on this service. They decamped about
eleven at night, and reached the enemy’s posts by three next
morning. Some battalions of grenadiers crossed the river on bridges,
and repulsed the French Guards with great vigour; but not being
timely supported, they were obliged to retire with the loss of a few
officers, and about fifty privates. 2 On whom the blame of this
misadventure rests, is not well explained. Captain Blackader merely
says, their Commanding Officer judged it impracticable, yet he was
himself plainly of a different opinion ; and was evidently
dissatisfied at losing so many opportunities of fighting. For the
first time we find him here differing in opinion with his superiors,
and venturing a short military critique on the operations of the
army since their action on the 7th.
July 25. As to public affairs, when I think upon our conduct this
campaign, we seem, in my weak judgment, to have committed several
mistakes and weaknesses since we attacked the lines. I say not this
to reflect in the least on Generals or their conduct, but only I
would be a narrow observer of providences ; which rules the
successes and victories of armies as it pleases. First when we
attacked the lines in the morning, they were surprised; and we
easily beat all the troops that made head against us. Their army was
coming up, hut in no great order; and if we had pushed the attack
vigorously with the troops we had over, or kept them in play with
our horse till the foot had come up, in all probability we had
routed them. But instead of that, we suffered them quietly to
retire, and stood and looked on. Then in the next place, if we had
but posted our army so as the right had run to Judoigne, and the
left to Tirlemont, we had lain just across their way, that they
could hardly have got by us; whereas, we camped about. Tirlemont,
and so gave them a passage clear to get before us again. .
Then again, if we had but marched on three hours farther that night,
and had taken up the pass and strong camp of Parck, we had been
betwixt them and Louvain, and all that country: But instead of that,
we lay still at Tirlemont, and the French, by marching all night,
got before us, and stopt us at Louvain. Then again, though we had
rested all night, if we had hut marched next morning at day-break,
we had fallen upon them in their march, weary and unawares. But we
lay still till nine o’clock; and, as it was, our army came in sight
of them, while their foot was passing the Dyle in great haste and
confusion; and if we had attacked them even then, in all human
appearance we had heat them. But we suffered them to pass quietly,
and then cut off their bridges.
Then the next day after we had encamped at Louvain, our pickets and
some regiments marched to the right, to the water side, and fired
upon them. Our men had no cover, hut the French had breast-works
along the river side; and so we got a great many men wounded, and
some killed, foolishly and to no purpose. Then on the 18th we
marched all night, designing to pass the water, and surprise the
enemy as we had done at their lines, and had over ten or twelve
battalions who took post on a village on the other side, which they
beat the French from. It is true our horse could not pass there; but
it is granted by all, that our foot might have passed, and taken
their posts, and kept them in spite of all the French army ; because
we were reckoned superior to them by 25 or 30,000 men. But instead
of that, those that were over were ordered to come back, and take
off our bridges; and so we marched off. The French, by their mien,
did not look as if they would stand to it, but came up stragglingly
and hovering off at a distance, that they might retire in case we
pushed over the water : But the battle is not always to the strong
Providence laughs at man’s projects.
Such were Captain Blackader’s sentiments with regard to the
operations and lost, opportunities of the army; and there can be no
doubt, this indecision would not have happened, had the Duke of
Marlborough not been thwarted in his measures by the tardiness or
timidity of the States’ Deputies and their Generals.
While near Tirlemont he writes again to his wife, to relieve her
anxiety after the recent engagement.
Camp near Tirlemont. Monday, July 23.
I believe you have been pretty uneasy these four or five days
by-gone, by not hearing from me since our late action with the
French; though I comfort myself in the hopes of this, that the
manifold experience you have of my preservation and deliverances,
makes you trust God more fixedly than before, without unbelieving
fears. I could not possibly write to you on Thursday, the post day,
for that was the day of our action ; and we were in arms from
Wednesday night at ten, marching all night, till Thursday at eight
at night. We were to have attacked the French by passing the water
that is between us and them; so we marched silently all Wednesday
night to the left above Louvain; and by break of day our detachments
were at the water-side, where we were to pass, and laid on bridges
without opposition; for the French were surprised in the same manner
as before at the lines, and made no head against the regiments that
crossed. But unluckily, it seems there was a mistake as to the
place, for when the General came up he found it was not practicable
for the horse, as the place was marsh ground. In the mean time, the
foot were still passing the bridges, and bad taken post on the other
side, and had beat some brigades of the French from their posts; but
the General, finding the horse could not pass, sent orders for the
foot to come back, which they did without any loss; for the French
never charged them, only they brought down a battery of some cannon
to the water-side, and played upon our lines as they were marching,
but did very little harm, and so we got safe to our camp.
This action is variously talked of; commended and censured according
to men’s various humours. Some are of opinion, if we had gone over
with our foot only, that we had beat them; for when we observed
their motions first in the morning, they seemed to he irresolute and
wavering whether they should come up to defend the passage or retire
towards Brussels. Others think it was prudently done, not to risk
our army to an affront, when our horse could not act. But whatever
it he to the army, I look upon all God’s ways of dealing with me to
he mercy and goodness,—and I believe myself to he as sound and safe
in the chambers of his Omnipotence, faithfulness, and love, in time
of action, as if I were with you at Rotterdam.
Our whole army seemed to he mighty keen and eager to he at the
French, and were uneasy and out of humour when ordered to retire. I
do believe, by the blessing of God, we would have heat them if we
had gone over. For I observe this, all this campaign, that in all
skirmishes between us and them, it appears we are masters of them,
and could heat them as easy as a mastiff worries a cur-dog; but at
the same time I observe that we are, as it were, chained down, and
cannot get them soundly beat. It is currently believed here, that
both at the lines and now, it is the States and their Generals that
hinder us to fight, and to improve our advantages as we might. So
that if you have a value for my safety and preservation, you should
go and thank the States for it.
I hope this letter will come seasonably to your hand; though I
flatter myself that you are quite another woman, for a masculine and
strong heart, than you - were the first or second campaign. You have
more reason, more experience of God’s goodness, and I hope more
grace. You will excuse me if I add a fourth cause; that you begin
now to be an old married wife, and should be settled and calm.
I am thine. J. B.
Mrs. Blackader, Rotterdam.
July 27. My mind is getting becalmed again with lying.idle, and I
now begin to wish for action, because it rouses the spirits into
activity. This day, three of my men were taken prisoners, and the
other day two of them deserted. This is a providence that I do not
well understand. Most Captains of the army know nothing but to curse
and swear at their men. I ordinarily every day put them, by prayer,
within the circle of God’s protection. But I believe every
dispensation to me is fraught with mercy and kindness.
August 2. The very morning of this day is an Ebenezer. The day of
Hochstet,—a day much to be remembered for the wonderful mercy and
deliverance I got. The Lord wrought a great salvation for us that
day; he delivered my soul in peace from the battle that was against
me. A thousand fell at my side, and ten thousand at my right hand,
but it came not near to me, but in a way of remarkable mercy and
favour; for though the ball was at my throat, the angel of the Lord
held it as he did the knife in Abraham’s hand. I cried unto the
Lord, and he answered me. I employed this day in meditating on these
things; and there was a thanksgiving appointed by the General for
commemorating that great day.
August 3—6. Marching every day, but very uneasy; scorching hot
weather—my horse sick—and my servant in the hospital.
August 7. This day there was a great preparation, and all the
appearances and dispositions for a battle. We were to attack the
enemy (twenty battalions of us) through the wood (of Soignies.) The
action threatened to be a bloody one, for they were well fortified,
and occupied a strong post at Waterloo. The time we were lying in
the wood, I retired frequently for meditation. The enemy was so
strongly posted, that it was thought impracticable to attack them,
so we were ordered to draw off at one o’clock, having marched at
nine in the morning. I observed at our coming off, what a poor weak
creature man is of himself. There came a panic fear, and surprise
among the soldiers at the head of the line, that before they knew
what they were doing, they rolled and turned back oiie upon another,
from one regiment to another, and knew not what hand to turn them
to. I thought upon that Scripture, One man shall chase a thousand.
It was over in two minutes; they came to themselves and were
ashamed. Late at night we came to our camp, and lay on the bare
ground all night for want of our tents, for we thought they were all
taken by the French, and indeed they were very near it.
August 8—16. Marching back to the camp at Tirlemont.
These operations are more enlarged upon in his letters, of this
date, from which we shall make one or two selections.
Wavre, August 9. Thursday.
I believe you may be somewhat anxious by not hearing from me these
eight days; for we have been marching since Friday last, still
courting the occasion of falling upon the French; but Providence
still disappoints us, and balks our projects. On Tuesday there was
all the preparation, and dispositions, and appearance of a pitched
battle ; and if it had come to a battle/ in all probability it had
been one' of the bloodiest most of us ever saw. But when we came up
to them, we found them so strongly posted and fortified, that it
would have been a butchering . to have attacked them in their camp.
There was also a stratagem to be used, which, if it had taken
effect, would probably have decided the battle in our favour. There
were twenty battalions, (ours was one,) and horse conform, that were
to march through a wood and post ourselves quietly in the wood till
we should hear that the battle was fully joined. Then We were to
come out and attack them in the rear. Accordingly we marched at
three in the morning, and posted ourselves in the wood, where we
stayed till three; afternoon. General Churchill commanded us; but
the Duke finding it impossible to attack them, as I said, we came
I have still reason to say, that times of fighting and action, and
prospects of danger, are the pleasantest times I have; and I should
be well satisfied to have every day the same prospect of danger, to
have the same supplies and furniture of faith in Christ, relying
upon the well ordered Covenant- I trusted much to that promise,
Josh. i. 9, which was strongly impressed upon me.
We are now drawn off farther from the enemy, and there is no more
talk of attacking them; and in all probability there is but little
appearance of any more action this campaign. I will not say what
Providence may do, which ordinarily works by disappointment of
expectations. You may thank your friends the Hollanders again, for
it is said generally, that we owe it most to them, our sleeping in a
sound skin on this occasion; and that they were positively against
fighting there. However it he, it seems Providence will not work by
these means ; not this time at least. It has been a fatiguing march
this week by-gone, and we have had very little rest. I lost five men
in that camp, two by desertion, and three taken prisoners. The
Lord’s presence and blessing be with you. I am thine. J. B.
Mrs. Blackader, Rotterdam,
Monday, August 13.
We are marched yesterday still farther from the enemy, so that the
appearance of action grows less, and we scarcely expect to see the
Messieurs this campaign again. But let me warn you, as thoughts of
action wear out, not to let castles in the air come, in their place;
for at the very time you wrote of coming to Aix-la-Chapelle, we
seemed to be upon the brink of; a battle, where probably ten
thousand had lain on the spot. For my part, I dare not allow myself
in wishing earnestly to be in garrison, (though I be weary enough of
the camp,) or to wish that it were peace; for without God’s presence
and blessing, the garrison and winter would be but a melancholy
time. Comforts and enjoyments, when we expect much satisfaction from
them, may he blasted, and a time of peace may be more troublesome
than war. I have cause to bless God while I live, for the bountiful
supplies of his grace and spirit that he gives me in times of war;
and if he should withhold these from me in peace, I should wish to
he hack to the camp, and in action every day. It is his presence
alone that can make any place, any lot, any condition happy.
The campaign is slipping away, and I hope God will give us a
comfortable meeting at the end of it. We are going to take St. Lewe;
and our regiment having been on command when we expected to fight on
Tuesday, we do not think it will he our tour to be on the siege.
About your coming to Aix, I do not think it safe or convenient. If I
thought it would benefit, your health, I would order you there; but
I may say in jest, it is because you are promised a temporal
blessing, and as Papists go to our Lady of Lo-retto to get favours,
so you would go to Aix; but with this difference, they expect their
favours by way of miracle, you would have it by means.
They begin now to talk of peace, and that proposals are making; I
know nothing of them, only if we had improven our success at the
passing of the lines, as we might have done, and if we had got
Brabant, it might perhaps have procured a peace very soon: but we
must look to a higher hand, and the scourge of war must continue
till God have wrought his purposes by it. Let him be exalted in the
earth. Remember me to all kind friends. I am thine.
Mrs. Blackader, Rotterdam.
St. Lewe, August 20.
We are now marched back to the lines, and are lying covering the
siege of St. Lewe. It is observable that we have, been these six
weeks marching and counter-marching, and seeking all occasions of
coining at the enemy, yet our prospects have been blasted, and we
have been kept as a lion in chains, and cannot get out. There seems
also to be a spirit of division sown among our generals, and as long
as it continues I never expect we shall do any great things. I
confess I begin to turn more dull than when the prospects of danger
and death were more frequent. God gives the charges suitable to the
errands he sends us on.. If he sends us among snares and
temptations, he gives the more grace; if he do not send difficult
errands, we need the less expenses. Blessed be God who has borne us
both so well through. O that we may have grace to pay our vows when
he deals so bountifully with us, and to walk before him in all holy
circumspect tenderness, as becomes the children of so many mercies.
The Lord’s rich blessing be with you. I am thine. J. B.
Mrs. Blackader, Rotterdam.
P. S.—August 27. St. Lewe is over when we thought it was but
beginning; which gives us a new proof, that the French, if they be
well holden to, are no formidable enemy. We are now demolishing the
lines here-about, after which I believe we shall march. These three
men of mine that were taken, I have got again, they were exchanged.
Early in September he left the army to return to Rotterdam.
September 7. Travelling this day, but not so serene, being
continually in company. I slipped off from the party on pretence of
hunting, and retired alone where I had sweet and spiritual
meditation. I look upon it as a great merey that I have left the
camp so soon; for I wearied more these twenty days by-gone, than I
had done all the campaign. .
September 8. Coming in to the Busse this day. Next day set out for
Rotterdam: we were very late upon the water.
September 11. Here have I reason to he grateful; after a eampaign of
fatigues, hazards, and dangers, the Lord has brought me back safe to
this place, and given me a comfortable meeting with my wife. He
has'compassed me about with songs of deliverance.
He continued in Rotterdam for some time, enjoying the ordinances of
the gospel, and the fellowship of religious people, which was always
his greatest happiness. “I am always,” says he, “cheerful and merry
in good and innocent company. Perhaps I am now too much so, but I
would wish to commend religion by a cheerful conversation, to
convince the world that religion does not make people sour and
About the middle of October he returned again to die Busse, where he
got the melancholy news of Brigadier Ferguson’s death.
September 13. I got the surprising account of our Brigadier’s death,
with which I was greatly affected. Man’s breath goeth out, to earth
he turns, that day his thoughts'perish. O the vanity of human
grandeur ! He was just come from court, where he was sent for that
he might be raised a step higher for his services.
September 15. This day we were employed in the funeral of our
November 1. This day our regiment came in tu the Busse, and I went
out to meet them.
Several promotions were at this time to take place, and his among
the rest, as appears by the following letter to Mrs. Balderstone,"
Busse, November 7. 1705.
I received the kind letter you wrote to me in summer, and I cannot
but observe how seasonably it came first to my wife’s hand just at
the communion of Rotterdam, and then to my hand. It came just upon
our march, when we were going to attack the French, and the army
was” halting in sight of the enemy. This gave me an opportunity to
retire for an hour or two alone in the fields, at a hedge side; and
there I looked over all the Scriptures that you' had sent me, and
was helped to act faith, leaning on those sweet promises. But I
thought some of them gave such high titles, that I blushed to take
them; though, as to the spiritual part and accomplishment of a
promise, I think no promise so large or great, but the believer,
though mean otherwise, may lay hold of it. I wrote you to rejoice
that another campaign was brought to a happy issue. I was never
better borne through or supported, particularly when there was any
appearance of fighting or action; and I could have wished all the
campaign to have been made up of those days, to have had such
liberal allowances of grace. I must confess at other times, when we
were idle, I was, as it were, becalmed, and grace at a stand; but
still new providences, especially surprise and danger, stirred me up
to more vigorous acting.
Our Brigadier is dead. Lieutenant Colonel Borth-wick is putting in
for the regiment; Major Cranston to be Lieutenant Colonel, and I, as
oldest Captain, to be Major, I know not how it will go, but I desire
to be very easy, go as it may. I must confess I am grown weary of
living in the tents of wickedness, in a place of so much profanity
as an army is, especially now that I am growing grey-headed in
following the regiment. I would desire a quiet retreat out of the
noise of drums and oaths, but a wise God knows best what is good for
me. I desire to trust him cheerfully with all that concerns me.
Remember us kindly to your husband, and pray let me hear from you
' Yours, &c. J. B.
Mrs. Balderstone, Edinburgh.
In the beginning of December, he went to the Hague on the business
of his promotion, and had a conference with the Duke of Marlborough,
who was there on his way to England.
December 12. At court here for several days, where I have but little
to say, and no body to speak well for me. I talked this forenoon
with the Duke about my business, and got a good answer, (for none
ever get ill words from him.) But I lay no stress upon these things,
I look above them. I am incapable of making my court to great men,
though I know how to make moyen with Him who is greater than all. He
will dispose of things the way that shall be best for me. If He
smile upon me, I envy not the Duke of Marlborough in his own post.
December 15. Got my Major’s commission this day. I wish it may not
be a burden too heavy for my weak shoulders. I see Providence brings
about my affairs, as well as theirs who have dexterity to manage
December IT. Coining back to the Hague from Rotterdam. We have a
proverb, Meat and mess never hindered any man. I lost nothing by
going away, all my business went on well and smoothly. I found more
friendship and credit at Rotterdam than I expected ; and when I came
to the Hague, my affair had taken such a good turn, that it has
saved me 2000 merks I thought to have been out of pocket. I met with
far more generosity and kindness than I could ever have looked for
from that quarter.