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Danish Auxiliary Corps in the Williamite War in Ireland

Disappointed with his alliance with France's King Louis XIV, Christian V of Denmark (king of Denmark–Norway) in 1689 entered into a treaty of military assistance with King William III of England. A Danish corps of seven thousand men was transported to Ireland, fighting against the Jacobites, participating in the battles of the Boyne and Aughrim, as well as the sieges of Limerick, Cork, Kinsale, Athlone, and Galway. In early 1692 the corps was transported to Flanders for future service in English pay.



Denmark had been defeated in three wars and through the treaties of Brømsebro, Roskilde, and Copenhagen lost one third of the kingdom to Sweden. Having then lost the revanchist Scanian War 1675-1679, she sought territorial compensation by repossessing the territory of the Duke of Holstein-Gottorp that she had taken during the war, but been forced to return as a consequence of the treaty of Fontainbleu.[1] Thwarted again by the intervention of Imperial, Brandenburgian, Saxon, Dutch, and English diplomats, backed up by threats of war from Sweden and Lünenburg, she was forced to yet again return the disputed lands through the treaty of Altona 1689.[2] [3] Needing to rebuild her army, facing an empty treasury, and chagrined by the lack of French support during its recent predicaments, Denmark moved away from her alliance with Louis XIV, welcoming William III's approaches and entered into a treaty of military assistance with England.[4] [5]

Treaty 1689Edit

Denmark and England concluded a treaty of military assistance on August 15, 1689.[6] The treaty stipulated that Denmark would send 1000 horse, and 6000 foot, with equipment, to England, Scotland, or Ireland. The Danish troops would take an oath of allegiance to the King of England. If Denmark became involved in a war, the troops would be returned within three months; Denmark's enemy becoming England's. The use of the troops was solely decided by the English king, but they would be kept together as a corps except in dire emergencies. The troops would be subordinated to the English general-in-chief; the Danish lieutenant-general and major-generals forming part of his council of war. Military justice would be provided by the Danish lieutenant-general in accordance with the Danish articles of war. Vacancies in the officer corps would be filled by the English general-in-chief from persons serving in the Danish troops. While serving in Britain, the troops would be paid the same pay as the English army; if transferred to the continent, the same pay as the Dutch army.[7]

England 1689-1690Edit

In accordance with the treaty, a Danish Auxiliary Corps of 996 horse and 6,109 foot, under the command of Ferdinand Willem, Duke of Württemberg-Neuenstadt, was sent abroad in 1689. The corps gathered in Ribe in mid October and marched to Jordsand where the foot embarked on ships, while the horse embarked at Højer. A fleet of 80 ships escorted by six man-of-war set sail in November in order to cross the North Sea. But autumnal storms scattered the ships widely. Schoutbynacht Christopher Ernst von Støcken[8] managed to gather 60 of them and take refuge in the German Bight. One ship with four companies from the Oldenburg Regiment were taken by a French privateer, however, and brought to Brest, the men being forced into French service as the regiment Royal Danois. The officers refused to serve the French king and were kept imprisoned under sad conditions for a long time before they were released.[9] [10]

Most other ships eventually ended up on the east coast of England and Scotland. They arrived at Kingston upon Hull and other ports in November and were ordered to be taken by ship to Scotland; the horse not in condition were to be sent by ship to march by land to Chester. The men were sick after the sea transport and those landed could not march for want of money to pay their quarters. The Danish corps therefore spent the winter of 1689-1690 in quarters in York, Durham, Newcastle upon Tyne, and Berwick-upon-Tweed. In December, they were ordered to proceed to Chester, but the corps could not leave York unless the officers and soldiers were paid so they could pay their debts. The officers had been spending their own money for two months, and were very unhappy that the English had not fulfilled their promises. In January, the Danish foot marched toward Chester where they had to be paid. Not more than £34,000 had been paid in Yorkshire, the King having footed the bill for the winter quarters. An additional £25,000 was needed in Chester, and a further £13,000 in advance before their arrival in the distant quarters appointed for them in Ireland.[9] [11]

Ireland 1690Edit

Ireland during the Williamite War.

In February 1690, the Danish corps marched to Liverpool, and in March it was shipped to Belfast. Active operations did not commence until June, however, when King William arrived with the rest of his army.[12] At the battle of the Boyne, the Jacobite forces held the south side of the River Boyne, in order to prevent the Williamite army from crossing the river from the north near Oldbridge. North of the river, King William on July 1 ordered his right wing to proceed upstream and cross the river, in order to envelop the Jacobite army. Afraid of being outflanked, King James sent a large force from the main army upstream to strengthen his left wing. The Jacobite left wing, now containing the bulk of the Jacobite army, met the Williamite right wing at Roughgrange, but a deep ravine prevented the opposing forces from engaging in a general battle. This left only an inadequate Jacobite force facing the main Williamite army, which crossed the river at Oldbridge under heavy fighting. When the Williamite cavalry crossed the river farther downstream, the Jacobite army began to retreat.[13] The Danish foot participated with seven battalions in the crossing at Oldbridge while the Danish horse took part in the cavalry crossing farther downstream. Altogether the Danish corps suffered 28 killed and 43 wounded; the majority among the horse.[14]

Although the Williamite army failed to take the city, the Danish corps played a leading role during the siege of Limerick. On August 7, 100 Danish horse from Sehested's Regiment led the advance on the city together with 50 dragoons, followed by a brigade of fusiliers under Sir Henry Belayse. The vanguard was formed by the Danish foot forming a brigade, after which the main army followed. Reaching Ireton's fort, the Danish brigade deployed to the left, and Sir John Hanmore's to the right. The Danish attack was spearheaded by 50 pioneers under Lieutenant Weldau of the Danish Guards, followed by 240 grenadiers of the same regiment, and then the rest of the Danish foot. The heavy fighting forced the Jacobites to leave the fort, which was taken by two Danish battalions. On August 16, the Irish made a feeble sortie against the camp of the left wing of the Williamite army, but they were easily beaten back by the pickets of the Danish Guards.[15]

Siege of Limerick 1690.

The Williamite trenches on the south side of Limerick were opened on August 17 by the Duke of Würtemberg with seven battalions, among which were the Danish Guards and the Jutland Battalion. Captain Arenswald with the grenadiers of the Danish Guard took a redoubt on the left wing, while one on the right was taken by the Dutch Blue Guards. Next morning the Jacobites made a sally with four battalions on the right wing of the Williamite army and drove away the pioneers and their supports, but a counter attack by a Danish and a Dutch battalion drove them back. The same day the trenches were held by Douglas and seven battalions, of which were found the Queen's and Funen. A redoubt in front of the Williamites were attacked, but during the attack, which took place after dark, the Jacobites made a counter attack with cavalry and the Williamites were driven back. The two Danish battalions lost 13 killed, 24 wounded, and 4 prisoners.[16]

On August 27, the Williamite siege artillery had made a serious breach in the walls of the Irish town. The assault began at 2:30 under Douglas with the seven battalions that were in the trenches, of which were the Queen's and Funen, while the trenches would be repossessed by Würtemberg and seven fresh battalions, of which were Prince Frederick's and Prince Christian's. The attack was led by nine grenadier companies and one hundred French reformados, supported on the left by the Funen Battalion and a Brandenburg battalion, and on the right by two English battalions. At first, the Jacobites were driven back, but then they managed to drive the attackers back again. The Funen Battalion were cut off, but was saved by Prince Frederick's Battalion. The fight lasted until dark, when King William finally called off the assault. The Danish losses were 136 killed, among them Colonel Kalneyn, and 305 wounded.[17]

After the aborted siege of Limerick, King William left Ireland in September, leaving the Williamite army under command of the Dutch Count of Solms, who placed it in winter quarters. The Danish corps was assigned quarters in the counties Tipperary, Cork, Waterford, and Wexford. Active operations were far from over, however. Major-general de la Forest-Suzannet was sent toward Killmallock with 400 horse, 200 dragoons, and 500 foot. When the Williamite force arrived, the town was abandoned by its defender, leaving the baggage for the Danes. Major-general Tettau was ordered to search the place, but finding it not worthwhile to occupy was satisfied with erasing its paltry defences. Major-general von Tettau and the Dutch Major-general Gravenmoer with 1,200 Danish and Dutch horse, and Prince George's and the Zealand battalions of foot, took and held some defiles between Cork and Limerick in order to prevent communications between the two places. September 13, the troops met and defeated Jacobite forces, mostly Rapparees, under Colonel Sheldon.[18]

Marlborough landed near Cork September 22, and began to besiege the city. The Duke of Würtemberg marched to Cork with 340 horse, 50 dragoons, and 2,900 foot, of which 1,600 belonged to the Danish corps, and took up a position on the northern side, immediately outside the city walls. Under the command of Major-general von Tettau, the troops forced its way into the burning northern liberties, driving the Jacobite defenders away from their outworks and back into the city. The attack on the city began September 27, when a force of 100 grenadiers and 400 foot, of which 300 Danish, under Lieutenant-colonel Munchgaard, in the afternoon crossed the River Lee and continued until they were stopped by a moat in front of the walls. The main assault from the south followed, and soon the defenders surrendered.[19]

After Cork, Würtemberg's and Marlborough's combined forces continued to Kinsale where they arrived on October 2. In the afternoon, Major-general von Tettau with 200 grenadier and 600 fusiliers set out to take James's Fort. The fort being on a point in the harbour, the troops crossed the bight at night, taking cover in the dark outside the fort. In the morning, the defenders seeing no enemies withdrew from the outworks into the fort itself. Tettau then began the assault, the defenders returning to the outworks, and heavy fighting began. After a short fight, the Jacobites were forced back into the fort. Tettau and his men attacked again, and when an accidental explosion in the gunpowder magazine killed a large number of defenders, the commandant surrendered. The Danish troops had 24 casualties, while the other attacking Williamites suffered 31. After a siege that lasted until October 17, the city finally capitulated.[20]

Ireland 1691Edit

Athlone in 1685.

The Williamite army left their winter quarters and assembled in May. The Danish corps formed part of the Duke of Würtemberg's wing containing 14 battalions of foot, of which six were Danish, and seven regiments of horse, of which three were Danish. Two Danish battalions were temporarily left at Waterford and Clonmel. Würtemberg's wing joined the main army under Ginkel at Ballymore, and the campaign began June 6, when the town was taken. The army reached Athlone on June 18, and the famous siege began the next day. The English town, east of River Shannon was taken on June 20. The Jacobite defenders then retreated to the Irish town on the other side of the river, and destroyed the bridge leading there. The Williamite artillery bombarded the Irish town, and soon damaged the castle and made a large breach in the wall at the western bridgehead. The gap in the bridge was restored June 29, but was immediately destroyed again by the Jacobites. The next day, an assault column of 600 grenadiers, under Tettau and Mackay, supported by six battalions crossed the river upstream, took the western ramparts, and held them until the main Williamite force came up. Realizing the precariousness of their position, the Jacobites abandoned the town. During the siege of Athlone the Danish troops lost about one hundred killed and wounded.[21]

After Athlone, the Williamite army on July 11 began moving towards the main Jacobite army under the Marquis de St Ruth at Aughrim. The next day the decisive battle of Aughrim took place. The Jacobite army held the Kilcommadan ridge on a two miles long front. Walls turned into breastworks ran along the front, below which there was a bog. The right wing of the Williamite army attacked the Jacobite positions by the village, but was beaten back. The Williamite foot attacked across the bog, managed to reach the ridge but was beaten back, yet saved from its pursuers by the Danish horse. The left wing under the Duke of Würtemberg contained the Danish foot, two regiments of horse, and one of dragoons, advanced slowly towards the Jacobite right wing. The Danish Guards distinguished itself; when attacked by four Jacobite battalions it not only held its position but forced the attackers back. Würtemberg's two regiments of horse charged, the Danish foot advanced, and the Jacobite right wing was overthrown. St Ruth was killed, the Jacobite army fell into disarray, and the Williamite horse of the right wing penetrated the Jacobite positions by Aughrim, charging along a causeway over the bog. Soon the Jacobites retreated in confusion, although darkness prevented the Williamites from conducting regular pursuit. Colonel Munchgaard of the Danish corps was killed in action.[22]

Siege of Limerick 1691.

The campaign continued. Galway capitulated on July 25 after a brief siege. The outworks were taken July 20, by grenadiers and foot supported by the Danish Guards and an English battalion. When relief forces were beaten back, the town surrendered and the main Williamite army began its march toward Limerick. The second siege would be more successful for the Williamites, than the first a year earlier. The besiegers began to dig trenches August 27, and on September 3 the siege batteries opened fire. The artillery fire made a great deal of damage to the city defences, but the high water made an assault difficult. A large force under the Duke of Würtemberg therefore crossed Shannon on pontoons September 22, drove away the Jacobite cavalry outside the city and advanced towards it from the west. The garrison of a fort on the west side of the river were driven towards the Thomond Bridge, but the defenders closed the gate and let the fleeing troops perish under the walls. During this fight the Danish suffered 23 killed and wounded. A period of ceasefire began September 23, and the city surrendered October 3.[23]

After Limerick, the Danish corps and most other foreign troops were ordered to Flanders. The Corps left the city October 14 and went into quarters until the transportation to the continent could be organized; the Danish horse in Clonmel, Cashel, and Carrick; the Danish foot in Waterford, Youghal, Cork, and Kinsale.[24]

Order of BattleEdit

Lieutenant-general and commander of the corps was Ferdinand Willem, Duke of Württemberg-Neuenstadt[25]; Major-general of Horse was Marquess Frédéric Henri de La Forest de Suzannet[26]; Major-general of Foot was Ernst von Tettau[27].[28] Each regiment of horse had two squadrons of three companies. The Guards battalion had seven companies; the battalions from Prince George's and Oldenburg regiments each five companies; the other battalions six companies.[29]

Units and commandersEdit

[30] [31]
Mother regiments
[32] [31] [33]
Juel-Rysensteen's Regiment of Horse
Colonel Baron Christian Juel af Rysensteen [34]
Drafts from:
Sjællandske Nationale Rytterregiment
Fynske Nationale Rytterregiment
1. Jyske Nationale Rytterregiment
2. Jyske Nationale Rytterregiment
Donop's Regiment of Horse
Colonel Moritz Melchior v. Donop. KIA during the siege of Limerick 1691.[35]
Sehested's Regiment of Horse
Colonel Jens Maltesen v. Sehested [36]
Danish Guards Battalion
Lieutenant-General The Duke of Württemberg-Neuenstadt
Lieutenant-Colonel Lave Hohendorff, 1692 [37]
Queen's Battalion
Colonel Baron Johann Dietrich von Haxthausen [38]
Dronningens Regiment
Prince Frederick's Battalion
Colonel Wolf Henrik von Kalnein. KIA at Limerick 1690. [39]
Colonel v. Munchgaard, 1690. KIA at the Battle of Aughrim 1691.[40]
Prins Frederiks Regiment
Prince George's Battalion
Brigadier Johan Anton v. Elnberger
Colonel Otto v. Vittinghof, 1690
Lieutenant-Colonel Siewert v. Oertzen, Acting 1691
Count Frederik Ahlefeldt-Langeland[42]
Prins Georgs Regiment
Prince Christian's Battalion
Lieutenant-Colonel Siewert v. Oertzen
Brigadier Johan Anton v. Elnberger, 1690
Prins Kristians Regiment
Zealand Battalion
Major-General Ernst v. Tettau [43]Recalled to Brandenburg 1691.
Major-General Hartvig Asche v. Schack, 1691
Sjællandske Regiment
Funen Battalion
Lieutenant-Colonel Hans Didrik v. Schorr [45]
Fynske Regiment
Jutland Battalion
Lieutenant-Colonel Hans Hartmann v. Erffa [46]
Jyske Regiment
Oldenburg Battalion
Four companies taken by the French at sea; the remaining two companies merged with the Queen's Battalion, and the battalion was disbanded before entering into active service.
Colonel Otto v. Vittinghof
Oldenburgske Regiment


Strength when departing Denmark in 1689
Unit Heads Horses
General staff 21 104
Each regiment of horse 337 446
Danish Guards Battalion 804 52
Queen's, Prince Frederick's, Prince Christian's, and Zealand battalions, each 687 46
Prince George's Battalion 573 37
Jutland and Funen battalions, each 687 42
Oldenburg Battalion 573 40
Source: [47]
Strength November 6, 1690
Date Horse Foot
At the beginning of the campaign in 1690 996 5,600
November 6, 1690 890 4,649
Casualties 106 951
Source: [48]
Strength April 8, 1691
Unit Efficient strength Of which sick
Juel-Rysensteen's Regiment of Horse 295 2
Donop's Regiment of Horse 286 7
Sehested's Regiment of Horse 289 5
Danish Guards 745 13
Queen's 534 58
Prince Frederick's 506 12
Prince Christian's 530 51
Prince George's 524 21
Zealand 543 26
Jutland 502 30
Funen 425 15
Source: [49]
Strength November 6, 1691
Unit Efficient strength Of which sick
Juel-Rysensteen's Regiment of Horse n.a. n.a.
Donop's Regiment of Horse n.a. n.a.
Sehested's Regiment of Horse n.a. n.a.
Danish Guards 712 73
Queen's 544 104
Prince Frederick's 483 51
Prince Christian's 486 85
Prince George's 491 74
Zealand 506 81
Jutland 472 104
Funen 388 15
Source: [50]

Winter quartersEdit

Winter quarters winter of 1690/1691: [51]

Units Winter quarters
Headquarters Waterford
Danish Guards
Prince Frederick's
Prince George's
Prince Christian's
Jutland Carrick
Sehested's Horse
Juel-Rysensteen's Horse Enniscorthy
Donop's Horse Blackwater



  1. ^ Bohn 2001, pp. 43-44.
  2. ^ Vollgraf 1847, p. 26.
  3. ^ Carsten 1961, p. 541.
  4. ^ Vaupell 1872, p. 233.
  5. ^ Johansson 2013, p. 84.
  6. ^ Thomas 1856, p. 865.
  7. ^ Jahn 1840, pp. 28-29.
  8. ^ Bricka 1887-1905, vol. XVI, pp. 543-544.
  9. ^ a b c Vaupell 1872, p. 235.
  10. ^ Redington 1868, p. 99.
  11. ^ Redington 1868, pp. 76-77, 82, 84, 86, 93, 98.
  12. ^ Vaupell 1872, p. 236.
  13. ^ Boyle 1867, pp. 125-151.
  14. ^ Jahn 1840, pp. 43, 45-46.
  15. ^ Jahn 1840, pp. 51, 53.
  16. ^ Jahn 1840, pp. 53-54.
  17. ^ Jahn 1840, pp. 54-55.
  18. ^ Jahn 1840, pp. 57-59.
  19. ^ Jahn 1840, pp. 60-61.
  20. ^ Jahn 1840, pp. 61-63.
  21. ^ Jahn 1840, pp. 68-72.
  22. ^ Jahn 1840, pp. 72-75.
  23. ^ Jahn, pp. 78-81.
  24. ^ Jahn, p. 8.
  25. ^ Engelstoft & Dahl 1932-1944, vol. 6, p. 652.
  26. ^ Bricka 1887-1905, vol. V, p. 257.
  27. ^ Bricka 1887-1905, vol. XVII, pp. 147-148.
  28. ^ Jahn 1840, p. 30.
  29. ^ Vaupell 1872, p. 235.
  30. ^ Jahn 1840, pp. 30-32.
  31. ^ a b Vaupell 1872, p. 234.
  32. ^ Jahn 1840, pp. 30-32, 68.
  33. ^ Höglund & Sallnäs 2003, pp. 15-21.
  34. ^ "Christian lensbaron Juel-Rysensteen." Skeel-Schaffalitzky, Santasilia. 2018-09-26.
  35. ^ Jahn 1840, p. 79.
  36. ^ "Jens Sehested." Skeel-Schaffalitzky, Santasilia. 2018-09-26.
  37. ^ Bricka 1887-1905, vol. VII:1, pp. 503-504.
  38. ^ Bricka 1887-1905, vol. VII:1, pp. 183-184.
  39. ^ Harbou 1892, p. 93, footnote 7.
  40. ^ Jahn 1840, p. 75.
  41. ^ Bricka 1887-1905, vol. IV, pp. 505-506.
  42. ^ Bricka 1887-1905, vol. I, pp. 141-143.
  43. ^ Bricka 1887-1905, vol. XVII, pp. 147-148.
  44. ^ Bricka 1887-1905, vol. XV, pp. 33-34.
  45. ^ "Hans Didrik von Schorr." Skeel-Schaffalitzky, Santasilia. 2018-09-26.
  46. ^ "Hans Hartmann von Erffa." Skeel-Schaffalitzky, Santasilia. 2018-09-26.
  47. ^ Jahn 1840, pp. 30-31.
  48. ^ Jahn 1840, p. 66.
  49. ^ Jahn 1840, p. 68.
  50. ^ Jahn 1840, p. 83.
  51. ^ Jahn 1840, pp. 63-64.

Cited literatureEdit

  • Bohn, Robert (2001). Geschichte Dänemarks. München.
  • Boyle, John (1867). Battle-fields of Ireland, from 1688 to 1691. New York.
  • Bricka, Carl Fredrik (1887-1905). Dansk Biografisk Lexikon. Kjøbenhavn.
  • Carsten, F. L. (1961). The New Cambridge Modern History. Vol. 5. The Ascendancy of France 1648-88. Cambridge University Press.
  • Engelstoft, Povl & Dahl, Svend (1932-1944). Dansk Biografisk Leksikon. København.
  • Harbou, H. W. (1892). "Oberstløjtnant Hans Elias von der Weydes selvbiografi." Personalhistorisk Tidskrift: 79-131.
  • Höglund, Lars Erik & Sallnäs, Åke (2003). Stora Nordiska Kriget 1700-1721. Del II. Karlstad: Acedia Press.
  • Jahn, J.H.F. (1840). Det danske Auxiliaircorps i engelsk tjenste fra 1689 til 1697. Kjøbenhavn.
  • Johansson, Rolf (2013). "Danska trupper i Vilhelm III:s armé i det irländska kriget 1689-1691." Historisk Tidskrift för Finland: 83-89.
  • Redington, Joseph (1868). Calendar of Treasury Papers. Volume 1. London
  • Thomas. F. S. (1856). Historical Notes 1603-1714. Volume II. London.
  • Vaupell, Otto (1872). Den dansk-norske hærs historie indtil 1814. Første del. Kjøbenhavn.
  • Vollgraf, Karl (1847). Die irrige und die wahre Stellung der Könige von Dänemark . Marburg.

Further readingEdit

  • Galster, Kjeld Harald (2012). Danish Troops in the Williamite Army in Ireland 1689–91. Dublin.

Se alsoEdit