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REIGN OF QUEEN ANNE.
War in the Netherlands and France.
PROJECT OF ENTERING FRANCE BY THE MOSELLE ITS ABAN
DONMENT THE SECRET MARCH TO THE NETHERLANDS BATTLE OF RAMILLIES TRIUMPHANT PROCLAMATION THE TWO FORCES BATTLE OF OUDENARDE RECOVERY OF BRUSSELS, LOUVAIN, AND OTHER TOWNS IN THE NETHERLANDS ATTEMPTS TO TREAT FOR PEACE CROSSING THE FRENCH FRONTIER SIEGE AND CAPTURE OF LILLE AND TOURNAI-MILITARY REVIVAL OF FRANCE-VAST ARMIES ON BOTH SIDES-BATTLE OF MALPLAQUET.
THE battle of Blenheim saved Vienna from a visit by a French army. There was nothing more to be effected on the Danube, and Marlborough resumed his favourite project of penetrating into Franceperhaps marching to Paris. His marches had given him opportunities for a close study of the various available entrances to the heart of France, and he selected the valley of the Moselle, joining his army near Treves. Hence he marched across the hillcountry to the Moselle, a few miles below Sierck. He found a paved Roman road suitable for his purpose,
being virtually a continuation of the paved streets of Treves. A detachment turning towards the valley of the Saar, Marlborough with the main army
reached the declivity whence he could look down on the Moselle, some fifteen miles below Thionville. This is a strongly-fortified town. It had changed its name when it fell into the hands of the French, but now having returned to the old masters of Germany, it has resumed its old name of Didenhoven. Thence for about ten miles the banks of “the blue Moselle" are broad stretches of flat diluvium. At Sierck the river pierces a mountain-barrier, with masses of rock on both sides, but chiefly on the right—the direction where Marlborough's march lay. These heights are picturesquely crowned by an old fortress. It has a very formidable aspect, but it would have been worthless even in that day as a fortress capable of standing a siege. As a point of defence, however, for an army, it was a powerful addition to the rocky ground. Here Villars took his post. Not absolutely relying on this formidable line of defence, Villars paid his enemy the compliment of securing his own retreat. He cut a broad road through the forest district in his rear. He laid down a double row of beams to smoothen the road for the wheels of tumbrils and waggons—such a work as might now be called a tramway.
There were charges of delay against the new German auxiliaries, and of pedantic obstinacy against the Dutch. But it may be easily believed that no addition to Marlborough's army within the bounds of probability would have justified his attempting to force so strong a barrier with an army behind it.