Fort Coehoorn, a detached fortress named for the Dutch engineer who designed and built it, protected the Terra Nova and the Citadel. Just to its right in the background is “The Cassotte,” a small blockhouse and the site of much bloody fighting. Fort Coehoorn and the Cassotte were assaulted by Bavarian, Dutch, and Prussian troops. Dutch troops can be seen assaulting the breach of Fort Coehoorn. The allies captured lodgments in both forts which ultimately resulted in the French decision to surrender the citadel.
Allied general officers watching the assault in the background. The officer pointing with the staff is likely Dutch engineer Menno van Coehoorn. He is addressing the Stadholder-King William III (riding a white horse). Although the Maximilian Emmanuel II, Elector of Bavaria, was technically in charge of siege force and William III the main covering army, William III personally led several of the assaults. At the time of the main attack on the citadel, William commanded the allied army at Mazy north of Namur.
Long range artillery fire in support of the allied assault of the citadel in the background. These batteries would have aimed at silencing enemy guns and forcing the enemy troops to keep their heads’ down.
The Namur citadel complex comprised several smaller fortresses, all of them depicted in the painting. The castle-like structure in the background is the original “citadel,” sometimes referred to as the “castle” by contemporaries based upon an old, heavily reinforced medieval castle. The Terra Nova, an irregular shaped modern crownwork, protected the citadel. It is the target of the allied assault in the foreground.
The allied assaults are well depicted. In the middle distance to the right, one can see columns of allied troops advancing toward the Terra Nova directly to their front. The red coats of the allied troops in the nearest column are British. The blue-clad troops ahead of them are either Dutch or British. (At this time, several British infantry regiments still wore blue uniforms.) Contemporary English accounts noted that British troops had to march almost a mile to reach the breach in the Terra Nova where they were to make their assault. During part of their march, the columns were exposed to flanking fire coming from Fort Coehoorn; the British suffered heavy casualties and were unable to gain a lodgment in the breach there.
THE SIEGE OF NAMUR, 1695
Jan van Huchtenburgh (1647-1733)
Van Huchtenburgh’s painting of the allied siege of Namur depicts what was arguably William III’s most important military victory during the Nine Years’ War. Van Huchtenburgh’s panorama likely shows the allied assault of the citadel launched on 30 August 1695.