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Memoirs and Adventures of Sir John Hepburn
Chapter XXII. Quarrels with Gustavus Adolphus


By a cavalier who came from the King on the 26th May, Hepburn received an order to have his troops in readiness to march; and, in obedience to a second, they left Munich on the 1st June, and advanced again to Donauworth, the scene of their old operations, where they were to join the main army under Gustavus. There tidings came that Ruthven of Bandean and Duke Bernard of Saxe-Weimar had come up with Ossa, and cut to pieces a cuirassier regiment—capturing Hannibal, Count of Hohenems, with four hundred troopers and eight standards, which Sir Patrick sent to his garrison at Ulm. There, too, Gustavus issued letters of service to the Scottish colonels, John Forbes and Hamilton, to levy each a regiment of Swiss among the Protestant cantons. Those officers soon raifeed their corps among the hardy mountaineers of Yoralberg; but these, being suddenly fallen upon, were routed and scattered. The two cavaliers were made prisoners, and remained "pittifully in bondage” for three years. Colonel Forbes afterwards entered the service of Louis XIII.

Hepburn reached the Danube on the 4th June, and was immediately despatched to the relief of Weissemberg, a place of vast importance, as it secured the retreat from Augsburg (where all their magazines lay) to Nuremberg. But the Bavarians retired; and after capturing the castle of Pappenheim, which belonged to the Count of that name, second marshal of the Empire, the brigade marched on to Furth, en route laying the rich hishopricks of Aichstadt and Dillingen under contribution. The former was a small town said to have been founded by St Wilibald, the son of an English king, and was noted only for its reliques; but the latter possessed a noble Jesuit college, and a palace which was pillaged a little by the Scots.

On the 7th June the whole army, with the forces of the Duke of Weimar, entered Furth, three miles from Nuremberg, between which and the enemy Gustavus resolved to take up a position. A body of horse were sent forward to take in Psalzbacb, and Hepburn, with two thousand musketeers, followed to second them if necessary; but, not being required, they rejoined Gustavus, who fell back on Nuremberg to prepare for receiving Wallenstein.

That general was not many days’ march distant, and was advancing with the utmost rapidity, mounting his infantry on all the country horses his foragers could procure. His reappointment infused a new ardour into the hearts of the discomfited Imperialists, and filled with the hope of vengeance the whole Catholic people, from the banks of the Oder to those of the Danube. On forming a junction with those of the Bavarian Elector, his forces amounted to sixty thousand men. They advanced at once upon Nuremberg, where, at the head of eighteen thousand Swedes and Scots, Gustavus occupied a position which he was resolved to defend, and to make the pivot of all his future operations.

He had been warmly welcomed by the lords of Nuremberg—twenty-eight chiefs of families who were distinguished by the name of Patricians—and the twenty-six burgomasters. Situated in the centre of Germany, or, as one historian says, in the centre of the world, this decayed town (which in the fifteenth century numbered eighty thousand citizens) from its position covered all the vast conquests of Gustavus on the Rhine, the Danube, and the Maine; and these conquests included three hundred cities and walled fortresses, the fruits of two years’ warfare, and the valour of twenty thousand Swedes, Dutch, and Germans, and twelve thousand Scots.

Nuremberg had early embraced the doctrines of the Reformation, and from that period the arts of peace became changed for those of war, and a long period of protracted strife reduced her to the semi-barbarism of the rest of Germany. An old account of this city states that it had six gates, each defended by a large tower, (four of these still remain;) that it had thirty-eight fountains, and three hundred pieces of cannon. A still older authority3 says that the castle, which is situated by a great rock of red stone, was well fortified, and possessed an arsenal deemed the best in Germany.

Here, then, it was that Gustavus with his veterans resolved to withstand the force and skill of the great Wallenstein; and with pickaxe and spade the whole of his troops worked arduously to make up by art for their inferiority of numbers. The works included Nuremberg, the lords of which raised twenty-four companies of musketeers: each company carried on its colours a letter of the alphabet, from A to X. The burghers lent their hands and purses to push these operations for their own safety; and with a celerity that astonished even themselves, before the 26th of June, when Wallenstein appeared, the lines—flanked by bastions and salient angles, regular half-moons, and ditches twelve feet deep—encircled the whole city, whose time-worn castle, on its dark red rock, formed the centre of these redoubts, on which bristled the three hundred cannon of the citizens. "The whole camp,” says Harte, “contained, as nearly as I can calculate—And the account came from Hepburn—about two hundred and nineteen clear square acres.” The Pegnitz, which flows through the town, divided the whole into two semicircles, the commnnication between which was secured by several bridges; and the position afforded a view of the vast Franconian plain, with the dim blue mountains of Saxony and Bohemia in the distance.

Boasting that in four days’ time the world should see whether he or Gustavus was its master, Wallenstein encamped in sight of Nuremberg, near-the village of Stein, three miles distant. He took possession of two hills, the Altenberg and Alta Feste, together with a ruinous castle on the summit of the latter, and a hunting-lodge in the wood below. He intrenched and palisaded the position, erecting numerous redoubts, with breastworks of earth, old trees, and barrels filled with sand and stones, broken waggons, and fascines. The ground was admirably chosen, as the whole country in his rear was devoted to him, and he could with ease receive provisions and ammunition from Munich and Vienna; while his hordes of ferocious Croats cut off the supplies of Gustavus and harassed his foragers, preventing any junction between his troops and those of Sir Patrick Buthven, who occupied Swabia.

During these operations the Scottish troops elsewhere suffered severely. Count Pappenheim made a brisk attack on General Otho Todt, near the town of Staden, cutting off and putting to the sword fifteen hundred of his men, and taking several colours, among which were three belonging to Munro of Obstell’s regiment, which had been led by Captain Sinclair. Their ammunition being expended, and their bandoliers empty, no alternative was left them but surrendering to Pappenheim’s cuirassiers. Captain Sinclair remained a prisoner eighteen months before he could pay a ransom; and there were two lieutenants and one ensign (all named Munro) who were two years and six months captives in the same fortress, being unable to procure the enormous sums demanded by the Imperial government as the price of their liberty. Obstell, their colonel, was slain by the enemy in the March of the following year, 1633.

Gustavus now summoned to his aid Duke Wilhelm of Saxe-Weimar and the Landgrave of Hesse-Cassel, and ordered all his Swedish and Scottish generals on the 1 Douglas Baronage.

Rhine, in Thuringia, and Lower Saxony, to march for Nuremberg. From the hills of Bavaria and the rocks of the Tyrol, from the banks of the Rhine, the Elbe, and the Oder, the Protestant soldiers of all nations came flocking to the banner of their great leader; and among these were the two regiments of Colonel Hamilton and the Lord Bellenden, the last remnant of the Marquis of Hamilton’s Scottish forces. The whole of these were first assembled by the Rex-Chancellor at Kinzingen; and on the 16th August they marched into the trenches at Nuremberg fifty thousand strong, fully armed and equipped, with sixty pieces of cannon, and four thousand waggons.

Gustavus now found himself at the head of seventy thousand soldiers, without including the militia of Nuremberg, which mustered thirty thousand in case of need. Armed in buff and steel, one hundred and sixty thousand men confronted each other; fifty thousand chargers were brought forth to water every morning; and fifteen thousand pounds of bread were daily served out in the Swedish camp, without allaying the hunger of the soldiers.

Encouraged by these powerful reinforcements, Gustavus resolved to commence operations without delay against his great antagonist. Provisions were becoming scarce within the camp and city, for Wallenstein had captured two hundred waggons laden with food which were coming from Wurtzburg, cutting off the escort, taking three standards and two hundred prisoners. The Swedes had also taken a similar convoy; but as much of the provision was destroyed, the famine waxed sore in Nuremberg, and excited the rage of the Swedish soldiers, so that many desperate skirmishes and outfalls took place, while the main armies remained in view of each other inactive.

On the 28th July, Gustavus marched one thousand musketeers and eight hundred horse to Bergtheim, to cover an attack that Colonel M‘Dougal (whose nom ds guerre was Dewbattel) was about to make on an Imperial magazine. These fell suddenly on the forces of Sparre, a sergeant-major di lattaglia, whom Wallenstein had ordered to drive back M‘Dougal. Sparre led his own regiment of musketeers, four troops of Gonzaga’s horse, and four of Colorado's, with twenty squadrons of Croatians, and a thousand Scottish and Irish musketeers, led by Colonel Gordon and Major Lesly, two Scottish officers who served the Emperor.

Among the rough and rocky ground, three miles from Altenburg, a long and desperate but desultory conflict ensued between these forces and those of Gustavus, which were ultimately successful. Each after the other the Imperial regiments were swept away in succession, and the one thousand mnsketeers of Gordon and Lesly alone stood firm, maintaining their posts behind every tree, rock, and wall, with the most steady gallantry. Gustavus frequently applauded their valour, and declared that if these were Scots, and fell into his hands as prisoners, he would release them unransomed; adding, that if all the Imperialists had fought as well, he must have lost the field that day.

Long and resolutely these brave Scots and Irish fought side by side, and from the cover of a thick wood kept the Swedish troops in check nntil the mass of their less gallant comrades, the Germans, had effected a safe retreat; but on the flight of Gonzaga, (whom, although the nephew of the Empress, Wallenstein tried by a court-martial,) being left single-handed, Sparre, Colonel Gordon, and Major Lesly, were taken prisoners, and brought to the Swedish camp. Having on a former occasion violated his parole of honour, the first officer remained a prisoner; but three days after, Gordon and Lesly were released by the Swedish conqueror, who complimented them on their valour and spirit, Hepburn, Munro, and other Scottish officers, would not allow them to return for five weeks, during which time they had to visit and make merry with them all in succession, and were not permitted to bid adieu to Nuremberg until Gustavus was preparing to attach the Imperialists.

They returned to the camp of Wallenstein; and these were the two Scottish officers who, on the treachery of that great noble being discovered, so boldly slew him in the now ruined castle of Egar in Bohemia.

Colonel Gordon was a Presbyterian, yet he was created a marquis of the Empire, colonel-general of the Imperial army, and bearer of the golden key as high chamberlain to the Emperor.

Major Walter Lesly was the youngest son of Lesly of Balquhain in the Garioch: he was captain of the bodyguards, and colonel of a regiment. By the Emperor Ferdinand III. he was created Count Lesly and Lord of Neustadt, in Bohemia, an estate worth two hundred thousand florins. He became a field-marshal, governor of Sclavonia, and Knight of the Golden Fleece—an order which he received from Leopold I. before his departure as ambassador to Constantinople.

At this time, when the bravest and most experienced of his veterans looked forward with anxiety to the coming strife—for two of the most formidable armies that had been mustered since the war began were arrayed against each other, and all the clouds of battle which had desolated Germany hung, as it were, charged with thunder over one point—when the mastery of three hundred castles and fortified cities, and of many a ravaged kingdom and duchy, was to be lost or won by the issue of a single field, Gustavus, unfortunately for himself, quarrelled with Sir John Hepburn, who, with the Green Brigade, had so truly been his "right arm” on many a desperate day. Of the exact merits of the dispute there is no proper account preserved. Having had high words, Gustavus in his anger was so imprudent as to upbraid Hepburn with his religion, which was Catholic, and also to remark, tauntingly, the extreme richness of his armour and apparel. Schiller adds that the colonel was “offended with the King for having, not long before, preferred a younger officer to some post of danger; and rashly vowed never again to draw a sword in the Swedish quarrel.”

This probably refers to the same circumstance which offended the haughty Sir John Hamilton—the storming of the keep of Marienburg by the Swedes, after the gallant Scottish infantry, through blood and fire and a wall of steel, had hewn them a passage with their pikes —a circumstance which these cavaliers of fortune never forgave. Of late there had been much discontent among them concerning the Marquis of Hamilton, whom they thought Gustavus had treated somewhat ungenerously; and still more concerning Lieutenant-Colonel Douglas of Mordington, (the captor of Creutzenach,) whom he had committed to a common prison for having unceremoniously presented himself in a tennis-court where he (Gustavus) and the King of Bohemia were at play—a punishment at which the English ambassador, Sir Harry Vane, remonstrated, and which the whole Scottish officers considered an insult to their character and country.

The inborn spirit and fire which constituted a part of his chivalric character rendered Hepburn incapable of brooking sharp words, even from a king. The remarks on his courtly dress he might have treated with disdain, and forgiven, but those on his religion (which he prized as his life) never; for he had first left his native land to fight for Elizabeth Stuart, and not the Protestant cause. He resigned his commission on the instant, and haughtily withdrew.

As Gustavus loved him well, placed more confidence in Hepburn than any other officer, and had just appointed him to command half the infantry of his vast army, he (though also remarkable for his fiery temperament) made several condescensions to Hepburn, and appeared particularly desirous of retaining so valuable an officer in his service; but the Scottish hero was inflexible.” Unable to brook an imaginary injury even for a moment, "Sire,” replied the fiery cavalier, laying his hand upon his rapier, "I will never more unsheath'this sword in the quarrels of Sweden!”


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