Siege of Namur, 1695

The French took Namur from the Allies in the siege of 1692, pushing the Dutch farther north. The next few years saw the Allies desperately trying to push the French out of the Spanish Netherlands. In late 1694 they took Huy, a short distance to the north-east of Namur, opening the way for them to retake that important town.

View of the siege of Namur, 1695.

Namur's fortifications were formidable and had been reinforced by Vauban following the siege of 1692. There was a strong bastioned trace around the town, which was dominated by the heights on the other bank of the river, on which stood the citadel.

The Elector of Brandenberg invested Namur on 1st July. He was joined shortly afterwards by William III Orange, brining the attacking forces up to 80,000 men. Coehoorn (who had defended Namur in 1692) was to command the siegeworks. The garrison was commanded by Boufflers (who later conducted the defence of Lille), with 13,000 men. The defenders' large numbers and the nature of the town's defences allowed them to conduct a number of sorties against the attackers to slow down the progress of their trenches. However, the siegeworks progressed steadily and after 14 days the garrison surrendered the town and retreated into the citadel. Unlike the 1692 siege, the garrison were unable to add into the treaty the condition that the citadel would not be attacked from the town side.

Using the full advantage of his advantageous position of being able to attack from the town, Coehoorn established batteries there and began to batter the lower defences of the citadel that lay on the other side of the river Sambre, adjacent to the bank. As these batteries began to breach the walls, Boufflers had trenches dug in their rear to protect the defenders. When the first assault was ordered it met with strong resistance and was forced to retreat with heavy loss. A second assault undertaken with more men succeeded in pushing the defenders out of the lower works.

Another attack was driven towards Fort William, an advanced work defending the northern approach to the citadel. The covered way was taken by assault and the main walls breached. The fort was then assaulted successfully, but with many casualties on both sides.

These two successful attacks had brought the Allies close to the inner citadel. Batteries were dug in to batter the right flank of the hornwork that extended southwards from the citadel. A breach was made here, which was successfully assaulted by some British troops, an action which was the inspiration for the song "The British Grenadiers".

Forced back to the medieval castle that formed the highest point of the citadel, the garrison capitulated on September 4th. Boufflers' defence had lasted two months and he was promoted to Marshal as a reward. Out of his 13,000-strong garrison he had lost 8,000 men. The Allies lost 12,000 men in the siege. Large amounts of troops were involved on both sides at Namur in 1695, which made it one of the bloodiest sieges of the war.

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