The Battle of Dettingen 1743

Sam Davies, Footboy to Major Philip Honywood (King's Regiment of Dragoons),
to his friend, Abraham Debart, drawer at the "White Hart" Inn, Colchester.
Journal of the Society of Army Historical Research (1924) Vol 3 pp 36-38

Hanau.                                                                              26 June [o.s.], 1743.


I hope these few lines will find you very well and Mrs. Ann and my old Mrs. and Mrs. Wallis my young mistress and my young Mr. Joseph and all my old fellow-servants, as I am and have been ever since I came into this country. This is a very pleasant country we are now in. We have had a battel with French on Thursday, June 16, 1743. One battel lasted 5 ours, the first they playd upon our baggage for about 2 ours with there cannon, and then we play upon there army and they upon us. There balls was from 3lbs. to 6lbs. and 12lbs. each; our rigement was upon the left wing next the river, and they playing upon us all the time. The sarvants of the rigement went into the rear of the rigement with their led horses, I had a led horse so I was there. We stayed there till the balls came flying all round us. We see first a horse with baggage fall close to us. Then seven horses fall apeace [quickly], then I began to star about me, the balls came whistling about my ears. Then I saw the Oysterenns [Austrians] dip [their heads] and look about them for they doge [dodge] the balls as a cock does a stick, they are so used to them. Then we saravts began to get of [off] into a wood for safete, wich was about 400 yards from ware we stood. When we got into the wood we placed ourselves against the largest trees, gest as I had placed myself, a 12 pounder came, puts a large bow of the tree upon my head, the Ball came within tow yards of me. Then I began to stear [stare], indeed it was about the size of your light puddings, but a great deal hevyer. Then we took fresh quarters, to the bagage of the whole army. We had not been there but a littel while, but the hussers [hussars] were coming to take it, whilst the tow armies was swurd [sword] in hand, then the bagage made all the haste they could away. I having good luck had a horse that would not follow, so I let him goe. Jist as I had let him goe the word came to halt. Then I had my horse to kitch [catch] again and when I had my horse Cornet Car came to me. Sam, says he, your master is dead, so of all my troubels that was the worst; I takes my horse that I led and tyes him to a cart, then I went to see for my master. So when I came a littel higher in the field I saw Laftenent Lee, he told me that my master was taken by the French. I liked that better than the other. When I came a littel higher I saw some of our men lay on the ground, some dead, some wounded some without Arms, some without Legs. I saw one Fryer of our Rigement that came from the oyspeatal [hospital] but that morning, he was afoot, the other men asked him to fech them some water from a well that was by them. He had been several times and he was going agin a Cannon ball came, and went into his Back, takes his left Breast away and his Hart gumpt on the ground. Then I rides further up and at last I saw Sam and he tells me that his tow Horses was shot at once with a Cannon Ball. He was upon the old gray Horse. At last they finds my Master on the ground naked for tow Freanch men had striped him of his Cloes, Watch, and Money and left him for dead under a Tree. Sam was riding by him, as he had done before and did not know him. My Master happened to open his Eyes, saw Sam going close by hi, calls him as well as he could considering he lay 4 ours naked upon the Cold grund. Thay got him to a village ware the King was, got him to a Bed, and now he is bravely, thank God for it. He has 6 Wounds, 2 cuts on the Head, a stab under his right Arm with a bagnet [bayonet]. One Ball wen in at his Body, out at his Back, another Ball in at his Back, the other is but a little Cut- our Rigment is above half killed and wounded, for never any Men in the Field behaved as well as they did, so carry all the Honour. The King is meghtely pleased with them. But our English Army drive the Freanch so that some could not get fast eenuf over the Bridge, but took to the Water and so were drounded.

And all the newes now is that the Emperor [Charles VII.] is going to come into our Army, and is talked for Truth that the King has sent to the King of ffrance to desire Him to take the field farely, and not to doo as he did afore. If that he dont his Majesty says he will goo through France home with his army, and the newes is hear that Prince Charles is coming with his army, and it is after a freanch Generll that as a small army coming to joyn the other. We have got 3000 of the Queen's Hussers a coming to help the freanch Hussars from our baggage. Those fellows have nothing but what they ketch, they ride upon small light cattel that goos light, they plunder and take all they come any [upon], kill all they can of our Army. I'll tell you there Dres-First there Cap, which is made of hareskin, they ware no Cote but a Wescte, which is very tite upon them. There Briches and there Stockins are all of a peace, the Stockins lace down behind, the Boots are like your haf Boots. They have a skin which they hang on one side, which [ever] side the wether comes. They carry a small Carbine slung over there Shoulder, so when they fire them they put it under there Arm, so look over there Shoulder. They have 2 pr of Pistolles and a Simmeter [scimitar] but when the Queen's hussers come, thay will soon put an End to those Gentlemen. The Queens are the finest in all the Wourld. But there is one thing I forgot that I lost all the Baggage and was got out of Sight of any Body in the Wood. Up comes a man a horseback to me, he had no Saddell nor no Pistolls so I did not mind him. He asked me for to give him my led Horse in fraench, I told him no. At that he draws out a Sword, and runs it at me. Oh, thinks I, what sort of usige [usage] is this. So I takes a Pistoll out and shot him through the Shoulder. At that he makes of and I maks to the baggage. Thank God he did not hurt me, it went through my Grete Cote soo no more at present.

Pray send me all the news you can out of the Town. . . . Your most sincere ffriend S. Davies.

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