The fifth of April 1631, his Majesty having left Frankfurt on the Oder well beset, under the command of General Major Lesly, who had direction to see the fortifications repaired, as likewise, General Bannier was left to command over the army, his Majesty having taken two and twenty hundred commanded musketeers, eight hundred horsemen, twelve piece of cannon great and small, with ammunition answerable, with spades, shovels, and axes, where the Colonel of the artillery called Leonard Richardson, was commanded to go with them for to attend his charge: As also Colonel Hepburne was commanded to lead the party, and I was sent as Lieutenant Colonel, to second him in this employment. Colonel Hepburne having viewed the party, and taken notice that all things were in good order, commanded the party to march, having had a blacksmith, that dwelled at Landsberg, for our guide, we continued our march, the first day, being come within four miles of the town, we quartered at a pass on the highway, and the next morning breaking up, we marched forwards, till on the way, our fore-troops did meet with a regiment of Crabbats, where, after long skirmish and loss sustained by both the parties, in th'end, the Colonel that led the Crabbats being deadly wounded, retired to the town, casting off all bridges behind them, which hindered us for a day.
The eight of April, we lay down before a skonce royal, built on a strong pass, betwixt us and the town. This skonce well fortified was well provided of cannon; It had also a wide graff of running water, and a draw-bridge, which was taken up at our coming, and then they discharged their cannon on us; where at first there were killed some six soldiers: the night drawing on, our watches set forth, I was appointed by his Majesty to be captain of the watch, being ordained to oversee the making of the batteries: As also I was commanded to set forwards our works, both for intrenching, and for running our lines of approach to the skonce, wherein I was so busied, that the whole night I went never off my feet, but from one part to another, having had sundry alarms, though not of continuance.
His Majesty having taken quarters in the nearst dorp, he left two rutters to attend on me, that if the enemy should fall out against us, incontinent one of them might be sent to acquaint his Majesty, who having rested for that night, coming before day to visit the works, and finding them not so far advanced as he did expect, he falls a chiding of me, notwithstanding of my diligence used the whole night, in keeping the soldiers still at work, with the small number of materials we had to work with. But no excuse, though true, would mitigate his passion, till he had first considered on the circumstances, and then he was sorry he had offended me without reason. But his custom was so, that he was worse to be pleased in this kind, than in any other his commands; being ever impatient, when works were not advanced to his mind, and the truth is, our country soldiers cannot endure to work like the Dutch; neither when they have taken pains, can they work so formally as others.
Our batteries being ready against the morning, the whole day our cannon played on the skonce so fast, as they could be charged, but to no purpose, the earthen wall being so thick and so well set together, that they scorned us and our cannon both.
His Majesty seeing nothing to be effectuated this way, resolved to try a second way, by the advice of the blacksmith, that knew all the passages towards the town, notwithstanding that the whole land on that side was covered over with water: This blacksmith advised his Majesty, to cause a Float-bridge to be made, and then setting over the water, he would lead us through shallow passes, where we might come behind the skonce, cutting off their passage from the town, and then the skonce wanting relief might be ours.
according to this plot, his Majesty commanded Lieutenant Colonel Dowbatle, with two hundred and fifty dragoniers for foot, and me with two hundred and fifty musketeers to follow the blacksmith, and to surprise the enemies' guard, which being done by us, we were commanded to make the place good, till Colonel Hepburne with a thousand musketeers should be sent after to second us, Dowbatle and I having fortunately surprised the guard, making them retire to the town, leaving the skonce in our power; Colonel Hepburne being advanced towards the skonce, took it in on accord, and the soldiers were made to take service, and their officers made prisoners.
In this time Dowbatle his dragoniers having followed the enemy with hot skirmish within shot of their walls, his powder being spent, desired I should fall on and relieve him and his, as I did, continuing the service till we made the enemy retire over a bridge that was hard by the town, so that I was forced, for our own safeties, having lost divers soldiers, that were killed with the cannon, to divide my soldiers, making the half of them to cast up a running trench, while as the rest were hot skirmishing with the enemy, being in danger of both cannon and musket, but my soldiers once getting in the ground, we fortified ourselves against their cannon, and resolved in case of their out falling, to maintain the ground we had formerly won, with the loss of our blood, having lost in one half hour above thirty soldiers, whereof six were killed with the cannon.
The enemy finding the skonce was lost, and us so far advanced on the strongest side: Field-marshal Horne with his forces marching on the other side that was weakest, they presently did send a drummer on our side to parley for quarters, whom I received, and being hood-wink't, he was sent with a convoy to his Majesty, who condescended to the treaty, and pledges being delivered, the treaty went on; the accord subscribed, his Majesty came and thanked Dowbatle and us, for our good service, where large promises were made unto us of reward, and to Colonel Hepburne also, for taking in of the skonce.
The enemy being strong in the town, and above twice our strength, his Majesty resolved to send to Frankfurt for more forces, both of horse and foot, to come to him before the enemy was suffered to march out of the town, to whom conditions were granted to transport four pieces of ordnance, and the soldiers to march out with full arms, bag and baggage, with drums beating, and flying colours, and a convoy of horsemen towards Glogau.
His Majesty having beset the garrison, as soon as they marched out, having seen their strength, we were ashamed of their carriage, being the eldest troops, and the choice, by report, of the whole Imperial army, who cowardly did give over such a strong town, being without necessity, and in hope of relief.
One of my Captains called Dumaine, having contracted a fever here before Landsberg, being removed to Frankfurt died there, and being buried, my Lieutenant David Monro was preferred to be captain of his company, and Ensign Burton was made lieutenant, and Bullion his brother having taken his pass, my sergeant Andrew Rosse was made ensign to Captain David, and William Bruntfield was preferred to be my lieutenant, and Mongo Gray Ensign.
This town being taken, both Pomerania and the Marks of Brandenburg were cleared of the Imperialists, being sent up unto Silesia.
The next Sabbath, his Majesty, that was ever ready to reward good servants for virtue, he caused to make our guide the blacksmith (being a stout fellow and a crafty) Burgo-master of the town, who did get from his Majesty two hundred ducats besides.
His Majesty on the Sabbath day in the afternoon suffered the principal officers of his army (such as General Banier, and Lieutenant General Bawtis, and divers others) to make merry, though his Majesty did drink none himself; for his custom was never to drink much, but very seldom, and upon very rare considerations, where sure he had some other plot to effectuate, that concerned his advancement, and the weal of his State.
The ninth Observation.
This town of Landsberg being a Frontier garrison lying near the borders of Poland on the Warthe, the having of it made Pomerania sure, and the Mark, giving unto his Majesty the freer passage unto Silesia; and therefore it was that his Majesty did use the greater diligence and celerity in obtaining of it, with as great honour and reputation, as could be imagined, in respect of the inequality of strength betwixt us and our enemies: As also in consideration of the situation of the place, being on the one side fortified by nature, yet beyond nature and probability of reason. This strong garrison was forced to yield to Gustavus, who was Mars his minion, and Fortune's favourite, or rather their master, as we see by his frequent victories obtained against his enemies, who, though strongest, are made to submit to the weakest party, where we may see, that as industry is fruitful, so there is a kind of a good angel, as it were waiting ever upon diligence, carrying a laurel in his hand, to crown her. And therefore it was, that they said of old, that Fortune should not be prayed unto, but with hands in motion, which made this valiant king love ever to be busied in virtue's exercise, befitting a general, that carried a mind as this invincible king did, while he lived, still rising to blessedness and contentation.
It is commonly seen, that those who fear least are commonly overcome, as became of Frankfurt on the Oder, and this town also: and though victory we see be from God, yet to overcome an enemy, the courage and skill of commanders is very requisite and necessary. And where good military discipline is observed, as was done here; there confidence doth arise, persuading us, we can do what we please. Of this opinion was our leader, and our army never doubted of their own valour, nor of their leader's good conduct, which made our victories the easier to be gotten.
Here also we see the goodness of intelligence; for had his Majesty not gotten the blacksmith, or some other like unto him, to have been intelligencer and guide to win through the shallow trinkets he led us, to the dam upon the head of their watch, who were surprised; hardly could we have overcome this town, on such a sudden, for without this good of intelligence, which is so necessary, and of so great a moment in wars, nothing, or very little can be effectuated in unknown places. For good intelligencers are so requisite in an army, that no means ought to be spared on them, providing they be trusty: for one design or secret of our enemies well known, may bring all the rest we desire to a wished end, or at least, preserve us and ours from danger. This blacksmith, that was our guide in leading us towards our enemy, at our first on-going on service, the enemy playing hard with muskets, nevertheless he went on without fear, undertaking alike danger with ourselves, but finding in time of hot service some falling besides him, our powder being a little wet, and not giving so good report as the enemies did, he then said, he would return to his Majesty, and send us better powder, yet I think, though here there did appear some lack of constant resolution in him, that time, exercise, and frequency of danger would make him a brave fellow, being of a strong and a good able body, but in my opinion, the stoutest of men, till they be a little acquainted with the furious noise of the cannon, will naturally fear and stoop at the first.
Likewise his Majesty was to be commended for his diligence by night and by day, in setting forwards his works; for he was ever out of patience, till once they were done, that he might see his soldiers secured and guarded from their enemies; for when he was weakest, he digged most in the ground; for in one year what at Schwedt, Frankfurt, Landsberg, Brandenburg, Werben, Tangermünde, Wittenberg, and Würzburg, he caused his soldiers to work more for nothing, than the States of Holland could get wrought in three years, though they should bestow every year a ton of gold: and this he did, not only to secure his soldiers from the enemy, but also to keep them from idleness. When they were not employed on service, they were kept by good discipline in awe and obedience, and that with as great moderation, love and discretion as could be.
And his Majesty knew well, that our nation was of that nature, that they could take to heart the austere carriage of their commanders, were they never so good. For while as sometimes, through his Majesty's impatiency, he would cause to imprison some of our countrymen, without solicitation, his Majesty was ever the first did mind their liberties; for he knew their stomachs were so great, that they would burst or starve in prison, before they would acknowledge an error committed against their master, except it were of negligence.
Moreover, nothing can more discourage a city, fort, or strength, that is beleaguered, than when they see their secrets discovered, and their passages from relief cut off; as it was seen of those that yielded up the skonce to Sir John Hepburne, being contented to come in the colonel's mercy, seeing themselves barred from all relief.
Likewise the duty of leaders, that lead men on service, ought to be limited with discretion, and not to advance further than with conveniency they may retire again, if need be, left by too far advancing, they not only endanger themselves, but also engage others, for their reliefs, to endanger all: and a fault committed in this kind, through too much forwardness, merits a harder censure, than remissness with discretion, seeing in the latter, a man is but censured alone, but committing the former error, he loseth himself and others.
Here also we found by experience, that the spade and the shovel are ever good companions in danger, without which, we had lost the greatest part of our followers. Therefore in all occasions of service, a little advantage of ground is ever profitable against horse, foot, or cannon. And for this it was, that the best commanders made ever most use of the spade and the shovel, and that in such ground as was found most commodious for their safeties.
We see also here his Majesty's disposition in entertaining his officers kindly after victory, esteeming them not as servants, but as companions in his mirth, as a wise master ought and should do to those he finds obedient to his commandments, encouraging them another time to undergo any service or danger for his sake, that was so kind and familiar with them, joining their hearts as well with his love, as with his bounty; for he knew well nothing was more able to bring victory next under God, than good commanders: As also his Majesty knew, that to be courteous unto his officers was the way to triumph over his enemies.