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- The Lion of the North - 40/57 -
attacked them, and the cavalry rode from the field. Elsewhere the battle was still raging. Wallenstein's right and centre had driven Count Bernhard, the Duke of Brahe, and Kniphausen across that desperately contested road, but beyond this they could not force them, so stubbornly and desperately did they fight. But Stalhaus and his men, refreshed and invigorated by their victory over Pappenheim's force, again came up and took their part in the fight. Wallenstein had no longer a hope of victory, he fought now only to avoid defeat. The sun had already set, and if he could but maintain his position for another half hour darkness would save his army.
He fell back across the road again, fighting stubbornly and in good order, and extending his line to the left to prevent Stalhaus from turning his flank; and in this order the terrible struggle continued till nightfall. Both sides fought with splendid bravery. The Swedes, eager for the victory once again apparently within their grasp, pressed on with fury, while the Imperialists opposed them with the most stubborn obstinacy.
Seven times did Piccolomini charge with his cavalry upon the advancing Swedes. Seven times was his horse shot under him, but remounting each time, he drew off his men in good order, and in readiness to dash forward again at the first opportunity. The other Imperialist generals fought with equal courage and coolness, while Wallenstein, present wherever the danger was thickest, animated all by his courage and coolness. Though forced step by step to retire, the Imperialists never lost their formation, never turned their backs to the foe; and thus the fight went on till the darkness gathered thicker and thicker, the combatants could no longer see each other, and the desperate battle came to an end.
In the darkness, Wallenstein drew off his army and fell back to Leipzig, leaving behind him his colours and all his guns. In thus doing he threw away the opportunity of turning what his retreat acknowledged to be a defeat into a victory on the following morning, for scarcely had he left the field when the six regiments of Pappenheim's infantry arrived from Halle. Had he held his ground he could have renewed the battle in the morning, with the best prospects of success, for the struggle of the preceding day had been little more than a drawn battle, and the accessions of fresh troops should have given him a decided advantage over the weary Swedes. The newcomers, finding the field deserted, and learning from the wounded lying thickly over it that Wallenstein had retreated, at once marched away.
In the Swedish camp there was no assurance whatever that a victory had been gained, for nightfall had fallen on the Imperialists fighting as stubbornly as ever. The loss of the king, the master spirit of the war, dispirited and discouraged them, and Duke Bernhard and Kniphausen held in the darkness an anxious consultation as to whether the army should not at once retreat to Weissenburg. The plan was not carried out, only because it was considered that it was impracticable -- as the army would be exposed to destruction should the Imperialists fall upon them while crossing the terrible morass in their rear.
The morning showed them that the Imperialists had disappeared, and that the mighty struggle had indeed been a victory for them -- a victory won rather by the superior stubbornness with which the Swedish generals held their ground during the night, while Wallenstein fell back, than to the splendid courage with which the troops had fought on the preceding day. But better far would it have been for the cause which the Swedes championed, that they should have been driven a defeated host from the field of Lutzen, than that they should have gained a barren victory at the cost of the life of their gallant monarch -- the soul of the struggle, the hope of Protestantism, the guiding spirit of the coalition against Catholicism as represented by Ferdinand of Austria.
The losses in the battle were about equal, no less than 9000 having fallen upon each side -- a proportion without precedent in any battle of modern times, and testifying to the obstinacy and valour with which on both sides the struggle was maintained from early morning until night alone terminated it.
It is said, indeed, that every man, both of the yellow regiments of Swedish guards and of the blue regiments, composed entirely of English and Scotchmen, lay dead on the field. On both sides many men of high rank were killed. On the Swedish side, besides Gustavus himself, fell Count Milo, the Count of Brahe, General Uslar, Ernest Prince of Anhalt, and Colonels Gersdorf and Wildessein. On the Imperialist side Pappenheim, Schenk, Prince and Abbot of Fulda, Count Berthold Wallenstein, General Brenner, Issolani, general of the Croats, and six colonels were killed. Piccolomini received ten wounds, but none of them were mortal.
Holk was severely wounded, and, indeed, so close and desperate was the conflict, that it is said there was scarcely a man in the Imperial army who escaped altogether without a wound.
CHAPTER XVIII WOUNDED
A controversy, which has never been cleared up, has long raged as to the death of Gustavus of Sweden; but the weight of evidence is strongly in favour of those who affirm that he received his fatal wound, that in the back, at the hand of Franz Albert of Lauenburg. The circumstantial evidence is, indeed, almost overwhelming. By birth the duke was the youngest of four sons of Franz II, Duke of Lauenburg. On his mother's side he was related to the Swedish royal family, and in his youth lived for some time at the court of Stockholm.
Owing to some impertinent remarks in reference to Gustavus he fell into disfavour with the queen, and had to leave Sweden. On attaining manhood he professed the Catholic faith, entered the Imperial army, obtained the command of a regiment, attached himself with much devotion to Wallenstein, and gained the confidence of that general. While the negotiations between the emperor and Wallenstein were pending Franz Albert was employed by the latter in endeavouring to bring about a secret understanding with the court of Dresden.
When Gustavus was blockaded in Nuremberg by Wallenstein Franz Albert left the camp of the latter and presented himself in that of Gustavus as a convert to the Reformed Religion and anxious to serve as a volunteer under him. No quarrel or disagreement had, so far as is known, taken place between him and Wallenstein, nor has any explanation ever been given for such an extraordinary change of sides, made, too, at a moment when it seemed that Gustavus was in a position almost desperate. By his profession of religious zeal he managed to win the king's heart, but Oxenstiern, when he saw him, entertained a profound distrust of him, and even warned the king against putting confidence in this sudden convert.
Gustavus, however, naturally frank and open in disposition, could not believe that treachery was intended, and continued to treat him with kindness. After the assault made by Gustavus upon Wallenstein's position Franz Albert quitted his camp, saying that he was desirous of raising some troops for his service in his father's territory. He rejoined him, however, with only his personal followers, on the very day before the battle of Lutzen, and was received by Gustavus with great cordiality, although the absence of his retainers increased the general doubts as to his sincerity.
He was by the king's side when Gustavus received his first wound. He was riding close behind him when the king received his second and fatal wound in the back, and the moment the king had fallen he rode away from the field, and it is asserted that it was he who brought the news of the king's death to Wallenstein.
Very soon after the battle he exchanged the Swedish service for the Saxon, and some eighteen months later he re-embraced the Roman Catholic faith and re-entered the Imperial army.
A stronger case of circumstantial evidence could hardly be put together, and it would certainly seem as if Lauenburg had entered the Swedish service with the intention of murdering the king. That he did not carry out his purpose during the attack on the Altenburg was perhaps due to the fact that Gustavus may not have been in such a position as to afford him an opportunity of doing so with safety to himself.
It is certainly curious that after that fight he should have absented himself, and only rejoined on the eve of the battle of Lutzen. The only piece of evidence in his favour is that of Truchsess, a chamberlain of the king, who, affirmed that he saw the fatal shot fired at a distance of ten paces from the king by an Imperial officer, Lieutenant General Falkenberg, who at once turned and fled, but was pursued and cut down by Luckau, master of horse of Franz Albert.
The general opinion of contemporary writers is certainly to the effect that the King of Sweden was murdered by Franz Albert; but the absolute facts must ever remain in doubt.
On the morning after the battle Wallenstein, having been joined by Pappenheim's infantry, sent a division of Croats back to the battlefield to take possession of it should they find that the Swedes had retired; but on their report that they still held the ground he retired at once from Leipzig, and, evacuating Saxony, marched into Bohemia, leaving the Swedes free to accomplish their junction with the army of the Elector, thus gaining the object for which they had fought at Lutzen.
After the death of the king, Malcolm Graheme, full of grief and rage at the loss of the monarch who was loved by all his troops, and had treated him with special kindness, joined the soldiers of Duke Bernhard, and took part in the charge which swept back the Imperialists and captured the cannon on the hill. At the very commencement of the struggle his horse fell dead under him, and he fought on foot among the Swedish infantry; but when the arrival of Pappenheim on the field enabled the Imperialists again to assume the offensive, Malcolm, having picked up a pike from the hands of a dead soldier, fought shoulder to shoulder in the ranks as the Swedes, contesting stubbornly every foot of the ground, were gradually driven back towards the road.
Suddenly a shot struck him; he reeled backwards a few feet, strove to steady himself and to level his pike, and then all consciousness left him, and he fell prostrate. Again and again, as the fortune of the desperate fray wavered one way or the other, did friend and foe pass over the place where he lay.
So thickly strewn was the field with dead that the combatants in their desperate struggle had long ceased to pick their way over the fallen, but trampled ruthlessly upon and over them as, hoarsely shouting their battle cry, they either pressed forward after the slowly retreating foe or with obstinate bravery strove to resist the charges of the enemy. When Malcolm recovered his consciousness
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