Wednesday, 6 November 2013

A Female Soldier - Mother Ross III

Post Discovery
Lord John Hay 
Once Christian had recovered from her wound Lord John Hay sent her shirts and sheets to enable her to make undergarments for herself and the Brigadier gave her a silk gown; all the brigade’s officers having contributed towards its cost.

Now she was known to be a female again Christian was prepared to return to her sexual duties as a wife

‘’I apprehended the consequence of conversing with my husband might be my dismission [from the army]; for a great belly could not have been concealed. The discovery of my sex has now removed the cause, and I have no objection to living with my husband, as it is the duty of an honest wife.’’[i]

and Lord John decided that she and Richard should be remarried, the ceremony took place in the presence of all the officers.

As she was no longer receiving a soldier’s pay Christian decided to turn cook for the regiment. Finding this job too constricting, she then turned to being a sutler[ii]. Her contacts in the regiment enabled her to have her competition sent to the rear.
After Ramillies

On 25th May 1706 Louvain capitulated and the troops stocked up on the abandoned stores. From thence the army marched to Brussels which submitted to the Allies. On 7th June the French garrison at Antwerp marched out of the city, colours flying, their ordinance in the train. Oudenarde had submitted on 2nd June. All of Brabant and the majority of Flanders fell into Allied hands over a short period as a direct result of the Battle of Ramillies.

Admiral Fairborne
On 13th June, having consulted with the Dutch States General, Marlborough invested Ostend from the land, while a fleet, under the command of Admiral Fairborne, blocked access from the sea. The town submitted on 6th July. The garrison was allowed to march out under promise of not taking up arms again for a period of six months.
The town of Courtrai then submitted, while the army commenced a siege of Menin on 22nd July. The town submitted eighteen days later.

‘We lost a great many men in this siege; I was myself exposed to no danger but when my husband was, whom I always followed, and whom I would never abandon, wherever he went.’[iii]

Field Marshall von Nassau Oewerkerke
Dendermonde[iv] followed next, surrendering on the 5th September. The next town to be besieged was Ath[v], under the command of Field Marshall van Nassau Ouwerkerke. The English under General Ingoldsby dug their trenches on 20th September, while the French concentrated their fire on the troops massed on the other side of the town.
Christian was left to cook her husband’s dinner while he was at the entrenchments. Once dinner was ready Christian, like any good wife, carried Richard’s dinner to him.

‘’When my meat was ready, I covered it with cloths…..and venturing through a village belonging to the enemy……by a circuit of five miles, I got safe, with my provisions on my head, to the trench……I set my broth and meat before him; he invited his colonel, and other officers, who were not a little surprised at the risk I had run.’[vi]
Ouwerkerke visited the troops that night and while he was present Christian shot dead a French soldier gathering turnips in the field. At the same time a sniper from the town hit her;

‘The instant I killed the man, a musket-shot from the town, came through the sand-bags, split my under lip, beat one of my teeth into my mouth, and knocked me down……Lord Auverquerque, who had seen what had passed, made me a present of five pistols.’[vii]

Battle of Turin
The success of the Allies in the Low Countries meant that in September the Duc de Vendôme was transferred from the fight in Italy to shore up the shattered French army in the Netherlands. His departure meant that Prince Eugene was able to defeat the French under the Duc d’Orléans at the Battle of Turin; with the result that the French were driven out of Italy by the end of the year.
Back in Winter Quarters
The garrison surrendered on 2nd October; the fall of Ath marking the end of the 1706 campaigning season and the troops were quartered in Ghent. During this period Christian was delivered of a child, which only lived six months. She also hired herself out to work under a cook for a Mr Dupper[viii], who had a tavern in the city.

While in Ghent, the Dutch woman, who had been Richard’s fiancée, took lodgings across the street from the Welsh’s. She persuaded Richard to join her in a local ale-house, while Christian was preparing dinner. Setting out to find her errant husband, Christian was informed he was with his mistress;
‘My rage was so great, that I struck at her with a case-knife I had undesignedly brought out in my hand, and cut her nose off close to the face.’[ix]
A surgeon was found to sew the nose back on; but the woman was left disfigured. Richard was arrested, but Christian procured his release. His mistress was placed in a turning stool[x], and spun round until she was sick. She was then escorted out of the town.

Further Campaigning
Duc d'Orleans
In 1707 there was little of interest happening in the Low Countries; the action moved to Spain, where the Allies were outclassed. The Duc d’Orléans and his troops, supporting King Phillip, made headway against the Allied army and procured a number of victories.
The main interest in Britain during 1707 was political; the Union of England and Scotland was passed in parliaments in both England and Scotland, following the Treaty of Union signed between the two countries on 22nd July 1706. The 1707 season in Spain finished with the capitulation of Cuidad Rodrigo to the French and Spanish forces.

Admiral Byng
In 1708 the beginning of the campaigning season was enlivened by the invasion plans of the Pretender[xi]. On 23rd March 1708 the 20 year old James Francis Edward Stuart, accompanied by a French invasion force, attempted to land in the Firth of Forth. Admiral Byng’s fleet intercepted the French and their admiral, loath to risk a battle, refused to countenance a landing, much to James’ chagrin. The English had been forewarned by the Dutch.
‘A project, which had it succeeded, would…..have made Lewis XIV. triumph for all his enemies; but as secret as were his preparations, they were discovered by the Dutch, who gave the Queen of England advice by fishing-boat.’[xii]
The Pretender returned to Dunkirk at the beginning of April. It would be another seven years before he would make another attempt on the throne he viewed as his.

Battle of Oudenarde
The highlight of the Allies campaigning season in the Low Countries was the Battle of Oudenarde, fought on 11th July. The battle was an overwhelming victory for the Allies; with much of the French forces, commanded by the Ducs de Bourgogne[xiii] and Vendôme, being routed or captured.
‘The French were driven from hedge to hedge, and everywhere trodden underfoot…..being taken in the rear by eighteen battalions[xiv] and some horse, they began to lose courage, quitted the field…..and sheltered themselves under the cannon of Ghent.’[xv]
The remaining troops took refuge in the town of Ghent, which the French had retaken on the 6th.

The Welsh’s moved to Courtrai and while there Christian was provoked into challenging a captain of the Grenadiers, in Lord Orkney’s regiment, into a horse race, which she won by charging his horse into a ditch, winning herself two pistoles.
The Allies, reinforced by German troops, extended their area of activities to the gates of Arras and lay siege to Lille on 1st August. The second largest town in France surrendered on 12th October. Its fortress had been considered the strongest in Europe and impregnable

The Politics of War
Sarah Churchill, Duchess of Marlborough
Back in England the long friendship between Queen Anne and her good friend Sarah Churchill was coming to a vitriolic end. Sarah had intimated to Anne that her new friendship with Sarah’s cousin Abigail Masham, had sexual overtones; a slur that Anne was never to forgive.
Caused by jealousy and Sarah’s extremely bad temper, the breakup lost her husband much of his influence with the queen and his enemies were legion. Marlborough, increasingly irritated by the lack of support from his monarch had, in a private letter to Sarah, threatened to retire, and the duchess attempted to use his letter to patch over her differences with Anne.

Anne was concerned about Marlborough’s threat sufficiently to write to him;
‘I am sorry to find you in such a spleenytick way as to talk of retireing, it being a thing I can never consent to.’[xvi]
Prince George of Denmark
The queen’s distress with Sarah Churchill’s antics was compounded by the death of her beloved husband Prince George of Denmark on 28th October 1708. The couple had remained happily married for 25 years, despite the loss of 18 children, only one of whom, Prince William of Gloucester, had lived beyond the age of two.
Sophia, Electress of Hanover
The heir to the throne of England and Scotland was Sophia, Electress of Hanover, a granddaughter of James 1.

Mother Ross – Daniel Defoe, Oakpast Ltd 2011
Queen Anne – Edward Gregg, Routledge and Kegan Paul 1980

The Marlboroughs – Christopher Hibbert, Penguin Books 2002
Marlborough – Richard Holmes, Harper Perennial 2009

Marlborough – JR Jones, Cambridge University Press 1993

[i] Mother Ross- Defoe
[ii] One engaged in selling goods to the soldiers
[iii] Mother Ross- Defoe
[iv] In East Flanders
[v] In Hainault
[vi] Mother Ross - Defoe
[vii] Ibid
[viii] The head sutler
[ix] Mother Ross - Defoe
[x] A round cage, large enough to hold a person, fixed upon a spindle so it can be spun round.
[xi] Eldest son of the deposed King James and half-brother of Queen Anne, now known as the Old Pretender, after his son Charles, known as the Young Pretender or Bonnie Prince Charlie amongst Jacobite supporters, attempted to regain his patrimony.
[xii] Mother Ross - Defoe
[xiii] As one of Louis XIV’s sons this was more an honorary command; the Duc de Vendôme was the commander with military experience
[xiv] Dutch troops under Field Marshall Ouwerkerke
[xv] Mother Ross - Defoe
[xvi] Queen Anne - Gregg

1 comment:

  1. Ah, the story continues. I happily read on ! I am still awe-inspired by Christian’s adventures. How lucky that the shot that hit her didn’t kill her! I love the story about her winning the race. Thank you, Helen!