Although the War of the Spanish Succession is best known for the Duke of Marlborough's campaigns on the eastern borders of France, the official aim of the war was to place the Hapsburg claimant on the Spanish throne. This led to a series of Allied campaigns in Spain, and some remarkable successes, but this part of the war ended in total failure. Perhaps as a result it is rarely studied in English, and often barely gets a mention in histories of Marlborough's famous campaigns. This book helps fill that gap, covering the background to the conflict, the armies involved (on boths sides) and the events of the campaigns themselves.
Most chapters begin with an examination of the structures of the armies involved in the fighting at that point, looking at the units involved, their theoretical strengths and organisation, unit colours and commanders. These sections aren't terribly readable, but they are useful, as this is a period in which units often changed names, and the details aren't always terribly well documented. The campaign accounts are often shorter, but they do give a good summary of events, and allow us to follow the course of the conflict.
Many accounts of the more famous Napoleonic Peninsular War comment on the lack of trust towards their British allies displayed by the Spanish, but rarely give any explanation of where it may have come from (other than a brief reference to the Elizabethan period). This narrative helps explain at least part of that narrative – almost exactly one century before Moore and Wellington led their armies into Spain, other British armies had also invaded the country, this time on behalf of an unsuccessful claimant to the throne. The Spanish establishment during the Napoleonic period were the descendants of the victors in the first Peninsular War. To make it worse, during the period under examination here the British captured Gibraltar, and retained it at the end of the war. No wonder the Spanish were reluctant to let British troops land at Cadiz!
The title is a bit misleading – Marlborough's political influence perhaps helped keep the army in the field, but other than that he had no direct connection to it – he wasn't a commander in chief, attempting to influence events from a distance – the armies in Spain and Portugal had their own commanders, none of who were as able as Marlborough.
1 - The British Army
2 - The 1702 Campaign: Cadiz and Vigo
3 - The Dutch Army
4 - 1703: Portugal enters the war
5 - The 1704 Campaign: Portugal invaded and Gibraltar captured
6 - The 1705 Campaign: Frustration at Badajoz and triumph at Barcelona
7 - The Carolean Spanish Army
8 - The 1706 Campaign: Barcelona besieged, Madrid gained and lost
9 - The 1707 Campaign: Disaster at Almanza
10 - The 1708 Campaign: Tortosa and Denia lost, Minorca gained
11 - The Palatine Force
12 - The Austrian and Imperial Army
13 - The 1709 Campaign: Deadlock in Catalonia, disaster on the Caya
14 - The 1710 Campaign: Last chance of victory lost
15 - The 1711 Campaign: Deadlock at Prats del Rey and disillusionment
16 - The 1712 and 1713 Campaigns: Peace at last, for some
Author: Nicholas Dorrell