Cohorn, Memnon

, the Vauban of the Dutch, was born in 1632, or, according to Saxius, in 1641. His genius for the art of war, and for constructing fortifications, displayed itself early in life. Being engineer and lieutenant-general in the service of the States-general, he fortified and defended the greater part of their places. It was a curious spectacle, says the president Heinault, to see in 1692, at the siege of Namur, the fort Cohorn besieged by Vauban, and defended by Cohorn himself. He did not surrender till after he had received a wound judged to be mortal, but which, however, did not prove to be so. In 1703 the elector of Cologne, Joseph Clement, having espoused the part of France, and received a French garrison into Bonn, Cohorn kept up such a strong and terrible fire upon the place, that the commandant surrendered it three days afterwards. This great man died at the Hague in 1704, leaving the Hollanders several places fortified by his industry and skill, Bergen-op-zoom, which he called his master-piece, but which, it ought to be mentioned, he left unfinished, was taken in 1747 by the marshal de Loewendahl, notwithstanding its fine fortifications, which caused it to be regarded as impregnable. We have a treatise by Cohorn, in Dutch, on the new method of fortifying places.

Our countryman, Benjamin Robins, F. R. S. in his “New Principles of Gunnery,” acknowledges the superior merit of Cohorn, who was undoubtedly, he says, the ablest fortifier that the world had ever seen, and yet had much trouble in introducing his system, and was vexatiously opposed by the old engineers, who affected to consider him as a self-conceited pretender. 2