Battle of Ekeren

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Battle of Ekeren
Part of the War of the Spanish Succession
Date June 30, 1703
Location Ekeren, Antwerp, present-day Belgium
51°16′14.00″N 4°24′27.00″E / 51.2705556°N 4.4075000°E / 51.2705556; 4.4075000
Result Two Crowns victory
Belligerents
 Dutch Republic  France
Spain Bourbon Spain
Commanders and leaders
Dutch Republic General Obdam
Dutch Republic General Slangenburg
Kingdom of France Duc de Boufflers
Kingdom of France Duc de Villeroi
Spain Marquis of Bedmar
Strength
10,000 40,000
Casualties and losses
3,400 1,750

The Battle of Ekeren, June 30, 1703 was a battle of the War of the Spanish Succession. The French surrounded a Dutch force, which barely avoided destruction. This battle ended hope of a decisive allied victory in the Spanish Netherlands in 1703.

Prelude[edit]

After taking Bonn on May 15, Marlborough now wanted to conquer Ostend, Antwerp, or force the French to an open battle. He ordered the Dutch general, Coehoorn, to march to Ostend and lay siege to it. Dutch general Van Sparre would march south west of Antwerp, Dutch general Obdam would march south from Bergen op Zoom, and Marlborough himself would march on Lier.

The United Provinces, however, were not keen to open the ports of Antwerp and Ostend to English commerce and thus to their competition with the Dutch. Therefore, Coehoorn did not besiege Ostend, but plundered the countryside between Ostend and Antwerp.

Obdam marched on June 28 from Bergen op Zoom to Antwerp, arriving the next day at Ekeren, seven kilometres from Antwerp.

Villeroi was not misled by Marlborough's diversionary manoeuver, and sent all his troops from Diest to Antwerp to protect it. After hearing of this Marlborough tried to warn Obdam, ordering a withdrawal to Lillo, but he was too late.

The battle[edit]

Early in the morning of June 30, French dragoons marched from Merksem and Ekeren in the direction of Kapellen to cut off the escape route near Hoevenen for the Dutch to return to Breda and Bergen-op-Zoom. The Marquis of Bedmar and his Spanish troops were positioned near Wilmarsdonk. This ensured that the Dutch forces were surrounded on all sides by a superior force.

Soon Dutch reconnaissance discovered the French dragoons and Obdam immediately sent his cavalry to Hoevenen, but it was too late, the village was packed with French troops. An attempt to conquer neighboring Muisbroek also failed. Then the French attacked, and Obdam tried to take Oorderen, an attack which was briefly successful before the French retook the village.

The fighting went on for the entire day. By eight o'clock there was no more sign of Obdam, and Slangenburg decided to attempt an attack on Oorderen, this time by a surprise bayonet charge led by Friesheim. Friesheim sent his men wading through the water, appearing where the French had not expected them to. This action enabled the remaining Dutch troops to break through and retreat in the darkness towards the Netherlands.

Aftermath[edit]

General Slangenburg

The battle was a victory for the French, but Boufflers wasn't congratulated at all, he was blamed for letting the chance of a total victory slip through his fingers.

Obdam survived and escaped south in the afternoon with thirty horsemen, disguising themselves as Frenchmen. His behaviour was not forgiven by the Dutch military, and his military career was destroyed.

Slangenburg, for his part, was acclaimed as a Dutch hero. He was also furious at Marlborough, who had been outmanoeuvered by the French and had not come to the aid of the Dutch.

The Dutch lost 1,717 killed, 1,003 wounded, and 694 who were prisoners of war or were missing.
The French and Spaniards lost 1,750 men.

Modern location[edit]

A large part of the battlefield, including the villages of Oorderen, Wilmarsdonk and Lillo, has disappeared under the Port of Antwerp expansion in the 1960s.

References[edit]

External links[edit]