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- The Thirty Years War, Book IV. - 3/9 -


us to an admission, not much to the honour of the champions of German liberty. However the Protestant Princes might boast of the justice of their cause, and the sincerity of their conviction, still the motives from which they acted were selfish enough; and the desire of stripping others of their possessions, had at least as great a share in the commencement of hostilities, as the fear of being deprived of their own. Gustavus soon found that he might reckon much more on these selfish motives, than on their patriotic zeal, and did not fail to avail himself of them. Each of his confederates received from him the promise of some possession, either already wrested, or to be afterwards taken from the enemy; and death alone prevented him from fulfilling these engagements. What prudence had suggested to the king, necessity now prescribed to his successor. If it was his object to continue the war, he must be ready to divide the spoil among the allies, and promise them advantages from the confusion which it was his object to continue. Thus he promised to the Landgrave of Hesse, the abbacies of Paderborn, Corvey, Munster, and Fulda; to Duke Bernard of Weimar, the Franconian Bishoprics; to the Duke of Wirtemberg, the Ecclesiastical domains, and the Austrian counties lying within his territories, all under the title of fiefs of Sweden. This spectacle, so strange and so dishonourable to the German character, surprised the Chancellor, who found it difficult to repress his contempt, and on one occasion exclaimed, "Let it be writ in our records, for an everlasting memorial, that a German prince made such a request of a Swedish nobleman, and that the Swedish nobleman granted it to the German upon German ground!"

After these successful measures, he was in a condition to take the field, and prosecute the war with fresh vigour. Soon after the victory at Lutzen, the troops of Saxony and Lunenburg united with the Swedish main body; and the Imperialists were, in a short time, totally driven from Saxony. The united army again divided: the Saxons marched towards Lusatia and Silesia, to act in conjunction with Count Thurn against the Austrians in that quarter; a part of the Swedish army was led by the Duke of Weimar into Franconia, and the other by George, Duke of Brunswick, into Westphalia and Lower Saxony.

The conquests on the Lech and the Danube, during Gustavus's expedition into Saxony, had been maintained by the Palatine of Birkenfeld, and the Swedish General Banner, against the Bavarians; but unable to hold their ground against the victorious progress of the latter, supported as they were by the bravery and military experience of the Imperial General Altringer, they were under the necessity of summoning the Swedish General Horn to their assistance, from Alsace. This experienced general having captured the towns of Benfeld, Schlettstadt, Colmar, and Hagenau, committed the defence of them to the Rhinegrave Otto Louis, and hastily crossed the Rhine to form a junction with Banner's army. But although the combined force amounted to more than 16,000, they could not prevent the enemy from obtaining a strong position on the Swabian frontier, taking Kempten, and being joined by seven regiments from Bohemia. In order to retain the command of the important banks of the Lech and the Danube, they were under the necessity of recalling the Rhinegrave Otto Louis from Alsace, where he had, after the departure of Horn, found it difficult to defend himself against the exasperated peasantry. With his army, he was now summoned to strengthen the army on the Danube; and as even this reinforcement was insufficient, Duke Bernard of Weimar was earnestly pressed to turn his arms into this quarter.

Duke Bernard, soon after the opening of the campaign of 1633, had made himself master of the town and territory of Bamberg, and was now threatening Wurtzburg. But on receiving the summons of General Horn, without delay he began his march towards the Danube, defeated on his way a Bavarian army under John de Werth, and joined the Swedes near Donauwerth. This numerous force, commanded by excellent generals, now threatened Bavaria with a fearful inroad. The bishopric of Eichstadt was completely overrun, and Ingoldstadt was on the point of being delivered up by treachery to the Swedes. Altringer, fettered in his movements by the express order of the Duke of Friedland, and left without assistance from Bohemia, was unable to check the progress of the enemy. The most favourable circumstances combined to further the progress of the Swedish arms in this quarter, when the operations of the army were at once stopped by a mutiny among the officers.

All the previous successes in Germany were owing altogether to arms; the greatness of Gustavus himself was the work of the army, the fruit of their discipline, their bravery, and their persevering courage under numberless dangers and privations. However wisely his plans were laid in the cabinet, it was to the army ultimately that he was indebted for their execution; and the expanding designs of the general did but continually impose new burdens on the soldiers. All the decisive advantages of the war, had been violently gained by a barbarous sacrifice of the soldiers' lives in winter campaigns, forced marches, stormings, and pitched battles; for it was Gustavus's maxim never to decline a battle, so long as it cost him nothing but men. The soldiers could not long be kept ignorant of their own importance, and they justly demanded a share in the spoil which had been won by their own blood. Yet, frequently, they hardly received their pay; and the rapacity of individual generals, or the wants of the state, generally swallowed up the greater part of the sums raised by contributions, or levied upon the conquered provinces. For all the privations he endured, the soldier had no other recompense than the doubtful chance either of plunder or promotion, in both of which he was often disappointed. During the lifetime of Gustavus Adolphus, the combined influence of fear and hope had suppressed any open complaint, but after his death, the murmurs were loud and universal; and the soldiery seized the most dangerous moment to impress their superiors with a sense of their importance. Two officers, Pfuhl and Mitschefal, notorious as restless characters, even during the King's life, set the example in the camp on the Danube, which in a few days was imitated by almost all the officers of the army. They solemnly bound themselves to obey no orders, till these arrears, now outstanding for months, and even years, should be paid up, and a gratuity, either in money or lands, made to each man, according to his services. "Immense sums," they said, "were daily raised by contributions, and all dissipated by a few. They were called out to serve amidst frost and snow, and no reward requited their incessant labours. The soldiers' excesses at Heilbronn had been blamed, but no one ever talked of their services. The world rung with the tidings of conquests and victories, but it was by their hands that they had been fought and won."

The number of the malcontents daily increased; and they even attempted by letters, (which were fortunately intercepted,) to seduce the armies on the Rhine and in Saxony. Neither the representations of Bernard of Weimar, nor the stern reproaches of his harsher associate in command, could suppress this mutiny, while the vehemence of Horn seemed only to increase the insolence of the insurgents. The conditions they insisted on, were that certain towns should be assigned to each regiment for the payment of arrears. Four weeks were allowed to the Swedish Chancellor to comply with these demands; and in case of refusal, they announced that they would pay themselves, and never more draw a sword for Sweden.

These pressing demands, made at the very time when the military chest was exhausted, and credit at a low ebb, greatly embarrassed the chancellor. The remedy, he saw, must be found quickly, before the contagion should spread to the other troops, and he should be deserted by all his armies at once. Among all the Swedish generals, there was only one of sufficient authority and influence with the soldiers to put an end to this dispute. The Duke of Weimar was the favourite of the army, and his prudent moderation had won the good-will of the soldiers, while his military experience had excited their admiration. He now undertook the task of appeasing the discontented troops; but, aware of his importance, he embraced the opportunity to make advantageous stipulations for himself, and to make the embarrassment of the chancellor subservient to his own views.

Gustavus Adolphus had flattered him with the promise of the Duchy of Franconia, to be formed out of the Bishoprics of Wurtzburg and Bamberg, and he now insisted on the performance of this pledge. He at the same time demanded the chief command, as generalissimo of Sweden. The abuse which the Duke of Weimar thus made of his influence, so irritated Oxenstiern, that, in the first moment of his displeasure, he gave him his dismissal from the Swedish service. But he soon thought better of it, and determined, instead of sacrificing so important a leader, to attach him to the Swedish interests at any cost. He therefore granted to him the Franconian bishoprics, as a fief of the Swedish crown, reserving, however, the two fortresses of Wurtzburg and Koenigshofen, which were to be garrisoned by the Swedes; and also engaged, in name of the Swedish crown, to secure these territories to the duke. His demand of the supreme authority was evaded on some specious pretext. The duke did not delay to display his gratitude for this valuable grant, and by his influence and activity soon restored tranquillity to the army. Large sums of money, and still more extensive estates, were divided among the officers, amounting in value to about five millions of dollars, and to which they had no other right but that of conquest. In the mean time, however, the opportunity for a great undertaking had been lost, and the united generals divided their forces to oppose the enemy in other quarters.

Gustavus Horn, after a short inroad into the Upper Palatinate, and the capture of Neumark, directed his march towards the Swabian frontier, where the Imperialists, strongly reinforced, threatened Wuertemberg. At his approach, the enemy retired to the Lake of Constance, but only to show the Swedes the road into a district hitherto unvisited by war. A post on the entrance to Switzerland, would be highly serviceable to the Swedes, and the town of Kostnitz seemed peculiarly well fitted to be a point of communication between him and the confederated cantons. Accordingly, Gustavus Horn immediately commenced the siege of it; but destitute of artillery, for which he was obliged to send to Wirtemberg, he could not press the attack with sufficient vigour, to prevent the enemy from throwing supplies into the town, which the lake afforded them convenient opportunity of doing. He, therefore, after an ineffectual attempt, quitted the place and its neighbourhood, and hastened to meet a more threatening danger upon the Danube.

At the Emperor's instigation, the Cardinal Infante, the brother of Philip IV. of Spain, and the Viceroy of Milan, had raised an army of 14,000 men, intended to act upon the Rhine, independently of Wallenstein, and to protect Alsace. This force now appeared in Bavaria, under the command of the Duke of Feria, a Spaniard; and, that they might be directly employed against the Swedes, Altringer was ordered to join them with his corps. Upon the first intelligence of their approach, Horn had summoned to his assistance the Palsgrave of Birkenfeld, from the Rhine; and being joined by him at Stockach, boldly advanced to meet the enemy's army of 30,000 men.

The latter had taken the route across the Danube into Swabia, where Gustavus Horn came so close upon them, that the two armies were only separated from each other by half a German mile. But, instead of accepting the offer of battle, the Imperialists moved by the Forest towns towards Briesgau and Alsace, where they arrived in time to relieve Breysack, and to arrest the victorious progress of the Rhinegrave, Otto Louis. The latter had, shortly before, taken the Forest towns, and, supported by the Palatine of Birkenfeld, who had liberated the Lower Palatinate and beaten the Duke of Lorraine out of the field, had once more given the superiority to the Swedish arms in that quarter. He was now forced to retire before the superior numbers of the enemy; but Horn and Birkenfeld quickly advanced to his support, and the Imperialists, after a brief triumph, were again expelled from Alsace. The severity of the autumn, in which this hapless retreat had to be conducted, proved fatal to most of the Italians; and their leader, the Duke of Feria, died of grief at the failure of his enterprise.


The Thirty Years War, Book IV. - 3/9

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