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The scene of this story is laid in France during latter part of the Thirty Years' War---the time of Richelieu, of Mazarin and Anne of Austria. The hero, Hector Campbell, is the orphaned son of a Scottish officer in the French Army.
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Copyright © 2016 by G.A. Henty
Published by Ozymandias Press
Interior design by Pronoun
Distribution by Pronoun
CHAPTER I: A STROKE OF GOOD FORTUNE
CHAPTER II: CHOOSING A LACKEY
CHAPTER III: THE FIRST BATTLE
CHAPTER IV: SUCCESS
CHAPTER V: THE RELIEF OF THE CITADEL
CHAPTER VI: A CHANGE OF SCENE
CHAPTER VII: THE DUC D’ENGHIEN
CHAPTER VIII: ROCROI
CHAPTER IX: HONOURS
CHAPTER X: AN ESTATE AND TITLE
CHAPTER XI: THE CASTLE OF LA VILLAR
CHAPTER XII: THE POITOU REGIMENT
CHAPTER XIII: THE BATTLES OF FREIBURG
CHAPTER XIV: JUST IN TIME
CHAPTER XV: THE BATTLE OF MARIENTHAL
CHAPTER XVI: AN ESCAPE
CHAPTER XVII: A ROBBER’S DEN
CHAPTER XVIII: NORDLINGEN
CHAPTER XIX: THE PEASANTS’ REVOLT
CHAPTER XX: AN OLD SCORE
CHAPTER XXI: THE DUKE’S REVENGE
A MOUNTED OFFICER, FOLLOWED BY two orderlies, was proceeding at a brisk trot from Paris to St. Denis, in October, 1639, when he came upon a large party of boys, who, armed with sticks, were advancing in something like military order against a wall on the top of a low hill.
“What are you doing?” he asked the lad who appeared to be the leader.
“We are playing at war, sir. We are advancing against the fortress of La Motte. This is the regiment of Turenne.”
“And who are you at other times?” the officer asked with a smile.
“My name is Hector Campbell, sir.”
“Then you are not French?”
“No, sir; my father was an officer in the Scotch regiment. He was killed at the siege of La Rochelle.”
“And who is taking care of you?”
“I live with Angus MacIntosh. He was a sergeant in my father’s company. He was badly wounded at La Rochelle, and not being fit for further service, he took a cabaret near the barracks. The officers are very kind. They allow him a sum for taking care of me. Of course I am often in barracks, and have learned the drill, and I have heard and read about battles and sieges, so I am chosen to command.”
“And so you know something of the battles in which Turenne was engaged?”
“I think I know about them all, sir, both in Holland and on the Rhine, and have seen plans of the battles. Of course this is not at all like La Motte, which was on the top of a high rock, so that when Turenne was ordered to attack with his regiment after the general’s son had failed, he had to pass not only through a heavy fire, but through the huge stones that the enemy hurled down. It was grand; and he did well at all the other sieges. Then, again, there was Saverne. See how he fought there, and stormed the place when even the Swedes, who are good soldiers, had failed. I think he is going to be the greatest of our captains.”
“Turenne is only a learner in the art of war,” the other said gravely.
“I think he has learnt more than any of the rest,” the boy said boldly; “and all the soldiers love him more than any of the other generals, for he takes such care of them, and does not treat them as if they were dirt under his feet, only meant to obey orders, and go and get killed when told.”
“You have heard him very much over praised,” the officer said quietly. “I think that he does his best; but he is a young man yet, not older than I am. His advance has been due to fortune rather than to his own merits.”
“I don’t think so,” the boy said sturdily. “Do you think that he would be a lieutenant general at twenty-eight, and that all the soldiers would speak of him as they do, if it were only fortune? Look how he captured Landrecies and Solre, and drove the Austrians back from Maubeurge, and aided the Duke of Weimar to thrash them at Weilenweir, and stormed the main fort of Breisach! He has been successful in all his enterprises, and now it is said he is to command in Italy, where things have been going on badly. The cardinal would not have chosen him had he not considered that no one could do better than he.”
The officer laughed. “Well, young sir, I see that you are so well acquainted with the sieges and battles of our time that I cannot argue with you.”
“I did not mean that, sir,” the boy said in some confusion. “I was only saying what our soldiers think, and it is natural that I, being only a boy, should make him my hero, for he went to the wars when he was a year younger than I am, and at fourteen carried a musket as a volunteer under Maurice of Nassau, and for five years he was in all the battles in Holland, and raised the first battery that opened on Bois-le-duc.”
“And do you receive no pension as the son of an officer killed in battle?”
“No, sir. When the living soldiers often have to go months without their pay, the sons of dead ones can hardly expect to be thought of. But I don’t care; in two years I shall be old enough to enlist, and I shall go to the frontier and join Hepburn’s Scottish brigade, who are now, they say, in the French service.”
“They are fine soldiers—none better,” the officer said. “But why does not the colonel of your father’s regiment ask for a commission for you?”
“The regiment is not in favour with the cardinal,” the boy replied with a smile. “They are too Protestant for his eminence, and the colonel is not a man to ask favours if he is likely to be refused.”
“Well,” the officer said, “it is clear to me that you are a lad of spirit, and that you have done your best to prepare yourself for your profession as a soldier by studying military history, and I think it hard that, as the son of an officer who died in battle for France, France should have done nothing for you. I have some little influence myself. What is the name of this cabaret that Sergeant MacIntosh keeps?”
“The Scottish Soldier, sir. It is near the gate of the barracks of St. Denis.”
“Do not go out tomorrow afternoon. I will have a talk with him, and maybe I can be of some assistance to you.”
So saying, he touched his horse’s flank with his heel and rode on, while the boys continued their play. The next afternoon the lad remained at home, to the surprise of the sergeant.
“What keeps you in today, Hector? It is rare indeed that you are indoors in the afternoon.”
“An officer came along while we were playing,” the lad said, “and asked me some questions. I told him who I was. He said that he had some influence, and might be able to assist me.”
“What sort of assistance?” the sergeant grumbled. “He must have influence indeed if he can get you a pension.”
“I don’t think it was that,” the boy said. “I said that I should like to enlist as a volunteer.”
The sergeant laughed. “Well, they do take volunteers as young as you are, Hector, but they must be cadets of a noble family. You will have to wait another couple of years before they will enlist you, much less take you as a volunteer.”
There were a good many Scottish soldiers sitting in the room, when an officer rode up to the door and dismounted.
“It is a general officer,” one of the men said, looking out of the window, and as the door opened and the officer entered, all stood up and saluted.
“Sit down, men,” he said. “I am not here to disturb you, but to have a talk with Sergeant MacIntosh. Have you a room, sergeant, where we can speak privately?”
“Yes, general,” the sergeant said, saluting again, and led the way into a little room generally devoted to the use of noncommissioned officers. The officer caught Hector’s eye, and beckoned to him to follow.
“Do you know me, sergeant?”
“Yes, general, you are Viscount Turenne.”
Hector gave an involuntary exclamation of horror at the thought of the freedom with which he had the day before discoursed with this famous commander. Military officers at that time did not wear any set uniforms, and indeed there was very considerable latitude among the soldiers, and it was only because he was followed by two attendants that the boy had taken him to be an officer, probably a young captain. The quietness of his dress had not even led him to believe that he belonged to a noble family.
“This lad tells me that he is the son of Captain Campbell of the Scottish regiment?”
“That is so, general.”
“And also that you were a sergeant in his father’s company, and have since taken care of him.”
“I have done the best I could for him, general; but indeed the officers of the regiment allow me quite as much as the lad’s food costs.”
“He seems to be a careful student of military history, sergeant?”
“That he is, sir. I don’t think there has been a battle, or even a skirmish, in the past ten years which he cannot tell you the ins and outs of. He will sit here for hours as quiet as a mouse when some soldiers from the wars come in, and sometimes he gets books lent him with the plans of battles and sieges, and when he is not doing that he is in the barrack yard watching the men drill. I believe he knows all the words of command as well as any captain in the Scottish regiment. As to handling his musket, I have taught him that myself, and the use of a sword, too, since he was ten years old, and the men of his father’s company have taken pleasure in teaching the lad all they knew in that way.”
“He reminds me of my own boyhood,” the general said. “I like his looks, and it seems to me that he has the making of a good officer. All the officers of the regiment are men of good Scottish families, and as such can serve in any capacity. I have often need of a young officer who can carry my messages on a field of battle, and can be trusted to understand their import and deliver them faithfully. Now, Campbell,” he said, turning to the lad, who was standing with flushed face and eyes beaming with delight and gratitude, “I will give you the choice. I will either appoint you a volunteer for a year, in which time, if your conduct is satisfactory, I will name you lieutenant, or I will take you directly into my own household. My object in either case would be to produce an officer likely to be useful to his Majesty.
“I should certainly not have adopted that course had it not been that you appear already to have learned the duties of a soldier, and to be acquainted with the ordinary drill and with the necessities of a soldier’s life. If you enter my household you will find it no child’s play, certainly no life of ease and comfort. I do not spare myself, nor do I spare the officers immediately under me. In a regiment you would learn better, perhaps, the duties of a regimental officer, but with me you will have more opportunities of learning the art of war, and of some day becoming a distinguished officer, always supposing that you are not shot down in battle or die of fatigue and hardship. Which do you choose?”
“Oh, sir, how can I thank you for your goodness? There is nothing in the world that I should like so much as to be in your service.”
“So be it,” the general said. “I shall obtain an appointment for you as lieutenant attached to my household. At first, you will simply have to carry messages for me; but when I have learnt more of your character I shall employ you as one that I can trust.
“Sergeant, here is a purse, use the contents in furnishing the lad with clothes suitable for his position, and let him call on me in three days at the hotel of the Duc de Bouillon, where I am staying.
“Can you ride?” he asked suddenly.
“I will see to the matter of a horse for you. I shall be leaving at the end of a week to join the army in Italy. And remember always, lad,” he added with a smile, “that I am still but a learner in the art of war.”
So saying he nodded kindly to him and the sergeant, went out, returned the salute of the soldiers, mounted his horse, which his orderly was holding for him, and rode off.
“Well, well,” said the sergeant, who with Hector had followed him out, “the like of this I never saw before: to think that the Viscount of Turenne should visit the cabaret of a soldier, and should have deigned to offer you a position in his household! I can scarce believe that I am not dreaming. How did it all come about, and how have you thus gained his favour?”
“I am ashamed to say, sergeant, that I gained it by my presumption; now that I know who he was, I may say by my insolence. A party of us were having a mimic battle. We were acting as the regiment of Turenne at the storming of La Motte. I was in command, and so acting as Turenne, when a gentleman, who, by his appearance and age, and by the fact that two troopers rode behind him, I took to be a captain in the army, came up and questioned me as to what we were doing. I told him, then he talked about Turenne. I said I thought he was our greatest general. He, that Turenne was only a learner in the art of war. I upheld him, and spoke of the battles and sieges in which he had taken part. Then he asked me about myself, and I told him my birth and bringing up, and he said he might be of assistance to me, and would call here and see you.”
“Well, well, it almost passes belief, Hector, that a boy like you should have dared to enter into an argument with an officer, even if only, as you believed, a captain. And to think that this has come of it, instead of his having laid his whip across your back, as you deserved. Your fortune is made, lad, that is, if you behave yourself. Turenne is a great soldier; and more than that, from what I have heard he is loved by his men more than any other general, and they will do anything for him. His regiment here, though he was but nineteen when he obtained his command, was admitted to be one of the best drilled and the best disciplined of any in the service.
“He saw to everything himself, spent his whole time in drilling them as if he had been only a lieutenant with nothing but his sword for his fortune, instead of a great noble. When he was with de la Valette and Weimar, and the army had to fall back and were well nigh starved, Turenne sold his plate and his carriages to buy food for the men. He had his own baggage thrown out of the wagons to make room for those who were too weak to march; and on one occasion gave up his own horse to a soldier who was sinking from fatigue and hunger, and himself marched on foot. He always leads his troops in battle, and wherever he goes they will follow. He was right in saying that he does not spare himself. The soldiers believe that he does without any sleep when on a campaign, for he is for ever going round seeing that everything is in order, that the outposts are properly placed and vigilant, and that the soldiers have food, and such comfort as can be obtained. Now let us go in and tell my comrades of your good fortune. There is not a man in the regiment who will not be glad to hear of it. I will go across with you myself to the colonel’s lodging.”
“But please, sergeant, do not say a word about my folly; only say that the general, coming across a party of us playing at war, questioned me, and finding that I was the son of a Scottish officer who had been killed at La Rochelle, and that I had worked hard at getting up the history of the wars, and longed much to go into the army, had promised to come round the next day, and said that he might be able to aid me.”
“I understand, lad. Yes, it is better that your foolishness should not be known.”
The colonel was greatly pleased when he heard of what had happened.
“I had intended myself to have asked for a commission for you when you were a couple of years older,” he said to Hector, “but I was by no means sure of getting it, for the cardinal is not partial to the regiment. Turenne, however, stands high in his favour—in spite of the fact that his brother, the Duc de Bouillon, has left Richelieu’s party, and is regarded by him as an enemy—so we may be sure that your commission will be at once signed. You must sup with me and the officers of the regiment tonight. There is not one who will not rejoice that your father’s son has met with such good fortune, for assuredly you could not have entered the army under better auspices.
“It is just like Turenne to have thus come forward to assist the son of a brave soldier killed in action. As a rule, I am sorry to say that the officers of our army concern themselves but little with the affairs of the soldiers under their command. Of course in our regiment it is different, as we have many gentlemen of well known Scottish families serving in the ranks, and most of the others are our own clansmen, or come from our dales. We all cling together as countrymen among strangers, though indeed we can hardly regard them as strangers, seeing that Scotland and France have ever been allies, and that our Queen Mary was a French princess. And now that Scotland has given kings to England, and English troops fought side by side with the French under Henry of Navarre against the Spaniards and Guises, and, although not in strict alliance, are alike enemies of the Spaniards, we can scarce feel ourselves as strangers here. Besides, is not a French princess wife of King Charles?
“I do not say that either England or France has altogether forgotten the long wars between them, but that is a very old story now, and as long as Spain threatens to extend her power over all Europe, so long are we likely to remain good friends. If the power of Spain is once broken, old quarrels may break out again, but I trust that that will not be in my time, for assuredly the regiment, although willing to fight against all other enemies of France, would refuse to march against our countrymen. Now, Sergeant MacIntosh, I know that you must be anxious to get back to your inn. You will have a busy time this afternoon unless I am greatly mistaken. Leave Campbell with me.
“In the first place, it will be as well that he should not be down there, for the fun is likely to get fast and furious. There is not a man in the regiment who knew his father but will be drinking the lad’s health, and it were better that he should go tomorrow through the barracks and shake their hands, than that he should be among them there. You can tell them that I have taken the boy off, so that they may not think that he stayed away on his own account. We will see him fitted out. It is a matter that touches the honour of the regiment that the son of our old comrade should make a fair show in the household of the viscount.”
“The general has left me a purse for that purpose, colonel.”
“It was a kindly thought, but let the lad start with it in his pocket. It is our duty to see that he has everything befitting his father’s son.”
As soon as the sergeant left, the colonel said, “Now, Campbell, do you go into the anteroom. I shall be ready to go out with you in half an hour.”
Orderlies were then despatched to the various officers’ lodgings, and in a few minutes they assembled. The colonel told them what had happened, and said that in his opinion it concerned the honour of the regiment to see that their comrade’s son was properly equipped.
All those who had known Captain Campbell were greatly pleased with the news, and there was not a dissenting voice when the colonel proposed that there should be a general subscription of two days’ pay. He himself, however, and Captain Campbell’s friends, gave a much larger amount, and the total was amply sufficient for the equipment of a young man of good family joining the army. Hector was then called in and informed of what had taken place, and heartily congratulated by the officers. He was greatly affected by their kindness and the proof of the estimation in which his father had been held.
“We had always intended to do this,” the colonel said, “when the time came for your entering the army, for we felt that it would indeed be a discredit to the regiment were you to go into the world without the equipment that a Scottish gentleman should have. Now, Captain Mackenzie and Captain Home, I will ask you to act as furnishers. You know what is required for a young officer on the staff of a general like Viscount Turenne, who would be called upon to accompany him to court, and must do him no discredit; besides which, he must of course have clothes for a campaign. He will not need arms, for I have kept for him his father’s sword and pistols. See that the tailors undertake to get his clothes ready quickly, for he is to accompany Turenne to Italy in four or five days. One suit at least must be finished in two days, for on the third he is to wait upon Turenne, who is staying at the hotel of the Duc de Bouillon, and he may possibly be presented to the cardinal.”
The dress of a French gentleman in the reign of Louis XIII differed but slightly from that worn at the same time by the cavaliers of Charles I. It consisted of a loose cloak of cloth, silk, satin, or velvet, according to the occasion and the wealth of the wearer. It generally hung loosely on the shoulders, but two or three of the top buttons were sometimes fastened; the sleeves were loose and open from the elbow. Sometimes the cloak was richly embroidered. Over it fell a collar of rich lace, with Vandyke border. Beneath it was worn a short tightly fitted doublet embroidered in front, with puffed sleeves, and with a belt or sash round the waist. The breeches were very full, reaching to the knee. For walking or riding, loose high boots turned down at the top and trimmed with lace or frillings joined the breeches; while in court dress, silk stockings and shoes with rosettes were worn. The swords hung from a richly embroidered baldrick going over the right shoulder.
Officers of the different regiments were distinguished by the colour of their sashes, which was the only point of regimental uniformity. When on a campaign doublets were usually worn of thick buff leather; armour was still used, but was far less cumbrous than it had been, consisting for the most part solely of shoulder pieces and cuirass, with plates covering the upper part of the arm, thick buff leather gauntlets being considered sufficient protection below the elbow. Four suits were ordered for Hector: one for court, another for general use when in Paris or other large towns, the third for travelling and when in attendance with the general, the fourth for actual service in the field.
Almost as expensive as the suits were the shirts, with their deep lace collars and ruffle; while for service in the field half a dozen plain shirts were purchased. The headdress on ordinary occasions was a broad beaver hat with plumes, and in the field a close fitting helmet with cheek pieces. Visors had been almost entirely given up. On the third day Hector presented himself at the appointed hour at the hotel of the Duc de Bouillon. He was dressed in the second best of his costumes, and wore for the first time his father’s sword. In the hall were numbers of soldiers and lackeys. One of the latter came up to him.
“I am here to see the Viscount Turenne by appointment,” he said.
The lackey led the way to a large chamber, where several officers and gentlemen were waiting. Here Hector gave his name to a chamberlain, who took it into another apartment. He waited for half an hour, and observed that while the officers, one by one, were taken into the room where the lackey had carried his name, the nobles and gentlemen, who were much more numerous, were shown into another, which was evidently the principal reception room. He guessed at once that it was here that the Duc de Bouillon was receiving visitors, while his brother was engaged in giving interviews to officers, who perhaps desired appointments in his army, or in arranging details of stores, arms, and ammunition required for its use. At last his turn came; and on his name being called, he followed the usher into a small apartment, where Turenne was sitting at a table covered with letters. The general looked at him critically.
“You make a very good figure,” he said, “and better, I can tell you, than I did at your age, for I was but weakly, while you are well grown and strong. Among your other exercises you have not neglected the use of your sword. I could tell that as soon as my eyes fell upon you.”
“No, general, I have practised for two or three hours a day since I was ten years old, and I think that almost every soldier in the regiment has been my instructor in turn, and the maitre-d’armes of the regiment himself gave me lessons twice a week.”
“I have managed your business for you,” the viscount said. “I saw the cardinal yesterday and asked for a commission for you. He simply asked for what regiment, and I said that at present I intended to keep you about my own person, as I thought you would make a good officer and would some day do me credit. He was busy at the time, so he simply signed an appointment as a lieutenant and gave it to me to fill in your name. I asked if I should bring you to his levee tomorrow, but he said, ‘There is no occasion, viscount, we have both plenty on our hands; neither you nor I can waste time on young lieutenants. You can present him to me when you return from the war.’ You know the cardinal by sight, I suppose?”
“Yes, general, I have seen him many times.”
“He is a great man,” Turenne said thoughtfully, rather as if speaking to himself than to Hector; “the greatest that France has ever known—he is the soul of France. It is well, indeed, that we have at present a king who recognizes how great a man he is, and is wise enough to know that although he himself is somewhat overshadowed, France is made greater and stronger and his own reign more glorious by his genius.” Then he broke off with a smile. “I was talking to myself rather than to you. I shall ride to St. Denis at two o’clock today; be here at that time. I will order the horse, that I have purchased for you, to be brought round here.”
Hector was about to express his gratitude, but the general at once stopped him. “I need no thanks,” he said. “I perceived in the ardour with which you have studied military matters that you would make a good officer, and you remind me of my own boyhood. I always like to help forward officers who I see ready, not only to do their actual business but to go beyond it, in order to acquire knowledge, and I doubt not that I shall find this in you. But you must remember, lad, that you are now no longer a civilian, but a soldier, that you must be not only obedient but respectful to those above you in rank, that discretion as well as courage is necessary for success, that you must be thoughtful for the comfort of the soldiers, ready to expose your life in battle to encourage them, and also to set them an example of endurance, cheerfulness, and good spirits in times of hardship and distress. Remember that, to the soldier, there is no such thing as party; he fights for France and for France only, and should hold himself aloof from even the smallest expression of opinion on political matters. Then, at two o’clock.”
Hector bowed deeply and left the room. When he returned to the hotel at two o’clock, six grooms were standing with the horses before the entrance; he waited outside until the viscount, followed by four officers, came out.
“Oh, here you are, lieutenant!” he said, as his eye fell on Hector; “I was afraid that punctuality was not among your virtues. Gentlemen, this is Lieutenant Hector Campbell, son of a brave officer of the Scottish regiment who fell at La Rochelle; he is, for the present, attached to my household, and will ride with us for Italy the day after tomorrow. Campbell, this gentleman is Colonel d’Estampes, who is the head of my staff; this Major Mutton, who will have the control of all matters connected with the artillery; these are Messieurs de Lisle and Emile de Chavigny, who are my aides-de-camp. Now, gentlemen, let us mount.”
As the Scottish regiment was a mounted one, Hector had had ample opportunities to learn to ride well, and he now fell in with the two aides-de-camp, who were both young men of eighteen or nineteen years of age, members of good families, and together they followed the Viscount Turenne, who rode on ahead with the two staff officers. While they were making their way through the narrow streets of Paris they rode but slowly, but as soon as they passed through the gates they went on at a brisk pace.
“You are fortunate,” de Lisle said, “in having obtained a commission so young, although I do not say that there are not many of similar age in the army.”
“I am fortunate indeed,” Hector replied, “fortunate beyond anything that I could have believed possible, thanks to the goodness of Viscount Turenne.”
“You could not enter the army under better patronage,” de Chavigny said. “We have both served under him for two years on the Rhine, and had we been his brothers he could not have been more kind; but the work, ma foi, was tremendous. The soldiers may well say that the general is sleepless. Happily he does not expect us to go altogether without rest. Frequently he is away all night by himself in the saddle, sometimes he takes one or other of us with him, but at any rate we get a night’s sleep by turns. Much as he has to worry him—what with the ignorance of some and the carelessness of others—I have never seen him out of temper; but then a reproof, however mildly spoken, by him, is more dreaded than a volley of abuse from any other general. He was telling us before he came out that you are already well up in drill, and in the use of arms.”
“Yes; I have been brought up, I may say, in the Scottish regiment, and after my father’s death the officers and men were all very kind to me, and I learnt my drill both as a soldier and an officer, to fence, use my pistols, and ride. The officers lent me books on military history and tactics.”
“The viscount said you were wonderfully well read in such matters,” de Lisle said. “I own that beyond the campaigns that I have taken part in I have a very vague idea of such things. My time before I joined was taken up with learning the use of arms, equitation, and certain dry studies under an abbe. I wish now that instead of Latin I had learned something of military history; it seems to me that when one is intended for the army it is a good deal more important than Latin or theology.”
“I fancy, de Lisle,” his companion said laughing, “that from what I know of you your objection was not so much to the course of study as to study altogether. I know that that was my case.”
“Well, perhaps so; still, I might as well have been whipped into learning something useful, instead of something that, so far as I can see, will never be of any value whatever. Were you born over here, lieutenant?”
“No, I was born in Scotland; but my father, who was a younger son, saw no chance of making his way by his sword at home. It was certain that James would never go to war, and as there was no regular army, there seemed no opening for a penniless cadet in England or Scotland, so he came over here and obtained a commission, and as soon as he did so sent for my mother and myself. She died two years later; he kept me with him. When he went on service I was left in the charge of a Huguenot family, and it was well that it was so, for otherwise I might have grown up unable to read or write. The last time that I saw him was before he rode to La Rochelle. After his death I was adopted by the regiment, for the good people I was with left Paris to join their friends in the south. Had it been otherwise I should have stayed with them. The good man would probably have brought me up to be, like himself, a minister, and I am afraid I should have made a very poor one.”
The two young men laughed. “Just at present,” de Lisle said, “the two religions get on quietly together. The cardinal, churchman as he is, knows that if France is to be great religious enmities must cease, and that the wars of the last reign cost tens of thousands of lives, and drove great numbers of men to take refuge in Holland or England, to the benefit of those countries and our loss. Still, his successor, whoever he may be, may think more of party and less of France, and in that case you might have found your vocation of a Huguenot minister as full of danger as that of a soldier.”
“It would have been much worse,” Hector said, “for it would not have been a question of fighting, but of being massacred. I know nothing of either religious disputes or of politics. In the regiment these things were never talked about, either among the men or the officers; all were for the king. But at the same time, as it seemed to them that it was the cardinal who had stopped the persecution of the Huguenots, and who had now gone to war with the Austrians to prevent the Protestant princes of Germany being altogether subjugated by the Imperialists, they felt grateful to him; for of course Scotchmen are all on the side of the princes, and nigh half the army of Gustavus Adolphus was composed of my countrymen.”
“I do not suppose,” Chavigny laughed, “that the cardinal would have cared very much for the destruction of all the Protestant princes of Germany, had it not been that their ruin would make Austria more formidable than ever. As long as Gustavus lived and the Swedes were able to hold their own against the Imperialists, France troubled herself in no way in the matter; but when the Swedes were finally routed at Nordlingen, and it seemed that the Imperialists would triumph everywhere—for most of the Protestant princes were leaving the Confederacy and trying to make the best terms they could for themselves—Richelieu stepped in; and now we see France, which for the past hundred years has been trying to stamp out Protestantism, uniting with Protestant Holland and Sweden to uphold the Protestant princes of Germany, and this under the direction of a cardinal of the Church of Rome. And here are we riding behind a Huguenot general, who perhaps more than any other possesses the cardinal’s confidence.”
“It seems strange,” de Lisle said, “but it is assuredly good policy. While fighting Austria we are fighting Spain, for Austria and Spain are but two branches of one empire. Spain is our eternal enemy. True, she is not as formidable as she was. Henry of Navarre’s triumph over the Guises half emancipated us from her influence. The English destroyed her naval power. Holland well nigh exhausted her treasury, and brought such discredit on her arms as she had never before suffered. Still, she and Austria combined dominate Europe, and it is on her account that we have taken the place of the Swedes and continued this war that has raged for so many years.”
THE POLICY OF THE GREAT cardinal had for its objects the aggrandizement of France, as well as the weakening of the power of Austria. So long as the struggle between the Protestant princes and the Swedes against the Imperialists had been maintained with equal successes on both sides, he had been well content to see Germany watering its soil with the blood of its people. Nearly a third of the population had been swept away during the terrible war. Many hundreds of towns and villages had already disappeared, while large tracts of country lay uncultivated, and whichever party won a victory France gained by it. Her interest, however, lay with the Protestant confederation. So long as Germany was cut up into a number of small principalities, divided by religion and political animosity, she could count for little against a foreign enemy.
France had for centuries suffered from the same cause. The families of Lorraine, Bouillon, Enghien, Burgundy, the Guises, Longueville, the Counts of Armagnac, and other powerful vassals of France, paid but a nominal allegiance to the crown, and were really independent princes. Louis XI had done much to break their power. Richelieu continued the work, and under him France for the first time became consolidated into a whole. Had he lived, the work would doubtless have been completed, but his death and that of the king postponed the work for years. The long regency, controlled by a minister possessing none of the courage and firmness of Richelieu, and personally obnoxious alike to the nobles and to the population of Paris, again threw the power into the hands of the great nobles, plunged France into civil strife, and the wars of the Fronde, like those of the Roses in England, so weakened the nobles that the crown under Louis XIV became absolutely dominant.
Had Austria succeeded in crushing the Protestant princes, that empire, with all Germany under her control, would have become a power greatly superior in strength and population to France. It was principally to prevent this result that Richelieu after the battle of Nordlingen threw himself into the struggle, but his aim was also to carry the frontier of France up to the Rhine. Here the territories of the Dukes of Lorraine, and Bouillon Prince of Sedan, not only cut France off from the Rhine and the Moselle, but opened a door by which she could at any time be invaded from Germany. The Dukes of Lorraine had always borne themselves as independent princes, giving, indeed, a nominal allegiance to France, but as often allying themselves with German princes as with her. The Duc de Bouillon, on the north of Lorraine, and the Duke of Savoy, farther to the south, also regarded themselves as independent. The former, as Huguenots, had a strong leaning towards the Protestant Hollanders, and both were ready to furnish asylums to French nobles who had incurred the wrath of their kings or ministers.
The Duc de Bouillon, father of Turenne, had fought bravely on the side of Henry of Navarre through the wars of the League. He died when the viscount was but ten years of age, and, his elder brother being but six years older, his mother became regent of the little state. After having greatly weakened the strength of the Huguenot nobles by the siege and capture of La Rochelle, which had long been the stronghold and bulwark of that religion, Richelieu obtained from the duchess a treaty by which she engaged to remain always attached to the interests of France, while the king undertook to protect the house of Bouillon. The Duke of Savoy was next compelled to hand over to France the town and province of Pignerol, and Richelieu then turned his attention to Lorraine. The reigning duke had entered into an alliance with Austria, and the invasion of his territory was therefore the first step by which France entered into the terrible struggle known as the Thirty Years’ War.
The duke had given Richelieu an excuse for hostilities. He had married his cousin, the nearest heir to the dukedom, but he treated her so badly that she fled to France and begged the protection of Louis XIII. This he gave her, a French army was at once set in motion against Lorraine, and it was in this struggle that Turenne had first fought under the French flag. He had always evinced the strongest predilection for the life of a soldier, and when he reached the age of fourteen, Richelieu being at the time engaged in breaking the power of the Huguenots and in the siege of La Rochelle, the boy’s mother sent him to his uncle Maurice of Nassau, who at the death of his father had become the leader of the Dutch people. He was treated by his uncle in exactly the same way as other gentlemen volunteers, carried a musket, and performed all the duties of a private soldier.
Six months later Prince Maurice died, and his brother, Henry Frederick, succeeded him in the government of the United Provinces. He at once promoted his nephew, and the latter speedily rose to the rank of captain of infantry. Here he was indefatigable in his duties, and unlike most young men of good family, who left the internal economy and discipline of their companies to subordinate officers, Turenne saw to everything himself. He drilled and instructed his soldiers, insisted not only upon strict military discipline, but on good manners and conduct in every particular. He won their respect and affection by his personal kindness, and denied himself almost the necessities of life in order to be able to add to their comforts. In the wars in the Netherlands there were few pitched battles, and the operations consisted almost entirely of the sieges of fortified towns or of measures for their relief.
In all these Turenne took much more than his full share, paying attention not only to his own duties but to all that was being done, spending his whole time in the batteries and the trenches, and in learning all that was possible of war carried on under such conditions. In the winter, operations were always suspended, and Turenne spent his time in Paris, where his manner and conduct won for him the favour of all with who he came in contact. He had been severely brought up under a Calvinist tutor; his habits were simple, his tastes quiet and almost ascetic, and he cared little for the amusements of the brilliant and corrupt court. When the war with Lorraine broke out, Turenne at once sought for employment with the French army.
He recognized that there was comparatively little to be done in the war of sieges in Holland, and longed to enter a wider field. His request was gladly granted, for the presence of the Duc de Bouillon’s brother in the French army was in itself some guarantee of the duke’s fidelity to his engagements with France, and Turenne was at once appointed to the colonelcy of a regiment. He devoted himself as assiduously to his work as he had done in Holland, and it was not long before his regiment gained the reputation of being the best disciplined in the king’s service. He took part in a short expedition in 1630, but there was on that occasion no fighting, and he first saw real service under Marshal de la Force in 1634. After the siege of La Motte, the success of which was due to the storming of the breach by Turenne and his regiment, and for which exploit he was promoted to the rank of Marechal de Camp, a rank equivalent to that of major general, he took part in several sieges, until Lorraine was completely conquered and its duke driven to abdicate and retire to Austria.
The battle of Nordlingen showed Richelieu that if France did not resolutely enter into the conflict the Austrians would become absolute masters of all Germany. He at once signed a treaty with the Swedes, agreeing to grant them large subsidies to carry on the war. By a similar treaty he promised subsidies and the province of Alsace to the Duke of Saxe-Weimar. He entered into an arrangement with the Dutch, who were to aid France to conquer Flanders, which was to be divided between the two powers; while the Dukes of Savoy, Parma, and Mantua agreed to undertake, in alliance with France, the invasion of Milan, and to receive in return a portion of the territory won from Spain. At the same time France declared war against Spain. It was to the army commanded by Cardinal de la Valette, which was to act with that of Saxe-Weimar against the Imperialists, that Turenne was attached.
The campaign began unfavourably. The impetuosity of Saxe-Weimar, who hoped to recover his own principality, induced Valette to cross the Rhine; but he was forced to retire in all haste, and the army suffered terribly in the retreat. Turenne was in command of the advanced guard, and his courage and activity alone saved the army from complete destruction—seizing upon defiles, overthrowing the enemy who barred the passages, and enabling the army to recross the Rhine with numbers diminished only by sickness, fatigue, and hunger. At the siege of Saverne, Turenne led the French troops to the attack after three repulses, and succeeded in gaining a footing in the town, but received himself a very severe wound in the arm with a musket ball. During the following year several towns were captured but no decisive operations took place.
In 1638, the Duke of Saxe-Weimar gained some great successes, defeated the Imperialists with heavy loss at Rheinfelden, and besieged Breisach, the key of southern Germany. The Imperialist army marched to relieve the place, but reinforcements were sent from France under the command of Turenne and Longueville. Three battles were fought and the Austrians driven off. After an assault by Turenne, Breisach capitulated, and all Alsace had now fallen into the hands of Saxe-Weimar. Having been promised Alsace he refused, as Richelieu desired, to hand over Breisach to France; but on the death of the duke in the following year, Richelieu bought over his lieutenants, the French flag waved over the towns of Alsace, and the Upper Rhine became the French frontier. Turenne returned to court, where he was received with enthusiasm, and was a short time afterwards ordered to Italy to assist De la Valette, who had been faring but badly there.
Matters had not gone there as Richelieu had calculated. The Duke of Savoy remained true to his engagement with France, but he died in October, 1637. The Spaniards had captured Vercelli, and the emperor had bestowed the regency of the duchy on the Cardinal of Savoy and on Prince Thomas, brother-in-law of the duchess. These, supported by the Duke of Modena and the Governor of Milan, the Marquess of Leganez, declared that they were determined to protect the people against the French and to deliver the young duke from French domination. The duchess implored help from France, and la Valette advanced to her aid.
While in Paris, Turenne had obtained from the cardinal permission to raise a regiment of dragoons and also that a company of dragoons should be attached to each regiment of cavalry. These troops were not intended to fight on horseback, but were, in fact, mounted infantry, an arm which, after being in disuse for many years, has lately been recognized as a very valuable one, possessing as it does the mobility of cavalry with the fighting power of infantry. It was at the head of this regiment that the general started for Italy. The position of affairs in Savoy was dark indeed, for the whole of Piedmont had risen against the duchess. Many considerable towns had been captured by the Spanish, others, including the city of Turin, had opened their gates to them, and with the exception of Susa, Carignano, Chivasso, Casale, and the citadel of Turin, the whole country was lost to her. The French forces were, however, too weak to take the offensive, and the ill health of La Valette deprived him of his former energy and rendered him unwilling to undertake any offensive movement. Nevertheless, Turenne’s counsels infused a new spirit into the army, and indeed the news that the young general, whose name was already known throughout Europe, had arrived, and the belief that his coming would be followed by that of large reinforcements from France, at once reanimated the remaining supporters of the duchess and dispirited the Piedmontese, who began to fear that they had been too hasty in siding with Spain.
But if, for the time, Turenne was not in a position to act in the field, he began at once to take steps to prepare to meet the coming storm. Early in October La Valette died. The general opinion was that Turenne would have succeeded to the command, but his brother the Duc de Bouillon had broken with Richelieu and joined the party opposed to him. When in Paris, the duke had been on terms of intimate friendship with the Count of Soissons and had invited him to stay with him at Sedan. The invitation had been declined, but the count, having been implicated in a plot against Richelieu, had been obliged to fly and had taken refuge at Sedan, where he had been most warmly received by the duke. Richelieu had at first invited, and then in the name of the king commanded, Bouillon to expel his guest. This the duke absolutely refused to do, and becoming deeply offended at the manner in which he was pressed, joined the party opposed to Richelieu.
It was for this reason that the cardinal decided not to appoint Turenne to the command, knowing the warm affection that existed between the brothers, and fearing that Turenne might be influenced by Bouillon, and might, beloved as he was by the soldiers, lead many of the troops away from their allegiance were he to join the party opposed to him. He therefore appointed the Count d’Harcourt to the command. He had proved himself a brilliant officer on many occasions, and Turenne did not feel in any way aggrieved at his being placed over him. He made a rapid journey to Paris to arrange with the cardinal and d’Harcourt the general plan of the campaign, and was now setting out again to make preparations for it.
Hector Campbell enjoyed the journey greatly. His duties were nominal; and the party always halted at towns, where the troops were billeted upon the inhabitants, and the viscount and his suite entertained by the authorities. After crossing the Alps, however, by the pass of Mount Cenis, and arriving at Susa, his work began in earnest. Turenne himself was almost entirely occupied in consultations with the duchess; his three aides-de-camp, however, were kept hard at work carrying messages to the governors of towns that still adhered to the duchess, with orders for the strengthening of the defences and for the collection of stores and provisions in case of siege. Each was provided with three horses, and almost lived in the saddle.
“You seem to be tireless, Campbell,” de Lisle said, when it one day happened that all three were together at headquarters. “I feel as if I had not a whole bone in my body; as I have not had a whole night in bed for the last six days, I can hardly keep my eyes open, while you, who have been doing as much as we have, are going about as actively as if you had had nothing to do for a week.”
“I have the advantage of riding so much lighter than you do,” Hector said; “weight tells both on horse and rider, and when the horse is tired his pace soon adds to the weariness of his rider. If we had had to do this work when we first left Paris, I have no doubt that I should have felt it, but the journey here has been a fine preparation. Another thing is, that every morning I take a dip in the first mountain stream I come to, and that does one almost as much good as a night’s sleep.”
De Lisle shivered. “It may do good, Campbell, but I would not jump into one of these icy streams for anything. It makes one shudder to think of it.”
“I always had a swim in the Seine every morning when it was not closed by ice,” Hector said. “I was told that there was nothing braced one up and made one so hardy as that; and I certainly found that even in the coldest weather I never felt the need of a cloak.”
“Well, I don’t deny that it may be a good custom, and if all Scotchmen do it, it may account for their hardiness; but I like comfort when I can get it.”
“But it is not comfort to be always in the saddle, and to feel so sleepy that you fancy that at any moment you may fall off. Even if a dip in snow water is, to those unaccustomed to it, somewhat sharp, it is better than having to struggle against sleep for hours.”
“Well, possibly I may try the experiment some day when I feel that I must either lie down by the roadside and sleep or take a dip, but until I feel like breaking down altogether I shall postpone the experiment.”
Turenne several times spoke approvingly to Hector. On one occasion, when the lad presented himself on being told that an aide-de-camp was required to carry a message, Turenne said to him: “But it is not your turn, Campbell; de Lisle and Chavigny both returned some hours ago, while it is not an hour since you came in.”
“They are both asleep, general,” Campbell said; “they have been thirty-six hours in the saddle.”
“But you have been more than that, Campbell?”
“But I do not feel it, sir,” he said. “I am perfectly fresh and ready to go on. I was a little tired when I came in, but I have taken a swim in the river, and am now at your service.”
Turenne hesitated. “You see, sir,” Hector went on, “being of light weight the horse does not feel it as he does that of a heavier man, his pace continues light and elastic, and his spirit good, and that makes all the difference to the fatigue of his rider. After two days’ rest my horses are perfectly ready for another long day’s work, while those of Chavigny and de Lisle start heavily, not having recovered from their fatigue.”
“Very well, you can go then, Campbell. I am pleased with your spirit, and also with your thoughtfulness for your companions, who, although strong young men, do not seem to have your power of endurance. I find, too, that you always carry out your instructions with intelligence, and that your reports on matters touching which I have sent you to inquire are always clear and full. It may be that ere long I may find employment for you in which courage as well as intelligence is required. There is but one drawback, namely, that you do not speak Italian. I know that there are few officers in our service who do so; but it would be so much the more valuable were you able to master it.”
“I had intended to study the language, general, as soon as I got here, but have had no time to begin it.”
“That you certainly have not,” Turenne said with a smile.
“Do you think that it would be of any use, sir, if I were to take a Savoyard servant? I find that many of them who come from places near the frontier speak French as well as their own language.”
“That would be useful, certainly; but you would have to be careful in your choice, and see that you get one whose sympathies are with the duchess; not only for your own safety, but because a chance word heard here, or an order given and conveyed to the Spaniards, might involve the loss of a battle.”
“I see that, general, and will be very careful.”
Hector had formed the acquaintance of several young officers attached to the household of the duchess, and on the day following his return from his mission he was supping with a party of four of them when he said:
“Can one of you gentlemen recommend a servant to me? He must be able to talk French as well as Italian. He must be active and intelligent. I should like him to be handy and accustomed to camp service, though this is not so important, for I want him as an interpreter before anything else. I should like him to be a lightweight, so as to be able to ride with me. He must be accustomed to fatigue, and he must have courage, for some of the journeys on which I may be sent will not be without danger, and of course he must be of the duchess’s party.”
“And I suppose,” one of the young men said, “that this Admirable Crichton of whom you are in search must be sober, honest, and truthful. Are you particular whether he is Huguenot or Catholic?”
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