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of Savoy. Upon this, Anne of Austria appointed him
general of the army of the King of France in Italy ;
but being suspicious of his good faith, she made it a
condition that he should have Turenne to advise him.
Prince Thomas, being in bad health, was only too glad
to have the assistance of Turenne, and very soon left
the command of the army entirely in his hands.

That most straightforward of men, but most insidious
of opponents in a campaign, Henry, Viscount of
Turenne, succeeded in his Italian campaign of 1643
almost entirely by deceitfulness. His object was to
drive the Spaniards out of Piedmont, and specially to
oust them from Trino, a fortress on the Po, about
thirty miles east of Turin ; and he achieved that
object as follows.

There are three towns forming a triangle. The


first of these is Trino, the second is Alessandria, which
is about thirty miles to the south-east of Trino ; and
the third is Asti, a place famous — or according
to the opinion of some critics infamous — for the
wine bearing its name, about twenty miles to the
south of Trino, and about twenty-five to the west of
Alessandria. In order to induce the Spaniards to
leave Piedmont, Turenne made a great demonstration
as if he intended to carry the war into the Duchy of
Milan. He marched to Alessandria and pretended to
invest it ; but he purposely left sufficient intervals in his
investment to allow the enemy to bring succours into
the town. Completely deceived, the Spaniards with-
drew half the garrison from Trino and threw it into
Alessandria. As soon as the Spaniards had done this,
Turenne, who had everything in readiness, hurried back
with all his troops to Trino, quickly carried the out-
works and besieged it. The Spaniards followed him
and tried to throw troops into Trino, as they had
succeeded in throwing them into Alessandria, by lead-
ing them between Turenne's lines ; but against this
contingency Turenne had carefully provided. Failing
to relieve Trino, the Spaniards adopted Turenne's
own stratagem and endeavoured to draw him away
from Trino by besieging Asti. Turenne, however,
had foreseen the possibility of this danger and had
stored Asti with everything that could be necessary for
withstanding a siege. He took Trino in six weeks ;
and shortly after he had done so. Queen Anne of
Austria sent him the staff of a Marshal of France.


Turenne was no gambler, and he is reputed to
have said : " Prevent gaming among the troops as
much as possible. Soldiers have often deserted when
they have lost their pay and are indebted to their
fellow-soldiers, of which gaming is frequently the cause."
But during the siege of Trino, one evening when that
well-known gamester. Count Grammont, was visit-
ing him, he proposed some play to entertain him.
Grammont said that, when he visited friends, he did
not consider it civil to take their money away with him,
or prudent to leave his own behind. " You will find
neither deep play nor much money here," replied
Turenne; "but let each one of us stake a horse." A
number of officers joined in the game, which resulted
in Grammont winning fifteen horses, one of which he
insisted on returning " to pay for the cards "}

Turenne was then (in 1643) thirty-two and he had
served "an apprenticeship to the profession of arms,"
as Ramsay calls it, during seventeen years — one as
a private, four as a captain, four as a colonel, three
as a major-general, and five as a lieutenant-general.
His own descriptions of the lessons which he had
learned from the different masters of the art of war,
under whom he had served, may be worth quoting. From
his uncle, Henry, Prince of Orange, he learned " How
to choose a camp with advantage and how to attack a
town ; to form a project as long as might be before he
carried it out, to turn it over frequently in his thoughts,

1 Memoirs of the Court of Charles II. By Count Grammont.
Bohn's ed., 1846, pp. 54-55-



and to let nothing appear till the very moment of its
execution ; to avoid ostentation, to fill his mind with
elevated sentiments, and to have a more ardent zeal
for the interests of his country than for his own glory ".
Of the Duke of Saxe-Weimar, he said " that he
was a general who, with nothing, did everything, and
yet was never vain of his successes ; that, when mis-
fortune befel him, instead of wasting time in complaints,
he concentrated his whole attention upon getting out of
it ; that he preferred to be unjustly blamed to excusing
himself by laying the blame on others, even justly;
that when he committed a fault he tried to repair it
instead of making apologies ; and, lastly, that he
wished to be loved rather than to be feared by his
soldiers ".

From Cardinal de la Valette he learned that to be
popular with and trusted by his army on a campaign,
"a general must renounce the delicacies, the gallantries,
and the witty conversations of Court life, and live the
same life as his officers, without ceremony or affecta-
tion ". As to Count d'Harcourt, he was a standing con-
firmation of the great maxim of Caesar, " That, of all
military virtues, diligence and expedition are the most
essential, and that they seldom fail to be rewarded with
success when accompanied by prudence and circum-
spection ".

By this time Turenne had obtained that reputation
for extraordinary courage which he never lost ; but the
writer of these pages, in his endeavour to tell the whole
truth, admits that he has found one, though only one,

1643 ^T. 32] SPRIGHTS 37

account of nervousness in Turenne. The story is told
by Cardinal de Retz in the first book of his Memoirs.

Turenne, De Retz, the Bishop of Lisieux, three
ladies and two other men were driving back to Paris
in one of the gigantic coaches of the period, from an
entertainment at St. Cloud, very early in the morning-
Suddenly the coach stopped, and, when asked the cause,
the coachman replied: "Will you have me drive over
all the devils in hell which I see here before me?"
And, surely enough, in the dim light, weird black
figures could be seen moving slowly forward along the
road. The footmen all hid behind the coach "quaking
with fear. Madame de Choisie's shrieks made M. de
Turenne get out of the coach. ... I took one of the
footmen's swords, which I drew, and went to join M.
de Turenne on the other side. I found him looking
steadfastly on something which I could not see."

Now both Turenne and De Retz were short-sighted.
De Retz could not see the mysterious objects at all, and
Turenne could only see them so dimly as to make
them appear still more mysterious and supernatural.
" M. de Turenne, who had drawn the little sword he
wore by his side, after he had looked about a little,
turned to me and said with the same air with which
he would have given the enemy battle : ' Let us go
towards them ! ' ' Towards whom ? ' I asked. . . .
'Why,' said he, 'towards those devils, for they may
really be devils for ought I know.' " De Retz now
saw what looked liked "a long procession of black
sprights, the sight of which," he says, "put me at first


Into a greater trouble than M. de Turenne had been
in. . . . He jogged me ony As journalists would say,
" The italics are ours ". This had the effect of putting
De Retz " into a quicker motion than M. deTurenne's ".
Both were frightened ; but more frightened still were
the "black sprights," who happened to be some bare-
footed black friars, on their way to the river to take
an early bathe, when they saw two men approaching
them with drawn swords.

When they had discovered that the supposed
demons were innocent friars, Turenne, says De Retz,
" protested to me that he had not been in the least
seized with fear . . . though he gave me occasion to
think quite otherwise by his slow motion and his stead-
fast looks ".


Save but our army ; and let Jove incrust

Swords, pikes and guns with everlasting rust. — Pope,

Swords, pikes and guns will form the subject of the
present chapter; for before examining the campaigns
of Turenne as a field-marshal, it may be well to
consider the conditions of military matters in his times.
One difficulty in doing so is that there was such
development both in weapons and in tactics during his
life that one rarely knows the state of either at any
particular period of it. Yet in the course of almost any
long life there have been many such changes. For
instance, a neighbour of the writer's told him that,
when he joined his regiment, his men were armed with
muskets, flint-and-steel locked ; yet, at the time when
he was speaking, our soldiers were using the Lee-
Metford magazine rifle in the Boer War. Perhaps the
advance in firearms may not have been quite so rapid
in the days of Turenne; but it was considerable. In
his youth the controversy was undecided as to the
relative merits of the wheel-lock — a wheel rasped on
its outer edge, which was spun round by a spring
against a piece of sulphuret of iron, thus causing sparks
which, if luck favoured, ignited the powder in the prim-



ing-pan of the musket — and those of the match-lock, in
which the powder was set on fire by the fall of a hammer
upon a match in the priming-pan. A few years after
Turenne had become a field-marshal, both these locks
were superseded by the snaphaunce, an early form of
the flint-and-steel lock. When Turenne himself carried
a musket, the barrel was four feet long, or nearly double
the length of that at present in use in our own army.
The petronel, or poictrinal, was a heavy pistol, the
stock of which rested upon the right of a horseman's
breast when fired. The hargobusiers carried a carbine
three feet three inches in length. English dragoons
were armed with a dragon, a carbine with a barrel
sixteen inches long ; but the French dragoons seem to
have been mounted infantry' and carried long carbines.
The cuirassiers, or pistoliers, carried two carbines, with
barrels more than two feet in length.^

The rests to stick into the ground for the purpose
of placing the musket on their forked tops, known as
sweyn feathers, had probably fallen into disuse early in
Turenne's military career; but the Swedish army,
which was at one time allied to the French and fought
beside Turenne's, introduced a rest with sharp metal
spikes on the top of the forks, and, when its base was
thrust into the ground and the spikes sloped towards
the enemy, it served as a kind of fixed bayonet. But
the bayonet itself, in the form of a dagger with a hilt

iSee Markham's The Souldiei-s Accidence (1645), Meyrick's
Critical Inquiry into Anciefit Armour and A Brief Treatise of War
by W. T. (1649), Harleian MS., No. 6000.


fitting into the muzzle of the musket, was introduced
into the French army four years before the death of

It is doubtful to what extent cartridges came into
use in Turenne's time; although the Pallas Armata,
a book written towards the end of the lifetime of
Turenne, says : " Horsemen should always have the
charges of their pistols in patrons (boxes), the powder
made up compactly in paper and the ball tied to it with
a piece of packthread ". But the usual practice of
musketeers during most of Turenne's life was to carry
the charges of powder in bandoleers hanging on a belt
passed over one shoulder. Of these, Harford, in his
Military Discipline (printed in 1680), says that they
were dangerous because he had often seen them take
fire, especially when a matchlock was used ; " and when
they take fire," he adds, "they commonly wound and
kill him who wears them and those near him ; for
likely, if one bandoleer takes fire, all the rest do in that
collar". And in recommending the use of cartridges,
which were then just coming into use, he shows what
the difficulties of musketeers must have been in at least
many of the wars of Turenne. "Whoever loads his
musket with cartridges, is sure the bullet will not drop
out, though he takes his aim under breast high, for the
paper of the cartridge keeps it in, whereas those soldiers
which on service take their bullets out of their mouths
(which is the nimblest way) or out of their pouches,

1 Meyrick's Critical Inquiry, vol. iii., p. 11 8.


which is slow, seldom put any paper, tow, or grass, to
ram the bullet in ; whereby if they fire above breast
high, the bullet passes over the head of the enemy ;
and if they aim low, the bullet drops out ere the musket
is fired ; and 'tis to this that I attribute the litde execu-
tion I have seen musketeers do in time of fight, though
they fired at great battalions, and those also reasonable
near." One would imagine that the aim of a marksman
would not be very steady or accurate if he had his
mouth full of bullets ; but it was a common practice,
and, when describing the most honourable conditions
of a capitulation, Turenne is stated to have said that
the troops should be allowed "to march out, with arms
and baggage, drums beating, colours flying, lighted
matches, ball in mouth^' etc.

In his splendid standard work. The History of the
British Army, Mr. Fortescue says^ that Gustavus
Adolphus "encouraged the use of cartridges," and, as
he died in 1632, and Turenne was a good deal in
company with the Swedish army, it is probable that
they were adopted in the French army also.

In the middle of the seventeenth century infantry
were divided into musketeers and pikemen. Markham,
in his Souldiers Accidence, says that pikes should be of
ash-wood, "well headed with steel, and armed with
plates downward, at least four feet," and that the
length of the pike ought to be fifteen feet, "besides the
head " ; but Mr. Fortescue says that in the continental
armies, about the time of Turenne's great campaigns,
iVol. i., p. 181.


the pikes had been cut down, from fifteen or even
eighteen feet, to eleven feet. Besides the pike, favourite
weapons with the defenders in sieges were scythes—
"scythes set in long staffs to reverse," of which
Turenne said : " Scythes are of great use to cut off
the enemy as they mount, overset their ladders, and
tumble them into the fosse, when it is easy to fire on
them ".

In France, says Meyrick,^ the pay of the pikemen
"was somewhat greater than that of the musketeers,"
and the tallest and strongest men were chosen for that
service. They also carried swords. Vauban, says
Napoleon, in his dictated Memoirs, effected the aboli-
tion of the pike ; and Vauban served with Turenne ;
but he was too young a soldier to have brought about
its complete abolition in Turenne's time. Pikemen
wore an open helmet, armour on the breast, the back
and the front of the thighs ; strong buff or leather coats,
and very large leather gauntlets. Musketeers wore no
armour except a "pot-helmet" — a sort of steel, flat-
brimmed, bowler hat — but they had strong leathern
coats, supposed to be nearly sword proof, and, like the
pikemen, they carried swords.

Popular as was the pike, in the earlier wars which
we are about to consider, its near relative, the lance,
as a weapon for cavalry, had gone out of fashion. This
is the more extraordinary, because the knights of old
had jousted with it, and it had been the chief weapon
of cavalry in the middle ages. No cavalry seem to
^ Critical Inquiry, vol. iii., p. 122.


have used the lance in the wars of Turenne ; yet,
whereas the pike was in its decadence in Turenne's
later wars, the lance had its second birth in the follow-
ing century, owing to the renown of the Cossack and
the Polish Lancers, and, as everybody knows, it is still
used by modern cavalry.

The proportion of cavalry to infantry, in the seven-
teenth century, was enormous. Napoleon says: "At
least one half of an army, at this period, was com-
posed of cavalry. ... At present four-fifths of every
army are infantry." The most honourable kind were
the pistoliers, or cuirassiers, even the troopers in many
such regiments being entirely of gentle birth. They
wore armour as low as the knee and carried so-called
pistols and swords. The second class of cavalry were
carbineers, or hargobusiers, and the troopers were sup-
posed to be of the yeoman class. They, too, wore
armour and they carried carbines much longer than
the rifles of the present day, as well as swords. The
third class of cavalry consisted of dragoons, men of a
lower type and practically mounted infantry, who were
armed with "dragons," or, more usually in the French
army, with carbines and short swords. They wore no
armour except helmets, but they had strong buff coats.
Turenne was a great advocate of dragoons ; although
they were not used in any great numbers in the French
army until the second half of the seventeenth century.
"Cavalry," says Lord Wolseley {Life of Marlborough,
vol. i., p. 91), were "mounted on big, clumsy 'war-
horses'"; but the horses of dragroons, "the mounted


Infantry of to-day," were "small and light — seldom
above fourteen and a half hands high ".

In that century cavalry were put to uses unknown
to them in our times. When an attack was to be made
upon fortifications, or entrenchments, the infantry were
followed by squadrons of cavalry loaded with fascines
and hurdles. When a particularly rapid march was
to be made, a foot-soldier mounted behind every trooper.
Cavalry horses, therefore, were sometimes loaded with
bundles of sticks, and sometimes had two men on their

Cartridges, and even shells of some sort, were used
by the French artillery, even in the reign of Henry IV.,
the predecessor of Louis XIII. In his reign, says
Colonel Chesney,^ "improved missiles, such as tin cases
filled with steel bolts or darts, also canvas cartridges
filled with small balls, and hollow shot filled with com-
bustible materials," were in use. Bombs are said to
have been invented by Cosimo and Francis de' Medici"
early in the sixteenth century, although they were
supposed for many years to be more dangerous to
friends than to foes ; but, as we have already seen,
they were used in the time of Turenne. According to
General Williamson, Turenne recommended that upon
the bastions of fortified cities should be placed "mortars
to throw stones with, and cannons loaded with grape-
shot or pieces of old iron ".

^ Observafio/is on the Past and Present State of Fire Arms
(1852), p. 67.

2 Napier's Florentine History, vol. v., p. 262.


As to cartridges for cannon, Mr. Fortescue says
that while they were undoubtedly used, it was more
common to load the guns with loose powder in a ladle,
and, on the title-page of a French history of Turenne,^
there is an engraving of a gun being fired with a tremen-
dous puff of smoke from the touch-hole, while large
powder barrels are standing close to it.^ Mr. Fortes.cue
says that a gun's crew consisted of a gunner, his mate,
and an odd man, one of whose duties was to cover up
the powder barrel before the gun was fired, lest a spark
should ignite its contents. The rolling out of the missile
was a contingency which embarrassed gunners as much
as musketeers. " Military writers," says Mr. Fortescue,
"generally agreed that cannon should be posted on an
eminence, since a ball travels with greater force down-
hill than uphill. On the other hand, it was objected
even to this simple rule that if guns were pointed down-
hill there was always a risk of the shot rolling out of
the muzzle," The gunners of those days evidently ex-
perienced the same difficulties which used to try our
tempers as boys, when the peas we used to put into
our little spring-cannons would persist in rolling out,
unless we gave the guns such an elevation that they
sent the peas higher than the heads of our tin enemies.

A very important addition was made to guns in

'^ La Vie du Vicomte de Turenne. Par M. du Buisson (1695).

^Col. C. H. Owen, in his Principles and Practice of Modern
Artillery (1831), p. 301, says much the same as Mr. Fortescue as
to cartridges having been in use in the seventeenth century, but the
ladle and loose powder having been more usual.

From the Title-page of Du Buisson's Vie du Vicomte Turenne, 1695.


France, about 1650, in the elevating screw, and French
guns were greatly improved and superior to those of
other nations in the second half of the seventeenth
century. Possibly this may have had something to do
with Turenne's successes. The guns of the seventeenth
century were generally 4-pounders or 6-pounders, and
were drawn either by the heavy horses of the country
or by bullocks. When a reverse occurred and a hasty
retreat had to be made, the guns were generally
abandoned. Sometimes, however, very much heavier
guns were used. Most of Tilly's were 2 4-pounders
and required twenty transport horses. Turenne also
recommends 24-pounders "to batter in the breach,"
as siege guns, but he says, "You must have small and
great cannon, but most small, because they are more
easily removed from place to place than the great".
For sudden surprises, he even advises "small pieces of
artillery, mounted on very light carriages, and drawn by
one horse each".^

In the reign of Louis XIV.^ a battery of artillery
consisted of four guns. It was accompanied by a cart
of tools drawn by four horses ; three carts of powder ;
eight carts each carrying fifty round-shot, ten cartridges
and six packets of wicks ; five carts each carrying

1 Williamson's Maxims of Turenne.

2 Alaximes et Instructions sur fart Militaire. Supplement d
I'Histoire Militaire de Louis le Grand. Par M. le Marquis de
Quincy. Mariette, Paris, 1726, torn, vii., 2^ partie. See also
Turenne et I'Armee Fraticaise eti 16J4. Par le Captaine Cordier


powder and three barrels of lead. There were also
two "chariots" for officers of artillery, who appear not
to have ridden, but to have driven. For a battery of
four guns with its carts 1 1 8 horses in all were used —
when they were available — and these horses were all
for draught ; none of them being for riding purposes.

Turenne is said to have recommended that, in
some cases, cannon should be charged " with old
nails, bolts, pieces of iron chains, old iron, and chain-
bullets ".

An implement of war much used in the seventeenth
century was the petard. The following description of
one is said to be by Turenne : " The petard is a sort of
brass pot, very thick in metal, they are generally 6
inches thick at the mouth, lO at the bottom, and about
lo wide, their weight is about 6o lb. They have a
touch-hole, and you load them with good powder.
Your petard is strongly fixed to a piece of oak plank,
2 feet broad, 2 J or 3 feet thick or more. This plank is
strongly fixed to a gate, drawbridge or the like to burn
them open. They are likewise used to open palisades,
or throw down a wall that is sapped." ^

Tactics, during the career of Turenne, varied and
developed considerably. The order of battle commonly
consisted of two lines and a reserve. There was a
body of cavalry on either flank, the infantry were in

1 " Let it work : for 'tis the sport to have the engineer hoist
with his own petard ; and it shall go hard, but I will delve one
yard below their mines, and blow them at the moon " {Hamlet,
act iii., scene iv.).


the centre and the artillery were generally placed in
front of the centre of the first line. The intervals be-
tween the battalions and squadrons were equal to their
fronts ; and the battalions and squadrons of the second
line and the reserve covered the intervals in the line in
front of them.

An action was generally opened by the artillery.
Then the cavalry on the wings charged the cavalry
opposed to them. If, after a successful charge, the
cavalry could be collected, it attacked the flanks of the
infantry ; but too often it got out of hand and amused
itself by pillaging the camp and baggage of the enemy.
When cavalry attacked infantry it galloped to within
firing- range — ^but a short distance with the arms of
the period — and fired from the saddle.^ Then it ad-
vanced with the sword. The companies of pikemen
were in line, from six to ten deep or more, and be-
tween these companies of pikemen stood the musket-
eers. When the cavalry were advancing the musketeers
fired, and then ran to the rear of the pikemen to reload.
The pikemen received the cavalry by sloping their
pikes and resting the butts of them against their right
feet. Pikemen were very carefully drilled and, as they

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