The twenty-eighth of May 1628, not without danger both by water and from land, we entered the town of Stralsund, the Imperial army lying before it, having their batteries near the water; at our in-coming they shot our mast, having grounded before our in-coming, we ran the hazard both of drowning and killing; but being again without hurt come off, our comrades wearied of watching, immediately after our entry we relieved the watch at Frankendore, being the only post in the town most pursued by the enemy.
The order of our watch was after this manner: of the seven companies one company watched still on the island before the town, called the Dänholm; the other three companies were ordained by four o'clock afternoon, to parade in the market-place, and afterwards to march to their post at Frankendore, without the walls on scurvy outworks, which were but slightly fortified with a dry moat, the enemy lying strong before us, and approaching near, we fearing a sudden on-fall, those that were relieved of the watch by five of the clock, were ordained again to meet by nine of the clock at night, and to watch again on the by-watch, till four of the clock in the morning, whereof the one half were appointed to lie in readiness at their arms without the port near the works, while as the other half were appointed also to lie in readiness at their arms on the market-place, to attend all occasions of alarms, either within or without the town: and thus we watched nightly, relieving one another, for the space of six weeks.
The rest of the posts, above the walls, were also beset by the Dutch, but none had the half of our duties to discharge, by reason the whole approaches were made by the enemy to us, as being the weakest part. Notwithstanding of this our great nightly watch and duty kept, the burghers of the city did prove very ungrateful and unthankful to us, in not quartering our soldiers, as they ought to do: for Captain Monro his company did lie on the streets four nights unquartered, till the fortnight that they came off the watch, unknown to their officers, they went to the Burgomaster his own house, and said, they would quarter with him, if there were not orders taken for their quartering, but receiving a soft answer, they retired for that night: in the mean time, the Burgomaster did complain to Colonel Holke, then governor, who did cause to assemble a council of war, where the Lieutenant and company were both accused, as mutineers; the Lieutenant proving he knew nothing of it, and that the soldiers had done it without his knowledge, he was assoiled and made free by the sentence of the council of war: But the company were ordained, being divided in three corporalships, that out of every corporalship one should be hanged, who were to draw billets out of a hat, which were all blanks, till one had the gallows on it.
The order and sentence of the Council of war being duly obeyed, three were led aside, and committed to prison, to be resolved against the execution, and the rest were remitted to their quarters, of the three ordained to be executed, it was concluded again, by the intercession of the officers made to the governor, that one might suffer, who again being two Scots and a Dane, having drawn lots, it fell to the Dane to be hanged, the governor himself being a Dane also, he could not of his credit frustrate justice, seeing before he was so earnest to see our nation punished for a fault, whereof he was rather guilty himself, not having appointed them quarters as he ought, so that the Dane suffered justly for a Dane's fault.
The Captains of some companies being absent in Scotland, having gone for recruits, the duty being great, Lieutenant Saunders Hay was made captain to Annan his company, being informed the captain was to remain in Scotland: Ensign Gordon being made lieutenant to Sir Patrick Mac-Gey, being long sick in Lolland, and having a little recovered, on his journey to Stralsund, at Copenhagen in Denmark, died suddenly being a resolute brave young cavalier, and of good parts, was much lamented.
He being dead Ensign Gawin Allen was made lieutenant, and Patrick Dumbarre, a young gentleman, of worth and merit, was advanced to be ensign.
During our residence here, our orders were so strict, that neither officer, nor soldier was suffered to come off his watch, neither to dine or sup, but their meat was carried unto them, to their post. The enemy approaching hard, and we working fast, for our own safeties, where sometimes, we sallied out, and did visit the enemy, in his trenches, but little to their contentment; till at last, the enemy did approach right under our work, where sometimes, being so near, we begun to jeer one another, so that the Dutch one morning taunting us, said, they did hear, there was a ship come from Denmark to us, laden with tobacco and pipes, one of our soldiers showing them over the work, a morgenstern, made of a large stock banded with iron like the shaft of a halbert, with a round globe at the end with cross iron spikes, saith, here is one of the tobacco pipes, wherewith we will beat out your brains, when ye intend to storm us.
We did also nightly take some prisoners of them, sometimes stealing off their sentries, which made many alarms in the night, and in the day time. Here a man might soon learn to exercise his arms, and put his courage in practise: and to give our Lieutenant Colonel his due, he had good orders, and he did keep both officers and soldiers under good discipline, and he knew well how to make others understand themselves, from the highest to the lowest.
The sixteenth Observation.
When cannons are roaring, and bullets flying, he that would have honour must not fear dying: many rose here in the morning, went not to bed at night, and many supped here at night, sought no breakfast in the morning: many a burgher in this city, coming forth in his holy-days-clothes, to take the air, went never home again, till he was carried quick or dead, where some had their heads separated from their bodies, by the cannon; as happened to one lieutenant and thirteen soldiers, that had their fourteen heads shot from them by one cannon bullet at once: who doubts of this, he may go and see the relics of their brains to this day, sticking on the walls, under the Port of Frankendore in Stralsund.
It is said, that valour is then best tempered, when it can turn out of stern fortitude, unto the mild streams of pity: who could behold these accidents, and not be moved with pity and compassion? and who will not weep at the casual miseries our calling is subject unto, in following oft-times the leading of an ambitious general, yea and of an ambitious captain, yea the following of an ambitious soldier, delighting sometimes to tread over his enemies, as happened many times unto us during this siege?
Who then is more compassionate, in peace or war, then the martial man? Observe generally, and you shall find, that the most famous men have both courage and compassion; of which in this city we had need; of courage against our enemies, and of compassion to our friends, comrades, and sometimes to our enemies.
You see here we were made to keep double watch, as wise men ought to do: for when we kept steady watches, the enemy could not harm us much, being wary of ourselves, and he that can do this, he surely merits the name of a good soldier, but oft-times, we are our own worst enemies, and killing ourselves we need no other enemy against us. Therefore at such a siege as this was, sobriety and temperance were requisite to a soldier, as well as valour to defend him from his enemies.
Here our enemies were our pedagogues teaching us virtue, every moment minding us of our duty to God and man: yea minding us both of death, and of judgement: here we needed no dead mans paw before us, to mind us of death, when death itself never went night or day with his horror from our eyes, sparing none, making no difference of persons, or quality, but aequo pede, treading alike on all came in his way, whose hour was come.
Here I wish not the gentle reader to mistake this insurrection of Monro his company for a mutiny. It was not; neither against their officers, nor yet in prejudice of their masters' service. Therefore I would rather term it, a rude ignorance in seeking their due, though unformally, whereof their officers had no part, and therefore were made free by a council of wars, but the unthankfulness of the citizens (in sparing their means from feeding of those that kept them, their wives and children, from the furious rage of their enemies, at such time as they themselves did look for no safety, till they came for to relieve them) cannot be well excused, but their unthankfulness was so much the greater, that they erred against the very laws of hospitality, being in their unthankfulness far inferior to beasts. For we read, that the Athenians did bring those guilty of unthankfulness before the justice, to be punished, and that justly; because he that forgets a benefit received, without making any satisfaction, doth take away human society, without which the world could not subsist: and therefore such citizens, as would not acknowledge the good received, ought to be banished the city, as unthankful, for a man evil in particular, cannot be a good member of the public, as many villanous traitors were in this town of Stralsund during the siege, that for their particulars would have sold the town, and the common good to their enemies; such fellows some of them were made slaves, being not worthy the name of free citizens: and the canon law makes the ungrateful the most detestable of all men; And therefore they were cruelly punished.
To make then the ingratitude of the citizens of Stralsund towards soldiers the more odious, I will infer the stories of beasts here to accuse them; Elian writes of a dragon mindful of the good done to him (as these rogues were not) in these terms, in his thirteenth book. In Achaia there was a town called Petra, where a young boy did buy a dragon very little, feeding it diligently, making of it, playing with it, and making it lie in his bed, till it became great, and a dragon in effect: those of the place fearing some evil by it, did cause it to be carried unto a desert: the boy becoming a man also, and certain years after, returning from a feast, with some of his comrades, they met with robbers, and crying out for help, there comes the dragon running on the robbers, killing some, putting the rest to flight, saves the life of him that had done him good. A memorable acknowledgment to convince those of Stralsund.
We may join to this story, the memory of the lion healed by Androcles the Roman slave, whose life afterwards the lion saved. The story is written by Gellius and Elian, and also now set out in verse by Dubartas, in the sixth day of the first week.
Here also we may see the profit and benefit good order doth bring unto the observers of it: though we thought hard, not to be suffered to come off our posts for our ordinary recreation, nor yet to sleep from our posts, we found at last the benefit redounded unto ourselves: for while as the enemy pursued us hard, we were at hand to defend ourselves, and to maintain our credits; otherwise, it had become of us, as it became in the Swedens wars in Germany of Magdeburg on the Elbe, and of Frankfurt on the Oder, being both lost through negligence and careless watch, which made much innocent blood to have been shed in both. And therefore I cannot but praise the worth of my Lieutenant Colonel, for his good order and strict discipline kept in Holke his absence, being in Denmark at his wedding, we being then in greatest danger of our enemies.