Battle of Enzheim (Ensheim or Entzheim), (October 4, 1674)

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Turenne marching with his troops.

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The Battle of Enzheim was fought on 4 October 1674 near Entzheim in present-day Alsace between the French Royal Army under the command of the Vicomte de Turenne on one side and Imperial Army of the Holy Roman Empire on the other side during the Franco-Dutch War. Despite the Holy Roman Empire’s numerical superiority, it ended in a French victory.

A battle fought in the middle of the Dutch War (1672-1678). Strasbourg’s civic leaders capitulated when faced with an Imperial force of 30,000 under Bournonville. Marching to join them was Friedrich-Wilhelm, with 20,000 Brandenburgers. French forces defending Alsace were thus threatened by greatly superior numbers of enemy troops: Turenne had only 25,000 men (including allied English regiments, one led by John Churchill, the future Duke of Marlborough). Turenne decided to attack before his enemies could unite. He force-marched to the Imperial encampment at Enzheim, leaving Bournonville no choice but to accept battle. Turenne deployed his infantry in two lines with some cavalry support, but with most cavalry in a central reserve. Bournonville also placed his infantry in a classic formation of two firing lines, with his left anchored on a large copse. This flank was immediately attacked, and soon uprooted and unhinged by French dragoons infiltrated into the woods. Bournonville countered by advancing his second line and shifting units from his center to his left, and then he sent in his reserve. Turenne followed suit, sending infantry from his center and some of his cavalry reserve into the fight in the woods. Damp weather prevented artillery from playing a significant role in the fight, which played out with muskets and close-order weapons at intimate ranges. The Imperials fell back to prepared field fortifications, which halted any further French advance. As the fight on the flank petered out, Bournonville sent his cavalry to attack the weakened French center. The French infantry formed squares, mostly repulsing repeated Imperial charges. A cavalry-on-cavalry fight ensued, with the Imperial horse finally faltering, then pulling back. That night, the Imperials abandoned their fortifications and encampment, leaving the field to the French. Turenne lost 3,500 men, compared to enemy casualties of about 3,000, but he had won a tactical victory.

Duke of Bournonville, (1616-1690). Imperial general. He fought Turenne in the devastated Palatinate in 1674, capturing Strasbourg without a fight. This led to the Battle of Enzheim (October 4, 1674), which Bournonville lost. The next year, he replaced Montecuccoli upon the latter’s retirement.

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