Daniel Defoe.

Memoirs of a Cavalier A Military Journal of the Wars in Germany, and the Wars in England. From the Year 1632 to the Year 1648 online

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to that his Majesty's favour had been shown in me to a family both
willing and ready to serve him, that I had received some commands from
my father, which, if his Majesty pleased to do me the honour to accept
of, might put me in a condition to acknowledge his Majesty's goodness
in a manner more proportioned to the sense I had of his favour; and
with that I produced my father's letter, and read that clause in it
which related to the regiment of horse, which was as follows: -

"I read with a great deal of satisfaction the account you give of the
great and extraordinary conquests of the King of Sweden, and with more
his Majesty's singular favour to you; I hope you will be careful to
value and deserve so much honour. I am glad you rather chose to serve
as a volunteer at your own charge, than to take any command, which,
for want of experience, you might misbehave in.

"I have obtained of the king that he will particularly thank his
Majesty of Sweden for the honour he has done you, and if his Majesty
gives you so much freedom, I could be glad you should in the humblest
manner thank his Majesty in the name of an old broken soldier.

"If you think yourself officer enough to command them, and his Majesty
pleased to accept them, I would have you offer to raise his Majesty
a regiment of horse, which, I think, I may near complete in our
neighbourhood with some of your old acquaintance, who are very willing
to see the world. If his Majesty gives you the word, they shall
receive his commands in the Maes, the king having promised me to give
them arms, and transport them for that service into Holland; and I
hope they may do his Majesty such service as may be for your honour
and the advantage of his Majesty's interest and glory."


"'Tis an offer like a gentleman and like a soldier," says the king,"
and I'll accept of it on two conditions: first," says the king, "that
I will pay your father the advance money for the raising the regiment;
and next, that they shall be landed in the Weser or the Elbe; for
which, if the King of England will not, I will pay the passage; for
if they land in Holland, it may prove very difficult to get them to us
when the army shall be marched out of this part of the country."

I returned this answer to my father, and sent my man George into
England to order that regiment, and made him quartermaster. I sent
blank commissions for the officers, signed by the king, to be filled
up as my father should think fit; and when I had the king's order for
the commissions, the secretary told me I must go back to the king with
them. Accordingly I went back to the king, who, opening the packet,
laid all the commissions but one upon a table before him, and bade
me take them, and keeping that one still in his hand, "Now," says he,
"you are one of my soldiers," and therewith gave me his commission, as
colonel of horse in present pay. I took the commission kneeling,
and humbly thanked his Majesty. "But," says the king, "there is one
article-of-war I expect of you more than of others." "Your Majesty can
expect nothing of me which I shall not willingly comply with," said I,
"as soon as I have the honour to understand what it is." "Why, it is,"
says the king, "that you shall never fight but when you have orders,
for I shall not be willing to lose my colonel before I have the
regiment." "I shall be ready at all times, sir," returned I, "to obey
your Majesty's orders."

I sent my man express with the king's answer and the commission to my
father, who had the regiment completed in less than two months' time,
and six of the officers, with a list of the rest, came away to me,
whom I presented to his Majesty when he lay before Nuremberg, where
they kissed his hand.

One of the captains offered to bring the whole regiment travelling as
private men into the army in six weeks' time, and either to transport
their equipage, or buy it in Germany, but 'twas thought impracticable.
However, I had so many come in that manner that I had a complete troop
always about me, and obtained the king's order to muster them as a

On the 8th of March the king decamped, and, marching up the river
Maine, bent his course directly for Bavaria, taking several small
places by the way, and expecting to engage with Tilly, who he thought
would dispute his entrance into Bavaria, kept his army together; but
Tilly, finding himself too weak to encounter him, turned away, and
leaving Bavaria open to the king, marched into the Upper Palatinate.
The king finding the country clear of the Imperialists comes to
Nuremberg, made his entrance into that city the 21st of March, and
being nobly treated by the citizens, he continued his march into
Bavaria, and on the 26th sat down before Donauwerth. The town was
taken the next day by storm, so swift were the conquests of this
invincible captain. Sir John Hepburn, with the Scots and the English
volunteers at the head of them, entered the town first, and cut all
the garrison to pieces, except such as escaped over the bridge.

I had no share in the business of Donauwerth, being now among the
horse, but I was posted on the roads with five troops of horse, where
we picked up a great many stragglers of the garrison, whom we made
prisoners of war.

'Tis observable that this town of Donauwerth is a very strong place
and well fortified, and yet such expedition did the king make, and
such resolution did he use in his first attacks, that he carried the
town without putting himself to the trouble of formal approaches.
'Twas generally his way when he came before any town with a design to
besiege it; he never would encamp at a distance and begin his trenches
a great way off, but bring his men immediately within half musket-shot
of the place; there getting under the best cover he could, he would
immediately begin his batteries and trenches before their faces;
and if there was any place possibly to be attacked, he would fall to
storming immediately. By this resolute way of coming on he carried
many a town in the first heat of his men, which would have held out
many days against a more regular siege.

This march of the king broke all Tilly's measures, for now he was
obliged to face about, and leaving the Upper Palatinate, to come
to the assistance of the Duke of Bavaria; for the king being 20,000
strong, besides 10,000 foot and 4000 horse and dragoons which joined
him from the Duringer Wald, was resolved to ruin the duke, who lay
now open to him, and was the most powerful and inveterate enemy of the
Protestants in the empire.

Tilly was now joined with the Duke of Bavaria, and might together make
about 22,000 men, and in order to keep the Swedes out of the country
of Bavaria, had planted themselves along the banks of the river Lech,
which runs on the edge of the duke's territories; and having fortified
the other side of the river, and planted his cannon for several miles
at all the convenient places on the river, resolved to dispute the
king's passage.

I shall be the longer in relating this account of the Lech, being
esteemed in those days as great an action as any battle or siege of
that age, and particularly famous for the disaster of the gallant old
General Tilly; and for that I can be more particular in it than other
accounts, having been an eye-witness to every part of it.

The king being truly informed of the disposition of the Bavarian army,
was once of the mind to have left the banks of the Lech, have repassed
the Danube, and so setting down before Ingolstadt, the duke's capital
city, by the taking that strong town to have made his entrance into
Bavaria, and the conquest of such a fortress, one entire action;
but the strength of the place and the difficulty of maintaining his
leaguer in an enemy's country while Tilly was so strong in the field,
diverted him from that design; he therefore concluded that Tilly
was first to be beaten out of the country, and then the siege of
Ingolstadt would be the easier.

Whereupon the king resolved to go and view the situation of the enemy.
His Majesty went out the 2nd of April with a strong party of horse,
which I had the honour to command. We marched as near as we could
to the banks of the river, not to be too much exposed to the enemy's
cannon, and having gained a little height, where the whole course of
the river might be seen, the king halted, and commanded to draw up.
The king alighted, and calling me to him, examined every reach and
turning of the river by his glass, but finding the river run a long
and almost a straight course he could find no place which he liked;
but at last turning himself north, and looking down the stream, he
found the river, stretching a long reach, doubles short upon itself,
making a round and very narrow point. "There's a point will do our
business," says the king, "and if the ground be good I'll pass there,
let Tilly do his worst."

He immediately ordered a small party of horse to view the ground, and
to bring him word particularly how high the bank was on each side and
at the point. "And he shall have fifty dollars," says the king, "that
will bring me word how deep the water is." I asked his Majesty leave
to let me go, which he would by no means allow of; but as the party
was drawing out, a sergeant of dragoons told the king, if he pleased
to let him go disguised as a boor, he would bring him an account of
everything he desired. The king liked the notion well enough, and
the fellow being very well acquainted with the country, puts on a
ploughman's habit, and went away immediately with a long pole upon
his shoulder. The horse lay all this while in the woods, and the
king stood undiscerned by the enemy on the little hill aforesaid. The
dragoon with his long pole comes down boldly to the bank of the river,
and calling to the sentinels which Tilly had placed on the other
bank, talked with them, asked them if they could not help him over the
river, and pretended he wanted to come to them. At last being come to
the point where, as I said, the river makes a short turn, he stands
parleying with them a great while, and sometimes, pretending to wade
over, he puts his long pole into the water, then finding it pretty
shallow he pulls off his hose and goes in, still thrusting his pole in
before him, till being gotten up to his middle, he could reach beyond
him, where it was too deep, and so shaking his head, comes back again.
The soldiers on the other side, laughing at him, asked him if he could
swim? He said, "No," "Why, you fool you," says one of the sentinels,
"the channel of the river is twenty feet deep." "How do you know
that?" says the dragoon. "Why, our engineer," says he, "measured it
yesterday." This was what he wanted, but not yet fully satisfied,
"Ay, but," says he, "maybe it may not be very broad, and if one of you
would wade in to meet me till I could reach you with my pole, I'd give
him half a ducat to pull me over." The innocent way of his discourse
so deluded the soldiers, that one of them immediately strips and goes
in up to the shoulders, and our dragoon goes in on this side to meet
him; but the stream took t' other soldier away, and he being a good
swimmer, came swimming over to this side. The dragoon was then in a
great deal of pain for fear of being discovered, and was once going
to kill the fellow, and make off; but at last resolved to carry on the
humour, and having entertained the fellow with a tale of a tub, about
the Swedes stealing his oats, the fellow being a-cold wanted to be
gone, and he as willing to be rid of him, pretended to be very sorry
he could not get over the river, and so makes off.

By this, however, he learned both the depth and breadth of the
channel, the bottom and nature of both shores, and everything the king
wanted to know. We could see him from the hill by our glasses very
plain, and could see the soldier naked with him. Says the king, "He
will certainly be discovered and knocked on the head from the other
side: he is a fool," says the king, "he does not kill the fellow and
run off." But when the dragoon told his tale, the king was extremely
well satisfied with him, gave him a hundred dollars, and made him a
quartermaster to a troop of cuirassiers.

The king having farther examined the dragoon, he gave him a very
distinct account of the shore and the ground on this side, which he
found to be higher than the enemy's by ten or twelve foot, and a hard

Hereupon the king resolves to pass there, and in order to it gives,
himself, particular directions for such a bridge as I believe never
army passed a river on before nor since.

His bridge was only loose planks laid upon large tressels in the same
homely manner as I have seen bricklayers raise a low scaffold to build
a brick wall; the tressels were made higher than one another to answer
to the river as it became deeper or shallower, and was all framed and
fitted before any appearance was made of attempting to pass.

When all was ready the king brings his army down to the bank of the
river, and plants his cannon as the enemy had done, some here and some
there, to amuse them.

At night, April 4th, the king commanded about 2000 men to march to
the point, and to throw up a trench on either side, and quite round
it with a battery of six pieces of cannon at each end, besides three
small mounts, one at the point and one of each side, which had each of
them two pieces upon them. This work was begun so briskly and so well
carried on, the king firing all the night from the other parts of
the river, that by daylight all the batteries at the new work were
mounted, the trench lined with 2000 musketeers, and all the utensils
of the bridge lay ready to be put together.

Now the Imperialists discovered the design, but it was too late
to hinder it; the musketeers in the great trench, and the five new
batteries, made such continual fire that the other bank, which, as
before, lay twelve feet below them, was too hot for the Imperialists;
whereupon Tilly, to be provided for the king at his coming over, falls
to work in a wood right against the point, and raises a great battery
for twenty pieces of cannon, with a breastwork or line, as near the
river as he could, to cover his men, thinking that when the king had
built his bridge he might easily beat it down with his cannon.

But the king had doubly prevented him, first by laying his bridge so
low that none of Tilly's shot could hurt it; for the bridge lay not
above half a foot above the water's edge, by which means the king, who
in that showed himself an excellent engineer, had secured it from
any batteries to be made within the land, and the angle of the bank
secured it from the remoter batteries on the other side, and the
continual fire of the cannon and small shot beat the Imperialists from
their station just against it, they having no works to cover them.

And in the second place, to secure his passage he sent over about
200 men, and after that 200 more, who had orders to cast up a large
ravelin on the other bank, just where he designed to land his bridge.
This was done with such expedition too, that it was finished before
night, and in condition to receive all the shot of Tilly's great
battery, and effectually covered his bridge. While this was doing the
king on his side lays over his bridge. Both sides wrought hard all
day and night, as if the spade, not the sword, had been to decide
the controversy, and that he had got the victory whose trenches and
batteries were first ready. In the meanwhile the cannon and musket
bullets flew like hail, and made the service so hot that both sides
had enough to do to make their men stand to their work. The king, in
the hottest of it, animated his men by his presence, and Tilly, to
give him his due, did the same; for the execution was so great, and
so many officers killed, General Altringer wounded, and two
sergeant-majors killed, that at last Tilly himself was obliged
to expose himself, and to come up to the very face of our line to
encourage his men, and give his necessary orders.

And here about one o'clock, much about the time that the king's
brigade and works were finished, and just as they said he had ordered
to fall on upon our ravelin with 3000 foot, was the brave old
Tilly slain with a musket ball in the thigh. He was carried off to
Ingolstadt, and lived some days after, but died of that wound the
same day as the king had his horse shot under him at the siege of that

We made no question of passing the river here, having brought
everything so forward, and with such extraordinary success; but we
should have found it a very hot piece of work if Tilly had lived one
day more, and, if I may give my opinion of it, having seen Tilly's
battery and breastwork, in the face of which we must have passed the
river, I must say that, whenever we had marched, if Tilly had fallen
in with his horse and foot, placed in that trench, the whole army
would have passed as much danger as in the face of a strong town in
the storming a counterscarp. The king himself, when he saw with what
judgment Tilly had prepared his works, and what danger he must have
run, would often say that day's success was every way equal to the
victory of Leipsic.

Tilly being hurt and carried off, as if the soul of the army had been
lost, they began to draw off. The Duke of Bavaria took horse and rid
away as if he had fled out of battle for his life.

The other generals, with a little more caution, as well as courage,
drew off by degrees, sending their cannon and baggage away first, and
leaving some to continue firing on the bank of the river, to conceal
their retreat. The river preventing any intelligence, we knew nothing
of the disaster befallen them; and the king, who looked for blows,
having finished his bridge and ravelin, ordered to run a line with
palisadoes to take in more ground on the bank of the river, to cover
the first troops he should send over. This being finished the same
night, the king sends over a party of his guards to relieve the men
who were in the ravelin, and commanded 600 musketeers to man the new
line out of the Scots brigade.

Early in the morning a small party of Scots, commanded by one Captain
Forbes, of my Lord Reay's regiment, were sent out to learn something
of the enemy, the king observing they had not fired all night; and
while this party were abroad, the army stood in battalia; and my old
friend Sir John Hepburn, whom of all men the king most depended upon
for any desperate service, was ordered to pass the bridge with his
brigade, and to draw up without the line, with command to advance as
he found the horse, who were to second him, come over.

Sir John being passed without the trench, meets Captain Forbes with
some prisoners, and the good news of the enemy's retreat. He sends him
directly to the king, who was by this time at the head of his army,
in full battalia, ready to follow his vanguard, expecting a hot day's
work of it. Sir John sends messenger after messenger to the king,
entreating him to give him orders to advance; but the king would not
suffer him, for he was ever upon his guard, and would not venture a
surprise; so the army continued on this side the Lech all day and the
next night. In the morning the king sent for me, and ordered me to
draw out 300 horse, and a colonel with 600 horse, and a colonel with
800 dragoons, and ordered us to enter the wood by three ways, but
so as to be able to relieve one another; and then ordered Sir John
Hepburn with his brigade to advance to the edge of the wood to secure
our retreat, and at the same time commanded another brigade of foot to
pass the bridge, if need were, to second Sir John Hepburn, so warily
did this prudent general proceed.

We advanced with our horse into the Bavarian camp, which we found
forsaken. The plunder of it was inconsiderable, for the exceeding
caution the king had used gave them time to carry off all their
baggage. We followed them three or four miles, and returned to our

I confess I was most diverted that day with viewing the works which
Tilly had cast up, and must own again that had he not been taken off
we had met with as desperate a piece of work as ever was attempted.
The next day the rest of the cavalry came up to us, commanded by
Gustavus Horn, and the king and the whole army followed. We advanced
through the heart of Bavaria, took Rain at the first summons, and
several other small towns, and sat down before Augsburg.

Augsburg, though a Protestant city, had a Popish Bavarian garrison
in it of above 5000 men, commanded by a Fugger, a great family in
Bavaria. The governor had posted several little parties as out-scouts
at the distance of two miles and a half or three miles from the town.
The king, at his coming up to this town, sends me with my little troop
and three companies of dragoons to beat in these out-scouts. The first
party I lighted on was not above sixteen men, who had made a small
barricado across the road, and stood resolutely upon their guard. I
commanded the dragoons to alight and open the barricado, which, while
they resolutely performed, the sixteen men gave them two volleys of
their muskets, and through the enclosures made their retreat to a
turnpike about a quarter of a mile farther. We passed their first
traverse, and coming up to the turnpike, I found it defended by 200
musketeers. I prepared to attack them, sending word to the king how
strong the enemy was, and desired some foot to be sent me. My dragoons
fell on, and though the enemy made a very hot fire, had beat them from
this post before 200 foot, which the king had sent me, had come
up. Being joined with the foot, I followed the enemy, who retreated
fighting, till they came under the cannon of a strong redoubt, where
they drew up, and I could see another body of foot of about 300 join
them out of the works; upon which I halted, and considering I was in
view of the town, and a great way from the army, I faced about and
began to march off. As we marched I found the enemy followed, but
kept at a distance, as if they only designed to observe me. I had not
marched far, but I heard a volley of small shot, answered by two or
three more, which I presently apprehended to be at the turnpike,
where I had left a small guard of twenty-six men with a lieutenant.
Immediately I detached 100 dragoons to relieve my men and secure
my retreat, following myself as fast as the foot could march. The
lieutenant sent me back word the post was taken by the enemy, and my
men cut off. Upon this I doubled my pace, and when I came up I found
it as the lieutenant said; for the post was taken and manned with 300
musketeers and three troops of horse. By this time, also, I found the
party in my rear made up towards me, so that I was like to be charged
in a narrow place both in front and rear.

I saw there was no remedy but with all my force to fall upon that
party before me, and so to break through before those from the town
could come up with me; wherefore, commanding my dragoons to alight, I
ordered them to fall on upon the foot. Their horse were drawn up in
an enclosed field on one side of the road, a great ditch securing the
other side, so that they thought if I charged the foot in front they
would fall upon my flank, while those behind would charge my rear;
and, indeed, had the other come in time, they had cut me off. My
dragoons made three fair charges on their foot, but were received with
so much resolution and so brisk a fire, that they were beaten off, and
sixteen men killed. Seeing them so rudely handled, and the horse ready
to fall in, I relieved them with 100 musketeers, and they renewed
the attack; at the same time, with my troop of horse, flanked on both
wings with fifty musketeers, I faced their horse, but did not offer
to charge them. The case grew now desperate, and the enemy behind
were just at my heels with near 600 men. The captain who commanded the
musketeers who flanked my horse came up to me; says he, "If we do not
force this pass all will be lost; if you will draw out your troop and
twenty of my foot, and fall in, I'll engage to keep off the horse with
the rest." "With all my heart," says I.

Immediately I wheeled off my troop, and a small party of the
musketeers followed me, and fell in with the dragoons and foot, who,
seeing the danger too as well as I, fought like madmen. The foot at
the turnpike were not able to hinder our breaking through, so we
made our way out, killing about 150 of them, and put the rest into

But now was I in as great a difficulty as before how to fetch off my
brave captain of foot, for they charged home upon him. He defended

Online LibraryDaniel DefoeMemoirs of a Cavalier A Military Journal of the Wars in Germany, and the Wars in England. From the Year 1632 to the Year 1648 → online text (page 8 of 24)