The twenty sixth of June 1628, the Duke of Friedland Wallenstein General to the Imperial army, having come to visit the beleaguering, and finding Field Marshal Arnehem had lain six weeks, and not gotten it in, the general being offended, at his coming he did recognosce the whole town, and finding our post to be the weakest part thereof, by reason of the situation and of the insufficiency of the works, the wall not exceeding the height of a man, he resolved to pursue it by storm, swearing out of a passion he would take it in, in three nights, though it were hanging with iron chains, betwixt the earth and the heavens. But forgetting to take God on his side, he was disappointed by him, who disposeth of all things at his pleasure, being the supreme watch-man himself, that neither slumbers nor sleeps.
We having then gotten intelligence of Wallenstein his coming, we looked the better unto ourselves, and having in the evening or twilight set out our perdues, we strengthened all our posts, and we placed our by-watch in the ravelin, to be in readiness, as also I commanded four score musketeers, under the command of Captain Hay, to sit by their arms and to be in readiness, to supply all defects might happen by a timely succours, as they should be commanded; likewise I caused to double all sentries, and so sitting down to rest us, we were passing the time by discourse, betwixt ten and eleven o'clock at night, when as our sentry gives fire and calls us to our arms: at our rising we find the enemy approaching above a thousand strong, with a shout, Sa, Sa, Sa, Sa, Sa, Sa, thus it went on cheerfully, and every man to his station. The worst was, we had without a half moon unfinished, where Ensign Johnston was with fifty musketeers, that were forced to retire underground one after another at a sorting port, where some were lost before their entry: they being entered, then begun our soldiers to make service, and I give charge to quarter Mr. Bruntfield, a valorous gentleman, with a guard to keep the enemy from entering at the sorting port: thus the service being hot on all quarters, especially Mac-Kenyee's quarter, being next the enemy, was hardest pressed, where I having visited him, did send him fifty musketeers of supply, and then I did visit Lieutenant Beaton his post, whom I found both careful and vigilant in resisting the enemies' entry valiantly, with his associates, who were two capable Segeants called Embrey and Simpson, who were both killed this night.
Then I did visit the Dutch quarters, being betwixt me and the ravelin, which I thought to be in least danger. The cavalier their Captain being a Beamish gentleman, both stout and diligent, the most part of his soldiers, the Dutch having left him, he was much over-pressed with the enemies, them also I was forced to supply with fifty musketeers of our nation, under the command of Captain Hay, otherwise the enemy had fallen in betwixt us and the ravelin. But this valorous gentleman the Beamish Captain being killed; Captain Hay by his valour maintained the post, till the fury of the enemy begun a little to settle. In this time, for one hour and a half, the service being hot, sundry were killed of us, but three for one of the enemy, which finding himself resisted with valour, being relieved by a fresh supply of another thousand men, set on more furiously than before, where sundry of our officers were shot, as Lieutenant Beaton, Ensign Dumbarre, Lieutenant Arburthnot, quarter Mr. Bruntfield, & myself; divers others were killed, as Sergeant Mac-Kenyee, Sergeant Young, Monsieur Gordon, Monsieur Stewart, Monsieur Tullough, all gentlemen of my Colonel's company, with divers more, and Captain Mac-Kenyee was also shot favourably athwart the belly, and I being wearied and grown stiff with my wounds, being helped off, did meet a fresh relief coming to us, led by Lieutenant Andrew Stewart, a valorous gentleman, and of good conduct, brother to the noble Earl of Traquaire: I did exhort them en passant, to carry themselves well, they answered me cheerfully, as became resolute soldiers, who were desirous to vindicate their comrades' blood against their enemies: the relief being come, the service went on afresh on both sides, the enemy storming again with the third relief, which continued so long, till a number of our officers more were killed and hurt, as Lieutenant Stewart, Ensign Seaton, Ensign Ennis, Captain Armes, Andrew Monro, and divers more were hurt. During this time, our Lieutenant Colonel was busied within the town, in commanding the reliefs, and in sending orders to the other posts to look unto themselves, who would not miss one man to succour or help us in our greatest need. Notwithstanding, that the whole force of the enemies' was employed against us alone.
The second relief that came to our post, was led by Colonel Frettz, newly come to town, with some Swedens, who, though not admitted to command, out of his generosity, being accompanied with his Lieutenant Colonel Mac-Dougall, and his Major, called Semple, with fourscore musketeers, voluntarily did come to succour and help our nation; who at his first coming, received death's wounds, whereof he died shortly after. His Lieutenant Colonel also was taken prisoner, and was missing for six months, we not knowing whether he was dead or alive. The Major also was killed instantly at his first coming to service; so that the last time, and on the last storm, by the break of day the enemy was once entered our works, and was beat back again with great loss, with swords and pikes and butts of muskets, so that the day clearing the enemy was forced to retire, having lost above a thousand men, and we near two hundred, besides those who were hurt. He that was on this night's service from the beginning to the ending, being in action, might avouch he did escape danger. The enemy forsaking our works unconquered, the graff filled with their dead bodies, equal to the banks, the works ruined in the daytime could not be repaired, which caused the next night's watch to be the more dangerous.
The seventeenth Observation.
The Emperor Alexander Severus had reason to say, that military discipline did conserve and maintain the estate: And so might the magnanimous King of Denmark say of this service, and the town of Stralsund, the citizens of it, before this time being sluggish, dissolute, cowards, spend-thrifts and voluptuous, are now by this discipline made active, menagers, valiant, sparing and honest: the thanks whereof they owe unto our nation, whose bones lie in their ground, and to our countryman, who since hath been their governor, for the reward of his virtue, was appointed by his Majesty of Sweden, of worthy memory, and set to command over them and their city. And it is most sure, that the observance of good discipline is the maintaining of kingdoms, cities, and commonwealths, making them to flourish; where discipline is well kept, as it was here during our beleaguering, for then we had no thought of gathering of money, but of gaining of credit; here were no novices, but expert soldiers to resist both the craft and valour of their enemies, who did feel the smart of their valourous resistance, in heaping their dead bodies one upon another in the graff.
During the time of this hot conflict, none that was whole went off at the coming of the relief, but continued in the fight assisting their comrades, so long as their strength served, ever esteeming more of their credit than of their safety, through the desire they had to be revenged of the loss sustained by their comrades. On the other part, it was reported of Wallenstein, that he was so eager to get in the town, that his officers retiring off service being hurt, he caused to shoot them dead, calling them cowards for retiring with so small hurt. Here also I purpose to speak somewhat of the Imperialists' custom, entering on service, shouting like Turks, as if crying would terrify resolute soldiers: No truly; we were more encouraged, having long expected for their coming, being all of us well resolved for the combat, we were greedy of honour, and therefore we longed to try our enemies' valour: Seeing we were more overjoyed of their coming, than any wise terrified; and we received them with volleys of cannon and musket in their teeth, which fair and well come was hard of digestion unto some of them: and it might be well said of them, as the proverb is amongst the Bactrians, that the dogs did bark more than they did bite, especially the fleet curs; for true courage consists not in words, neither ought we to look for much courage, where we hear many boisterous words. But on the contrary, true valour doth consist in the greatness of courage, and in the strength of the valiant arm, and not in the tongue: and the first people, that did practise this loud crying of martial resolution, and of rejoicing in battle, were the Israelites, who in the most part of their fighting used those cries, as testimonies of their faith, and of their earnest calling for the help of the Almighty. And a Lord of Africa being to fight against the Portugals, his troops ready to fight, he said unto them, they should not cry but strike hard, for saith he, those men whom you see, are not accustomed to be afraid with words nor voice; for it is not in cries, but in valour, that men should establish the hope of victory. Nevertheless, we read in histories, that the Romans, and other warlike nations, were wont in battles, as to this day in approaches, even as in fields, to cry aloud: and therefore we say among ourselves at home, that he is to be pitied, that is surprised with the cry of his enemies. We read also of the savages, whom the French do call Tokniambous, that before they come within half a mile, they cry like devils at the first sight of their enemies, redoubling their cries coming near hand, sounding their horns, lifting their arms here and there in a boasting manner, fighting so long as they are able to move hand or foot, never giving ground or turning back till they die.
Tacitus reports, that the Germans of old, did sing going to fight: and we read of Cato the Censor, that he taught young men to fight standing in one place, and he used to say often, that words were more powerful to terrify, and to chase an enemy, than the strokes of the hand. And the same Cato said, he loved not the soldier that did shake his hands marching, that staggered with his feet in fighting, & snorted louder in sleeping, than he did cry coming to fight. And Caesar said, that in every man was seen a certain moving and natural readiness and promptitude, that kindled them with a desire to fight: which generals and commanders of army's ought diligently to entertain, and not extinguish. Wherefore it was, that the ancients before they fought, caused to sound their trumpets, beat their drums, and made their soldiers cry hard, esteeming that did encourage their troops, and affright their enemies. The Macedons also began their fighting with crying and shouting; and Curtius reports, that as soon as the armies saw one another within shot of musket, the Persians began to cry furiously, and the Macedons, though fewer in number, did so answer them, that the tops of the mountains and woods resounded again to the echo of their cries. The like we read in our own story, where the author in his ninth book makes mention of Henry Percy Earl of Northumberland, and Regent of England at the East, being come unawares into Scotland with seven thousand men, was driven away by the boors and herds, by the help of stone-bags, as they are called to this day in our Highlands of Scotland, being used by the inhabitants to fright wolves, and to chase deer and other beasts from their grazings: the instrument is made of dry skins made round like a globe, with small stones in it that make a noise, as they did near the English camp, that their horses broke loose through the fields, where after long flying they were taken by the boors of the country. If then we should cry at all, let it be such a noise as may terrify our enemies, being strong, courageous, and brave.
Plutarch reports, that the cry of soldiers made a raven flying in the air to fall down being astonished: and Titus Livius saith, that when the multitude of people did embark, that few or none were left in Italy and Sicily, coming together, and crying, the birds astonished fell out of the air: and Paulus Aemilius reports the like, that when the Christians besieged Tyre, a pigeon was seen in the air, which made the Christians raise such a noise, that the pigeon fell down, as if it had been stricken with thunder, and that they found a letter about the neck of the pigeon, that the Saracens had sent to the besieged, showing they should be soon relieved, if they would take good courage, and maintain the town for certain days: and the Christians having men with them, who understood the same language, did write another letter, which they tied to the neck of the said pigeon, and let him go; which letter carried, that the besieged had need to look to themselves, that they had given good proof of their valour and fidelity, and that their fortune was, not to give them hope of relief; the passages being closed up by their enemies, and the Tyrians thus deceived, give over the town unto the Christians.
The like we read practiced at the siege of Haarlem, which made the town hold out long: and it is certain, such posts are made fall down with the noise of crying, and of cannon and musket, so that their packets are taken from them. Here also was wonderful, the loss and damage done by cannon, especially the mortars of the enemy, carrying bullets of stone within the town of three hundred pound weight, and some that carried bullets of one hundred and sixty pound, and in one day there were shot on the port of Frankendore, where we went out to our watch, above seven hundred and sixty shot of cannon, the noise whereof was heard above thirty English miles. Also we read, that at the battle of Lepanto, in the year 1572, where the Turks were defeated with great loss, that the noise of the cannon was heard from the place, above sixty Scottish miles. But on the sea they are heard a great deal farther, as having neither hill nor wood to hinder the sound in the air.
Here also I did observe, how happy it is when officers and soldiers love one another, refusing to undertake no danger to supply their comrades, their lives being dearer unto them than their own: which was evident by the timely relief, which discouraged the enemy, and made them at last perceiving their own loss to be great, having effectuated little, in the end to settle. To speak in particular of any man's valour, at this time, seeing to my knowledge, I perceived no defect neither in officer nor soldier; but so far as to my grief, I did speak of the Dutch that left their captain, which since I confess to be a warlike nation, being now long hardened by the custom of wars, but on desperate service, as this was, I would wish, if I had liberty to choose, other seconds: neither can I commend those Dutch that would not send us relief in our great danger; for though we ought to look to our own houses, when our neighbours are on fire, yet Christian compassion ought to move us to supply the defects of our brethren; but when soldiers and officers prefer their case, with whole skins, to the safety of their comrades in danger, then such may be justly called simple, without moderation, abandoning their comrades, they lose their good name, and bring their reputation and valour in question. Who will not then blame such, and who will not praise those, that in extremity, contemned life and their ease, to relieve their comrades: as Colonel Fretts his Lieutenant Colonel and Major did, fighting against our enemies? Him then I esteem as a valiant soldier, that fights against the enemy, embracing wounds for his mistress, and that is contented to lie on the ground, being weary, and that makes no difference of food to serve his appetite, without sauce; being contented with a nod for a sleep; to such a soldier nothing is impossible or hard to attempt; and such soldiers to command were my choice, that cared not for gold nor money, but for credit: and soldiers have most fear when they are best fed, best clad, best armed, and when their purses are best furnished; but when the soldier glorieth in his poverty, then doth the army flourish, then do they overthrow their enemies. And therefore it was the saying of Demetrius to Xerxes King of Persia, going to make war in Greece, that Greece did ever entertain poverty, and lodged virtue brought in by wisdom and severe discipline: by which means their dominion remaineth unconquered, so long as they were enemies to vice, and were glad in their poverty, as may be well spoken of our own nation at home, that hath suffered and done so much and more for our freedoms, than any kingdom in Europe, which this day makes our sovereign to say, Nobis haec invicta miserunt centum & septem proavi, being left unconquered in his succession of one hundred and seven kings: for what have we to do with gold or great riches, so long as we can command our own appetites and desires? And if we thirst after gold, let us valiantly bring it from a far with credit, to enrich our country with, and to supply the necessities of our poor at home; and then having served long credibly abroad, his Majesty our sovereign may grant unto us after our dismission from other service, the liberties and privileges which were granted by Charlemagne unto his soldiers, after he had subdued the Saxons and Lombards, which I will wish his Majesty to grant unto us, saying, Go your ways my soldiers, you shall be called valiant, companions of kings, and judges of the wicked, live henceforth free of travail, give good advice to princes for the common weal, be protectors of widows, helps to the fatherless, wait on great men, with your wisdom, and desire of them life, clothes, and entertainment, and he that refuseth you, let him be detested and infamous, and those that wrong you, let them be accused, as of treason. But take heed ye spoil not through drunkenness, pleasure, or other vices, the great honour and privilege you have attained unto, through your just travail in wars, for fear, that, that which we grant unto you for honour, may not redound to your dishonour and punishment; which we reserve to ourselves, and to our successors Roman kings, if by chance you commit any excess. It is a good thing and worth commendations, to have defeated kings, assaulted towns and provinces, strengths and castles. But it is a thing much more worth commendations, to overcome your own passions, a marvel surpassing all marvels, that he who did overcome so many, at last overcomes himself. The first and best of all victories, which cannot be attained unto without contemning of riches.
To conclude then this observation, happy are those cavaliers that ended their lives in the defence of their country's credit, a brave interchange, where worthy cavaliers, in undergoing a temporal death for eternal fame and glory, gain life after death. Miserable is the brevity, and more miserable the uncertainty of life. Since then, we are sure we cannot live long, and uncertain if we live at all, being like leaves on trees, we are the sport of every puff that bloweth, and with the least gust, may be shaken from our life and nutriment: we travail, we study, we fight, that labour may pay us the loss of our ill expended time, while death whiske about us with a Pegasean speed, flies unawares upon us, and with the kick of his heel, or the dash of his foot, we are driven down to dust, and lie there. Many a stout fellow this night at Stralsund, and five weeks before, did expire in their oppugnations, leaving their breath in the places where they laid their siege. Certainly, if we could think of life's casualties, we would neither be careless nor covetous. What avails then a man, to exhaust his very vitals, for the hoarding up of fatal gold, not thinking how a hair or a fly may snatch him in a moment from it? Why should we then strain ourselves for more than is convenient? We should never care too much for that we are not sure to keep; yet we should respect somewhat more than for our own time, that we may be beneficiall to posterity; but for mine own part, I will cast this, as my life on God's providence, and live here as a pilgrim of one night, not being sure to see the morrow.