It was a summer evening, Old Kaspar’s work was done, And he before his cottage door Was sitting in the sun, And by him sported on the green His little grandchild Wilhelmine. She saw her brother Peterkin Roll something large and round Which he beside the rivulet In playing there had found; He came to ask what he had found, That was so large, and smooth, and round. Old Kaspar took it from the boy, Who stood expectant by; And then the old man shook his head, And with a natural sigh, “‘Tis some poor fellow’s skull,” said he, “Who fell in the great victory. “I find them in the garden, For there’s many here about; And often when I go to plough, The ploughshare turns them out! For many thousand men,” said he, “Were slain in that great victory.” “Now tell us what ’twas all about,” Young Peterkin, he cries; And little Wilhelmine looks up With wonder-waiting eyes; “Now tell us all about the war, And what they fought each other for.” “It was the English,” Kaspar cried, “Who put the French to rout; But what they fought each other for I could not well make out; But everybody said,” quoth he, “That ’twas a famous victory. “My father lived at Blenheim then, Yon little stream hard by They burnt his dwelling to the ground, And he was forced to fly; So with his wife and child he fled, Nor had he where to rest his head. “With fire and sword the country round Was wasted far and wide, And many a childing mother then, And new-born baby died; But things like that, you know, must be At every famous victory. “They said it was a shocking sight After the field was won; For many thousand bodies here Lay rotting in the sun; But things like that, you know, must be After a famous victory. “Great praise the Duke of Marlbro’ won, And our good Prince Eugene.” “Why, ’twas a very wicked thing!” Said little Wilhelmine. “Nay … nay … my little girl,” quoth he, “It was a famous victory.” “And everybody praised the Duke Who this great fight did win.” “But what good came of it at last?” Quoth little Peterkin. “Why, that I cannot tell,” said he, “But ’twas a famous victory.”
This battle was fought near the village of Blenheim, in Bavaria, on the left bank of the river Danube, on August 13, 1704. The French and Bavarians, under Marshall Tallard and Marsin, were defeated by the English and Austrians, under the Duke of Marlborough and Prince Eugene.
The French and Bavarians were taken by surprise in the village, and their armies were badly handled. On the opposite side Marlborough and Prince Eugene showed themselves splendid cavalry leaders and led an attack that proved successful through its very recklessness The French and Bavarians lost 30,000 in killed, wounded, and prisoners, while Marlborough’s loss was only 11,000. The battle broke the prestige of the French king, Louis XIV; and when Marlborough returned to England his nation built a magnificent mansion for him and named it Blenheim Palace after this battle.
Prince Eugene: François Eugene de Savoie-Carignan, a brilliant general who aided Marlborough in defeating the Bavarians and French at Blenheim, Bavaria, August 13, 1704.