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- The Thirty Years War, Book III. - 6/17 -


and vigorous enemy awaited the exhausted troops in an impregnable camp; and when they needed repose and refreshment they must prepare for battle. With exhausted powers they must ascend the hostile entrenchments, whose strength seemed to bid defiance to every assault. A defeat sustained upon this shore would be attended with inevitable destruction, since the same stream which impeded their advance would also cut off their retreat, if fortune should abandon them.

The Swedish council of war, which the king now assembled, strongly urged upon him all these considerations, in order to deter him from this dangerous undertaking. The most intrepid were appalled, and a troop of honourable warriors, who had grown gray in the field, did not hesitate to express their alarm. But the king's resolution was fixed. "What!" said he to Gustavus Horn, who spoke for the rest, "have we crossed the Baltic, and so many great rivers of Germany, and shall we now be checked by a brook like the Lech?" Gustavus had already, at great personal risk, reconnoitred the whole country, and discovered that his own side of the river was higher than the other, and consequently gave a considerable advantage to the fire of the Swedish artillery over that of the enemy. With great presence of mind he determined to profit by this circumstance. At the point where the left bank of the Lech forms an angle with the right, he immediately caused three batteries to be erected, from which 72 field-pieces maintained a cross fire upon the enemy. While this tremendous cannonade drove the Bavarians from the opposite bank, he caused to be erected a bridge over the river with all possible rapidity. A thick smoke, kept up by burning wood and wet straw, concealed for some time the progress of the work from the enemy, while the continued thunder of the cannon overpowered the noise of the axes. He kept alive by his own example the courage of his troops, and discharged more than 60 cannon with his own hand. The cannonade was returned by the Bavarians with equal vivacity for two hours, though with less effect, as the Swedish batteries swept the lower opposite bank, while their height served as a breast-work to their own troops. In vain, therefore, did the Bavarians attempt to destroy these works; the superior fire of the Swedes threw them into disorder, and the bridge was completed under their very eyes. On this dreadful day, Tilly did every thing in his power to encourage his troops; and no danger could drive him from the bank. At length he found the death which he sought, a cannon ball shattered his leg; and Altringer, his brave companion-in-arms, was, soon after, dangerously wounded in the head. Deprived of the animating presence of their two generals, the Bavarians gave way at last, and Maximilian, in spite of his own judgment, was driven to adopt a pusillanimous resolve. Overcome by the persuasions of the dying Tilly, whose wonted firmness was overpowered by the near approach of death, he gave up his impregnable position for lost; and the discovery by the Swedes of a ford, by which their cavalry were on the point of passing, accelerated his inglorious retreat. The same night, before a single soldier of the enemy had crossed the Lech, he broke up his camp, and, without giving time for the King to harass him in his march, retreated in good order to Neuburgh and Ingolstadt. With astonishment did Gustavus Adolphus, who completed the passage of the river on the following day behold the hostile camp abandoned; and the Elector's flight surprised him still more, when he saw the strength of the position he had quitted. "Had I been the Bavarian," said he, "though a cannon ball had carried away my beard and chin, never would I have abandoned a position like this, and laid open my territory to my enemies."

Bavaria now lay exposed to the conqueror; and, for the first time, the tide of war, which had hitherto only beat against its frontier, now flowed over its long spared and fertile fields. Before, however, the King proceeded to the conquest of these provinces, he delivered the town of Augsburg from the yoke of Bavaria; exacted an oath of allegiance from the citizens; and to secure its observance, left a garrison in the town. He then advanced, by rapid marches, against Ingolstadt, in order, by the capture of this important fortress, which the Elector covered with the greater part of his army, to secure his conquests in Bavaria, and obtain a firm footing on the Danube.

Shortly after the appearance of the Swedish King before Ingolstadt, the wounded Tilly, after experiencing the caprice of unstable fortune, terminated his career within the walls of that town. Conquered by the superior generalship of Gustavus Adolphus, he lost, at the close of his days, all the laurels of his earlier victories, and appeased, by a series of misfortunes, the demands of justice, and the avenging manes of Magdeburg. In his death, the Imperial army and that of the League sustained an irreparable loss; the Roman Catholic religion was deprived of its most zealous defender, and Maximilian of Bavaria of the most faithful of his servants, who sealed his fidelity by his death, and even in his dying moments fulfilled the duties of a general. His last message to the Elector was an urgent advice to take possession of Ratisbon, in order to maintain the command of the Danube, and to keep open the communication with Bohemia.

With the confidence which was the natural fruit of so many victories, Gustavus Adolphus commenced the siege of Ingolstadt, hoping to gain the town by the fury of his first assault. But the strength of its fortifications, and the bravery of its garrison, presented obstacles greater than any he had had to encounter since the battle of Breitenfeld, and the walls of Ingolstadt were near putting an end to his career. While reconnoitring the works, a 24-pounder killed his horse under him, and he fell to the ground, while almost immediately afterwards another ball struck his favourite, the young Margrave of Baden, by his side. With perfect self-possession the king rose, and quieted the fears of his troops by immediately mounting another horse.

The occupation of Ratisbon by the Bavarians, who, by the advice of Tilly, had surprised this town by stratagem, and placed in it a strong garrison, quickly changed the king's plan of operations. He had flattered himself with the hope of gaining this town, which favoured the Protestant cause, and to find in it an ally as devoted to him as Nuremberg, Augsburg, and Frankfort. Its seizure by the Bavarians seemed to postpone for a long time the fulfilment of his favourite project of making himself master of the Danube, and cutting off his adversaries' supplies from Bohemia. He suddenly raised the siege of Ingolstadt, before which he had wasted both his time and his troops, and penetrated into the interior of Bavaria, in order to draw the Elector into that quarter for the defence of his territories, and thus to strip the Danube of its defenders.

The whole country, as far as Munich, now lay open to the conqueror. Mosburg, Landshut, and the whole territory of Freysingen, submitted; nothing could resist his arms. But if he met with no regular force to oppose his progress, he had to contend against a still more implacable enemy in the heart of every Bavarian--religious fanaticism. Soldiers who did not believe in the Pope were, in this country, a new and unheard-of phenomenon; the blind zeal of the priests represented them to the peasantry as monsters, the children of hell, and their leader as Antichrist. No wonder, then, if they thought themselves released from all the ties of nature and humanity towards this brood of Satan, and justified in committing the most savage atrocities upon them. Woe to the Swedish soldier who fell into their hands! All the torments which inventive malice could devise were exercised upon these unhappy victims; and the sight of their mangled bodies exasperated the army to a fearful retaliation. Gustavus Adolphus, alone, sullied the lustre of his heroic character by no act of revenge; and the aversion which the Bavarians felt towards his religion, far from making him depart from the obligations of humanity towards that unfortunate people, seemed to impose upon him the stricter duty to honour his religion by a more constant clemency.

The approach of the king spread terror and consternation in the capital, which, stripped of its defenders, and abandoned by its principal inhabitants, placed all its hopes in the magnanimity of the conqueror. By an unconditional and voluntary surrender, it hoped to disarm his vengeance; and sent deputies even to Freysingen to lay at his feet the keys of the city. Strongly as the king might have been tempted by the inhumanity of the Bavarians, and the hostility of their sovereign, to make a dreadful use of the rights of victory; pressed as he was by Germans to avenge the fate of Magdeburg on the capital of its destroyer, this great prince scorned this mean revenge; and the very helplessness of his enemies disarmed his severity. Contented with the more noble triumph of conducting the Palatine Frederick with the pomp of a victor into the very palace of the prince who had been the chief instrument of his ruin, and the usurper of his territories, he heightened the brilliancy of his triumphal entry by the brighter splendour of moderation and clemency.

The King found in Munich only a forsaken palace, for the Elector's treasures had been transported to Werfen. The magnificence of the building astonished him; and he asked the guide who showed the apartments who was the architect. "No other," replied he, "than the Elector himself."--"I wish," said the King, "I had this architect to send to Stockholm." "That," he was answered, "the architect will take care to prevent." When the arsenal was examined, they found nothing but carriages, stripped of their cannon. The latter had been so artfully concealed under the floor, that no traces of them remained; and but for the treachery of a workman, the deceit would not have been detected. "Rise up from the dead," said the King, "and come to judgment." The floor was pulled up, and 140 pieces of cannon discovered, some of extraordinary calibre, which had been principally taken in the Palatinate and Bohemia. A treasure of 30,000 gold ducats, concealed in one of the largest, completed the pleasure which the King received from this valuable acquisition.

A far more welcome spectacle still would have been the Bavarian army itself; for his march into the heart of Bavaria had been undertaken chiefly with the view of luring them from their entrenchments. In this expectation he was disappointed. No enemy appeared; no entreaties, however urgent, on the part of his subjects, could induce the Elector to risk the remainder of his army to the chances of a battle. Shut up in Ratisbon, he awaited the reinforcements which Wallenstein was bringing from Bohemia; and endeavoured, in the mean time, to amuse his enemy and keep him inactive, by reviving the negociation for a neutrality. But the King's distrust, too often and too justly excited by his previous conduct, frustrated this design; and the intentional delay of Wallenstein abandoned Bavaria to the Swedes.

Thus far had Gustavus advanced from victory to victory, without meeting with an enemy able to cope with him. A part of Bavaria and Swabia, the Bishoprics of Franconia, the Lower Palatinate, and the Archbishopric of Mentz, lay conquered in his rear. An uninterrupted career of conquest had conducted him to the threshold of Austria; and the most brilliant success had fully justified the plan of operations which he had formed after the battle of Breitenfeld. If he had not succeeded to his wish in promoting a confederacy among the Protestant States, he had at least disarmed or weakened the League, carried on the war chiefly at its expense, lessened the Emperor's resources, emboldened the weaker States, and while he laid under contribution the allies of the Emperor, forced a way through their territories into Austria itself. Where arms were unavailing, the greatest service was rendered by the friendship of the free cities, whose affections he had gained, by the double ties of policy and religion; and, as long as he should maintain his superiority in the field, he might reckon on every thing from their zeal. By his conquests on the Rhine, the Spaniards were cut off from the Lower Palatinate, even if the state of the war in the Netherlands left them at liberty to interfere in the affairs of Germany. The Duke of Lorraine, too, after his unfortunate campaign, had been glad to adopt a neutrality. Even the numerous garrisons he had left behind him, in his progress through Germany, had not diminished his army; and, fresh and


The Thirty Years War, Book III. - 6/17

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