His Majesty having viewed and well recognosced the skonce on the Rhine, over against Oppenheim, the river being interjected betwixt it and the town, his Majesty did lead Colonel Hepburne's brigade, and Colonel Winckle's being the blue; with some cannon, great and small before it, where his Majesty did stay till the batteries were made, and the approaches begun, then leaving the command on Colonel Hepburne, with tempestuous cold weather, with hard frosts and snow, we lay down on the fields, having no shelter, but some bushes by the side of the Rhine.
The skonce was really fortified with fosses, that were broad, deep, and full of water, with a draw-bridge over the moat, and the skonce was well beset with a thousand men, and well provided of victuals, fire and ammunition, having free passage at their pleasure without danger, from the town unto the skonce, and back again: The castle and the hill on the other side of the Rhine, being mounted high, their cannon from their batteries did cleanse and scour the fields about the skonce, being a razed champaign, and plain without any shelter of their batteries; on the other side they plagued us still with cannon, especially in the night time, while it behoved us to have fire, which was their mark, so that sundry were lost, and one night sitting at supper, a bullet of thirty two pound weight, shot right out betwixt Colonel Hepburne's shoulder and mine, going through the colonel's coach; the next shot killed a sergeant of mine, by the fire, drinking a pipe of tobacco. This night the enemy made an out-fall, to try his valour, thinking to beat us from our cannon, but he was bravely repulsed by push of pike, slightly esteeming of their muskets, and scorning to use ours, with sharp points of pikes conveyed them home to their graff.
The next day in the morning, knowing his Majesty had crossed the Rhine, they did capitulate with Colonel Hepburne, who did give them, being Italians, more honourable quarters than in truth their carriage did deserve, having got licence to march out, bag and baggage, with full arms, with a convoy to the next garrison, they being marched, his Majesty having crossed the Rhine in the night, where the Spaniard made some resistance, but in vain, his Majesty having got over, the next morning he marched towards Oppenheim in the Pfalz, on the one side of the town, and we setting over also, we pursued the town and the castle on the other side, but Sir James Ramsey his musketeers being led by their major, finding a privy passage about the castle, they stormed over the walls, coming betwixt the outward skonce and the castle, and finding the draw-bridge down, on a sudden they entered the castle, and put all to the sword: the rest of the enemy finding the castle to be in, they run all to storm the skonce, on which were nine companies of Italians, with their colours; their officers finding the castle surprised behind them, and the storm going on before them, they threw down their arms calling for quarters, which was granted: but their colours taken from them, they willing to take service were all disposed by his Majesty to Sir John Hepburne, who was not only a Colonel unto them, but a kind Patron, putting them in good quarters till they were armed and clad again. But their unthankfulness was such, that they stayed not, but disbandoned all, in Bavaria; for having once got the warm air of the Summer, they were all gone before Winter.
The twenty-third Observation.
Here then we see, that it is the duty of all wise generals, of intention to beleaguer city, fort, or strength, first to recognosce, and having once recognosced, then to proceed, as they find most advantagious for the beleaguerer, and disadvantagious for the assailed: the pursuer must know, what number of men are requisite for the pursuit, as well offensive as defensive.
In this point of recognoscing his Majesty's judgement was wonderful, as in all other practical duties fitting a great commander, and as his Majesty's judgement was great and good, so he was of that mind, nothing in this kind could be well done, which he did not himself, neither could his Majesty abide, at such times, as he went to recognosce, any other to accompany him in the danger, other reasons doubtless his Majesty had, which were only privy unto himself. This point how necessary it is, for a great commander to be judicious of, no soldier will doubt.
Here also we see, his Majesty made no difference of season, or weather, in prosecuting his enemy, whenever he found any advantage. And therefore it was his Majesty's wise resolution, to cross the Rhine, while General Tilly's army, in the Winter time, was farthest from him, and making but a feint here before Oppenheim, his aim and design was to cross the Rhine at another part by shipping, that while the enemy was busied in defence of the skonce, his Majesty might cross at another part: for the army once crossed, the skonce was lost, for want of supply; and his Majesty once over, the whole Pfalz and Mainz were in fear.
Nothing is more powerful to resist resolution, than resolution: for it is said of the Oake, being hard timber, for to cleave it asunder, there must be wedges made of itself, that hardness may overcome hardness. My advice then to all brave fellows watching in trenches, or guarding cannon, while as the enemy would try their valour by out-falling, in assailing them, at such times, let the defender do as was done here, leaving the use of the musket, as being more unready, let them make use of their pikes, meeting their enemies in the teeth, with a strong firm body of pikes, (after the old Scots fashion, used by our predecessors, that fought pell-mell; with two-hand swords, till one of the parties did quit the field) for though they suffer loss, sure they must win credit, that repulse their enemy, rather than disgracefully suffer their cannon to be nailed, or their brains knocked out in trenches, while as they take them to the uncertainty of the musket. Therefore let resolution be ever present, repulsing force with force; for if thou wouldst be esteemed amongst the number of brave fellows, thou must resolve to show thyself resolute, courageous, and valiant, going before others in good example, choosing rather to die with credit standing, serving the public, than ignominiously to live in shame, disgracing both thyself and country. Who would not then at such times choose virtue before vice; glory, honour, and immortal fame, before an ignominious, shameful, and detestable life? Let then my dear comrades of the British nation, wherever they serve, embrace this my exhortation, and lay it up in the secret corners of their heart and mind, that they may be ever mindefull of their credits, preferring credit to life, for the honour of the invincible nation, doing ever, as was done here by their country men, in one night thrice, at three several partes, whereof twice in sight of their King and master.
His Majesty crossing the Rhine, did take with him the Scots, which were there, of Sir James Ramsey's regiment, of old Spense his regiment, and of my Lord Rhees; being landed, the Spanish horsemen having furiously charged, the Scots, with a little advantage of a hedge, stood by his Majesty against the Spanish horsemen, and with a strong body of pikes, and salvos of musket, resisted valiantly the horsemen, till the rest were landed, to relieve them. As also the next day, the musketeers of Ramsey's regiment, that on all occasions were wont to show their valour, were the first stormed the walls, at Oppenheim; as they were the first, with their comrades, that accompanied his Majesty, at his landing in the Pfalz, testifying how willing they were to oppose danger, in sight of their King and master, revenging themselves on the Spaniard (a cruel enemy to the daughter of our King, and sister to our dread sovereign, the Queen of Bohemia) whom before they had removed, by force of arms, from the sweet land of the Pfalz, where at this time, they were fighting, to invest again his Majesty of Bohemia her husband, and his royal issue, being under the conduct of the Lion of the North, the invincible King of Sweden, their leader; who was careless (as he said himself that night) to incur the feud, or the enmity and anger, both of the House of Austria, and King of Spain, to do service to his dear sister, the Queen of Bohemia. Who would not then, my dear comrades, companions, not of want, but of valour and courage, at such a time, being the time we all of us longed to see, who would not (I say) press to discharge the duty of valourous soldiers and captains, in sight of their master and king, having crossed the Rhine, fighting for the queen of soldiers, being led by the king of captains, and captain of kings; who would not then, as true valorous Scots, with heart and hand sustain the fight, discharging at once the duty of soldiers, and valourous captains, by that means so far as in them lay, restoring the Pfalz, contemning death, striving to get victory over their enemies, and freedom of conscience to their distressed brethren long kept in bondage, and under tyranny of their enemies, the space of ten years, till the coming of this magnanimous king, and great captain; who in six months time after, did free the Pfalz of all Spanish forces, setting them at liberty; having brought the keys of all goals with him, and opened the doors, not only of all prisons, but also of all houses and hurches in the Pfalz, that had been closed ten years before, through the banishment of the owners, bringing them back to their houses again, and having removed the idolatrous worship of Papists out of their Churches, suffered them again to serve God peaceably in their former true, undoubted and only pure profession of the faith of Christ's gospel.