Monro His Expedition - Of Artillery an Observation

Of Artillery an Observation

Artillery being the third part of an army, without which no army can be gloriously led, it is requisite then somewhat briefly to speak of the advantages we have by artillery, being well foreseen and commanded, as it was by the Captain of Kings and King of Captains, Gustavus the Invincible, who with as little charge did as much as any king or captain could (in doing of so great exploits as he did) with his artillery. But lest I should be thought to neglect a part of my duty in this point concerning cannon, I will set down here when his Majesty made most use of cannon, to my knowledge; which being rightly considered, will be thought strange, seeing in the whole course of his Majesty's wars during his time, I never saw or did learn he shot a breach in any place, except at Gartz, though otherwise I knew well his Majesty made good use of his artillery, as at Leipzig, the Lech, and at Lützen, where in all three he shewed himself master of that art. But against either town, or fort, I did never see in his Majesty's time one breach shot or entered, his fortune being such, and his diligence so great, that his enemies did ever parley before they would abide the fury of his cannon, as at Brandenburg, Demmin, Frankfurt, Mainz, Donauwörth, Augsburg, and divers more; and in my opinion, the terror the cannon breeds is as much to be feared as the execution that follows, though it be great; and artillery in all armies and things belonging thereto, are of infinite moment on all occasions. So that they may be called Sine quo nihil; but supreme officers of the field, are no more troubled with them, but so far as they direct others to do the service, their own officers being appointed to attend them, as the general to the artillery, his colonels, lieutenant -colonels, majors, captains, lieutenants, constables, and all other inferior officers needful to attend, who know and keep their own turns and reliefs, as other officers do theirs; their furniture is great and their charges also in buying horses to draw their cannon and ammunition, wagons, with powder, ball, match, materials, fire-engines, petards, storming ladders, artificial bridges carried on wagons to pass over rivers or graffs.

In all quartering they are quartered next after the Hofstaffe before any brigade, and the furniture and charges needful to maintain this third part of the army is extraordinary great, there being always something to be repaired, while as the army doth rest; and oft-times they must be provided of a great deal of new furniture, and they lose yearly an extraordinary number of horses of great price. But his Majesty during his time was very fortunate in this, as in other things; for I never knew his Majesty lose any ordnance, but I have seen him get supply of ammunition and cannon from his enemies; as first, at Gartz and Griefenhagen, Demmin, Frankfurt, Landsberg, Glogow, Leipzig, Würzburg, Mainz, and Munich, besides the supply his Majesty did get for his artillery from Nuremberg, Frankfurt, Augsburg, Strasbourg and Ulm: and to discourse largely of this subject alone, would take a volume of paper. But when every cavalier is commanded apart with a party where he must make use of cannon, he would be (before his departure with his party) very careful to receive his cannon with the furniture belonging unto it timely together, with sufficient officers for discharging that part of the duty, on his march he must command his party as if it were a little army, being ever well provided of guides, and of careful, witty, and painful intelligencers, that he may lead and quarter his party with assurance, directing always his intelligencer before him, being ever careful to beset the passes and avenues well. As also sufficiently to guard his cannon, baggage, and ammunition, since many times great hurt doth come thorow the neglect of guarding the cannon and ammunition: which oversights once committed are irrecoverable; in regard whereof I must entreat the gentle reader to pardon me a little here out of history (for the younger soldier his better instruction) to discourse a little of the hurt and inconvenience hath happened many times by cannon and powder; as also of the manner they were first invented, being found out by God's permission for the ruin of man punished for sin; experience doth teach daily that the strength of it is not to be resisted.

Etienne Forcatel in his fourth book of the Empire and of the Philosophy of the Gauls, doth attribute the invention of powder and cannon to the Germans, saying that a piece by the help of some kindled powder did spew a ball, the noise whereof was like to thunder, and killed. The maker of it, an abbot, the child of the Devil, assisted by his Father, found out this cruel invention, which serves alike for the pursuer of towns as for the defender till it ruin both. It is said of Archidamus, Son to the King Agesilaus, wondering at a new invention of cannon brought from Sicily, complained the valour of men was beaten down and trod under foot, seeing there was no more fighting without monstrous hardness and armour. And it is thought that a black fellow called Berthold Schwarz an Abbot invented it. Read Polydore Virgil, in his second book and sixth Chapter de invent. and Sabellicus in his Ennead. lib. 9. a fellow having some beaten brimstone for physick closed in a pot covered with a stone, he striking with a file on a stone to give fire, a spark lighted in the pot, and incontinent the flame came forth, heaving the stone in the air; and chewing his cud thereon, he made a cannon of iron, closing powder within it, till that piece and piece he found out the invention. And we read that in the Kingdom of China, in the East Indies, both printing and artillery were known and practised there, long before they were found out in Europe, and that there, there be many cannons, which I will rather believe than go to see.

Virgil also in the sixth book of his Aeneid doth speak of the like in his description of Salmoneus; and Josephus, in his third book and ninth Chapter of the Jews' Wars, makes mention of an instrument they used against the town of Jotapat in Galilee, and saith, the stones shot by engines did break the walls and towers, and there was no troop of men so well ordered, but was scattered by it, and beaten to the ground. The same author speaking of the batteries made against the walls of Jerusalem, affirms that the stones shot by the engines were as heavy as a man: And nevertheless they were carried above six hundred paces by the engine, killing many men.

Pliny writes in his thirty-one book and tenth Chapter, in his voyage unto Babylon, that powder was in use of old, and reporteth he did see powder-miles on the River Euphrates, though of another sort than our powder.

Of this invention also you may read Cornel de Campe, in his story of Friesland, in his second book and twentieth Chapter. Also Simoscus King of Friesland, Beresne Lord of Holland, and Olympia daughter to the Earl of Holland, where it is said, that Simoscus killed with one shot of pistol the earl and his two sons; and that afterward he would have killed Rowland Earl of Flanders, but the pistol misgiving, Rowland did kill him with his sword, and did throw the pistol in the sea. But we read that Barbadigue Admiral of Venice was the first that carried them on his galleys and ships, wherewith he did terrify the Genovese, being at hunting by their noise: and Paul Iove, in his third book of illustrious persons, writes that Barthelem Cokone general to the Venetians for the space of twenty years and more, was the first that used cannon in the fields, while as the banished people of Florence made wars against the family De Medicis, being first used to make breaches in walls, and to defend walls: but afterward they came in use to break the battles of horse and foot; for if the wars of old, and their inventions were compared to nowadays, it were a sport to laugh at, rather than wars.

Now of late the invention is found out of burning bullets, full of fire, shot out of cannon, to fire houses within strengths, and to fire palisades and gabions set before batteries on walls or in fields, whereof his Majesty of Poland Estien Bathory made good use in his wars of Moscow, within a few years.

This invention is thought to have been invented by the King of Poland himself in his civil wars of Hungary, finding other cannon made greater noise than hurt.

The manner a piece is charged with a hot bullet, is, the piece is charged with powder convenient, then it is covered with sand in a little quantity above the powder, then with a little greene grasse presently plucked, being a little dampish or moist, then the hot bullet being put in must be presently discharged, otherwise the invention is very dangerous for the constables; for oft-times minding to ruin others, they are ruined themselves.

Albert Gantz writes, that Christophel King of Denmark was killed by a shot of cannon in the year 1280. Also we have a deplorable story written by Gyrrard de Rooe and Conrade Decius, of the battle betwixt the Emperor Albert and the Poles in Bohemia. Amongst their cannons there was one cannon greater than the rest, which for her execution was most used, she killed so many of the Poles, that they were so afraid, that they ran all away, leaving their tents: and it is reported, that at one shot she killed fourscore men, the devil (as I said before) was (by the permission of God) the inventor of such a monster, being offended with mankind in this last old age of the world, those thunder-claps putting us in mind that this whole round globe shall be shaken and perish.

We read also in the thirty-fourth book of Paul Iove his story, the answer of a Turk reprehended of his cowardice, having run away at the noise of a cannon, being besieged by the Emperor within Goullet.

Adrian Barbarossa reproaching Sinas for losing courage, he answered so long as we have to do to fight against armed men, you and my enemies do know I served ever with reputation and credit, but to fight against the Devil and the fury of hell-fire, having against us such terrible monsters, be not you astonished that I sought to eschew death, to th'end I might remain whole to do you service.

We read also in the bloody battle of Ravenna fought on Easter day, 1512: betwixt the French and Dutch, and the Spaniard, that one shot of a double cannon did kill (as Michael de Chochen) forty horsemen. We read also that in the sea-fight betwixt the French and the Imperialists, on the River of Amalfi, near the straight of Salerno, in the year 1628, shot out of the galley of Captain Philip Dore, a cannon bullet that killed above thirty Spaniards, and hurt many others, as reporteth Paulus Enterus, in his story of the wars of Italy: and Paul Iove writing of the same battle more largely and curiously, being eye-witness himself, or at least, within hearing of the cannon on the Isle of Aenary, where he did see the smoke of the cannon, saith, Philip Dore diligent to make good execution with cannon, and not in vain spending powder and shot on the Spaniard, his great piece called the Basilisk, the ball being monstrous great, broke through the whole ship, even to her keel, and killing thirty, wounded several captains and gentlemen, that were mutilated or dismembered; So that the Marquess of Guat was all spoiled with the blood and entrails of the dead.

Guicciardin reported that at the siege of Calais, in the year 1558, by the Duke of Guise, in name of the King of France, on the Three Kings' day, in the morning, with thirty-three double cannon from one battery, made such a noise, that the sound was heard five hours going beyond Calais, being twenty English miles. And lest the judicious reader will think this an untruth, I would warrant it from my own deed, for he that pleaseth, may read the story written by the author Guicciardin. But those pieces of cannon that are farthest heard, are called pot-pieces or mortars, such as Mons on the castle of Edinburgh, being so wide, that it is reported, that a man did get a child within, which I also warrant from my own deed, but the truth is, it is a huge great piece, from whence did come our old Scots proverb, the Devil shoot Mons in your arse. Gentle reader excuse my homeliness, since I was not the inventer of this proverb.

These kind of pieces are very large, and carry stones for bullets. The mortars of Suleiman at the siege of Rhodes, in the year 1522. their bullets weighed some of them two hundred weight, the least one hundred and fifty pounds of great weight, when they light on a house, they go through from top to ground; and Paulus Iovius reports of a mine made by Peter Valler, which made entrance for the Spaniard within the new castle of Naples, kept by the French, the French were so astonished with the surprise of the mine, that they retired unto the last and furthest court, so that the guards had not time to draw up their draw-bridges, and the French letting down the portcullis to hinder the Spaniards' entry, coming with a furious press, the French bring a piece of cannon to terrify the Spaniards, that had entered one gate, or the first court, and shoot amongst them, where by chance the iron bullet took hold of the thick of the port, where it remains to this day shown for a monument unto strangers, that have got the credit to go within this castle to see it. Many such stories we could infer, but let these suffice in this place for this time.

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