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- The Lion of the North - 6/57 -
but their long pikes had each time repulsed the assaults.
Malcolm had before this come to the conclusion, from the anecdotes he heard from the officers who had served through several campaigns, that the first quality of an officer is coolness, and that this is even more valuable than is reckless bravery. He had therefore set before himself that his first duty in action was to be perfectly calm, to speak without hurry or excitement in a quiet and natural tone.
In his first fight at Schiefelbrune he had endeavoured to carry this out, but although he gained much commendation from Nigel and the other officers of the company for his coolness on that occasion, he had by no means satisfied himself; but upon the present occasion he succeeded much better in keeping his natural feelings in check, forcing himself to speak in a quiet and deliberate way without flurry or excitement, and in a tone of voice in no way raised above the ordinary. The effect had been excellent, and the soldiers, in talking over the affair next day, were loud in their praise of the conduct of the young ensign.
"The lad was as cool as an old soldier," one of the sergeants said, "and cooler. Just as the Austrian column was coming on for the third time, shouting, and cheering, and sending their bullets in a hail, he said to me as quietly as if he was giving an order about his dinner, 'I think, Donald, it would be as well to keep the men out of fire until the last moment. Some one might get hurt, you see, before the enemy get close enough to use the pikes.' And then when they came close he said, 'Now, sergeant, I think it is time to move out and stop them.' When they came upon us he was fighting with his half pike with the best of us. And when the Austrians fell back and began to fire again, and we took shelter behind the houses, he walked about on the road, stooping down over those who had fallen, to see if all were killed, and finding two were alive he called out, 'Will one of you just come and help me carry these men under shelter? They may get hit again if they remain here.' I went out to him, but I can tell you I didn't like it, for the bullets were coming along the road in a shower. His helmet was knocked off by one, and one of the men we were carrying in was struck by two more bullets and killed, and the lad seemed to mind it no more than if it had been a rainstorm in the hills at home. I thought when we left Nithsdale that the captain was in the wrong to make so young a boy an officer, but I don't think so now. Munro himself could not have been cooler. If he lives he will make a great soldier."
The defence of the Scots had been so stubborn that Montecuculi abandoned his attempt to relieve Colberg that day, and so vigilant was the watch which the besiegers kept that he was obliged at last to draw off his troops and leave Colberg to its fate. The place held out to the 26th of February, when the garrison surrendered and were allowed to march out with the honours of war, with pikes carried, colours flying, drums beating, matches lighted, with their baggage, and with two pieces of cannon loaded and ready for action. They were saluted by the army as they marched away to the nearest town held by the Austrians, and as they passed by Schiefelbrune Munro's command were drawn up and presented arms to the 1500 men who had for three months resisted every attempt to capture Colberg by assault.
Nigel Graheme's wound was so severe that he was obliged for a time to relinquish the command of his company, which he handed over to Herries.
As there had been two vacancies among the officers Malcolm would naturally have been promoted to the duties of lieutenant, but at his urgent request his uncle chose for the purpose a young gentleman of good family who had fought in the ranks, and had much distinguished himself in both the contests. Two others were also promoted to fill up the vacancies as ensigns.
The troops after the capture of Colberg marched to Stettin, around which town they encamped for a time, while Gustavus completed his preparations for his march into Germany. While a portion of his army had been besieging Colberg, Gustavus had been driving the Imperialists out of the whole of Pomerania. Landing on the 24th of June with an army in all of 15,000 infantry, 2000 cavalry, and about 3000 artillery, he had, after despatching troops to aid Munro and besiege Colberg, marched against the Imperialists under Conti. These, however, retreated in great disorder and with much loss of men, guns, and baggage, into Brandenburg; and in a few weeks after the Swedish landing only Colberg, Greifswald, and Demming held out. In January Gustavus concluded a treaty with France, who agreed to pay him an annual subsidy of 400,000 thalers on the condition that Gustavus maintained in the field an army of 30,000 infantry and 6000 cavalry, and assured to the princes and peoples whose territory he might occupy the free exercise of their religion. England also promised a subsidy, and the Marquis of Hamilton was to bring over 6000 infantry; but as the king did not wish openly to take part in the war this force was not to appear as an English contingent. Another regiment of Highlanders was brought over by Colonel John Munro of Obstell, and also a regiment recruited in the Lowlands by Colonel Sir James Lumsden.
Many other parties of Scotch were brought over by gentlemen of rank. Four chosen Scottish regiments, Hepburn's regiment, Lord Reay's regiment, Sir James Lumsden's musketeers, and Stargate's corps, were formed into one brigade under the command of Hepburn. It was called the Green Brigade, and the doublets, scarfs, feathers, and standards were of that colour. The rest of the infantry were divided into the Yellow, Blue, and White Brigades.
One evening when the officers of Reay's regiment were sitting round the campfire Lieutenant Farquhar said to Colonel Munro:
"How is it that Sir John Hepburn has, although still so young, risen to such high honour in the counsel of the king; how did he first make his way?"
"He first entered the force raised by Sir Andrew Gray, who crossed from Leith to Holland, and then uniting with a body of English troops under Sir Horace Vere marched to join the troops of the Elector Palatine. It was a work of danger and difficulty for so small a body of men to march through Germany, and Spinola with a powerful force tried to intercept them. They managed, however, to avoid him, and reached their destination in safety.
"Vere's force consisted of 2200 men, and when he and Sir Andrew Gray joined the Margrave of Anspach the latter had but 4000 horse and 4000 foot with him. There was a good deal of fighting, and Hepburn so distinguished himself that although then but twenty years old he obtained command of a company of pikemen in Sir Andrew Gray's band, and this company was specially selected as a bodyguard for the king.
"There was one Scotchman in the band who vied even with Hepburn in the gallantry of his deeds. He was the son of a burgess of Stirling named Edmund, and on one occasion, laying aside his armour, he swam the Danube at night in front of the Austrian lines, and penetrated to the very heart of the Imperial camp. There he managed to enter the tent of the Imperialist general, the Count de Bucquoi, gagged and bound him, carried him to the river, swam across with him and presented him as a prisoner to the Prince of Orange, under whose command he was then serving.
"It was well for Hepburn that at the battle of Prague he was guarding the king, or he also might have fallen among the hosts who died on that disastrous day. When the elector had fled the country Sir Andrew Gray's bands formed part of Mansfeldt's force, under whom they gained great glory. When driven out of the Palatinate they still kept up the war in various parts of Germany and Alsace. With the Scotch companies of Colonel Henderson they defended Bergen when the Marquis of Spinola besieged it. Morgan with an English brigade was with them, and right steadily they fought. Again and again the Spaniards attempted to storm the place, but after losing 12,000 men they were forced to withdraw on the approach of Prince Maurice.
"The elector now made peace with the emperor, and Mansfeldt's bands found themselves without employment. Mansfeldt in vain endeavoured to obtain employment under one of the powers, but failing, marched into Lorraine. There, it must be owned, they plundered and ravaged till they were a terror to the country. At last the Dutch, being sorely pressed by the Spaniards, offered to take them into their pay, and the bands marched out from Lorraine in high spirits.
"They were in sore plight for fighting, for most of them had been obliged to sell even their arms and armour to procure food. Spinola, hearing of their approach pushed forward with a strong force to intercept them, and so came upon them at Fleurus, eight miles from Namur, on the 30th of August, 1622.
"The Scots were led by Hepburn, Hume, and Sir James Ramsay; the English by Sir Charles Rich, brother to the Earl of Warwick, Sir James Hayes, and others. The odds seemed all in favour of the Spaniards. who were much superior in numbers, and were splendidly accoutred and well disciplined, and what was more, were well fed, while Mansfeldt's bands were but half armed and almost wholly starving.
"It was a desperate battle, and the Spaniards in the end remained masters of the field, but Mansfeldt with his bands had burst their way through them, and succeeded in crossing into Holland. Here their position was bettered; for, though there was little fighting for them to do, and they could get no pay, they lived and grew fat in free quarters among the Dutch. At last the force broke up altogether; the Germans scattered to their homes, the English crossed the seas, and Hepburn led what remained of Sir Andrew Gray's bands to Sweden, where he offered their services to Gustavus. The Swedish king had already a large number of Scotch in his service, and Hepburn was made a colonel, having a strong regiment composed of his old followers inured to war and hardship, and strengthened by a number of new arrivals. When in 1625 hostilities were renewed with Poland Hepburn's regiment formed part of the army which invaded Polish Prussia. The first feat in which he distinguished himself in the service of Sweden was at the relief of Mewe, a town in Eastern Prussia, which was blockaded by King Sigismund at the head of 30,000 Poles. The town is situated at the confluence of the Bersa with the Vistula, which washes two sides of its walls.
"In front of the other face is a steep green eminence which the Poles had very strongly entrenched, and had erected upon it ten batteries of heavy cannon. As the town could only be approached on this side the difficulties of the relieving force were enormous; but as the relief of the town was a necessity in order to enable Gustavus to carry out the campaign he intended, the king determined to make a desperate effort to effect it.
"He selected 3000 of his best Scottish infantry, among whom was Hepburn's own regiment, and 500 horse under Colonel Thurn. When they were drawn up he gave them a short address on the desperate
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