COMMANDER UNDER MARLBOROUGH 1702-1704
CUTTS, John, Baron Cutts of Gowran (1660/61–1707), army officer and politician. Autograph letter signed, to an unnamed correspondent [but by association with other evidence to Mr Watkins], Hague, February 18th 1703, 3 sides, small 4to, docketed on reverse, concerning packets which he has taken upon himself to open "....it fell out luckily that I opened Cardonel's packet for there was in it a letter from his Grace to me, one to Monsiuer Geldermalsen & one to General Scolos, the Danish Lieutenant General besides two to Grosslier, all of which I took care of" and assuring his correspondent "You may depend upon my Secrecy as well as Honour, where it is requisite; and I open no letters when I don't know the hand or when I do and think it private business. I think the satire they send you very unkind to some of our friends......". He goes on to mention Col.Wheeler from whom he has heard nothing "by which I imagine he has heard of your journey & is returned to Breda. I would have you wait his coming now you are there .......... 'tis necessary I name a new President in case Wheeler does not return soon enough. A new warrant shall be sent to you upon your first notice", and mentions receipt of a letter from Brigadier Woods.
Upon Queen Anne’s accession in 1702, Cutts became a major-general and was placed in command of English troops serving in the Dutch republic. Promoted lieutenant-general, he remained in command of the English troops when Marlborough went home in the winter of 1702–3. In February 1703 he was given credentials to negotiate a cartel with the French for the exchange of prisoners, and subsequently joined Marlborough’s campaign of 1703 (Marlborough returned to the Hague on 4 March 1703).
In preparing for the Blenheim campaign in May 1704, Marlborough warned Godolphin not to let Cutts know that he intended to march beyond the Mosel, ‘for he is not capable of keeping a secrit’. Cutts and several other officers carrying money for the army joined Marlborough at Burgheim in July and in August the allied army, commanded by Prince Eugene and Marlborough, marched westwards to meet the French. Marlborough created an extra column on of twenty battalions and fifteen squadrons under Cutts, commanding the army's southern flank facing the village of Blenheim. Cutts made repeated assaults on the village, meeting stiff resistance from the French. In the final stages of the battle Cutts was joined by the earl of Orkney and General Charles Churchill in encircling the village and preventing the 10,000 French troops from breaking out of Blenheim, eventually forcing them to surrender. (ODNB).
The recipient of Cutts' letter was evidently Henry Watkins, secretary to the Duke of Marlborough, and a War Office colleague of Cardonnel. Adam de Cardonnel (1663–1719) was chief clerk in the War Office, one time secretary to Marlborough, who became an important administrator and figure during the early years of the War of Spanish Succession. 'Monsiuer Geldermalsen' referred to in the letter is Adriaan van Borsele van der Hooge, Lord of Geldermalsen (1658-1728), a protégé of William III who became member of the Council of the States in 1692. From 1693 till 1718 Geldermalsen was representative of the States General in the field, including campaigns under Marlborough.