About the midst of July 1631 his Majesty's forces being come together of horse and foot, he did resolve to set down his leaguer at Werben on the Elbe, where the river of the Havel enters into it, and spying a parcel of ground, the most commodious that could be had, for situation, and air, having first the commodity of transportation by water, on the River of the Havel running into the Elbe at the leaguer, whereon all provisions could be brought for maintaining of his army; He had also the whole country on the other side of the Elbe, behind him as his friends.
This leaguer lay along the side of the River on a plain meadow, being guarded by the River on one side, and the foreside was guarded by a long earthen Dike, which of old was made to hold off the River from the Land, which Dike his Majesty made use of, dividing it by skonces and redoubts, which defended one another with flankering, having batteries and cannon set within them, alongst the whole leaguer: he did also set over the river a ship-bridge, for his retreat in need, as also for bringing commodiously of provision and succours, from the country, and garrisons on the other side, as Havelberg, Rathenow, Perleberg, and others.
In like manner his Majesty did fortify the town of Werben for his magazine, being close to the leaguer, with works about it, which defended the leaguer, and the leaguer-works were made to defend the town also, so that they could relieve one another being in most distress, and both the town-wall and leaguer-wall, were so thick and firm of old earth, faced up with new, that no cartow could enter into it. The bulwarks on which the batteries were made for the cannon, were also very strong and formally built, and they flankered one another, so that none could find but folly in pressing to enter by storm; And betwixt the flankerens were left voids, for letting troops of horse in and out, with slaught-booms before them, where strong guards were kept for defending the passage.
And on the one side of this leaguer were planted above one hundred and fifty pieces of cannon, great and small, besides those that were planted on the town works, and our whole horsemen were quartered within the leaguer.
The manner we were ordained to watch this leaguer, every brigade of foot had such a portion of the leaguer appointed for them to watch and maintain by fight, in case of a storm, which part they had fortified themselves, and brigades of horse were ordained to attend particularly on a foot brigade, to second them, if that the enemy, at a storm, should beat the foot back from their posts, then the horse brigade was ready to charge, till the foot might be recollected by the diligence and valour of their officers: for besides the watch ordinary on the posts, the whole brigades of foot stood in readiness at all alarms behind the guard, and the horse brigades did stand in battle behind them. Likewise without the leaguer, there were squadrons of our horsemen to stand in readiness at one end, that while as the enemies foot should march on to the storm, our horsemen might charge through to the end of the leaguer, where they were to be received again within the leaguer, being hardly followed, so that the judicious reader can easily judge, what a difficulty it was to storm such a leaguer.
Being thus provided to welcome our enemy, his Majesty hearing of his enemies' near approach with a strong army, his Majesty did resolve like a wise General to try his enemies' courage in the Field, before they should come near to discourage his little army. And therefore his Majesty commanded out a strong party of two thousand musketeers, and a thousand horse, which party he did lead himself, and finding by his intelligence Tilly's army were advanced so far, as to Wolmerstat, his Majesty ante omnia, called in unto the leaguer all the garrisons, which were without on that side of the river, whereon the enemy did march, and getting good intelligence of the enemies' fore-troops, being four regiments of horse, the best of Tilly's army (viz.) Colonel Harmsteans his regiment of cuirassiers, Mounte Cuculie's regiment, Holk's regiment of cuirassiers, and Corramino his regiment, which were all about forty two cornets of cuirassiers, being quartered beside Tangermünde, not knowing how near they were come unto the valiant Gustavus, that, though a King, would not stand on a ceremony, to make the first visit unto such valourous cavaliers of their worths, and to make his Majesty's visit the more graceful (though less acceptable well I wot) he did send the Rhinegrave and Colonel Collenbagh, with five hundred dragoniers, and their own two regiments of horse, to salute them at their quarter in his Majesty's name, honouring them first with a salvo of muskets, lest they should think it discourtesy, to have come unto them without sending before, which being mistaken by the enemy, the skirmish went on, Colonel Harmstean was killed, Holke and Cornel Corramino fled, so that the enemies' fore-troops were driven to confusion, having lost twenty-nine cornets, the troops whereof were defeated and ruined, so that our horsemen did make good booty, having gotten horses, and a great deal of riches. The enemy in this conflict did lose above a thousand men, and his Majesty's loss was great also, having lost his own sisters son, the young Rhinegrave, being killed on his first exploit, being the seventeenth of July; the cavalier's death was much regrated by his Majesty and the whole army, but the exploit ended, his Majesty did retire towards the leaguer, having left some officers and horsemen, that had followed in the flight General Tilly, and Colonel Holke, dogging them to their quarters, where both hardly escaped untaken. The Swedens disappointed of their onslaught, retired after his Majesty to their leaguer, and having put a terror in the enemies' army, by this defeat; he did get four days longer continuation, to put all things in good order against their coming; during which time, the enemy was busied in recollecting of his scattered troops, and in putting his army in good order, forgetting of his revenge.
His Majesty as soon as he came back, did send incontinent orders to all the chief officers of the army, to come instantly to his tent, where being come, he asked their advice, whether it were best, the enemy being strong, timely to retire over the Elbe, or that he should bide their coming before the leaguer, and finding no man to answer him, all turning it over upon himself, being wise, knowing that counsel would be allowed of by a King, but according to event; but his Majesty perceiving their intentions, he resolved to abide the enemies' coming, whatever might follow, and instantly he gave all officers and commanders of brigades charge to see their works accomplished, and finished, for if the enemy would stay but three days, he would be no more afraid of him, than if he were in the strongest Island could be imagined, being he was assured, GOD would fight for him, and with him, and besides, he knew he had as good commanders and soldiers of horse and foot, as Tilly was able to bring against him, and which was more, he could get his army longer and better entertained than Tilly could get, seeing he had the country to enemy, which was his Majesty's friend.
This resolution being taken, his Majesty went to visit the leaguer, being accompanied with the Marquess of Hamilton, come then from Britain, with an army of six thousand foot, as complete as could be desired to be seen for personages of men, in complete arms, being well arrayed, and furnished of artillery, and of all things fitting for the adorning of an army, his Majesty being exceeding glad of such a timely supply, he did most heartily welcome the Marquess, by entertaining him with graceful countenance and respect, in giving him such entertainment as the time could afford, and in the interim, his Majesty went along with his Excellence, to let him see the fortifications and preparations he had made against Tilly's coming, which being so near, made his Majesty after some considerable discourses had with the Marquess concerning his army, wherein his Majesty declared he was sorry the Marquess with his army were arrived in such parts of the country, that was ruined, and not able to entertain his Excellence, and his army with bread, much less to be furnished with necessaries convenient for them, or with such as his Majesty would willingly bestow on them, if the country, or his power were able to furnish it. Other private discourses they had together, concerning the service, that the Marquess with his army was to be employed on: And his Excellence having received his Majesty's instructions, being both pressed by shortness of time, his Excellence was graciously dismissed, to return to his army, then being come upon the Oder, being then the most ruined part within the Empire, by reason both the armies had lain there above a year before; which caused that Summer both famine and plague, the smart whereof his Excellence's army suffered at their first coming, where they died of the plague above two hundred a week, so that it was impossible for them to subsist long; and the plague was so rife, that his Excellence's servants and family, were not free. Nevertheless, none can say, but for the well and furtherance of the good cause, they did arrive in a good time, having diverted from his Majesty a great part of the enemies' forces towards Silesia, being more afraid of their coming, than of an army twice stronger, and the diversion thus made, was a great furtherance to the joining of his Majesty with the Duke of Saxony, and consequently of his Majesty's advancement in Dutchland, and of his victory obtained against his enemies at Leipzig; for nothing doth more cross the designs of a mighty enemy, than to hear a foreign supply of valiant men to come to his enemy, which no doubt, would force to alter his former designs, which once altered unadvisedly in haste, might mar the happy event of his former conclusions.
Likewise, his Excellence being dismissed, the Landgrave of Hessen, and Duke Barnard of Weimar, did come unto his Majesty, with the offer of their service, (knowing his Majesty had gotten a supply to his army out of Britain, which did encourage them, and the most part of the towns of the four upper circles of the Empire, to offer to join with his Majesty in confederacy, having seen the appearance of the strong party his Majesty could make, being assured of the friendship and concurrence of Great Britain,) they were both graciously accepted of, and so much the more, that they were the first did hazard with a private convoy to come to his Majesty through their enemies; for which his Majesty did thank them, who the next day were dispatched to return, for advancing of the cause in doing his Majesty good service, by collecting of more forces, as they did soon after.
They being gone, the twenty-two of July General Tilly, with his mighty army, did present himself before our leaguer, about two of the clock in the afternoon, and begun to salute us with thirty-two pieces of great ordnance of their carriage, discharging through and through our leaguer, till he made us to draw to our arms, and stand in battle, horse and foot, under the walls, which did shelter us from his cannon, where we stood till night, looking for his on-falling, requiting and honouring him now and then with interchange of cannon-bullets, till it began to grow dark, that he retired his cannon to the body of his army, having lain all night in battle, without being entrenched, though strongly fortifird without him, with strong guards, both of horse and foot, having his Crabbats and dragoniers without them again.
His Majesty having commanded out strong horse-guards to watch without the leaguer, I was commanded,as least worthy of a thousand,that night to watch without the leaguer, with five hundred commanded musketeers, which were ordained to lie in readiness, betwixt the enemies' array and the leaguer, almost a cannon-shot from our works, getting orders from his Majesty himself, how I should keep good watch, and how to behave my self, in case of the enemies' pursuit, and being come the length of the ground appointed for me to watch on, having consolidated the body of my musketeers in the safest ground I could find for them to stand on, their arms rested, and in readiness. First I caused set out my perdues without my other sentries, not trusting the giving of an alarum altogether to our horse sentries, and then to the end the enemy might not surprise us being sleeping, I ordained the half of our musketeers to stand for two hours in readiness, till the sentries were relieved, and then I suffered the other half to rest them, so long as the other did before; and thus orderly we passed over the night's watch, having had sundry naughty alarums in the night without continuance. Our duty was to be the more strict, having received command of his Majesty, not to quit that ground, except the enemy by greatness of strength, would beat me from it, and then I should retire orderly skirmishing with the enemy, our faces to them still, and our arms, giving fire on them till we came under our walls, so that, by that means the leaguer would get time to be in readiness to receive them.
By the break of day, friend to valour and courage, the enemies' horse-guards begun to skirmish with ours, who being stronger, made our horsemen to give ground, the commander of the watch sent to me for a supply of fifty musketeers, which I accordingly did send, with a lieutenant, giving him charge how to behave himself, who having a little skirmished with the enemies' dragoniers and horsemen, was made to give ground also, and having commanded out a captain with fifty musketeers more, he was also repulsed, I wondering at their carriage, advanced to recognosce the bounds they were on, and spying an advantage of ground, I took out a hundred musketeers, giving a captain charge to remain by the remnant of my musketeers, and putting a hedge betwixt us and the enemy, we advanced till we were in even line with them, and then giving a salvo amongst them, incontinent we made the enemy retire, so that our horsemen did advance to their former stations: his Majesty having heard the service, ordained the Army should be in readiness, and coming forth from the leaguer, accompanied with General Lieutenant Bawtish,and BaronTyvell, where his Majesty begun to enquire of me, how all passed, which accordingly I related. But though his Majesty was pleased, yet he checked me for leaving of the reserve to another, when I went on service, which I confess was more suddenly done than wisely, and ever after, I promised to hisMajesty to avoid the like oversight, though it succeeded well.
His Majesty incontinent, since they had tried his guards, he would also try in earnest, what for officers and soldiers they did command, and to that effect, his Majesty sent orders to the leaguer to command out eight hundred horsemen of hagapells, and a thousand musketeers, with four small field pieces of cannon, with the five hundred musketeers I commanded on the post, which all being set in order, his Majesty directed the colonel of his Leese regiment Here Tyvell to lead on the foot towards a dorp, that lay near the enemies' army, and his Majesty with General Lieutenant Bawtish commanded the horse, taking the cannon along with them, and coming near the enemies' guards, consisting of a thousand cuirassiers, having given fire with the cannon amongst them, they charged furiously with the horse in midst of the enemy, and putting them in disorder, they cut them down from their horses as they retired at the spurs, being still followed unto the body of their army: And our musketeers falling up alike, discharging amongst them, the enemy at first in great fear was almost put in confusion, the most part of their horsemen being abroad on forage, their guards did stand to their arms, till the army was drawn in battle, and their horse spanned, or put before their cannon; during which time our soldiers continued in giving fire; amongst them, till his Majesty did give orders for our retreat, which made, giving now and then faces about, skirmishing with cannon and musket, and then retiring again orderly being pressed thereto by their cannon, giving fire after us, and their horsemen calling up ours in our rear, till at last we being, retired the length of my post, our cannon being able to reach them, they were made to make a stand, and I was ordained with my musketeers to remain on our former post, his Majesty and the rest of the party being retired within the leaguer. Incontinent from our Batteries, our cannon did play again within the leaguer, which continued the whole day, doing great hurt on both sides, where the whole time, I with my party, did lie on our post, as betwixt the Devil and the deep sea, for sometimes our own cannon would light short, and graze over us, and so did the enemies' also, where we had three shot with the cannon, till I directed an officer our own batteries, acquainting them with our hurt, and desiring they should stell or plane the cannon higher. In the morning also we lost on the skirmish, thirteen soldiers, besides those were hurt. The day thus passed, I was relieved at night, and the next morning, before day, General Tilly made a show of on-falling on our Leaguer, by making all his trumpets to sound, and his drums to beat, making a great noise, we being prepared to receive them. The morning being dark,with a cloudy mist, so that none could see, the enemy being retired with his army, having broke up, at night he marched towards Tangermünde, and the day being cleared up, his Majesty with a strong party went forth to drive up their rear, with six small pieces of ordnance, even to the body of their main army, which consisted then of twenty-six thousand men; while as we were not in the leaguer, and at Havelberg, twelve thousand men, foot and horse, till afterwards that the Field Marshal Gustave Horne did come from the Oder towards Rathenau, with four thousand complete soudiers, and General Tilly having lain some few days, at Tangermünde, suffering daily losses by his Majesty's parties; at length,through scarcity of victuals, he was forced to march unto Halle, and in the Saxon's country, being made weaker by six thousand men than he came down, having had to do with the Invincible Gustav, who still did out-shoot him out of his own bow, having had the right hand of the LORD for his assistance.
The thirteenth Observation.
HIS Majesty wisely made choice of a fit place for his leaguer, being commodious for transportation of victuals unto his army, without being in danger of his enemies. In like manner we see his Majesty's wisdom in making his friends sure behind him (viz.) the Duke of Brandenburg, the Dukes of Pomerania and Mecklenburg, from whence his victuals and his supplies must needs come, and as his leaguer was commodious for furnishing the army, so it was commodiously situated for defence against the enemy, the one half, or back, being naturally defended by the course of the water running by; and on the other side, it was defended by the town, and by the help of the old dike, which easily was fortified.
His Majesty's wisdom also was seen, by keeping of his soldiers still in action, never suffering them to be idle (as a wise General ought to do) for either they were employed on marches, or lying still, in working, or in fighting by parties, or in gross, as occasion offered: For this General knew well, that he was but the carrion of a man, and not a man, that did live idle, having in a living body but a dead mind.
Here also I did remark and observe, Homo homini quid interest: for we find a great difference betwixt his Majesty's welcoming of Tilly to Werben, and the Field Marshal Twifenbacke his welcome made to his Majesty before Frankfurt on the Oder; who never did present himself in the fields, though almost as strong as we were: but here we find the contrary, that notwithstanding of Tilly's strength, being twenty-six thousand men, Gustavus was not afraid to have invaded his fore-troops with a weak party, and did defeat them; showing unto us the difference betwixt commanders, by his own valourous example, encouraging his little army before the enemies' coming; he would not first meet his enemy with an army, but having strengthened his leaguer with Baniers forces, and called in his weak garrisons from danger, and then taking all victuals out of his enemies' way, bringing it within his leaguer, he then armed with courage and resolution, adventures to rencounter his enemy with a party, and having tried them to their loss, he retired again with credit, preparing his leaguer, being strongly beset with men, ammunition and victuals, he was not afraid to be taken unawares, as the French were within Philippsburg, not being provided to oppose their enemies, for their sloth they were cruelly murdered. Teaching others, by their examples, not to trust too much in security, be the place never so strong, if they be left unto themselves, and grow careless, they must needs suffer under the Tyranny of their enemies.
Likewise his Majesty, not trusting to his own wisdom, he did call his chief officers to counsel, asking them, what was to be done (as wise commanders ought to do) and finding them all by silence to rely on his Majesty's will, giving orders for all things that were to be done before their coming, he resolved to stand to it, being truly courageous, as he did not adventure rashly, without asking his officers' advice, knowing once their resolution agreeable to his own, he was not inconsiderately afraid of his enemies' strength, though mighty and strong, neither was he unprovided against their coming.
his Majesty's dexterity of command is seen here, by the order of his discipline, in giving good orders for watching: First he divided the posts, and appointed what footmen or brigade should watch on the several posts, as they were severally fortified by themselves, to the end, no man might blame their own work, for insufficiency to hold out the enemy. As also he appointed several brigades of horse to second the posts severally, every one knowing where to repair in time of service: As also he did instruct them of the manner they were to fight, in resisting the enemies' entry: As also in case of their entry, he did instruct both foot and horse, how and in what manner they should be repulsed again, promising, according to his wonted custom, to be a companion both of their travails and dangers, and that he should never leave them, till first they should quit him, and that he would promise as he was a royal King.
A worthy saying of a worthy king and general, whose prudence and wisdom in command, was ever answerable to the dignity of his majestic person, that ought and should be endued with infinite virtues, since infinite were those things he had to foresee, and which are needful for a man of his place. Infinite chances, and altogether divers, every moment were set before him, in so much, that Argos' eyes were too few for him, not only in respect of the weight of his command, but also in respect of the wit and prudence which was requisite for him.
All other commands belonging to a soldier are so inferior to this of a general, that almost they are nothing in respect of this, who amongst others his great gifts, he must know severely to command, and softly to bear with others. As also, he must learn patiently to give place to others' contumacy, and he must not only be powerful to strengthen for his own affairs, but also he must weaken his enemies, and chiefly, he must make war by policy, without giving battle, or travail (as this wise General did deal twice with old Tilly) who was forced after a long march, having but visited him, and seen his orders, to retire again, with the loss of many men, without any detriment or hurt at all to his Majesty's own litle army, which he kept ever to the best, by preserving them from their enemies, and by supplying of them, as they became weak, so that their weakness could never be truly discerned. Who would not then admire the wisdom and foresight of this General, in preserving this little army, at this time, for a second fitter occasion? Who ever then was so worthy of the honourable title of a general as he? For though he had been no king, he was a brave warrior, and which is more, a good man, magnificent, wise, just, meek, endued with learning, and the gift of tongues, and as he had strength of body, and a manlike stature; he had also the ornaments of the mind, fitting a brave commander: he knew how to dally, and weary an army led by such an old general as Tilly was: for though he did vaunt, he had beaten two kings before, in an open field, the third king made him, for all his experience and old years, to be thought but a child again, having made him traverse with his army, before in the winter, from Ruppin to Neubrandenburg, and back again to Magdeburg, finding the King did lie in surety at Schwedt, till he was gone, and then took in both Frankfurt and Landsberg: and again, he made him retire from Thuringia to Werben, for a visit, and then forced him to return again to Saxony, with the loss of six thousand men, without effecting anything for his coming, not the least advantage; undoing himself and his army by the seasons, sometimes with the extremity of cold, in the midst of winter, and at this time, he made him march in the midst of the dog days, for lack of victuals, and his Majesty having discouraged this old general and his army, he thought then, it was fit time to follow, and to search him out, till he was made to fight.
This resolute King did not sleep long, in suffering Tilly's bravado made before Werben to be unrepaid, having the next morning hunted, and chased his cuirassiers with a few number of Hagapells, to the midst of their army, having with honour retired again, he thought Tilly was engaged to storm his leaguer, in revenge, but all could not wind or draw him to it: But was forced through hunger to retire, all provisions being taken out of his way, for his Majesty knew well, when they should be oppressed with hunger at their coming, they could think on no generous exploit: for oft-times an army is lost sooner by hunger then by fighting, and hunger itself is crueller a great deal, than the sword; For to hunger, and to fight valiantly, doth not agree with nature, and in an army hunger is more intolerable then the thundering of cannon and musket: arms do resist arms, but to resist hunger, no fort, no strength, no moat or fosse is able to do it.
To conclude then this my observation, when God is with us, all things succeed well unto us, as did with this fortunate King Gustavus, who I knew did fear God; and I persuade myself, by his example, and after him, by the example of another Gustavus, Field Marshal Horne (who truly feared God in his calling without pride or ostentation) many others under them following their examples (though soldiers) did the like. Therefore no wonder, that they and those who followed them, were happy in their enterprises, having had such leaders: for that is most sure and infallible, where most fear of God is, and true piety, there is most happiness; and this piety is enough to save princes. And on the contrary, without her, armies can do nothing, horse or strength of man, gold or money can do nothing. Let us then following the example of this King, who was godly, seek to the King of Kings for his Kingdom, & the righteousness thereof, & then surely all other things will go well with us, as it did with our master and leader.