IN the midst of July our army did break up from Brandenburg, and marched towards Rathenow, the imperialists having left it, being marched towards Tangermünde, his Majesty advanced with the commanded musketeers, and a strong party of horse, who having set through the river of the Elbe, they surprised the enemy at Werben, where a Lieutenant Colonel was taken prisoner, and then after Colonel Dowbatle with his dragoniers did take in by surprise also Tangermünde, before his Majesty was come with the party, and being come, immediately he caused to set over the river a ship-bridge, which was fortified before the entry; over which our foot army did pass, and our horse with the cannon, ammunition and baggage, did wade through the river, where never one was seen to pass with cannon before, so that without impediment our cannon and baggage for the most part, came safely through, but those wagons that were lightest, being loaden with boors' trash, as it came lightly, so it went lightly with the stream. Et meritò.
The Imperialists at Barleben, hearing we had crossed the Elbe, took them to their flight, to provide betimes for their winter quarters; Wolmerstat also was taken by a weak party of our horsemen; having heard our army had crossed the river of the Elbe, such a fear came among them, that they never looked behind them, but still fled, directing post upon post to General Tilly to retire back from Thuringia, being minded unto Hessen, who receiving news of his Majesty's crossing the Elbe, he turning faces about, with his whole army continued his expedition backward to find us at Werben, before we could be entrenched, as he thought.
But where he did but march with his army in the day time, we with spades and shovels, wrought ourselves night and day in the ground, so that, before his coming, we had put ourselves out of danger of his cannon.
General Bannier, with the rest of our army coming after us, took in Havelberg in his way, and beset it with a strong garrison, where General Major Kagg did command, to whom was conjoined my cousin Fowles his regiment, after he had taken the castle of Bloe in Mecklenburg in his march, with his own regiment alone, where they made good booty, but their soldiers got but sleight quarters, as Bannier did give at the in-taking of this town and castle of Havelberg.
The twelfth Observation.
AT this time I did remark the great, wonderful, rare and extraordinary mercy of God towards our leader the King's Majesty, and his royal little army, which, before our removing from old Brandenburg, was much infected with the plague of pestilence, so that we knew not the sick from the whole: for of our regiment alone, there died in one week, above thirty soldiers, and being but removed six days, at our down-lying at Werben, we scarce knew there was any infection amongst us, so that in a months time, we were miraculously rid of it, and for mine own part, I neither know, nor can conjecture any reason for it (chiefly being in the dog days, and in a leaguer) but the Lord's mercy towards his Majesty and his army, being at this time, far inferior in strength to our enemies.
Many examples and testimonies of God's favour towards his Majesty I did observe on this march: for such terror was put in their hearts, by his Majesty's victory obtained at Frankfurt and Landsberg, that they fled, where once they did hear of our coming, being persuaded and informed by their consciences, that, if his Majesty were victorious, they should get no better quarters, than were given by them at Magdeburg, which made them quit strong garrisons, before they would attend or abide the danger.
Wherefore we may plainly conclude, that they do not merit the name of soldiers, nor yet the title of courageous commanders, that did succumb before they saw or felt the dint of their enemies valour. Fie then on such commanders! If they were of my friends, I would allow them a pin higher on the gallows, then is allowed for common offences: for such cullions that quit places for fear, not seeing their enemies, are unworthy the name of soldiers; but I think they were too rich, and consequently, they grew too feeble.
Likewise here I did rejoice, and was glad, when I did observe that it is not, nor was not peculiar to any still to have overcome, or to be victorious: the Imperialists, I know by experience, and so did the regiment I commanded, had their time of the victory against the King of Denmark (where I did learn to make a retreat) but now being come under another leader, there fortune began to change and to retire from us, we learning under the invincible Gustavus, to advance orderly, never falling off, but ever keeping faces to our enemy, a brave lesson learned from a brave commander. So that we see here, victory keeps no constant dwelling, being now here, now there, yet we see, that it is best kept with counsel and virtue, neither can I think, but fortune, and chance hath a great hand in it, for it is a greater matter to use victory well, then to overcome, and all victors have an insatiable desire of their prosperous fortune, never appointing an end to their desires; And nothing brings victory more, next unto God, then good commanders, whereof King Gustavus the invincible had many.
Here also at the in-taking of Havelberg, General Bannier did well in giving the soldiers some liberty of booty: to the end they might prove the more resolute another time, for soldiers will not refuse to undergo any hazard, when they see their officers willing to reward them with honour and profit.