Thursday, 2 February 2012

Corporal Trim and the battle of Landen (Neerwinden) - a winter journey

Corporal Trim's halberd - a story of the battle of Landen

that this servant of my uncle Toby ‘s, who went by the name of Trim, had been a Corporal in my uncle's own company, ---- his real name was James Butler, -- but having got the nick-name of Trim in the regiment, […] had been disabled for the service, by a wound on his left knee by a musket-bullet, at the battle of Landen, which was two years before the affair of Namur; -- and as the fellow was well beloved in the regiment, and a handy fellow into the bargain, my uncle Toby took him for his servant, and of excellent use was he, attending my uncle Toby in the camp and in his quarters as valet, groom, barber, cook, sempster, and nurse;

The village today
The Allied centre

An approximate position of King William's ditch/trench

The view towards Neerwinden

The battle described
Walking the battlefield is a curious experience in winter, as the battle itself was fought on a bright summers day, 29thJuly 1693 (OS).  The battle is beautifully described in Colonel Walton's 'History of the Standing Army' and 'The Life and Diary of Lieut. Col. J. Blackader'.

Voltaire played tribute to the Huguenot refugee 'Gentleman's regiment' of Ruvigni (the good Lord Galway) that played such an important role in the battle and the saving of the Confederate Army.

The few short lines in 'Tristram Shandy' and the theme of 'Trim's' wounding are a remembrance of the violent and dogged defence of the villages by the British and Dutch infantry - led by King William in person on two occasions.  

And had it not been for Landen...

'Trim, I assure you, was the best scholar in my company; and should have had the next halberd,but for the poor fellows misfortune'.*

*  Halberd - to be promoted Serjeant


  1. This is shaping up to be a most excellent blog. Well done! I look forward to reading more.