SIr John Hepburne being sent with his regiment (from Prussia) to relieve us, I was ordained with my folks to march before Kolberg, where General Major Kniphowsen did command in the blockering thereof (which I did) and being come there, a post was assigned for us to watch at. In the mean time, the General Major getting intelligence, that the enemies' army (lying at Gartz and Greifenhagen, on the Oder) had intention to relieve Kolberg, and so being in his march, he must needs pass by the town and castle, of Schivelbein in the Mark, being a pass distant but five miles from Kolberg, he thought expedient, to recognosce the place, by sending of Colonel Hepburne thither, with a troop of horsemen for his guard, and convoy; who having seen the place, advised Kniphowsen to beset it with a garrison, being of consequence to hold up the enemy, if he should march thereon with the army, whereupon I was made choice of, with my folks to beset it, being sent for in the night to break up, and to march thither in all haste; I had command to speak with Kniphowsen in my going, for receiving further orders.
The companies marched by; I following my orders desired to know what the General Major had to command me, who gave me orders in writing, I should march thither, and in case the enemy should pursue me, I should fight to the last man, and not to give over the castle, though I should be forced to quit the town: Receiving orders for some ammunition, I took leave of Kniphowsen, and continued my march to Schivelbein, then laid almost waste with pestilence, the inhabitants being fled away, I had slight quarters for my soldiers, which being quartered, having visited the town and castle, I appointed the manner of our watch, and did beset the posts, from our guards, which were kept both in the town and on the castle, and then I sent orders to the boors of the Grafschaft, to come in the next day, with spades, shovels and axes, for to repair the works, that were almost ruined, being a scurvy hole, for any honest cavalier to maintain his credit by.
Before my coming, two troops of Bawtish's horsemen (viz.) Major Roustene, and Long-fretts, were quartered there, who getting intelligence the army was to march upon me, being horsemen, quit the garrison to ourselves, and took them to the fields, to join with their Colonel's regiment, being near hand, so that our quarters thus enlarged, we were glad to be rid of their trouble, as they were to eschew the enemies coming, serving better in the fields, then they could do within walls: The horsemen gone, I was evil sped, for being put on such a place with such orders, appointed to fight to the last man, where no cavalier with credit could hold out twenty four hours, being pursued by an army, except the Lord extraordinarily would show mercy: Nevertheless, getting three days longer continuation before the enemies coming, we did work all of us night and day, till we had stacketed the wall about, the height of a man above the parapet, having made a breast-work of earth within the walls round about, with traverses within, for clearing out the enemy, if he had entered at a breach; our work ended, and our ports reinforced with earth to resist the force of petards; we see in the afternoon the enemies' squadrons of foot and horse, about eight thousand strong, marching unto us, having artillery conform, we finding them marching within reach, I caused to salute them with two small shot, wherewith a Rut-master, and a Lieutenant of horse were killed, which made the rest march out of distance: The army drawn up in battle without reach of our cannon, they sent a trumpeter summoning us to a treaty, he was answered; we had no such orders, but we had powder, and ball at their service. Whereupon they commanded a captain with a hundred and fifty musketeers towards the port, directing proportionally to the rest of the ports: our soldiers in the beginning before the ports killed of them above thirty soldiers, and two lieutenants, I not being able to maintain the town, retired with my folk on the castle: I being retired, the burghers made up, set open the ports to the enemy, giving him entrance, who did bring in his whole artillery, and ammunition to the market place, and then sent to me a drummer to see, if I would render up the castle upon good conditions, then they were in my power, but if not, I should have no quarters afterwards.
They got their first answer again, and then the service begins anew on both sides, and they begun before night to plant their batteries, within forty pace of our walls, which I thought too near, but the night drawing on, we resolved with fire works, to cause them remove their quarters, and their artillery.
Having thrown some fiery grenades on the houses, and seeing they wrought no effect, I hired a stout soldier with a pike to reach a fire ball I had made (upon the top of the next house that lay to the castle) which in the end was fired, so that the whole street did burn right alongst betwixt us, and the enemy, who was then forced to retire, both his cannon, and soldiers, and not without great loss done unto him by our soldiers, by means of the firelight; where other two officers, and eighteen of their soldiers were killed.
The day clearing up, I fell out after with fourscore musketeers, and took thirteen Crabbats prisoners. The army leaving us for that time they marched forwards for the relief of Kolberg, and I retired to the town to comfort the burghers, for their loss sustained by the fire, caused through necessity, having no other means to escape our enemies' fury.
I being retired to the castle, and the enemy marching to Kolberg, having made up eighteen dragoniers to march after the enemy for bringing me intelligence, if his Majesty's forces from Stettin were come betwixt the enemy and Kolberg, my party retiring shows, that the Field Marshal Gustave Horne, and Colonel Mackey, that conmanded the commanded musketeers, were joined with Kniphousen, Bawtish, and Sir John Hepburne; and were lying over-night, before a passage betwixt the enemy, and Kolberg.
The next morning being dark till nine o'clock with a thick mist, the horsemen charging one another, they came in confusion on both sides, being affrighted alike, retired from each other with the loss of fourscore men on both sides: The particulars whereof I will not set down, having not seen the service, though I was within hearing of their cannon and muskets both.
Two horsemen of Bawtish's regiment, that had charged through the enemy came, and reported to me openly, in presence of many soldiers, that the Swedens were all beaten, I being offended at the manner of their report, I caused to imprison both the horsemen, till I knew greater certainty, and calling my soldiers together, I was prepared for the enemies return. But he passing by a mile from us, I sent dragoniers to cut off his passage, giving them charge to cut off the bridges, but his dragoniers being there before mine, to be quit of their ill; my dragoniers returned again in safety, allowing passage to their enemies: within few days after, having escaped this inconvenience, I was recalled from thence, by his Majesty's order, to join with the Field Marshal Horne, then at Griffinberg, with a party of the army, where before my departing, I took an attestation, from the amtman of the castle, of the good order and discipline, that was kept by us there; And being glad I was rid with credit of such a place, I marched to Greifenberg to find the Field Marshal.
The second Observation.
The foresight of a wise commander avails much, in preventing the intentions of our enemies; First, in besetting the passages, through which he might come upon us, which doth hinder his march in giving us the longer time to be prepared for his coming: Next, the farther our wings are spread without us, our body is the better guarded by good intelligence: Thirdly, by this means, we can the better provide our army with things necessary: Fourthly, the passages without being kept, they being next the enemy, we can have the more timely advertisement of our enemies designs, so soon as they are hatched.
This cavalier Kniphowsen, though he was unfortunate, he had both the theory and practick befitting a commander; whom once I did hear say, that one ounce of good fortune was to be preferred before a pound weight of wit; which he knew well by his own experience; and to my knowledge, though he was unfortunate himself, yet cavaliers under his command, could learn by him much good order and discipline.
And though in his life-time, he loved not our countrymen; Nevertheless, for the love I carried to his virtues, I would not omit to make mention of his worth. No fear of danger, or death can be an excuse to a man, to serve the public in his calling.
Before I was commanded to enter this town, the infection was great; yet none of us did forbear to converse with the sick, though daily examples of mortality were frequent amongst us; for on our watches, we knew not the clean from the foul; Nevertheless, it behoved us all to pass on our duties, as we were commanded; and though I know no reason for it, fewer soldiers died of the infection than burghers.
Yet one rare spark, being a resolute fix soldier with a musket, as ever I commanded, died here of the pest, called Andrew Monro, who being but eighteen years of age, though little of stature, no toil nor travail could overset him; and as he was stout, so he was merry, and sociable without offence, such another was his cousin John Monro, Kilternie's grand-child, who died of a burning fever, being alive without fear before his enemy, and of a merry and quick disposition: I made only mention of their names, because they lived virtuously, and died with far more credit, then if they had died at home, where their names had never been recorded for their worth and virtues.
It is the duty of a commander, to whom a frontier garrison is put in trust, timely to fore-see all wants, and defects about the place he is trusted with, as to repair the works, to provide it with victuals, with powder, with ball, match and arms; for it were not good he had his materials to seek, when he is resolved to begin his work.
Likewise his workmen, if they be not sufficiently furnished before-hand, he will be forced to dismiss them, before his work be credibly ended: his over-seers must be also good and diligent, otherwise, there may be too many crevices in their building, and he himself must give good example in overseing all, and in fore-seeing of all inconveniences, not trusting unto others, to discharge those duties, he is bound to discharge himself; and in case of extremity of danger, he must ever be the first himself to look unto it, and the last in coming from it, otherwise he can neither maintain the place, nor his credit.
He must also be very modest, and secret, in not revealing the dangers he fore-sees, but be amending of them, for fear to discourage others.
Likewise we see here, that it is alike with a commander keeping a strength sometimes, as it is with a body, whereof some members are infected with a canker, that to preserve the body they must resolve to lose a member, as it was with us at this time, being forced to burn a part of the town, to preserve the rest and ourselves; otherwise, all must have been lost.
But God favouring us by the wind, that obeyeth when he commandeth, and the Element of the Fire also, supplying the defect we had of Water in our graff (being but dry on that side) we were guarded with fire instead of water, and that bravely.
The enemy being gone, we preserved the rest of the town in quenching the fire.
Here also, we may see the benefit we reap, when frontier garrisons are well beset, if the enemy fall into our land, as we are able to affront him in his coming, so in his going, taking always prisoners of him; and this is the right use of strengths; that when we suffer loss in the fields, we have time to draw breath again, our garrisons being well beset, as was seen in the peace made between the King of Denmark and the Emperor. For if his Majesty of Denmark, had not built Glückstadt on the Elbe, he had hardly recovered Holstein again; even so this garrison being set here, gave time (by the holding up of the enemy) to his Majesty's Forces, that were come from Stettin, to be before the enemy at Kolberg; for if they had fought better, I had observed the more.