Sunday, 26 April 2009

The Battle of Saint Gotthard, August 1, 1664

Bavarian oil painting by unknown artist of the Battle of St. Gotthard, painted in 1665

Reader Theo has asked about the short-lived French efforts in the campaign against the Turks led by Raimondo de Montecuccoli. While I don't know a great deal, and can't find a great deal either, here is what I do know.

German copper engraving of the battle executed in 1669 by unknown artist

Following the Turkish capture of Transylvania, the Austrian Emperor, fearing pagan Turks more than Protestants and France, negotiated a treaty with the League of the Rhine in January 1664, largely with France's urging and support behind the scenes. A combined German-French force of roughly 6,000 men joined the forces of the acclaimed Raimondo de Montecuccoli. The "French" were largely recruited from the Rhineland and were organized in 4 battalions and 6 squadrons, of which I can find confirmation of only 1 named battalion.

The famous colonial French regiment, Carignan-Sallières, formed by the merger of the former Carignan Regiment and the Sallières Regiment in 1659, and nominally "owned" by Philibert de Savoie, Prince de Carignan from 1662, apparently took part in the battle and then departed, possibly with reinforcements from other regiments, to Canada in 1665. They began arriving in Quebec in June of 1665 and eventually reached a strength of 1400 men under the command of Alexandre de Prouville, Sieur de Tracy, and are described in "The History of New France 1664-1666" as, "France's finest, fresh from their wars with the Turks". I can find no other reference, even in Susane, of other named French regiments serving in the campaign.

I did find a reference in Samuel Pepys' Diary of a certain Mssr. Louis Ratuit, Comte de Souches, who was a French "soldier of fortune" in command of a Rhineland contingent, but Susane does not confirm this. I also found a great "color" comment from "Heritage History" that upon the opening of hostilities, a young Turkish noble rode out and challenged a Christian to single combat. His challenge was answered by one Chevalier de Lorraine, who succeeded in killing the Turk.

One point that is made in several sources is that the "official" command of the Rhineland and German contingent was through a series of German princes, and that the actual field contingent was jointly commanded by Jean de Coligny-Saligny, Leopold-Wilhelm of Baden-Baden and Prince Johann Philipp of Mainz; although Coligny-Saligny is credited with command of the roughly 5,000 French present.

There is a reasonable Wiki article on the battle here:

And the only map that I have been able to find is from WikiMedia by an unknown Italian painter, shown in 3 panels, here:

Hope this offers some help Theo. It appears to be a fascinating little "side campaign" for the French and Rhineland troops. I hope that reader Dan Schorr see's this as he can possibly add more from some of his German and French sources.



Anonymous said...

Peball, Kurt. "Die Schlacht bei St.Gorrhard-Mogersdorf 1664" Heft 1Militärhostorische Schriftenreihe. Wien, 1964:

French Forces:
Lieutenant General Jean de Coligny-Saligny.

Infantry: Lieutenant General Duc de la Feuillade
- Grancey-Espagny (1 battalion)
- Morvas-La Ferte (2 battalions)
- Fifica-Touraine (2 battalions)
- Chavigny-Piemont (2 battalions)

Cavalry: General de Gaisson
- Beauvise (3 squadrons)
- Fourneaux ( 3 squadrons)
- de Gaisson (4 squadrons)

3,500 infantry
1,900 cavalry

Hope this helps.


Sir William the Aged said...

Dan - I sent you a new e-mail, there is still some confusion here.