It may suffice the reader, without being very inquisitive after my name, that I was born in the county of Salop, in the year 1608, under the government of what star I was never astrologer enough to examine; but the consequences of my life may allow me to suppose some extraordinary influence affected my birth.
My father was a gentleman of a very plentiful fortune, having an estate of above £5000 per annum, of a family nearly allied to several of the principal nobility, and lived about six miles from the town; and my mother being at —— on some particular occasion, was surprised there at a friend’s house, and brought me very safe into the world.
I was my father’s second son, and therefore was not altogether so much slighted as younger sons of good families generally are. But my father saw something in my genius also which particularly pleased him, and so made him take extraordinary care of my education.
I was taught, therefore, by the best masters that could be had, everything that was needful to accomplish a young gentleman for the world; and at seventeen years old my tutor told my father an academic education was very proper for a person of quality, and he thought me very fit for it: so my father entered me of —— College in Oxford, where I continued three years.
A collegiate life did not suit me at all, though I loved books well enough. It was never designed that I should be either a lawyer, physician, or divine; and I wrote to my father that I thought I had stayed there long enough for a gentleman, and with his leave I desired to give him a visit.
During my stay at Oxford, though I passed through the proper exercises of the house, yet my chief reading was upon history and geography, as that which pleased my mind best, and supplied me with ideas most suitable to my genius; by one I understood what great actions had been done in the world, and by the other I understood where they had been done.
My father readily complied with my desire of coming home; for besides that he thought, as I did, that three years’ time at the university was enough, he also most passionately loved me, and began to think of my settling near him.
At my arrival I found myself extraordinarily caressed by my father, and he seemed to take a particular delight in my conversation. My mother, who lived in perfect union with him both in desires and affection, received me very passionately. Apartments were provided for me by myself, and horses and servants allowed me in particular.
My father never went a-hunting, an exercise he was exceeding fond of, but he would have me with him; and it pleased him when he found me like the sport. I lived thus, in all the pleasures ’twas possible for me to enjoy, for about a year more, when going out one morning with my father to hunt a stag, and having had a very hard chase, and gotten a great way off from home, we had leisure enough to ride gently back; and as we returned my father took occasion to enter into a serious discourse with me concerning the manner of my settling in the world.
He told me, with a great deal of passion, that he loved me above all the rest of his children, and that therefore he intended to do very well for me; and that my eldest brother being already married and settled, he had designed the same for me, and proposed a very advantageous match for me, with a young lady of very extraordinary fortune and merit, and offered to make a settlement of £2000 per annum on me, which he said he would purchase for me without diminishing his paternal estate.
There was too much tenderness in this discourse not to affect me exceedingly. I told him I would perfectly resign myself unto his disposal. But as my father had, together with his love for me, a very nice judgment in his discourse, he fixed his eyes very attentively on me, and though my answer was without the least reserve, yet he thought he saw some uneasiness in me at the proposal, and from thence concluded that my compliance was rather an act of discretion than inclination; and that, however I seemed so absolutely given up to what he had proposed, yet my answer was really an effect of my obedience rather than my choice.
So he returned very quick upon me: “Look you, son, though I give you my own thoughts in the matter, yet I would have you be very plain with me; for if your own choice does not agree with mine, I will be your adviser, but will never impose upon you, and therefore let me know your mind freely.” “I don’t reckon myself capable, sir,” said I, with a great deal of respect, “to make so good a choice for myself as you can for me; and though my opinion differed from yours, its being your opinion would reform mine, and my judgment would as readily comply as my duty.” “I gather at least from thence,” said my father, “that your designs lay another way before, however they may comply with mine; and therefore I would know what it was you would have asked of me if I had not offered this to you; and you must not deny me your obedience in this, if you expect I should believe your readiness in the other.”
“Sir,” said I, “’twas impossible I should lay out for myself just what you have proposed; but if my inclinations were never so contrary, though at your command you shall know them, yet I declare them to be wholly subjected to your order. I confess my thoughts did not tend towards marriage or a settlement; for, though I had no reason to question your care of me, yet I thought a gentleman ought always to see something of the world before he confined himself to any part of it. And if I had been to ask your consent to anything, it should have been to give me leave to travel for a short time, in order to qualify myself to appear at home like a son to so good a father.”
“In what capacity would you travel?” replied my father. “You must go abroad either as a private gentleman, as a scholar, or as a soldier.” “If it were in the latter capacity, sir,” said I, returning pretty quick, “I hope I should not misbehave myself; but I am not so determined as not to be ruled by your judgment.” “Truly,” replied my father, “I see no war abroad at this time worth while for a man to appear in, whether we talk of the cause or the encouragement; and indeed, son, I am afraid you need not go far for adventures of that nature, for times seem to look as if this part of Europe would find us work enough.” My father spake then relating to the quarrel likely to happen between the King of England and the Spaniard,’ 1 for I believe he had no notions of a civil war in his head.
In short, my father, perceiving my inclinations very forward to go abroad, gave me leave to travel, upon condition I would promise to return in two years at farthest, or sooner, if he sent for me.
While I was at Oxford I happened into the society of a young gentleman, of a good family, but of a low fortune, being a younger brother, and who had indeed instilled into me the first desires of going abroad, and who, I knew, passionately longed to travel, but had not sufficient allowance to defray his expenses as a gentleman. We had contracted a very close friendship, and our humours being very agreeable to one another, we daily enjoyed the conversation of letters. He was of a generous free temper, without the least affectation or deceit, a handsome proper person, a strong body, very good mien, and brave to the last degree. His name was Fielding and we called him Captain, though it be a very unusual title in a college; but fate had some hand in the title, for he had certainly the lines of a soldier drawn in his countenance. I imparted to him the resolutions I had taken, and how I had my father’s consent to go abroad, and would know his mind whether he would go with me. He sent me word he would go with all his heart.
My father, when he saw him, for I sent for him immediately to come to me, mightily approved my choice; so we got our equipage ready, and came away for London.
’Twas on the 22nd of April 1630, when we embarked at Dover, landed in a few hours at Calais, and immediately took post for Paris. I shall not trouble the reader with a journal of my travels, nor with the description of places, which every geographer can do better than I; but these Memoirs being only a relation of what happened either to ourselves, or in our own knowledge, I shall confine myself to that part of it.
We had indeed some diverting passages in our journey to Paris, as first, the horse my comrade was upon fell so very lame with a slip that he could not go, and hardly stand, and the fellow that rid with us express, pretended to ride away to a town five miles off to get a fresh horse, and so left us on the road with one horse between two of us. We followed as well as we could, but being strangers, missed the way, and wandered a great way out the road. Whether the man performed in reasonable time or not we could not be sure, but if it had not been for an old priest, we had never found him. We met this man, by a very good accident, near a little village whereof he was curate. We spoke Latin enough just to make him understand us, and he did not speak it much better himself; but he carried us into the village to his house, gave us wine and bread, and entertained us with wonderful courtesy. After this he sent into the village, hired a peasant, and a horse for my captain, and sent him to guide us into the road. At parting he made a great many compliments to us in French, which we could just understand; but the sum was, to excuse him for a question he had a mind to ask us. After leave to ask what he pleased, it was if we wanted any money for our journey, and pulled out two pistoles, which he offered either to give or lend us.
I mention this exceeding courtesy of the curate because, though civility is very much in use in France, and especially to strangers, yet ’tis a very unusual thing to have them part with their money.
We let the priest know, first, that we did not want money, and next that we were very sensible of the obligation he had put upon us; and I told him in particular, if I lived to see him again, I would acknowledge it.
This accident of our horse was, as we afterwards found, of some use to us. We had left our two servants behind us at Calais to bring our baggage after us, by reason of some dispute between the captain of the packet and the custom-house officer, which could not be adjusted, and we were willing to be at Paris. The fellows followed as fast as they could, and, as near as we could learn, in the time we lost our way, were robbed, and our portmanteaus opened. They took what they pleased; but as there was no money there, but linen and necessaries, the loss was not great.
Our guide carried us to Amiens, where we found the express and our two servants, who the express meeting on the road with a spare horse, had brought back with him thither.
We took this for a good omen of our successful journey, having escaped a danger which might have been greater to us than it was to our servants; for the highwaymen in France do not always give a traveller the civility of bidding him stand and deliver his money, but frequently fire on him first, and then take his money.
We stayed one day at Amiens, to adjust this little disorder, and walked about the town, and into the great church, but saw nothing very remarkable there; but going across a broad street near the great church, we saw a crowd of people gazing at a mountebank doctor, who made a long harangue to them with a thousand antic postures, and gave out bills this way, and boxes of physic that way, and had a great trade, when on a sudden the people raised a cry, “Larron, Larron!” (in English, “Thief, thief”), on the other side the street, and all the auditors ran away, from Mr Doctor to see what the matter was. Among the rest we went to see, and the case was plain and short enough. Two English gentlemen and a Scotchman, travellers as we were, were standing gazing at this prating doctor, and one of them catched a fellow picking his pocket. The fellow had got some of his money, for he dropped two or three pieces just by him, and had got hold of his watch, but being surprised let it slip again. But the reason of telling this story is for the management of it. This thief had his seconds so ready, that as soon as the Englishman had seized him they fell in, pretended to be mighty zealous for the stranger, takes the fellow by the throat, and makes a great bustle; the gentleman not doubting but the man was secured let go his own hold of him, and left him to them. The hubbub was great, and ’twas these fellows cried, “Larron, larron!” but with a dexterity peculiar to themselves had let the right fellow go, and pretended to be all upon one of their own gang. At last they bring the man to the gentleman to ask him what the fellow had done, who, when he saw the person they seized on, presently told them that was not the man. Then they seemed to be in more consternation than before, and spread themselves all over the street, crying, “Larron, larron!” pretending to search for the fellow; and so one one way, one another, they were all gone, the noise went over, the gentlemen stood looking one at another, and the bawling doctor began to have the crowd about him again. This was the first French trick I had the opportunity of seeing, but I was told they have a great many more as dexterous as this.
We soon got acquaintance with these gentlemen, who were going to Paris, as well as we; so the next day we made up our company with them, and were a pretty troop of five gentlemen and four servants.
As we had really no design to stay long at Paris, so indeed, excepting the city itself, there was not much to be seen there. Cardinal Richelieu, who was not only a supreme minister in the Church, but Prime Minister in the State, was now made also General of the King’s Forces, with a title never known in France before nor since, viz., Lieutenant–General “au place du Roi,” in the king’s stead, or, as some have since translated it, representing the person of the king.
Under this character he pretended to execute all the royal powers in the army without appeal to the king, or without waiting for orders; and having parted from Paris the winter before had now actually begun the war against the Duke of Savoy, in the process of which he restored the Duke of Mantua, and having taken Pignerol from the duke, put it into such a state of defence as the duke could never force it out of his hands, and reduced the duke, rather by manage and conduct than by force, to make peace without it; so as annexing it to the crown of France it has ever since been a thorn in his foot that has always made the peace of Savoy lame and precarious, and France has since made Pignerol one of the strongest fortresses in the world.
As the cardinal, with all the military part of the court, was in the field, so the king, to be near him, was gone with the queen and all the court, just before I reached Paris, to reside at Lyons. All these considered, there was nothing to do at Paris; the court looked like a citizen’s house when the family was all gone into the country, and I thought the whole city looked very melancholy, compared to all the fine things I had heard of it.
The queen-mother and her party were chagrined at the cardinal, who, though he owed his grandeur to her immediate favour, was now grown too great any longer to be at the command of her Majesty, or indeed in her interest; and therefore the queen was under dissatisfaction and her party looked very much down.
The Protestants were everywhere disconsolate, for the losses they had received at Rochelle, Nimes, and Montpelier had reduced them to an absolute dependence on the king’s will, without all possible hopes of ever recovering themselves, or being so much as in a condition to take arms for their religion, and therefore the wisest of them plainly foresaw their own entire reduction, as it since came to pass. And I remember very well that a Protestant gentleman told me once, as we were passing from Orleans to Lyons, that the English had ruined them; and therefore, says he, “I think the next occasion the king takes to use us ill, as I know ’twill not be long before he does, we must all fly over to England, where you are bound to maintain us for having helped to turn us out of our own country.” I asked him what he meant by saying the English had done it? He returned short upon me: “I do not mean,” says he, “by not relieving Rochelle, but by helping to ruin Rochelle, when you and the Dutch lent ships to beat our fleet, which all the ships in France could not have done without you.”
I was too young in the world to be very sensible of this before, and therefore was something startled at the charge; but when I came to discourse with this gentleman, I soon saw the truth of what he said was undeniable, and have since reflected on it with regret, that the naval power of the Protestants, which was then superior to the royal, would certainly have been the recovery of all their fortunes, had it not been unhappily broke by their brethren of England and Holland, the former lending seven men-of-war, and the latter twenty, for the destruction of the Rochellers’ fleet; and by these very ships the Rochellers’ fleet were actually beaten and destroyed, and they never afterwards recovered their force at sea, and by consequence sunk under the siege, which the English afterwards in vain attempted to prevent.
These things made the Protestants look very dull, and expected the ruin of all their party, which had certainly happened had the cardinal lived a few years longer.
We stayed in Paris, about three weeks, as well to see the court and what rarities the place afforded, as by an occasion which had like to have put a short period to our ramble.
Walking one morning before the gate of the Louvre, with a design to see the Swiss drawn up, which they always did, and exercised just before they relieved the guards, a page came up to me, and speaking English to me, “Sir,” says he, “the captain must needs have your immediate assistance.” I, that had not the knowledge of any person in Paris but my own companion, whom I called captain, had no room to question, but it was he that sent for me; and crying out hastily to him, “Where?” followed the fellow as fast as ’twas possible. He led me through several passages which I knew not, and at last through a tennis-court and into a large room, where three men, like gentlemen, were engaged very briskly two against one. The room was very dark, so that I could not easily know them asunder, but being fully possessed with an opinion before of my captain’s danger, I ran into the room with my sword in my hand. I had not particularly engaged any of them, nor so much as made a pass at any, when I received a very dangerous thrust in my thigh, rather occasioned by my too hasty running in, than a real design of the person; but enraged at the hurt, without examining who it was hurt me, I threw myself upon him, and run my sword quite through his body.
The novelty of the adventure, and the unexpected fall of the man by a stranger come in nobody knew how, had becalmed the other two, that they really stood gazing at me. By this time I had discovered that my captain was not there, and that ’twas some strange accident brought me thither. I could speak but little French, and supposed they could speak no English, so I stepped to the door to see for the page that brought me thither, but seeing nobody there and the passage clear, I made off as fast as I could, without speaking a word; nor did the other two gentlemen offer to stop me.
But I was in a strange confusion when, coming into those entries and passages which the page led me through, I could by no means find my way out. At last seeing a door open that looked through a house into the street, I went in, and out at the other door; but then I was at as great a loss to know where I was, and which was the way to my lodgings. The wound in my thigh bled apace, and I could feel the blood in my breeches. In this interval came by a chair; I called, and went into it, and bid them, as well as I could, go to the Louvre; for though I knew not the name of the street where I lodged, I knew I could find the way to it when I was at the Bastille. The chairmen went on their own way, and being stopped by a company of the guards as they went, set me down till the soldiers were marched by; when looking out I found I was just at my own lodging, and the captain was standing at the door looking for me. I beckoned him to me, and, whispering, told him I was very much hurt, but bid him pay the chairmen, and ask no questions but come to me.
I made the best of my way upstairs, but had lost so much blood, that I had hardly spirits enough to keep me from swooning till he came in. He was equally concerned with me to see me in such a bloody condition, and presently called up our landlord, and he as quickly called in his neighbours, that I had a room full of people about me in a quarter of an hour. But this had like to have been of worse consequence to me than the other, for by this time there was great inquiring after the person who killed a man at the tennis-court. My landlord was then sensible of his mistake, and came to me and told me the danger I was in, and very honestly offered to convey me to a friend’s of his, where I should be very secure; I thanked him, and suffered myself to be carried at midnight whither he pleased. He visited me very often, till I was well enough to walk about, which was not in less than ten days, and then we thought fit to be gone, so we took post for Orleans. But when I came upon the road I found myself in a new error, for my wound opened again with riding, and I was in a worse condition than before, being forced to take up at a little village on the road, called — — about —— miles from Orleans, where there was no surgeon to be had, but a sorry country barber, who nevertheless dressed me as well as he could, and in about a week more I was able to walk to Orleans at three times. Here I stayed till I was quite well, and took coach for Lyons and so through Savoy into Italy.
I spent nearly two years’ time after this bad beginning in travelling through Italy, and to the several courts of Rome, Naples, Venice, and Vienna.
When I came to Lyons the king was gone from thence to Grenoble to meet the cardinal, but the queens were both at Lyons.
The French affairs seemed at this time to have but an indifferent aspect. There was no life in anything but where the cardinal was: he pushed on everything with extraordinary conduct, and generally with success; he had taken Susa and Pignerol from the Duke of Savoy, and was preparing to push the duke even out of all his dominions.
But in the meantime everywhere else things looked ill; the troops were ill-paid, the magazines empty, the people mutinous, and a general disorder seized the minds of the court; and the cardinal, who was the soul of everything, desired this interview at Grenoble, in order to put things into some better method.
This politic minister always ordered matters so, that if there was success in anything the glory was his, but if things miscarried it was all laid upon the king. This conduct was so much the more nice, as it is the direct contrary to the custom in like cases, where kings assume the glory of all the success in an action, and when a thing miscarries make themselves easy by sacrificing their ministers and favourites to the complaints and resentments of the people; but this accurate refined statesman got over this point.
While we were at Lyons, and as I remember, the third day after our coming thither, we had like to have been involved in a state broil, without knowing where we were. It was of a Sunday in the evening, the people of Lyons, who had been sorely oppressed in taxes, and the war in Italy pinching their trade, began to be very tumultuous. We found the day before the mob got together in great crowds, and talked oddly; the king was everywhere reviled, and spoken disrespectfully of, and the magistrates of the city either winked at, or durst not attempt to meddle, lest they should provoke the people.
But on Sunday night, about midnight, we were waked by a prodigious noise in the street. I jumped out of bed, and running to the window, I saw the street as full of mob as it could hold, some armed with muskets and halberds, marched in very good order; others in disorderly crowds, all shouting and crying out, “Du paix le roi,” and the like. One that led a great party of this rabble carried a loaf of bread upon the top of a pike, and other lesser loaves, signifying the smallness of their bread, occasioned by dearness.
By morning this crowd was gathered to a great height; they ran roving over the whole city, shut up all the shops, and forced all the people to join with them from thence. They went up to the castle, and renewing the clamour, a strange consternation seized all the princes.
They broke open the doors of the officers, collectors of the new taxes, and plundered their houses, and had not the persons themselves fled in time they had been very ill-treated.
The queen-mother, as she was very much displeased to see such consequences of the government, in whose management she had no share, so I suppose she had the less concern upon her. However, she came into the court of the castle and showed herself to the people, gave money amongst them, and spoke gently to them; and by a way peculiar to herself, and which obliged all she talked with, she pacified the mob gradually, sent them home with promises of redress and the like; and so appeased this tumult in two days by her prudence, which the guards in the castle had small mind to meddle with, and if they had, would in all probability have made the better side the worse.
There had been several seditions of the like nature in sundry other parts of France, and the very army began to murmur, though not to mutiny, for want of provisions.
This sedition at Lyons was not quite over when we left the place, for, finding the city all in a broil, we considered we had no business there, and what the consequence of a popular tumult might be we did not see, so we prepared to be gone. We had not rid above three miles out of the city but we were brought as prisoners of war, by a party of mutineers, who had been abroad upon the scout, and were charged with being messengers sent to the cardinal for forces to reduce the citizens. With these pretences they brought us back in triumph, and the queen-mother, being by this time grown something familiar to them, they carried us before her.
When they inquired of us who we were, we called ourselves Scots; for as the English were very much out of favour in France at this time, the peace having been made not many months, and not supposed to be very durable, because particularly displeasing to the people of England, so the Scots were on the other extreme with the French. Nothing was so much caressed as the Scots, and a man had no more to do in France, if he would be well received there, than to say he was a Scotchman.
When we came before the queen-mother she seemed to receive us with some stiffness at first, and caused her guards to take us into custody; but as she was a lady of most exquisite politics, she did this to amuse the mob, and we were immediately after dismissed; and the queen herself made a handsome excuse to us for the rudeness we had suffered, alleging the troubles of the times; and the next morning we had three dragoons of the guards to convoy us out of the jurisdiction of Lyons.
I confess this little adventure gave me an aversion to popular tumults all my life after, and if nothing else had been in the cause, would have biassed me to espouse the king’s party in England when our popular heats carried all before it at home.
But I must say, that when I called to mind since, the address, the management, the compliance in show, and in general the whole conduct of the queen-mother with the mutinous people of Lyons, and compared it with the conduct of my unhappy master the King of England, I could not but see that the queen understood much better than King Charles the management of politics and the clamours of the people.
Had this princess been at the helm in England, she would have prevented all the calamities of the Civil War here, and yet not have parted with what that good prince yielded in order to peace neither. She would have yielded gradually, and then gained upon them gradually; she would have managed them to the point she had designed them, as she did all parties in France; and none could effectually subject her but the very man she had raised to be her principal support — I mean the cardinal.
We went from hence to Grenoble, and arrived there the same day that the king and the cardinal with the whole court went out to view a body of 6000 Swiss foot, which the cardinal had wheedled the cantons to grant to the king to help to ruin their neighbour the Duke of Savoy.
The troops were exceeding fine, well-accoutred, brave, clean-limbed, stout fellows indeed. Here I saw the cardinal; there was an air of church gravity in his habit, but all the vigour of a general, and the sprightliness of a vast genius in his face. He affected a little stiffness in his behaviour, but managed all his affairs with such clearness, such steadiness, and such application, that it was no wonder he had such success in every undertaking.
Here I saw the king, whose figure was mean, his countenance hollow, and always seemed dejected, and every way discovering that weakness in his countenance that appeared in his actions.
If he was ever sprightly and vigorous it was when the cardinal was with him, for he depended so much on everything he did, he that was at the utmost dilemma when he was absent, always timorous, jealous, and irresolute.
After the review the cardinal was absent some days, having been to wait on the queen-mother at Lyons, where, as it was discoursed, they were at least seemingly reconciled.
I observed while the cardinal was gone there was no court, the king was seldom to be seen, very small attendance given, and no bustle at the castle; but as soon as the cardinal returned, the great councils were assembled, the coaches of the ambassadors went every day to the castle, and a face of business appeared upon the whole court.
Here the measures of the Duke of Savoy’s ruin were concerted, and in order to it the king and the cardinal put themselves at the head of the army, with which they immediately reduced all Savoy, took Chamberri and the whole duchy except Montmelian.
The army that did this was not above 22,000 men, including the Swiss, and but indifferent troops neither, especially the French foot, who, compared to the infantry I have since seen in the German and Swedish armies, were not fit to be called soldiers. On the other hand, considering the Savoyards and Italian troops, they were good troops; but the cardinal’s conduct made amends for all these deficiencies.
From hence I went to Pignerol, which was then little more than a single fortification on the hill near the town called St Bride’s, but the situation of that was very strong. I mention this because of the prodigious works since added to it, by which it has since obtained the name of “the right hand of France.” They had begun a new line below the hill, and some works were marked out on the side of the town next the fort; but the cardinal afterwards drew the plan of the works with his own hand, by which it was made one of the strongest fortresses in Europe.
While I was at Pignerol, the governor of Milan, for the Spaniards, came with an army and sat down before Casale. The grand quarrel, and for which the war in this part of Italy was begun, was this: The Spaniards and Germans pretended to the duchy of Mantua; the Duke of Nevers, a Frenchman, had not only a title to it, but had got possession of it; but being ill-supported by the French, was beaten out by the Imperialists, and after a long siege the Germans took Mantua itself, and drove the poor duke quite out of the country.
The taking of Mantua elevated the spirits of the Duke of Savoy, and the Germans and Spaniards being now at more leisure, with a complete army came to his assistance, and formed the siege of Montferrat.
For as the Spaniards pushed the Duke of Mantua, so the French by way of diversion lay hard upon the Duke of Savoy. They had seized Montferrat, and held it for the Duke of Mantua, and had a strong French garrison under Thoiras, a brave and experienced commander; and thus affairs stood when we came into the French army.
I had no business there as a soldier, but having passed as a Scotch gentleman with the mob at Lyons, and after with her Majesty the queen-mother, when we obtained the guard of her dragoons, we had also her Majesty’s pass, with which we came and went where we pleased. And the cardinal, who was then not on very good terms with the queen, but willing to keep smooth water there, when two or three times our passes came to be examined, showed a more than ordinary respect to us on that very account, our passes being from the queen.
Casale being besieged, as I have observed, began to be in danger, for the cardinal, who ’twas thought had formed a design to ruin Savoy, was more intent upon that than upon the succour of the Duke of Mantua; but necessity calling upon him to deliver so great a captain as Thoiras, and not to let such a place as Casale fall into the hands of the enemy, the king, or cardinal rather, ordered the Duke of Montmorency, and the Maréchal D’Effiat, with 10,000 foot and 2000 horse, to march and join the Maréchals De La Force and Schomberg, who lay already with an army on the frontiers of Genoa, but too weak to attempt the raising the siege of Casale.
As all men thought there would be a battle between the French and the Spaniards, I could not prevail with myself to lose the opportunity, and therefore by the help of the passes above mentioned, I came to the French army under the Duke of Montmorency. We marched through the enemy’s country with great boldness and no small hazard, for the Duke of Savoy appeared frequently with great bodies of horse on the rear of the army, and frequently skirmished with our troops, in one of which I had the folly — I can call it no better, for I had no business there — to go out and see the sport, as the French gentlemen called it. I was but a raw soldier, and did not like the sport at all, for this party was surrounded by the Duke of Savoy, and almost all killed, for as to quarter they neither asked nor gave. I ran away very fairly, one of the first, and my companion with me, and by the goodness of our horses got out of the fray, and being not much known in the army, we came into the camp an hour or two after, as if we had been only riding abroad for the air.
This little rout made the general very cautious, for the Savoyards were stronger in horse by three or four thousand, and the army always marched in a body, and kept their parties in or very near hand.
I escaped another rub in this French army about five days after, which had like to have made me pay dear for my curiosity.
The Duke de Montmorency and the Maréchal Schomberg joined their army about four or five days after, and immediately, according to the cardinal’s instructions, put themselves on the march for the relief of Casale.
The army had marched over a great plain, with some marshy grounds on the right and the Po on the left, and as the country was so well discovered that ’twas thought impossible any mischief should happen, the generals observed the less caution. At the end of this plain was a long wood and a lane or narrow defile through the middle of it.
Through this pass the army was to march, and the van began to file through it about four o’clock. By three hours’ time all the army was got through, or into the pass, and the artillery was just entered when the Duke of Savoy with 4000 horse and 1500 dragoons with every horseman a footman behind him, whether he had swam the Po or passed it above at a bridge, and made a long march after, was not examined, but he came boldly up the plain and charged our rear with a great deal of fury.
Our artillery was in the lane, and as it was impossible to turn them about and make way for the army, so the rear was obliged to support themselves and maintain the fight for above an hour and a half.
In this time we lost abundance of men, and if it had not been for two accidents all that line had been cut off. One was, that the wood was so near that those regiments which were disordered presently sheltered themselves in the wood; the other was, that by this time the Maréchal Schomberg, with the horse of the van, began to get back through the lane, and to make good the ground from whence the other had been beaten, till at last by this means it came to almost a pitched battle.
There were two regiments of French dragoons who did excellent service in this action, and maintained their ground till they were almost all killed.
Had the Duke of Savoy contented himself with the defeat of five regiments on the right, which he quite broke and drove into the wood, and with the slaughter and havoc which he had made among the rest, he had come off with honour, and might have called it a victory; but endeavouring to break the whole party and carry off some cannon, the obstinate resistance of these few dragoons lost him his advantages, and held him in play till so many fresh troops got through the pass again as made us too strong for him, and had not night parted them he had been entirely defeated.
At last, finding our troops increase and spread themselves on his flank, he retired and gave over. We had no great stomach to pursue him neither, though some horse were ordered to follow a little way.
The duke lost about a thousand men, and we almost twice as many, and but for those dragoons had lost the whole rear-guard and half our cannon. I was in a very sorry case in this action too. I was with the rear in the regiment of horse of Perigoort, with a captain of which regiment I had contracted some acquaintance. I would have rid off at first, as the captain desired me, but there was no doing it, for the cannon was in the lane, and the horse and dragoons of the van eagerly pressing back through the lane must have run me down or carried me with them. As for the wood, it was a good shelter to save one’s life, but was so thick there was no passing it on horseback.
Our regiment was one of the first that was broke, and being all in confusion, with the Duke of Savoy’s men at our heels, away we ran into the wood. Never was there so much disorder among a parcel of runaways as when we came to this wood; it was so exceeding bushy and thick at the bottom there was no entering it, and a volley of small shot from a regiment of Savoy’s dragoons poured in upon us at our breaking into the wood made terrible work among our horses.
For my part I was got into the wood, but was forced to quit my horse, and by that means, with a great deal of difficulty, got a little farther in, where there was a little open place, and being quite spent with labouring among the bushes I sat down resolving to take my fate there, let it be what it would, for I was not able to go any farther. I had twenty or thirty more in the same condition come to me in less than half-an-hour, and here we waited very securely the success of the battle, which was as before.
It was no small relief to those with me to hear the Savoyards were beaten, for otherwise they had all been lost; as for me, I confess, I was glad as it was because of the danger, but otherwise I cared not much which had the better, for I designed no service among them.
One kindness it did me, that I began to consider what I had to do here, and as I could give but a very slender account of myself for what it was I run all these risks, so I resolved they should fight it among themselves, for I would come among them no more.
The captain with whom, as I noted above, I had contracted some acquaintance in this regiment, was killed in this action, and the French had really a great blow here, though they took care to conceal it all they could; and I cannot, without smiling, read some of the histories and memoirs of this action, which they are not ashamed to call a victory.
We marched on to Saluzzo, and the next day the Duke of Savoy presented himself in battalia on the other side of a small river, giving us a fair challenge to pass and engage him. We always said in our camp that the orders were to fight the Duke of Savoy wherever we met him; but though he braved us in our view we did not care to engage him, but we brought Saluzzo to surrender upon articles, which the duke could not relieve without attacking our camp, which he did not care to do.
The next morning we had news of the surrender of Mantua to the Imperial army. We heard of it first from the Duke of Savoy’s cannon, which he fired by way of rejoicing, and which seemed to make him amends for the loss of Saluzzo.
As this was a mortification to the French, so it quite damped the success of the campaign, for the Duke de Montmorency imagining that the Imperial general would send immediate assistance to the Marquis Spinola, who besieged Casale, they called frequent councils of war what course to take, and at last resolved to halt in Piedmont. A few days after their resolutions were changed again by the news of the death of the Duke of Savoy, Charles Emanuel, who died, as some say, agitated with the extremes of joy and grief.
This put our generals upon considering again whether they should march to the relief of Casale, but the chimera of the Germans put them by, and so they took up quarters in Piedmont. They took several small places from the Duke of Savoy, making advantage of the consternation the duke’s subjects were in on the death of their prince, and spread themselves from the seaside to the banks of the Po. But here an enemy did that for them which the Savoyards could not, for the plague got into their quarters and destroyed abundance of people, both of the army and of the country.
I thought then it was time for me to be gone, for I had no manner of courage for that risk; and I think verily I was more afraid of being taken sick in a strange country than ever I was of being killed in battle. Upon this resolution I procured a pass to go for Genoa, and accordingly began my journey, but was arrested at Villa Franca by a slow lingering fever, which held me about five days, and then turned to a burning malignancy, and at last to the plague. My friend, the captain, never left me night nor day; and though for four days more I knew nobody, nor was capable of so much as thinking of myself, yet it pleased God that the distemper gathered in my neck, swelled and broke. During the swelling I was raging mad with the violence of pain, which being so near my head swelled that also in proportion, that my eyes were swelled up, and for the twenty-four hours my tongue and mouth; then, as my servant told me, all the physicians gave me over, as past all remedy, but by the good providence of God the swelling broke.
The prodigious collection of matter which this swelling discharged gave me immediate relief, and I became sensible in less than an hour’s time; and in two hours or thereabouts fell into a little slumber which recovered my spirits and sensibly revived me. Here I lay by it till the middle of September. My captain fell sick after me, but recovered quickly. His man had the plague, and died in two days; my man held it out well.
About the middle of September we heard of a truce concluded between all parties, and being unwilling to winter at Villa Franca, I got passes, and though we were both but weak, we began to travel in litters for Milan.
And here I experienced the truth of an old English proverb, that standers-by see more than the gamesters.
The French, Savoyards, and Spaniards made this peace or truce all for separate and several grounds, and every one were mistaken.
The French yielded to it because they had given over the relief of Casale, and were very much afraid it would fall into the hands of the Marquis Spinola. The Savoyards yielded to it because they were afraid the French would winter in Piedmont; the Spaniards yielded to it because the Duke of Savoy being dead, and the Count de Colalto, the Imperial general, giving no assistance, and his army weakened by sickness and the fatigues of the siege, he foresaw he should never take the town, and wanted but to come off with honour.
The French were mistaken, because really Spinola was so weak that had they marched on into Montferrat the Spaniards must have raised the siege; the Duke of Savoy was mistaken, because the plague had so weakened the French that they durst not have stayed to winter in Piedmont; and Spinola was mistaken, for though he was very slow, if he had stayed before the town one fortnight longer, Thoiras the governor must have surrendered, being brought to the last extremity.
Of all these mistakes the French had the advantage, for Casale, was relieved, the army had time to be recruited, and the French had the best of it by an early campaign.
I passed through Montferrat in my way to Milan just as the truce was declared, and saw the miserable remains of the Spanish army, who by sickness, fatigue, hard duty, the sallies of the garrison and such like consequences, were reduced to less than 2000 men, and of them above 1000 lay wounded and sick in the camp.
Here were several regiments which I saw drawn out to their arms that could not make up above seventy or eighty men, officers and all, and those half starved with hunger, almost naked, and in a lamentable condition. From thence I went into the town, and there things were still in a worse condition, the houses beaten down, the walls and works ruined, the garrison, by continual duty, reduced from 4500 men to less than 800, without clothes, money, or provisions, the brave governor weak with continual fatigue, and the whole face of things in a miserable case.
The French generals had just sent them 30,000 crowns for present supply, which heartened them a little, but had not the truce been made as it was, they must have surrendered upon what terms the Spaniards had pleased to make them.
Never were two armies in such fear of one another with so little cause; the Spaniards afraid of the French whom the plague had devoured, and the French afraid of the Spaniards whom the siege had almost ruined.
The grief of this mistake, together with the sense of his master, the Spaniards, leaving him without supplies to complete the siege of Casale, so affected the Marquis Spinola, that he died for grief, and in him fell the last of that rare breed of Low Country soldiers, who gave the world so great and just a character of the Spanish infantry, as the best soldiers of the world; a character which we see them so very much degenerated from since, that they hardly deserve the name of soldiers.
I tarried at Milan the rest of the winter, both for the recovery of my health, and also for supplies from England.
Here it was I first heard the name of Gustavus Adolphus, the king of Sweden, who now began his war with the emperor; and while the king of France was at Lyons, the league with Sweden was made, in which the French contributed 1,200,000 crowns in money, and 600,000 per annum to the attempt of Gustavus Adolphus. About this time he landed in Pomerania, took the towns of Stettin and Stralsund, and from thence proceeded in that prodigious manner of which I shall have occasion to be very particular in the prosecution of these Memoirs.
I had indeed no thoughts of seeing that king or his armies. I had been so roughly handled already, that I had given over the thoughts of appearing among the fighting people, and resolved in the spring to pursue my journey to Venice, and so for the rest of Italy. Yet I cannot deny that as every Gazette gave us some accounts of the conquests and victories of this glorious prince, it prepossessed my thoughts with secret wishes of seeing him, but these were so young and unsettled, that I drew no resolutions from them for a long while after.
About the middle of January I left Milan and came to Genoa, from thence by sea to Leghorn, then to Naples, Rome, and Venice, but saw nothing in Italy that gave me any diversion.
As for what is modern, I saw nothing but lewdness, private murders, stabbing men at the corner of a street, or in the dark, hiring of bravos, and the like. These were to me the modern excellencies of Italy; and I had no gust to antiquities.
’Twas pleasant indeed when I was at Rome to say here stood the Capitol, there the Colossus of Nero, here was the Amphitheatre of Titus, there the Aqueduct of — — here the Forum, there the Catacombs, here the Temple of Venus, there of Jupiter, here the Pantheon, and the like; but I never designed to write a book. As much as was useful I kept in my head, and for the rest, I left it to others.
I observed the people degenerated from the ancient glorious inhabitants, who were generous, brave, and the most valiant of all nations, to a vicious baseness of soul, barbarous, treacherous, jealous and revengeful, lewd and cowardly, intolerably proud and haughty, bigoted to blind, incoherent devotion, and the grossest of idolatry.
Indeed, I think the unsuitableness of the people made the place unpleasant to me, for there is so little in a country to recommend it when the people disgrace it, that no beauties of the creation can make up for the want of those excellencies which suitable society procure the defect of. This made Italy a very unpleasant country to me; the people were the foil to the place, all manner of hateful vices reigning in their general way of living.
I confess I was not very religious myself, and being come abroad into the world young enough, might easily have been drawn into evils that had recommended themselves with any tolerable agreeableness to nature and common manners; but when wickedness presented itself full-grown in its grossest freedoms and liberties, it quite took away all the gust to vice that the devil had furnished me with.
The prodigious stupid bigotry of the people also was irksome to me; I thought there was something in it very sordid. The entire empire the priests have over both the souls and bodies of the people, gave me a specimen of that meanness of spirit, which is nowhere else to be seen but in Italy, especially in the city of Rome.
At Venice I perceived it quite different, the civil authority having a visible superiority over the ecclesiastic, and the Church being more subject there to the State than in any other part of Italy.
For these reasons I took no pleasure in filling my memoirs of Italy with remarks of places or things. All the antiquities and valuable remains of the Roman nation are done better than I can pretend to by such people who made it more their business; as for me, I went to see, and not to write, and as little thought then of these Memoirs as I ill furnished myself to write them.
I left Italy in April, and taking the tour of Bavaria, though very much out of the way, I passed through Munich, Passau, Lintz, and at last to Vienna.
I came to Vienna the 10th of April 1631, intending to have gone from thence down the Danube into Hungary, and by means of a pass, which I had obtained from the English ambassador at Constantinople, I designed to have seen all the great towns on the Danube, which were then in the hands of the Turks, and which I had read much of in the history of the war between the Turks and the Germans; but I was diverted from my design by the following occasion.
There had been a long bloody war in the empire of Germany for twelve years, between the emperor, the Duke of Bavaria, the King of Spain, and the Popish princes and electors on the one side, and the Protestant princes on the other; and both sides having been exhausted by the war, and even the Catholics themselves beginning to dislike the growing power of the house of Austria, ’twas thought all parties were willing to make peace. Nay, things were brought to that pass that some of the Popish princes and electors began to talk of making alliances with the King of Sweden.
Here it is necessary to observe, that the two Dukes of Mecklenburg having been dispossessed of most of their dominions by the tyranny of the Emperor Ferdinand, and being in danger of losing the rest, earnestly solicited the King of Sweden to come to their assistance; and that prince, as he was related to the house of Mecklenburg, and especially as he was willing to lay hold of any opportunity to break with the emperor, against whom he had laid up an implacable prejudice, was very ready and forward to come to their assistance.
The reasons of his quarrel with the emperor were grounded upon the Imperialists concerning themselves in the war of Poland, where the emperor had sent 8000 foot and 2000 horse to join the Polish army against the king, and had thereby given some check to his arms in that war.
In pursuance, therefore, of his resolution to quarrel with the emperor, but more particularly at the instances of the princes above-named, his Swedish Majesty had landed the year before at Stralsund with about 12,000 men, and having joined with some forces which he had left in Polish Prussia, all which did not make 30,000 men, he began a war with the emperor, the greatest in event, filled with the most famous battles, sieges, and extraordinary actions, including its wonderful success and happy conclusion, of any war ever maintained in the world.
The King of Sweden had already taken Stettin, Stralsund, Rostock, Wismar, and all the strong places on the Baltic, and began to spread himself in Germany. He had made a league with the French, as I observed in my story of Saxony; he had now made a treaty with the Duke of Brandenburg, and, in short, began to be terrible to the empire.
In this conjuncture the emperor called the General Diet of the empire to be held at Ratisbon, where, as was pretended, all sides were to treat of peace and to join forces to beat the Swedes out of the empire. Here the emperor, by a most exquisite management, brought the affairs of the Diet to a conclusion, exceedingly to his own advantage, and to the farther oppression of the Protestants; and, in particular, in that the war against the King of Sweden was to be carried on in such manner as that the whole burden and charge would lie on the Protestants themselves, and they be made the instruments to oppose their best friends. Other matters also ended equally to their disadvantage, as the methods resolved on to recover the Church lands, and to prevent the education of the Protestant clergy; and what remained was referred to another General Diet to be held at Frankfort-au-Main in August 1631.
I won’t pretend to say the other Protestant princes of Germany had never made any overtures to the King of Sweden to come to their assistance, but ’tis plain they had entered into no league with him; that appears from the difficulties which retarded the fixing of the treaties afterward, both with the Dukes of Brandenburg and Saxony, which unhappily occasioned the ruin of Magdeburg.
But ’tis plain the Swede was resolved on a war with the emperor. His Swedish majesty might, and indeed could not but foresee that if he once showed himself with a sufficient force on the frontiers of the empire, all the Protestant princes would be obliged by their interest or by his arms to fall in with him, and this the consequence made appear to be a just conclusion, for the Electors of Brandenburg and Saxony were both forced to join with him.
First, they were willing to join with him — at least they could not find in their hearts to join with the emperor, of whose power they had such just apprehensions. They wished the Swedes success, and would have been very glad to have had the work done at another man’s charge, but, like true Germans, they were more willing to be saved than to save themselves, and therefore hung back and stood upon terms.
Secondly, they were at last forced to it. The first was forced to join by the King of Sweden himself, who being come so far was not to be dallied with, and had not the Duke of Brandenburg complied as he did, he had been ruined by the Swede. The Saxon was driven into the arms of the Swede by force, for Count Tilly, ravaging his country, made him comply with any terms to be saved from destruction.
Thus matters stood at the end of the Diet at Ratisbon. The King of Sweden began to see himself leagued against at the Diet both by Protestant and Papist; and, as I have often heard his Majesty say since, he had resolved to try to force them off from the emperor, and to treat them as enemies equally with the rest if they did not.
But the Protestants convinced him soon after, that though they were tricked into the outward appearance of a league against him at Ratisbon, they had no such intentions; and by their ambassadors to him let him know that they only wanted his powerful assistance to defend their councils, when they would soon convince him that they had a due sense of the emperor’s designs, and would do their utmost for their liberty. And these I take to be the first invitations the King of Sweden had to undertake the Protestant cause as such, and which entitled him to say he fought for the liberty and religion of the German nation.
I have had some particular opportunities to hear these things form the mouths of some of the very princes themselves, and therefore am the forwarder to relate them; and I place them here because, previous to the part I acted on this bloody scene, ’tis necessary to let the reader into some part of that story, and to show him in what manner and on what occasions this terrible war began.
The Protestants, alarmed at the usage they had met with at the former Diet, had secretly proposed among themselves to form a general union or confederacy, for preventing that ruin which they saw, unless some speedy remedies were applied, would be inevitable. The Elector of Saxony, the head of the Protestants, a vigorous and politic prince, was the first that moved it; and the Landgrave of Hesse, a zealous and gallant prince, being consulted with, it rested a great while between those two, no method being found practicable to bring it to pass, the emperor being so powerful in all parts, that they foresaw the petty princes would not dare to negotiate an affair of such a nature, being surrounded with the Imperial forces, who by their two generals, Wallenstein and Tilly, kept them in continual subjection and terror.
This dilemma had like to have stifled the thoughts of the union as a thing impracticable, when one Seigensius, a Lutheran minister, a person of great abilities, and one whom the Elector of Saxony made great use of in matters of policy as well as religion, contrived for them this excellent expedient.
I had the honour to be acquainted with this gentleman while I was at Leipsic. It pleased him exceedingly to have been the contriver of so fine a structure as the Conclusions of Leipsic, and he was glad to be entertained on that subject. I had the relation from his own mouth, when, but very modestly, he told me he thought ’twas an inspiration darted on a sudden into his thoughts, when the Duke of Saxony calling him into his closet one morning, with a face full of concern, shaking his head, and looking very earnestly, “What will become of us, doctor?” said the duke; “we shall all be undone at Frankfort-au-Main.” “Why so, please your highness?” says the doctor. “Why, they will fight with the King of Sweden with our armies and our money,” says the duke, “and devour our friends and ourselves by the help of our friends and ourselves.” “But what is become of the confederacy, then,” said the doctor, “which your highness had so happily framed in your thoughts, and which the Landgrave of Hesse was so pleased with?” “Become of it?” says the duke, “’tis a good thought enough, but ’tis impossible to bring it to pass among so many members of the Protestant princes as are to be consulted with, for we neither have time to treat, nor will half of them dare to negotiate the matter, the Imperialists being quartered in their very bowels.” “But may not some expedient be found out,” says the doctor, “to bring them all together to treat of it in a general meeting?” “’Tis well proposed,” says the duke, “but in what town or city shall they assemble where the very deputies shall not be besieged by Tilly or Wallenstein in fourteen days’ time, and sacrificed to the cruelty and fury of the Emperor Ferdinand?” “Will your highness be the easier in it,” replies the doctor, “if a way may be found out to call such an assembly upon other causes, at which the emperor may have no umbrage, and perhaps give his assent? You know the Diet at Frankfort is at hand; ’tis necessary the Protestants should have an assembly of their own to prepare matters for the General Diet, and it may be no difficult matter to obtain it.” The duke, surprised with joy at the motion, embraced the doctor with an extraordinary transport. “Thou hast done it, doctor,” said he, and immediately caused him to draw a form of a letter to the emperor, which he did with the utmost dexterity of style, in which he was a great master, representing to his Imperial Majesty that, in order to put an end to the troubles of Germany, his Majesty would be pleased to permit the Protestant princes of the empire to hold a Diet to themselves, to consider of such matters as they were to treat of at the General Diet, in order to conform themselves to the will and pleasure of his Imperial Majesty, to drive out foreigners, and settle a lasting peace in the empire. He also insinuated something of their resolutions unanimously to give their suffrages in favour of the King of Hungary at the election of a king of the Romans, a thing which he knew the emperor had in his thought, and would push at with all his might at the Diet. This letter was sent, and the bait so neatly concealed, that the Electors of Bavaria and Mentz, the King of Hungary, and several of the Popish princes, not foreseeing that the ruin of them all lay in the bottom of it, foolishly advised the emperor to consent to it.
In consenting to this the emperor signed his own destruction, for here began the conjunction of the German Protestants with the Swede, which was the fatalest blow to Ferdinand, and which he could never recover.
Accordingly the Diet was held at Leipsic, February 8, 1630, where the Protestants agreed on several heads for their mutual defence, which were the grounds of the following war. These were the famous Conclusions of Leipsic, which so alarmed the emperor and the whole empire, that to crush it in the beginning, the emperor commanded Count Tilly immediately to fall upon the Landgrave of Hesse and the Duke of Saxony as the principal heads of the union; but it was too late.
The Conclusions were digested into ten heads:—
1. That since their sins had brought God’s judgments upon the whole Protestant Church, they should command public prayers to be made to Almighty God for the diverting the calamities that attended them.
2. That a treaty of peace might be set on foot, in order to come to a right understanding with the Catholic princes.
3. That a time for such a treaty being obtained, they should appoint an assembly of delegates to meet preparatory to the treaty.
4. That all their complaints should be humbly represented to his Imperial Majesty and the Catholic Electors, in order to a peaceable accommodation.
5. That they claim the protection of the emperor, according to the laws of the empire, and the present emperor’s solemn oath and promise.
6. That they would appoint deputies who should meet at certain times to consult of their common interest, and who should be always empowered to conclude of what should be thought needful for their safety.
7. That they will raise a competent force to maintain and defend their liberties, rights, and religion.
8. That it is agreeable to the Constitution of the empire, concluded in the Diet at Augsburg, to do so.
9. That the arming for their necessary defence shall by no means hinder their obedience to his Imperial Majesty, but that they will still continue their loyalty to him.
10. They agree to proportion their forces, which in all amounted to 70,000 men.
The emperor, exceedingly startled at the Conclusions, issued out a severe proclamation or ban against them, which imported much the same thing as a declaration of war, and commanded Tilly to begin, and immediately to fall on the Duke of Saxony with all the fury imaginable, as I have already observed.
Here began the flame to break out; for upon the emperor’s ban, the Protestants send away to the King of Sweden for succour.
His Swedish Majesty had already conquered Mecklenburg, and part of Pomerania, and was advancing with his victorious troops, increased by the addition of some regiments raised in those parts, in order to carry on the war against the emperor, having designed to follow up the Oder into Silesia, and so to push the war home to the emperor’s hereditary countries of Austria and Bohemia, when the first messengers came to him in this case; but this changed his measures, and brought him to the frontiers of Brandenburg resolved to answer the desires of the Protestants. But here the Duke of Brandenburg began to halt, making some difficulties and demanding terms, which drove the king to use some extremities with him, and stopped the Swedes for a while, who had otherwise been on the banks of the Elbe as soon as Tilly, the Imperial general, had entered Saxony, which if they had done, the miserable destruction of Magdeburg had been prevented, as I observed before. The king had been invited into the union, and when he first came back from the banks of the Oder he had accepted it, and was preparing to back it with all his power.
The Duke of Saxony had already a good army which he had with infinite diligence recruited, and mustered them under the cannon of Leipsic. The King of Sweden having, by his ambassador at Leipsic, entered into the union of the Protestants, was advancing victoriously to their aid, just as Count Tilly had entered the Duke of Saxony’s dominions. The fame of the Swedish conquests, and of the hero who commanded them, shook my resolution of travelling into Turkey, being resolved to see the conjunction of the Protestant armies, and before the fire was broke out too far to take the advantage of seeing both sides.
While I remained at Vienna, uncertain which way I should proceed, I remember I observed they talked of the King of Sweden as a prince of no consideration, one that they might let go on and tire himself in Mecklenburg and thereabout, till they could find leisure to deal with him, and then might be crushed as they pleased; but ’tis never safe to despise an enemy, so this was not an enemy to be despised, as they afterwards found.
As to the Conclusions of Leipsic, indeed, at first they gave the Imperial court some uneasiness, but when they found the Imperial armies, began to fright the members out of the union, and that the several branches had no considerable forces on foot, it was the general discourse at Vienna, that the union at Leipsic only gave the emperor an opportunity to crush absolutely the Dukes of Saxony, Brandenburg, and the Landgrave of Hesse, and they looked upon it as a thing certain.
I never saw any real concern in their faces at Vienna till news came to court that the King of Sweden had entered into the union; but as this made them very uneasy, they began to move the powerfulest methods possible to divert this storm; and upon this news Tilly was hastened to fall into Saxony before this union could proceed to a conjunction of forces. This was certainly a very good resolution, and no measure could have been more exactly concerted, had not the diligence of the Saxons prevented it.
The gathering of this storm, which from a cloud began to spread over the empire, and from the little duchy of Mecklenburg began to threaten all Germany, absolutely determined me, as I noted before, as to travelling, and laying aside the thoughts of Hungary, I resolved, if possible, to see the King of Sweden’s army.
I parted from Vienna the middle of May, and took post for Great Glogau in Silesia, as if I had purposed to pass into Poland, but designing indeed to go down the Oder to Custrim in the marquisate of Brandenburg, and so to Berlin. But when I came to the frontiers of Silesia, though I had passes, I could go no farther, the guards on all the frontiers were so strict, so I was obliged to come back into Bohemia, and went to Prague. From hence I found I could easily pass through the Imperial provinces to the lower Saxony, and accordingly took passes for Hamburg, designing, however, to use them no farther than I found occasion.
By virtue of these passes I got into the Imperial army, under Count Tilly, then at the siege of Magdeburg, May the 2nd.
I confess I did not foresee the fate of this city, neither, I believe, did Count Tilly himself expect to glut his fury with so entire a desolation, much less did the people expect it. I did believe they must capitulate, and I perceived by discourse in the army that Tilly would give them but very indifferent conditions; but it fell out otherwise. The treaty of surrender was, as it were, begun, nay, some say concluded, when some of the out-guards of the Imperialists finding the citizens had abandoned the guards of the works, and looked to themselves with less diligence than usual, they broke in, carried an half-moon, sword in hand, with little resistance; and though it was a surprise on both sides, the citizens neither fearing, nor the army expecting the occasion, the garrison, with as much resolution as could be expected under such a fright, flew to the walls, twice beat the Imperialists off, but fresh men coming up, and the administrator of Magdeburg himself being wounded and taken, the enemy broke in, took the city by storm, and entered with such terrible fury, that, without respect to age or condition, they put all the garrison and inhabitants, man, woman, and child, to the sword, plundered the city, and when they had done this set it on fire.
This calamity sure was the dreadfulest sight that ever I saw; the rage of the Imperial soldiers was most intolerable, and not to be expressed. Of 25,000, some said 30,000 people, there was not a soul to be seen alive, till the flames drove those that were hid in vaults and secret places to seek death in the streets rather than perish in the fire. Of these miserable creatures some were killed too by the furious soldiers, but at last they saved the lives of such as came out of their cellars and holes, and so about two thousand poor desperate creatures were left. The exact number of those that perished in this city could never be known, because those the soldiers had first butchered the flames afterwards devoured.
I was on the outer side of the Elbe when this dreadful piece of butchery was done. The city of Magdeburg had a sconce or fort over against it called the toll-house, which joined to the city by a very fine bridge of boats. This fort was taken by the Imperialists a few days before, and having a mind to see it, and the rather because from thence I could have a very good view of the city, I was going over Tilley’s bridge of boats to view this fort. About ten o’clock in the morning I perceived they were storming by the firing, and immediately all ran to the works; I little thought of the taking the city, but imagined it might be some outwork attacked, for we all expected the city would surrender that day, or next, and they might have capitulated upon very good terms.
Being upon the works of the fort, on a sudden I heard the dreadfulest cry raised in the city that can be imagined; ’tis not possible to express the manner of it, and I could see the women and children running about the streets in a most lamentable condition.
The city wall did not run along the side where the river was with so great a height, but we could plainly see the market-place and the several streets which run down to the river. In about an hour’s time after this first cry all was in confusion; there was little shooting, the execution was all cutting of throats and mere house murders. The resolute garrison, with the brave Baron Falkenberg, fought it out to the last, and were cut in pieces, and by this time the Imperial soldiers having broke open the gates and entered on all sides, the slaughter was very dreadful. We could see the poor people in crowds driven down the streets, flying from the fury of the soldiers, who followed butchering them as fast as they could, and refused mercy to anybody, till driving them to the river’s edge, the desperate wretches would throw themselves into the river, where thousands of them perished, especially women and children. Several men that could swim got over to our side, where the soldiers not heated with fight gave them quarter, and took them up, and I cannot but do this justice to the German officers in the fort: they had five small flat boats, and they gave leave to the soldiers to go off in them, and get what booty they could, but charged them not to kill anybody, but take them all prisoners.
Nor was their humanity ill rewarded, for the soldiers, wisely avoiding those places where their fellows were employed in butchering the miserable people, rowed to other places, where crowds of people stood crying out for help, and expecting to be every minute either drowned or murdered; of these at sundry times they fetched over near six hundred, but took care to take in none but such as offered them good pay.
Never was money or jewels of greater service than now, for those that had anything of that sort to offer were soonest helped.
There was a burgher of the town who, seeing a boat coming near him, but out of his call, by the help of a speaking trumpet, told the soldiers in it he would give them 20,000 dollars to fetch him off. They rowed close to the shore, and got him with his wife and six children into the boat, but such throngs of people got about the boat that had like to have sunk her, so that the soldiers were fain to drive a great many out again by main force, and while they were doing this some of the enemies coming down the street desperately drove them all into the water.
The boat, however, brought the burgher and his wife and children safe, and though they had not all that wealth about them, yet in jewels and money he gave them so much as made all the fellows very rich.
I cannot pretend to describe the cruelty of this day: the town by five in the afternoon was all in a flame; the wealth consumed was inestimable, and a loss to the very conqueror. I think there was little or nothing left but the great church and about a hundred houses.
This was a sad welcome into the army for me, and gave me a horror and aversion to the emperor’s people, as well as to his cause. I quitted the camp the third day after this execution, while the fire was hardly out in the city; and from thence getting safe-conduct to pass into the Palatinate, I turned out of the road at a small village on the Elbe, called Emerfield, and by ways and towns I can give but small account of, having a boor for our guide, whom we could hardly understand, I arrived at Leipsic on the 17th of May.
We found the elector intense upon the strengthening of his army, but the people in the greatest terror imaginable, every day expecting Tilly with the German army, who by his cruelty at Magdeburg was become so dreadful to the Protestants that they expected no mercy wherever he came.
The emperor’s power was made so formidable to all the Protestants, particularly since the Diet at Ratisbon left them in a worse case than it found them, that they had not only formed the Conclusions of Leipsic, which all men looked on as the effect of desperation rather than any probable means of their deliverance, but had privately implored the protection and assistance of foreign powers, and particularly the King of Sweden, from whom they had promises of a speedy and powerful assistance. And truly if the Swede had not with a very strong hand rescued them, all their Conclusions at Leipsic had served but to hasten their ruin. I remember very well when I was in the Imperial army they discoursed with such contempt of the forces of the Protestant, that not only the Imperialists but the Protestants themselves gave them up as lost. The emperor had not less than 200,000 men in several armies on foot, who most of them were on the back of the Protestants in every corner. If Tilly did but write a threatening letter to any city or prince of the union, they presently submitted, renounced the Conclusions of Leipsic, and received Imperial garrisons, as the cities of Ulm and Memmingen, the duchy of Wirtemberg, and several others, and almost all Suaben.
Only the Duke of Saxony and the Landgrave of Hesse upheld the drooping courage of the Protestants, and refused all terms of peace, slighted all the threatenings of the Imperial generals, and the Duke of Brandenburg was brought in afterward almost by force.
The Duke of Saxony mustered his forces under the walls of Leipsic, and I having returned to Leipsic, two days before, saw them pass the review. The duke, gallantly mounted, rode through the ranks, attended by his field-marshal Arnheim, and seemed mighty well pleased with them, and indeed the troops made a very fine appearance; but I that had seen Tilly’s army and his old weather-beaten soldiers, whose discipline and exercises were so exact, and their courage so often tried, could not look on the Saxon army without some concern for them when I considered who they had to deal with. Tilly’s men were rugged surly fellows, their faces had an air of hardy courage, mangled with wounds and scars, their armour showed the bruises of musket bullets, and the rust of the winter storms. I observed of them their clothes were always dirty, but their arms were clean and bright; they were used to camp in the open fields, and sleep in the frosts and rain; their horses were strong and hardy like themselves, and well taught their exercises; the soldiers knew their business so exactly that general orders were enough; every private man was fit to command, and their wheelings, marchings, counter-marchings and exercise were done with such order and readiness, that the distinct words of command were hardly of any use among them; they were flushed with victory, and hardly knew what it was to fly.
There had passed some messages between Tilly and the duke, and he gave always such ambiguous answers as he thought might serve to gain time; but Tilly was not to be put off with words, and drawing his army towards Saxony, sends four propositions to him to sign, and demands an immediate reply. The propositions were positive.
1. To cause his troops to enter into the emperor’s service, and to march in person with them against the King of Sweden.
2. To give the Imperial army quarters in his country, and supply them with necessary provisions.
3. To relinquish the union of Leipsic, and disown the ten Conclusions.
4. To make restitution of the goods and lands of the Church.
The duke being pressed by Tilly’s trumpeter for an immediate answer sat all night, and part of the next day, in council with his privy councillors, debating what reply to give him, which at last was concluded, in short, that he would live and die in defence of the Protestant religion, and the Conclusions of Leipsic, and bade Tilly defiance.
The die being thus cast, he immediately decamped with his whole army for Torgau, fearing that Tilly should get there before him, and so prevent his conjunction with the Swede. The duke had not yet concluded any positive treaty with the King of Swedeland, and the Duke of Brandenburg having made some difficulty of joining, they both stood on some niceties till they had like to have ruined themselves all at once.
Brandenburg had given up the town of Spandau to the king by a former treaty to secure a retreat for his army, and the king was advanced as far as Frankfort-upon-the-Oder, when on a sudden some small difficulties arising, Brandenburg seems cold in the matter, and with a sort of indifference demands to have his town of Spandau restored to him again. Gustavus Adolphus, who began presently to imagine the duke had made his peace with the emperor, and so would either be his enemy or pretend a neutrality, generously delivered him his town of Spandau, but immediately turns about, and with his whole army besieges him in his capital city of Berlin. This brought the duke to know his error, and by the interpositions of the ladies, the Queen of Sweden being the duke’s sister, the matter was accommodated, and the duke joined his forces with the king.
But the duke of Saxony had like to have been undone by this delay, for the Imperialists, under Count de Furstenberg, were entered his country, and had possessed themselves of Halle, and Tilly was on his march to join him, as he afterwards did, and ravaging the whole country laid siege to Leipsic itself. The duke driven to this extremity rather flies to the Swede than treats with him, and on the 2nd of September the duke’s army joined with the King of Sweden.
I had not come to Leipsic but to see the Duke of Saxony’s army, and that being marched, as I have said, for Torgau, I had no business there, but if I had, the approach of Tilly and the Imperial army was enough to hasten me away, for I had no occasion to be besieged there; so on the 27th of August I left the town, as several of the principal inhabitants had done before, and more would have done had not the governor published a proclamation against it, and besides they knew not whither to fly, for all places were alike exposed. The poor people were under dreadful apprehensions of a siege, and of the merciless usage of the Imperial soldiers, the example of Magdeburg being fresh before them, the duke and his army gone from them, and the town, though well furnished, but indifferently fortified.
In this condition I left them, buying up stores of provisions, working hard to scour their moats, set up palisadoes, repair their fortifications, and preparing all things for a siege; and following the Saxon army to Torgau, I continued in the camp till a few days before they joined the King of Sweden.
I had much ado to persuade my companion from entering into the service of the Duke of Saxony, one of whose colonels, with whom we had contracted a particular acquaintance, offering him a commission to be cornet in one of the old regiments of horse; but the difference I had observed between this new army and Tilly’s old troops had made such an impression on me, that I confess I had yet no manner of inclination for the service, and therefore persuaded him to wait a while till we had seen a little further into affairs, and particularly till we had seen the Swedish army which we had heard so much of.
The difficulties which the Elector–Duke of Saxony made of joining with the king were made up by a treaty concluded with the king on the 2nd of September at Coswig, a small town on the Elbe, whither the king’s army was arrived the night before; for General Tilly being now entered into the duke’s country, had plundered and ruined all the lower part of it, and was now actually besieging the capital city of Leipsic. These necessities made almost any conditions easy to him; the greatest difficulty was that the King of Sweden demanded the absolute command of the army, which the duke submitted to with less goodwill than he had reason to do, the king’s experience and conduct considered.
I had not patience to attend the conclusions of their particular treaties, but as soon as ever the passage was clear I quitted the Saxon camp and went to see the Swedish army. I fell in with the out-guards of the Swedes at a little town called Beltsig, on the river Wersa, just as they were relieving the guards and going to march, and having a pass from the English ambassador was very well received by the officer who changed the guards, and with him I went back into the army. By nine in the morning the army was in full march, the king himself at the head of them on a grey pad, and riding from one brigade to another, ordered the march of every line himself.
When I saw the Swedish troops, their exact discipline, their order, the modesty and familiarity of their officers, and the regular living of the soldiers, their camp seemed a well-ordered city; the meanest country woman with her market ware was as safe from violence as in the streets of Vienna. There were no women in the camp but such as being known to the provosts to be the wives of the soldiers, who were necessary for washing linen, taking care of the soldiers’ clothes, and dressing their victuals.
The soldiers were well clad, not gay, furnished with excellent arms, and exceedingly careful of them; and though they did not seem so terrible as I thought Tilly’s men did when I first saw them, yet the figure they made, together with what we had heard of them, made them seem to me invincible: the discipline and order of their marchings, camping, and exercise was excellent and singular, and, which was to be seen in no armies but the king’s, his own skill, judgment, and vigilance having added much to the general conduct of armies then in use.
As I met the Swedes on their march I had no opportunity to acquaint myself with anybody till after the conjunction of the Saxon army, and then it being but four days to the great battle of Leipsic, our acquaintance was but small, saving what fell out accidentally by conversation.
I met with several gentlemen in the king’s army who spoke English very well; besides that there were three regiments of Scots in the army, the colonels whereof I found were extraordinarily esteemed by the king, as the Lord Reay, Colonel Lumsdell, and Sir John Hepburn. The latter of these, after I had by an accident become acquainted with, I found had been for many years acquainted with my father, and on that account I received a great deal of civility from him, which afterwards grew into a kind of intimate friendship. He was a complete soldier indeed, and for that reason so well beloved by that gallant king, that he hardly knew how to go about any great action without him.
It was impossible for me now to restrain my young comrade from entering into the Swedish service, and indeed everything was so inviting that I could not blame him. A captain in Sir John Hepburn’s regiment had picked acquaintance with him, and he having as much gallantry in his face as real courage in his heart, the captain had persuaded him to take service, and promised to use his interest to get him a company in the Scotch brigade. I had made him promise me not to part from me in my travels without my consent, which was the only obstacle to his desires of entering into the Swedish pay; and being one evening in the captain’s tent with him and discoursing very freely together, the captain asked him very short but friendly, and looking earnestly at me, “Is this the gentleman, Mr Fielding, that has done so much prejudice to the King of Sweden’s service?” I was doubly surprised at the expression, and at the colonel, Sir John Hepburn, coming at that very moment into the tent. The colonel hearing something of the question, but knowing nothing of the reason of it, any more than as I seemed a little to concern myself at it, yet after the ceremony due to his character was over, would needs know what I had done to hinder his Majesty’s service. “So much truly,” says the captain, “that if his Majesty knew it he would think himself very little beholden to him.” “I am sorry, sir,” said I, “that I should offend in anything, who am but a stranger; but if you would please to inform me, I would endeavour to alter anything in my behaviour that is prejudicial to any one, much less to his Majesty’s service.” “I shall take you at your word, sir,” says the captain; “the King of Sweden, sir, has a particular request to you.” “I should be glad to know two things, sir,” said I; “first, how that can be possible, since I am not yet known to any man in the army, much less to his Majesty? and secondly, what the request can be?” “Why, sir, his Majesty desires you would not hinder this gentleman from entering into his service, who it seems desires nothing more, if he may have your consent to it.” “I have too much honour for his Majesty,” returned I, “to deny anything which he pleases to command me; but methinks ’tis some hardship you should make that the king’s order, which ’tis very probable he knows nothing of.” Sir John Hepburn took the case up something gravely, and drinking a glass of Leipsic beer to the captain, said, “Come, captain, don’t press these gentlemen; the king desires no man’s service but what is purely volunteer.” So we entered into other discourse, and the colonel perceiving by my talk that I had seen Tilly’s army, was mighty curious in his questions, and seeming very well satisfied with the account I gave him.
The next day the army having passed the Elbe at Wittenberg, and joined the Saxon army near Torgau, his Majesty caused both armies to draw up in battalia, giving every brigade the same post in the lines as he purposed to fight in. I must do the memory of that glorious general this honour, that I never saw an army drawn up with so much variety, order, and exact regularity since, though I have seen many armies drawn up by some of the greatest captains of the age. The order by which his men were directed to flank and relieve one another, the methods of receiving one body of men if disordered into another, and rallying one squadron without disordering another was so admirable; the horse everywhere flanked lined and defended by the foot, and the foot by the horse, and both by the cannon, was such that if those orders were but as punctually obeyed, ’twere impossible to put an army so modelled into any confusion.
The view being over, and the troops returned to their camps, the captain with whom we drank the day before meeting me told me I must come and sup with him in his tent, where he would ask my pardon for the affront he gave me before. I told him he needed not put himself to the trouble, I was not affronted at all; that I would do myself the honour to wait on him, provided he would give me his word not to speak any more of it as an affront.
We had not been a quarter of an hour in his tent but Sir John Hepburn came in again, and addressing to me, told me he was glad to find me there; that he came to the captain’s tent to inquire how to send to me; and that I must do him the honour to go with him to wait on the king, who had a mind to hear the account I could give him of the Imperial army from my own mouth. I must confess I was at some loss in my mind how to make my address to his Majesty, but I had heard so much of the conversable temper of the king, and his particular sweetness of humour with the meanest soldier, that I made no more difficulty, but having paid my respects to Colonel Hepburn, thanked him for the honour he had done me, and offered to rise and wait upon him. “Nay,” says the Colonel, “we will eat first, for I find Gourdon,” which was the captain’s name, “has got something for supper, and the king’s order is at seven o’clock.” So we went to supper, and Sir John, becoming very friendly, must know my name; which, when I had told him, and of what place and family, he rose from his seat, and embracing me, told me he knew my father very well, and had been intimately acquainted with him, and told me several passages wherein my father had particularly obliged him. After this we went to supper, and the king’s health being drank round, the colonel moved the sooner because he had a mind to talk with me.
When we were going to the king he inquired of me where I had been, and what occasion brought me to the army. I told him the short history of my travels, and that I came hither from Vienna on purpose to see the King of Sweden and his army. He asked me if there was any service he could do me, by which he meant, whether I desired an employment. I pretended not to take him so, but told him the protection his acquaintance would afford me was more than I could have asked, since I might thereby have opportunity to satisfy my curiosity, which was the chief end of my coming abroad. He perceiving by this that I had no mind to be a soldier, told me very kindly I should command him in anything; that his tent and equipage, horses and servants should always have orders to be at my service; but that as a piece of friendship, he would advise me to retire to some place distant from the army, for that the army would march tomorrow, and the king was resolved to fight General Tilly, and he would not have me hazard myself; that if I thought fit to take his advice, he would have me take that interval to see the court at Berlin, whither he would send one of his servants to wait on me.
His discourse was too kind not to extort the tenderest acknowledgment from me that I was capable of. I told him his care of me was so obliging, that I knew not what return to make him, but if he pleased to leave me to my choice I desired no greater favour than to trail a pike under his command in the ensuing battle. “I can never answer it to your father,” says he, “to suffer you to expose yourself so far.” I told him my father would certainly acknowledge his friendship in the proposal made me; but I believed he knew him better than to think he would be well pleased with me if I should accept of it; that I was sure my father would have rode post five hundred miles to have been at such a battle under such a general, and it should never be told him that his son had rode fifty miles to be out of it. He seemed to be something concerned at the resolution I had taken, and replied very quickly upon me, that he approved very well of my courage; “but,” says he, “no man gets any credit by running upon needless adventures, nor loses any by shunning hazards which he has no order for. ’Tis enough,” says he, “for a gentleman to behave well when he is commanded upon any service; I have had fighting enough,” says he, “upon these points of honour, and I never got anything but reproof for it from the king himself.”
“Well, sir,” said I, “however if a man expects to rise by his valour, he must show it somewhere; and if I were to have any command in an army, I would first try whether I could deserve it. I have never yet seen any service, and must have my induction some time or other. I shall never have a better schoolmaster than yourself, nor a better school than such an army.” “Well,” says Sir John, “but you may have the same school and the same teaching after this battle is over; for I must tell you beforehand, this will be a bloody touch. Tilly has a great army of old lads that are used to boxing, fellows with iron faces, and ’tis a little too much to engage so hotly the first entrance into the wars. You may see our discipline this winter, and make your campaign with us next summer, when you need not fear but we shall have fighting enough, and you will be better acquainted with things. We do never put our common soldiers upon pitched battles the first campaign, but place our new men in garrisons and try them in parties first.” “Sir,” said I, with a little more freedom, “I believe I shall not make a trade of the war, and therefore need not serve an apprenticeship to it; ’tis a hard battle where none escapes. If I come off, I hope I shall not disgrace you, and if not, ’twill be some satisfaction to my father to hear his son died fighting under the command of Sir John Hepburn, in the army of the King of Sweden, and I desire no better epitaph upon my tomb.”
“Well,” says Sir John, and by this time we were just come to the king’s quarters, and the guards calling to us interrupted his reply; so we went into the courtyard where the king was lodged, which was in an indifferent house of one of the burghers of Dieben, and Sir John stepping up, met the king coming down some steps into a large room which looked over the town wall into a field where part of the artillery was drawn up. Sir John Hepburn sent his man presently to me to come up, which I did; and Sir John without any ceremony carries me directly up to the king, who was leaning on his elbow in the window. The king turning about, “This is the English gentleman,” says Sir John, “who I told your Majesty had been in the Imperial army.” “How then did he get hither,” says the king, “without being taken by the scouts?” At which question, Sir John saying nothing, “By a pass, and please your Majesty, from the English ambassador’s secretary at Vienna,” said I, making a profound reverence. “Have you then been at Vienna?” says the king. “Yes, and please your Majesty,” said I; upon which the king, folding up a letter he had in his hand, seemed much more earnest to talk about Vienna than about Tilly. “And, pray, what news had you at Vienna?” “Nothing, sir,” said I, “but daily accounts one in the neck of another of their own misfortunes, and your Majesty’s conquests, which makes a very melancholy court there.” “But, pray,” said the king, “what is the common opinion there about these affairs?” “The common people are terrified to the last degree,” said I, “and when your Majesty took Frankfort-upon-Oder, if your army had marched but twenty miles into Silesia, half the people would have run out of Vienna, and I left them fortifying the city.” “They need not,” replied the king, smiling; “I have no design to trouble them, it is the Protestant countries I must be for.”
Upon this the Duke of Saxony entered the room, and finding the king engaged, offered to retire; but the king, beckoning with his hand, called to him in French; “Cousin,” says the king, “this gentleman has been travelling and comes from Vienna,” and so made me repeat what I had said before; at which the king went on with me, and Sir John Hepburn informing his Majesty that I spoke High Dutch, he changed his language, and asked me in Dutch where it was that I saw General Tilly’s army. I told his Majesty at the siege of Magdeburg. “At Magdeburg!” said the king, shaking his head; “Tilly must answer to me some day for that city, and if not to me, to a greater King than I. Can you guess what army he had with him?” said the king. “He had two armies with him,” said I, “but one I suppose will do your Majesty no harm.” “Two armies!” said the king. “Yes, sir, he has one army of about 26,000 men,” said I, “and another of about 15,000 women and their attendants,” at which the king laughed heartily. “Ay, ay,” says the king, “those 15,000 do us as much harm as the 26,000, for they eat up the country, and devour the poor Protestants more than the men. Well,” says the king, “do they talk of fighting us?” “They talk big enough, sir,” said I, “but your Majesty has not been so often fought with as beaten in their discourse.” “I know not for the men,” says the king, “but the old man is as likely to do it as talk of it, and I hope to try them in a day or two.”
The king inquired after that several matters of me about the Low Countries, the Prince of Orange, and of the court and affairs in England; and Sir John Hepburn informing his Majesty that I was the son of an English gentleman of his acquaintance, the king had the goodness to ask him what care he had taken of me against the day of battle. Upon which Sir John repeated to him the discourse we had together by the way; the king seeming particularly pleased with it, began to take me to task himself. “You English gentlemen,” says he, “are too forward in the wars, which makes you leave them too soon again.” “Your Majesty,” replied I, “makes war in so pleasant a manner as makes all the world fond of fighting under your conduct.” “Not so pleasant neither,” says the king, “here’s a man can tell you that sometimes it is not very pleasant.” “I know not much of the warrior, sir,” said I, “nor of the world, but if always to conquer be the pleasure of the war, your Majesty’s soldiers have all that can be desired.” “Well,” says the king, “but however, considering all things, I think you would do well to take the advice Sir John Hepburn has given you.” “Your Majesty may command me to anything, but where your Majesty and so many gallant gentlemen hazard their lives, mine is not worth mentioning; and I should not dare to tell my father at my return into England that I was in your Majesty’s army, and made so mean a figure that your Majesty would not permit me to fight under that royal standard.” “Nay,” replied the king, “I lay no commands upon you, but you are young.” “I can never die, sir,” said I, “with more honour than in your Majesty’s service.” I spake this with so much freedom, and his Majesty was so pleased with it, that he asked me how I would choose to serve, on horseback or on foot. I told his Majesty I should be glad to receive any of his Majesty’s commands, but if I had not that honour I had purposed to trail a pike under Sir John Hepburn, who had done me so much honour as to introduce me into his Majesty’s presence. “Do so, then,” replied the king, and turning to Sir John Hepburn, said, “and pray, do you take care of him.” At which, overcome with the goodness of his discourse, I could not answer a word, but made him a profound reverence and retired.
The next day but one, being the 7th of September, before day the army marched from Dieben to a large field about a mile from Leipsic, where we found Tilly’s army in full battalia in admirable order, which made a show both glorious and terrible. Tilly, like a fair gamester, had taken up but one side of the plain, and left the other free, and all the avenues open for the king’s army; nor did he stir to the charge till the king’s army was completely drawn up and advanced toward him. He had in his army 44,000 old soldiers, every way answerable to what I have said of them before; and I shall only add, a better army, I believe, never was so soundly beaten.
The king was not much inferior in force, being joined with the Saxons, who were reckoned 22,000 men, and who drew up on the left, making a main battle and two wings, as the king did on the right.
The king placed himself at the right wing of his own horse, Gustavus Horn had the main battle of the Swedes, the Duke of Saxony had the main battle of his own troops, and General Arnheim the right wing of his horse. The second line of the Swedes consisted of the two Scotch brigades, and three Swedish, with the Finland horse in the wings.
In the beginning of the fight, Tilly’s right wing charged with such irresistible fury upon the left of the king’s army where the Saxons were posted, that nothing could withstand them. The Saxons fled amain, and some of them carried the news over the country that all was lost, and the king’s army overthrown; and indeed it passed for an oversight with some that the king did not place some of his old troops among the Saxons, who were new-raised men. The Saxons lost here near 2000 men, and hardly ever showed their faces again all the battle, except some few of their horse.
I was posted with my comrade, the captain, at the head of three Scottish regiments of foot, commanded by Sir John Hepburn, with express directions from the colonel to keep by him. Our post was in the second line, as a reserve to the King of Sweden’s main battle, and, which was strange, the main battle, which consisted of four great brigades of foot, were never charged during the whole fight; and yet we, who had the reserve, were obliged to endure the whole weight of the Imperial army. The occasion was, the right wing of the Imperialists having defeated the Saxons, and being eager in the chase, Tilly, who was an old soldier, and ready to prevent all mistakes, forbids any pursuit. “Let them go,” says he, “but let us beat the Swedes, or we do nothing.” Upon this the victorious troops fell in upon the flank of the king’s army, which, the Saxons being fled, lay open to them. Gustavus Horn commanded the left wing of the Swedes, and having first defeated some regiments which charged him, falls in upon the rear of the Imperial right wing, and separates them from the van, who were advanced a great way forward in pursuit of the Saxons, and having routed the said rear or reserve, falls on upon Tilly’s main battle, and defeated part of them; the other part was gone in chase of the Saxons, and now also returned, fell in upon the rear of the left wing of the Swedes, charging them in the flank, for they drew up upon the very ground which the Saxons had quitted. This changed the whole front, and made the Swedes face about to the left, and made a great front on their flank to make this good. Our brigades, who were placed as a reserve for the main battle, were, by special order from the king, wheeled about to the left, and placed for the right of this new front to charge the Imperialists; they were about 12,000 of their best foot, besides horse, and flushed with the execution of the Saxons, fell on like furies. The king by this time had almost defeated the Imperialists’ left wing; their horse, with more haste than good speed, had charged faster than their foot could follow, and having broke into the king’s first line, he let them go, where, while the second line bears the shock, and bravely resisted them, the king follows them on the crupper with thirteen troops of horse, and some musketeers, by which being hemmed in, they were all cut down in a moment as it were, and the army never disordered with them. This fatal blow to the left wing gave the king more leisure to defeat the foot which followed, and to send some assistance to Gustavus Horn in his left wing, who had his hands full with the main battle of the Imperialists.
But those troops who, as I said, had routed the Saxons, being called off from the pursuit, had charged our flank, and were now grown very strong, renewed the battle in a terrible manner. Here it was I saw our men go to wreck. Colonel Hall, a brave soldier, commanded the rear of the Swede’s left wing; he fought like a lion, but was slain, and most of his regiment cut off, though not unrevenged, for they entirely ruined Furstenberg’s regiment of foot. Colonel Cullembach, with his regiment of horse, was extremely overlaid also, and the colonel and many brave officers killed, and in short all that wing was shattered, and in an ill condition.
In this juncture came the king, and having seen what havoc the enemy made of Cullembach’s troops, he comes riding along the front of our three brigades, and himself led us on to the charge; the colonel of his guards, the Baron Dyvel, was shot dead just as the king had given him some orders. When the Scots advanced, seconded by some regiments of horse which the king also sent to the charge, the bloodiest fight began that ever men beheld, for the Scottish brigades, giving fire three ranks at a time over one another’s heads, poured in their shot so thick, that the enemy were cut down like grass before a scythe; and following into the thickest of their foot with the clubs of their muskets made a most dreadful slaughter, and yet was there no flying. Tilly’s men might be killed and knocked down, but no man turned his back, nor would give an inch of ground, but as they were wheeled, or marched, or retreated by their officers.
There was a regiment of cuirassiers which stood whole to the last, and fought like lions; they went ranging over the field when all their army was broken, and nobody cared for charging them; they were commanded by Baron Kronenburg, and at last went off from the battle whole. These were armed in black armour from head to foot, and they carried off their general. About six o’clock the field was cleared of the enemy, except at one place on the king’s side, where some of them rallied, and though they knew all was lost would take no quarter, but fought it out to the last man, being found dead the next day in rank and file as they were drawn up.
I had the good fortune to receive no hurt in this battle, excepting a small scratch on the side of my neck by the push of a pike; but my friend received a very dangerous wound when the battle was as good as over. He had engaged with a German colonel, whose name we could never learn, and having killed his man, and pressed very close upon him, so that he had shot his horse, the horse in the fall kept the colonel down, lying on one of his legs; upon which he demanded quarter, which Captain Fielding granting, helped him to quit his horse, and having disarmed him, was bringing him into the line, when the regiment of cuirassiers, which I mentioned, commanded by Baron Kronenburg, came roving over the field, and with a flying charge saluted our front with a salvo of carabine shot, which wounded us a great many men, and among the rest the captain received a shot in his thigh, which laid him on the ground, and being separated from the line, his prisoner got away with them.
This was the first service I was in, and indeed I never saw any fight since maintained with such gallantry, such desperate valour, together with such dexterity of management, both sides being composed of soldiers fully tried, bred to the wars, expert in everything, exact in their order, and incapable of fear, which made the battle be much more bloody than usual. Sir John Hepburn, at my request, took particular care of my comrade, and sent his own surgeon to look after him; and afterwards, when the city of Leipsic was retaken, provided him lodgings there, and came very often to see him; and indeed I was in great care for him too, the surgeons being very doubtful of him a great while; for having lain in the field all night among the dead, his wound, for want of dressing, and with the extremity of cold, was in a very ill condition, and the pain of it had thrown him into a fever. ’Twas quite dusk before the fight ended, especially where the last rallied troops fought so long, and therefore we durst not break our order to seek out our friends, so that ’twas near seven o’clock the next morning before we found the captain, who, though very weak by the loss of blood, had raised himself up, and placed his back against the buttock of a dead horse. I was the first that knew him, and running to him, embraced him with a great deal of joy; he was not able to speak, but made signs to let me see he knew me, so we brought him into the camp, and Sir John Hepburn, as I noted before, sent his own surgeons to look after him.
The darkness of the night prevented any pursuit, and was the only refuge the enemy had left: for had there been three hours more daylight ten thousand more lives had been lost, for the Swedes (and Saxons especially) enraged by the obstinacy of the enemy, were so thoroughly heated that they would have given quarter but to few. The retreat was not sounded till seven o’clock, when the king drew up the whole army upon the field of battle, and gave strict command that none should stir from their order; so the army lay under their arms all night, which was another reason why the wounded soldiers suffered very much by the cold; for the king, who had a bold enemy to deal with, was not ignorant what a small body of desperate men rallied together might have done in the darkness of the night, and therefore he lay in his coach all night at the head of the line, though it froze very hard.
As soon as the day began to peep the trumpets sounded to horse, and all the dragoons and light-horse in the army were commanded to the pursuit. The cuirassiers and some commanded musketeers advanced some miles, if need were, to make good their retreat, and all the foot stood to their arms for a reverse; but in half-an-hour word was brought to the king that the enemy were quite dispersed, upon which detachments were made out of every regiment to search among the dead for any of our friends that were wounded; and the king himself gave a strict order, that if any were found wounded and alive among the enemy none should kill them, but take care to bring them into the camp — a piece of humanity which saved the lives of near a thousand of the enemies.
This piece of service being over, the enemy’s camp was seized upon, and the soldiers were permitted to plunder it; all the cannon, arms, and ammunition was secured for the king’s use, the rest was given up to the soldiers, who found so much plunder that they had no reason to quarrel for shares.
For my share, I was so busy with my wounded captain that I got nothing but a sword, which I found just by him when I first saw him; but my man brought me a very good horse with a furniture on him, and one pistol of extraordinary workmanship.
I bade him get upon his back and make the best of the day for himself, which he did, and I saw him no more till three days after, when he found me out at Leipsic, so richly dressed that I hardly knew him; and after making his excuse for his long absence, gave me a very pleasant account where he had been. He told me that, according to my order, being mounted on the horse he had brought me, he first rid into the field among the dead to get some clothes suitable to the equipage of his horse, and having seized on a laced coat, a helmet, a sword, and an extraordinary good cane, was resolved to see what was become of the enemy; and following the track of the dragoons, which he could easily do by the bodies on the road, he fell in with a small party of twenty-five dragoons, under no command but a corporal, making to a village where some of the enemies’ horse had been quartered. The dragoons, taking him for an officer by his horse, desired him to command them, told him the enemy was very rich, and they doubted not a good booty. He was a bold, brisk fellow, and told them, with all his heart, but said he had but one pistol, the other being broken with firing; so they lent him a pair of pistols, and a small piece they had taken, and he led them on. There had been a regiment of horse and some troops of Crabats in the village, but they were fled on the first notice of the pursuit, excepting three troops, and these, on sight of this small party, supposing them to be only the first of a greater number, fled in the greatest confusion imaginable. They took the village, and about fifty horses, with all the plunder of the enemy, and with the heat of the service he had spoiled my horse, he said, for which he had brought me two more; for he, passing for the commander of the party, had all the advantage the custom of war gives an officer in like cases.
I was very well pleased with the relation the fellow gave me, and, laughing at him, “Well, captain,” said I, “and what plunder have ye got?” “Enough to make me a captain, sir,” says he, “if you please, and a troop ready raised too; for the party of dragoons are posted in the village by my command, till they have farther orders.” In short, he pulled out sixty or seventy pieces of gold, five or six watches, thirteen or fourteen rings, whereof two were diamond rings, one of which was worth fifty dollars, silver as much as his pockets would hold; besides that he had brought three horses, two of which were laden with baggage, and a boor he had hired to stay with them at Leipsic till he had found me out. “But I am afraid, captain,” says I, “you have plundered the village instead of plundering the enemy.” “No indeed, not we,” says he, “but the Crabats had done it for us and we light of them just as they were carrying it off.” “Well,” said I, “but what will you do with your men, for when you come to give them orders they will know you well enough?” “No, no,” says he, “I took care of that, for just now I gave a soldier five dollars to carry them news that the army was marched to Merseburg, and that they should follow thither to the regiment.”
Having secured his money in my lodgings, he asked me if I pleased to see his horses, and to have one for myself? I told him I would go and see them in the afternoon; but the fellow being impatient goes and fetches them. There were three horses, one whereof was a very good one, and by the furniture was an officer’s horse of the Crabats, and that my man would have me accept, for the other he had spoiled, as he said. I was but indifferently horsed before, so I accepted of the horse, and went down with him to see the rest of his plunder there. He had got three or four pair of pistols, two or three bundles of officers’ linen, and lace, a field-bed, and a tent, and several other things of value; but at last, coming to a small fardel, “And this,” says he, “I took whole from a Crabat running away with it under his arm,” so he brought it up into my chamber. He had not looked into it, he said, but he understood ’twas some plunder the soldiers had made, and finding it heavy took it by consent. We opened it and found it was a bundle of some linen, thirteen or fourteen pieces of plate, and in a small cup, three rings, a fine necklace of pearl and the value of 100 rix-dollars in money.
The fellow was amazed at his own good fortune, and hardly knew what to do with himself; I bid him go take care of his other things, and of his horses, and come again. So he went and discharged the boor that waited and packed up all his plunder, and came up to me in his old clothes again. “How now, captain,” says I, “what, have you altered your equipage already?” “I am no more ashamed, sir, of your livery,” answered he, “than of your service, and nevertheless your servant for what I have got by it.” “Well,” says I to him, “but what will you do now with all your money?” “I wish my poor father had some of it,” says he, “and for the rest I got it for you, sir, and desire you would take it.” He spoke it with so much honesty and freedom that I could not but take it very kindly; but, however, I told him I would not take a farthing from him as his master, but I would have him play the good husband with it, now he had such good fortune to get it. He told me he would take my directions in everything. “Why, then,” said I, “I’ll tell you what I would advise you to do, turn it all into ready money, and convey it by return home into England, and follow yourself the first opportunity, and with good management you may put yourself in a good posture of living with it.” The fellow, with a sort of dejection in his looks, asked me if he had disobliged me in anything? “Why?” says I. “That I was willing to turn him out of his service.” “No, George” (that was his name), says I, “but you may live on this money without being a servant.” “I’d throw it all into the Elbe,” says he, “over Torgau bridge, rather than leave your service; and besides,” says he, “can’t I save my money without going from you? I got it in your service, and I’ll never spend it out of your service, unless you put me away. I hope my money won’t make me the worse servant; if I thought it would, I’d soon have little enough.” “Nay, George,” says I, “I shall not oblige you to it, for I am not willing to lose you neither: come, then,” says I, “let us put it all together, and see what it will come to.” So he laid it all together on the table, and by our computation he had gotten as much plunder as was worth about 1400 rix-dollars, besides three horses with their furniture, a tent, a bed, and some wearing linen. Then he takes the necklace of pearl, a very good watch, a diamond ring, and 100 pieces of gold, and lays them by themselves, and having, according to our best calculation, valued the things, he put up all the rest, and as I was going to ask him what they were left out for, he takes them up in his hand, and coming round the table, told me, that if I did not think him unworthy of my service and favour, he begged I would give him leave to make that present to me; that it was my first thought his going out, that he had got it all in my service, and he should think I had no kindness for him if I should refuse it.
I was resolved in my mind not to take it from him, and yet I could find no means to resist his importunity. At last I told him, I would accept of part of his present, and that I esteemed his respect in that as much as the whole, and that I would not have him importune me farther; so I took the ring and watch, with the horse and furniture as before, and made him turn all the rest into money at Leipsic, and not suffering him to wear his livery, made him put himself into a tolerable equipage, and taking a young Leipsicer into my service, he attended me as a gentleman from that time forward.
The king’s army never entered Leipsic, but proceeded to Merseberg, and from thence to Halle, and so marched on into Franconia, while the Duke of Saxony employed his forces in recovering Leipsic and driving the Imperialists out of his country. I continued at Leipsic twelve days, being not willing to leave my comrade till he was recovered; but Sir John Hepburn so often importuned me to come into the army, and sent me word that the king had very often inquired for me, that at last I consented to go without him; so having made our appointment where to meet, and how to correspond by letters, I went to wait on Sir John Hepburn, who then lay with the king’s army at the city of Erfurt in Saxony. As I was riding between Leipsic and Halle, I observed my horse went very awkwardly and uneasy, and sweat very much, though the weather was cold, and we had rid but very softly; I fancied therefore that the saddle might hurt the horse, and calls my new captain up. “George,” says I, “I believe this saddle hurts the horse.” So we alighted, and looking under the saddle found the back of the horse extremely galled; so I bid him take off the saddle, which he did, and giving the horse to my young Leipsicer to lead, we sat down to see if we could mend it, for there was no town near us. Says George, pointing with his finger, “If you please to cut open the pannel there, I’ll get something to stuff into it which will bear it from the horse’s back.” So while he looked for something to thrust in, I cut a hole in the pannel of the saddle, and, following it with my finger, I felt something hard, which seemed to move up and down. Again, as I thrust it with my finger, “Here’s something that should not be here,” says I, not yet imagining what afterwards fell out, and calling, “Run back,” bade him put up his finger. “Whatever ’tis,” says he, “’tis this hurts the horse, for it bears just on his back when the saddle is set on.” So we strove to take hold on it, but could not reach it; at last we took the upper part of the saddle quite from the pannel, and there lay a small silk purse wrapped in a piece of leather, and full of gold ducats. “Thou art born to be rich, George,” says I to him, “here’s more money.” We opened the purse and found in it four hundred and thirty-eight small pieces of gold.
There I had a new skirmish with him whose the money should be. I told him ’twas his, he told me no; I had accepted of the horse and furniture, and all that was about him was mine, and solemnly vowed he would not have a penny of it. I saw no remedy, but put up the money for the present, mended our saddle, and went on. We lay that night at Halle, and having had such a booty in the saddle, I made him search the saddles of the other two horses, in one of which we found three French crowns, but nothing in the other.
We arrived at Erfurt the 28th of September, but the army was removed, and entered into Franconia, and at the siege of Koningshoven we came up with them. The first thing I did was to pay my civilities to Sir John Hepburn, who received me very kindly, but told me withal that I had not done well to be so long from him, and the king had particularly inquired for me, had commanded him to bring me to him at my return. I told him the reason of my stay at Leipsic, and how I had left that place and my comrade, before he was cured of his wounds, to wait on him according to his letters. He told me the king had spoken some things very obliging about me, and he believed would offer me some command in the army, if I thought well to accept of it. I told him I had promised my father not to take service in an army without his leave, and yet if his Majesty should offer it, I neither knew how to resist it, nor had I an inclination to anything more than the service, and such a leader, though I had much rather have served as a volunteer at my own charge (which, as he knew, was the custom of our English gentlemen) than in any command. He replied, “Do as you think fit; but some gentlemen would give 20,000 crowns to stand so fair for advancement as you do.”
The town of Koningshoven capitulated that day, and Sir John was ordered to treat with the citizens, so I had no further discourse with him then; and the town being taken, the army immediately advanced down the river Maine, for the king had his eye upon Frankfort and Mentz, two great cities, both which he soon became master of, chiefly by the prodigious expedition of his march; for within a month after the battle, he was in the lower parts of the empire, and had passed from the Elbe to the Rhine, an incredible conquest, had taken all the strong cities, the bishoprics of Bamberg, of Wurtzburg, and almost all the circle of Franconia, with part of Schawberland — a conquest large enough to be seven years a-making by the common course of arms.
Business going on thus, the king had not leisure to think of small matters, and I being not thoroughly resolved in my mind, did not press Sir John to introduce me. I had wrote to my father with an account of my reception in the army, the civilities of Sir John Hepburn, the particulars of the battle, and had indeed pressed him to give me leave to serve the King of Sweden, to which particular I waited for an answer, but the following occasion determined me before an answer could possibly reach me.
The king was before the strong castle of Marienburg, which commands the city of Wurtzburg. He had taken the city, but the garrison and richer part of the burghers were retired into the castle, and trusting to the strength of the place, which was thought impregnable, they bade the Swedes do their worst; ’twas well provided with all things, and a strong garrison in it, so that the army indeed expected ‘twould be a long piece of work. The castle stood on a high rock, and on the steep of the rock was a bastion which defended the only passage up the hill into the castle; the Scots were chose out to make this attack, and the king was an eye-witness of their gallantry. In the action Sir John was not commanded out, but Sir James Ramsey led them on; but I observed that most of the Scotch officers in the other regiments prepared to serve as volunteers for the honour of their countrymen, and Sir John Hepburn led them on. I was resolved to see this piece of service, and therefore joined myself to the volunteers. We were armed with partisans, and each man two pistols at our belt. It was a piece of service that seemed perfectly desperate, the advantage of the hill, the precipice we were to mount, the height of the bastion, the resolute courage and number of the garrison, who from a complete covert made a terrible fire upon us, all joined to make the action hopeless. But the fury of the Scots musketeers was not to be abated by any difficulties; they mounted the hill, scaled the works like madmen, running upon the enemies’ pikes, and after two hours’ desperate fight in the midst of fire and smoke, took it by storm, and put all the garrison to the sword. The volunteers did their part, and had their share of the loss too, for thirteen or fourteen were killed out of thirty-seven, besides the wounded, among whom I received a hurt more troublesome than dangerous by a thrust of a halberd into my arm, which proved a very painful wound, and I was a great while before it was thoroughly recovered.
The king received us as we drew off at the foot of the hill, calling the soldiers his brave Scots, and commending the officers by name. The next morning the castle was also taken by storm, and the greatest booty that ever was found in any one conquest in the whole war; the soldiers got here so much money that they knew not what to do with it, and the plunder they got here and at the battle of Leipsic made them so unruly, that had not the king been the best master of discipline in the world, they had never been kept in any reasonable bounds.
The king had taken notice of our small party of volunteers, and though I thought he had not seen me, yet he sent the next morning for Sir John Hepburn, and asked him if I were not come to the army? “Yes,” says Sir John, “he has been here two or three days.” And as he was forming an excuse for not having brought me to wait on his Majesty, says the king, interrupting him, “I wonder you would let him thrust himself into a hot piece of service as storming the Port Graft. Pray let him know I saw him, and have a very good account of his behaviour.” Sir John returned with this account to me, and pressed me to pay my duty to his Majesty the next morning; and accordingly, though I had but an ill night with the pain of my wound, I was with him at the levee in the castle.
I cannot but give some short account of the glory of the morning; the castle had been cleared of the dead bodies of the enemies, and what was not pillaged by the soldiers was placed under a guard. There was first a magazine of very good arms for about 18,000 or 20,000 foot, and 4000 horse, a very good train of artillery of about eighteen pieces of battery, thirty-two brass field-pieces, and four mortars. The bishop’s treasure, and other public monies not plundered by the soldiers, was telling out by the officers, and amounted to 400,000 florins in money; and the burghers of the town in solemn procession, bareheaded, brought the king three tons of gold as a composition to exempt the city from plunder. Here was also a stable of gallant horses which the king had the curiosity to go and see.
When the ceremony of the burghers was over, the king came down into the castle court, walked on the parade (where the great train of artillery was placed on their carriages) and round the walls, and gave order for repairing the bastion that was stormed by the Scots; and as at the entrance of the parade Sir John Hepburn and I made our reverence to the king, “Ho, cavalier!” said the king to me, “I am glad to see you,” and so passed forward. I made my bow very low, but his Majesty said no more at that time.
When the view was over the king went up into the lodgings, and Sir John and I walked in an antechamber for about a quarter of an hour, when one of the gentlemen of the bedchamber came out to Sir John, and told him the king asked for him; he stayed but a little with the king, and come out to me and told me the king had ordered him to bring me to him.
His Majesty, with a countenance full of honour and goodness, interrupted my compliment, and asked me how I did; at which answering only with a bow, says the king, “I am sorry to see you are hurt; I would have laid my commands on you not to have shown yourself in so sharp a piece of service, if I had known you had been in the camp.” “Your Majesty does me too much honour,” said I, “in your care of a life that has yet done nothing to deserve your favour.” His Majesty was pleased to say something very kind to me relating to my behaviour in the battle of Leipsic, which I have not vanity enough to write; at the conclusion whereof, when I replied very humbly that I was not sensible that any service I had done, or could do, could possibly merit so much goodness, he told me he had ordered me a small testimony of his esteem, and withal gave me his hand to kiss. I was now conquered, and with a sort of surprise told his Majesty I found myself so much engaged by his goodness, as well as my own inclination, that if his Majesty would please to accept of my devoir, I was resolved to serve in his army, or wherever he pleased to command me. “Serve me,” says the king, “why, so you do, but I must not have you be a musketeer; a poor soldier at a dollar a week will do that.” “Pray, Sir John,” says the king, “give him what commission he desires.” “No commission, sir,” says I, “would please me better than leave to fight near your Majesty’s person, and to serve you at my own charge till I am qualified by more experience to receive your commands.” “Why, then, it shall be so,” said the king, “and I charge you, Hepburn,” says he, “when anything offers that is either fit for him, or he desires, that you tell me of it;” and giving me his hand again to kiss, I withdrew.
I was followed before I had passed the castle gate by one of the king’s pages, who brought me a warrant, directed to Sir John Hepburn, to go to the master of the horse for an immediate delivery of things ordered by the king himself for my account, where being come, the equerry produced me a very good coach with four horses, harness, and equipage, and two very fine saddle-horses, out of the stable of the bishop’s horses afore-mentioned; with these there was a list for three servants, and a warrant to the steward of the king’s baggage to defray me, my horses, and servants at the king’s charge till farther order. I was very much at a loss how to manage myself in this so strange freedom of so great a prince, and consulting with Sir John Hepburn, I was proposing to him whether it was not proper to go immediately back to pay my duty to his Majesty, and acknowledge his bounty in the best terms I could; but while we were resolving to do so, the guards stood to their arms, and we saw the king go out at the gate in his coach to pass into the city, so we were diverted from it for that time. I acknowledge the bounty of the king was very surprising, but I must say it was not so very strange to me when I afterwards saw the course of his management. Bounty in him was his natural talent, but he never distributed his favours but where he thought himself both loved and faithfully served, and when he was so, even the single actions of his private soldiers he would take particular notice of himself, and publicly own, acknowledge, and reward them, of which I am obliged to give some instances.
A private musketeer at the storming the castle of Wurtzburg, when all the detachment was beaten off, stood in the face of the enemy and fired his piece, and though he had a thousand shot made at him, stood unconcerned, and charged his piece again, and let fly at the enemy, continuing to do so three times, at the same time beckoning with his hand to his fellows to come on again, which they did, animated by his example, and carried the place for the king.
When the town was taken the king ordered the regiment to be drawn out, and calling for that soldier, thanked him before them all for taking the town for him, gave him a thousand dollars in money, and a commission with his own hand for a foot company, or leave to go home, which he would. The soldier took the commission on his knees, kissed it, and put it into his bosom, and told the king, he would never leave his service as long as he lived.
This bounty of the king’s, timed and suited by his judgment, was the reason that he was very well served, entirely beloved, and most punctually obeyed by his soldiers, who were sure to be cherished and encouraged if they did well, having the king generally an eye-witness of their behaviour.
My indiscretion rather than valour had engaged me so far at the battle of Leipsic, that being in the van of Sir John Hepburn’s brigade, almost three whole companies of us were separated from our line, and surrounded by the enemies’ pikes. I cannot but say also that we were disengaged rather by a desperate charge Sir John made with the whole regiment to fetch us off, than by our own valour, though we were not wanting to ourselves neither, but this part of the action being talked of very much to the advantage of the young English volunteer, and possibly more than I deserved, was the occasion of all the distinction the king used me with ever after.
I had by this time letters from my father, in which, though with some reluctance, he left me at liberty to enter into arms if I thought fit, always obliging me to be directed, and, as he said, commanded by Sir John Hepburn. At the same time he wrote to Sir John Hepburn, commending his son’s fortunes, as he called it, to his care, which letters Sir John showed the king unknown to me.
I took care always to acquaint my father of every circumstance, and forgot not to mention his Majesty’s extraordinary favour, which so affected my father, that he obtained a very honourable mention of it in a letter from King Charles to the King of Sweden, written by his own hand.
I had waited on his Majesty, with Sir John Hepburn, to give him thanks for his magnificent present, and was received with his usual goodness, and after that I was every day among the gentlemen of his ordinary attendance. And if his Majesty went out on a party, as he would often do, or to view the country, I always attended him among the volunteers, of whom a great many always followed him; and he would often call me out, talk with me, send me upon messages to towns, to princes, free cities, and the like, upon extraordinary occasions.
The first piece of service he put me upon had like to have embroiled me with one of his favourite colonels. The king was marching through the Bergstraet, a low country on the edge of the Rhine, and, as all men thought, was going to besiege Heidelberg, but on a sudden orders a party of his guards, with five companies of Scots, to be drawn out; while they were drawing out this detachment the king calls me to him, “Ho, cavalier,” says he, that was his usual word, “you shall command this party;” and thereupon gives me orders to march back all night, and in the morning, by break of day, to take post under the walls of the fort of Oppenheim, and immediately to entrench myself as well as I could. Grave Neels, the colonel of his guards, thought himself injured by this command, but the king took the matter upon himself, and Grave Neels told me very familiarly afterwards, “We have such a master,” says he, “that no man can be affronted by. I thought myself wronged,” says he, “when you commanded my men over my head; and for my life,” says he, “I knew not which way to be angry.”
I executed my commission so punctually that by break of day I was set down within musket-shot of the fort, under covert of a little mount, on which stood a windmill, and had indifferently fortified myself, and at the same time had posted some of my men on two other passes, but at farther distance from the fort, so that the fort was effectually blocked up on the land side. In the afternoon the enemy sallied on my first entrenchment, but being covered from their cannon, and defended by a ditch which I had drawn across the road, they were so well received by my musketeers that they retired with the loss of six or seven men.
The next day Sir John Hepburn was sent with two brigades of foot to carry on the work, and so my commission ended. The king expressed himself very well pleased with what I had done, and when he was so was never sparing of telling of it, for he used to say that public commendations were a great encouragement to valour.
While Sir John Hepburn lay before the fort and was preparing to storm it, the king’s design was to get over the Rhine, but the Spaniards which were in Oppenheim had sunk all the boats they could find. At last the king, being informed where some lay that were sunk, caused them to be weighed with all the expedition possible, and in the night of the 7th of December, in three boats, passed over his regiment of guards, about three miles above the town, and, as the king thought, secure from danger; but they were no sooner landed, and not drawn into order, but they were charged by a body of Spanish horse, and had not the darkness given them opportunity to draw up in the enclosures in several little parties, they had been in great danger of being disordered; but by this means they lined the hedges and lanes so with musketeers, that the remainder had time to draw up in battalia, and saluted the horse with their muskets, so that they drew farther off.
The king was very impatient, hearing his men engaged, having no boats nor possible means to get over to help them. At last, about eleven o’clock at night, the boats came back, and the king thrust another regiment into them, and though his officers dissuaded him, would go over himself with them on foot, and did so. This was three months that very day when the battle of Leipsic was fought, and winter time too, that the progress of his arms had spread from the Elbe, where it parts Saxony and Brandenburg, to the Lower Palatine and the Rhine.
I went over in the boat with the king. I never saw him in so much concern in my life, for he was in pain for his men; but before we got on shore the Spaniards retired. However, the king landed, ordered his men, and prepared to entrench, but he had not time, for by that time the boats were put off again, the Spaniards, not knowing more troops were landed, and being reinforced from Oppenheim, came on again, and charged with great fury; but all things were now in order, and they were readily received and beaten back again. They came on again the third time, and with repeated charges attacked us; but at last finding us too strong for them they gave it over. By this time another regiment of foot was come over, and as soon as day appeared the king with the three regiments marched to the town, which surrendered at the first summons, and the next day the fort yielded to Sir John Hepburn.
The castle at Oppenheim held out still with a garrison of 800 Spaniards, and the king, leaving 200 Scots of Sir James Ramsey’s men in the town, drew out to attack the castle. Sir James Ramsey being left wounded at Wurtzburg, the king gave me the command of those 200 men, which were a regiment, that is to say, all that were left of a gallant regiment of 2000 Scots, which the king brought out of Sweden with him, under that brave colonel. There was about thirty officers, who, having no soldiers, were yet in pay, and served as reformadoes with the regiment, and were over and above the 200 men.
The king designed to storm the castle on the lower side by the way that leads to Mentz, and Sir John Hepburn landed from the other side and marched up to storm on the Rhine port.
My reformado Scots, having observed that the town port of the castle was not so well guarded as the rest, all the eyes of the garrison being bent towards the king and Sir John Hepburn, came running to me, and told me they believed they could enter the castle, sword in hand, if I would give them leave. I told them I durst not give them orders, my commission being only to keep and defend the town; but they being very importunate, I told them they were volunteers, and might do what they pleased, that I would lend them fifty men, and draw up the rest to second them, or bring them off, as I saw occasion, so as I might not hazard the town. This was as much as they desired; they sallied immediately, and in a trice the volunteers scaled the port, cut in pieces the guard, and burst open the gate, at which the fifty entered. Finding the gate won, I advanced immediately with 100 musketeers more, having locked up all the gates of the town but the castle port, and leaving fifty still for a reserve just at that gate; the townsmen, too, seeing the castle, as it were, taken, ran to arms, and followed me with above 200 men. The Spaniards were knocked down by the Scots before they knew what the matter was, and the king and Sir John Hepburn, advancing to storm, were surprised when, instead of resistance, they saw the Spaniards throwing themselves over the walls to avoid the fury of the Scots. Few of the garrison got away, but were either killed or taken, and having cleared the castle, I set open the port on the king’s side, and sent his Majesty word the castle was his own. The king came on, and entered on foot. I received him at the head of the Scots reformadoes; who all saluted him with their pikes. The king gave them his hat, and turning about, “Brave Scots, brave Scots,” says he smiling, “you were too quick for me;” then beckoning to me, made me tell him how and in what manner we had managed the storm, which he was exceeding well pleased with, but especially at the caution I had used to bring them off if they had miscarried, and secured the town.
From hence the army marched to Mentz, which in four days’ time capitulated, with the fort and citadel, and the city paid his Majesty 300,000 dollars to be exempted from the fury of the soldiers. Here the king himself drew the plan of those invincible fortifications which to this day makes it one of the strongest cities in Germany.
Friburg, Koningstien, Neustadt, Kaiserslautern, and almost all the Lower Palatinate, surrendered at the very terror of the King of Sweden’s approach, and never suffered the danger of a siege.
The king held a most magnificent court at Mentz, attended by the Landgrave of Hesse, with an incredible number of princes and lords of the empire, with ambassadors and residents of foreign princes; and here his Majesty stayed till March, when the queen, with a great retinue of Swedish nobility, came from Erfurt to see him. The king, attended by a gallant train of German nobility, went to Frankfort, and from thence on to Hoest, to meet the queen, where her Majesty arrived February 8.
During the king’s stay in these parts, his armies were not idle, his troops, on one side under the Rhinegrave, a brave and ever-fortunate commander, and under the Landgrave of Hesse, on the other, ranged the country from Lorraine to Luxemburg, and past the Moselle on the west, and the Weser on the north. Nothing could stand before them: the Spanish army which came to the relief of the Catholic Electors was everywhere defeated and beaten quite out of the country, and the Lorraine army quite ruined. ’Twas a most pleasant court sure as ever was seen, where every day expresses arrived of armies defeated, towns surrendered, contributions agreed upon, parties routed, prisoners taken, and princes sending ambassadors to sue for truces and neutralities, to make submissions and compositions, and to pay arrears and contributions.
Here arrived, February 10, the King of Bohemia from England, and with him my Lord Craven, with a body of Dutch horse, and a very fine train of English volunteers, who immediately, without any stay, marched on to Hoest to wait upon his Majesty of Sweden, who received him with a great deal of civility, and was treated at a noble collation by the king and queen at Frankfort. Never had the unfortunate king so fair a prospect of being restored to his inheritance of the Palatinate as at that time, and had King James, his father-inlaw, had a soul answerable to the occasion, it had been effected before, but it was a strange thing to see him equipped from the English court with one lord and about forty or fifty English gentlemen in his attendance, whereas had the King of England now, as ’tis well known he might have done, furnished him with 10,000 or 12,000 English foot, nothing could have hindered him taking a full possession of his country; and yet even without that help did the King of Sweden clear almost his whole country of Imperialists, and after his death reinstal his son in the Electorate; but no thanks to us.
The Lord Craven did me the honour to inquire for me by name, and his Majesty of Sweden did me yet more by presenting me to the King of Bohemia, and my Lord Craven gave me a letter from my father. And speaking something of my father having served under the Prince of Orange in the famous battle of Nieuport, the king, smiling, returned, “And pray tell him from me his son has served as well in the warm battle of Leipsic.”
My father being very much pleased with the honour I had received from so great a king, had ordered me to acquaint his Majesty that, if he pleased to accept of their service, he would raise him a regiment of English horse at his own charge to be under my command, and to be sent over into Holland; and my Lord Craven had orders from the King of England to signify his consent to the said levy. I acquainted my old friend Sir John Hepburn with the contents of the letter in order to have his advice, who being pleased with the proposal, would have me go to the king immediately with the letter, but present service put it off for some days.
The taking of Creutznach was the next service of any moment. The king drew out in person to the siege of this town. The town soon came to parley, but the castle seemed a work of difficulty, for its situation was so strong and so surrounded with works behind and above one and another, that most people thought the king would receive a check from it; but it was not easy to resist the resolution of the King of Sweden.
He never battered it but with two small pieces, but having viewed the works himself, ordered a mine under the first ravelin, which being sprung with success, he commands a storm. I think there was not more commanded men than volunteers, both English, Scots, French, and Germans. My old comrade was by this time recovered of his wound at Leipsic, and made one. The first body of volunteers, of about forty, were led on by my Lord Craven, and I led the second, among whom were most of the reformado Scots officers who took the castle of Oppenheim. The first party was not able to make anything of it; the garrison fought with so much fury that many of the volunteer gentlemen being wounded, and some killed, the rest were beaten off with loss. The king was in some passion at his men, and rated them for running away, as he called it, though they really retreated in good order, and commanded the assault to be renewed. ’Twas our turn to fall on next. Our Scots officers, not being used to be beaten, advanced immediately, and my Lord Craven with his volunteers pierced in with us, fighting gallantly in the breach with a pike in his hand; and, to give him the honour due to his bravery, he was with the first on the top of the rampart, and gave his hand to my comrade, and lifted him up after him. We helped one another up, till at last almost all the volunteers had gained the height of the ravelin, and maintained it with a great deal of resolution, expecting when the commanded men had gained the same height to advance upon the enemy; when one of the enemy’s captains called to my Lord Craven, and told him if they might have honourable terms they would capitulate, which my lord telling him he would engage for, the garrison fired no more, and the captain, leaping down from the next rampart, came with my Lord Craven into the camp, where the conditions were agreed on, and the castle surrendered.
After the taking of this town, the king, hearing of Tilly’s approach, and how he had beaten Gustavus Horn, the king’s field-marshal, out of Bamberg, began to draw his forces together, and leaving the care of his conquests in these parts to his chancellor Oxenstiern, prepares to advance towards Bavaria.
I had taken an opportunity to wait upon his Majesty with Sir John Hepburn and being about to introduce the discourse of my father’s letter, the king told me he had received a compliment on my account in a letter from King Charles. I told him his Majesty had by his exceeding generosity bound me and all my friends to pay their acknowledgments to him, and that I supposed my father had obtained such a mention of it from the King of England, as gratitude moved him to that his Majesty’s favour had been shown in me to a family both willing and ready to serve him, that I had received some commands from my father, which, if his Majesty pleased to do me the honour to accept of, might put me in a condition to acknowledge his Majesty’s goodness in a manner more proportioned to the sense I had of his favour; and with that I produced my father’s letter, and read that clause in it which related to the regiment of horse, which was as follows:—
“I read with a great deal of satisfaction the account you give of the great and extraordinary conquests of the King of Sweden, and with more his Majesty’s singular favour to you; I hope you will be careful to value and deserve so much honour. I am glad you rather chose to serve as a volunteer at your own charge, than to take any command, which, for want of experience, you might misbehave in.
“I have obtained of the king that he will particularly thank his Majesty of Sweden for the honour he has done you, and if his Majesty gives you so much freedom, I could be glad you should in the humblest manner thank his Majesty in the name of an old broken soldier.
“If you think yourself officer enough to command them, and his Majesty pleased to accept them, I would have you offer to raise his Majesty a regiment of horse, which, I think, I may near complete in our neighbourhood with some of your old acquaintance, who are very willing to see the world. If his Majesty gives you the word, they shall receive his commands in the Maes, the king having promised me to give them arms, and transport them for that service into Holland; and I hope they may do his Majesty such service as may be for your honour and the advantage of his Majesty’s interest and glory.”
“YOUR LOVING FATHER.”
“’Tis an offer like a gentleman and like a soldier,” says the king,” and I’ll accept of it on two conditions: first,” says the king, “that I will pay your father the advance money for the raising the regiment; and next, that they shall be landed in the Weser or the Elbe; for which, if the King of England will not, I will pay the passage; for if they land in Holland, it may prove very difficult to get them to us when the army shall be marched out of this part of the country.”
I returned this answer to my father, and sent my man George into England to order that regiment, and made him quartermaster. I sent blank commissions for the officers, signed by the king, to be filled up as my father should think fit; and when I had the king’s order for the commissions, the secretary told me I must go back to the king with them. Accordingly I went back to the king, who, opening the packet, laid all the commissions but one upon a table before him, and bade me take them, and keeping that one still in his hand, “Now,” says he, “you are one of my soldiers,” and therewith gave me his commission, as colonel of horse in present pay. I took the commission kneeling, and humbly thanked his Majesty. “But,” says the king, “there is one article-of-war I expect of you more than of others.” “Your Majesty can expect nothing of me which I shall not willingly comply with,” said I, “as soon as I have the honour to understand what it is.” “Why, it is,” says the king, “that you shall never fight but when you have orders, for I shall not be willing to lose my colonel before I have the regiment.” “I shall be ready at all times, sir,” returned I, “to obey your Majesty’s orders.”
I sent my man express with the king’s answer and the commission to my father, who had the regiment completed in less than two months’ time, and six of the officers, with a list of the rest, came away to me, whom I presented to his Majesty when he lay before Nuremberg, where they kissed his hand.
One of the captains offered to bring the whole regiment travelling as private men into the army in six weeks’ time, and either to transport their equipage, or buy it in Germany, but ’twas thought impracticable. However, I had so many come in that manner that I had a complete troop always about me, and obtained the king’s order to muster them as a troop.
On the 8th of March the king decamped, and, marching up the river Maine, bent his course directly for Bavaria, taking several small places by the way, and expecting to engage with Tilly, who he thought would dispute his entrance into Bavaria, kept his army together; but Tilly, finding himself too weak to encounter him, turned away, and leaving Bavaria open to the king, marched into the Upper Palatinate. The king finding the country clear of the Imperialists comes to Nuremberg, made his entrance into that city the 21st of March, and being nobly treated by the citizens, he continued his march into Bavaria, and on the 26th sat down before Donauwerth. The town was taken the next day by storm, so swift were the conquests of this invincible captain. Sir John Hepburn, with the Scots and the English volunteers at the head of them, entered the town first, and cut all the garrison to pieces, except such as escaped over the bridge.
I had no share in the business of Donauwerth, being now among the horse, but I was posted on the roads with five troops of horse, where we picked up a great many stragglers of the garrison, whom we made prisoners of war.
’Tis observable that this town of Donauwerth is a very strong place and well fortified, and yet such expedition did the king make, and such resolution did he use in his first attacks, that he carried the town without putting himself to the trouble of formal approaches. ’Twas generally his way when he came before any town with a design to besiege it; he never would encamp at a distance and begin his trenches a great way off, but bring his men immediately within half musket-shot of the place; there getting under the best cover he could, he would immediately begin his batteries and trenches before their faces; and if there was any place possibly to be attacked, he would fall to storming immediately. By this resolute way of coming on he carried many a town in the first heat of his men, which would have held out many days against a more regular siege.
This march of the king broke all Tilly’s measures, for now he was obliged to face about, and leaving the Upper Palatinate, to come to the assistance of the Duke of Bavaria; for the king being 20,000 strong, besides 10,000 foot and 4000 horse and dragoons which joined him from the Duringer Wald, was resolved to ruin the duke, who lay now open to him, and was the most powerful and inveterate enemy of the Protestants in the empire.
Tilly was now joined with the Duke of Bavaria, and might together make about 22,000 men, and in order to keep the Swedes out of the country of Bavaria, had planted themselves along the banks of the river Lech, which runs on the edge of the duke’s territories; and having fortified the other side of the river, and planted his cannon for several miles at all the convenient places on the river, resolved to dispute the king’s passage.
I shall be the longer in relating this account of the Lech, being esteemed in those days as great an action as any battle or siege of that age, and particularly famous for the disaster of the gallant old General Tilly; and for that I can be more particular in it than other accounts, having been an eye-witness to every part of it.
The king being truly informed of the disposition of the Bavarian army, was once of the mind to have left the banks of the Lech, have repassed the Danube, and so setting down before Ingolstadt, the duke’s capital city, by the taking that strong town to have made his entrance into Bavaria, and the conquest of such a fortress, one entire action; but the strength of the place and the difficulty of maintaining his leaguer in an enemy’s country while Tilly was so strong in the field, diverted him from that design; he therefore concluded that Tilly was first to be beaten out of the country, and then the siege of Ingolstadt would be the easier.
Whereupon the king resolved to go and view the situation of the enemy. His Majesty went out the 2nd of April with a strong party of horse, which I had the honour to command. We marched as near as we could to the banks of the river, not to be too much exposed to the enemy’s cannon, and having gained a little height, where the whole course of the river might be seen, the king halted, and commanded to draw up. The king alighted, and calling me to him, examined every reach and turning of the river by his glass, but finding the river run a long and almost a straight course he could find no place which he liked; but at last turning himself north, and looking down the stream, he found the river, stretching a long reach, doubles short upon itself, making a round and very narrow point. “There’s a point will do our business,” says the king, “and if the ground be good I’ll pass there, let Tilly do his worst.”
He immediately ordered a small party of horse to view the ground, and to bring him word particularly how high the bank was on each side and at the point. “And he shall have fifty dollars,” says the king, “that will bring me word how deep the water is.” I asked his Majesty leave to let me go, which he would by no means allow of; but as the party was drawing out, a sergeant of dragoons told the king, if he pleased to let him go disguised as a boor, he would bring him an account of everything he desired. The king liked the notion well enough, and the fellow being very well acquainted with the country, puts on a ploughman’s habit, and went away immediately with a long pole upon his shoulder. The horse lay all this while in the woods, and the king stood undiscerned by the enemy on the little hill aforesaid. The dragoon with his long pole comes down boldly to the bank of the river, and calling to the sentinels which Tilly had placed on the other bank, talked with them, asked them if they could not help him over the river, and pretended he wanted to come to them. At last being come to the point where, as I said, the river makes a short turn, he stands parleying with them a great while, and sometimes, pretending to wade over, he puts his long pole into the water, then finding it pretty shallow he pulls off his hose and goes in, still thrusting his pole in before him, till being gotten up to his middle, he could reach beyond him, where it was too deep, and so shaking his head, comes back again. The soldiers on the other side, laughing at him, asked him if he could swim? He said, “No,” “Why, you fool you,” says one of the sentinels, “the channel of the river is twenty feet deep.” “How do you know that?” says the dragoon. “Why, our engineer,” says he, “measured it yesterday.” This was what he wanted, but not yet fully satisfied, “Ay, but,” says he, “maybe it may not be very broad, and if one of you would wade in to meet me till I could reach you with my pole, I’d give him half a ducat to pull me over.” The innocent way of his discourse so deluded the soldiers, that one of them immediately strips and goes in up to the shoulders, and our dragoon goes in on this side to meet him; but the stream took t’ other soldier away, and he being a good swimmer, came swimming over to this side. The dragoon was then in a great deal of pain for fear of being discovered, and was once going to kill the fellow, and make off; but at last resolved to carry on the humour, and having entertained the fellow with a tale of a tub, about the Swedes stealing his oats, the fellow being a-cold wanted to be gone, and he as willing to be rid of him, pretended to be very sorry he could not get over the river, and so makes off.
By this, however, he learned both the depth and breadth of the channel, the bottom and nature of both shores, and everything the king wanted to know. We could see him from the hill by our glasses very plain, and could see the soldier naked with him. Says the king, “He will certainly be discovered and knocked on the head from the other side: he is a fool,” says the king, “he does not kill the fellow and run off.” But when the dragoon told his tale, the king was extremely well satisfied with him, gave him a hundred dollars, and made him a quartermaster to a troop of cuirassiers.
The king having farther examined the dragoon, he gave him a very distinct account of the shore and the ground on this side, which he found to be higher than the enemy’s by ten or twelve foot, and a hard gravel.
Hereupon the king resolves to pass there, and in order to it gives, himself, particular directions for such a bridge as I believe never army passed a river on before nor since.
His bridge was only loose planks laid upon large tressels in the same homely manner as I have seen bricklayers raise a low scaffold to build a brick wall; the tressels were made higher than one another to answer to the river as it became deeper or shallower, and was all framed and fitted before any appearance was made of attempting to pass.
When all was ready the king brings his army down to the bank of the river, and plants his cannon as the enemy had done, some here and some there, to amuse them.
At night, April 4th, the king commanded about 2000 men to march to the point, and to throw up a trench on either side, and quite round it with a battery of six pieces of cannon at each end, besides three small mounts, one at the point and one of each side, which had each of them two pieces upon them. This work was begun so briskly and so well carried on, the king firing all the night from the other parts of the river, that by daylight all the batteries at the new work were mounted, the trench lined with 2000 musketeers, and all the utensils of the bridge lay ready to be put together.
Now the Imperialists discovered the design, but it was too late to hinder it; the musketeers in the great trench, and the five new batteries, made such continual fire that the other bank, which, as before, lay twelve feet below them, was too hot for the Imperialists; whereupon Tilly, to be provided for the king at his coming over, falls to work in a wood right against the point, and raises a great battery for twenty pieces of cannon, with a breastwork or line, as near the river as he could, to cover his men, thinking that when the king had built his bridge he might easily beat it down with his cannon.
But the king had doubly prevented him, first by laying his bridge so low that none of Tilly’s shot could hurt it; for the bridge lay not above half a foot above the water’s edge, by which means the king, who in that showed himself an excellent engineer, had secured it from any batteries to be made within the land, and the angle of the bank secured it from the remoter batteries on the other side, and the continual fire of the cannon and small shot beat the Imperialists from their station just against it, they having no works to cover them.
And in the second place, to secure his passage he sent over about 200 men, and after that 200 more, who had orders to cast up a large ravelin on the other bank, just where he designed to land his bridge. This was done with such expedition too, that it was finished before night, and in condition to receive all the shot of Tilly’s great battery, and effectually covered his bridge. While this was doing the king on his side lays over his bridge. Both sides wrought hard all day and night, as if the spade, not the sword, had been to decide the controversy, and that he had got the victory whose trenches and batteries were first ready. In the meanwhile the cannon and musket bullets flew like hail, and made the service so hot that both sides had enough to do to make their men stand to their work. The king, in the hottest of it, animated his men by his presence, and Tilly, to give him his due, did the same; for the execution was so great, and so many officers killed, General Altringer wounded, and two sergeant-majors killed, that at last Tilly himself was obliged to expose himself, and to come up to the very face of our line to encourage his men, and give his necessary orders.
And here about one o’clock, much about the time that the king’s brigade and works were finished, and just as they said he had ordered to fall on upon our ravelin with 3000 foot, was the brave old Tilly slain with a musket ball in the thigh. He was carried off to Ingolstadt, and lived some days after, but died of that wound the same day as the king had his horse shot under him at the siege of that town.
We made no question of passing the river here, having brought everything so forward, and with such extraordinary success; but we should have found it a very hot piece of work if Tilly had lived one day more, and, if I may give my opinion of it, having seen Tilly’s battery and breastwork, in the face of which we must have passed the river, I must say that, whenever we had marched, if Tilly had fallen in with his horse and foot, placed in that trench, the whole army would have passed as much danger as in the face of a strong town in the storming a counterscarp. The king himself, when he saw with what judgment Tilly had prepared his works, and what danger he must have run, would often say that day’s success was every way equal to the victory of Leipsic.
Tilly being hurt and carried off, as if the soul of the army had been lost, they began to draw off. The Duke of Bavaria took horse and rid away as if he had fled out of battle for his life.
The other generals, with a little more caution, as well as courage, drew off by degrees, sending their cannon and baggage away first, and leaving some to continue firing on the bank of the river, to conceal their retreat. The river preventing any intelligence, we knew nothing of the disaster befallen them; and the king, who looked for blows, having finished his bridge and ravelin, ordered to run a line with palisadoes to take in more ground on the bank of the river, to cover the first troops he should send over. This being finished the same night, the king sends over a party of his guards to relieve the men who were in the ravelin, and commanded 600 musketeers to man the new line out of the Scots brigade.
Early in the morning a small party of Scots, commanded by one Captain Forbes, of my Lord Reay’s regiment, were sent out to learn something of the enemy, the king observing they had not fired all night; and while this party were abroad, the army stood in battalia; and my old friend Sir John Hepburn, whom of all men the king most depended upon for any desperate service, was ordered to pass the bridge with his brigade, and to draw up without the line, with command to advance as he found the horse, who were to second him, come over.
Sir John being passed without the trench, meets Captain Forbes with some prisoners, and the good news of the enemy’s retreat. He sends him directly to the king, who was by this time at the head of his army, in full battalia, ready to follow his vanguard, expecting a hot day’s work of it. Sir John sends messenger after messenger to the king, entreating him to give him orders to advance; but the king would not suffer him, for he was ever upon his guard, and would not venture a surprise; so the army continued on this side the Lech all day and the next night. In the morning the king sent for me, and ordered me to draw out 300 horse, and a colonel with 600 horse, and a colonel with 800 dragoons, and ordered us to enter the wood by three ways, but so as to be able to relieve one another; and then ordered Sir John Hepburn with his brigade to advance to the edge of the wood to secure our retreat, and at the same time commanded another brigade of foot to pass the bridge, if need were, to second Sir John Hepburn, so warily did this prudent general proceed.
We advanced with our horse into the Bavarian camp, which we found forsaken. The plunder of it was inconsiderable, for the exceeding caution the king had used gave them time to carry off all their baggage. We followed them three or four miles, and returned to our camp.
I confess I was most diverted that day with viewing the works which Tilly had cast up, and must own again that had he not been taken off we had met with as desperate a piece of work as ever was attempted. The next day the rest of the cavalry came up to us, commanded by Gustavus Horn, and the king and the whole army followed. We advanced through the heart of Bavaria, took Rain at the first summons, and several other small towns, and sat down before Augsburg.
Augsburg, though a Protestant city, had a Popish Bavarian garrison in it of above 5000 men, commanded by a Fugger, a great family in Bavaria. The governor had posted several little parties as out-scouts at the distance of two miles and a half or three miles from the town. The king, at his coming up to this town, sends me with my little troop and three companies of dragoons to beat in these out-scouts. The first party I lighted on was not above sixteen men, who had made a small barricado across the road, and stood resolutely upon their guard. I commanded the dragoons to alight and open the barricado, which, while they resolutely performed, the sixteen men gave them two volleys of their muskets, and through the enclosures made their retreat to a turnpike about a quarter of a mile farther. We passed their first traverse, and coming up to the turnpike, I found it defended by 200 musketeers. I prepared to attack them, sending word to the king how strong the enemy was, and desired some foot to be sent me. My dragoons fell on, and though the enemy made a very hot fire, had beat them from this post before 200 foot, which the king had sent me, had come up. Being joined with the foot, I followed the enemy, who retreated fighting, till they came under the cannon of a strong redoubt, where they drew up, and I could see another body of foot of about 300 join them out of the works; upon which I halted, and considering I was in view of the town, and a great way from the army, I faced about and began to march off. As we marched I found the enemy followed, but kept at a distance, as if they only designed to observe me. I had not marched far, but I heard a volley of small shot, answered by two or three more, which I presently apprehended to be at the turnpike, where I had left a small guard of twenty-six men with a lieutenant. Immediately I detached 100 dragoons to relieve my men and secure my retreat, following myself as fast as the foot could march. The lieutenant sent me back word the post was taken by the enemy, and my men cut off. Upon this I doubled my pace, and when I came up I found it as the lieutenant said; for the post was taken and manned with 300 musketeers and three troops of horse. By this time, also, I found the party in my rear made up towards me, so that I was like to be charged in a narrow place both in front and rear.
I saw there was no remedy but with all my force to fall upon that party before me, and so to break through before those from the town could come up with me; wherefore, commanding my dragoons to alight, I ordered them to fall on upon the foot. Their horse were drawn up in an enclosed field on one side of the road, a great ditch securing the other side, so that they thought if I charged the foot in front they would fall upon my flank, while those behind would charge my rear; and, indeed, had the other come in time, they had cut me off. My dragoons made three fair charges on their foot, but were received with so much resolution and so brisk a fire, that they were beaten off, and sixteen men killed. Seeing them so rudely handled, and the horse ready to fall in, I relieved them with 100 musketeers, and they renewed the attack; at the same time, with my troop of horse, flanked on both wings with fifty musketeers, I faced their horse, but did not offer to charge them. The case grew now desperate, and the enemy behind were just at my heels with near 600 men. The captain who commanded the musketeers who flanked my horse came up to me; says he, “If we do not force this pass all will be lost; if you will draw out your troop and twenty of my foot, and fall in, I’ll engage to keep off the horse with the rest.” “With all my heart,” says I.
Immediately I wheeled off my troop, and a small party of the musketeers followed me, and fell in with the dragoons and foot, who, seeing the danger too as well as I, fought like madmen. The foot at the turnpike were not able to hinder our breaking through, so we made our way out, killing about 150 of them, and put the rest into confusion.
But now was I in as great a difficulty as before how to fetch off my brave captain of foot, for they charged home upon him. He defended himself with extraordinary gallantry, having the benefit of a piece of a hedge to cover him, but he lost half his men, and was just upon the point of being defeated when the king, informed by a soldier that escaped from the turnpike, one of twenty-six, had sent a party of 600 dragoons to bring me off; these came upon the spur, and joined with me just as I had broke through the turnpike. The enemy’s foot rallied behind their horse, and by this time their other party was come in; but seeing our relief they drew off together.
I lost above 100 men in these skirmishes, and killed them about 180. We secured the turnpike, and placed a company of foot there with 100 dragoons, and came back well beaten to the army. The king, to prevent such uncertain skirmishes, advanced the next day in view of the town, and, according to his custom, sits down with his whole army within cannon-shot of their walls.
The King won this great city by force of words, for by two or three messages and letters to and from the citizens, the town was gained, the garrison not daring to defend them against their wills. His Majesty made his public entrance into the city on the 14th of April, and receiving the compliments of the citizens, advanced immediately to Ingolstadt, which is accounted, and really is, the strongest town in all these parts.
The town had a very strong garrison in it, and the Duke of Bavaria lay entrenched with his army under the walls of it, on the other side of the river. The king, who never loved long sieges, having viewed the town, and brought his army within musket-shot of it, called a council of war, where it was the king’s opinion, in short, that the town would lose him more than ’twas worth, and therefore he resolved to raise his siege.
Here the king going to view the town had his horse shot with a cannon-bullet from the works, which tumbled the king and his horse over one another, that everybody thought he had been killed; but he received no hurt at all. That very minute, as near as could be learnt, General Tilly died in the town of the shot he received on the bank of the Lech, as aforesaid.
I was not in the camp when the king was hurt, for the king had sent almost all the horse and dragoons, under Gustavus Horn, to face the Duke of Bavaria’s camp, and after that to plunder the country; which truly was a work the soldiers were very glad of, for it was very seldom they had that liberty given them, and they made very good use of it when it was, for the country of Bavaria was rich and plentiful, having seen no enemy before during the whole war.
The army having left the siege of Ingolstadt, proceeds to take in the rest of Bavaria. Sir John Hepburn, with three brigades of foot, and Gustavus Horn, with 3000 horse and dragoons, went to the Landshut, and took it the same day. The garrison was all horse, and gave us several camisadoes at our approach, in one of which I lost two of my troops, but when we had beat them into close quarters they presently capitulated. The general got a great sum of money of the town, besides a great many presents to the officers. And from thence the king went on to Munich, the Duke of Bavaria’s court. Some of the general officers would fain have had the plundering of the duke’s palace, but the king was too generous. The city paid him 400,000 dollars; and the duke’s magazine was there seized, in which was 140 pieces of cannon, and small arms for above 20,000 men. The great chamber of the duke’s rarities was preserved, by the king’s special order, with a great deal of care. I expected to have stayed here some time, and to have taken a very exact account of this curious laboratory; but being commanded away, I had no time, and the fate of the war never gave me opportunity to see it again.
The Imperialists, under the command of Commissary Osta, had besieged Biberach, an Imperial city not very well fortified; and the inhabitants being under the Swedes’ protection, defended themselves as well as they could, but were in great danger, and sent several expresses to the king for help.
The king immediately detaches a strong body of horse and foot to relieve Biberach, and would be the commander himself. I marched among the horse, but the Imperialists saved us the labour; for the news of the king’s coming frighted away Osta, that he left Biberach, and hardly looked behind him till he got up to the Bodensee, on the confines of Switzerland.
At our return from this expedition the king had the first news of Wallenstein’s approach, who, on the death of Count Tilly, being declared generalissimo of the emperor’s forces, had played the tyrant in Bohemia, and was now advancing with 60,000 men, as they reported, to relieve the Duke of Bavaria.
The king, therefore, in order to be in a posture to receive this great general, resolves to quit Bavaria, and to expect him on the frontiers of Franconia. And because he knew the Nurembergers for their kindness to him would be the first sacrifice, he resolved to defend that city against him whatever it cost.
Nevertheless he did not leave Bavaria without a defence; but, on the one hand, he left Sir John Baner with 10,000 men about Augsburg, and the Duke of Saxe–Weimar with another like army about Ulm and Meningen, with orders so to direct their march as that they might join him upon any occasion in a few days.
We encamped about Nuremberg the middle of June. The army, after so many detachments, was not above 19,000 men. The Imperial army, joined with the Bavarian, were not so numerous as was reported, but were really 60,000 men. The king, not strong enough to fight, yet, as he used to say, was strong enough not to be forced to fight, formed his camp so under the cannon of Nuremberg that there was no besieging the town but they must besiege him too; and he fortified his camp in so formidable a manner that Wallenstein never durst attack him. On the 30th of June Wallenstein’s troops appeared, and on the 5th of July encamped close by the king, and posted themselves not on the Bavarian side, but between the king and his own friends of Schwaben and Frankenland, in order to intercept his provisions, and, as they thought, to starve him out of his camp.
Here they lay to see, as it were, who could subsist longest. The king was strong in horse, for we had full 8000 horse and dragoons in the army, and this gave us great advantage in the several skirmishes we had with the enemy. The enemy had possession of the whole country, and had taken effectual care to furnish their army with provisions; they placed their guards in such excellent order, to secure their convoys, that their waggons went from stage to stage as quiet as in a time of peace, and were relieved every five miles by parties constantly posted on the road. And thus the Imperial general sat down by us, not doubting but he should force the king either to fight his way through on very disadvantageous terms, or to rise for want of provisions, and leave the city of Nuremberg a prey to his army; for he had vowed the destruction of the city, and to make it a second Magdeburg.
But the king, who was not to be easily deceived, had countermined all Wallenstein’s designs. He had passed his honour to the Nurembergers that he would not leave them, and they had undertaken to victual his army, and secure him from want, which they did so effectually, that he had no occasion to expose his troops to any hazard or fatigues for convoys or forage on any account whatever.
The city of Nuremberg is a very rich and populous city, and the king being very sensible of their danger, had given his word for their defence. And when they, being terrified at the threats of the Imperialists, sent their deputies to beseech the king to take care of them, he sent them word he would, and be besieged with them. They, on the other hand, laid in such stores of all sorts of provision, both for men and horse, that had Wallenstein lain before it six months longer, there would have been no scarcity. Every private house was a magazine, the camp was plentifully supplied with all manner of provisions, and the market always full, and as cheap as in times of peace. The magistrates were so careful, and preserved so excellent an order in the disposal of all sorts of provision, that no engrossing of corn could be practised, for the prices were every day directed at the town-house; and if any man offered to demand more money for corn than the stated price, he could not sell, because at the town store-house you might buy cheaper. Here are two instances of good and bad conduct: the city of Magdeburg had been entreated by the king to settle funds, and raise money for their provision and security, and to have a sufficient garrison to defend them, but they made difficulties, either to raise men for themselves, or to admit the king’s troops to assist them, for fear of the charge of maintaining them; and this was the cause of the city’s ruin.
The city of Nuremberg opened their arms to receive the assistance proffered by the Swedes, and their purses to defend their town and common cause; and this was the saving them absolutely from destruction. The rich burghers and magistrates kept open houses, where the officers of the army were always welcome; and the council of the city took such care of the poor that there was no complaining nor disorders in the whole city. There is no doubt but it cost the city a great deal of money; but I never saw a public charge borne with so much cheerfulness, nor managed with so much prudence and conduct in my life. The city fed above 50,000 mouths every day, including their own poor, besides themselves; and yet when the king had lain thus three months, and finding his armies longer in coming up than he expected, asked the burgrave how their magazines held out, he answered, they desired his Majesty not to hasten things for them, for they could maintain themselves and him twelve months longer if there was occasion. This plenty kept both the army and city in good health, as well as in good heart; whereas nothing was to be had of us but blows, for we fetched nothing from without our works, nor had no business without the line but to interrupt the enemy.
The manner of the king’s encampment deserves a particular chapter. He was a complete surveyor and a master in fortification, not to be outdone by anybody. He had posted his army in the suburbs of the town, and drawn lines round the whole circumference, so that he begirt the whole city with his army. His works were large, the ditch deep, flanked with innumerable bastions, ravelins, horn-works, forts, redoubts, batteries, and palisadoes, the incessant work of 8000 men for about fourteen days; besides that, the king was adding something or other to it every day, and the very posture of his camp was enough to tell a bigger army than Wallenstein’s that he was not to be assaulted in his trenches.
The king’s design appeared chiefly to be the preservation of the city; but that was not all. He had three armies acting abroad in three several places. Gustavus Horn was on the Moselle, the chancellor Oxenstiern about Mentz, Cologne, and the Rhine, Duke William and Duke Bernhard, together with General Baner, in Bavaria. And though he designed they should all join him, and had wrote to them all to that purpose, yet he did not hasten them, knowing that while he kept the main army at bay about Nuremberg, they would, without opposition, reduce those several countries they were acting in to his power. This occasioned his lying longer in the camp at Nuremberg than he would have done, and this occasioned his giving the Imperialists so many alarms by his strong parties of horse, of which he was well provided, that they might not be able to make any considerable detachments for the relief of their friends. And here he showed his mastership in the war, for by this means his conquests went on as effectually as if he had been abroad himself.
In the meantime it was not to be expected two such armies should lie long so near without some action. The Imperial army, being masters of the field, laid the country for twenty miles round Nuremberg in a manner desolate. What the inhabitants could carry away had been before secured in such strong towns as had garrisons to protect them, and what was left the hungry Crabats devoured or set on fire; but sometimes they were met with by our men, who often paid them home for it. There had passed several small rencounters between our parties and theirs; and as it falls out in such cases, sometimes one side, sometimes the other, got the better. But I have observed there never was any party sent out by the king’s special appointment but always came home with victory.
The first considerable attempt, as I remember, was made on a convoy of ammunition. The party sent out was commanded by a Saxon colonel, and consisted of 1000 horse and 500 dragoons, who burnt above 600 waggons loaded with ammunition and stores for the army, besides taking about 2000 muskets, which they brought back to the army.
The latter end of July the king received advice that the Imperialists had formed a magazine for provision at a town called Freynstat, twenty miles from Nuremberg. Hither all the booty and contributions raised in the Upper Palatinate, and parts adjacent, was brought and laid up as in a place of security, a garrison of 600 men being placed to defend it; and when a quantity of provisions was got together, convoys were appointed to fetch it off.
The king was resolved, if possible, to take or destroy this magazine; and sending for Colonel Dubalt, a Swede, and a man of extraordinary conduct, he tells him his design, and withal that he must be the man to put it in execution, and ordered him to take what forces he thought convenient. The colonel, who knew the town very well, and the country about it, told his Majesty he would attempt it with all his heart; but he was afraid ‘twould require some foot to make the attack. “But we can’t stay for that,” says the king; “you must then take some dragoons with you;” and immediately the king called for me. I was just coming up the stairs as the king’s page was come out to inquire for me, so I went immediately in to the king. “Here is a piece of hot work for you,” says the king, “Dubalt will tell it you; go together and contrive it.”
We immediately withdrew, and the colonel told me the design, and what the king and he had discoursed; that, in his opinion, foot would be wanted: but the king had declared there was no time for the foot to march, and had proposed dragoons. I told him, I thought dragoons might do as well; so we agreed to take 1600 horse and 400 dragoons. The king, impatient in his design, came into the room to us to know what we had resolved on, approved our measures, gave us orders immediately; and, turning to me, “You shall command the dragoons,” says the king, “but Dubalt must be general in this case, for he knows the country.” “Your Majesty,” said I, “shall be always served by me in any figure you please.” The king wished us good speed, and hurried us away the same afternoon, in order to come to the place in time. We marched slowly on because of the carriages we had with us, and came to Freynstat about one o’clock in the night perfectly undiscovered. The guards were so negligent, that we came to the very port before they had notice of us, and a sergeant with twelve dragoons thrust in upon the out-sentinels, and killed them without noise.
Immediately ladders were placed to the half-moon which defended the gate, which the dragoons mounted and carried in a trice, about twenty-eight men being cut in pieces within. As soon as the ravelin was taken, they burst open the gate, at which I entered at the head of 200 dragoons, and seized the drawbridge. By this time the town was in alarm, and the drums beat to arms, but it was too late, for by the help of a petard we broke open the gate, and entered the town. The garrison made an obstinate fight for about half-an-hour, but our men being all in, and three troops of horse dismounted coming to our assistance with their carabines, the town was entirely mastered by three of the clock, and guards set to prevent anybody running to give notice to the enemy. There were about 200 of the garrison killed, and the rest taken prisoners. The town being thus secured, the gates were opened, and Colonel Dubalt came in with the horse.
The guards being set, we entered the magazine, where we found an incredible quantity of all sorts of provision. There was 150 tons of bread, 8000 sacks of meal, 4000 sacks of oats, and of other provisions in proportion. We caused as much of it as could be loaded to be brought away in such waggons and carriages as we found, and set the rest on fire, town and all. We stayed by it till we saw it past a possibility of being saved, and then drew off with 800 waggons, which we found in the place, most of which we loaded with bread, meal, and oats. While we were doing this we sent a party of dragoons into the fields, who met us again as we came out, with above 1000 head of black cattle, besides sheep.
Our next care was to bring this booty home without meeting with the enemy, to secure which, the colonel immediately despatched an express to the king, to let him know of our success, and to desire a detachment might be made to secure our retreat, being charged with so much plunder.
And it was no more than need; for though we had used all the diligence possible to prevent any notice, yet somebody, more forward than ordinary, had escaped away, and carried news of it to the Imperial army. The general, upon this bad news, detaches Major–General Sparr with a body of 6000 men to cut off our retreat. The king, who had notice of this detachment, marches out in person with 3000 men to wait upon General Sparr. All this was the account of one day. The king met General Sparr at the moment when his troops were divided, fell upon them, routed one part of them, and the rest in a few hours after, killed them 1000 men, and took the general prisoner.
In the interval of this action we came safe to the camp with our booty, which was very considerable, and would have supplied our whole army for a month. Thus we feasted at the enemy’s cost, and beat them into the bargain.
The king gave all the live cattle to the Nurembergers, who, though they had really no want of provisions, yet fresh meat was not so plentiful as such provisions which were stored up in vessels and laid by.
After this skirmish we had the country more at command than before, and daily fetched in fresh provisions and forage in the fields.
The two armies had now lain a long time in sight of one another, and daily skirmishes had considerably weakened them; and the king, beginning to be impatient, hastened the advancement of his friends to join him, in which also they were not backward; but having drawn together their forces from several parts, and all joined the chancellor Oxenstiern, news came, the 15th of August, that they were in full march to join us; and being come to a small town called Brock, the king went out of the camp with about 1000 horse to view them. I went along with the horse, and the 21st of August saw the review of all the armies together, which were 30,000 men, in extraordinary equipage, old soldiers, and commanded by officers of the greatest conduct and experience in the world. There was the rich chancellor of Sweden, who commanded as general; Gustavus Horn and John Baner, both Swedes and old generals; Duke William and Duke Bernhard of Weimar; the Landgrave of Hesse–Cassel, the Palatine of Birkenfelt, and abundance of princes and lords of the empire.
The armies being joined, the king, who was now a match for Wallenstein, quits his camp and draws up in battalia before the Imperial trenches: but the scene was changed. Wallenstein was no more able to fight now than the king was before; but, keeping within his trenches, stood upon his guard. The king coming up close to his works, plants batteries, and cannonaded him in his very camp. The Imperialists, finding the king press upon them, retreat into a woody country about three leagues, and, taking possession of an old ruined castle, posted their army behind it.
This old castle they fortified, and placed a very strong guard there. The king, having viewed the place, though it was a very strong post, resolved to attack it with the whole right wing. The attack was made with a great deal of order and resolution, the king leading the first party on with sword in hand, and the fight was maintained on both sides with the utmost gallantry and obstinacy all the day and the next night too, for the cannon and musket never gave over till the morning; but the Imperialists having the advantage of the hill, of their works and batteries, and being continually relieved, and the Swedes naked, without cannon or works, the post was maintained, and the king, finding it would cost him too much blood, drew off in the morning.
This was the famous fight at Altemberg, where the Imperialists boasted to have shown the world the King of Sweden was not invincible. They call it the victory at Altemberg; ’tis true the king failed in his attempt of carrying their works, but there was so little of a victory in it, that the Imperial general thought fit not to venture a second brush, but to draw off their army as soon as they could to a safer quarter.
I had no share in this attack, very few of the horse being in the action, but my comrade, who was always among the Scots volunteers, was wounded and taken prisoner by the enemy. They used him very civilly, and the king and Wallenstein straining courtesies with one another, the king released Major–General Sparr without ransom, and the Imperial general sent home Colonel Tortenson, a Swede, and sixteen volunteer gentlemen, who were taken in the heat of the action, among whom my captain was one.
The king lay fourteen days facing the Imperial army, and using all the stratagems possible to bring them to a battle, but to no purpose, during which time we had parties continually out, and very often skirmishes with the enemy.
I had a command of one of these parties in an adventure, wherein I got no booty, nor much honour. The King had received advice of a convoy of provisions which was to come to the enemy’s camp from the Upper Palatinate, and having a great mind to surprise them, he commanded us to waylay them with 1200 horse, and 800 dragoons. I had exact directions given me of the way they were to come, and posting my horse in a village a little out of the road, I lay with my dragoons in a wood, by which they were to pass by break of day. The enemy appeared with their convoy, and being very wary, their out-scouts discovered us in the wood, and fired upon the sentinel I had posted in a tree at the entrance of the wood. Finding myself discovered, I would have retreated to the village where my horse were posted, but in a moment the wood was skirted with the enemy’s horse, and 1000 commanded musketeers advanced to beat me out. In this pickle I sent away three messengers one after another for the horse, who were within two miles of me, to advance to my relief; but all my messengers fell into the enemy’s hands. Four hundred of my dragoons on foot, whom I had placed at a little distance before me, stood to their work, and beat off two charges of the enemy’s foot with some loss on both sides. Meantime 200 of my men faced about, and rushing out of the wood, broke through a party of the enemy’s horse, who stood to watch our coming out. I confess I was exceedingly surprised at it, thinking those fellows had done it to make their escape, or else were gone over to the enemy; and my men were so discouraged at it, that they began to look about which way to run to save themselves, and were just upon the point of disbanding to shift for themselves, when one of the captains called to me aloud to beat a parley and treat. I made no answer, but, as if I had not heard him, immediately gave the word for all the captains to come together. The consultation was but short, for the musketeers were advancing to a third charge, with numbers which we were not likely to deal with. In short, we resolved to beat a parley, and demand quarter, for that was all we could expect, when on a sudden the body of horse I had posted in the village, being directed by the noise, had advanced to relieve me, if they saw occasion, and had met the 200 dragoons, who guided them directly to the spot where they had broke through, and altogether fell upon the horse of the enemy, who were posted on that side, and, mastering them before they could be relieved, cut them all to pieces and brought me off. Under the shelter of this party, we made good our retreat to the village, but we lost above 300 men, and were glad to make off from the village too, for the enemy were very much too strong for us.
Returning thence towards the camp, we fell foul with 200 Crabats, who had been upon the plundering account. We made ourselves some amends upon them for our former loss, for we showed them no mercy; but our misfortunes were not ended, for we had but just despatched those Crabats when we fell in with 3000 Imperial horse, who, on the expectation of the aforesaid convoy, were sent out to secure them. All I could do could not persuade my men to stand their ground against this party; so that finding they would run away in confusion, I agreed to make off, and facing to the right, we went over a large common a full trot, till at last fear, which always increases in a flight, brought us to a plain flight, the enemy at our heels. I must confess I was never so mortified in my life; ’twas to no purpose to turn head, no man would stand by us; we run for life, and a great many we left by the way who were either wounded by the enemy’s shot, or else could not keep race with us.
At last, having got over the common, which was near two miles, we came to a lane; one of our captains, a Saxon by country, and a gentleman of a good fortune, alighted at the entrance of the lane, and with a bold heart faced about, shot his own horse, and called his men to stand by him and defend the lane. Some of his men halted, and we rallied about 600 men, which we posted as well as we could, to defend the pass; but the enemy charged us with great fury. The Saxon gentleman, after defending himself with exceeding gallantry, and refusing quarter, was killed upon the spot. A German dragoon, as I thought him, gave me a rude blow with the stock of his piece on the side of my head, and was just going to repeat it, when one of my men shot him dead. I was so stunned with the blow, that I knew nothing; but recovering, I found myself in the hands of two of the enemy’s officers, who offered me quarter, which I accepted; and indeed, to give them their due, they used me very civilly. Thus this whole party was defeated, and not above 500 men got safe to the army; nor had half the number escaped, had not the Saxon captain made so bold a stand at the head of the lane.
Several other parties of the king’s army revenged our quarrel, and paid them home for it; but I had a particular loss in this defeat, that I never saw the king after; for though his Majesty sent a trumpet to reclaim us as prisoners the very next day, yet I was not delivered, some scruple happening about exchanging, till after the battle of Lützen, where that gallant prince lost his life.
The Imperial army rose from their camp about eight or ten days after the king had removed, and I was carried prisoner in the army till they sat down to the siege of Coburg Castle, and then was left with other prisoners of war, in the custody of Colonel Spezuter, in a small castle near the camp called Neustadt. Here we continued indifferent well treated, but could learn nothing of what action the armies were upon, till the Duke of Friedland, having been beaten off from the castle of Coburg, marched into Saxony, and the prisoners were sent for into the camp, as was said, in order to be exchanged.
I came into the Imperial leaguer at the siege of Leipsic, and within three days after my coming, the city was surrendered, and I got liberty to lodge at my old quarters in the town upon my parole.
The King of Sweden was at the heels of the Imperialists, for finding Wallenstein resolved to ruin the Elector of Saxony, the king had recollected as much of his divided army as he could, and came upon him just as he was going to besiege Torgau.
As it is not my design to write a history of any more of these wars than I was actually concerned in, so I shall only note that, upon the king’s approach, Wallenstein halted, and likewise called all his troops together, for he apprehended the king would fall on him, and we that were prisoners fancied the Imperial soldiers went unwillingly out, for the very name of the King of Sweden was become terrible to them. In short, they drew all the soldiers of the garrison they could spare out of Leipsic; sent for Pappenheim again, who was gone but three days before with 6000 men on a private expedition. On the 16th of November, the armies met on the plains of Lützen; a long and bloody battle was fought, the Imperialists were entirely routed and beaten, 12,000 slain upon the spot, their cannon, baggage, and 2000 prisoners taken, but the King of Sweden lost his life, being killed at the head of his troops in the beginning of the fight.
It is impossible to describe the consternation the death of this conquering king struck into all the princes of Germany; the grief for him exceeded all manner of human sorrow. All people looked upon themselves as ruined and swallowed up; the inhabitants of two-thirds of all Germany put themselves into mourning for him; when the ministers mentioned him in their sermons or prayers, whole congregations would burst out into tears. The Elector of Saxony was utterly inconsolable, and would for several days walk about his palace like a distracted man, crying the saviour of Germany was lost, the refuge of abused princes was gone, the soul of the war was dead; and from that hour was so hopeless of out-living the war, that he sought to make peace with the emperor.
Three days after this mournful victory, the Saxons recovered the town of Leipsic by stratagem. The Duke of Saxony’s forces lay at Torgau, and perceiving the confusion the Imperialists were in at the news of the overthrow of their army, they resolved to attempt the recovery of the town. They sent about twenty scattering troopers, who, pretending themselves to be Imperialists fled from the battle, were let in one by one, and still as they came in, they stayed at the court of guard in the port, entertaining the soldiers with discourse about the fight, and how they escaped, and the like, till the whole number being got in, at a watchword they fell on the guard, and cut them all in pieces; and immediately opening the gate to three troops of Saxon horse, the town was taken in a moment.
It was a welcome surprise to me, for I was at liberty of course; and the war being now on another foot, as I thought, and the king dead, I resolved to quit the service.
I had sent my man, as I have already noted, into England, in order to bring over the troops my father had raised for the King of Sweden. He executed his commission so well, that he landed with five troops at Embden in very good condition; and orders were sent them by the king, to join the Duke of Lunenberg’s army, which they did at the siege of Boxtude, in the Lower Saxony. Here by long and very sharp service they were most of them cut off, and though they were several times recruited, yet I understood there were not three full troops left.
The Duke of Saxe–Weimar, a gentleman of great courage, had the command of the army after the king’s death, and managed it with so much prudence, that all things were in as much order as could be expected, after so great a loss; for the Imperialists were everywhere beaten, and Wallenstein never made any advantage of the king’s death.
I waited on him at Heilbronn, whither he was gone to meet the great chancellor of Sweden, where I paid him my respects, and desired he would bestow the remainder of my regiment on my comrade the captain, which he did with all the civility and readiness imaginable. So I took my leave of him, and prepared to come for England.
I shall only note this, that at this Diet, the Protestant princes of the empire renewed their league with one another, and with the crown of Sweden, and came to several regulations and conclusions for the carrying on the war, which they afterwards prosecuted, under the direction of the said chancellor of Sweden. But it was not the work of a small difficulty nor of a short time. And having been persuaded to continue almost two years afterwards at Frankfort, Heilbronn, and there-about, by the particular friendship of that noble wise man, and extraordinary statesman, Axeli Oxenstiern, chancellor of Sweden, I had opportunity to be concerned in, and present at, several treaties of extraordinary consequence, sufficient for a history, if that were my design.
Particularly I had the happiness to be present at, and have some concern in, the treaty for the restoring the posterity of the truly noble Palsgrave, King of Bohemia. King James of England had indeed too much neglected the whole family; and I may say with authority enough, from my own knowledge of affairs, had nothing been done for them but what was from England, that family had remained desolate and forsaken to this day.
But that glorious king, whom I can never mention without some remark of his extraordinary merit, had left particular instructions with his chancellor to rescue the Palatinate to its rightful lord, as a proof of his design to restore the liberty of Germany, and reinstate the oppressed princes who were subjected to the tyranny of the house of Austria.
Pursuant to this resolution, the chancellor proceeded very much like a man of honour; and though the King of Bohemia was dead a little before, yet he carefully managed the treaty, answered the objections of several princes, who, in the general ruin of the family, had reaped private advantages, settled the capitulations for the quota of contributions very much for their advantage, and fully reinstalled the Prince Charles in the possession of all his dominions in the Lower Palatinate, which afterwards was confirmed to him and his posterity by the peace of Westphalia, where all these bloody wars were finished in a peace, which has since been the foundation of the Protestants’ liberty, and the best security of the whole empire.
I spent two years rather in wandering up and down than travelling; for though I had no mind to serve, yet I could not find in my heart to leave Germany; and I had obtained some so very close intimacies with the general officers that I was often in the army, and sometimes they did me the honour to bring me into their councils of war.
Particularly, at that eminent council before the battle of Nördlingen, I was invited to the council of war, both by Duke Bernhard of Weimar and by Gustavus Horn. They were generals of equal worth, and their courage and experience had been so well, and so often tried, that more than ordinary regard was always given to what they said. Duke Bernhard was indeed the younger man, and Gustavus had served longer under our great schoolmaster the king; but it was hard to judge which was the better general, since both had experience enough, and shown undeniable proofs both of their bravery and conduct.
I am obliged, in the course of my relation, so often to mention the great respect I often received from these great men, that it makes me sometimes jealous, lest the reader may think I affect it as a vanity. The truth is, that I am ready to confess, the honours I received, upon all occasions, from persons of such worth, and who had such an eminent share in the greatest action of that age, very much pleased me, and particularly, as they gave me occasions to see everything that was doing on the whole stage of the war. For being under no command, but at liberty to rove about, I could come to no Swedish garrison or party, but, sending my name to the commanding officer, I could have the word sent me; and if I came into the army, I was often treated as I was now at this famous battle of Nördlingen.
But I cannot but say, that I always looked upon this particular respect to be the effect of more than ordinary regard the great king of Sweden always showed me, rather than any merit of my own; and the veneration they all had for his memory, made them continue to show me all the marks of a suitable esteem.
But to return to the council of war, the great and, indeed, the only question before us was, Shall we give battle to the Imperialists, or not? Gustavus Horn was against it, and gave, as I thought, the most invincible arguments against a battle that reason could imagine.
First, they were weaker than the enemy by above 5000 men.
Secondly, the Cardinal–Infant of Spain, who was in the Imperial army with 8000 men, was but there en passant, being going from Italy to Flanders, to take upon him the government of the Low Countries; and if he saw no prospect of immediate action, would be gone in a few days.
Thirdly, they had two reinforcements, one of 5000 men, under the command of Colonel Cratz, and one of 7000 men, under the Rhinegrave, who were just at hand — the last within three days’ march of them: and,
Lastly, they had already saved their honour; in that they had put 600 foot into the town of Nördlingen, in the face of the enemy’s army, and consequently the town might hold out some days the longer.
Fate, rather than reason, certainly blinded the rest of the generals against such arguments as these. Duke Bernhard and almost all the generals were for fighting, alleging the affront it would be to the Swedish reputation to see their friends in the town lost before their faces.
Gustavus Horn stood stiff to his cautious advice, and was against it, and I thought the Baron D’Offkirk treated him a little indecently; for, being very warm in the matter, he told them, that if Gustavus Adolphus had been governed by such cowardly counsel, he had never been conqueror of half Germany in two years. “No,” replied old General Horn, very smartly, “but he had been now alive to have testified for me, that I was never taken by him for a coward: and yet,” says he, “the king was never for a victory with a hazard, when he could have it without.”
I was asked my opinion, which I would have declined, being in no commission; but they pressed me to speak. I told them I was for staying at least till the Rhinegrave came up, who, at least, might, if expresses were sent to hasten him, be up with us in twenty-four hours. But Offkirk could not hold his passion, and had not he been overruled he would have almost quarrelled with Marshal Horn. Upon which the old general, not to foment him, with a great deal of mildness stood up, and spoke thus —
“Come, Offkirk,” says he, “I’ll submit my opinion to you, and the majority of our fellow-soldiers. We will fight, but, upon my word, we shall have our hands full.”
The resolution thus taken, they attacked the Imperial army. I must confess the counsels of this day seemed as confused as the resolutions of the night.
Duke Bernhard was to lead the van of the left wing, and to post himself upon a hill which was on the enemy’s right without their entrenchments, so that, having secured that post, they might level their cannon upon the foot, who stood behind the lines, and relieved the town at pleasure. He marched accordingly by break of day, and falling with great fury upon eight regiments of foot, which were posted at the foot of the hill, he presently routed them, and made himself master of the post. Flushed with this success, he never regards his own concerted measures of stopping there and possessing what he had got, but pushes on and falls in with the main body of the enemy’s army.
While this was doing, Gustavus Horn attacks another post on the hill, where the Spaniards had posted and lodged themselves behind some works they had cast up on the side of the hill. Here they defended themselves with extreme obstinacy for five hours, and at last obliged the Swedes to give it over with loss. This extraordinary gallantry of the Spaniards was the saving of the Imperial army; for Duke Bernhard having all this while resisted the frequent charges of the Imperialists, and borne the weight of two-thirds of their army, was not able to stand any longer, but sending one messenger on the neck of another to Gustavus Horn for more foot, he, finding he could not carry his point, had given it over, and was in full march to second the duke. But now it was too late, for the King of Hungary seeing the duke’s men, as it were, wavering, and having notice of Horn’s wheeling about to second him, falls in with all his force upon his flank, and with his Hungarian hussars, made such a furious charge, that the Swedes could stand no longer.
The rout of the left wing was so much the more unhappy, as it happened just upon Gustavus Horn’s coming up; for, being pushed on with the enemies at their heels, they were driven upon their own friends, who, having no ground to open and give them way, were trodden down by their own runaway brethren. This brought all into the utmost confusion. The Imperialists cried “Victoria!” and fell into the middle of the infantry with a terrible slaughter.
I have always observed, ’tis fatal to upbraid an old experienced officer with want of courage. If Gustavus Horn had not been whetted with the reproaches of the Baron D’Offkirk, and some of the other general officers, I believe it had saved the lives of a thousand men; for when all was thus lost, several officers advised him to make a retreat with such regiments as he had yet unbroken; but nothing could persuade him to stir a foot. But turning his flank into a front, he saluted the enemy, as they passed by him in pursuit of the rest, with such terrible volleys of small shot, as cost them the lives of abundance of their men.
The Imperialists, eager in the pursuit, left him unbroken, till the Spanish brigade came up and charged him. These he bravely repulsed with a great slaughter, and after them a body of dragoons; till being laid at on every side, and most of his men killed, the brave old general, with all the rest who were left, were made prisoners.
The Swedes had a terrible loss here, for almost all their infantry were killed or taken prisoners. Gustavus Horn refused quarter several times; and still those that attacked him were cut down by his men, who fought like furies, and by the example of their general, behaved themselves like lions. But at last, these poor remains of a body of the bravest men in the world were forced to submit. I have heard him say, he had much rather have died than been taken, but that he yielded in compassion to so many brave men as were about him; for none of them would take quarter till he gave his consent.
I had the worst share in this battle that ever I had in any action of my life; and that was to be posted among as brave a body of horse as any in Germany, and yet not be able to succour our own men; but our foot were cut in pieces (as it were) before our faces, and the situation of the ground was such as we could not fall in. All that we were able to do, was to carry off about 2000 of the foot, who, running away in the rout of the left wing, rallied among our squadrons, and got away with us. Thus we stood till we saw all was lost, and then made the best retreat we could to save ourselves, several regiments having never charged, nor fired a shot; for the foot had so embarrassed themselves among the lines and works of the enemy, and in the vineyards and mountains, that the horse were rendered absolutely unserviceable.
The Rhinegrave had made such expedition to join us, that he reached within three miles of the place of action that night, and he was a great safeguard for us in rallying our dispersed men, who else had fallen into the enemy’s hands, and in checking the pursuit of the enemy.
And indeed, had but any considerable body of the foot made an orderly retreat, it had been very probable they had given the enemy a brush that would have turned the scale of victory; for our horse being whole, and in a manner untouched, the enemy found such a check in the pursuit, that 1600 of their forwardest men following too eagerly, fell in with the Rhinegrave’s advanced troops the next day, and were cut in pieces without mercy.
This gave us some satisfaction for the loss, but it was but small compared to the ruin of that day. We lost near 8000 men upon the spot, and above 3000 prisoners, all our cannon and baggage, and 120 colours. I thought I never made so indifferent a figure in my life, and so we thought all; to come away, lose our infantry, our general, and our honour, and never fight for it. Duke Bernhard was utterly disconsolate for old Gustavus Horn, for he concluded him killed; he tore the hair from his head like a madman, and telling the Rhinegrave the story of the council of war, would reproach himself with not taking his advice, often repeating it in his passion. “Tis I,” said he, “have been the death of the bravest general in Germany;” would call himself fool and boy, and such names, for not listening to the reasons of an old experienced soldier. But when he heard he was alive in the enemy’s hands he was the easier, and applied himself to the recruiting his troops, and the like business of the war; and it was not long before he paid the Imperialists with interest.
I returned to Frankfort-au-Main after this action, which happened the 17th of August 1634; but the progress of the Imperialists was so great that there was no staying at Frankfort. The chancellor Oxenstiern removed to Magdeburg, Duke Bernhard and the Landgrave marched into Alsatia, and the Imperialists carried all before them for all the rest of the campaign. They took Philipsburg by surprise; they took Augsburg by famine, Spire and Treves by sieges, taking the Elector prisoner. But this success did one piece of service to the Swedes, that it brought the French into the war on their side, for the Elector of Treves was their confederate. The French gave the conduct of the war to Duke Bernhard. This, though the Duke of Saxony fell off, and fought against them, turned the scale so much in their favour, that they recovered their losses, and proved a terror to all Germany. The farther accounts of the war I refer to the histories of those times, which I have since read with a great deal of delight.
I confess when I saw the progress of the Imperial army, after the battle of Nördlingen, and the Duke of Saxony turning his arms against them, I thought their affairs declining; and, giving them over for lost, I left Frankfort, and came down the Rhine to Cologne, and from thence into Holland.
I came to the Hague the 8th of March 1635, having spent three years and a half in Germany, and the greatest part of it in the Swedish army.
I spent some time in Holland viewing the wonderful power of art, which I observed in the fortifications of their towns, where the very bastions stand on bottomless morasses, and yet are as firm as any in the world. There I had the opportunity of seeing the Dutch army, and their famous general, Prince Maurice. ’Tis true, the men behaved themselves well enough in action, when they were put to it, but the prince’s way of beating his enemies without fighting, was so unlike the gallantry of my royal instructor, that it had no manner of relish with me. Our way in Germany was always to seek out the enemy and fight him; and, give the Imperialists their due, they were seldom hard to be found, but were as free of their flesh as we were. Whereas Prince Maurice would lie in a camp till he starved half his men, if by lying there he could but starve two-thirds of his enemies; so that indeed the war in Holland had more of fatigues and hardships in it, and ours had more of fighting and blows. Hasty marches, long and unwholesome encampments, winter parties, counter-marching, dodging and entrenching, were the exercises of his men, and oftentimes killed him more men with hunger, cold and diseases, than he could do with fighting. Not that it required less courage, but rather more, for a soldier had at any time rather die in the field a la coup de mousquet, than be starved with hunger, or frozen to death in the trenches.
Nor do I think I lessen the reputation of that great general; for ’tis most certain he ruined the Spaniard more by spinning the war thus out in length, than he could possibly have done by a swift conquest. For had he, Gustavus-like, with a torrent of victory dislodged the Spaniard of all the twelve provinces in five years, whereas he was forty years a-beating them out of seven, he had left them rich and strong at home, and able to keep them in constant apprehensions of a return of his power. Whereas, by the long continuance of the war, he so broke the very heart of the Spanish monarchy, so absolutely and irrecoverably impoverished them, that they have ever since languished of the disease, till they are fallen from the most powerful, to be the most despicable nation in the world.
The prodigious charge the King of Spain was at in losing the seven provinces, broke the very spirit of the nation; and that so much, that all the wealth of their Peruvian mountains have not been able to retrieve it; King Philip having often declared that war, besides his Armada for invading England, had cost him 370,000,000 of ducats, and 4,000,000 of the best soldiers in Europe; whereof, by an unreasonable Spanish obstinacy, above 60,000 lost their lives before Ostend, a town not worth a sixth part either of the blood or money it cost in a siege of three years; and which at last he had never taken, but that Prince Maurice thought it not worth the charge of defending it any longer.
However, I say, their way of fighting in Holland did not relish with me at all. The prince lay a long time before a little fort called Schenkenschanz, which the Spaniard took by surprise, and I thought he might have taken it much sooner. Perhaps it might be my mistake, but I fancied my hero, the King of Sweden, would have carried it sword in hand, in half the time.
However it was, I did not like it; so in the latter end of the year I came to the Hague, and took shipping for England, where I arrived, to the great satisfaction of my father and all my friends.
My father was then in London, and carried me to kiss the king’s hand. His Majesty was pleased to receive me very well, and to say a great many very obliging things to my father upon my account.
I spent my time very retired from court, for I was almost wholly in the country; and it being so much different from my genius, which hankered after a warmer sport than hunting among our Welsh mountains, I could not but be peeping in all the foreign accounts from Germany, to see who and who was together. There I could never hear of a battle, and the Germans being beaten, but I began to wish myself there. But when an account came of the progress of John Baner, the Swedish general in Saxony, and of the constant victories he had there over the Saxons, I could no longer contain myself, but told my father this life was very disagreeable to me; that I lost my time here, and might to much more advantage go into Germany, where I was sure I might make my fortune upon my own terms; that, as young as I was, I might have been a general officer by this time, if I had not laid down my commission; that General Baner, or the Marshal Horn, had either of them so much respect for me, that I was sure I might have anything of them; and that if he pleased to give me leave, I would go for Germany again. My father was very unwilling to let me go, but seeing me uneasy, told me that, if I was resolved, he would oblige me to stay no longer in England than the next spring, and I should have his consent.
The winter following began to look very unpleasant upon us in England, and my father used often to sigh at it; and would tell me sometimes he was afraid we should have no need to send Englishmen to fight in Germany.
The cloud that seemed to threaten most was from Scotland. My father, who had made himself master of the arguments on both sides, used to be often saying he feared there was some about the king who exasperated him too much against the Scots, and drove things too high. For my part, I confess I did not much trouble my head with the cause; but all my fear was they would not fall out, and we should have no fighting. I have often reflected since, that I ought to have known better, that had seen how the most flourishing provinces of Germany were reduced to the most miserable condition that ever any country in the world was, by the ravagings of soldiers, and the calamities of war.
How much soever I was to blame, yet so it was, I had a secret joy at the news of the king’s raising an army, and nothing could have withheld me from appearing in it; but my eagerness was anticipated by an express the king sent to my father, to know if his son was in England; and my father having ordered me to carry the answer myself, I waited upon his Majesty with the messenger. The king received me with his usual kindness, and asked me if I was willing to serve him against the Scots?
I answered, I was ready to serve him against any that his Majesty thought fit to account his enemies, and should count it an honour to receive his commands. Hereupon his Majesty offered me a commission. I told him, I supposed there would not be much time for raising of men; that if his Majesty pleased I would be at the rendezvous with as many gentlemen as I could get together, to serve his Majesty as volunteers.
The truth is, I found all the regiments of horse the king designed to raise were but two as regiments; the rest of the horse were such as the nobility raised in their several countries, and commanded them themselves; and, as I had commanded a regiment of horse abroad, it looked a little odd to serve with a single troop at home; and the king took the thing presently. “Indeed ’twill be a volunteer war,” said the king, “for the Northern gentry have sent me an account of above 4000 horse they have already.” I bowed, and told his Majesty I was glad to hear his subjects were forward to serve him. So taking his Majesty’s orders to be at York by the end of March, I returned to my father.
My father was very glad I had not taken a commission, for I know not from what kind of emulation between the western and northern gentry. The gentlemen of our side were not very forward in the service; their loyalty to the king in the succeeding times made it appear it was not for any disaffection to his Majesty’s interest or person, or to the cause; but this, however, made it difficult for me when I came home to get any gentlemen of quality to serve with me, so that I presented myself to his Majesty only as a volunteer, with eight gentlemen and about thirty-six countrymen well mounted and armed.
And as it proved, these were enough, for this expedition ended in an accommodation with the Scots; and they not advancing so much as to their own borders, we never came to any action. But the armies lay in the counties of Northumberland and Durham, ate up the country, and spent the king a vast sum of money; and so this war ended, a pacification was made, and both sides returned.
The truth is, I never saw such a despicable appearance of men in arms to begin a war in my life; whether it was that I had seen so many braver armies abroad that prejudiced me against them, or that it really was so; for to me they seemed little better than a rabble met together to devour, rather than fight for their king and country. There was indeed a great appearance of gentlemen, and those of extraordinary quality; but their garb, their equipages, and their mien, did not look like war; their troops were filled with footmen and servants, and wretchedly armed, God wot. I believe I might say, without vanity, one regiment of Finland horse would have made sport at beating them all. There were such crowds of parsons (for this was a Church war in particular) that the camp and court was full of them; and the king was so eternally besieged with clergymen of one sort or another, that it gave offence to the chief of the nobility.
As was the appearance, so was the service. The army marched to the borders, and the headquarter was at Berwick-upon-Tweed; but the Scots never appeared, no, not so much as their scouts; whereupon the king called a council of war, and there it was resolved to send the Earl of Holland with a party of horse into Scotland, to learn some news of the enemy. And truly the first news he brought us was, that finding their army encamped about Coldingham, fifteen miles from Berwick, as soon as he appeared, the Scots drew out a party to charge him, upon which most of his men halted — I don’t say run away, but ’twas next door to it — for they could not be persuaded to fire their pistols, and wheel of like soldiers, but retreated in such a disorderly and shameful manner, that had the enemy but had either the courage or conduct to have followed them, it must have certainly ended in the ruin of the whole party.
[Upon the breach of the match between the King of England and the Infanta of Spain; and particularly upon the old quarrel of the King of Bohemia and the Palatinate.]
Last updated Monday, December 22, 2014 at 10:49