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Full text of "Decisive battles of the world"

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THE COLONIAL- PRESS 

NEW-YORK ^ MDCCCXCIX 



GEORGE DEWEY. 

{Admiral of the United States Navy.) 

Photogravure from a photograph. 



Copyright, 1899, 
By the colonial PRESS. 




JUN5 1958 




NAPOLEON I. 

Photo gravnr- ^' -- r portrait hv S. TofanelU. 



SPECIAL INTRODUCTION 



CREASY'S " Fifteen Decisive Battles of the World from 
Marathon to Waterloo " is a famous book which is 
not merely lodged in libraries, but is read and re-read. 
It is not only an authority, a final authority in one aspect, but 
the stories the writer tells are as interesting in narrative as 
human struggle is itself interesting, while his deductions as 
to the effects are as profound as philosophy and as sound as 
fact-entrenched truth. To be sure, historical students will 
differ with him, now and again, in his selection of this battle 
and that as more decisive than others. Such differences of 
opinion are inevitable in a world where the minds of men are 
free; but these differences in no sense detract from the value 
of Creasy's work, and his selections are authoritative to-day 
because, though his book was published almost half a century 
ago and has been read and studied and discussed ever since, 
no one has made better selections, no one has on this subject 
given us a better book. 

Apart from the scholarliness and literary skill of Creasy's 
work, there is another reason why this great book has en- 
during value. The writer was essentially fair-minded. He 
was educated as a lawyer, but when he undertook this task 
he held a brief for neither side in any of the cases at issue. 
He had also been a judge, and when he became the military 
critic and historian he was thoroughly judicial in his attitude 
and frame of mind. He was not English in his attitude, nor 
French, nor German — he was a cosmopolitan observer look- 
ing at the mighty consequences of great happenings. And 
so Creasy, though he had published books before, and though 
he published much afterwards, completed in 185 1, in his " Fif- 
teen Decisive Battles," the work upon which rests his enduring 
fame. 

In his own preface to his book, as will presently be seen. 



iv DECISIVE BATTLES 

Creasy half-way apologized for publishing such a book at 
that time. Europe was then in profound peace. The forces 
which had struggled at Waterloo, Creasy's last battle, by their 
sacrifices gave Europe a long season of repose, a repose which 
the peace societies hoped would never be broken. This, how- 
ever, was only a very vain hope, for only a few years later 
the peace of Europe was rudely broken by the conflict of arms 
in the Crimea, and a universal war was barely averted. And in 
the Crimea they had battles, too — battles of great moment and 
consequence — in Alma, Inkerman, Balaklava, and the siege 
of Sevastopol. None of these, however, seemed to make an 
addendum to Creasy's work necessary. But before twenty 
years had passed, before even the death of the distinguished 
author, there were two momentous battles as great in their 
consequences as any in Creasy's list. These were Gettysburg 
and Sedan. To this probably Creasy agreed, and it has often 
been wondered that he did not himself add them to his book. 
He did not, however; and so, in this new edition of Creasy's 
great work, accounts of these battles are added, without any 
apology and also without any effort to imitate Creasy's style 
of writing or presentation. 

And only last year there was a short campaign of the Amer- 
icans against the Spanish which was decisive in the highest 
sense, for it ended forever Spain's colonial empire, an empire 
which once embraced countless islands of the seas, besides 
more than half a hemisphere. Manila may have been the 
decisive battle; or it may have been Santiago. We are too 
close to these events to judge with accuracy, and we shall, 
therefore, add the campaign to the book as " Manila and San- 
tiago," and leave it to others to decide where the great and de- 
cisive battle was fought. 

It is a rather singular thing that in a work describing eigh- 
teen great decisive battles three of these should be those in 
which the United States troops were engaged; for the Ameri- 
cans have always been a peace-loving people, and the great 
triumphs which have made them powerful have been the tri- 
umphs of peace. But they won their liberty by war, they have 
preserved it by war, and by war they have rescued their op- 
pressed neighbors from a mediaeval tyranny which these neigh- 
bors were powerless to overthrow. This last war was not 
great in the quantity of fighting, nor by reason of the numbers 



SPECIAL INTRODUCTION. v 

engaged, but it was vastly great in the consequences to which 
it will lead. Spain has lost all of her colonies, and the United 
States has assumed grave responsibilities not contemplated 
by the fathers of the repubHc. What these consequences will 
be, none but a prophet can say. 

During twenty-three hundred years Creasy found only fif- 
teen battles which he called decisive in the highest sense. Be- 
tween his great battles often two centuries would elapse. And 
all these happened during the ages when all men were more 
or less soldiers. In the eighty-four years since Waterloo there 
have been three conflicts that have been, judged even by a Creasy 
standard, decisive. This does not mean that the world has 
grown more warlike or more belligerent; on the contrary, it 
proves that we do not go to war as lightly as once we did, 
and that now when we have to fight there is something to 
fight about. It proves also that modern science enables us 
to decide these conflicts quickly and with certainty. War has 
been made less dangerous because it is more dangerous. 

Sir Edward Shepherd Creasy, the author of this great work, 
was bom in England in 1812. He was educated at Eton and 
Cambridge, and was called to the bar at Lincoln's Inn in 1837. 
He was for a little while an assistant judge of the Westminster 
Sessions Court, but gave this up in 1840 to become Professor 
of History in the University of London. It was while he held 
this post that he did the historical and critical work which will 
preserve his name among those of the great English writers. 
In i860 he became Chief Justice of Ceylon, and served as such 
for ten years. He returned to England in 1870, much broken 
in health, and died eight years later. After his return home 
he wrote and published several books, but none of them re- 
ceived the same share of favor that was accorded to his " Fif- 
teen Decisive Battles." 

John Gilmer Speed. 



THE AUTHOR'S PREFACE 



IT is an honorable characteristic of the spirit of this age, that 
projects of violence and warfare are regarded among civ- 
iHzed states with gradually increasing aversion. The Uni- 
versal Peace Society certainly does not, and probably never 
will, enroll the majority of statesmen among its members. But 
even those who look upon the appeal of battle as occasionally 
unavoidable in international controversies, concur in thinking 
it a deplorable necessity, only to be resorted to when all peace- 
ful modes of arrangement have been vainly tried, and when 
the law of self-defence justifies a state, like an individual, in 
using force to protect itself from imminent and serious injury. 
For a writer, therefore, of the present day to choose battles 
for his favorite topic, merely because they were battles ; merely 
because so many myriads of troops were arrayed in them, and 
so many hundreds or thousands of human beings stabbed, 
hewed, or shot each other to death during them, would argue 
strange weakness or depravity of mind. Yet it cannot be 
denied that a fearful and wonderful interest is attached to 
these scenes of carnage. There is undeniable greatness in the 
disciplined courage, and in the love of honor, which makes 
the combatants confront agony and destruction. And the 
powers of the human intellect are rarely more strongly dis- 
played than they are in the commander who regulates, arrays, 
and wields at his will these masses of armed disputants ; who, 
cool, yet daring in the midst of peril, reflects on all, and pro- 
vides for all, ever ready with fresh resources and designs, as 
the vicissitudes of the storm of slaughter require. But these 
qualities, however high they may appear, are to be found in 
the basest as well as in the noblest of mankind. Catiline was 
as brave a soldier as Leonidas, and a much better officer. Alva 
surpassed the Prince of Orange in the field; and Suwarrow 



viii DECISIVE BATTLES 

was the military superior of Kosciusko. To adopt the em- 
phatic words of Byron, 

" 'Tis the cause makes all, 
Degrades or hallows courage in its fall." 

There are some battles, also, which claim our attention, 
independently of the moral worth of the combatants, on ac- 
count of their enduring importance, and by reason of the prac- 
tical influence on our own social and political condition, which 
we can trace up to the results of those engagements. They 
have for us an abiding and actual interest, both while we in- 
vestigate the chain of causes and effects by which they have 
helped to make us what we are, and also while we speculate 
on what wc probably should have been, if any one of these 
battles had come to a different termination. Hallam has ad- 
mirably expressed this in his remarks on the victory gained 
by Charles Martel, between Tours and Poictiers, over the in- 
vading Saracens. 

He says of it that " it may justly be reckoned among those 
few battles of which a contrary event would have essentially 
varied the drama of the world in all its subsequent scenes; 
with Marathon, Arbela, the Metaurus, Chalons, and Leipsic." 
It was the perusal of this note of Hallam's that first led me 
to the consideration of my present subject. I certainly differ 
from that great historian as to the comparative importance of 
some of the battles which he thus enumerates, and also of some 
which he omits. It is probable, indeed, that no two historical 
inquirers would entirely agree in their lists of the Decisive 
Battles of the World. Different minds will naturally vary in 
the impressions which particular events make on them, and 
in the degree of interest with which they watch the career and 
reflect on the importance of different historical personages. 
But our concurring in our catalogues is of little moment, pro- 
vided we learn to look on these great historical events in the 
spirit which Hallam's observations indicate. Those remarks 
should teach us to watch how the interests of many states are 
often involved in the collisions between a few; and how the 
effect of those collisions is not limited to a single age, but may 
give an impulse which will sway the fortunes of successive 
generations of mankind. Most valuable, also, is the mental 
discipline which is thus acquired, and by which we are trained 



THE AUTHOR'S PREFACE ix 

not only to observe what has been and what is, but also to 
ponder on what might have been.* 

We thus learn not to judge of the wisdom of measures too 
exclusively by the results. We learn to apply the juster stand- 
ard of seeing what the circumstances and the probabilities were 
that surrounded a statesman or a general at the time when he 
decided on his plan : we value him, not by his fortune, but by 
his irpoalpecn^i to adopt the Greek expressive word of Polyb- 
ius,t for which our language gives no equivalent. 

The reasons why each of the following fifteen battles has 
been selected will, I trust, appear when it is described. But 
it may be well to premise a few remarks on the negative tests 
which have led me to reject others, which at first sight may 
appear equal in magnitude and importance to the chosen fif- 
teen. 

I need hardly remark that it is not the number of killed 
and wounded in a battle that determines its general historical 
importance.^ It is not because only a few hundreds fell in the 
battle by which Joan of Arc captured the Tourelles and raised 
the siege of Orleans, that the effect of that crisis is to be judged ; 
nor would a full belief in the largest number which Eastern 
historians state to have been slaughtered in any of the numer- 
ous conflicts between Asiatic rulers, make me regard the en- 
gagement in which they fell as one of paramount importance 
to mankind. But, besides battles of this kind, there are many 
of great consequence, and attended with circumstances which 
powerfully excite our feelings and rivet our attention, and yet 
which appear to me of mere secondary rank, inasmuch as 
either their effects were limited in area, or they themselves 
merely confirmed some great tendency or bias which an earlier 
battle had originated. For example, the encounters between 
the Greeks and Persians, which followed Marathon, seem to 
me not to have been phenomena of primary impulse. Greek 
superiority had been already asserted, Asiatic ambition had 
already been checked, before Salamis and Plataea confirmed 
the superiority of European free states over Oriental despot- 
ism. So yEgospotamos, which finally crushed the maritime 

* See BoHngbroke " On the Study and Use of History," vol, ii., p. 497 
of his collected notes, 
t Polyb., lib. ix., sect. 9. 
X See Montesquieu, " Grandeur et Decadence des Romains," p. 35. 



X DECISIVE BATTLES 

power of Athens, seems to me inferior in interest to the defeat 
before Syracuse, where Athens received her first fatal check, 
and after which she only struggled to retard her downfall. I 
think similarly of Zama with respect to Carthage, as compared 
with the Metaurus ; and, on the same principle, the subsequent 
great battles of the Revolutionary war appear to me inferior 
in their importance to Valmy, which first determined the mili- 
tary character and career of the French Revolution. 

I am aware that a little activity of imagination and a slight 
exercise of metaphysical ingenuity may amuse us by showing 
how the chain of circumstances is so linked together, that the 
smallest skirmish, or the slightest occurrence of any kind, that 
ever occurred, may be said to have been essential in its actual 
termination to the whole order of subsequent events. But 
when I speak of causes and effects, I speak of the obvious and 
important agency of one fact upon another, and not of remote 
and fancifully infinitesimal influences. I am aware that, on 
the other hand, the reproach of fatalism is justly incurred by 
those who, like the writers of a certain school in a neighboring 
country, recognize in history nothing more than a series of 
necessary phenomena, which follow inevitably one upon the 
other. But when, in this work, I speak of probabilities, I 
speak of human probabilities only. When I speak of cause 
and effect, I speak of those general laws only by which we 
perceive the sequence of human affairs to be usually regulated, 
and in which we recognize emphatically the wisdom and power 
of the supreme Lawgiver, the design of the Designer. 

Mitre Court Chambers, Temple, 
June 26, i8ji. 



CONTENTS 



CHAPTER I. 

FAGB 

The Battle of Marathon, B.C. 490 i 

Explanatory Remarks on some of the Circumstances of the Battle 
of Marathon 31 

Synopsis of Events between the Battle of Marathon, B.C. 490, and 
the Defeat of the Athenians at Syracuse, B.C. 413 33 



CHAPTER n. 

Defeat of the Athenians at Syracuse, B.C. 413 36 

Synopsis of Events between the Defeat of the Athenians at Syra- 
cuse and the Battle of Arbela 55 

CHAPTER HI. 

The Battle of Arbela, B.C. 331 57 

Synopsis of Events between the Battle of Arbela and the Battle 
of the Metaurus 80 



CHAPTER IV. 

The Battle of the Metaurus, B.C. 207 84 

Synopsis of Events between the Battle of the Metaurus, B.C. 207, 
and Arminius's Victory over the Roman Legions under Varus, 
A.D. 9 Ill 

CHAPTER V. 

Victory of Arminius over the Roman Legions under 

Varus, A.D. 9 115 

Arminius 129 

Synopsis of Events between Arminius's Victory over Varus and the 

Battle of Chalons 139 

xi 



DECISIVE BATTLES 



CHAPTER VI. 

PAGB 

The Battle of ChAlons, A.D. 451 141 

Synopsis of Events between the Battle of Chalons, A.D. 451, and 
the Battle of Tours, A.D. 732 156 



CHAPTER VII. 

The Battle of Tours, A.D. 732 157 

Synopsis of Events between the Battle of Tours, A.D. 732, and 
the Battle of Hastings, A.D. 1066 167 



CHAPTER VIII. 

The Battle of Hastings, A. D. 1066 170 

Synopsis of Events between the Battle of Hastings, A. D. 1066, 
and Joan of Arc's Victory at Orleans, A.D. 1429 202 

CHAPTER IX. 

Joan of Arc's Victory over the English at Orleans, 
A.D. 1429 206 

Synopsis of Events between Joan of Arc's Victory at Orleans, 
A.D. 1429, and the Defeat of the Spanish Armada, A.D, 
1588 225 

CHAPTER X. 

The Defeat of the Spanish Armada, A.D. 1588 227 

Synopsis of Events between the Defeat of the Spanish Armada, 
A.D. 1588, and the Battle of Blenheim, A.D. 1704 254 

CHAPTER XI. 

The Battle of Blenheim, A.D. 1704 256 

Synopsis of Events between the Battle of Blenheim, A.D. 1704, 
and the Battle of Pultowa, A.D. 1709 279 

CHAPTER XII. 

The Battle OF Pultowa, A.D. 1709 280 

Synopsis of Events between the Battle of Pultowa, A.D. 1709, 
and the Defeat of Burgoyne at Saratoga, A.D. 1777 294 



CONTENTS xiii 

CHAPTER XIII. 

PAGB 

Victory of the Americans over Burgoyne at Saratoga, 
A.D. 1777 297 

Synopsis of European Events between the Defeat of Burgoyne at 
Saratoga, A.D. 1777, and the Battle of Valmy, A.D. 1792 324 

Synopsis of American Events between the Declaration of Inde- 
pendence, A.D. 1776, and the Battle of Gettysburg, A.D. 
1863 324 

CHAPTER XIV. 

The Battle of Valmy, A.D. 1792 325 

Synopsis of Events between the Battle of Valmy, A.D. 1792, and 
the Battle of Waterloo, A.D. 1815 340 

CHAPTER XV. 

The Battle of Waterloo, A.D.. 1815 343 

Synopsis of European Events between the Battle of Waterloo, 
A.D. 1815, and the Battle of Sedan, A.D. 1870 404 

CHAPTER XVI. 

The Battle of Gettysburg, A.D. 1863 405 

Synopsis of American Events between the Battle of Gettysburg, 
A.D. 1863, and the War with Spain, A.D. 1898 411 

CHAPTER XVII. 
The Battle of Sedan, A.D. 1870 '. 412 

CHAPTER XVIII. 
The Battles of Manila and Santiago, A.D. 1898 425 



ILLUSTRATIONS 



FACING PAGE 



Admiral Dewey (Portrait) Frontispiece 

Photogravure from a photograph 

Napoleon I (Portrait) ii 

Photogravure from a painting 

The Decisive Action with the Armada , . .228 

Photogravure from a painting 

After Waterloo « . 344 

Photogravure from a painting 

Bismarck at Versailles . 420 

Photogravure from a painting 



THE 

DECISIVE BATTLES OF THE WORLD. 

CHAPTER I. 
THE BATTLE OF MARATHON. 

" Quibus actus uterqite 
Europas atque Asise fatis concurrerit orbis," 

TWO thousand three hundred and forty years ago, a coun- 
cil of Athenian officers was summoned on the slope of 
one of the mountains that look over the plain of Mara- 
thon, on the eastern coast of Attica. The immediate subject of 
their meeting was to consider whether they should give battle 
to an enemy that lay encamped on the shore beneath them ; 
but on the result of their deliberations depended, not merely 
the fate of two armies, but the whole future progress of human 
civilization. 

There were eleven members of that council of war. Ten 
were the generals who were then annually elected at Athens, 
one for each of the local tribes into which the Athenians were 
divided. Each general led the men of his own tribe, and each 
was invested with equal military authority. But one of the 
archons was also associated with them in the general com- 
mand of the army. This magistrate was termed the pole- 
march or War-ruler; he had the privilege of leading the right 
wing of the army in battle, and his vote in a council of war 
was equal to that of any of the generals. A noble Athenian 
named Callimachus was the War-ruler of this year; and as 
such stood listening to the earnest discussion of the ten gen- 
erals. They had, indeed, deep matter for anxiety, though little 
aware how momentous to mankind were the votes they were 
about to give, or how the generations to come would read with 

I 



2 DECISIVE BATTLES 

interest the record of their discussions. They saw before them 
the invading forces of a mighty empire, which had in the last 
fifty years shattered and enslaved nearly all the kingdoms 
and principalities of the then known world. They knew that 
all the resources of their own country were comprised in the 
little army intrusted to their guidance. They saw before them 
a chosen host of the great King, sent to wreak his special 
wrath on that country and on the other insolent little Greek 
community, which had dared to aid his rebels and burn the 
capital of one of his provinces. That victorious host had al- 
ready fulfilled half its mission of vengeance. Eretria, the con- 
federate of Athens in the bold march against Sardis nine years 
before, had fallen in the last few days ; and the Athenian gen- 
erals could discern from the heights the island of ^gilia, in 
which the Persians had deposited their Eretrian prisoners, 
whom they had reserved to be led away captives into Upper 
Asia, there to hear their doom from the lips of King Darius 
himself. Moreover, the men of Athens knew that in the. camp 
before them was their own banished tyrant, who was seeking 
to be reinstated by foreign cimeters in despotic sway over any 
remnant of his countrymen that might survive the sack of 
their town, and might be left behind as too worthless for lead- 
ing away into Median bondage. 

The numerical disparity between the force which the Athe- 
nian commanders had under them, and that which they were 
called on to encounter, was hopelessly apparent to some of the 
council. The historians who wrote nearest to the time of the 
battle do not pretend to give any detailed statements of the 
numbers engaged, but there are sufficient data for our making 
a general estimate. Every free Greek was trained to military 
duty ; and, from the incessant border wars between the differ- 
ent states, few Greeks reached the age of manhood without 
having seen some service. But the muster-roll of free Athenian 
citizens of an age fit for military duty never exceeded thirty 
thousand, and at this epoch probably did not amount to two- 
thirds of that number. Moreover, the poorer portion of these 
were unprovided with the equipments, and untrained to the 
operations of the regular infantry. Some detachments of the 
best-armed troops would be required to garrison the city itself 
and man the various fortified posts in the territory ; so that it 
is impossible to reckon the fully equipped force that marched 



. 



THE BATTLE OF MARATHON 3 

from Athens to Marathon, when the news of the Persian land- 
ing arrived, at higher than ten thousand men.* 

With one exception, the other Greeks held back from aid- 
ing them. Sparta had promised assistance, but the Persians 
had landed on the sixth day of the moon, and a religious 
scruple delayed the march of Spartan troops till the moon 
should have reached its full. From one quarter only, and that 
from a most unexpected one, did Athens receive aid at the 
moment of her great peril. 

Some years before this time the little state of Plataea in 
Boeotia, being hard pressed by her powerful neighbor, Thebes, 
had asked the protection of Athens, and had owed to an 
Athenian army the rescue of her independence. Now when it 
was noised over Greece that the Mede had come from the ut- 
termost parts of the earth to destroy Athens, the brave Platae- 
ans, unsolicited, marched with their whole force to assist the 
defense, and to share the fortunes of their benefactors. The 
general levy of the Platseans only amounted to a thousand 
men; and this little column, marching from their city along 
the southern ridge of Mount Cithaeron, and thence across the 
Attic territory, joined the Athenian forces above Marathon 
almost immediately before the battle. The re-enforcement was 
numerically small, but the gallant spirit of the men who com- 
posed it must have made it of ten-fold value to the Athenians ; 
and its presence must have gone far to dispel the cheerless 
feeling of being deserted and friendless, which the delay of the 
Spartan succors was calculated to create among the Athenian 
ranks, t 

This generous daring of their weak but true-hearted ally 

* The historians, who Hved long after the time of the battle, such as 
Justin, Plutarch, and others, give ten thousand as the number of the 
Athenian army. Not much reliance could be placed on their authority, 
if unsupported by other evidence; but a calculation made for the num- 
ber of the_ Athenian free population remarkably confirms it. For the 
data of this see Boeckh's " Public Economy of Athens," vol. i., p. 45. 
Some MfToiKoi probably served as Hoplites at Marathon, but the 
number of resident aliens at Athens cannot have been large at this 
period. 

t Mr. Grote observes (vol. iv., p. 464) that " this volunteer march o£ 
the whole Plataean force to Marathon is one of the most affecting inci- 
dents of all Grecian history." In truth, the whole career of Plataea, and 
the friendship, strong, even unto death, between her and Athens, form 
one of the most affecting episodes in the history of antiquity. In the 
Peloponnesian war the Plataeans again were true to the Athenians against 
all risks, and all calculation of self-interest: and the destruction of 



4 DECISIVE BATTLES 

was never forgotten at Athens. The Platseans were made the 
civil fellow-countrymen of the Athenians, except the right of 
exercising certain political functions ; and from that time forth, 
in the solemn sacrifices at Athens, the public prayers were of- 
fered up for a joint blessing from Heaven upon the Athenians, 
and the Plataeans also. 

After the junction of the column from Plataea, the Athe- 
nian commanders must have had under them about eleven 
thousand fully armed and disciplined infantry, and probably 
a larger number of irregular light-armed troops; as, besides 
the poorer citizens who went to the field armed with javelins, 
cutlasses, and targets, each regular heavy-armed soldier was 
attended in the camp by one or more slaves, who were armed 
like the inferior freemen. f Cavalry or archers the Athenians 
(on this occasion) had none ; and the use in the field of military 
engines was not at that period introduced into ancient warfare. 

Contrasted with their own scanty forces, the Greek com- 
manders saw stretched before them, along the shores of the 
winding bay, the tents and shipping of the varied nations who 
marched to do the bidding of the king of the Eastern world. 
The difficulty of finding transports and of securing provisions 
would form the only limit to the numbers of a Persian army. 
Nor is there any reason to suppose the estimate of Justin exag- 
gerated, who rates at a hundred thousand the force which on 
this occasion had sailed, under the satraps Datis and Artapher- 
nes, from the Cilician shores against the devoted coasts of Eu- 
boea and Attica. And after largely deducting from this total, 
so as to allow for mere mariners and camp followers, there must 
still have remained fearful odds against the national levies of 
the Athenians. Nor could Greek generals then feel that con- 
fidence in the superior quality of their troops, which ever since 
the battle of Marathon has animated Europeans in conflicts 
with Asiatics ; as, for instance, in the after struggles between 
Greece and Persia, or when the Roman legions encountered 
the myriads of Mithridates and Tigranes, or as is the case in 

Platsea was the consequence. There are few nobler passages in the 
classics than the speech in which the Platsean prisoners of war, after 
the memorable siege of their city, justify before their Spartan execu- 
tioners their loyal adherence to Athens. See Thucydidcs, lib. iii., 
sees. 53-60. 

t At the battle of Platsea, eleven years after Marathon, each of the 
eight thousand Athenian regular infantry who served them was at- 
tended by a Hght-armed slave. — Herod., lib, viii., 27, 28, 29. 



THE BATTLE OF MARATHON 5 

the Indian campaigns of our own regiments. On the contrary, 
up to the day of Marathon the Medes and Persians were re^ 
puted invincible. They had more than once met Greek troops 
in Asia Minor, in Cyprus, in Egypt, and had invariably beaten 
them. Nothing can be stronger than the expressions used by 
the early Greek writers respecting the terror which the name of 
the Medes inspired, and the prostration of men's spirits before 
the apparently resistless career of the Persian arms.* It is, 
therefore, little to be wondered at, that five of the ten Athenian 
generals shrank from the prospect of fighting a pitched battle 
against an enemy so superior in numbers and so formidable in 
military renown. Their own position on the heights was 
strong, and offered great advantages to a small defending force 
against assailing masses. They deemed it mere foolhardiness 
to descend into the plain to be trampled down by the Asiatic 
horse, overwhelmed with the archery, or cut to pieces by the 
invincible veterans of Cambyses and Cyrus. Moreover, Sparta, 
the great war-state of Greece, had been applied to, and had 
promised succor to Athens, though the religious observance 
which the Dorians paid to certain times and seasons had for 
the present delayed their march. Was it not wise, at any rate, 
to wait till the Spartans came up, and to have the help of the 
best troops in Greece, before they exposed themselves to the 
shock of the dreaded Medes ? 

Specious as these reasons might appear, the other five gen- 
erals were for speedier and bolder operations. And, fortunate- 
ly for Athens and for the world, one of them was a man, not 
only of the highest military genius, but also of that energetic 
character which impresses its own type and ideas upon spirits 
feebler in conception. 

Miltiades was the head of one of the noblest houses at 
Athens ; he ranked the ^acidae among his ancestry, and the 
blood of Achilles flowed in the veins of the hero of Marathon. 
One of his immediate ancestors had acquired the dominion of 
the Thracian Chersonese, and thus the family became at the 
same time Athenian citizens and Thracian princes. This oc- 
curred at the time when Pisistratus was tyrant of Athens. Two 

* 'A6r}pa7oi. irpwTOi av4<TX0VT0 iffBrjrd re MrjSiK^v bpeayres, Kal robs SivSpa^ ra{nr}V 
i(T6rifi4}/ovs. T6&1S Se ^v ToTffi "EWtj<ti koL rh otvofia rS>v M-i\Z(av <p6Po aKOvtrai. — 
Herodotus, lib. vi., c. 112. 

At Se yv&'xai Se ^ov\diu.evai airdvTWV avOpdoireeu ^<rav' otru troKXa Koi fieydXa Kai 
ndxtjJ-a yevt] KaTaSedovXwfjLcwq ^v t] Tlepawu apxh- — Plato, Menexcntio. 



6 DECISIVE BATTLES 

of the relatives of Miltiades — an uncle of the same name, and 
a brother named Stesagoras — had ruled the Chersonese before 
Miltiades became its prince. He had been brought up at 
Athens in the house of his father, Cimon,* who was renowned 
throughout Greece for his victories in the Olympic chariot- 
races, and who must have been possessed of great wealth. 
The sons of Pisistratus, who succeeded their father in the tyr- 
anny at Athens, caused Cimon to be assassinated ; f but they 
treated the young Miltiades with favor and kindness, and when 
his brother Stesagoras died in the Chersonese, they sent him 
out there as lord of the principality. This was about twenty- 
eight years before the battle of Marathon, and it is with his ar- 
rival in the Chersonese that our first knowledge of the career 
and character of Miltiades commences. We find, in the first 
act recorded of him, the proof of the same resolute and un- 
scrupulous spirit that marked his mature age. His brother's 
authority in the principality had been shaken by war and re- 
volt: Miltiades determined to .rule more securely. On his 
arrival he kept close within his house, as if he was mourning 
for his brother. The principal men of the Chersonese, hear- 
ing of this, assembled from all the towns and districts, and went 
together to the house of Miltiades, on a visit of condolence. As 
soon as he had thus got them in his power, he made them all 
prisoners. He then asserted and maintained his own absolute 
authority in the peninsula, taking into his pay a body of five 
hundred regular troops, and strengthening his interest by mar- 
rying the daughter of the king of the neighboring Thracians. 

When the Persian power was extended to the Hellespont 
and its neighborhood, Miltiades, as prince of the Chersonese, 
submitted to King Darius ; and he was one of the numerous 
tributary rulers who led their contingents of men to serve in 
the Persian army, in the expedition against Scythia. Miltiades 
and the vassal Greeks of Asia Minor were left by the Persian 
king in charge of the bridge across the Danube, when the in- 
vading army crossed that river, and plunged into the wilds of 
the country that now is Russia, in vain pursuit of the ances- 
tors of the modern Cossacks. On learning the reverses that 
Darius met with in the Scythian wilderness, Miltiades proposed 
to his companions that they should break the bridge down, and 
leave the Persian king and his army to perish by famine and 
* Herodotus, lib. vi., c. 103. t lb. 



THE BATTLE OF MARATHON 7 

the Scythian arrows. The rulers of the Asiatic Greek cities, 
whom Miltiades addressed, shrank from this bold but ruth- 
less stroke against the Persian power, and Darius returned in 
safety. But it was known what advice Miltiades had given, 
and the vengeance of Darius was thenceforth specially directed 
against the man who had counseled such a deadly blow against 
his empire and his person. The occupation of the Persian 
arms in other quarters left Miltiades for some years after this 
in possession of the Chersonese ; but it was precarious and in- 
terrupted. He, however, availed himself of the opportunity 
which his position gave him of conciliating the good will of his 
fellow-countrymen at Athens, by conquering and placing un- 
der the Athenian authority the islands of Lemnos and Imbros, 
to which Athens had ancient claims, but which she had never 
previously been able to bring into complete subjection. At 
length, in 494 B. C, the complete suppression of the Ionian 
revolt by the Persians left their armies and fleets at liberty to 
act against the enemies of the Great King to the west of the 
Hellespont. A strong squadron of Phoenician galleys was sent 
against the Chersonese. Miltiades knew that resistance was 
hopeless ; and while the Phoenicians were at Tenedos, he 
loaded five galleys with all the treasure that he could collect, 
and sailed away for Athens. The Phoenicians fell in with him, 
and chased him hard along the north of the yEgean. One 
of his galleys, on board of which was his eldest son Metiochus, 
was actually captured. But Miltiades, with the other four, suc- 
ceeded in reaching the friendly coast of Imbros in safety. 
Thence he afterward proceeded to Athens, and resumed his 
station as a free citizen of the Athenian commonwealth. 

The Athenians, at this time, had recently expelled Hippias, 
the son of Pisistratus, the last of their tyrants. They were in 
the full glow of their newly-recovered liberty and equality; 
and the constitutional changes of Cleisthenes had inflamed 
their republican zeal to the utmost. Miltiades had enemies 
at Athens ; and these, availing themselves of the state of popu- 
lar feeling, brought him to trial for his life for having been 
tyrant of the Chersonese. The charge did not necessarily im- 
port any acts of cruelty or wrong to individuals : it was founded 
on no specific law ; but it was based on the horror with which 
the Greeks of that age regarded every man who made himself 
arbitrary master of his fellow-men, and exercised irresponsible 



8 DECISIVE BATTLES 

dominion over them. The fact of Miltiades having so ruled in 
the Chersonese was undeniable ; but the question which the 
Athenians assembled in judgment must have tried, was whether 
Miltiades, although tyrant of the Chersonese, deserved punish- 
ment as an Athenian citizen. The eminent service that he had 
done the state in conquering Lemnos and Imbros for it, pleaded 
strongly in his favor. The people refused to convict him. He 
stood high in public opinion. And when the coming invasion 
of the Persians was known, the people wisely elected him 
one of their generals for the year. 

Two other men of high eminence in history, though their 
renown was achieved at a later period than that of Miltiades, 
were also among the ten Athenian generals at Marathon. One 
was Themistocles, the future founder of the Athenian navy, 
and the destined victor of Salamis. The other was Aristides, 
who afterward led the Athenian troops at Platasa, and whose 
integrity and just popularity acquired for his country, when 
the Persians had finally been repulsed, the advantageous pre- 
eminence of being acknowledged by half of the Greeks as their 
imperial leader and protector. It is not recorded what part 
either Themistocles or Aristides took in the debate of the 
council of war at Marathon. But, from the character of The- 
mistocles, his boldness, and his intuitive genius for extemporiz- 
ing the best measures in eVery emergency* (a quality which the 
greatest of historians ascribes to him beyond all his contem- 
poraries), we may well believe that the vote of Themistocles 
was for prompt and decisive action. On the vote of Aristides 
it may be more difficult to speculate. His predilection for the 
Spartans may have made him wish to wait till they came up ; 
but, though circumspect, he was neither timid as a soldier nor 
as a politician, and the bold advice of Miltiades may probably 
have found in Aristides a willing, most assuredly it found in 
him a candid hearer. 

Miltiades felt no hesitation as to the course which the Athe- 
nian army ought to pursue ; and earnestly did he press his 
opinion on his brother-generals. Practically acquainted with 
the organization of the Persian armies, Miltiades felt convinced 
of the superiority of the Greek troops, if properly handled ; he 

* See the character of Themistocles in the 138th section of the first 
book of Thucydides, especially the last sentence. Kal rh ^vixirav flire7v <pv- 
(reojj imev SvvdiJ.ei ^eAexTjs 5^ ^pa^irr]Ti KpiriffTos S^ ovtos avroo'x^^Ki'C^tv Ttk Beovra 



THE BATTLE OF MARATHON 9 

saw with the mihtary eye of a great general the advantage 
which the position of the forces gave him for a sudden attack, 
and as a profound poHtician he felt the perils ofremaining in- 
active, and of giving treachery time to ruin the Athenian cause. 

One officer in the council of war had not yet voted. This 
was Callimachus, the War-ruler. The viotes of the generals 
were five and five, so that the voice of Callimachus would be 
decisive. 

On that vote, in all human probability, the destiny of all the 
nations of the world depended. Miltiades turned to him, and 
in simple soldierly eloquence, the substance of which we may 
read faithfully reported in Herodotus, who had conversed with 
the veterans of Marathon, the great Athenian thus adjured 
his countrymen to vote for giving battle : 

" It now rests with you, Callimachus, either to enslave 
Athens, or, by assuring her freedom, to win yourself an im- 
mortality of fame, such as not even Harmodius and Aristogi- 
ton have acquired ; for nevfer, since the Athenians were a peo- 
ple, were they in such danger as they are in at this moment. 
If they bow the knee to these Medes, they are to be given up to 
Hippias, and you know what they then will have to suffer. But 
if Athens comes victorious out of this contest, she has it in her 
to become the first city of Greece. Your vote is to decide 
whether we are to join battle or not. If we do not bring on a 
battle presently, some factious intrigue will disunite the Athe- 
nians, and the city will be betrayed to the Medes. But if we 
fight, before there is anything rotten in the state of Athens, I 
believe that, provided the gods will give fair play and no favor, 
we are able to get the best of it in an engagement." * 

The vote of the brave War-ruler was gained, the council 
determined to give battle ; and such was the ascendency and 

* Herodotus, lib. vi., sec. 109. The ii6th section is to my mind clear 
proof that Herodotus had personally conversed with Epizelus, one of 
the veterans of Marathon. The substance of the speech of Miltiades 
w^ould naturally become known by the report of some of his colleagues. 
The speeches which ancient historians place in the mouths of kings and 
generals are generally inventions of their own; but part of this speech 
of Miltiades bears internal evidence of authenticity. Such is the case 
with the remarkable expression ^v Se ^vfi^dxafiev vpiu tikuI aadrphv 
'A^T]valwv fiere^eTepoiffi ipyeuea^ai, ^euv rh l<ra v€/.i6jn-uv, oToi re fiiJ.fv 
irepiyevea^ai r^ <Tvp.^o\ri. This daring and almost irreverant assertion 
would never have been coined by Herodotus, but it is precisely con- 
sonant with what we know of the character of Miltiades; and it is an 
expression which, if used by him, would be sure to be remembered and 
repeated by his hearers. 



lo DECISIVE BATTLES 

acknowledged military eminence of Miltiades, that his brother- 
generals one and all gave up their days of command to him, 
and cheerfully acted under his orders. Fearful, howevier, of 
creating any jealousy, and of so failing to obtain the vigorous 
co-operation of all parts of his small army, Miltiades v^aited 
till the day when the chief command would have come round 
to him in regular rotation before he led the troops against the 
enemy. 

The inaction of the Asiatic commanders during this interval 
appears strange at first sight ; but Hippias was with them, and 
they and he were aware of their chance of a bloodless conquest 
through the machinations of his partisans among the Athe- 
nians. The nature of the ground also explains in many points 
the tactics of the opposite generals before the battle, as well as 
the operations of the troops during the engagement. 

The plain of Marathon, which is about twenty-two miles 
distant from Athens, lies along the bay of the same name on 
the northeastern coast of Attica. The plain is nearly in the 
form of a crescent, and about six miles in length. It is about 
two miles broad in the centre, where the space between the 
mountains and the sea is greatest, but it narrows toward either 
extremity, the mountains coming close down to the water at 
the horns of the bay. There is a valley trending inward from 
the middle of the plain, and a ravine comes down to it to the 
southward. Elsewhere it is closely girt round on the land side 
by rugged limestone mountains, which are thickly studded 
with pines, olive-trees and cedars, and overgrown with the 
myrtle, arbutus, and the other low odoriferous shrubs that 
everywhere perfume the Attic air. The level of the ground is 
now varied by the mound raised over those who fell in the bat- 
tle, but it was an unbroken plain when the Persians encamped 
on it. There are marshes at each end, which are dry in spring 
and summer and then offer no obstruction to the horseman, 
but are commonly flooded with rain and so rendered imprac- 
ticable for cavalry in the autumn, the time of year at which 
the action took place. 

The Greeks, lying encamped on the mountains, could watch 
every movement of the Persians on the plain below, while 
they were enabled completely to mask their own. Miltiades 
also had, from his position, the power of giving battle when- 
ever he pleased, or of delaying it at his discretion, unless Da- 



THE BATTLE OF MARATHON n 

tis were to attempt the perilous operation of storming the 
heights. 

If we turn to the map of the Old World, to test the com- 
parative territorial resources of the two states whose armies 
were now about to come into conflict, the immense preponder- 
ance of the material power of the Persian king over that of 
the Athenian republic is more striking than any similar con- 
trast which history can supply. It has been truly remarked 
that, in estimating mere areas, Attica, containing on its whole 
surface only seven hundred square miles, shrinks into insig- 
nificance if compared with many a baronial fief of the Middle 
Ages, or many a colonial allotment of modern times. Its an- 
tagonist, the Persian empire, comprised the whole of modern 
Asiatic and much of modern European Turkey, the modern 
kingdom of Persia, and the countries of modern Georgia, 
Armenia, Balkh, the Punjaub, Afghanistan, Beloochistan, 
Egypt, and Tripoli. 

Nor could a European, in the beginning of the fifth century 
before our era, look upon this huge accumulation of power 
beneath the sceptre of a single Asiatic ruler with the indiffer- 
ence with which we now observe on the map the extensive 
dominions of modern Oriental sovereigns ; for, as has been 
already remarked, before Marathon was fought, the prestige 
of success and of supposed superiority of race was on the side 
of the Asiatic against the European. Asia was the original seat 
of human societies, and long before any trace can be found of 
the inhabitants of the rest of the world having emerged from 
the rudest barbarism, we can perceive that mighty and brilliant 
empires flourished in the Asiatic continent. They appear be- 
fore us through the twilight of primeval history, dim and in- 
distinct, but massive and majestic, like mountains in the early 
dawn. 

Instead, however, of the infinite variety and restless 
change which has characterized the institutions and fortunes 
of European states ever since the commencement of the civiliza- 
tion of our continent, a monotonous uniformity pervades the 
histories of nearly all Oriental empires, from the most ancient 
down to the most recent times. They are characterized by the 
rapidity of their early conquests, by the immense extent of the 
dominions comprised in them, by the establishment of a satrap 
or pashaw system of governing the provinces, by an invariable 



12 DECISIVE BATTLES 

and speedy degeneracy in the princes of the royal house, the 
effeminate nursHngs of the seragHo succeeding to the warrior 
sovereigns reared in the camp, and by the internal anarchy and 
insurrections which indicate and accelerate the decline and fall 
of these unwieldy and ill-organized fabrics of power. It is 
also a striking fact that the governments of all the great 
Asiatic empires have in all ages been absolute despotisms. 
And Heeren is right in connecting this with another great fact, 
which is important from its influence both on the political and 
the social life of Asiatics. " Among all the considerable na- 
tions of Inner Asia, the paternal government of every house- 
hold was corrupted by polygamy: where that custom exists, 
a good political constitution is impossible. Fathers, being 
converted into domestic despots, are ready to pay the same ab- 
ject obedience to their sovereign which they exact from their 
family and dependents in their domestic economy." We 
should bear in mind, also, the inseparable connection between 
tlie state religion and all legislation which has always prevailed 
in the East, and the constant existence of a powerful sacerdotal 
body, exercising some check, though precarious and irregular, 
over the throne itself, grasping at all civil administration, claim- 
ing the supreme control of education, stereotyping the lines in 
which literature and science must move, and limiting the ex- 
tent to which it shall be lawful for the human mind to prose- 
cute its inquiries. 

With these general characteristics rightly felt and under- 
stood it becomes a comparatively easy task to investigate and 
appreciate the origin, progress and principles of Oriental em- 
pires in general, as well as of the Persian monarchy in par- 
ticular. And we are thus better enabled to appreciate the re- 
pulse which Greece gave to the arms of the East, and to judge 
of the probable consequences to human civihzation, if the Per- 
sians had succeeded in bringing Europe under their yoke, as 
they had already subjugated the fairest portions of the rest of 
the then known world. 

The Greeks, from their geographical position, formed the 
natural vanguard of European liberty against Persian ambi- 
tion ; and they pre-eminently displayed the salient points of 
distinctive national character which have rendered European 
civilization so far superior to Asiatic. The nations that dwelt 
in ancient times around and near the northern shores of the 



THE BATTLE OF MARATHON 



13 



Mediterranean Sea were the first in our continent to receive 
from the East the rudiments of art and literature, and the 
germs of social and political organizations. 0£ these nations 
the Greeks, through their vicinity to Asia Minor, Phoenicia, 
and Egypt, were among the very foremost in acquiring the 
principles and habits of civilized life; and they also at once 
imparted a new and wholly original stamp on all which they 
received. Thus, in their religion, they received from foreign 
settlers the names of all their deities and many of their rites, 
but they discarded the loathsome monstrosities of the Nile, the 
Orontes, and the Ganges ; they nationalized their creed ; and 
their own poets created their beautiful mythology. No sacer- 
dotal caste ever existed in Greece. So, in their governments, 
they lived long under hereditary kings, but never endured the 
permanent establishment of absolute monarchy. Their early 
kings were constitutional rulers, governing with defined pre- 
rogatives.* And long before the Persian invasion, the kingly 
form of government had given way in almost all the Greek 
states to republican institutions, presenting infinite viarieties of 
the blending or the alternate predominance of the oligarchical 
and democratical principles. In literature and science the 
Greek intellect followed no beaten track, and acknowledged 
no limitary rules. The Greeks thought their subjects boldly 
out ; and the novelty of a speculation invested it in their minds 
with interest, and not with criminality. Versatile, restless, en- 
terprising, and self-confident, the Greeks presented the most 
striking contrast to the habitual quietude and submissiveness 
of the Orientals ; and, of all the Greeks, the Athenians exhib- 
ited these national characteristics in the strongest degree. 
This spirit of activity and daring, joined to a generous sym- 
pathy for the fate of their fellow-Greeks in Asia, had led them 
to join in the last Ionian war, and now mingling with their 
abhorrence of the usurping family of their own citizens, which 
for a period had forcibly seized on and exercised despotic 
power at Athens, nerved them to defy the wrath of King Da- 
rius, and to refuse to receive back at his bidding the tyrant 
whom they had some years before driven out. 

The enterprise and genius of an Englishman have lately 
confirmed by fresh evidence, and invested with fresh interest, 
the might of the Persian monarch who sent his troops to com- 

* 'Eirt py]TOis yepacri iraTpiKal Bcor(A67a(. — Thucyd. lib. i., sec. 12. 



14 DECISIVE BATTLES 

bat at Marathon. Inscriptions in a character termed the Ar- 
row-headed or Cuneiform, had long been known to exist on 
the marble monuments at Persepolis, near the site of the ancient 
Susa, and on the faces of rocks in other places formerly ruled 
over by the early Persian kings. But for thousands of years 
they had been mere unintelligible enigmas to the curious but 
baffled beholder ; and they were often referred to as instances 
of the folly of human pride, which could indeed write its own 
praises in the solid rock, but only for the rock to outlive the 
language as well as the memory of the vainglorious inscribers. 
The elder Niebuhr, Grotefend, and Lassen, had made some 
guesses at the meaning of the Cuneiform letters; but Major 
Rawlinson, of the East India Company's service, after years 
of labor, has at last accomphshed the glorious achievement of 
fully revealing the alphabet and the grammar of this long un- 
known tongue. He has, in particular, fully deciphered and ex- 
pounded the inscription on the sacred rock of Behistun, on 
the western frontiers of Media. These records of the Achae- 
menidae have at length found their interpreter; and Darius 
himself speaks to us from the consecrated mountain, and tells 
us the names of the nations that obeyed him, the revolts that he 
suppressed, his victories, his piety, and his glory.* 

Kings who thus seek the admiration of posterity are little 
likely to dim the record of their successes by the mention of 
their occasional defeats; and it throws no suspicion on the 
narrative of the Greek historians that we find these inscriptions 
silent respecting the overthrow of Datis and Artaphernes, as 
well as respecting the reverses which Darius sustained in per- 
son during his Scythian campaigns. But these indisputable 
monuments of Persian fame confirm, and even increase the 
opinion with which Herodotus inspires us of the vast power 
which Cyrus founded and Cambyses increased; which Darius 
augmented by Indian and Arabian conquests, and seemed likely, 
when he directed his arms against Europe, to make the pre- 
dominant monarchy of the world. 

With the exception of the Chinese empire, in which, through- 
out all ages down to the last few years, one-third of the human 
race has dwelt almost unconnected with the other portions, all 
the great kingdoms, which we know to have existed in ancient 
Asia, were, in Darius' time, blended into the Persian. The 

* See the tenth volume of the " Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society." 



THE BATTLE OF MARATHON 15 

northern Indians, the Assyrians, the Syrians, the Babylonians, 
the Chaldees, the Phoenicians, the nations of Palestine, the 
Armenians, the Bactrians, the Lydians, the Phrygians, the 
Parthians, and the Medes, all obeyed the sceptre of the Great 
King: the Medes standing next to the native Persians in 
honor, and the empire being frequently spoken of as that of the 
Medes, or as that of the Medes and Persians. Egypt and Gy- 
rene were Persian provinces; the Greek colonists in Asia 
Minor and the islands of the ^gsean were Darius' subjects; 
and their gallant but unsuccessful attempts to throw off the 
Persian yoke had only served to rivet it more strongly, and to 
increase the general belief that the Greeks could not stand be- 
fore the Persians in a field of battle. Darius' Scythian war, 
though unsuccessful in its immediate object, had brought about 
the subjugation of Thrace and the submission of Macedonia. 
From the Indus to the Peneus, all was his. 

We may imagine the wrath with which the lord of so many 
nations must have heard, nine years before the battle of Mara- 
thon, that a strange nation toward the setting sun, called the 
Athenians, had dared to help his rebels in Ionia against him, and 
that they had plundered and burned the capital of one of his 
provinces. Before the burning of Sardis, Darius seems never 
to have heard of the existence of Athens ; but his satraps in 
Asia Minor had for some time seen Athenian refugees at their 
provincial courts imploring assistance against their fellow- 
countrymen. When Hippias was driven away from Athens, 
and the tyrannic dynasty of the Pisistratidse finally overthrown 
in 510 B. c, the banished tyrant and his adherents, after vainly 
seeking to be restored by Spartan intervention, had betaken 
themselves to Sardis, the capital city of the satrapy of Arta- 
phernes. There Hippias (in the expressive words of Herodo- 
tus *) began every kind of agitation, slandering the Athenians 
before Artaphernes, and doing all he could to induce the satrap 
to place Athens in subjection to him, as the tributary vassal of 
King Darius. When the Athenians heard of his practices, they 
sent envoys to Sardis to remonstrate with the Persians against 
taking up the quarrel of the Athenian refugees. 

But Artaphernes gave them in reply a menacing command 
to receive Hippias back again if they looked for safety. The 
Athenians were resolved not to purchase safety at such a price, 
* Herod., lib. v., c. 96, 



i6 DECISIVE BATTLES 

and after rejecting the satrap's terms, they considered that they 
and the Persians were declared enemies. At this very crisis 
the Ionian Greeks implored the assistance of their European 
brethren, to enable them to recover their independence from 
Persia. Athens, and the city of Eretria in Euboea, alone con- 
sented. Twenty xA^thenian galleys, and five Eretrian, crossed 
the ^gaean Sea, and by a bold and sudden march upon Sardis, 
the Athenians and their allies succeeded in capturing the capi- 
tal city of the haughty satrap, who had recently menaced them 
with servitude or destruction. They were pursued, and de- 
feated on their return to the coast, and Athens took no further 
part in the Ionian war ; but the insult that she had put upon 
the Persian power was speedily made known throughout the 
empire, and was never to be forgiven or forgotten. In the em- 
phatic simplicity of the narrative of Herodotus, the wrath of 
the Great King is thus described : " Now when it was told to 
King Darius that Sardis had been taken and burned by the 
Athenians and lonians, he took small heed of the lonians, well 
knowing who they were, and that their revolt would soon be 
put down; but he asked who, and what manner of men, the 
Athenians were. And when he had been told, he called for his 
bow ; and, having taken it, and placed an arrow on the string, 
he let the arrow fly toward heaven ; and as he shot it into the 
air, he said, * Oh ! supreme God, grant me that I may avenge 
myself on the Athenians.' And when he had said this, he ap- 
pointed one of his servants to say to him every day as he sat 
at meat, * Sire, remember the Athenians.' " 

Some years were occupied in the complete reduction of 
Ionia. But when this was effected, Darius ordered his vic- 
torious forces to proceed to punish Athens and Eretria, and to 
conquer European Greece. The first armanent sent for this 
purpose was shattered by shipwreck, and nearly destroyed off 
Mount Athos. But the purpose of King Darius was not easily 
shaken. A larger army was ordered to be collected in Cilicia, 
and requisitions were sent to all the maritime cities of the 
Persian empire for ships of war, and for transports of sufficient 
size for carrying cavalry as well as infantry across the ^gaean. 
While these preparations were being made, Darius sent heralds 
round to the Grecian cities demanding their submission to 
Persia. It was proclaimed in the market-place of each little 
Hellenic state (some with territories not larger than the Isle 



THE BATTLE OF MARATHON 17 

of Wight), that King Darius, the lord of all men, from the ris- 
ing to the setting sun,* required earth and water to be delivered 
to his heralds, as a symbolical acknowledgment that he was 
head and master of the country. Terror-stricken at the power 
of Persia and at the severe punishment that had recently been 
inflicted on the refractory lonians, many of the continental 
Greeks and nearly all the islanders submitted, and gave the 
required tokens of vassalage. At Sparta and Athens an indig- 
nant refusal was returned — a refusal which was disgraced by 
outrage and violence against the persons of the Asiatic heralds. 

Fresh fuel was thus added to the anger of Darius against 
Athens, and the Persian preparations went on with renewed 
vigor. In the summer of 490 b. c, the army destined for the 
invasion was assembled in the Aleian plain of CiHcia, near the 
sea. A fleet of six hundred galleys and numerous transports 
was collected on the coast for the embarkation of troops, horse 
as well as foot. A Median general named Datis, and Arta- 
phernes, the son of the satrap of Sardis, and who was also 
nephew of Darius, were placed in titular joint command of the 
expedition. The real supreme authority was probably given 
to Datis alone, from the way in which the Greek writers speak 
of him. We know no details of the previous career of this 
officer; but there is every reason to believe that his abilities 
and bravery had been proved by experience, or his Median 
birth would have prevented his being placed in high command 
by Darius. He appears to have been the first Mede who was 
thus trusted by the Persian kings after the overthrow of the 
conspiracy of the Median magi against the Persians imme- 
diately before Darius obtained the throne. Datis received in- 
structions to complete the subjugation of Greece, and especial 
orders were given him with regard to Eretria and Athens. 
He was to take these two cities, and he was to lead the inhabi- 
tants away captive, and bring them as slaves into the presence 
of the Great King. 

Datis embarked his forces in the fleet that awaited them, 

* -^schines in Ctes., p. 522, ed. Reiske. Mitford, vol. i., p. 485. 
^schines is speaking of Xerxes, but Mitford is probably right in con- 
sidering it as the style of the Persian kings in their proclamations. In 
one of the inscriptions at Persepolis, Darius terms himself " Darius, 
the great king, king of kings, the king of the many-peopled countries, 
the supporter also of this great world." In another, he styles himself 
" the king of all inhabited countries." (See " Asiatic Journal," vol. x., 
pp. 287 and 292, and Major Rawlinson's Comments.) 



i8 DECISIVE BATTLES 

and coasting along the shores of Asia Minor till he was off 
Samos, he thence sailed due westward through the ^Egaean 
Sea for Greece, taking the islands in his way. The Naxians 
had, ten years before, successfully stood a siege against a Per- 
sian armament, but they now were too terrified to offer any 
resistance, and fled to the mountain tops, while the enemy 
burned their town and laid waste their lands. Thence Datis, 
compelhng the Greek islanders to join him with their ships 
and men, sailed onward to the coast of Eubcea. The little town 
of Carystus essayed resistance, but was quickly overpowered. 
He next attacked Eretria. The Athenians sent four thousand 
men to its aid ; but treachery was at work among the Ere- 
trians ; and the Athenian force received timely warning from 
one of the leading men of the city to retire to aid in saving their 
own country, instead of remaining to share in the inevitable 
destruction of Eretria. Left to themselves, the Eretrians re- 
pulsed the assaults of the Persians against their walls for six 
days ; on the seventh they were betrayed by two of their chiefs, 
and the Persians occupied the city. The temples were burned 
in revenge for the firing of Sardis, and the inhabitants were 
bound, and placed as prisoners in the neighboring islet of 
.Egilia, to wait there till Datis should bring the Athenians to 
join them in captivity, when both populations were to be led 
into Upper Asia, there to learn their doom from the lips of 
King Darius himself. 

Flushed with success^ and with half his mission thus ac- 
complished, Datis re-embarked his troops, and, crossing the 
little channel that separates Euboea from the mainland, he en- 
camped his troops on the Attic coast at Marathon, drawing up 
his galleys on the shelving beach, as was the custom with the 
navies of antiquity. The conquered islands behind him served 
as places of deposit for his provisions and military stores. His 
position at Marathon seemed to him in every respect advanta- 
geous, and the level nature of the ground on which he camped 
was favorable for the employment of his cavalry, if the Athe- 
nians should venture to engage him. Hippias, who accom- 
panied him, and acted as the guide of the invaders, had pointed 
out Marathon as the best place for a landing, for this very rea- 
son. Probably Hippias was also influenced by the recollection 
that forty-seven years previously, he, with his father Pisistratus, 
had crossed with an army from Eretria to Marathon, and had 



THE BATTLE OF MARATHON 



19 



won an easy victory over their Athenian enemies on that very 
plain, which had restored them to tyrannic power. The omen 
seemed cheering. The place was the same, but IJippias soon 
learned to his cost how great a change had come over the 
spirit of the Athenians. 

But though " the fierce democracy " of Athens was zealous 
and true against foreign invader and domestic tyrant, a faction 
existed in Athens, as at Eretria, who were wiUing to purchase 
a party triumph over their fellow-citizens at the price of their 
country's ruin. Communications were opened between these 
men and the Persian camp, which would have led to a catas- 
trophe like that of Eretria, if Miltiades had not resolved and 
persuaded his colleagues to resolve on fighting at all hazards. 

When Miltiades arrayed his men for action, he staked on 
the arbitrament of one battle not only the fate of Athens, but 
that of all Greece ; for if Athens had fallen, no other Greek 
state, except Lacedaemon, would have had the courage to re- 
sist; and the Lacedaemonians, though they would probably 
have died in their ranks to the last man, never could have suc- 
cessfully resisted the victorious Persians and the numerous 
Greek troops which would have soon marched under the Per- 
sian satraps, had they prevailed over Athens. 

Nor was there any power to the westward of Greece that 
could have offered an effectual opposition to Persia, had she once 
conquered Greece, and made that country a basis for future 
military operations. Rome was at this time in her season of 
utmost weakness. Her dynasty of powerful Etruscan kings 
had been driven out ; and her infant commonwealth was reel- 
ing under the attacks of the Etruscans and Volscians from with- 
out, and the fierce dissensions between the patricians and 
plebeians within. Etruria, with her Lucumos and serfs, was no 
match for Persia. Samnium had not grown into the might 
which she afterward put forth ; nor could the Greek colonies in 
South Italy and Sicily hope to conquer when their parent states 
had perished. Carthage had escaped the Persian yoke in the 
time of Cambyses, through the reluctance of the Phoenician 
mariners to serve against their kinsmen. But such forbear- 
ance could not long have been relied on, and the future rival of 
Rome would have become as submissive a minister of the Per- 
sian power as were the Phoenician cities themselves. If we 
turn to Spain ; or if we pass the great mountain chain, which. 



20 DECISIVE BATTLES 

prolonged through the Pyrenees, the Cevennes, the Alps, and 
the Balkan, divides Northern from Southern Europe, we shall 
find nothing at that period but mere savage Finns, Celts, Slavs, 
and Teutons. Had Persia beaten Athens at Marathon, she 
could have found no obstacle to prevent Darius, the chosen ser- 
vant of Ormuzd, from advancing his sway over all the known 
Western races of mankind. The infant energies of Europe 
would have been trodden out beneath universal conquest, and 
the history of the world, like the history of Asia, have become 
a mere record of the rise and fall of despotic dynasties, of the 
incursions of barbarous hordes, and of the mental and political 
prostration of millions beneath the diadem, the tiara, and the 
sword. 

Great as the preponderance of the Persian over the Athenian 
power at that crisis seems to have been, it would be unjust to 
impute wild rashness to the policy of Miltiades, and those who 
voted with him in the Athenian council of war, or to look on 
the after-current of events as the mere fortunate result of suc- 
cessful folly. As before has been remarked, Miltiades, while 
prince of the Chersonese, had seen service in the Persian 
armies ; and he knew by personal observation how many ele- 
ments of weakness lurked beneath their imposing aspect of 
strength. He knew that the bulk of their troops no longer 
consisted of the hardy shepherds and mountaineers from Persia 
proper and Kurdistan, who won Cyrus's battles ; but that un- 
willing contingents from conquered nations now filled up the 
Persian muster-rolls, fighting more from compulsion than 
from any zeal in the cause of their masters. He had also the 
sagacity and the spirit to appreciate the superiority of the Greek 
armor and organization over the Asiatic, notwithstanding 
former reverses. Above all, he felt and worthily-trusted the en- 
thusiasm of those whom he led. 

The Athenians whom he led had proved by their newborn 
valor in recent wars against the neighboring states that " lib- 
erty and equality of civic rights are brave spirit-stirring things, 
and they, who, while under the yoke of a despot, had been no 
better men of war than any of their neighbors, as soon as they 
were free, became the foremost men of all ; for each felt that in 
fighting for a free commonwealth, he fought for himself, and 
whatever he took in hand, he was zealous to do the work thor- 
oughly." So the nearly contemporaneous historian describes 



THE BATTLE OF MARATHON 21 

the change of spirit that was seen in the Athenians after their 
tyrants were expelled ; * and Miltiades knew that in leading 
them against the invading army, where they had Hippias, the 
foe they most hated, before them, he was bringing into battle 
no ordinary men, and could calculate on ordinary heroism. 
As for traitors, he was sure that, whatever treachery might lurk 
among some of the higher-born and wealthier Athenians, the 
rank and file whom he commanded were ready to do their ut- 
most in his and their own cause. With regard to future attacks 
from Asia, he might reasonably hope that one victory would 
inspirit all Greece to combine against the common foe; and 
that the latent seeds of revolt and disunion in the Persian em- 
pire would soon burst forth and paralyze its energies, so as to 
leave Greek independence secure. 

With these hopes and risks, Miltiades, on the afternoon of a 
September day, 490 B.C., gave the word for the Athenian 
army to prepare the battle. There were many local associa- 
tions connected with those mountain heights which were cal- 
culated powerfully to excite the spirits of the men, and of which 
the commanders well knew how to avail themselves in their 
exhortations to their troops before the encounter. Marathon 
itself was a region sacred to Hercules. Close to them was the 
fountain of Macaria, who had in days of yore devoted herself 
to death for the liberty of her people. The very plain on which 
they were to fight was the scene of the exploits of their national 
hero, Theseus ; and there, too, as old legends told, the Athe- 
nians and the Heraclidas had routed the invader, Eurystheus. 
These traditions were not mere cloudy myths or idle fictions, 
but matters of implicit earnest faith to the men of that day, and 
many a fervent prayer arose from the Athenian ranks to the 
heroic spirits who, while on earth, had striven and suffered on 

* 'A^T]i/aioi fifv vvv r}ij^r]vro ' Sr]\o7 Sh ov /cot' ^v ijlSvov oKKh. iravraxn V 'lar-nyopirj 
us €(TTi XPVI^^ cnrovSaioy, et kol 'A^vaToi Tvpavvev6fx,€V0i fiev ovSa/iov rwv ar<peas 
irepioiKe6vra}v effav ra noXefiia a/xelvovs, airaWdx^eures 5e rvpduvuv fxaKp^ irpwroi 
kyivovro ' StjKoT Sju ravra on Karex^f^^voi imeu e^eXoKaKeop, ebs SecrirSrv epya(6- 
tievoi ' €\ev^€pa)^€j/Tav Se avrhs fKaarros ccoury irpobvfieeTO KaT€pya^€<r^ai. — 
Herod., lib. v., c. 87. 

Mr. Grote's comment on this is one of the most eloquent and philo- 
sophical passages in his admirable fourth volume. 

The expression 'la-nyopl-n XP^M« (Tirov^aiov is like some lines in old 
Barbour's poem of " The Bruce " : 

" Ah, Fredome is a noble thing ; 
Fredome makes man to haiff lyking, 
Freedome all solace to men gives. 
He lives at ease that freely lives." 



2 2 DECISIVE BATTLES 

that very spot, and who were beheved to be now heavenly 
powers, looking down with interest on their still beloved coun- 
try, and capable of interposing with superhuman aid in its be- 
half. 

According to old national custom, the warriors of each tribe 
were arrayed together ; neighbor thus fighting by the side of 
neighbor, friend by friend, and the spirit of emulation and the 
consciousness of responsibility excited to the very utmost. The 
War-ruler, Callimachus, had the leading of the right wing; 
the Plataeans formed the extreme left; and Themistocles and 
Aristides commanded the centre. The line consisted of the 
heavy armed spearmen only ; for the Greeks (until the time of 
Iphicrates) took little or no account of light-armed soldiers in 
a pitched battle, using them only in skirmishes, or for the pur- 
suit of a defeated enemy. The panoply of the regular infantry 
consisted of a long spear, of a shield, helmet, breast-plate, 
greaves, and short sword. Thus equipped, they usually ad- 
vanced slowly and steadily into action in a uniform phalanx of 
about eight spears deep. But the military genius of Miltiades 
led him to deviate on this occasion from the commonplace tac- 
tics of his countrymen. It was essential for him to extend his 
line so as to cover all the practicable ground, and to secure 
himself from being outflanked and charged in the rear by the 
Persian horse. This extension involved the weakening of his 
line. Instead of a uniform reduction of its strength, he deter- 
mined on detaching principally from his centre, which, from 
the nature of the ground, would have the best opportunities 
for rallying, if broken ; and on strengthening his wings so as 
to insure advantage at those points ; and he trusted to his own 
skill and to his soldiers' discipline for the improvement of that 
advantage into decisive victory.* 

In this order, and availing himself probably of the inequal- 
ities of the ground, so as to conceal his preparations from the 
enemy till the last possible moment, Miltiades drew up the 

* It is remarkable that there is no other instance of a Greek general 
deviating from the ordinary mode of bringing a phalanx of spearmen 
into action until the battles of Leuctra and Mantinea, more than a 
century after Marathon, when Epaminondas introduced the tactics 
which Alexander the Great in ancient times, and Frederic the Great in 
modern times, made so famous, of concentrating an overpowering force 
to bear on some decisive point of the enemy's line, while he kept back, 
or, in military phrase, refused, the weaker part of his own. 

" Persae," 402. 



THE BATTLE OF MARATHON 



23 



eleven thousand infantry whose spears were to decide this crisis 
in the struggle between the European and the Asiatic worlds. 
The sacrifices by which the favor of heavlen was sought, and its 
will consulted, were announced to show propitious omens. 
The trumpet sounded for action, and, chanting the hymn of 
battle, the little army bore down upon the host of the foe. Then, 
too, along the mountain slopes of Marathon must have re- 
sounded the mutual exhortation, which ^schylus, who fought 
in both battles, tells us was afterward heard over the waves of 
Salamis : " On, sons of the Greeks ! Strike for the freedom of 
your country ! strike for the freedom of your children and of 
your wives — for the shrines of your fathers' gods, and for 
the sepulchres of your sires. All — all are now staked upon the 
strife." 

'Q TTolBes 'FiXXr/viov tre 
*EX€u^£povT£ TrarptS', iXivSepovre 8e 
naiSas, yui/at/cas, ■^ctov t€ TraTpwcov eS?/, 
©r/Kas re irpoyovoiv. Nvv inrkp 7rdvT0)V dywv.* 

Instead of advancing at the usual slow pace of the phalanx, 
Miltiades brought his men on at a run. They were all trained 
in the exercise of the palaestra, so that there was no fear of their 
ending the charge in breathless exhaustion ; and it was of the 
deepest importance for him to traverse as rapidly as possible 
the mile or so of level ground that lay between the mountain 
foot and the Persian outposts, and so to get his troops into 
close action before the Asiatic cavalry could mount, form and 
manoeuvre against him, or their archers keep him long under 
fire, and before the enemy's generals could fairly deploy their 
masses. *' When the Persians," says Herodotus, " saw the 
Athenians running down on them, without horse or bowmen, 
and scanty in numbers, they thought them a set of madmen 
rushing upon certain destruction." They began, however, to 
prepare to receive them, and the Eastern chiefs arrayed, as 
quickly as time and place allowed, the varied races who served 
in their motley ranks. Mountaineers from Hyrcania and Af- 
ghanistan, wild horsemen from the steppes of Khorassan, the 
black archers of Ethiopia, swordsmen from the banks of the 
Indus, the Oxus, the Euphrates and the Nile, made ready 
against the enemies of the Great King. But no national cause 
inspired them except the division of native Persians; and in 
* Persae, 402. 



24 



DECISIVE BATTLES 



the large host there was no uniformity of language, creed, race 
or military system. Still, among them there were many gallant 
men, under a veteran general; they were familiarized with 
victory, and in contemptuous confidence, their infantry, which 
alone had time to form, awaited the Athenian charge. On 
came the Greeks, with one unwavering line of levelled spears, 
against which the light targets, the short lances and cimeters 
of the Orientals, offered weak defence. The front rank of the 
Asiatics must have gone down to a man at the first shock. Still 
they recoiled not, but strove by individual gallantry and by the 
weight of numbers to make up for the disadvantages of weap- 
ons and tactics, and to bear back the shallow line of the Euro- 
peans. In the centre, where the native Persians and the Sacse 
fought, they succeeded in breaking through the weakened part 
of th Athenian phalanx; and the tribes led by Aristides and 
Themistocles were, after a brave resistance, driven back over 
the plain, and chased by the Persians up the valley toward 
the inner country. There the nature of the ground gave the 
opportunity of rallying and renewing the struggle. Mean- 
while, the Greek wings, where Miltiades had concentrated his 
chief strength, had routed the Asiatics opposed to them ; and 
the Athenian and Platsean officers, instead of pursuing the fugi- 
tives, kept their troops well in hand, and, wheeling round, they 
formed the two wings together. Miltiades instantly led them 
against the Persian centre, which had hitherto been triumphant, 
but which now fell back, and prepared to encounter these new 
and unexpected assailants. Aristides and Themistocles re- 
newed the fight with their reorganized troops, and the full force 
of the Greeks was brought into close action with the Persian 
and Sacian divisions of the enemy. Datis' veterans strove hard 
to keep their ground, and evening* was approaching before the 
stern encounter was decided. 

But the Persians, with their slight wicker shields, destitute 
of body-armor, and never taught by training to keep the even 
front and act with the regular movement of the Greek infantry, 
fought at heavy disadvantage with their shorter and feebler 
weapons against the compact array of well-armed Athenian 
and Plataean spearmen, all perfectly drilled to perform each 
necessary evolution in concert, and to preserve a uniform and 

* 'AAA* o/n«? airuff6}Me<T0a ^vv OeoZs irphs ctrirepa. 

— Aristoph., Vesxtoe, 1085. 



THE BATTLE OF MARATHON 25 

unwavering line in battle. In personal courage and in bodily 
activity the Persians were not inferior to their adversaries. 
Their spirits were not yet cowed by the recollection of former 
defeats ; and they lavished their lives freely, rather than forfeit 
the fame which they had won by so many victories. While 
their rear ranks poured an incessant shower of arrows f over 
the heads of their comrades, the foremost Persians kept rush- 
ing forward, sometimes singly, sometimes in desperate groups 
of twelve or ten upon the projecting spears of the Greeks, striv- 
ing to force a lane into the phalanx, and to bring their cimeters 
and daggers into play.J But the Greeks felt their superiority, 
and though the fatigue of the long-continued action told heav- 
ily on their inferior numbers, the sight of the carnage that they 
dealt upon their assailants nerved them to fight still more 
fiercely on. 

At last the previously unvanquished lords of Asia turned 
their backs and fled, and the Greeks followed, striking them 
down, to the water's edge,* where the invaders were now 
hastily launching their galleys, and seeking to embark and fly. 
Flushed with success, the Athenians attacked and strove to fire 
the fleet. But here the Asiatics resisted desperately, and the 
principal loss sustained by the Greeks was in the assault on 
the ships. Here fell the brave War-ruler Callimachus, the gen- 
eral Stesilaus, and other Athenians of note. Seven galleys 
were fired ; but the Persians succeeded in saving the rest. They 
pushed off from the fatal shore ; but even here the skill of Datis 
did not desert him, and he sailed round to the western coast of 

f ^Enax^fJi'^crO^ avroicri, Qvfiov o|jVrjf ireTcoKjTes, 
Sriy av^p trap' avffp vir' opyris r^v X€\w7jj' iardluv ' 
'TffJ> Se rwv ro^evfiaTwy ovk ^v idfiv rhv ovpavhv. 

— Aristoph., Vesper, 1082. 
t See the description in the 626. section of the ninth book of Herodotus 
of the gallantry shown by the Persian infantry against the Lacedae- 
monians at Platsea. We have no similar detail of the fight at Marathon, 
but we know that it was long and obstinately contested (see the 113th 
section of the sixth book of Herodotus, and the lines from the Vespae 
already quoted), and the spirit of the Persians rnust have been even 
higher at Marathon than at Platsea. In both battles it was only the 
true Persians and the Sacse who showed this valor; the other Asiatics 
fled like sheep. 

* The flying Mede, his shaf tless broken bow ; 
The fiery Greek, his red pursuing spear ; 
Mountains above, Earth's, Oceans's plain below, 
Death in the front. Destruction in the rear ! 
Such was the scene. — Byron's Childe Harold. 



26 DECISIVE BATTLES 

Attica, in hopes to find the city unprotected, and to gain pos- 
session of it from some of the partisans of Hippias. Mihiades, 
however, saw and counteracted his manoeuvre. Leaving 
Aristides, and the troops of his tribe, to guard the spoil and the 
slain, the Athenian commander led his conquering army by a 
rapid night-march back across the country to Athens. And 
when the Persian fleet had doubled the Cape of Sunium and 
sailed up to the Athenian harbor in the morning, Datis saw ar- 
rayed on the heights above the city the troops before whom his 
men had fled on the preceding evening. All hope of further con- 
quest in Europe for the time was abandoned, and the baffled 
armada returned to the Asiatic coasts. 

After the battle had been fought, but while the dead bodies 
were yet on the ground, the promised re-enforcement from 
Sparta arrived. Two thousand Lacedaemonian spearmen, 
starting immediately after the full moon, had marched the hun- 
dred and fifty miles between Athens and Sparta in the wonder- 
fully short time of three days. Though too late to share in the 
glory of the action, they requested to be allowed to march to the 
battle-field to behold the Medes. They proceeded thither, 
gazed on the dead bodies of the invaders, and then praising the 
Athenians and what they had done, they returned to Lace- 
daemon. 

The number of the Persian dead was 6,400 ; of the Athenians, 
192. The number of the Plataeans who fell is not mentioned ; 
but, as they fought in the part of the army which was not 
broken, it cannot have been large. 

The apparent disproportion between the losses of the two 
armies is not surprising when we remember the armor of the 
Greek spearmen, and the impossibility of heavy slaughter be- 
ing inflicted by sword or lance on troops so armed, as long as 
they kept firm in their ranks.* 

_ The Athenian slain were buried on the field of battle. This 
was contrary to the usual custom, according to which the bones 
of all who fell fighting for their country in each year were de- 
posited in a public sepulchre in the suburb of Athens called the 
Cerameicus. But it was felt that a distinction ought to be 
made in the funeral honors paid to the men of Marathon, even 
as their merit had been distinguished over that of all other 

* Mitford well refers to Crecy, Poitiers, and Agincourt as instances 
of similar disparity of loss between the conquerors and the conquered. 



THE BATTLE OF MARATHON 27 

Athenians. A lofty mound was raised on the plain of Mara- 
thon, beneath which the remains of the men of Athens who fell 
in the battle were deposited. Ten columns were erected on 
the spot, one for each of the Athenian tribes ; and on the monu- 
mental column of each tribe were graven the names of those of 
its members whose glory it was to have fallen in the great battle 
of liberation. The antiquarian Pausanias read those names 
there six hundred years after the time when they were first 
graven. f The columns have long perished, but the mound still 
marks the spot where the noblest heroes of antiquity, the 

MapaSuiVOfxa^oL, repose. 

A separate tumulus was raised over the bodies of the slain 
Platseans, and another over the light-armed slaves who had 
taken part and had fallen in the battle.* There was also a sepa- 
rate funeral monument to the general to whose genius the vic- 
tory was mainly due. Miltiades did not live long after his 
achievtement at Marathon, but he lived long enough to experi- 
ence a lamentable reverse of his popularity and success. As 
soon as the Persians had quitted the western coasts of the 
^gsean, he proposed to an assembly of the Athenian people 
that they should fit out seventy galleys, with a proportionate 
force of soldiers and military stores, and place it at his disposal ; 
not telling them whither he meant to lead it, but promising 
them that if they would equip the force he asked for, and give 
him discretionary powers, he would lead it to a land where 
there was gold in abundance to be won with ease. The Greeks 
of that time believed in the existence of Eastern realms teeming 
with gold, as firmly as the Europeans of the sixteenth century 
believed in El Dorado of the West. The Athenians probably 
thought that the recent victor of Marathon, and former officer 
of Darius, was about to lead them on a secret expedition against 
some wealthy and unprotected cities of treasure in the Persian 
dominions. The armament was voted and equipped, and 

t Pausanias states, with implicit belief, that the battle-field was haunted 
at night by supernatural beings, and that the noise. of combatants and 
the snorting of horses were heard to resound on it. The superstition 
has survived the change of creeds, and the shepherds of the neighbor- 
hood still believe that spectral warriors contend on the plain at mid- 
night, and they say they have heard the shouts of the combatants and 
the neighing of the steeds. See Grote and Thirlwall. 

* It is probable that the Greek light-armed irregulars were active in 
the attack on the Persian ships, and it was in this attack that the Greeks 
suffered their principal loss. 



28 DECISIVE BATTLES 

sailed eastward from Attica, no one but Miltiades knowing its 
destination until the Greek isle of Paros was reached, when his 
true object appeared. In former years, while connected with 
the Persians as prince of the Chersonese, Miltiades had been in- 
volved in a quarrel with one of the leading men among the 
Parians, who had injured his credit and caused some slights to 
be put upon him at the court of the Persian satrap Hydarnes. 
The feud had ever since rankled in the heart of the Athenian 
chief, and he now attacked Paros for the sake of avenging him- 
self on his ancient enemy. His pretext, as general of the 
Athenians, was, that the Parians had aided the armament of 
Datis with a war-galley. The Parians pretended to treat about 
terms of surrender, but used the time which they thus gained in 
repairing the defective parts of the fortifications of their city, 
and they then set the Athenians at defiance. So far, says 
Herodotus, the accounts of all the Greeks agree. But the 
Parians in after years told also a wild legend, how a captive 
priestess of a Parian temple of the Deities of the Earth promised 
Miltiades to give him the means o! capturing Paros ; how, at 
her bidding, the Athenian general went alone at night and 
forced his way into a holy shrine, near the city gate, but with 
what purpose it was not known ; how a supernatural awe came 
over him, and in his fight he fell and fractured his leg; how an 
oracle afterward forbade the Parians to punish the sacrilegious 
and traitorous priestess, " because it was fated that Miltiades 
should come to an ill end, and she was only the instrument to 
lead him to evil." Such was the tale that Herodotus heard at 
Paros. Certain it was that Miltiades either dislocated or broke 
his leg during an unsuccessful siege of the city, and returned 
home in evil plight with his baffled and defeated forces. 

The indignation of the Athenians was proportionate to the 
hope and excitement which his promises had raised. Xanthip- 
pas, the head of one of the first families in Athens, indicted him 
before the supreme popular tribunal for the capital offense of 
having deceived the people. His guilt was undeniable, and the 
Athenians passed their verdict accordingly. But the recollec- 
tions of Lemnos and Marathon, and the sight of the fallen gen- 
eral, who lay stretched on a couch before them, pleaded suc- 
cessfully in mitigation of punishment, and the sentence was 
commuted from death to a fine of fifty talents. This was paid 
by his son, the afterward illustrious Cimon, Miltiades dying. 



THE BATTLE OF MARATHON 29 

soon after the trial, of the injury which he had received at 
Paros.* 

The melancholy end of Miltiades, after his elevation to such 
a height of power and glory, must often have been recalled to 
the minds of the ancient Greeks by the sight of one in particular 
of the memorials of the great battle which he won. This was 
the remarkable statue (minutely described by Pausanias) which 
the Athenians, in the time of Pericles, caused to be hewn out of 
a huge block of marble, which, it was believed, had been pro- 
vided by Datis, to form a trophy of the anticipated victory of 
the Persians. Phidias fashioned out of this a colossal image of 
the goddess Nemesis, the deity whose peculiar function was to 
visit the exuberant prosperity both of nations and individuals 
with sudden and awful reverses. This statue was placed in a 
temple of the goddess at Rhamnus, about eight miles from 

* The commonplace calumnies against the Athenians respecting Milti- 
ades have been well answered by Sir Edward Lytton Bulwer in his 
" Rise and Fall of Athens," and Bishop Thirlwall in the second volume 
of his " History of Greece ; " but they have received their most com- 
plete refutation from Mr. Grote in the fourth volume of his History, 
p. 490, et seq., and notes. I quite concur with him that, " looking to 
the practice of the Athenian dicastery in criminal cases, that fifty talents 
was the minor penalty actually proposed by the defenders of Miltiades 
themselves as a substitute for the punishment of death. In those penal 
cases at Athens where the punishment was not fixed beforehand by the 
terms of the law, if the person accused was found guilty, it was cus-. 
tomary to submit to the jurors subsequently and separately the ques- 
tion as to amount of punishment. First, the accuser named the penalty 
which he thought suitable ; next, the accused person was called upon 
to name an amount of penalty for himself, and the jurors were con- 
strained to take their choice between these two, no third gradation of 
penalty being admissible for consideration. Of course, under such cir- 
cumstances, it was the interest of the accused party to name, even in 
his own case, some real and serious penalty — something which the 
jurors might be likely to deem not wholly inadequate to his crime just 
proved ; for, if he proposed some penalty only trifling, he drove them to 
prefer the heavier sentence recommended by his opponent." The stories 
of Miltiades having been cast into prison and died there, and of his 
having been saved from death only by the interposition of the prytanis 
of the day, are, I think, rightly rejected by Mr. Grote as the fictions of 
after ages. The silence of Herodotus respecting them is decisive. It is 
true that Plato, in the Gorgias, says that the Athenians passed a vote 
to throw Miltiades into the Barathrum, and speaks of the interposition 
of the prytanis in his favor ; but it is to be remembered that Plato, with 
all his transcendent genius, was (as Niebuhr has termed him) a very in- 
different patriot, who loved to blacken the character of his country's 
democratical institutions; and if the fact was that the prytanis, at the 
trial of Miltiades, opposed the vote of capital punishment, and spoke in 
favor of the milder sentence, Plato (in a passage written to show the 
misfortunes that befell Athenian statesmen) would readily exaggerate 
this fact into the story that appears in his text. 



30 DECISIVE BATTLES 

Marathon. Athens itself contained numerous memorials of 
her primary great victory. Panenus, the cousin of Phidias, 
represented it in fresco on the walls of the painted porch ; and, 
centuries afterward, the figures of Miltiades and Callimachus 
at the head of the Athenians were conspicuous in the fresco. 
The tutelary deities were exhibited taking part in the fray. In 
the background were seen the Phoenician galleys, and, nearer 
to the spectator, the Athenians and the Platseans (distinguished 
by their leather helmets) were chasing routed Asiatics into the 
marshes and the sea. The battle was sculptured also on the 
Temple of Victory in the Acropolis, and even now there may 
be traced on the freize the figures of the Persian combatants 
with their lunar shields, their bows and quivers, their curved 
cimeters, their loose trousers, and Phrygian tiaras.* 

These and other memorials of Marathon were the produce 
of the meridian age of Athenian intellectual splendor, of the 
age of Phidias and Pericles ; for it was not merely by the gen- 
eration whom the battle liberated from Hippias and the Medes 
that the transcendent importance of- their victory was gratefully 
recognized. Through the whole epoch of her prosperity, 
through the long Olympiads of her decay, through centuries 
after her fall, Athens looked back on the day of Marathon as the 
brightest of her national existence. 

By a natural blending of patriotic pride with grateful piety, 
the very spirits of the Athenians who fell at Marathon were 
deified by their countrymen. The inhabitants of the district of 
Marathon paid religious rites to them, and orators solemnly 
invoked them in their most impassioned adjurations before the 
assembled men of Athens. " Nothing was omitted that could 
keep alive the remembrance of a deed which had first taught 
the Athenian people to know its own strength, by measuring 
it with the power which had subdued the greater part of the 
known world. The consciousness thus awakened fixed its 
character, its station, and its destiny; it was the spring of its 
later great actions and ambitious enterprises."! 

It was not indeed by one defeat, however signal, that the 
pride of Persia could be broken, and her dreams of universal 
empire dispelled. Ten years afterward she renewed her at- 
tempts upon Europe on a grander scale of enterprise, and was 
repulsed by Greece with greater and reiterated loss. Larger 
* Wordsworth's " Greece," p. 115. t Thirlwall. 



THE BATTLE OF MARATHON 31 

forces and heavier slaughter than had been seen at Marathon 
signaHzed the conflicts of Greeks and Persians at Artemisium, 
Salamis, Platsea, and the Eurymedon. But, mighty and mo^ 
mentous as these battles were, they rank not with Marathon in 
importance. They originated no new impulse. They turned 
back no current of fate. They were merely confirmatory of the 
already existing bias which Marathon had created. The day 
of Marathon is the critical epoch in the history of the two 
nations. It broke forever the spell of Persian invincibility, 
which had previously paralyzed men's minds. It generated 
among the Greeks the spirit which beat back Xerxes, and after- 
ward led on Xenophon, Agesilaus, and Alexander, in terrible 
retaliation through their Asiatic campaigns. It secured for 
mankind the intellectual treasures of Athens, the growth of 
free institutions, the liberal enlightenment of the Western 
world, and the gradual ascendency for many ages of the great 
principles of European civilization. 

Explanatory Remarks on Some of the Circumstances of 
THE Battle of Marathon. 

Nothing is said by Herodotus of the Persian cavalry taking 
any part in the battle, although he mentions that Hippias 
recommended the Persians to land at Marathon, because the 
plain was favorable for cavalry evolutions. In the life of Mil- 
tiades which is usually cited as the production of Cornelius 
Nepos, but which I believe to be of no authority whatever, it 
is said that Miltiades protected his flanks from the enemy's 
horse by an abatis of felled trees. While he was on the high 
ground he would not have required this defense, and it is not 
likely that the Persians would have allowed him to erect it on 
the plain. 

Bishop Thirlwall calls our attention to a passage in Suidas, 
where the proverb Xw/Jt? iTTTrek is said to have originated from 
some Ionian Greeks, who were serving compulsorily in the 
army of Datis, contriving to inform Miltiades that the Persian 
cavalry had gone away, whereupon Miltiades immediately 
joined battle and gained the victory. There may probably be 
a gleam of truth in this legend. If Datis* cavalry was numer- 
ous, as the abundant pastures of Euboea were close at hand, 
the Persian general, when he thought, from the inaction of 



32 DECISIVE BATTLES 

his enemy, that they did not mean to come down from the 
heights and give battle, might naturally send the larger part 
of his horse back across the channel to the neighborhood of 
Eretria, where he had already left a detachment, and where his 
military stores must have been deposited. The knowledge of 
such a movment would of course confirm Miltiades in his 
resolution to bring on a speedy engagement. 

But, in truth, whatever amount of cavalry we suppose Datis 
to have had with him on the day of Marathon, their inaction 
in the battle is intelligible, if we believe the attack of the Athe- 
nian spearmen to have been as sudden as it was rapid. The 
Persian horse-soldier, on an alarm being given, had to take the 
shackles off his horse, to strap the saddle on, and bridle him, 
besides equipping himself (see Xenophon, "Anabasis," lib. iii., 
c. 4) ; and when each individual horseman was ready, the line 
had to be formed ; and the time that it takes to form the Orien- 
tal cavalry in line for a charge has, in all ages, been observed 
by Europeans. 

The wet state of the marshes at each end of the plain, in 
the time of year when the battle was fought, has been adverted 
to by Mr. Wordsworth, and this would hinder the Persian gen- 
eral from arranging and employing his horsemen on his ex- 
treme wings, while it also enabled the Greeks, as they came for- 
ward, to occupy the whole breadth of the practicable ground 
with an unbroken line of levelled spears, against which, if any 
Persian horse advanced, they would be driven back in confu- 
sion upon their own foot. 

Even numerous and fully arrayed bodies of cavalry have 
been repeatedly broken, both in ancient and modern warfare, 
by resolute charges of infantry. For instance, it was by an 
attack of some picked cohorts that Caesar routed the Pom- 
peian cavalry (which had previously defeated his own), and 
won the battle of Pharsalia. 

I have represented the battle of Marathon as beginning in 
the afternoon and ending toward evening. If it had lasted 
all day, Herodotus would have probably mentioned that fact. 
That it ended toward evening is, I think, proved by the line 
from the " Vespae," which I have already quoted, and to which 
my attention was called by Sir Edward Bulwer's account of the 
battle. I think that the succeeding lines in Aristophanes, also 
already quoted, justify the description which I have given of 



THE BATTLE OF MARATHON 33 

the rear ranks of the Persians keeping up a fire of arrows over 
the heads of their comrades, as the Normans did at Hastings. 



Synopsis of Events Between the Battle of Marathon, 

b.c. 490^ and the defeat of the athenians at 

Syracuse, b.c. 413. 

B.C. 490 to 487. All Asia filled with the preparations made 
by King Darius for a new expedition against Greece. Themis- 
tocles persuades the Athenians to leave ofif dividing the pro- 
ceeds of their silver mines among themselves, and to employ 
the money in strengthening their navy. 

487. Egypt revolts from the Persians, and delays the ex- 
pedition against Greece. 

485. Darius dies, and Xerxes his son becomes King of 
Persia in his stead. 

484. The Persians recover Egypt. 

480. Xerxes invades Greece. Indecisive actions between 
the Persian and Greek fleets at Artemisium. Destruction of 
the three hundred Spartans at Thermopylae. The Athenians 
abandon Attica and go on shipboard. Great naval victory of 
the Greeks at Salamis. Xerxes returns to Asia, leaving a 
chosen army under Mardonius to carry on the war against 
the Greeks. 

478. Mardonius and his army destroyed by the Greeks at 
Platsea. The Greeks land in Asia Minor, and defeat a Per- 
sian force at Mycale. In this and the following years the Per- 
sians lose all their conquests in Europe, and many on the coast 
of Asia. 

477. Many of the Greek maritime states take Athens as 
their leader instead of Sparta. 

466. Victories of Cimon over the Persians at the Eurym- 
edon. 

464. Revolt of the Helots against Sparta. Third Messenian 
war. 

460. Egypt again revolts against Persia. The Athenians 
send a powerful armament to aid the Egyptians, which, after 
gaining some successes, is destroyed; and Egypt submits. 
This war lasted six years. 

457. Wars in Greece between the Athenian and several 
Peloponnesian states. Immense exertions of Athens at this 
3 



34 DECISIVE BATTLES 

time. " There is an original inscription still preserved in the 
Louvre which attests the energies of Athens at this crisis, when 
Athens, like England in modern wars, at once sought con- 
quests abroad and repelled enemies at home. At the period 
we now advert to (b. c. 457), an Athenian armament of two 
hundred galleys was engaged in a bold though unsuccessful 
expedition against Egypt. The Athenian crews had landed, 
had won a battle ; they had then re-embarked and sailed up the 
Nile, and were busily besieging the Persian garrison in Mem- 
phis. As the complement of a trireme galley was at least two 
hundred men, we can not estimate the forces then employed 
by Athens against Egypt at less than forty thousand men. At 
the same time, she kept squadrons on the coasts of Phoenicia 
and Cyprus, and yet maintained a home fleet that enabled her 
to defeat her Peloponnesian enemies at Cecryphalse and ^gina, 
capturing in the last engagement seventy galleys. This last 
fact may give us some idea of the strength of the Athenian 
home fleet that gained the victory, and by adopting the same 
ratio of multiplying whatever number of galleys we suppose 
to have been employed by two hundred, so as to gain the ag- 
gregate number of the crews, we may form some estimate of 
the forces which this little Greek state then kept on foot. Be- 
tween sixty and seventy thousand men must have served in her 
fleets during that year. Her tenacity of purpose was equal to 
her boldness of enterprise. Sooner than yield or withdraw 
from any of their expeditions, the Athenians at this viery time, 
when Corinth sent an army to attack their garrison at Megara, 
did not recall a single crew or a single soldier from ^gina or 
from abroad ; but the lads and old men, who had been left to 
guard the city, fought and won a battle against these new as- 
sailants. The inscription which we have referred to is graven 
on a votive tablet to the memory of the dead, erected in that 
year by the Erechthean tribe, one of the ten into which the 
Athenians were divided. It shows, as Thirlwall has remarked, 
' that the Athenians were conscious of the greatness of their 
own effort ; ' and in it this little civic community of the ancient 
world still * records to us with emphatic simplicity, that its 
slain fell in Cyprus, in Egypt, in Phoenicia, at Haliae, in yEgina, 
and in Megara, in the same year.' "* 

445. A thirty years* truce concluded between Athens and 
Lacedsemon. 

* Paeans of the Athenian Navy. 



THE BATTLE OF MARATHON 35 

440. The Samians endeavor to throw off the supremacy of 
Athens. Samos completely reduced to subjection. Pericles 
is now sole director of the Athenian councils. 

431. Commencement of the great Peloponnesian war, in 
which Sparta, at the head of nearly all the Peloponnesian 
states, and aided by the Boeotians and some of the other Greeks 
beyond the Isthmus, endeavors to reduce the power of Athens, 
and to restore independence to the Greek maritime states who 
were the subject allies of Athens. At the commencement of 
the war the Peloponnesian armies repeatedly invade and ravage 
Attica, but Athens herself is impregnable, and her fleets secure 
her the dominion of the sea. 

430. Athens visited by a pestilence, which sweeps off large 
numbers of her population. 

425. The Athenians gain great advantages over the Spartans 
at Sphacteria, and by occupying Cythera ; but they suffer a se- 
vere defeat in Boeotia, and the Spartan general, Brasidas, leads 
an expedition to the Thracian coasts, and conquers many of 
the most valuable Athenian possessions in those regions. 

421. Nominal truce for thirty years between Athens and 
Sparta, but hostilities continue on the Thracian coast and in 
other quarters. 

415. The Athenians send an expedition to conquer Sicily. 



CHAPTER 11. 

DEFEAT OF THE ATHENIANS AT SYRACUSE, 
B. C. 413. 

" The Romans knew not, and could not know, how deeply the great- 
ness of their own posterity, and the fate of the whole Western world, 
were involved in the destruction of the fleet of Athens in the harbor of 
Syracuse. Had that great expedition proved victorious, the energies of 
Greece during the next eventful century would have found their field 
in the West no less than in the East; Greece, and not Rome, might 
have conquered Carthage; Greek instead of Latin might have been at 
this day the principal element of the language of Spain, of France, and 
of Italy; and the laws of Athens, rather than of Rome, might be the 
foundation of the law of the civilized world." — Arnold. 

FEW cities have undergone more memorable sieges dur- 
ing ancient and mediaeval times than has the city of 
Syracuse. Athenian, Carthaginian, Roman, Vandal, 
Byzantine, Saracen, and Norman, have in turns beleaguered 
her v^alls; and the resistance which she successfully opposed 
to some of her early assailants was of the deepest importance, 
not only to the fortunes of the generations then in being, but to 
all the subsequent current of human events. To adopt the elo- 
quent expressions of Arnold respecting the check which she 
gave to the Carthaginian arms, " Syracuse was a break-water 
which God's providence raised up. to protect the yet imma- 
ture strength of Rome." And her triumphant repulse of the 
great Athenian expedition against her was of even more wide- 
spread and enduring importance. It forms a decisive epoch 
in the strife for universal empire, in which all the great states 
of antiquity successively engaged and failed. 

The present city of Syracuse is a place of little or no military 
strength, as the fire of artillery from the neighboring heights 
would almost completely command it. But in ancient warfare, 
its position, and the care bestowed on its walls, rendered it 
formidably strong against the means of offence which then were 
employed by besieging armies. 

36 



DEFEAT OF THE ATHENIANS 37 

The ancient city, in its most prosperous times, was chiefly 
built on the knob of land which projects into the sea on the 
eastern coast of Sicily, between two bays ; one of which, to the 
north, was called the Bay of Thapsus, while the southern one 
formed the great harbor of the city of Syracuse itself. A small 
island, or peninsula (for such it soon was rendered), lies at the 
southeastern extremity of this knob of land, stretching almost 
entirely across the mouth of the great harbor, and rendering 
it nearly land-locked. This island comprised the original set- 
tlement of the first Greek colonists from Corinth, who founded 
Syracuse two thousand five hundred years ago ; and the mod- 
ern city has shrunk again into these primary Hmits. But, in 
the fifth century before our era, the growing wealth and popu- 
lation of the Syracusans had led them to occupy and include 
within their city walls portion after portion of the mainland 
lying next to the little isle, so that at the time of the Athenian 
expedition the seaward part of the land between the two bays 
already spoken of was built over, and fortified from bay to bay, 
and constituted the larger part of Syracuse. 

The landward wall, therefore, of this district of the city trav- 
ersed this knob of land, which continues to slope upward from 
the sea, and which, to the west of the old fortifications (that is, 
towards the interior of Sicily), rises rapidly for a mile or two, 
but diminishes in width, and finally terminates in a long nar- 
row ridge, between which and Mount Hybla a succession of 
chasms and uneven low ground extends. On each flank of 
this ridge the descent is steep and precipitous from its summits 
to the strips of level land that lie immediately below it, both 
to the southwest and northwest. 

The usual mode of assailing fortified towns in the time of the 
Peloponnesian war was to build a double wall round them, suf- 
ficiently strong to check any sally of the garrison from within, 
or any attack of a relieving force from without. The interval 
within the two walls of the circumvallation was roofed over, 
and formed barracks, in which the besiegers posted themselves, 
and awaited the effects of want or treachery among the be- 
sieged in producing a surrender ; and, in every Greek city of 
those days, as in every Italian republic of the Middle Ages, the 
range of domestic sedition between aristocrats and democrats 
ran high. Rancorous refugees swarmed in the camp of every 
invading enemy; and every blockaded city was sure to con- 



38 



DECISIVE BATTLES 



tain within its walls a body of intriguing malcontents, who 
were eager to purchase a party triumph at the expense of a 
national disaster. Famine and faction were the allies on whom 
besiegers relied. The generals of that time trusted to the opera- 
tion of these sure confederates as soon as they could establish 
a complete blockade. They rarely ventured on the attempt to 
storm any fortified post, for the military engines of antiquity 
were feeble in breaching masonry before the improvements 
which the first Dionysius effected in the mechanics of destruc- 
tion ; and the lives of spearmen the boldest and most high- 
trained would, of course, have been idly spent in charges 
against unshattered walls. 

A city built close to the sea, like Syracuse, was impregnable, 
save by the combined operations of a superior hostile fleet and 
a superior hostile army ; and Syracuse, from her size, her popu- 
lation, and her military and naval resources, not unnaturally 
thought herself secure from finding in another Greek city a 
foe capable of sending a sufficient armament to menace her 
with capture and subjection. But in the spring of 414 b. c, 
the Athenian navy was mistress of her harbor and the adjacent 
seas ; an Athenian army had defeated her troops, and cooped 
them within the town ; and from bay to bay a blockading wall 
was being rapidly carried across the strips of level ground and 
the high ridge outside the city (then termed Epipolae), which, 
if completed, would have cut the Syracusans off from all succor 
from the interior of Sicily, and have left them at the mercy of 
the Athenian generals. The besiegers' works were, indeed, 
unfinished ; but every day the unfortified interval in their lines 
grew narrower, and with it diminished all apparent hope of 
safety for the beleaguered town. 

Athens was now staking the flower of her forces, and the ac- 
cumulated fruits of seventy years of glory, on one bold throw 
for the dominion of the Western world. As Napoleon from 
Mount Coeur de Lion pointed to St. Jean d'Acre, and told his 
staff that the capture of that town would decide his destiny and 
would change the face of the world, so the Athenian officers, 
from the heights of Epipolse, must have looked on Syracuse, 
and felt that with its fall all the known powers of the earth 
would fall beneath them. They must have felt also that Athens, 
if repulsed there, must pause forever from her career of con- 
quest, and sink from an imperial republic into a ruined and sub- 
servient community. 



DEFEAT OF THE ATHENIANS 39 

At Marathon, the first in date of the great battles of the world, 
we beheld Athens struggling for self-preservation against the 
invading armies of the East. At Syracuse she appears as the 
ambitious and oppressive invader of others. In her, as in other 
republics of old and of modern times, the same energy that had 
inspired the most heroic efforts in defence of the national in- 
dependence, soon learned to employ itself in daring and un- 
scrupulous schemes of self-aggrandizement at the expense of 
neighboring nations. In the interval between the Persian 
and the Peloponnesian wars she had rapidly grown into a con- 
quering and dominant state, the chief of a thousand tributary 
cities, and the mistress of the largest and best-manned navy 
that the Mediterranean had yet beheld. The occupations of 
her territory by Xerxes and Mardonius, in the second Persian 
war, had forced her whole population to become mariners; 
and the glorious results of that struggle confirmed them in 
their zeal for their country's service at sea. The voluntary 
suffrage of the Greek cities of the coasts and islands of the 
iEgsean first placed Athens at the head of the confederation 
formed for the further prosecution of the war against Persia. 
But this titular ascendency was soon converted by her into 
practical and arbitrary dominion. She protected them from 
piracy and the Persian power, which soon fell into decrepitude 
and decay, but she exacted in return implicit obedience to her 
self. She claimed and enforced a prerogative of taxing them 
at her discretion, and proudly refused to be accountable for her 
mode of expending their supplies. Remonstrance against her 
assessments was treated as factious disloyalty, and refusal to 
pay was promptly punished as revolt. Permitting and en- 
couraging her subject allies to furnish all their contingents in 
money, instead of part consisting of ships and men, the sover- 
eign republic gained the double object of training her own 
citizens by constant and well-paid service in her fleets, and 
of seeing her confederates lose their skill and discipline by 
inaction, and become more and more passive and powerless 
under her yoke. Their towns were generally dismantled, while 
the imperial city herself was fortified with the greatest care and 
sumptuousness ; the accumulated revenues from her tribu- 
taries serving to strengthen and adorn to the utmost her 
havens, her docks, her arsenals, her theatres, and her shrines, 
and to array her in that plenitude of architectural magnificence, 



40 DECISIVE BATTLES 

the ruins of which still attest the intellectual grandeur of the age 
and people which produced a Pericles to plan and a Phidias to 
execute. 

All republics that acquire supremacy over other nations rule 
them selfishly and oppressively. There is no exception to this 
in either ancient or modern times. Carthage, Rome, Venice, 
Genoa, Florence, Pisa, Holland, and republican France, all 
tyrannized over every province and subject state where they 
gained authority. But none of them openly avowed their sys- 
tem of doing so upon principle with the candor which the Athe- 
nian republicans displayed when any remonstrance was made 
against the severe exactions which they imposed upon their 
vassal allies. They avowed that their empire was a tyranny, 
and frankly stated that they solely trusted to force and terror 
to uphold it. They appealed to what they called '' the eternal 
law of nature, that the weak should be coerced by the strong."* 
Sometimes they stated, and not without some truth, that the 
unjust hatred of Sparta against themselves forced them to be 
unjust to others in self-defence. To be safe, they must be 
powerful ; and to be powerful, they must plunder and coerce 
their neighbors. They never dreamed of communicating any 
franchise, or share in office, to their dependents, but jealously 
monopolized every post of command, and all political and ju- 
dicial power ; exposing themselves to every risk with unflinch- 
ing gallantry ; embarking readily in every ambitious scheme ; 
and never suffering difficulty or disaster to shake their tenacity 
of purpose: in the hope of acquiring unbounded empire for 
their country, and the means of maintaining each of the thirty 
thousand citizens who made up the sovereign republic, in ex- 
clusive devotion to military occupations, and to those brilliant 
sciences and arts in which Athens already had reached the 
meridian of intellectual splendor. 

Her great political dramatist speaks of the Athenian em- 
pire as comprehending a thousand states. The language of 
the stage must not be taken too literally; but the number of 
the dependencies of Athens, at the time when the Peloponne- 
sian confederacy attacked her, was undoubtedly very great. 
With a few trifling exceptions, all the islands of the ^gaean, and 
all the Greek cities, which in that age fringed the coasts of Asia 
Minor, the Hellespont, and Thrace, paid tribute to Athens, and 

* 'Ael Kd^ea-ruTos rhi ^ffffw virh SwaTwrepoi KaTeipyetr^ai. — ThuC, i., 77. 



DEFEAT OF THE ATHENIANS 41 

implicity obeyed her orders. The Mgadan Sea was an Attic 
lake. Westward of Greece, her influence, though strong, was 
not equally predominant. She had colonies and allies among 
the wealthy and populous Greek settlements in Sicily and South 
Italy, but she had no organized system of confederates in those 
regions ; and her galleys brought her no tribute from the West- 
ern seas. The extension of her empire over Sicily was the 
favorite project of her ambitious orators and generals. While 
her great statesman, Pericles, lived, his commanding genius 
kept his countrymen under control, and forbade them to risk 
the fortunes of Athens in distant enterprises, while they had 
unsubdued and powerful enemies at their own doors. He 
taught Athens this maxim ; but he also taught her to know 
and to use her own strength, and when Pericles had departed, 
the bold spirit which he had fostered overleaped the salutary 
limits which he had prescribed. When her bitter enemies, the 
Corinthians, succeeded, in 431 B.C., in inducing Sparta to at- 
tack her, and a confederacy was formed of five-sixths of the con- 
tinental Greeks, all animated by anxious jealousy and bitter 
hatred of Athens; when armies far superior in numbers and 
equipment to those which had marched against the Persians 
were poured into the Athenian territory, and laid it waste to 
the city walls, the general opinion was that Athens would be 
reduced, in two or three years at the farthest, to submit to the 
requisitions of her invaders. But her strong fortifications, by 
which she was girt and linked to her principal haven, gave her, 
in those ages, almost all the advantages of an insular position. 
Pericles had made her trust to her empire of the seas. Every 
Athenian in those days was a practised seaman. A state, in- 
deed, whose members, of an age fit for service, at no time ex- 
ceeded thirty thousand, and whose territorial extent did not 
equal half Sussex, could only have acquired such a naval do- 
minion as Athens once held, by devoting and zealously training 
all its sons to service in its fleets. In order to man the numer- 
ous galleys which she sent out, she necessarily employed large 
numbers of hired mariners and slaves at the oar ; but the staple 
of her crews was Athenian, and all posts of command were held 
by native citizens. It was by reminding them of this, of their 
long practice in seamanship, and the certain superiority which 
their discipline gave them over the enemy's marine, that their 
great minister mainly encouraged them to resist the combined 



42 DECISIVE BATTLES 

power of Lacedaemon and her allies. He taught them that 
Athens might thus reap the fruit of her zealous devotion to 
maritime affairs ever since the invasion of the Medes ; " she 
had not, indeed, perfected herself; but the reward of her su- 
perior training was the rule of the sea — a mighty dominion, for 
it gave her the rule of much fair land beyond its waves, safe 
from the idle ravages with which the Lacedaemonians might 
harass Attica, but never could subdue Athens."* 

Athens accepted the war with which her enemies threatened 
her rather than descend from her pride of place ; and though 
the awful visitation of the plague came upon her, and swept 
away more of her citizens than the Dorian spear laid low, she 
held her own gallantly against her enemies. If the Peloponne- 
sian armies in irresistible strength wasted every spring her 
corn-lands, her vineyards and her olive groves with fire and 
sword, she retaliated on their coasts with her fleets ; which, if 
resisted, were only resisted to display the pre-eminent skill and 
bravery of her seamen. Some of her subject allies revolted, 
but the revolts were in general sternly and promptly quelled. 
The genius of one enemy had indeed inflicted blows on her 
power in Thrace which she was unable to remedy ; but he fell 
in battle in the tenth year of the war, and with the loss of 
Brasidas the Lacedaemonians seemed to have lost all energy 
and judgment. Both sides at length grew weary of the war, 
and in 421 a truce for fifty years was concluded, which, though 
ill kept, and though many of the confederates of Sparta refused 
to recognize it, and hostilities still continued in many parts of 
Greece, protected the Athenian territory from the ravages of 
enemies, and enabled Athens to accumulate large sums out of 
the proceeds of her annual revenues. So also, as a few years 
passed by, the havoc which the pestilence and the sword had 
made in her population was repaired; and in 415 B.C. Athens 
was full of bold and restless spirits, who longed for some field 
of distant enterprise wherein they might signalize themselves 
and aggrandize the state, and who looked on the alarm of Spar- 
tan hostility as a mere old woman's tale. When Sparta had 
wasted their territory she had done her worst ; and the fact of 
its always being in her power to do so seemed a strong reason 
for seeking to increase the trans-marine dominion of Athens. 

The West was now the quarter toward which the thoughts 
* Thuc, lib. i., sec. 144. 



DEFEAT OF THE ATHENIANS 43 

of every aspiring Athenian were directed. From the very be- 
ginning of the war Athens had kept up an interest in Sicily, 
and her squadron had, from time to time, appeared on its coasts 
and taken part in the dissensions in which the SiciHan Greeks 
were universally engaged one against each other. There were 
plausible grounds for a direct quarrel, and an open attack by 
the Athenians upon Syracuse. 

With the capture of Syracuse, all Sicily, it was hoped, would 
be secured. Carthage and Italy were next to be attacked. 
With large levies of Iberian mercenaries she then meant to 
overwhelm her Peloponnesian enemies. The Persian mon- 
archy lay in hopeless imbecility, inviting Greek invasion ; nor 
did the known world contain the power that seemed capable 
of checking the growing might of Athens, if Syracuse once 
could be hers. 

The national historian of Rome has left us an episode of his 
great work, a disquisition on the probable effects that would 
have followed if Alexander the Great had invaded Italy. Pos- 
terity has generally regarded that disquisition as proving Livy's 
patriotism more strongly than his impartiality or acuteness. 
Yet right or wrong, the speculations of the Roman writer were 
directed to the consideration of a very remote possibility. To 
whatever age Alexander's life might have been prolonged, the 
East would have furnished full occupation for his martial am- 
bition, as well as for those schemes of commercial grandeur 
and imperial amalgamation of nations in which the truly great 
qualities of his mind loved to display themselves. With his 
death the dismemberment of his empire among his generals 
was certain, even as the dismemberment of Napoleon's empire 
among his marshals would certainly have ensued if he had been 
cut off in the zenith of his power. Rome, also, was far weaker 
when the Athenians were in Sicily than she was a century after- 
ward in Alexander's time. There can be little doubt but that 
Rome would have been blotted out from the independent 
powers of the West, had she been attacked at the end of the fifth 
century B.C. by an Athenian army, largely aided by Spanish 
mercenaries, and flushed with triumphs over Sicily and Africa, 
instead of the collision between her and Greece having been 
deferred until the latter had sunk into decrepitude, and the 
Roman Mars had grown into full vigor. 

The armament which the Athenians equipped against Syra- 



44 



DECISIVE BATTLES 



cuse was in every way worthy of the state which formed such 
projects of universal empire, and it has been truly termed " the 
noblest that ever yet had been sent forth by a free and civilized 
commonwealth."* The fleet consisted of one hundred and 
ji t^iirty-four war-galleys, with a multitude of store-ships. A 
pjowerful force of the best heavy-armed infantry that Athens 
and her allies could furnish was sent on board it, together with 
a smaller number of slingers and bowmen. The quality of the 
forces was even more remarkable than the number. The zeal 
of individuals vied with that of the republic in giving every 
galley the best possible crew, and every troop the most perfect 
accoutrements. And with private as well as public wealth 
eagerly lavished on all that could give splendor as well as effi- 
ciency to the expedition, the fated fleet began its voyage for 
the Sicilian shores in the summer of 415. 

The Syracusans themselves, at the time of the Peloponnesian 
war, were a bold and turbulent democracy, tyrannizing over 
the weaker Greek cities in Sicily, and trying to gain in that 
island the same arbitrary supremacy which Athens maintained 
along the eastern coast of the Mediterranean. In numbers and 
in spirit they were fully equal to the Athenians, but far inferior 
to them in military and naval discipline. When the probabil- 
ity of an Athenian invasion was first publicly discussed at Syra- 
cuse, and efforts were made by some of the wiser citizens to 
improve the state of the national defences, and prepare for the 
impending danger, the rumors of coming war and the proposal 
for preparation were received by the mass of the Syracusans 
with scornful incredulity. The speech of one of their popular 
orators is preserved to us in Thucydides,t and many of its 
topics might, by a slight alteration of names and details, serve 
admirably for the party among ourselves at present ;X which op- 
poses the augmentation of our forces, and derides the idea of 
our being in any peril from the sudden attack of a French ex- 
pedition. The Syracusan orator told his countrymen to dis- 
miss with scorn the visionary terrors which a set of designing 
j men among themselves strove to excite, in order to get power 
' and influence thrown into their own hands. He told them that 
Athens knew her own interest too well to think of wantonly 

* Arnold's " History of Rome." 

t Lib. vi., sec. 36, et seq., Arnold's edition, I have almost literally 
transcribed some of the marginal epitomes of the original speech. 
t 1851. 



DEFEAT OF THE ATHENIANS 45 

provoking their hostility : "Even if the enemies were to come," 
said he, ''so distant from their resources, and opposed to such 
a power as ours, their destruction would he easy and inevitable^ 
Their ships zuill have enough to do to get to our island at all, and 
to carry such stores of all sorts as will be needed. They cannot 
therefore carry, besides, an army large enough to cope with such 
a population as ours. They will have no fortified place from 
which to commence their operations, but must rest them on no 
better base than a set of wretched tents, and such means as the 
necessities of the moment will allozv them. But, in truth, I do 
not believe that they would even be able to effect a disembarka- 
tion. Let us, therefore, set at naught these reports as altogether 
of home manufacture ; and be sure that if any enemy does come, 
the state zvill know how to defend itself in a manner worthy of 
the national honor." 

Such assertions pleased the Syracusan assembly, and their 
counterparts find favor now among some portion of the Eng- 
lish public. But the invaders of Syracuse came; made good 
their landing in Sicily ; and, if they had promptly attacked the 
city itself, instead of wasting nearly a year in desultory opera- 
tions in other parts of Sicily, the Syracusans must have paid 
the penalty of their self-sufficient carelessness in submission to 
the Athenian yoke. But, of the three generals who led the 
Athenian expedition, two only were men of ability, and one 
was most weak and incompetent. Fortunately for Syracuse, 
Alcibiades, the most skilful of the three, was soon deposed from 
his command by a fractious and fanatic vote of his fellow coun- 
trymen, and the other competent one, Lamachus, fell early in a 
skirmish ; while, more fortunately still for her, the feeble and 
vacillating Nicias remained unrecalled and unhurt, to assume 
the undivided leadership of the Athenian army and fleet, and 
to mar, by alternate over-caution and over-carelessness, every 
chance of success which the early part of the operations offered. 
Still, even under him, the Athenians nearly won the town. 
They defeated the raw levies of the Syracusans, cooped them 
within the walls, and, as before mentioned, almost effected a 
continuous fortification from bay to bay over Epipolse, the 
completion of which would certainly have been followed by a 
capitulation. 

Alcibiades, the most complete example of genius without 
principle that history produces, the Bolingbroke of antiquity. 



46 DECISIVE BATTLES 

but with high military talents superadded to diplomatic and 
oratorical powers, on being summoned home from his com- 
mand in Sicily to take his trial before the Athenian tribunal, 
had escaped to Sparta, and had exerted himself there with all 
the selfish rancor of a renegade to renew the war with Athens, 
and to send instant assistance to Syracuse. 

When we read his words in the pages of Thucydides (who 
was himself an exile from Athens at this period, and may 
probably have been at Sparta, and heard Alcibiades speak), 
we are at a loss whether most to admire or abhor his subtile 
counsels. After an artful exordium, in which he tried to disarm 
the suspicions which he felt must be entertained of him, and to 
point out to the Spartans how completely his interests and 
theirs were identified, through hatred of the Athenian democ- 
racy, he thus proceeded : 

" Hear me, at any rate, on the matters which require your 
grave attention, and which I, from the personal knowledge that 
I have of them, can and ought to bring before you. We Athe- 
nians sailed to Sicily with the design of subduing, first the 
Greek cities there, and next those in Italy. Then we intended 
to make an attempt on the dominions of Carthage, and on 
Carthage itself.* If all these projects succeeded (nor did we 
limit ourselves to them in these quarters), we. intended to in- 
crease our fleet with the inexhaustible supplies of ship timber 
which Italy affords, to put in requisition the whole military 
force of the conquered Greek states, and also to hire large 
armies of the barbarians, of the Iberians, f and others in those 
regions, who are allowed to make the best possible soldiers. 
Then, when we had done all this, we intended to assail Pelopon- 
nesus with our collected force. Our fleets would blockade 
you by sea, and desolate your coasts, our armies would be 
landed at different points and assail your cities. Some of these 

* Arnold, in his notes on this passage, well reminds the reader that 
Agathocles, with a Greek force far inferior to that of the Athenians at 
this period, did, some years afterward, very nearly conquer Carthage. 

t It will be remembered that Spanish infantry were the staple of the 
Carthaginian armies. Doubtless Alcibiades and other leading Athenians 
had made themselves acquainted with the Carthaginian system of carry- 
ing on war, and meant to adopt it. With the marvellous powers which 
Alcibiades possessed of ingratiating himself with men of every class 
and every nation, and his high military genius, he would have been as 
formidable a chief of an army of condottieri as Hannibal afterward was. 



DEFEAT OF THE ATHENIANS 47 

we expected to storm4 and others we meant to take by sur- 
rounding them with fortified lines. We thought that it would 
thus be an easy matter thoroughly to war you down ; and then 
we should become the masters of the whole Greek race. As for 
expense, we reckoned that each conquered state would give 
us supplies of money and provisions sufficient to pay for its own 
conquest, and furnish the means for the conquest of its neigh- 
bors. 

" Such are the designs of the present Athenian expedition 
to Sicily, and you have heard them from the lips of the man 
who, of all men living, is most accurately acquainted with them. 
The other Athenian generals, who remain with the expedition, 
will endeavor to carry out these plans. And be sure that with- 
out your speedy interference they will all be accomplished. 
The Sicilian Greeks are deficient in military training ; but still, 
if they could at once be brought to combine in an organized 
resistance to Athens, they might even now be saved. But as 
for the Syracusans resisting Athens by themselves, they have 
already, with the whole strength of their population, fought a 
battle and been beaten ; they cannot face the Athenians at sea ; 
and it is quite impossible for them to hold out against the force 
of their invaders. And if this city falls into the hands of the 
Athenians, all Sicily is theirs, and presently Italy also; and 
the danger, which I warned you of from that quarter, will 
soon fall upon yourselves. You must, therefore, in Sicily, 
fight for the safety of Peloponnesus. Send some galleys thither 
instantly. Put men on board who can work their own way 
over, and who, as soon as they land, can do duty as regular 
troops. But, above all, let one of yourselves, let a man of 
Sparta, go over to take the chief command, to bring into order 
and effective discipline the forces that are in Syracuse, and 
urge those who at present hang back to come forward and aid 
the Syracusans. The presence of a Spartan general at this 
crisis will do more to save the city than a whole army."* The 
renegade then proceeded to urge on them the necessity of en- 
couraging their friends in Sicily, by showing that they them- 
selves were in earnest in hostility to Athens. He exhorted them 



t Alcibiades here alluded to Sparta itself, which was unfortified. His 
Spartan hearers must have glanced round them at these words with 
mixed alarm and indignation. 

*Thuc., lib. vi., sec. 90, 91. 



48 DECISIVE BATTLES 

not only to march their armies into Attica again, but to take 
up a permanent fortified position in the country ; and he gav(: 
them in detail information of all that the Athenians most 
dreaded, and how his country might receive the most distress- 
ing and enduring injury at their hands. 

The Spartans resolved to act on his advice, and appointed 
Gylippus to the Sicilian command. Gylippus v^as a man who, 
to the national bravery and military skill of a Spartan, united 
political sagacity that was worthy of his great fellow-country- 
man Brasidas ; but his merits were debased by mean and sor- 
' did vices ; and his is one of the cases in which history has been 
austerely just, and where little or no fame has been accorded 
to the successful but venal soldier. But for the purpose for 
which he was required in Sicily, an abler man could not have 
been found in Lacedaemon. His country gave him neither men 
nor money, but she gave him her authority ; and the influence 
of her name and of his own talents was speedily seen in the 
zeal with which the Corinthians and other Peloponnesian 
Greeks began to equip a squadron to act under him for the 
rescue of Sicily. As soon as four galleys were ready, he hur- 
ried over with them to the southern coast of Italy, and there, 
though he received such evil tidings of the state of Syracuse 
that he abandoned all hope of saving that city, he determined 
to remain on the coast, and do what he could in preserving 
the Italian cities from the Athenians. 

So nearly, indeed, had Nicias completed his beleaguering 
lines, and so utterly desperate had the state of Syracuse seem- 
ingly become, that an assembly of the Syracusans was actually 
convened, and they were discussing the terms on which they 
should offer to capitulate, when a galley was seen dashing into 
the great harbor, and making her way toward the town with 
all the speed which her rowers could supply. From her shun- 
ning the part of the harbor where the Athenian fleet lay, and 
making straight for the Syracusan side, it was clear that she 
was a friend ; the enemy's cruisers, careless through confidence 
of success, made no attempt to cut her off; she touched the 
beach, and a Corinthian captain, springing on shore from her, 
was eagerly conducted to the assembly of the Syracusan peo- 
ple just in time to prevent the fatal vote being put for a sur- 
render. 

Providentially for Syracuse, Gongylus, the commander of 



DEFEAT OF THE ATHENIANS 49 

the galley, had been prevented by an Athenian squadron from 
following Gylippus to South Italy, and he had been obUged 
to push direct for Syracuse from Greece. 

The sight of actual succor, and the promise of more, revived 
the drooping spirits of the Syracusans. They felt that they 
were not left desolate to perish, and the tidings that a Spartan 
was coming to command them confirmed their resolution to 
continue their resistance. Gylippus was already near the city. 
He had learned at Locri that the first report which had reached 
him of the state of Syracuse was exaggerated, and that there 
was unfinished space in the besiegers' lines through which it 
was barely possible to introduce re-enforcements into the town. 
Crossing the Straits of Messina, which the culpable negligence 
of Nicias had left unguarded, Gylippus landed on the northern 
coast of Sicily, and there began to collect from the Greek cities 
an army, of which the regular troops that he brought from 
Peloponnesus formed the nucleus. Such was the influence of 
the name of Sparta,* and such were his own abilities and ac- 
tivity that he succeeded in raising a force of about two thou- 
sand fully-armed infantry, with a larger number of irregular 
troops. Nicias, as if infatuated, made no attempt to counter- 
act his operations, nor, when Gylippus marched his little army 
toward Syracuse, did the Athenian commander endeavor to 
check him. The Syracusans marched out to meet him ; and 
while the Athenians were solely intent on completing their 
fortifications on the southern side toward the harbor, Gylippus 
turned their position by occupying the high ground in the 
extreme rear of Epipolse. He then marched through the unforti- 
fied interval of Nicias' lines into the besieged town, and joining 
his troops with the Syracusan forces, after some engage- 
ments with varying success, gained the mastery over Nicias, 
drove the Athenians from Epipolae, and hemmed them into a 
disadvantageous position in the low grounds near the great 
harbor. 

The attention of all Greece was now fixed on Syracuse, and 
every enemy of Athens felt the importance of the opportunity 
now offered of checking her ambition, and, perhaps, of strik- 
ing a deadly blow at her power. Large re-enforcements from 

* The effect of the presence of a Spartan officer on the troops of the 
other Greeks seems to have been like the effect of the presence of an 
English officer upon native Indian troops. 



50 DECISIVE BATTLES 

Corinth, Thebes and other cities now reached the Syracusans, 
while the baffled and dispirited Athenian general earnestly be- 
sought his countrymen to recall him, and represented the 
further prosecution of the siege as hopeless. 

But Athens had made it a maxim never to let difficulty or 
disaster drive her back from any enterprise once undertaken, 
so long as she possessed the means of making any effort, how- 
ever desperate, for its accomplishment. With indomitable 
pertinacity, she now decreed, instead of recalling her first ar- 
mament from before Syracuse, to send out a second, though 
her enemies near home had now renewed open warfare against 
her, and by occupying a permanent fortification in her terri- 
tory had severely distressed her population, and were pressing 
her with almost all the hardships of an actual siege. She still 
was mistress of the sea, and she sent forth another fleet of sev- 
enty galleys, and another army, which seemed to drain almost 
the last reserves of her military population, to try if Syracuse 
could not yet be won, and the honor of the Athenian arms be 
preserved from the stigma of a retreat. Hers was, indeed, a 
spirit that might be broken, but never would bend. At the head 
of this second expedition she wisely placed her best general, 
Demosthenes, one of the most distinguished officers that the 
long Peloponnesian war had produced, and who, if he had 
originally held the Sicilian command, would soon have brought 
Syracuse to submission. 

The fame of Demosthenes the general has been dimmed by 
the superior lustre of his great countryman, Demosthenes the 
orator. When the name of Demosthenes is mentioned, it is 
the latter alone that is thought of. The soldier has found no 
biographer. Yet out of the long list of great men whom the 
Athenian republic produced, there are few that deserVe to stand 
higher than this brave, though finally unsuccessful leader of 
her fleets and armies in the first half of the Peloponnesian war. 
In his first campaign in -^tolia he had shown some of the rash- 
ness of youth, and had received a lesson of caution by which 
he profited throughout the rest of his career, but without los- 
ing any of his natural energy in enterprise or in execution. He 
had performed the distinguished service of rescuing Naupactus 
from a powerful hostile armament in the seventh year of the 
war ; he had then, at the request of the Acarnanian republics, 
taken on himself the office of commander-in-chief of all their 



DEFEAT OF THE ATHENIANS 51 

forces, and at their head he had gained some important ad- 
vantages over the enemies of Athens in Western Greece. His 
most celebrated exploits had been the occupation oi Pylos on 
the Messenian coast, the successful defence of that place against 
the fleet and armies of Lacedsemon, and the subsequent capture 
of the Spartan forces on the isle of Sphacteria, v^^hich was the 
severest blow dealt to Sparta throughout the war, and which 
had mainly caused her to humble herself to make the truce with 
Athens. Demosthenes was as honorably unknown in the war 
of party politics at Athens as he was eminent in the war against 
the foreign enemy. We read of no intrigues of his on either 
the aristocratic or democratic side. He was neither in the in- 
terest of Nicias nor of Cleon. His private character was free 
from any of the stains which polluted that of Alcibiades. On 
all these points the silence of the comic dramatist is decisive 
evidence in his favor. He had also the moral courage, not 
always combined with physical, of seeking to do his duty to his 
country, irrespective of any odium that he himself might incur, 
and unhampered by any petty jealousy of those who were asso- 
ciated with him in command. There are few men named in 
ancient history of whom posterity would gladly know more, or 
whom we sympathize with more deeply in the calamities that 
befell them, than Demosthenes, the son of Alcisthenes, who, 
in the spring of the year 413 b.c.^ left Piraeus at the head of the 
second Athenian expedition against Sicily. 

His arrival was critically timed; for GyHppus had encour- 
aged the Syracusans to attack the Athenians under Nicias by 
sea as well as by land, and by one able stratagem of Ariston, 
one of the admirals of the Corinthian auxiliary squadron, the 
Syracusans and their confederates had inflicted on the fleet of 
Nicias the first defeat that the Athenian navy had ever sustained 
from a numerically inferior enemy. Gylippus was preparing 
to follow up his advantage by fresh attacks on the Athenians 
on both elements, when the arrival of Demosthenes completely 
changed the aspect of affairs, and restored the superiority to 
the invaders. With seventy-three war-galleys in the highest 
state of efflciency, and brilliantly equipped, with a force of five 
thousand picked men of the regular infantry of Athens and her 
allies, and a still larger number of bow-men, javelin-men, and 
slingers on board, Demosthenes rowed round the great harbor 
with loud cheers and martial music, as if in defiance of the 



52 DECISIVE BATTLES 

Syracusans and their confederates. His arrival had indeed 
changed their newly-born hopes into the deepest consterna- 
tion. The resources of Athens seemed inexhaustible, and re- 
sistance to her hopeless. They had been told that she was re- 
duced to the last extremities, and that her territory was occu- 
pied by an enemy ; and yet here they saw her sending forth, as 
if in prodigality of power, a second armament to make foreign 
conquests, not inferior to that with which Nicias had first 
landed on the Sicilian shores. 

With the intuitive decision of a great commander, De- 
mosthenes at once saw that the possession of Epipolae was the 
key to the possession of Syracuse, and he resolved to made a 
prompt and vigorous attempt to recover that position, while 
his force was unimpaired, and the consternation which its ar- 
rival had produced among the besieged remained unabated. 
The Syracusans and their alUes had run out an outwork along 
Epipolas from the city walls, intersecting the fortified Hnes of 
circumvallation which Nicias had commenced, but from which 
he had been driven by Gylippus.' Could Demosthenes succeed 
in storming this outwork, and in re-establishing the Athenian 
troops on the high ground, he might fairly hope to be able to 
resume the circumvallation of the city, and become the con- 
queror of Syracuse ; for when once the besiegers' lines were 
completed, the number of the troops with which Gylippus had 
garrisoned the place would only tend to exhaust the stores of 
provisions and accelerate its downfall. 

An easily-repelled attack was first made on the outwork in 
the day-time, probably more with the view of blinding the be- 
sieged to the nature of the main operations than with any ex- 
pectation of succeeding in an open assault, with every disad- 
vantage of the ground to contend against. But, when the dark- 
ness had set in, Demosthenes formed his men in columns, each 
soldier taking with him five days' provisions, and the engineers 
and workmen of the camp following the troops with their tools, 
and all portable implements of fortification, so as at once to 
secure any advantage of ground that the army might gain. 
Thus equipped and prepared, he led his men along by the foot 
of the southern flank of Epipolae, in a direction toward the in- 
terior of the island, till he came immediately below the narrow 
ridge that forms the extremity of the high ground looking 
westward. He then wheeled his vanguard to the right, sent 



DEFEAT OF THE ATHENIANS 



53 



them rapidly up the paths that wind along the face of the cliff, 
and succeeded in completely surprising the Syracusan outposts, 
and in placing his troops fairly on the extreme summit of the 
all-important Epipolse. Thence the Athenians marched eager- 
ly down the slope toward the town, routing some Syracusan 
detachments that were quartered in their way, and vigorously 
assailing the unprotected side of the outwork. All at first 
favored them. The outwork was abandoned by its garrison, 
and the Athenian engineers began to dismantle it. In vain 
Gylippus brought up fresh troops to check the assault; the 
Athenians broke and drove them back, and continued to press 
hotly forward, in the full confidence of victory. But, amid the 
general consternation of the Syracusans and their confederates, 
one body of infantry stood firm. This was a brigade of their 
Boeotian allies, which was posted low down the slope of 
Epipolse, outside the city walls. Coolly and steadily the Boeotian 
infantry formed their line, and, undismayed by the current of 
flight around them, advanced against the advancing Athenians. 
This was the crisis of the battle. But the Athenian van was 
disorganized by its own previous successes ; and, yielding to 
the unexpected charge thus made on it by troops in perfect 
order, and of the most obstinate courage, it was driven back in 
confusion upon the other divisions of the army, that still con- 
tinued to press forward. When once the tide was thus turned, 
the Syracusans passed rapidly from the extreme of panic to 
the extreme of vengeful daring, and with all their forces they 
now fiercely assailed the embarrassed and receding Athenians. 
In vain did the officers of the latter strive to re-form their line. 
Amid the din and the shouting of the fight, and the confusion 
inseparable upon a night engagement, especially one where 
many thousand combatants were pent and whirled together in 
a narrow and uneven area, the necessary manoeuvres were im- 
practicable ; and though many companies still fought on des- 
perately, wherever the moonlight showed them the semblance 
of a foe,* they fought without concert or subordination ; and 
not unfrequently, amid the deadly chaos, Athenian troops as- 

* *Hf fiev yhp (reXfivri KafiiTph kapaiv 5e otrws a\\-fi\ovs, &5 iv (T€\-fiui] e'lKh^ t^v 
fihv iypiv rov ffdinaTos irpoopav t)]v Se yvwcriv tov olKciov air larreTadai. — Thuc. lib. 
vii., 44. Compare Tacitus' description of the night engagement in the 
civil war between Vespasian and Vitellius. " Neutro inclinaverat 
fortuna, donee adulta nocte, luna ostenderet acies, falleretque." — Hist., 
lib. iii., sec. 23. 



54 DECISIVE BATTLES 

sailed each other. Keeping their ranks close, the Syracusans 
and their aUies pressed on against the disorganized masses of 
the besiegers, and at length drove them, with heavy slaughter, 
over the cliffs, v^hich an hour or two before they had scaled 
full of hope, and apparently certain of success. 

This defeat was decisive of the event of the siege. The Athe- 
nians afterward struggled only to protect themselves from the 
vengeance which the Syracusans sought to wreak in the com- 
plete destruction of their invaders. Never, however, was 
vengeance more complete and terrible. A series of sea-fights 
followed, in which the Athenian galleys were utterly destroyed 
or captured. The mariners and soldiers who escaped death in 
disastrous engagements, and a vain attempt to force a retreat 
into the interior of the island, became prisoners of war. Nicias 
and Demosthenes were put to death in cold blood, and their 
men either perished miserably in the Syracusan dungeons, or 
were sold into slavery to the very persons whom, In their pride 
of power, they had crossed the seas to enslave. 

All danger from Athens to the independent nations of the 
West was now forever at an end. She, indeed, continued to 
struggle against her combined enemies and revolted allies with 
unparalleled gallantry, and many more years of varying war- 
fare passed away before she surrendered to their arms. But 
no success in subsequent contests could ever have restored her 
to the pre-eminence in enterprise, resources, and maritime skill 
which she had acquired before her fatal reverses in Sicily. Nor 
among the rival Greek republics, whom her own rashness aided 
to crush her, was there any capable of reorganizing her empire, 
or resuming her schemes of conquest. The dominion of West- 
ern Europe was left for Rome and Carthage to dispute two cen- 
turies later, in conflicts still more terrible, and with even higher 
displays of military daring and genius than Athens had wit- 
nessed either in her rise, her meridian, or her fall. 



DEFEAT OF THE ATHENIANS 55 

Synopsis of Events Between the Defeat of the Athe- 
nians AT Syracuse and the Battle of Arbela. 

412 B.C. Many of the subject allies of Athens revolt from 
her on her disasters before Syracuse being known ; the seat ot 
war is transferred to the Hellespont and eastern side of the 
yEgaean. 

410. The Carthaginians attempt to make conquests in Sicily. 

407. Cyrus the Younger is sent by the King of Persia to 
take the government of all the maritime parts of Asia Minor, 
and with orders to help the Lacedaemonian fleet against the 
Athenian. 

406. Agrigentum taken by the Carthaginians. 

405. The last Athenian fleet destroyed by Lysander at ^gos- 
potami. Athens closely besieged. Rise of the power of Diony- 
sius at Syracuse. 

404. Athens surrenders. End of the Peloponnesian war. 
The ascendency of Sparta complete throughout Greece. 

403. Thrasybulus, aided by the Thebans and with the con- 
nivance of one of the Spartan kings, liberates Athens from the 
Thirty Tyrants, and restores the democracy. 

401. Cyrus the Younger commences his expedition into Up- 
per Asia to dethrone his brother, Artaxerxes Mnemon. He 
takes with him an auxiliary force of ten thousand Greeks. He 
is killed in battle at Cunaxa, and the ten thousand, led by 
Xenophon, effect their retreat in spite of the Persian armies 
and the natural obstacles of their march. 

399. In this and the five following years, the Lacedaemo- 
nians, under Agesilaus and other commanders, carry on war 
against the Persian satraps in Asia Minor. 

396. Syracuse besieged by the Carthaginians, and success- 
fully defended by Dionysius. 

394. Rome makes her first great stride in the career of con- 
quest by the capture of Veii. 

393. The Athenian admiral, Conon, in conjunction with the 
Persian satrap Pharnabazus, defeats the Lacedaemonian fleet 
off Cnidus, and restores the fortifications of Athens. Several 
of the former allies of Sparta in Greece carry on hostilities 
against her. 

388. The nations of Northern Europe now first appear in au- 
thentic history. The Gauls overrun great part of Italy and 



56 DECISIVE BATTLES 

burn Rome. Rome recovers from the blow, but her old ene- 
mies the uEquians and Volscians are left completely crushed 
by the Gallic invaders. 

387. The peace of Antalcidas is concluded among the Greeks 
by the mediation, and under the sanction, of the Persian king. 

378 to 361. Fresh wars in Greece. Epaminondas raises 
Thebes to be the leading state of Greece, and the supremacy 
of Sparta is destroyed at the battle of Leuctra. Epaminondas 
is killed in gaining the victory of Mantinea, and the power of 
Thebes falls with him. The Athenians attempt a balancing 
system between Sparta and Thebes. 

359. Philip becomes king of Macedon. 

357. The Social War breaks out in Greece and lasts three 
years. Its result checks the attempt of Athens to regain her 
old maritime empire. 

356. Alexander the Great is born. 

343. Rome begins her wars with the Samnites ; they ex- 
tend over a period of fifty years. The end of this obstinate con- 
test is to secure for her the dominion of Italy. 

340. Fresh attempts of the Carthaginians upon Syracuse. 
Timoleon defeats them with great slaughter. 

338. Philip defeats the confederate armies of Athens and 
Thebes at Chaeronea, and the Macedonian supremacy over 
Greece is firmly established. 

336. Philip is assassinated, and Alexander the Great be- 
comes king of Macedon. He gains several victories over the 
northern barbarians who had attacked Macedonia, and de- 
stroys Thebes, which, in conjunction with Athens, had taken 
up arms against the Macedonians. 

334. Alexander passes the Hellespont. 



CHAPTER III. 

THE BATTLE OF ARBELA, B.C. 331. 

" Alexander deserves the glory which he has enjoyed for so many 
centuries and among all nations : but what if he had been beaten at 
Arbela, having the Euphrates, the Tigris, and the deserts in his rear, 
without any strong places of refuge, nine hundred leagues from Mace- 
donia ! " — Napoleon. 

" Asia beheld with astonishment and awe the uninterrupted progress 
of a hero, the sweep of whose conquests was as wide and rapid as that 
of her own barbaric kings, or of the Scythian or Chaldsean hordes ; but, 
far unlike the transient whirlwinds of Asiatic warfare, the advance of 
the Macedonian leader was no less deliberate than rapid : at every step 
the Greek power took root, and the language and the civilization of 
Greece were planted from the shores of the ^gaean to the banks of the 
Indus, from the Caspian and the great Hyrcanian plain to the cataracts 
of the Nile; to exist actually for nearly a thousand years, and in their 
effects to endure forever." — Arnold. 

ALONG and not uninstructive list might be made out 
of illustrious men whose characters have been vindi- 
cated during recent times from aspersions which for 
centuries had been thrown on them. The spirit of modern in- 
quiry, and the tendency of modern scholarship, both of which 
are often said to be solely negative and destructive, have, in 
truth, restored to splendor, and almost created anew, far more 
than they have assailed with censure, or dismissed from con- 
sideration as unreal. The truth of many a brilliant narrative 
of brilliant exploits has of late years been triumphantly demon- 
strated, and the shallowness of the skeptical scoffs with which 
little minds have carped at the great minds of antiquity has 
been in many instances decisively exposed. The laws, the 
politics, and the lines of action adopted or recommended by 
eminent men and powerful nations have been examined with 
keener investigation, and considered with more comprehen- 
sive judgment than formerly were brought to bear on these sub- 
jects. The result has been at least as often favorable as unfavor- 
able to the persons and the states so scrutinized, and many an 

57 



58 DECISIVE BATTLES 

oft-repeated slander against both measures and men has thus 
been silenced, we may hope forever. 

The veracity of Herodotus, the pure patriotism of Pericles, 
of Demosthenes, and of the Gracchi, the wisdom of Clisthenes 
and of Licinius as constitutional reformers, may be mentioned 
as facts which recent writers have cleared from unjust suspicion 
and censure. And it might be easily shown that the defensive 
tendency, which distinguishes the present and recent great 
writers of Germany, France, and England, has been equally 
manifested in the spirit in which they have treated the heroes 
of thought and heroes of action who lived during what we term 
the Middle Ages, and whom it was so long the fashion to sneer 
at or neglect. 

The name of the victor of Arbela has led to these reflections ; 
for, although the rapidity and extent of Alexander's conquests 
have through all ages challenged admiration and amazement, 
the grandeur of genius which he displayed in his schemes of 
commerce, civilization, and of comprehensive union and unity 
among nations, has, until lately, been comparatively unhon- 
ored. This long-continued depreciation was of early date. 
The ancient rhetoricians — a class of babblers, a school for lies 
and scandal, as Niebuhr justly termed them — chose, among the 
stock themes for their commonplaces, the character and ex- 
ploits of Alexander. They had their followers in every age; 
and, until a very recent period, all who wished to " point a moral 
or adorn a tale," about unreasoning ambition, extravagant 
pride, and the formidable frenzies of free will when leagued 
with free power, have never failed to blazon forth the so-called 
madman of Macedonia as one of the most glaring examples. 
Without doubt, many of these writers adopted with implicit 
credence, traditional ideas, and supposed, with uninquiring 
philanthropy, that in blackening Alexander they were doing 
humanity good service. But also, without doubt, many of his 
assailants, like those of other great men, have been mainly in- 
stigated by " that strongest of all antipathies, the antipathy of 
a second-rate mind to a first-rate one,"* and by the envy which 
talent too often bears to genius. 

Arrian, who wrote his history of Alexander when Hadrian 
was emperor of the Roman world, and when the spirit of decla- 
mation and dogmatism was at its full height, but who was him- 

* De Stael. 



THE BATTLE OF ARBELA 



59 



self, unlike the dreaming pedants of the schools, a statesman 
and a soldier of practical and proved ability, well rebuked the 
malevolent aspersions which he heard continually, thrown upon 
the memory of the great conqueror of the East. He truly says, 
" Let the man who speaks evil of Alexander not merely bring 
forward those passages of Alexander's life which were really 
evil, but let him collect and review all the actions of Alexander, 
and then let him thoroughly consider first who and what man- 
ner of man he himself is, and what has been his own career ; and 
then let him consider who and what manner of man Alexander 
was, and to what an eminence of human grandeur he arrived. 
Let him consider that Alexander was a king, and the undis- 
puted lord of the two continents, and that his name is renowned 
throughout the whole earth. Let the evil-speaker against 
Alexander bear all this in mind, and then let him reflect on his 
own insignificance, the pettiness of his own circumstances and 
affairs, and the blunders that he makes about these, paltry and 
trifling as they are. Let him then ask himself whether he is a 
fit person to censure and revile such a man as Alexander. I 
believe that there was in his time no nation of men, no city, nay, 
no single individual, with whom Alexander's name had not be- 
come a familiar word. I therefore hold that such a man, who 
was like no ordinary mortal, was not born into the world with- 
out some special providence."* 

And one of the most distinguished soldiers and writers of 
our own nation, Sir Walter Raleigh, though he failed to esti- 
mate justly the full merits of Alexander, has expressed his sense 
of the grandeur of the part played in the world by " the great 
Emathian conqueror" in language that well deserves quota- 
tion : 

** So much hath the spirit of some one man excelled as it 
hath undertaken and effected the alteration of the greatest 
states and commonweals, the erection of monarchies, the con- 
quest of kingdoms and empires, guided handfuls of men 
against multitudes of equal bodily strength, contrived victories 
beyond all hope and discourse of reason, converted the fearful 
passions of his own followers into magnanimity, and the valor 
of his enemies into cowardice ; such spirits have been stirred 
up in sundry ages of the world, and in divers parts thereof, to 
erect and cast down again, to establish and to destroy, and to 
* Arrian, lib. vii., ad finem. 



6o DECISIVE BATTLES 

bring all things, persons, and states to the same certain ends, 
which the infinite spirit of the Universal, piercing, moving and 
governing all things, hath ordained. Certainly, the things that 
this king did were marvelous, and would hardly have been un- 
dertaken by any one else; and though his father had deter- 
mined to have invaded the Lesser Asia, it is like enough that he 
would have contented himself with some part thereof, and not 
have discovered the river of Indus, as this man did."* 

A higher authority than either Arrian or Raleigh may now 
be referred to by those who wish to know the real merit of 
Alexander as a general, and how far the commonplace asser- 
tions are true that his successes were the mere results of fortu- 
nate rashness and unreasoning pugnacity. Napoleon selected 
Alexander as one of the seven greatest generals whose noble 
deeds history has handed down to us, and from the study of 
whose campaigns the principles of war are to be learned. The 
critique of the greatest conqueror of modern times on the mili- 
tary career of the great conqueror of the Old World is no less 
graphic than true : 

" Alexander crossed the Dardanelles 334 B.C., with an 
army of about forty thousand men, of which one-eighth was 
cavalry; he forced the passage of the Granicus in opposition 
to an army under Memnon, the Greek, who commanded for 
Darius on the coast of Asia, and he spent the whole of the year 
333 in establishing his power in Asia Minor. He was seconded 
by the Greek colonies, who dwelt on the borders of the Black 
Sea and on the Mediterranean, and in Sardis, Ephesus, Tarsus, 
Miletus, etc. The kings of Persia left their provinces and towns 
to be governed according to their own particular laws. Their 
empire was a union of confederated states, and did not form 
one nation ; this facilitated its conquest. As Alexander only 
wished for the throne of the monarch, he easily effected the 
change by respecting the customs, manners, and laws of the 
people, who experienced no change in their condition. 

" In the year 332 he met with Darius at the head of sixty 
thousand men, who had taken up a position near Tarsus, on 
the banks of the Issus, in the province of Cilicia. He defeated 
him, entered Syria, took Damascus, which contained all the 
riches of the Great King, and laid siege to Tyre. This superb 
metropolis of the commerce of the world detained him nine 
* " The Historic of the World," by Sir Walter Raleigh, Knight, p. 648. 



THE BATTLE OF ARBELA 6i 

months. He took Gaza after a siege of two months ; crossed 
the Desert in seven days ; entered Pelusium and Memphis, 
and founded Alexandria. In less than two years, after two 
battles and four or five sieges, the coasts of the Black Sea, from 
Phasis to Byzantium, those of the Mediterranean as far as Alex- 
andria, all Asia Minor, Syria, and Egypt, had submitted to his 
arms. 

" In 331 he repassed the Desert, encamped in Tyre, recrossed 
Syria, entered Damascus, passed the Euphrates and Tigris, 
and defeated Darius on the field of Arbela when he was at the 
head of a still stronger army than that which he commanded 
on the Issus, and Babylon opened her gates to him. In 330 he 
overran Susa and took that city, Persepolis, and Pasargada, 
which contained the tomb of Cyrus. In 329 he directed his 
course northward, entered Ecbatana, and extended his con- 
quests to the coasts of the Caspian, punished Bessus, the cow- 
ardly assassin of Darius, penetrated into Scythia, and subdued 
the Scythians. In 328 he forced the passage of the Oxus, re- 
ceived sixteen thousand recruits from Macedonia, and reduced 
the neighboring people to subjection. In 327 he crossed the 
Indus, vanquished Porus in a pitched battle, took him prisoner, 
and treated him as a king. He contemplated passing the 
Ganges, but his army refused. He sailed down the Indus, in 
the year 326, with eight hundred vessels ; having arrived at 
the ocean, he sent Nearchus with a fleet to run along the coasts 
of the Indian Ocean and the Persian Gulf as far as the mouth of 
the Euphrates. In 325 he took sixty days in crossing from 
Gedrosia, entered Keramania, returned to Pasargada, Per- 
sepolis, and Susa, and married Statira, the daughter of Darius. 
In 324 he marched once more to the north, passed Ecbatana, 
and terminated his career at Babylon."* 

The enduring importance of Alexander's conquests is to be 
estimated, not by the duration of his own Hfe and empire, or 
even by the duration of the kingdoms which his generals after 
his death formed out of the fragments of that mighty dominion. 
In every region of the world that he traversed, Alexander planted 
Greek settlements and founded cities, in the populations of 
which the Greek element at once asserted its predominance. 
Among his successors, the Seleucidse and the Ptolemies 
imitated their great captain in blending schemes of civili- 
* See Count Montholon's " Memoirs of Napoleon." 



62 DECISIVE BATTLES 

zation, of commercial intercourse, and of literary and scientific 
research with all their enterprises of military aggrandizement 
and with all their systems of civil administration. Such was 
the ascendency of the Greek genius, so wonderfully compre- 
hensive and assimilating was the cultivation which it intro- 
duced, that, within thirty years after Alexander crossed the 
Hellespont, the Greek language was spoken in every country 
from the shores of the ^gaean to the Indus, and also through- 
out Egypt — not, indeed, wholly to the extirpation of the native 
dialects, but it became the language of every court, of all litera- 
ture, of every judicial and political function, and formed a 
medium of communication among the many myriads of man- 
kind inhabiting these large portions of the Old World, f 
Throughout Asia Minor, Syria, and Egypt, the Hellenic char- 
acter that was thus imparted remained in full vigor down to the 
time of the Mohammedan conquests. The infinite value of 
this to humanity in the highest and hoHest point of view has 
often been pointed out, and the workings of the finger of Provi- 
dence have been gratefully recognized by those who have ob- 
served how the early growth and progress of Christianity were 
aided by that diffusion of the Greek language and civilization 
throughout Asia Minor, Syria, and Egypt, which had been 
caused by the Macedonian conquest of the East. 

In upper Asia, beyond the Euphrates, the direct and material 
influence of Greek ascendency was more short-lived. Yet, 
during the existence of the Hellenic kingdoms in these regions, 
especially of the Greek kingdom of Bactria, the modern Bok- 
hara, very important effects were produced on the intellectual 
tendencies and tastes of the inhabitants of those countries, and 
of the adjacent ones, by the animating contact of the Grecian 
spirit. Much of Hindoo science and philosophy, much of the 
literature of the later Persian kingdom of the Arsacidae, either 
originated from, or was largely modified by, Grecian influences. 
So, also, the learning and science of the Arabians were in a far 
less degree the result of original invention and genius, than the 
reproduction, in an altered form, of the Greek philosophy and 
the Greek lore acquired by the Saracenic conquerors, together 
with their acquisition of the provinces which Alexander had 
subjugated, nearly a thousand years before the armed disciples 
of Mohammed commenced their career in the East. It is well 
t See Arnold, Hist. Rome, ii,, p. 406. 



THE BATTLE OF ARBELA 63 

known that Western Europe in the Middle Ages drew its 
philosophy, its arts, and its science principally from Arabian 
teachers. And thus we see how the intellectual influence of 
ancient Greece, poured on the Eastern world by Alexander's 
victories, and then brought back to bear on Mediaeval Europe 
by the spread of the Saracenic powers, has exerted its action 
on the elements of modern civilization by this powerful, though 
indirect, channel, as well as by the more obvious effects of the 
remnants of classic civilization which survived in Italy, Gaul, 
Britain, and Spain, after the irruption of the Germanic nations.* 

These considerations invest the Macedonian triumphs in the 
East with never-dying interest, such as the most showy and 
sanguinary successes of mere " low ambition and the pride of 
kings," however they may dazzle for a moment, can never re- 
tain with posterity. Whether the old Persian empire which 
Cyrus founded could have survived much longer than it did, 
even if Darius had been victorious at Arbela, may safely be dis- 
puted. That ancient dominion, like the Turkish at the present 
time, labored under every cause of decay and dissolution. The 
satraps, like the modern pashaws, continually rebelled against 
the central power, and Egypt in particular was almost always in 
a state of insurrection against its nominal sovereign. There 
was no longer any effective central control, or any internal prin- 
ciple of unity fused through the huge mass of the empire, and 
binding it together. Persia was evidently about to fall; but, 
had it not been for Alexander's invasion of Asia, she would 
most probably have fallen beneath some other Oriental power, 
as Media and Babylon had formerly fallen before herself, and 
as, in after times, the Parthian supremacy gave way to the re- 
vived ascendency of Persia in the East, under the sceptres of 
the Arsacidae. A revolution that merely substituted one East- 
ern power for another would have been utterly barren and un- 
profitable to mankind. 

Alexander's victory at Arbela not only overthrew an Ori- 
ental dynasty, but established European rulers in its stead. It 
broke the monotony of the Eastern world by the impression of 
Western energy and superior civilization, even as England's 
present mission is to break up the mental and moral stagnation 
of India and Cathay by pouring upon and through them the 
impulsive current of Anglo-Saxon commerce and conquest. 
* See Humboldt's " Cosmos." 



64 DECISIVE BATTLES 

Arbela, the city which has furnished its name to the decisive 
battle which gavte Asia to Alexander, lies more than twenty 
miles from the actual scene of the conflict. The little village, 
then named Gaugamela, is close to the spot where the armies 
met, but has ceded the honor of naming the battle to its more 
euphonious neighbor. Gaugamela is situate in one of the 
wide plains that lie between the Tigris and the mountains of 
Kurdistan. A few undulating hillocks diversify the surface of 
this sandy tract; but the ground is generally level, and ad- 
mirably qualified for the evolutions of cavalry, and also calcu- 
lated to give the larger of two armies the full advantage of 
numerical superiority. The Persian king (who, before he came 
to the throne, had proved his personal valor as a soldier and his 
skill as a general) had wisely selected this region for the third 
and decisive encounter between his forces and the invader. The 
previous defeats of his troops, however severe they had been, 
were not looked on as irreparable. The Granicus had been 
fought by his generals rashly and without mutual concert ; and, 
though Darius himself had commanded and been beaten at 
Issus, that defeat might be attributed to the disadvantageous 
nature of the ground, where, cooped up between the moun- 
tains, the river, and the sea, the numbers of the Persians con- 
fused and clogged alike the general's skill and the soldiers' 
prowess, and their very strength had been made their weak- 
ness. Here, on the broad plains of Kurdistan, there was scope 
for Asia's largest host to array its lines, to wheel, to skirmish, 
to condense or expand its squadrons, to manoeuvre, and to 
charge at will. Should Alexander and his scanty band dare to 
plunge into that living sea of war, their destruction seemed in- 
evitable. 

Darius felt, however, the critical nature to himself, as well as 
to his adversary, of the coming encounter. He could not hope 
to retrieve the consequences of a third overthrow. The great 
cities of Mesopotamia and Upper Asia, the central provinces 
of the Persian empire, were certain to be at the mercy of the 
victor. Darius knew also the Asiatic character well enough to 
be aware how it yields to the prestige of success and the appar- 
ent career of destiny. He felt that the diadem was now either 
to be firmly replaced on his own brow, or to be irrevocably trans- 
ferred to the head of his European conqueror. He, therefore, 
during the long interval left him after the battle of Issus, while 



I 



THE BATTLE OF ARBELA 65 

Alexander was subjugating Syria and Egypt, assiduously 
busied himself in selecting the best troops which his vast em- 
pire supplied, and in training his varied forces to act together 
with some uniformity of discipline and system. 

The hardy mountaineers of Afghanistan, Bokhara, Khiva, 
and Thibet v/ere then, as at present, far diiiferent to the gen- 
erality of Asiatics in warlike spirit and endurance. From these 
districts Darius collected large bodies of admirable infantry; 
and the countries of the modern Kurds and Turkomans sup- 
plied, as they do now, squadrons of horsemen, hardy, skilful, 
bold, and trained to a life of constant activity and warfare. It 
is not uninteresting to notice that the ancestors of our own late 
enemies, the Sikhs, served as allies of Darius against the Mace- 
donians. They are spoken of in Arrian as Indians who dwelt 
near Bactria. They were attached to the troops of that satrapy, 
and their cavalry was one of the most formidable forces in the 
whole Persian army. 

Besides these picked troops, contingents also came in from 
the numerous other provinces that yet obeyed the Great King. 
Altogether, the horse are said to have been forty thousand, 
the scythe-bearing chariots two hundred, and the armed ele- 
phants fifteen in number. The amount of the infantry is un- 
certain ; but the knowledge which both ancient and modern 
times supply of the usual character of Oriental armies, and of 
their populations of camp-followers, may warrant us in be- 
lieving that many myriads were prepared to fight, or to en- 
cumber those who fought for the last Darius. 

The position of the Persian king near Mesopotamia was 
chosen with great military skill. It was certain that Alex- 
ander, on his return from Egypt, must march northward along 
the Syrian coast before he attacked the central provinces of the 
Persian empire. A direct eastward march from the lower part 
of Palestine across the great Syrian Desert was then, as ever, 
utterly impracticable. Marching eastward from Syria, Alex- 
ander would, on crossing the Euphrates, arrive at the vast 
Mesopotamian plains. The wealthy capitals of the empire, 
Babylon, Susa, and Persepolis, would then lie to the south; 
and if he marched down through Mesopotamia to attack them, 
Darius might reasonably hope to follow the Macedonians with 
his immense force of cavalry, and, without even risking a 
pitched battle, to harass and finally overwhelm them. We may 
5 



66 DECISIVE BATTLES 

remember that three centuries afterwards a Roman army un- 
der Crassus was thus actually destroyed by the Oriental arch- 
ers and horsemen in these very plains,* and that the ancestors 
of the Parthians who thus vanquished the Roman legions 
served by thousands under King Darius. If, on the contrary, 
Alexander should defer his march against Babylon, and first 
seek an encounter with the Persian army, the country on each 
side of the Tigris in this latitude was highly advantageous for 
such an army as Darius commanded, and he had close in his 
rear the mountainous districts of Northern Media, where he 
himself had in early life been satrap, where he had acquired 
reputation as a soldier and a general, and where he justly ex- 
pected to find loyalty to his person, and a safe refuge in case 
of defeat, t 

His great antagonist came on across the Euphrates against 
him, at the head of an army which Arrian, copying from the 
journals of Macedonian officers, states to have consisted of 
forty thousand foot and seven thousand horse. In studying 
the campaigns of Alexander, we possess the peculiar advan- 
tage of deriving our information from two of Alexander's gen- 
erals of division, who bore an important part in all his enter- 
prises. Aristobulus and Ptolemy (who afterward became king 
of Egypt) kept regular journals of the military events which 
they witnessed, and these journals were in the possession of Ar- 
rian when he drew up his history of Alexander's expedition. 
The high character of Arrian for integrity makes us confident 
that he used them fairly, and his comments on the occasional 
discrepancies between the two Macedonian narratives prove 
that he used them sensibly. He frequently quotes the very 
words of his authorities ; and his history thus acquires a charm 
such as very few ancient or modern military narratives possess. 
The anecdotes and expressions which he records we fairly be- 
lieve to be genuine, and not to be the coinage of a rhetorician, 
like those in Curtius. In fact, in reading Arrian, we read Gen- 

* See Mitford. 

t Mitford's remarks on the strategy of Darius in his last campaign 
are very just. After having been unduly admired as an historian, Mitford 
is now unduly neglected. His partiality and his deficiency in scholar- 
ship have been exposed sufficiently to make him no longer a dangerous 
guide as to Greek politics, while the clearness and brilliancy of his 
narrative, and the strong common sense of his remarks (where his 
party prejudices do not interfere), must always make his volumes valu- 
able as well as entertaining. 



THE BATTLE OF ARBELA 67 

eral Aristobulus and General Ptolemy on the campaigns of 
the Macedonians, and it is like reading General Jomini or Gen- 
eral Foy on the campaigns of the French. 

The estimate which we find in Arrian of the strength of 
Alexander's army seems reasonable enough, when we take 
into account both the losses which he had sustained and the 
re-enforcements which he had received since he left Europe. 
Indeed, to EngHshmen, who know with what mere handfuls 
of men our own generals have, at Plassy, at Assaye, at Meeanee, 
and other Indian battles, routed large hosts of Asiatics, the 
disparity of numbers that we read of in the victories won by 
the Macedonians over the Persians presents nothing incredi- 
ble. The army which Alexander now led was wholly com- 
posed of veteran troops in the highest possible state of equip- 
ment and discipline, enthusiastically devoted to their leader, 
and full of confidence in his military genius and his victorious 
destiny. 

The celebrated Macedonian phalanx formed the main 
strength of his infantry. This force had been raised and or- 
ganized by his father Philip, who, on his accession to the Mace- 
donian throne, needed a numerous and quickly-formed army, 
and who, by lengthening the spear of the ordinary Greek 
phalanx, and increasing the depth of the files, brought the tac- 
tic of armed masses to the highest extent of which it was ca- 
pable with such materials as he possessed.* He formed his 
men sixteen deep, and placed in their grasp the sarissa, as the 
Macedonian pike was called, which was four-and-twenty feet 
in length, and when couched for action, reached eighteen feet 
in front of the soldier ; so that, as a space of about two feet was 
allowed between the ranks, the spears of the five files behind 
him projected in front of each front-rank man. The pha- 
langite soldier was fully equipped in the defensive armor of the 
regular Greek infantry. And thus the phalanx presented a 
ponderous and bristling mass, which, as long as its order was 
kept compact, was sure to bear down all opposition. The de- 
fects of such an organization are obvious, and were proved 
in after years, when the Macedonians were opposed to the 
Roman legions. But it is clear that under Alexander the 
phalanx was not the cumbrous, unwieldy body which it was at 
Cynoscephalae and Pydna. His men were veterans; and he 
* See Niebuhr's " Hist, of Rome," vol. iii., p. 466. 



68 DECISIVE BATTLES 

could obtain from them an accuracy of movement and steadi- 
ness of evolution such as probably the recruits of his father 
would only have floundered in attempting, and such as cer- 
tainly were impracticable in the phalanx when handled by his 
successors, especially as under them it ceased to be a standing 
force, and became only a militia f Under Alexander the pha- 
lanx consisted of an aggregate of eighteen thousand men, 
who were divided into six brigades of three thousand each. 
These were again subdivided into regiments and companies ; 
and the men were carefully trained to wheel, to face about, to 
take more ground, or to close up, as the emergencies of the 
battle required. Alexander also arrayed troops armed in a 
different manner in the intervals of the regiments of his 
phalangites, who could prevent their line from being pierced 
and their companies taken in flank, when the nature of the 
ground prevented a close formation, and who cotild be with- 
drawn when a favorable opportunity arrived for closing up the 
phalanx or any of its brigades for a charge, or when it was 
necessary to prepare to receive cavalry. 

Besides the phalanx, Alexander had a considerable force of 
infantry who were called shield-bearers: they were not so 
heavily armed as the phalangites, or as was the case with the 
Greek regular infantry in general, but they were equipped for 
close fight as well as for skirmishing, and were far superior to 
the ordinary irregular troops of Greek warfare. They were 
about six thousand strong. Besides these, he had several 
bodies of Greek regular infantry ; and he had archers, slingers, 
and javelin-men, who fought also with broadsword and target, 
and who were principally supplied him by the highlanders of 
Illyria and Thracia. The main strength of his cavalry con- 
sisted in two chosen regiments of cuirassiers, one Macedonian 
and one Thessalian, each of which was about fifteen hundred 
strong. They were provided with long lances and heavy 
swords, and horse as well as man was fully equipped with de- 
fensive armor. Other regiments of regular cavalry were less 
heavily armed, and there were several bodies of light horse- 
men, whom Alexander's conquests in Egypt and Syria had en- 
abled him to mount superbly. 

A little before the end of August, Alexander crossed the 
Euphrates at Thapsacus, a small corps of Persian cavalry un- 
t See Niebuhr. 



THE BATTLE OF ARBELA 69 

der Mazaeus retiring before him. Alexander was too prudent 
to march down through the Mesopotamian deserts, and con- 
tinued to advance eastward with the intention of passing the 
Tigris, and then, if he was unable to find Darius and bring him 
to action, of marching southward on the left side of that river 
along the skirts of a mountainous district where his men would 
suffer less from heat and thirst, and where provisions would be 
more abundant. 

Darius, finding that his adversary was not to be enticed into 
the march through Mesopotamia against his capital, deter- 
mined to remain on the battle-ground, which he had chosen 
on the left of the Tigris ; where, if his enemy met a defeat or a 
check, the destruction of the invaders would be certain with 
two such rivers as the Euphrates and the Tigris in their rear. 
The Persian king availed himself to the utmost of every ad- 
vantage in his power. He caused a large space of ground to 
be carefully levelled for the operation of his scythe-armed 
chariots; and he deposited his military stores in the strong 
town of Arbela, about twenty miles in his rear. The rhetori- 
cians of after ages have loved to describe Darius Codomanus as 
a second Xerxes in ostentation and imbecility ; but a fair ex- 
amination of his generalship in this his last campaign shows 
that he was worthy of bearing the same name as his great pre- 
decessor, the royal son of Hystaspes. 

On learning that Darius was with a large army on the left 
of the Tigris, Alexander hurried forward and crossed that river 
without opposition. He was at first unable to procure any cer- 
tain intelligence of the precise position of the enemy, and after 
giving his army a short interval of rest, he marched for four 
days down the left bank of the river. A moralist may pause 
upon the fact that Alexander must in this march have passed 
within a few miles of the ruins of Nineveh, the great city of the 
primeval conquerors of the human race. Neither the Mace- 
donian king nor any of his followers knew what those vast 
mounds had once been. They had already sunk into utter de- 
struction ; and it is only within the last few years that the intel- 
lectual energy of one of our own countrymen has rescued Nine- 
veh from its long centuries of oblivion.* 

On the fourth day of Alexander's southward march, his ad- 

* See Layard's " Nineveh," and see Vaux's " Nineveh and Persep- 
oHs," p. 16. 



70 DECISIVE BATTLES 

vanced guard reported that a body of the enemy's cavalry was 
in sight. He instantly formed his army in order for battle, and 
directing them to advance steadily, he rode forward at the head 
of some squadrons of cavalry, and charged the Persian horse, 
whom he found before him. This was a mere reconnoitring 
party, and they broke and fled immediately; but the Mace- 
donians made some prisoners, and from them Alexander found 
that Darius was posted only a few miles ofif, and learned the 
strength of the army that he had with him. On receiving this 
news Alexander halted, and gave his men repose for four days, 
so that they should go into action fresh and vigorous. He also 
fortified his camp and deposited in it all his military stores, and 
all his sick and disabled soldiers, intending to advance upon 
the enemy with the serviceable part of his army perfectly un- 
encumbered. After this halt, he moved forward, while it was 
yet dark, with the intention of reaching the enemy, and attack- 
ing them at break of day. About half way between the camps 
there were some undulations of the ground, which concealed 
the two armies from each other's view; but, on Alexander 
arriving at their summit, he saw, by the early light, the Persian 
host arrayed before him, and he probably also observed traces 
of some engineering operation having been carried on along 
part of the ground in front of them. Not knowing that these 
marks had been caused by the Persians having levelled the 
ground for the free use of their war-chariots, Alexander sus- 
pected that hidden pitfalls had been prepared with a view of 
disordering the approach of his cavalry. He summoned a 
council of war forthwith. Some of the officers were for attack- 
ing instantly, at all hazards ; but the more prudent opinion of 
Parmenio prevailed, and it was determined not to advance 
further till the battle-ground had been carefully surveyed. 

Alexander halted his army on the heights, and, taking with 
him some light-armed infantry and some cavalry, he passed 
part of the day in reconnoitring the enemy, and observing the 
nature of the ground which he had to fight on. Darius wisely 
refrained from moving from his position to attack the Mace- 
donians on the eminences which they occupied, and the two 
armies remained until night without molesting each other. 
On Alexander's return to his headquarters, he summoned his 
generals and superior officers together, and telling them that 
he knew well that their zeal wanted no exhortation, he be- 






THE BATTLE OF ARBELA 



71 



sought them to do their utmost in encouraging and instructing 
those whom each commanded, to do their best in the next day's 
battle. They were to remind them that they were now not go- 
ing to fight for a province as they had hitherto fought, but they 
were about to decide by their swords the dominion of all Asia. 
Each officer ought to impress this upon his subalterns, and 
they should urge it on their men. Their natural courage re- 
quired no long words to excite its ardor ; but they should be 
reminded of the paramount importance of steadiness in action. 
The silence in the ranks must be unbroken as long as silence 
was proper ; but when the time came for the charge, the shout 
and the cheer must be full of terror for the foe. The officers 
were to be alert in receiving and communicating orders ; and 
every one was to act as if he felt that the whole result of the 
battle depended on his own single good conduct. 

Having thus briefly instructed his generals, Alexander or- 
dered that the army should sup, and take their rest for the night. 

Darkness had closed over the tents of the Macedonians, 
when Alexander's veteran general, Parmenio, came to him, 
and proposed that they should make a night attack on the Per- 
sians. The king is said to have answered that he scorned to 
filch a victory, and that Alexander must conquer openly and 
fairly. Arrian justly remarks that Alexander's resolution was 
as wise as it was spirited. Besides the confusion and uncer- 
tainty which are inseparable from night engagements, the value 
of Alexander's victory would have been impaired, if gained 
under circumstances which might supply the enemy with any 
excuse for his defeat, and encouraged him to renew the con- 
test. It was necessary for Alexander not only to beat Darius, 
but to gain such a victory as should leave his rival without 
apology and without hope of recovery. 

The Persians, in fact, expected, and were prepared to meet, 
a night attack. Such was the apprehension that Darius enter- 
tained of it, that he formed his troops at evening in order of 
battle, and kept them under arms all night. The effect of this 
was, that the morning found them jaded and dispirited, while 
it brought their adversaries all fresh and vigorous against 
them. 

The written order of battle which Darius himself caused to 
be drawn up, fell into the hands of the Macedonians after the 
engagement, and Aristobulus copied it into his journal. We 




72 DECISIVE BATTLES 

thus possess, through Arrian, unusually authentic information 
as to the composition and arrangement of the Persian army. 
On the extreme left were the Bactrian, Daan, and Arachosian 
cavalry. Next to these Darius placed the troops from Persia 
proper, both horse and foot. Then came the Susians, and next 
to these the Cadusians. These forces made up the left wing. 
Darius' own station was in the centre. This was composed of 
the Indians, the Carians, the Mardian archers, and the divi- 
sion of Persians who were distinguished by the golden apples 
that formed the knobs of their spears. Here also were sta- 
tioned the body-guard of the Persian nobility. Besides these, 
there were, in the centre, formed in deep order, the Uxian and 
Babylonian troops, and the soldiers from the Red Sea. The 
brigade of Greek mercenaries whom Darius had in his service, 
and who alone were considered fit to stand the charge of the 
Macedonian phalanx, was drawn up on either side of the royal 
chariot. The right wing was composed of the Coelosyrians 
and Mesopotamians, the Medes, the Parthians, the Sacians, the 
Tapurians, Hyrcanians, Albanians, and Sacesinse. In advance 
of the line on the left wing were placed the Scythian cavalry, 
with a thousand of the Bactrian horse, and a hundred scythe- 
armed chariots. The elephants and fifty scythe-armed chariots 
were ranged in front of the centre; and fifty more chariots, 
with the Armenian and Cappadocian cavalry, were drawn up in 
advance of the right wing. 

Thus arrayed, the great host of King Darius passed the 
night, that to many thousands of them was the last of their 
existence. The morning of the first of October,* two thou- 
sand one hundred and eighty-two years ago, dawned slowly to 
their wearied watching, and they could hear the note of the 
Macedonian trumpet sounding to arms, and could see King 
Alexander's forces descend from their tents on the heights, 
and form in order of battle on the plain. 

There was deep need of skill, as well as of valor, on Alex- 
ander's side; and few battle-fields have witnessed more con- 
summate generalship than was now displayed by the Mace- 
donian king. There were no natural barriers by which he could 
protect his flanks; and not only was he certain to be over- 

* See Clinton's " Fasti Hellenici." The battle was fought eleven days 
after an eclipse of the moon, which gives the means of fixing the pre- 
cise date. 



THE BATTLE OF ARBELA 73 

lapped on either wing by the vast lines of the Persian army, 
but there was imminent risk of their cirding round him, and 
charging him in the rear, while he advanced against their cen- 
tre. He formed, therefore, a second or reserve line, which was 
to wheel round, if required, or to detach troops to either flank, 
as the enemy's movements might necessitate; and thus, with 
their whole army ready at any moment to be thrown into one 
vast hollow square, the Macedonians advanced in two lines 
against the enemy, Alexander himself leading on the right 
wing, and the renowned phalanx forming the centre, while 
Parmenio commanded on the left. 

Such was the general nature of the disposition which Alex- 
ander made of his army. But we have in Arrian the details of 
the position of each brigade and regiment; and as we know 
that these details were taken from the journals of Macedonian 
generals, it is interesting to examine them, and to read the 
names and stations of King Alexander's generals and colonels 
in this, the greatest of his battles. 

The eight regiments of the royal horse-guards formed the 
right of Alexander's line. Their colonels were Cleitus (whose 
regiment was on the extreme right, the post of peculiar dan- 
ger), Glaucias, Ariston, Sopolis, Heracleides, Demetrias, Mel- 
eager, and Hegelochus. Philotas was general of the whole 
division. Then came the shield-bearing infantry: Nicanor 
was their general. Then came the phalanx in six brigades. 
Coenus' brigade was on the right, and nearest to the shield- 
bearers ; next to this stood the brigade of Perdiccas, then 
Meleager's, then Polysperchon's ; and then the brigade of 
Amynias, but which was now commanded by Simmias, as 
Amynias had been sent to Macedonia to levy recruits. Then 
came the infantry of the left wing, under the command of 
Craterus. Next to Craterus' infantry were placed the cavalry 
regiments of the allies, with Eriguius for their general. The 
Thessalian cavalry, commanded by Philippus, were next, and 
held the extreme left of the whole army. The whole left wing 
was intrusted to the command of Parmenio, who had round his 
person the Pharsalian regiment of cavalry, which was the 
strongest and best of all the Thessalian horse regiments. 

The centre of the second line was occupied by a body of 
phalangite infantry, formed of companies which were drafted 
for this purpose from each of the brigades of their phalanx. 



74 DECISIVE BATTLES 

The officers in command of this corps were ordered to be ready 
to face about, if the enemy should succeed in gaining the rear 
of the army. On the right of this reserve of infantry, in the 
second hne, and behind the royal horse-guards, Alexander 
placed half the Agrian light-armed infantry under Attains, and 
with them Brison's body of Macedonian archers and Cleander's 
regiment of foot. He also placed in this part of his army 
Menidas' squadron of calvary, and Aretes' and Ariston's light 
horse. Menidas was ordered to watch if the enemy's cavalry 
tried to turn their flank, and, if they did so, to charge them be- 
fore they wheeled completely round, and so take them in flank 
themselves. A similar force was arranged on the left of the 
second line for the same purpose. The Thracian infantry of 
Sitalces were placed there, and Coeranus' regiment of the 
cavalry of the Greek allies, and Agathon's troops of the Odry- 
sian irregular horse. The extreme left of the second line in 
this quarter was held by Andromachus' cavalry. A division of 
Thracian infantry was left in guard of the camp. In advance 
of the right wing and centre was scattered a number of light- 
armed troops, of javelin-men and bow-men, with the intention 
of warding off the charge of the armed chariots.* 

Conspicuous by the brilliancy of his armor, and by the 
chosen band of officers who were round his person, Alexander 
took his own station, as his custom was, in the right wing, at 
the head of his cavalry ; and when all the arrangements for the 
battle were complete, and his generals were fully instructed 
how to act in each probable emergency, he began to lead his 
men toward the enemy. 

It was ever his custom to expose his life freely in battle, and 
to emulate the personal prowess of his great ancestor, Achilles. 
Perhaps, in the bold enterprise of conquering Persia, it was 
politic for Alexander to raise his army's daring to the utmost 
by the example of his own heroic valor ; and, in his subsequent 
campaigns, the love of the excitement, of " the raptures of the 
strife," may have made him, like Murat, continue from choice 
a custom which he commenced from duty. But he never suf- 
fered the ardor of the soldier to make him lose the coolness of 

* Kleber's arrangement of his troops at the battle of Heliopolis, where, 
with ten thousand Europeans, he had to encounter eighty thousand 
Asiatics in an open plain, is worth comparing with Alexander's tactics 
at Arbela. See Thiers' " Histoire du Consulat," &c., vol. ii., livre v. 



THE BATTLE OF ARBELA 75 

the general, and at Arbela, in particular, he showed that he 
could act up to his favorite Homeric maxim of being 

'A/jicf}6T€pov, jSao-iXevs t aya&o<s Kparepoi t ai;(/x'>yTi/s. 

Great reliance had been placed by the Persian king on the 
effects of the scythe-bearing chariots. It was designed to 
launch these against the Macedonian phalanx, and to follow 
them up by a heavy charge of cavalry, which, it was hoped, 
would find the ranks of the spearmen disordered by the rush 
of the chariots, and easily destroy this most formidable part of 
Alexander's force. In front, therefore, of the Persian centre, 
where Darius took his station, and which it was supposed that 
the phalanx would attack, the ground had been carefully lev- 
elled and smoothed, so as to allow the chariots to charge over 
it with their full sweep and speed. As the Macedonian army 
approached the Persian, Alexander found that the front of his 
whole line barely equalled the front of the Persian centre, so 
that he was outflanked on his right by the entire left wing of 
the enemy, and by their entire right wing on his left. His tac- 
tics were to assail some one point of the hostile army, and gain 
a decisive advantage, while he refused, as far as possible, the 
encounter along the rest of the line. He therefore inclined his 
order of march to the right, so as to enable his right wing and 
centre to come into collision with the enemy on as favorable 
terms as possible, although the manoeuvre might in some re- 
spect compromise his left. 

The effect of this oblique movement was to bring the 
phalanx and his own wing nearly beyond the limits of the 
ground which the Persians had prepared for the operations of 
the chariots ; and Darius, fearing to lose the benefit of this arm 
against the most important parts of the Macedonian force, 
ordered the Scythian and Bactrian cavalry, who were drawn up 
in advance on his extreme left, to charge round upon Alex- 
ander's right wing, and check its further lateral progress. 
Against these assailants Alexander sent from his second line 
Menidas' cavalry. As these proved too few to make head 
against the enemy, he ordered Ariston also from the second 
line with his right horse, and Cleander with his foot, in sup- 
port of Menidas. The Bactrians and Scythians now began to 
give way; but Darius reinforced them by the mass of Bac- 



76 DECISIVE BATTLES 

trian cavalry from his main line, and an obstinate cavalry fight 
now took place. The Bactrians and Scythians were numerous, 
and were better armed than the horsemen under Menidas and 
Ariston ; and the loss at first was heaviest on the Macedonian 
side. But still the European cavalry stood the charge of the 
Asiatics, and at last, by their superior discipline, and by acting 
in squadrons that supported each other,* instead of fighting 
in a confused mass like the barbarians, the Macedonians broke 
their adversaries, and drove them off the field. 

Darius now directed the scythe-armed chariots to be driven 
against Alexander's horse-guards and the phalanx, and these 
formidable vehicles were accordingly sent rattling across the 
plain, against the Macedonian line. When we remember the 
alarm which the war-chariots of the Britons created among 
Caesar's legions, we shall not be prone to deride this arm of 
ancient warfare as always useless. The object of the chariots 
was to create unsteadiness in the ranks against which they were 
driven, and squadrons of cavalry followed close upon them to 
profit by such disorder. But the Asiatic chariots were rendered 
ineffective at Arbela by the light-armed troops, whom Alexan- 
der had specially appointed for the service, and who, wounding 
the horses and drivers with their missile weapons, and run- 
ning alongside so as to cut the traces or seize the reins, marred 
the intended charge ; and the few chariots that reached the 
phalanx passed harmlessly through the intervals which the 
spearmen opened for them, and were easily captured in the rear. 

A mass of the Asiatic cavalry was now, for the second time, 
collected against Alexander's extreme right, and moved round 

* 'AWa Koi &>s rhs irpoa&oXh.s avrwp iSexovro ol MaKedSves, Kol $la. nar* Jf\a irpo<T- 
irliTToyres i^ia^ovv iK rrjs rd^fcus. — ArriaN, lib. iii., c. 13. 

The best explanation of this may be found in Napoleon's account of 
the cavalry fights between the French and the Mamelukes. " Two 
Mamelukes were able to make head against three Frenchmen, because 
they were better armed, better mounted, and better trained ; they had 
two pair of pistols, a blunderbuss, a carabine, a helmet with a visor, 
and a coat of mail ; they had several horses, and several attendants on 
foot. One hundred cuirassiers, however, were not afraid of one hun- 
dred Mamelukes; three hundred could beat an equal number, and one 
thousand could easily put to the rout fifteen hundred, so great is the in- 
fluence of tactics, order, and evolutions ! Leclerc and Lasalle presented 
their men to the Mamelukes in several lines. When the^ Arabs were 
on the point of overwhelming the first, the second came to its assistance 
on the right and left ; the Mamelukes then halted and wheeled, in order 
to turn the wings of this new line ; this moment was always seized upon 
to charge them, and they were uniformly broken." — Montholon's 
"History of Captivity of Napoleon," vol. iv., p. 70. 



THE BATTLE OF ARBELA 77 

it, with the view of gaining the flank of his army. At the critical 
moment, when their own flanks were exposed by this evolution. 
Aretes dashed on the Persian squadrons with his horsemen 
from Alexander's second line. While Alexander thus met and 
baffled all the flanking attacks of the enemy with troops 
brought up from his second line, he kept his own horse-guards 
and the rest of the front line of his wing fresh, and ready to take 
advantage of the first opportunity for striking a decisive blow. 
This soon came. A large body of horse, who were posted on 
the Persian left wing nearest to the centre, quitted their station, 
and rode off to help their comrades in the cavalry fight, that 
still was going on at the extreme right of Alexander's wing 
against the detachments from his second line. This made a 
huge gap in the Persian array, and into this space Alexander 
instantly charged with his guard and all the cavalry of his 
wing; and then pressing toward his left, he soon began to 
make havoc in the left flank of the Persian centre. The shield- 
bearing infantry now charged also among the reeling masses 
of the Asiatics ; and five of the brigades of the phalanx, with 
the irresistible might of their sarissas, bore down the Greek 
mercenaries of Darius, and dug their way through the Per- 
sian centre. In the early part of the battle Darius had showed 
skill and energy ; and he now, for some time, encouraged his 
men, by voice and example, to keep firm. But the lances of 
Alexa^ider's cavalry and the pikes of the phalanx now pressed 
nearer and nearer to him. His charioteer was struck down 
by a javeHn at his side; and at last Darius' nerve failed him, 
and, descending from his chariot, he mounted on a fleet horse 
and galloped from the plain, regardless of the state of the battle 
in other parts of the field, where matters were going on much 
more favorably for his cause, and where his presence might 
have done much toward gaining a victory. 

Alexander's operations with his right and centre had exposed 
his left to an immensely preponderating force of the enemy. 
Parmenio kept out of action as long as possible ; but Mazseus, 
who commanded the Persian right wing, advanced against him, 
completely outflanked him, and pressed him severely with re- 
iterated charges by superior numbers. Seeing the distress of 
Parmenio's wing, Simmias, who commanded the sixth brigade 
of the phalanx, which was next to the left wing, did not advance 
with the other brigades in the great charge upon the Persian 



78 DECISIVE BATTLES 

centre, but kept back to cover Parmenio's troops on their right 
flank, as otherwise they would have been completely sur- 
rounded and cut off from the rest of the Macedonian army. 
By so doing, Simmias had unavoidably opened a gap in the 
Macedonian left centre ; and a large column of Indian and 
Persian horse, from the Persian right centre, had galloped for- 
ward through this interval, and right through the troops of 
the Macedonian second line. Instead of then wheeling round 
upon Parmenio, or upon the rear of Alexander's conquering 
wing, the Indian and Persian cavalry rode straight on to the 
Macedonian camp, overpowered the Thracians who were left 
in charge of it, and began to plunder. This was stopped by the 
phalangite troops of the second line, who, after the enemy's 
horsemen had rushed by them, faced about, counter-marched 
upon the camp, killed many of the Indians and Persians in the 
act of plundering, and forced the rest to ride off again. Just 
at this crisis, Alexander had been recalled from his pursuit of 
Darius by tidings of the distress of Parmenio and of his inabil- 
ity to bear up any longer against the hot attacks of Mazseus. 
Taking his horse-guards with him, Alexander rode toward the 
part of the field where his left wing was fighting; but on his 
way thither he encountered the Persian and Indian cavalry, on 
their return from his camp. 

These men now saw that their only chance of safety was to 
cut their way through, and in one huge column they charged 
desperately upon the Macedonian regiments. There was here 
a close hand-to-hand fight, which lasted some time, and sixty 
of the royal horse-guards fell, and three generals, who fought 
close to Alexander's side, were wounded. At length the Mace- 
donian discipline and valor again prevailed, and a large num- 
ber of the Persian and Indian horsemen were cut down, some 
few only succeeding in breaking through and riding away. Re- 
lieved of these obstinate enemies, Alexander again formed his 
regiments of horse-guards, and led them toward Parmenio; 
but by this time that general also was victorious. Probably 
the news of Darius' flight had reached Mazaeus, and had 
damped the ardor of the Persian right wing, while the tidings 
of their comrades' success must have proportionally encour- 
aged the Macedonian forces under Parmenio. His Thessalian 
cavalry particularly distinguished themselves by their gallantry 
and persevering good conduct; and by the time that Alex- 



THE BATTLE OF ARBELA 79 

ander had ridden up to Parmenio, the whole Persian army was 
in full flight from the field. 

It was of the deepest importance to Alexander to secure 
the person of Darius, and he now urged on the pursuit. The 
River Lycus was between the field of battle and the city of 
Arbela, whither the fugitives directed their course, and the 
passage of this river was even more destructive to the Persians 
than the swords and spears of the Macedonians had been in the 
engagement.* The narrow bridge was soon choked up by the 
flying thousands who rushed toward it, and vast numbers of 
the Persians threw themselves, or were hurried by others, into 
the rapid stream, and perished in its waters, Darius had 
crossed it, and had ridden on through Arbela without halt- 
ing. Alexander reached the city on the next day, and made 
himself master of all Darius' treasure and stores ; but the Per- 
sian king, unfortunately for himself, had fled too fast for his 
conqueror, but had only escaped to perish by the treachery of 
his Bactrian satrap, Bessus. 

A few days after the battle Alexander entered Babylon, " the 
oldest seat of earthly empire " then in existence, as its acknowl- 
edged lord and master. There were yet some campaigns of 
his brief and bright career to be accomplished. Central Asia 
was yet to witness the march of his phalanx. He was yet to 
effect that conquest of Afghanistan in which England since 
has failed. His generalship, as well as his valor, was yet to be 
signalized on the banks of the Hydaspes and the field of 
Chillianwallah ; and he was yet to precede the Queen of Eng- 
land in annexing the Punjaub to the dominions of a European 
sovereign. But the crisis of his career was reached ; the great 
object of his mission was accomplished ; and the ancient Per- 
sian empire, which once menaced all the nations of the earth 
with subjection, was irreparably crushed when Alexander had 
won his crowning victory at Arbela. 

* I purposely omit any statement of the loss in the battle. There is 
a palpable error of the transcribers in the numbers which we find in our 
present manuscripts of Arrian, and Curtius is of no authority. 



8o DECISIVE BATTLES 



Synopsis of Events Between the Battle of Arbela and 
THE Battle of the Metaurus. 

B.C. 330. The Lacedaemonians endeavor to create a rising 
in Greece against the Macedonian power; they are defeated 
by Antipater, Alexander's viceroy ; and their king, Agis, falls 
in the battle. 

330 to 327. Alexander's campaigns in Upper Asia. 

327, 326. Alexander marches through Afghanistan to the 
Punjaub. He defeats Porus. His troops refuse to march 
toward the Ganges and he commences the descent of the Indus. 
On his march he attacks and subdues several Indian tribes — 
among others, the Malli, in the storming of whose capital 
(Moortan) he is severely wounded. He directs his admiral, 
Nearchus, to sail round from the Indus to the Persian Gulf, 
and leads the army back across Scinde and Beloochistan. 

324. Alexander returns to Babylon. " In the tenth year 
after he had crossed the Hellespont, Alexander, having won his 
vast dominion, entered Babylon ; and resting from his career 
in that oldest seat of earthly empire, he steadily surveyed the 
mass of various nations which owned his sovereignty, and re- 
solved in his mind the great work of breathing into this huge 
but inert body the living spirit of Greek civilization. In the 
bloom of youthful manhood, at the age of thirty-two, he paused 
from the fiery speed of his earlier course, and for the first time 
gave the nations an opportunity of offering their homage be- 
fore his throne. They came from all the extremities of the 
earth to propitiate his anger, to celebrate his greatness, or to 
solicit his protection. * * * History may allow us to think 
that Alexander and a Roman ambassador did meet at Baby- 
lon ; that the greatest man of the ancient world saw and spoke 
with a citizen of that great nation which was destined to suc- 
ceed him in his appointed work, and to found a wider and still 
more enduring empire. They met, too, in Babylon, almost be- 
neath the shadow of the Temple of Bel, perhaps the earliest 
monument ever raised by human pride and power in a city, 
stricken, as it were, by the word of God's heaviest judgment, as 
the symbol of greatness apart from and opposed to goodness." 
— (Arnold.) 

323. Alexander dies at Babylon. On his death being known 



THE BATTLE OF ARBELA 8i 

at Greece, the Athenians, and others of the southern states, 
take up arms to shake off the domination of Macedon. They 
are at first successful ; but the return of some of Alexander's 
veterans from Asia enables Antipater to prevail over them. 

317 to 289. Agathocles is tyrant of Syracuse, and carries on 
repeated wars with the Carthaginians, in the course of which 
(311) he invades Africa, and reduces the Carthaginians to great 
distress. 

306. After a long series of wars with each other, and after all 
the heirs of Alexander had been murdered, his principal sur- 
viving generals assume the title of king, each over the provinces 
which he has occupied. The four chief among them were An- 
tigonus, Ptolemy, Lysimachus, and Seleucus. Antipater was 
now dead, but his son Cassander succeeded to his power in 
Macedonia and Greece. 

301. Seleucus and Lysimachus defeat Antigonus at Ipsus. 
Antigonus is killed in the battle. 

280. Seleucus, the last of Alexander's captains, is assas- 
sinated. Of all of Alexander's successors, Seleucus had formed 
the most powerful empire. He had acquired all the provinces 
between Phrygia and the Indus. He extended his dominion 
in India beyond the limits reached by Alexander. Seleucus 
had some sparks of his great master's genius in promoting 
civilization and commerce, as well as in gaining victories. 
Under his successors, the Seleucidse, this vast empire rapidly 
diminished: Bactria became independent, and a separate 
dynasty of Greek kings ruled there in the year 125, when it was 
overthrown by the Scythian tribe. Parthia threw off its al- 
legiance to the Seleucidse in 250 B.C., and the powerful Par- 
thian kingdom, which afterwards proved so formidable a foe to 
Rome, absorbed nearly all the provinces west of the Euphrates 
that had obeyed the first Seleucus. Before the battle of Ipsus, 
Mithridates, a Persian prince of the blood-royal of the Achae- 
menidse, had escaped to Pontus and founded there the kingdom 
of that name. 

Besides the kingdom of Seleucus, which, when limited to 
Syria, Palestine, and parts of Asia Minor, long survived, the 
most important kingdom formed by a general of Alexander was 
that of the Ptolemies in Egypt. The throne of Macedonia was 
long and obstinately contended for by Cassander, Polysper- 
chon, Lysimachus, Pyrrhus, Antigonus, and others, but at last 



82 DECISIVE BATTLES 

was secured by the dynasty of Antigonus Gonatas. The old 
repubHcs of Southern Greece suffered severely during these 
tumults, and the only Greek states that showed any strength 
and spirit were the cities of the Achaean league, the yEtolians, 
and the islanders of Rhodes. 

290. Rome had now thoroughly subdued the Samnites and 
the Etruscans, and had gained numerous victories over the 
Cisalpine Gauls. Wishing to confirm her dominion in Lower 
Italy, she became entangled in a war with Pyrrhus, fourth king 
of Epirus, who was called over by the Tarentines to aid them. 
Pyrrhus was at first victorious, but in the year 275 was defeated 
by the Roman legions in a pitched battle. He returned to 
Greece, remarking of Sicily, Oiav d7roA.€i7ro/>iev Kapx>?Sovtois koX 'Pw 
/xaiois TraXaio-Tpav, " Rome becomes mistress of all Italy from the 
Rubicon to the Straits of Messina." 

264. The first Punic war begins. Its primary cause was the 
desire of both the Romans and the Carthaginians to possess 
themselves of Sicily. The Romans form a fleet, and success- 
fully compete with the marine of Carthage.* During the latter 
half of the war the military genius of Hamilcar Barca sustains 
the Carthaginian cause in Sicily. At the end of twenty-four 
years the Carthaginians sue for peace, though their aggre- 
gate loss in ships and men had been less than that sustained by 
the Romans since the beginning of the war. Sicily becomes a 
Roman province. 

240 to 218. The Carthaginian mercenaries who had been 
brought back from Sicily to Africa mutiny against Carthage, 
and nearly succeed in destroying her. After a sanguinary and 
desperate struggle, Hamilcar Barca crushes them. During 
this season of weakness to Carthage, Rome takes from her the 
island of Sardinia. Hamilcar Barca forms the project of ob- 
taining compensation by conquests in Spain, and thus enabHng 
Carthage to renew the struggle with Rome. He takes Han- 
nibal (then a child) to Spain with him. He, and, after his 
death, his brother win great part of Southern Spain to the 

* There is at this present moment in the Great Exhibition at Hyde 
Park a model of a piratical galley of Labuan, part of the mast of which 
can be let down on the enemy, and form a bridge for boarders. It is 
worth while to compare this with the account of Polybius of the board- 
ing bridges which the Roman admiral, Duillius, affixed to the masts of 
his galleys, and by means of which he won his great victory over the 
Carthaginian fleet. 



1 



THE BATTLE OF ARBELA 83 

Carthaginian interest. Hannibal obtains the command of the 
Carthaginian armies in Spain 221 B.C., being then twenty-six 
years old. He attacks Sanguntum, a city on the Ebro, in alli- 
ance with Rome, which is the immediate pretext for the second 
Punic war. 

During this interval Rome had to sustain a storm from the 
North. The Cisalpine Gauls, in 226, formed an alliance with 
one of the fiercest tribes of their brethren north of the Alps, 
and began a furious war against the Romans, which lasted six 
years. The Romans gave them several severe defeats, and 
took from them part of their territories near the Po. It was on 
this occasion that the Roman colonies of Cremona and Placentia 
were founded, the latter of which did such essential service to 
Rome in the second Punic war by the resistance which it made 
to the army of Hasdrubal. A muster-roll was made in this war 
of the effective military force of the Romans themselves, and of 
those Italian states that were subject to them. The return 
showed a force of seven hundred thousand foot and seventy 
thousand horse. Polybius, who mentions this muster, remarks, 

E<^* ov<s 'AwL/Sa^ eXaxTovs l;(a)v SicrfivpLOiv, i-Tri/SaXev €19 Tr}v *lTaktav, 

218. Hannibal crosses the Alps and invades Italy. 



CHAPTER IV. 

THE BATTLE OF THE METAURUS, B.C. 207. 

" Quid debeas, O Roma, Neronibus, 
Testis Metaurum flumen, et Hasdrubal 
Devictus, et pulcher fugatis 
Ille dies Latio tenebris. 

" Qui primus alma risit adorea ; 
Dirus per urbes Afer ut Italas, 

Ceu flamma per taedas vel Eurus 
Per Siculas equitavit undas." 

— HORATIUS, iv. Od. 4. 
" The consul Nero, who made the unequalled march which deceived 
Hannibal and deceived Hasdrubal, thereby accomplishing an achieve- 
ment almost unrivaled in military annals. The first intelligence of his 
return, to Hannibal, was the sight of Hasdrubal's head thrown into his 
camp. When Hannibal saw this, he exclaimed, with a sigh, that ' Rome 
would now be the mistress of the world.' To this victory of Nero's it 
might be owing that his imperial namesake reigned at all. But the in- 
famy of the one has eclipsed the glory of the other. When the name of 
Nero is heard, who thinks of the consul ? But such are human things." — 
Byron. 

ABOUT midway between Rimini and Ancona a little river 
falls into the Adriatic, after traversing one of those dis- 
tricts of Italy in which a vain attempt has lately been 
made to revive, after long centuries of servitude and shame, the 
spirit of Italian nationality and the energy of free institutions. 
That stream is still called the Metauro, and wakens by its name 
the recollections of the resolute daring of ancient Rome, and of 
the slaughter that stained its current two thousand and sixty- 
three years ago, when the combined consular armies of Livius 
and Nero encountered and crushed near its banks the varied 
hosts which Hannibal's brother was leading from the Pyrenees, 
the Rhone, the Alps, and the Po, to aid the great Carthaginian in 
his stern struggle to annihilate the growing might of the Roman 
republic, and make the Punic power supreme over all the na- 
tions of the world. 

84 



THE BATTLE OF THE METAURUS 85 

The Roman historian, who termed that struggle the most 
memorable of all wars that ever were carried on,* wrote in no 
spirit of exaggeration ; for it is not in ancient, but in modern 
history, that parallels for its incidents and its heroes are to be 
found. The similitude between the contest which Rome main- 
tained against Hannibal, and that which England was for many 
years engaged in against Napoleon, has not passed unobserved 
by recent historians. " Twice," says Arnold,! " has there been 
witnessed the struggle of the highest individual genius against 
the resources and institutions of a great nation, and in both 
cases the nation has been victorious. For seventeen years 
Hannibal strove against Rome ; for sixteen years Napoleon 
Bonaparte strove against England : the efforts of the first ended 
in Zama ; those of the second in Waterloo." One point, how- 
ever, of the similitude between the two wars has scarcely been 
adequately dwelt on ; that is, the remarkable parallel between 
the Roman general who finally defeated the great Carthaginian, 
and the English general who gave the last deadly overthrow 
to the French emperor. Scipio and Wellington both held for 
many years commands of high importance, but distant from 
the main theatres of warfare. The same country was the scene 
of the principal military career of each. It was in Spain that 
Scipio, like Wellington, successively encountered and over- 
threw nearly all the subordinate generals of the enemy before 
being opposed to the chief champion and conqueror himself. 
Both Scipio and WelHngton restored their countrymen's confi- 
dence in arms when shaken by a series of reverses, and each of 
them closed a long and perilous war by a complete and over- 
whelming defeat of the chosen leader and the chosen veterans 
of the foe. 

Nor is the parallel between them limited to their military 
characters and exploits. Scipio, like Wellington, became an 
important leader of the aristocratic party among his country- 
men, and was exposed to the unmeasured invectives of the 
violent section of his political antagonists. When, early in the 
last reign, an infuriated mob assaulted the Duke of Wellington 
in the streets of the English capital on the anniversary of Water- 
loo, England was even more disgraced by that outrage than 
Rome was by the factious accusations which demagogues 

* Livy, lib. xxi., sec. i. 

t Vol. iii., p. 62. See also Alison, passim. 



S6 DECISIVE BATTLES 

brought against Scipio, but which he proudly repelled on the 
day of trial by reminding the assembled people that it was the 
anniversary of the battle of Zama. Happily, a wiser and a 
better spirit has now for years pervaded all classes of our com- 
munity, and we shall be spared the ignominy of having worked 
out to the end the parallel of national ingratitude. Scipio died 
a voluntary exile from the malevolent turbulence of Rome. 
Englishmen of all ranks and politics have now long united in 
affectionate admiration of our modern Scipio ; and even those 
who have most widely differed from the duke on legislative or 
administrative questions, forget what they deem the political 
errors of that time-honored head, while they gratefully call to 
mind the laurels that have wreathed it. 

Scipio at Zama trampled in the dust the power of Carthage, 
but that power had been already irreparably shattered in an- 
other field, where neither Scipio nor Hannibal commanded. 
When the Metaurus witnessed the defeat and death of Hasdru- 
bal, it witnessed the ruin of the scheme by which alone Carthage 
could hope to organize decisive success — the scheme of en- 
veloping Rome at once from the north and the south of Italy 
by two chosen armies, led by two sons of Hamilcar.* That 
battle was the determining crisis of the contest, not merely be- 
tween Rome and Carthage, but between the two great families 
of the world, which then made Italy the arena of their oft- 
renewed contest for pre-eminence. 

The French historian, Michelet, whose " Histoire Romaine " 
would have been invaluable if the general industry and accuracy 
of the writer had in any degree equalled his originality and 
brilliancy, eloquently remarks, " It is not without reason that so 
universal and vivid a remembrance of the Punic wars has dwelt 
in the memories of men. They formed no mere struggle to 
determine the lot of two cities or two empires ; but it was a strife, 
on the event of which depended the fate of two races of man- 
kind, whether the dominion of the world should belong to the 
Indo-Germanic or to the Semitic family of nations. Bear in 
mind that the first of these comprises, besides the Indians and 
the Persians, the Greeks, the Romans, and the Germans. In 
the other are ranked the Jews and the Arabs, the Phoenicians 
and the Carthaginians. On the one side is the genius of hero- 
ism, of art, and legislation ; on the other is the spirit of industry, 
* See Arnold, vol. iii., 387. 



THE BATTLE OF THE METAURUS 87 

of commerce, of navigation. The two opposite races have 
everywhere come into contact, everywhere into hostihty. In 
the primitive history of Persia and Chaldea, the heroes are per- 
petually engaged in combat with their industrious and perfidi- 
ous neighbors. The struggle is renewed between the Phoeni- 
cians and the Greeks on every coast of the Mediterranean. The 
Greek supplants the Phoenician in all his factories, all his col- 
onies in the East : soon will the Roman come, and do likewise 
in the West. Alexander did far more against Tyre than Sal-' 
manasar or Nabuchodonosor had done. Not content with 
crushing her, he took care that she never should revive ; for he 
founded Alexandria as her substitute, and changed forever the 
track of the commerce of the world. There remained Carthage 
— the great Carthage, and her mighty empire — mighty in a far 
different degree than Phoenicia's had been. Rome annihilated 
it. Then occurred that which has no parallel in history — an 
entire civilization perished at one blow — banished, like a falling 
star. The " Periplus " of Hanno, a few coins, a score of Hues 
in Plautus, and, lo, all that remains of the Carthaginian world ! 

" Many generations must needs pass away before the strug- 
gle between the two races could be renewed; and the Arabs, 
that formidable rear-guard of the Semitic world, dashed forth 
from their deserts. The conflict between the two races then 
became the conflict of two religions. Fortunate was it that 
those daring Saracenic cavaliers encountered in the East the 
impregnable walls of Constantinople, in the West the chival- 
rous valor of Charles Martel, and the sword of the Cid. The 
crusades were the natural reprisals for the Arab invasions, and 
form the last epoch of that great struggle between the two prin- 
cipal families of the human race." 

It is difBcult, amid the glimmering light supplied by the allu- 
sions of the classical writers, to gain a full idea of the character 
and institutions of Rome's great rival. But we can perceive 
how inferior Carthage was to her competitor in military re- 
sources, and how far less fitted than Rome she was to become 
the founder of centralized and centralizing dominion, that 
should endure for centuries, and fuse into imperial unity the 
narrow nationalities of the ancient races, that dwelt around and 
near the shores of the Mediterranean Sea. 

Carthage was originally neither the most ancient nor the 
most powerful of the numerous colonies which the Phoenicians 



S8 DECISIVE BATTLES 

planted on the coast of Northern Africa. But her advan- 
tageous position, the excellence of her constitution (of which, 
though ill-informed as to its details, we know that it com- 
manded the admiration of Aristotle), and the commercial and 
political energy of her citizens, gave her the ascendency over 
Hippo, Utica, Leptis, and her other sister Phoenician cities in 
those regions ; and she finally reduced them to a condition of 
dependency, similar to that which the subject allies of Athens 
occupied relatively to that once imperial city. When Tyre and 
Sidon, and the other cities of Phoenicia itself sank from inde- 
pendent republics into mere vassal states of the great Asiatic 
monarchies, and obeyed by turns a Babylonian, a Persian, and 
a Macedonian master, their power and their traffic rapidly de- 
clined, and Carthage succeeded to the important maritime and 
commercial character which they had previously maintained. 
The Carthaginians did not seek to compete with the Greeks on 
the northeastern shores of the Mediterranean, or in the three 
inland seas which are connected with it ; but they maintained 
an active intercourse with the Phoenicians, and through them 
with Lower and Central Asia ; and they, and they alone, after 
the decline and fall of Tyre, navigated the waters of the Atlan- 
tic. They had the monopoly of all the commerce of the world 
that was carried on beyond the Straits of Gibraltar. We have 
yet extant (in a Greek translation) the narrative of the voyage 
of Hanno, one of their admirals, along the western coast of 
Africa as far as Sierra Leone ; and in the Latin poem of Festus 
Avienus frequent references are made to the records of the voy- 
ages of another celebrated Carthaginian admiral, Himilco, who 
had explored the northwestern coast of Europe. Our own 
islands are mentioned by Himilco as the lands of the Hiberni 
and Albioni. It is indeed certain that the Carthaginians fre- 
quented the Cornish coast (as the Phoenicians had done before 
them) for the purpose of procuring tin ; and there is every reason 
to believe that they sailed as far as the coasts of the Baltic for 
amber. When it is remembered that the mariner's compass 
was unknown in those ages, the boldness and skill of the sea- 
men of Carthage, and the enterprise of her merchants, may be 
paralleled with any achievements that the history of modern 
navigation and commerce can produce. 

In their Atlantic voyages along the African shores, the Car- 
thaginians followed the double object of traffic and coloniza- 



THE BATTLE OF THE METAURUS 89 

tion. The numerous settlements that were planted by them 
along the coast from Morocco to Senegal provided for the 
needy members of the constantly increasing population of a 
great commercial capital, and also strengthened the influence 
which Carthage exercised among the tribes of the African 
coast. Besides her fleets, her caravans gave her a large and 
lucrative trade with the native Africans ; nor must we limit our 
belief of the extent of the Carthaginian trade with the tribes of 
Central and Western Africa by the narrowness of the commer- 
cial intercourse which civilized nations of modern times have 
been able to create in those regions. 

Although essentially a mercantile and seafaring people, the 
Carthaginians by no means neglected agriculture. On the 
contrary, the whole of their territory was cultivated like a gar- 
den. The fertility of the soil repaid the skill and toil bestowed on 
it; and every invader, from Agathocles to Scipio ^milianus, 
was struck with admiration at the rich pasture lands carefully 
irrigated, the abundant harvests, the luxuriant vineyards, the 
plantations of fig and olive trees, the thriving villages, the popu- 
lous towns, and the splendid villas of the wealthy Carthaginians, 
through which his march lay, as long as he was on Carthaginian 
ground. 

Although the Carthaginians abandoned the ^gaean and the 
Pontus to the Greek, they were by no means disposed to relin- 
quish to those rivals the commerce and the dominion of the 
coasts of the Mediterranean westward of Italy. For centuries 
the Carthaginians strove to make themselves masters of the 
islands that lie between Italy and Spain. They acquired the 
Balearic Islands, where the principal harbor, Port Mahon, still 
bears the name of a Carthaginian admiral. They succeeded in 
reducing the great part of Sardinia ; but Sicily could never be 
brought into their power. They repeatedly invaded that island, 
and nearly overran it ; but the resistance which was opposed to 
them by the Syracusans under Gelon, Dionysius, Timoleon, 
and Agathocles, preserved the island from becoming Punic, 
though many of its cities remained under the Carthaginian 
rule until Rome finally settled the question to whom Sicily was 
to belong by conquering it for herself. 

With so many elements of success, with almost unbounded 
wealth, with commercial and maritime activity, with a fertile 
territory, with a capital city of almost impregnable strength, 



90 DECISIVE BATTLES 

with a constitution that insured for centuries the blessing of 
social order, with an aristocracy singularly fertile in men of the 
highest genius, Carthage yet failed signally and calamitously 
in her contest for power with Rome. One of the immediate 
causes of this may seem to have been the want of firmness 
among her citizens, which made them terminate the first Punic 
war by begging peace, sooner than endure any longer the hard- 
ships and burdens caused by a state of warfare, although their 
antagonists had suffered far more severely than themselves. 
Another cause was th^ spirit of faction among their leading 
men, which prevented Hannibal in the second war from being 
properly re-enforced and supported. But there were also more 
general causes why Carthage proved inferior to Rome. These 
were her position relatively to the mass of the inhabitants of the 
country which she ruled, and her habit of trusting to mercenary 
armies in her wars. 

Our clearest information as to the different races of men in 
and about Carthage is derived from Diodorus Siculus.* That 
historian enumerates four different races: first, he mentions 
the Phoenicians who dwelt in Carthage ; next, he speaks of the 
Liby-Phoenicians : these, he tells us, dwelt in many of the mari- 
time cities, and were connected by intermarriage with the Phoe- 
nicians, which was the cause of their compound name ; thirdly, 
he mentions the Libyans, the bulk and the most ancient part of 
the population, hating the Carthaginians intensely on account 
of the oppressiveness of their domination ; lastly, he names the 
Numidians, the nomade tribes of the frontier. 

It is evident, from this description, that the native Libyans 
were a subject class, without franchise or political rights ; and, 
accordingly, we find no instance specified in history of a Libyan 
holding political office or military command. The half-castes, 
the Liby-Phoenicians, seem to have been sometimes sent out as 
colonists ;t but it may be inferred, from what Diodorus says of 
their residence, that they had not the right of the citizenship of 
Carthage ; and only a single solitary case occurs of one of this 
race being intrusted with authority, and that, too, not emanat- 
ing from the home government. This is the instance of the 
officer sent by Hannibal to Sicily after the fall of Syracuse, whom 
PolybiusJ calls Myttinus the Libyan, but whom, from the fuller 

* Vol. ii., p. 447, Wesseling's ed. 
t Lib. XXV., 22. t See the " Periplus " of Hanno. 



THE BATTLE OF THE METAURUS 



91 



accounts in Livy, we find to have been a Liby-Phoenician ;X and 
it is expressly mentioned what indignation was feh by the Car- 
thaginian commanders in the island that this half-caste should 
control their operations. 

With respect to the composition of their armies, it is observ- 
able that, though thirsting for extended empire, and though 
some of their leading men became generals of the highest order, 
the Carthaginians, as a people, were anything but personally 
warlike. As long as they could hire mercenaries to fight for 
them, they had little appetite for the irksome training and the 
loss of valuable time which military service would have entailed 
on themselves. 

As Michelet remarks : " The life of an industrious merchant, 
of a Carthaginian, was too precious to be risked, as long as it 
was possible to substitute advantageously for it that of a bar- 
barian from Spain or Gaul. Carthage knew, and could tell to 
a drachma, what the life of a man of each nation came to. A 
Greek was worth more than a Campanian, a Campanian worth 
more than a Gaul or a Spaniard. When once this tariff of blood 
was correctly made out, Carthage began a war as a mercantile 
speculation. She tried to make conquests in the hope of get- 
ting new mines to work, or to open fresh markets for her ex- 
ports. In one venture she could afford to spend fifty thousand 
mercenaries, in another rather more. If the returns were good, 
there was no regret felt for the capital that had been sunk in the 
investment ; more money got more men, and all went on well."* 

Armies composed of foreign mercenaries have in all ages 
been as formidable to their employers as to the enemy against 
whom they were directed. We know of one occasion (between 
the first and second Punic wars) when Carthage was brought 
to the very brink of destruction by a revolt of her foreign troops. 
Other mutinies of the same kind must from time to time have 
occurred. Probably one of these was the cause of the com- 
parative weakness of Carthage at the time of the Athenian ex- 
pedition against Syracuse, so different from the energy with 
which she attacked Gelon half a century earlier, and Dionysius 
half a century later. And even when we consider her armies 
with reference only to their efficiency in warfare, we perceive at 
once the inferiority of such bands of condottieri, brought to- 
gether without any common bond of origin, tactics, or cause, 
t Lib. XXV., 40. * " Histoire Romaine," vol. ii., p. 40. 



92 DECISIVE BATTLES 

to the legions of Rome, which, at the time of the Punic wars, 
were raised from the very flower of a hardy agricultural popu- 
lation, trained in the strictest discipline, habituated to victory, 
and animated by the most resolute patriotism. And this shows, 
also, the transcendency of the genius of Hannibal, which could 
form such discordant materials into a compact organized force, 
and inspire them with the spirit of patient discipline and loyalty 
to their chief, so that they were true to him in his adverse as 
well as in his prosperous fortunes ; and throughout the check- 
ered series of his campaigns no panic rout ever disgraced a 
division under his command, no mutiny, or even attempt at 
mutiny, was ever known in his camp ; and, finally, after fifteen 
years of Italian warfare, his men followed their old leader to 
Zama, *' with no fear and little hope,"* and there, on that dis- 
astrous field, stood firm around him, his Old Guard, till Scipio's 
Numidian allies came up on their flank, when at last, surrounded 
and overpowered, the veteran battalions sealed their devotion 
to their general by their blood ! 

" But if Hannibal's genius may be likened to the Homeric 
god, who, in his hatred to the Trojans, rises from the deep to 
rally the fainting Greeks and to lead them against the enemy, 
so the calm courage with which Hector met his more than 
human adversary in his country's cause is no unworthy image of 
the unyielding magnanimity displayed by the aristocracy of 
Rome. As Hannibal utterly eclipses Carthage, so, on the con- 
trary, Fabius,Marcellus, Claudius Nero, even Scipio himself, are 
as nothing when compared to the spirit, and wisdom, and power 
of Rome. The Senate, which voted its thanks to its political 
enemy, Varro, after his disastrous defeat, ' because he had not 
despaired of the commonwealth,' and which disdained either to 
solicit, or to reprove, or to threaten, or in any way to notice the 
twelve colonies which had refused their accustomed supplies 
of men for the army, is far more to be honored than the con- 
queror of Zama. This we should the more carefully bear in 
mind, because our tendency is to admire individual greatness 
far more than national ; and, as no single Roman will bear com- 
parison to Hannibal, we are apt to murmur at the event of the 
contest, and to think that the victory was awarded to the least 

* " We advanced to Waterloo as the Greeks did to Thermopylag : all 
of us without fear, and most of us without hope." — Speech of General 
Foy. 



I 



THE BATTLE OF THE METAURUS 93 

worthy of the combatants. On the contrary, never was the 
wisdom of God's providence more manifest than in the issue of 
the struggle between Rome and Carthage. It was clearly for 
the good of mankind that Hannibal should be conquered ; his 
triumph would have stopped the progress of the world; for 
great men can only act permanently by forming great nations ; 
and no one man, even though it were Hannibal himself, can 
in one generation effect such a work. But where the nation 
has been merely enkindled for a while by a great man's spirit, 
the light passes away with him who communicated it ; and the 
nation, when he is gone, is like a dead body, to which magic 
power had for a moment given unnatural life : when the charm 
has ceased, the body is cold and stiff as before. He who grieves 
over the battle of Zama should carry on his thoughts to a period 
thirty years later, when Hannibal must, in the course of nature, 
have been dead, and consider how the isolated Phoenician city 
of Carthage was fitted to receive and to consolidate the civiliza- 
tion of Greece, or by its laws and institutions to bind together 
barbarians of every race and language into an organized em- 
pire, and prepare them for becoming, when that empire was 
dissolved, the free members of the commonwealth of Christian 
Europe."* 

It was in the spring of 207 B.C. that Hasdrubal, after skil- 
fully disentangling himself from the Roman forces in Spain, 
and after a march conducted with great judgment and little loss 
through the interior of Gaul and the passes of the Alps, ap- 
peared in the country that now is the north of Lombardy at the 
head of troops which he had partly brought out of Spain and 
partly levied among the Gauls and Ligurians on his way. At 
this time Hannibal, with his unconquered and seemingly un- 
conquerable army, had been eight years in Italy, executing 
with strenuous ferocity the vow of hatred to Rome which had 
been sworn by him while yet a child at the bidding of his father, 
Hamilcar; who, as he boasted, had trained up his three sons, 
Hannibal, Hasdrubal, and Mago, like three lion's whelps, to 
prey upon the Romans. But Hannibal's latter campaigns had 
not been signalized by any such great victories as marked the 

* Arnold, vol. iii., p. 61. The above is one of the numerous bursts of 
eloquence that adorn Arnold's last volume, and cause such deep regret 
that that volume should have been the last, and its great and good author 
have been cut off with his work thus incomplete. 



94 DECISIVE BATTLES 

first years of his invasion of Italy. The stern spirit of Roman 
resolution, ever highest in disaster and danger, had neither bent 
nor despaired beneath the merciless blows w^hich " the dire 
African " dealt her in rapid succession at Trebia, at Thrasy- 
mene, and at Cannae. Her population was thinned by repeated 
slaughter in the field ; poverty and actual scarcity ground down 
the survivors, through the fearful ravages which Hannibal's 
cavalry spread through their corn-fields, their pasture lands, 
and their vineyards ; many of her allies went over to the invad- 
er's side, and new clouds of foreign war threatened her from 
Macedonia and Gaul. But Rome receded not. Rich and 
poor among her citizens vied with each other in devotion 
to their country. The wealthy placed their stores, and all 
placed their lives, at the state's disposal. And, though Han- 
nibal could not be driven out of Italy, though every year 
brought its sufferings and sacrifices, Rome felt that her con- 
stancy had not been exerted in vain. If she was weakened by 
the continued strife, so was Hannibal also ; and it was clear that 
the unaided resources of his army were unequal to the task of 
her destruction. The single deer-hound could not pull down 
the quarry which he had so furiously assailed. Rome not only 
stood fiercely at bay, but had pressed back and gored her an- 
tagonist, that still, however, watched her in act to spring. She 
was weary, and bleeding at every pore ; and there seemed to be 
little hope of her escape, if the other hound of old Hamilcar's 
race should come up in time to aid his brother in the death- 
grapple. 

Hasdrubal had commanded the Carthaginian armies in Spain 
for some time with varying but generally unfavorable fortune. 
He had not the full authority over the Punic forces in that coun- 
try which his brother and father had previously exercised. The 
faction at Carthage, which was at feud with his family, suc- 
ceeded in fettering and interfering with his power ; and other 
generals were from time to time sent into Spain, whose errors 
and misconduct caused the reverses that Hasdrubal met with. 
This is expressly attested by the Greek historian Polybius, who 
was the intimate friend of the younger Africanus, and drew his 
information respecting the second Punic war from the best pos- 
sible authorities. Livy gives a long narrative of campaigns be- 
tween the Roman commanders in Spain and Hasdrubal, which 



THE BATTLE OF THE METAURUS 



95 



is so palpably deformed by fictions and exaggerations as to be 
hardly deserving of attention.* 

It is clear that, in the year 208 B.C., at least, Hasdrubal out- 
manoeuvred Publius Scipio, who held the command of the 
Roman forces in Spain, and whose object was to prevent him 
from passing the Pyrenees and marching upon Italy. Scipio 
expected that Hasdrubal would attempt the nearest route along 
the coast of the Mediterranean, and he therefore carefully forti- 
fied and guarded the passes of the eastern Pyrenees. But Has- 
drubal passed these mountains near their western extremity; 
and then, with a considerable force of Spanish infantry, with a 
small number of African troops, with some elephants and much 
treasure, he marched, not directly towards the coast of the Med- 
iterranean, but in a northeastern line towards the centre of Gaul. 
He halted for the winter in the territory of the Arverni, the 
modern Auvergne, and conciliated or purchased the good-will of 
the Gauls in that region so far that he not only found friendly 
winter quarters among them, but great numbers of them en- 
listed under him ; and, on the approach of spring, marched with 
him to invade Italy. 

By thus entering Gaul at the southwest, and avoiding its 
southern maritime districts, Hasdrubal kept the Romans in 
complete ignorance of his precise operations and movements 
in that country; all that they knew was that Hasdrubal had 
baffled Scipio's attempts to detain him in Spain ; that he had 
crossed the Pyrenees with soldiers, elephants, and money, and 
that he was raising fresh forces among the Gauls. The spring 
was sure to bring him into Italy, and then would come the real 
tempest of the war, when from the north and from the south 
the two Carthaginian armies, each under a son of the Thunder- 
bolt,! were to gather together around the seven hills of Rome. 

In this emergency the Romans looked among themselves 
earnestly and anxiously for leaders fit to meet the perils of the 
coming campaign. 

The Senate recommended the people to elect, as one of their 
consuls, Caius Claudius Nero, a patrician of one of the families 
of the great Claudian house. Nero had served during the pre- 

* See the excellent criticisms of Sir Walter Raleigh on this, in his 
" History of the World," book v., chap, iii., sec. 11. 

t Hamilcar was snrnamed Barcar, which means the Thunderbolt. 
Sultan Bajazet had the similar surname of Yilderim. 



g6 DECISIVE BATTLES 

ceding years of the war both against Hannibal in Italy and 
against Hasdrubal in Spain ; but it is remarkable that the his- 
tories which we possess record no successes as having been 
achieved by him either before or after his great campaign of the 
Metaurus. It proves much for the sagacity of the leading men 
of the senate that they recognized in Nero the energy and spirit 
which were required at this crisis, and it is equally creditable to 
the patriotism of the people that they followed the advice of the 
senate by electing a general who had no showy exploits to rec- 
ommend him to their choice. 

It was a matter of greater difficulty to find a second consul ; 
the laws required that one consul should be a plebeian ; and the 
plebeian nobility had been fearfully thinned by the events of 
the war. While the senators anxiously deliberated among 
themselves what fit colleague for Nero could be nominated at 
the coming comitia, and sorrowfully recalled the names of Mar- 
cellus, Gracchus, and other plebeian generals who were no 
more, one taciturn and moody old man sat in sullen apathy 
among the conscript fathers. This was Marcus Livius, who 
had been consul in the year before the beginning of this war, 
and had then gained a victory over the Illyrians. After his 
consulship he had been impeached before the people on a charge 
of peculation and unfair division of the spoils among his sol- 
diers ; the verdict was unjustly given against him, and the sense 
of this wrong, and of the indignity thus put upon him, had 
rankled unceasingly in the bosom of Livius, so that for eight 
years after his trial he had lived in seclusion in his country seat, 
taking no part in any affairs of state. Latterly the censors had 
compelled him to come to Rome and resume his place in the 
senate, where he used to sit gloomily apart, giving only a silent 
vote. At last an unjust accusation against one of his near kins- 
men made him break silence, and he harangued the house in 
words of weight and sense, which drew attention to him, and 
taught the senators that a strong spirit dwelt beneath that un- 
imposing exterior. Now, while they were debating on what 
noble of a plebeian house was fit to assume the perilous honors 
of the consulate, some of the elder of them looked on Marcus 
Livius, and remembered that in the very last triumph which 
had been celebrated in the streets of Rome, this grim old man 
had sat in the car of victory, and that he had offered the last 
thanksgiving sacrifice for the success of the Roman arms which 



THE BATTLE OF THE METAURU^ 



97 



had bled before Capitoline Jove. There had been no triumphs 
since Hannibal came into Italy. The lUyrian campaign of 
Livius was the last that had been so honored ; perhaps it might 
be destined for him now to renew the long-interrupted series. 
The senators resolved that Livius should be put in nomination 
as consul with Nero ; the people were willing to elect him : the 
only opposition came from himself. He taunted them with 
their inconsistency in honoring the man whom they had con- 
victed of a base crime. " If I am innocent," said he, " why did 
you place such a stain on me ? If I am guilty, why am I more 
fit for a second consulship than I was for my first one ? " The 
other senators remonstrated with him, urging the example of 
the great Camillus, who, after an unjust condemnation on a 
similar charge, both served and saved his country. At last 
Livius ceased to object ; and Caius Claudius Nero and Marcus 
Livius were chosen consuls of Rome. 

A quarrel had long existed between the two consuls, and the 
senators strove to effect a reconciliation between them before 
the campaign. Here, again, Livius for a long time obstinately 
resisted the wish of his fellow-senators. He said it was best for 
the state that he and Nero should continue to hate one another. 
Each would do his duty better when he knew that he was 
watched by an enemy in the person of his own colleague. At 
last the entreaties of the senate prevailed, and Livius consented 
to forego the feud, and to co-operate with Nero in preparing 
for the coming struggle. 

As soon as the winter snows were thawed, Hasdrubal com- 
menced his march from Auvergne to the Alps. He experi- 
enced none of the difficulties which his brother had met with 
from the mountain tribes. Hannibal's army had been the first 
body of regular troops that had ever traversed their regions; 
and, as wild animals assail a traveller, the natives rose against it 
instinctively, in imagined defence of their own habitations, 
which they supposed to be the objects of Carthaginian ambi- 
tion. But the fame of the war, with which Italy had now been 
convulsed for twelve years, had penetrated into the Alpine 
passes, and the mountaineers now understood that a mighty 
city southward of the Alps was to be attacked by the troops 
whom they saw marching among them. They now not only 
opposed no resistance to the passage of Hasdrubal, but many 
of them, out of love of enterprise and plunder, or allured by the 
7 



98 DECISIVE BATTLES 

high pay that he offered, took service with him ; and thus he 
advanced upon Italy with an army that gathered strength at 
every league. It is said, also, that some of the most important 
engineering works which Hannibal had constructed were found 
by Hasdrubal still in existence, and materially favored the 
speed of his advance. He thus emerged into Italy from the 
Alpine valleys much sooner than had been anticipated. Many 
warriors of the Ligurian tribes joined him ; and, crossing the 
River Po, he marched down its southern bank to the city of 
Placentia, which he wished to secure as a base for his future 
operations. Placentia resisted him as bravely as it had resisted 
Hannibal twelve years before, and for some time Hasdrubal 
was occupied with a fruitless siege before its walls. 

Six armies were levied for the defence of Italy when the long 
dreaded approach of Hasdrubal was announced. Seventy 
thousand Romans served in the fifteen legions, of which, with 
an equal number of Italian allies, those armies and the garrisons 
were composed. Upwards of thirty thousand more Romans 
were serving in Sicily, Sardinia, and Spain. The whole num- 
ber of Roman citizens of an age fit for military duty scarcely 
exceeded a hundred and thirty thousand. The census taken 
before the commencement of the war had shown a total of two 
hundred and seventy thousand, which had been diminished by 
more than half during twelve years. These numbers are fear- 
fully emphatic of the extremity to which Rome was reduced, 
and of her gigantic efforts in that great agony of her fate. Not 
merely men, but money and military stores, were drained to the 
utmost, and if the armies of that year should be swept off by a 
repetition of the slaughters of Thrasymene and Cannae, all felt 
that Rome would cease to exist. Even if the campaign were to 
be marked by no decisive success on either side, her ruin 
seemed certain. In South Italy, Hannibal had either detached 
Rome's allies from her, or had impoverished them by the rav- 
ages of his army. If Hasdrubal could have done the same in 
Upper Italy; if Etruria, Umbria, and Northern Latium had 
either revolted or been laid waste, Rome must have sunk be- 
neath sheer starvation, for the hostile or desolated territory 
would have yielded no supplies of corn for her population, and 
money to purchase it from abroad there was none. Instant 
victory was a matter of life or death. Three of her six armies 
were ordered to the north, but the first of these was required to 



THE BATTLE OF THE METAURUS 99 

overawe the disaffected Etruscan. The second army of the 
north was pushed forward, under Porcius, the praetor, to meet 
and keep in check the advanced troops of Hasdrubal ; while the 
third, the grand army of the north, which was to be under the 
immediate command of the consul Livius, who had the chief 
command in all North Italy, advanced more slowly in its sup- 
port. There were similarly three armies in the south, under 
the orders of the other consul, Claudius Nero. 

The lot had decided that Livius was to be opposed to Has- 
drubal, and that Nero should face Hannibal. And " when all 
was ordered as themselves thought best, the tv/o consuls went 
forth of the city, each his several way. The people of Rome 
were now quite otherwise affected than they had been when L. 
^milius Paulus and C. Terentius Varro were sent against Han- 
nibal. They did no longer take upon them to direct their gen- 
erals, or bid them despatch and win the victory betimes, but 
rather they stood in fear lest all diligence, wisdom, and valor 
should prove too little ; for since few years had passed wherein 
some one of their generals had not been slain, and since it was 
manifest that, if either of these present consuls was defeated, 
or put to the worst, the two Carthaginians would forthwith join, 
and make short work with the other, it seemed a greater happi- 
ness than could be expected that each of them should return 
home victor, and come off with honor from such mighty oppo- 
sition as he was like to find. With extreme difficulty had 
Rome held up her head ever since the battle of Cannae ; though 
it were so, that Hannibal alone, with little help from Carthage, 
had continued the war in Italy, But there was now arrived an- 
other son of Hamilcar, and one that, in his present expedition, 
had seemed a man of more sufficiency than Hannibal himself ; 
for whereas, in that long and dangerous march through barbar- 
ous nations, over great rivers and mountains that were thought 
unpassable, Hannibal had lost a great part of his army, this 
Hasdrubal, in the same places, had multiplied his numbers, and 
gathering the people that he found in the way, descended from 
the Alps like a rolling snowball, far greater than he came over 
the Pyrenees at his first setting out of Spain. These considera- 
tions and the like, of which fear presented many unto them, 
caused the people of Rome to wait upon their consuls out of 
the town, like a pensive train of mourners, thinking upon Mar- 
cellus and Cnspinus, upon whom, in the like sort, they had 



100 DECISIVE BATTLES 

given attendance the last year, but saw neither of them return 
aHve from a less dangerous war. Particularly old Q. Fabius 
gave his accustomed advice to M. Livius, that he should ab- 
stain from giving or taking battle until he well understood 
the enemy's condition. But the consul made him a froward 
answer, and said that he would fight the very first day, for 
that he thought it long till he should either recover his honor 
by victory, or, by seeing the overthrow of his own unjust citi- 
zens, satisfy himself with the joy of a great though not an hon- 
est revenge. But his meaning was better than his words." * 

Hannibal at this period occupied with his veteran but much- 
reduced forces the extreme south of Italy. It had not been 
expected either by friend or foe that Hasdrubal would effect 
his passage of the Alps so early in the year as actually occurred. 
And even when Hannibal learned that his brother was in Italy, 
and had advanced as far as Placentia, he was obliged to pause 
for further intelligence before he himself commenced active 
operations, as he could not .tell whether his brother might not 
be invited into Etruria, to aid the party there that was disaf- 
fected to Rome, or whether he would march down by the Adri- 
atic Sea. Hannibal led his troops out of their winter quarters 
in Bruttium, and marched northward as far as Canusium. 
Nero had his head-quarters near Venusia, with an army which 
he had increased to forty thousand foot and two thousand five 
hundred horse, by incorporating under his own command 
some of the legions which had been intended to act under other 
generals in the south. There was another Roman army, twen- 
ty thousand strong, south of Hannibal, at Tarentum. The 
strength of that city secured this Roman force from any attack 
by Hannibal, and it was a serious matter to march northward 
and leave it in his rear, free to act against all his depots and 
allies in the friendly part of Italy, which for the two or three last 
campaigns had served him for a base of his operations. More- 
over, Nero's army was so strong that Hannibal could not con- 
centrate troops enough to assume the offensive against it with- 
out weakening his garrisons, and relinquishing, at least for a 
time, his grasp upon the southern provinces. To do this be- 
fore he was certainly informed of his brother's operations 
would have been a useless sacrifice, as Nero could retreat be- 
fore him upon the other Roman armies near the capital, and 
* Sir Walter Raleigh. 



THE BATTLE OF THE METAURUS loi 

Hannibal knew by experience that a mere advance of his army 
upon the walls of Rome would have no. effect on. the fortunes 
of the war. In the hope, probably, of inducing Nero to follow 
him and of gaining an opportunity of out-manoeuvring the 
Roman consul and attacking him on his march, Hannibal 
moved into Lucania, and then back into Apulia; he again 
marched down into Bruttium, and strengthened his army by a 
levy of recruits in that district. Nero followed him, but gave 
him no chance of assailing him at a disadvantage. Some par- 
tial encounters seem to have taken place ; but the consul could 
not prevent Hannibal's junction with his Bruttian levies, nor 
could Hannibal gain an opportunity of surprising and crush- 
ing the consul.* Hannibal returned to his former head-quar- 
ters at Canusium, and halted there in expectation of further 
tidings of his brother's movements. Nero also resumed his 
former position in observation of the Carthaginian army. 

Meanwhile, Hasdrubal had raised the siege of Placentia, and 
was advancing towards Ariminum on the Adriatic, and driving 
before him the Roman army under Porcius. Nor when the 
consul Livius had come up, and united the second and third 
armies of the north, could he make head against the invaders. 
The Romans still fell back before Hasdrubal beyond Arim- 
inum, beyond the Metaurus, and as far as the little town of 
Sena, to the southeast of that river. Hasdrubal was not un- 
mindful of the necessity of acting in concert with his brother. 
He sent messengers to Hannibal to announce his own line of 

* The annalists whom Livy copied spoke of Nero's gaining repeated 
victories over Hannibal, and killing and taking his men by tens of 
thousands. The falsehood of all this is self-evident. It Nero could 
thus always beat Hannibal, the Romans would not have been in such an 
agony of dread about Hasdrubal as all writers describe. Indeed, we 
have the express testimony of Polybius that the statements which we 
read in Livy of Marcellus, Nero, and others gaining victories over Han- 
nibal in Italy, must be all fabrications of Roman vanity. Polybius 
states, lib. xv., sec. i6, that Hannibal was never defeated before the 
battle of Zama; and in another passage, book ix., chap. 3, he mentions 
that after the defeats which Hannibal inflicted on the Romans in the 
early years of the war, they no longer dared face his army in a pitched 
battle on a fair field, and yet they resolutely maintained the war. He 
rightly explains this by referring to the superiority of Hannibal's 
cavalry, the arm which gained him all his victories. By keeping within 
fortified lines, or close to the sides of the mountains when Hannibal ap- 
proached them, the Romans rendered his cavalry ineffective; and a 
glance at the geography of Italy will show how an army can traverse 
the greater part of that country without venturing far from the high 
grounds. 



I02 DECISIVE BATTLES 

march, and to propose that they should unite their armies in 
South Umbria and then wheel round against Rome. Those 
messengers traversed the greater part of Italy in safety, but, 
when close to the object of their mission, were captured by a 
Roman detachment; and Hasdrubal's letter, detailing his 
whole plan of the campaign, was laid, not in his brother's hands, 
but in those of the commander of the Roman armies of the 
south. Nero saw at once the full importance of the crisis. The 
two sons of Hamilcar were now within two hundred miles of 
each other, and if Rome were to be saved, the brothers must 
never meet alive. Nero instantly ordered seven thousand 
picked men, a thousand being cavalry, to hold themselves in 
readiness for a secret expedition against one of Hannibal's 
garrisons, and as soon as night had set in, he hurried forward 
on his bold enterprise; but he quickly left the southern road 
towards Lucania, and, wheeling round, pressed northward with 
the utmost rapidity towards Picenum. He had, during the pre- 
ceding afternoon, sent messengers to Rome, who were to lay 
Hasdrubal's letters before the senate. There was a law for- 
bidding a consul to make war or march his army beyond the 
limits of the province assigned to him; but in such an emer- 
gency, Nero did not wait for the permission of the senate to 
execute his project, but informed them that he was already on 
his march to join Livius against Hasdrubal. He advised them 
to send the two legions which formed the home garrison on to 
Narnia, so as to defend that pass of the Flaminian road against 
Hasdrubal, in case he should march upon Rome before the con- 
sular armies could attack him. They were to supply the place 
of these two legions at Rome by a levy en masse in the city, and 
by ordering up the reserve legion from Capua. These were his 
communications to the senate. He also sent horsemen for- 
ward along his line of march, with orders to the local authori- 
ties to bring stores of provisions and refreshment of every kind 
to the road-side, and to have relays of carriages ready for the 
conveyance of the wearied soldiers. Such were the precau- 
tions which he took for accelerating his march ; and when he 
had advanced some little distance from his camp, he briefly 
informed his soldiers of the real object of their expedition. He 
told them that never was there a design more seemingly au- 
dacious and more really safe. He said he was leading them to 
a certain victory, for his colleague had an army large enough 



THE BATTLE OF THE METAURUS 103 

to balance the enemy already, so that their swords would de- 
cisively turn the scale. The very rumor that a fresh consul and 
a fresh army had come up, when heard on the battle-field (and 
he would take care that they should not be heard of before they 
were seen and felt), would settle the business. They would 
have all the credit of the victory, and of having dealt the final 
decisive blow. He appealed to the enthusiastic reception which 
they already met with on their line of march as a proof and an 
omen of their good fortune.* And, indeed, their whole path 
was amid the vows, and prayers, and praises of their country- 
men. The entire population of the districts through which 
they passed flocked to the road-side to see and bless the de- 
liverers of their country. Food, drink, and refreshments of 
every kind were eagerly pressed on their acceptance. Each 
peasant thought a favor was conferred on him if one of Nero's 
chosen band would accept aught at his hands. The soldiers 
caught the full spirit of their leader. Night and day they 
marched forward, taking their hurried meals in the ranks, and 
resting by relays in the wagons which the zeal of the country 
people provided, and which followed in the rear of the column. 
Meanwhile, at Rome, the news of Nero's expedition had 
caused the greatest excitement and alarm. All men felt the 
full audacity of the enterprise, but hesitated what epithet to 
apply to it. It was evident that Nero's conduct would be 
judged of by the event, that most unfair criterion, as the Roman 
historian truly terms it.f People reasoned on the perilous 
state in which Nero had left the rest of his army, without a 
general, and deprived of the core of its strength, in the vicinity 
of the terrible Hannibal. They speculated on how long it 
would take Hannibal to pursue and overtake Nero himself, 
and his expeditionary force. They talked over the former dis- 
asters of the war^ and the fall of both the consuls of the last 
year. All these calamities had come on them while they had 
only one Carthaginian general and army to deal with in Italy. 
Now they had two Punic wars at a time. They had two 
Carthaginian armies, they had almost two Hannibals in Italy. 
Hasdrubal was sprung from the same father ; trained up in the 
same hostility to Rome; equally practised in battle against 

* Livy, lib. xxvii., c. 45- . . 

t " Adparebat (quo nihil iniquius est) ex eventu faman habiturum."— 
Livy, lib. xxvii., c. 44. 



I04 DECISIVE BATTLES 

their legions ; and, if the comparative speed and success with 
which he had crossed the Alps was a fair test, he was even a bet- 
ter general than his brother. With fear for their interpreter of 
every rumor, they exaggerated the strength of their enemy's 
forces in every quarter, and criticised and distrusted their own. 

Fortunately for Rome, while she was thus a prey to terror 
and anxiety, her consul's nerves were stout and strong, and 
he resolutely urged on his march towards Sena, where his col- 
league Livius and the praetor Porcius were encamped, Has- 
drubal's army being in position about half a mile to their north. 
Nero had sent couriers forward to apprise his colleague of his 
project and of his approach ; and by the advice of Livius, Nero 
so timed his final march as to reach the camp at Sena by night. 
According to a previous arrangement, Nero's men were re- 
ceived silently into the tents of their comrades, each according 
to his rank. By these means there was no enlargement of the 
camp that could betray to Hasdrubal the accession of force 
which the Romans had received. This was considerable, as 
Nero's numbers had been increased on the march by the volun- 
teers, who offered themselves in crowds, and from whom he 
selected the most promising men, and especially the veterans 
of former campaigns. A council of war was held on the morn- 
ing after his arrival, in which some advised that time should be 
given for Nero's men to refresh themselves after the fatigue of 
such a march. But Nero vehemently opposed all delay. " The 
officer," said he, " who is for giving time to my men here to 
rest themselves, is for giving time to Hannibal to attack my 
men whom I have left in the camp in Apulia. He is for giving 
time to Hannibal and Hasdrubal to discover my march, and 
to manoeuvre for a junction with each other in Cisalpine Gaul 
at their leisure. We must fight instantly, while both the foe 
here and the foe in the south are ignorant of our movements. 
We must destroy this Hasdrubal, and I must be back in Apulia 
before Hannibal awakes from his torpor." * Nero's advice 
prevailed. It was resolved to fight directly; and before the 
consuls and prsetor left the tent of Livius, the red ensign, which 
was the signal to prepare for immediate action, was hoisted, 
and the Romans forthwith drew up in battle array outside the 
camp. 

Hasdrubal had been anxious to bring Livius and Porcius 
* Livy, lib. xxvii., c. 46. 



THE BATTLE OF THE METAURUS 105 

to battle, though he had not judged it expedient to attack them 
in their Hnes. And now, on hearing that the Romans offered 
battle, he also drew up his men, and advanced towards them. 
No spy or deserter had informed him of Nero's arrival, nor had 
he received any direct information that he had more than his 
old enemies to deal with. But as he rode forward to reconnoi- 
tre the Roman line, he thought that their numbers seemed to 
have increased, and that the armor of some of them was un- 
usually dull and stained. He noticed, also, that the horses of 
some of the cavalry appeared to be rough and out of condition, 
as if they had just come from a succession of forced marches. 
So also, though, owing to the precaution of Livius, the Roman 
camp showed no change of size, it had not escaped the quick 
ear of the Carthaginian general that the trumpet which gave 
the signal to the Roman legions sounded that morning once 
oftener than usual, as if directing the troops of some additional 
superior ofBcer. Hasdrubal, from his Spanish campaigns, was 
well acquainted with all the sounds and signals of Roman war, 
and from all that he heard and saw, he felt convinced that both 
the Roman consuls were before him. In doubt and difftculty 
as to what might have taken place between the armies of the 
south, and probably hoping that Hannibal also was approach- 
ing, Hasdrubal determined to avoid an encounter with the 
combined Roman forces, and to endeavor to retreat upon In- 
subrian Gaul, where he would be in a friendly country, and 
could endeavor to reopen his communication with his brother. 
He therefore led his troops back into their camp ; and as the 
Romans did not venture on an assault upon his intrenchments, 
and Hasdrubal did not choose to commejice his retreat in their 
sight, the day passed away in inaction. At the first watch of 
the night, Hasdrubal led his men silently out of their camp, and 
moved northward towards the Metaurus, in the hope of placing 
that river between himself and the Romans before his retreat 
was discovered. His guides betrayed him ; and having pur- 
posely led him away from the part of the river that was ford- 
able, they made their escape in the dark, and left Hasdrubal 
and his army wandering in confusion along the steep bank, and 
seeking in vain for a spot where the stream could be safely 
crossed. At last they halted ; and when day dawned on them, 
Hasdrubal found that great numbers of his men, in their fa- 
tigue and impatience, had lost all discipline and subordina- 



io6 DECISIVE BATTLES 

tion, and that many of his GaUic auxiliaries had got drunk, 
and were lying helpless in their quarters. The Roman cavalry 
was soon seen coming up in pursuit, followed at no great dis- 
tance by the legions, which marched in readiness for an instant 
engagement. It was hopeless for Hasdrubal to think of con- 
tinuing his retreat before them. The prospect of immediate 
battle might recall the disordered part of his troops to a sense 
of duty, and revive the instinct of discipline. He therefore 
ordered his men to prepare for action instantly, and made the 
best arrangement of them that the nature of the ground would 
permit. 

Heeren has well described the general appearance of a 
Carthaginian army. He says, " It was an assemblage of the 
most opposite races of the human species from the farthest 
parts of the globe. Hordes of half-naked Gauls were ranged 
next to companies of white-clothed Iberians, and savage Li- 
gurians next to the far-travelled Nasamones and Lotophagi. 
Carthaginians and Phoenici-Africans formed the centre, while 
innumerable troops of Numidian horsemen, taken from all the 
tribes of the Desert, swarmed about on unsaddled horses, and 
formed the wings ; the van was composed of Balearic slingers ; 
and a line of colossal elephants, with their Ethiopian guides, 
formed, as it were, a chain of moving fortresses before the whole 
army." Such were the usual materials and arrangements of the 
hosts that fought for Carthage ; but the troops under Hasdru- 
bal were not in all respects thus constituted or thus stationed. 
He seems to have been especially deficient in cavalry, and he 
had few African troops, though some Carthaginians of high 
rank were with him. His veteran Spanish infantry, armed with 
helmets and shields, and short cut-and-thrust swords, were the 
best part of his army. These, and his few Africans, he drew 
up on his right wing, under his own personal command. In 
the centre he placed his Ligurian infantry, and on the left wing 
he placed or retained the Gauls, who were armed with long 
javelins and with huge broad-swords and targets. The rugged 
nature of the ground in front and on the flank of this part ot 
his line made him hope that the Roman right wing would be 
unable to come to close quarters with these unserviceable bar- 
barians before he could make some impression with his Span- 
ish veterans on the Roman left. This was the only chance 
that he had of victory or safety, and he seems to have done 



THE BATTLE OF THE METAURUS 107 

everything that good generalship could do to secure it. He 
placed his elephants in advance of his centre and right wing. 
He had caused the driver of each of them to be provided with 
a sharp iron spike and a mallet, and had given orders that every 
beast that became unmanageable, and ran back upon his own 
ranks, should be instantly killed, by driving the spike into the 
vertebra at the junction of the head and the spine. Hasdrubal's 
elephants were ten in number. We have no trustworthy in- 
formation as to the amount of his infantry, but it is quite clear 
that he was greatly outnumbered by the combined Roman 
forces. 

The tactics of the Roman legions had not yet acquired that 
perfection which it received from the military genius of Mar- 
ius,* and which we read of in the first chapter of Gibbon. We 
possess, in that great work, an account of the Roman legions 
at the end of the commonwealth, and during the early ages of 
the empire, which those alone can adequately admire who have 
attempted a similar description. We have also, in the sixth 
and ^seventeenth books of Polybius, an elaborate discussion 
on the military system of the Romans in his time, which was 
not far distant from the time of the battle of the Metaurus. But 
the subject is beset with difficulties ; and instead of entering 
into minute but inconclusive details, I would refer to Gibbon's 
first chapter as serving for a general description of the Roman 
army in its period of perfection, and remark, that the training 
and armor which the whole legion received in the time of Au- 
gustus was, two centuries earlier, only partially introduced. 
Two divisions of troops, called Hastati and Principes, formed 
the bulk of each Roman legion in the second Punic war. Each 
of these divisions was twelve hundred strong. The Hastatus 
and the Princeps legionary bore a breast-plate or coat of mail, 
brazen greaves, and a brazen helmet, with a lofty upright crest 
of scarlet or black feathers. He had a large oblong shield; 
and, as weapons of offence, two javelins, one of which was light 
and slender, but the other was a strong and massive weapon, 
with a shaft about four feet long, and an iron head of equal 
length. The sword was carried on the right thigh, and was a 
short cut-and-thrust weapon, like that which was used by the 

* Most probably during the period of his prolonged consulship, from 
B.C. 104 to B.C. loi, while he was training his army against the Cimbri 
and the Teutons. 



io8 DECISIVE BATTLES 

Spaniards. Thus armed, the Hastati formed the front division 
of the legion, and the Principes the second. Each division was 
drawn up about ten deep, a space of three feet being allowed 
between the files as well as the ranks, so as to give each legion- 
ary ample room for the use of his javelins, and of his sword 
and shield. The men in the second rank did not stand imme- 
diately behind those in the first rank, but the files were alter- 
nate, like the position of the men on a draught-board. This 
was termed the quincunx order. Niebuhr considers that this 
arrangement enabled the legion to keep up a shower of 
javelins on the enemy for some considerable time. He says, 
" When the first line had hurled its pila, it probably stepped 
back between those who stood behind it, and two steps forward 
restored the front nearly to its first position; a movement 
which, on account of the arrangement of the quincunx, could 
be executed without losing a moment. Thus one line suc- 
ceeded the other in the front till it was time to draw the swords ; 
nay, when it was found expedient, the lines which had already 
been in the front might repeat this change, since the stores of 
pila were surely not confined to the two which each soldier 
took with him into battle. 

" The same change must have taken place in fighting with 
the sword, which when the same tactic was adopted on both 
sides, was anything but a confused melee; on the contrary, it 
was a series of single combats." He adds, that a military man 
of experience had been consulted by him on the subject, and 
had given it as his opinion " that the change of the lines as de- 
scribed above was by no means impracticable; but, in the 
absence of the deafening noise of gunpowder, it cannot have 
had even any difficulty with well-trained troops." 

The third division of the legion was six hundred strong and 
acted as a reserve. It was always composed of veteran soldiers, 
who were called the Triarii. Their arms were the same as 
these of the Principes and Hastati, except that each Triarian 
carried a spear instead of javelins. The rest of the legion con- 
sisted of light-armed troops, who acted as skirmishers. The 
cavalry of each legion was at this period about three hundred 
strong. The Italian allies, who were attached to the legion, 
seem to have been similarly armed and equipped, but their 
numerical proportion of cavalry was much larger. 

Such was the nature of the forces that advanced on the 



THE BATTLE OF THE METAURUS 109 

Roman side to the battle of the Metaurus. Nero commanded 
the right wing, Livius the left, and the praetor Porcius had the 
command of the centre. " Both Romans and Carthaginians 
well understood how much depended upon the fortune of this 
day, and how little hope of safety there was for the vanquished. 
Only the Romans herein seemed to have had the better in con- 
ceit and opinion that they were to fight with men desirous to 
have fled from them ; and according to this presumption came 
Livius the consul, with a proud bravery, to give charge on the 
Spaniards and Africans, by whom he was so sharply enter- 
tained that the victory seemed very doubtful. The Africans 
and Spaniards were stout soldiers, and well acquainted with 
the manner of the Roman fight. The Ligurians, also, were a 
hardy nation, and not accustomed to give ground, which they 
needed the less, or were able now to do, being placed in the 
midst. Livius, therefore, and Porcius found great opposition ; 
and with great slaughter on both sides prevailed little or noth- 
ing. Besides other difficulties, they were exceedingly troubled 
by the elephants, that brake their first ranks, and put them in 
such disorder as the Roman ensigns were driven to fall back ; 
all this while Claudius Nero, laboring in vain against a steep 
hill, was unable to come to blows with the Gauls that stood 
opposite him, but out of danger. This made Hasdrubal the 
more confident, who, seeing his own left wing safe, did the 
more boldly and fiercely make impression on the other side 
upon the left wing of the Romans."* 

But at last Nero, who found that Hasdrubal refused his left 
wing, and who could not overcome the difficulties of the 
ground in the quarter assigned to him, decided the battle by 
another stroke of that military genius which had inspired his 
march. Wheeling a brigade of his best men round the rear 
of the rest of the Roman army, Nero fiercely charged the 
flank of the Spaniards and Africans. The charge was as suc- 
cessful as it was sudden. Rolled back in disorder upon each 
other, and overwhelmed by numbers, the Spaniards and Li- 
gurians died, fighting gallantly to the last. The Gauls, who 
tiad taken little or no part in the strife of the day, were then 
^surrounded, and butchered almost without resistance. Has- 
drubal, after having, by the confession of his enemies, done all 
that a general could do, when he saw that the victory was ir- 
* " Historic of the World," by Sir Walter Raleigh, p. 946. 



no DECISIVE BATTLES 

reparably lost, scorning to survive the gallant host which he 
had led, and to gratify, as a captive, Roman cruelty and pride, 
spurred his horse into the midst of a Roman cohort, and, sword 
in hand, met the death that was worthy of the son of Hamilcar 
and the brother of Hannibal. 

Success the most complete had crowned Nero's enterprise. 
Returning as rapidly as he had advanced, he was again facing 
the inactive enemies in the south before they even knew of his 
march. But he brought with him a ghastly trophy of what 
he had done. In the. true spirit of that savage brutality which 
deformed the Roman national character, Nero ordered Has- 
drubal's head to be flung into his brother's camp. Ten years 
had passed since Hannibal had last gazed on those features. 
The sons of Hamilcar had then planned their system of war- 
fare against Rome which they had so nearly brought to success- 
ful accomplishment. Year after year had Hannibal been strug- 
gling in Italy, in the hope of one day hailing the arrival of him 
whom he had left in Spain,> and of seeing his brother's eye flash 
with affection and pride at the junction of their irresistible 
hosts. He now saw that eye glazed in death, and in the agony 
of his heart the great Carthaginian groaned aloud that he rec- 
ognized his country's destiny. 

With the revival of confidence came also the revival of ac- 
tivity in traffic and commerce, and in all the busy intercourse 
of daily Hfe. Hannibal was, certainly, still in the land ; but all 
felt that his power to destroy was broken, and that the crisis 
of the war fever was past. Hannibal did actually, with almost 
superhuman skill, retain his hold on Southern Italy for a few 
years longer ; but the imperial city and her allies were no longer 
in danger from his arms, and, after Hannibal's downfall, the 
great military republic of the ancient world met in her career 
of conquest no other worthy competitor. Byron has termed 
Nero's march " unequalled," and in the magnitude of its con- 
sequences it is so. Viewed only as a military exploit, it re- 
mains unparalleled, save by Marlborough's bold march from 
Flanders to the Danube, in the campaign of Blenheim, and 
perhaps also by the Archduke Charles's lateral march in 1796, 
by which he overwhelmed the French under Jourdain, and 
then, driving Moreau through the Black Forest and across the 
Rhine, for a while freed Germany from her invaders. 



THE BATTLE OF THE METAURUS iii 

Synopsis of Events between the Battle of the Metaurus, 

B.C. 207, AND ArMINIUS' VICTORY OVER THE ROMAN LegIONS 

under Varus, a.d. 9. 

B.C. 205 to 201. Scipio is made consul, and carries the war 
into Africa. He gains several victories there, and the Cartha- 
ginians recall Hannibal from Italy to oppose him. Battle of 
Zam.a is 201. Hannibal is defeated, and Carthage sues for 
peace. End of the second Punic war, leaving Rome confirmed 
in the dominion of Italy, Sicily, Sardinia, and Corsica, and 
also mistress of great part of Spain, and virtually predominant 
in North Africa. 

200. Rome makes war upon Philip, king of Macedonia. 
She pretends to take the Greek cities of the Achaean league and 
the ^tolians under her protection as allies. Philip is defeated 
by the proconsul Flaminius at Cynoscephalse, 198, and begs 
for peace. The Macedonian influence is now completely de- 
stroyed in Greece, and the Roman established in its stead, 
though Rome pretends to acknowledge the independence of 
the Greek cities. 

194. Rome makes war upon Antiochus, king of Syria. He 
is completely defeated at the battle of Magnesia, 192, and is 
glad to accept peace on conditions which leave him dependent 
upon Rome. 

200 — 190. " Thus within the short space of ten years, was 
laid the foundation of the Roman authority in the East, and 
the general state of affairs entirely changed. If Rome was not 
yet the ruler, she was at least the arbitress of the world from 
the Atlantic to the Euphrates. The power of the three prin- 
cipal states was so completely humbled, that they durst not, 
without the permission of Rome, begin any new war; the 
fourth, Egypt, had already, in the year 201, placed herself 
under the guardianship of Rome ; and the lesser powers fol- 
lowed of themselves, esteeming it an honor to be called the 
allies of Rome. With this name the nations were lulled into 
security, and brought under the Roman yoke ; the new political 
system of Rome was founded and strengthened, partly by ex- 
citing and supporting the weaker states against the stronger, 
however unjust the cause of the former might be, and partly 
by factions which she found means to raise in every state, even 
the smallest." — (Heeren.) 



112 DECISIVE BATTLES 

172. War renewed between Macedon and Rome. Decisive 
defeat of Perses, the Macedonian king, by Paulus ^milius at 
Pydna, 168. Destruction of the Macedonian monarchy. 

150. Rome oppresses the Carthaginians till they are driven 
to take up arms, and the third Punic war begins. Carthage is 
taken and destroyed by Scipio i^milianus, 146, and the Car- 
thaginian territory is made a Roman province. 

146. In the same year in which Carthage falls, Corinth is 
stormed by the Roman army under Mummius. The Achaean 
league had been goaded into hostilities with Rome by means 
similar to those employed against Carthage. The greater part 
of Southern Greece is made a Roman province under the name 
of Achaia. 

133. Numantium is destroyed by Scipio ^milianus. " The 
war against the Spaniards, who, of all the nations subdued by 
the Romans, defended their liberty with the greatest obstinacy, 
began in the year 200, six years after the total expulsion of the 
Carthaginians from their country, 206. It was exceedingly 
obstinate, partly from the natural state of the country, which 
was thickly populated, and where every place became a fortress ; 
partly from the courage of the inhabitants ; but above all, ow- 
ing to the peculiar policy of the Romans, who were wont to em- 
ploy their allies to subdue other nations. This war continued, 
almost without interruption, from the year 200 to 133, and 
was for the most part carried on at the same time in Hispania 
Citerior, where the Celtiberi were the most formidable ad- 
versaries, and in Hispania Ulterior, where the Lusitani were 
equally powerful. HostiHties were at the highest pitch in 195, 
under Cato, who reduced Hispania Citerior to a state of tran- 
quillity in 185 — 179, when the Celtiberi were attacked in their 
native territory; and 155 — 150, when the Romans in both prov- 
inces were so often beaten, that nothing was more dreaded by 
the soldiers at home than to be sent there. The extortions and 
perfidy of Servius Galbis placed Viriathus, in the year 146, at 
the head of his nation, the Lusitanis : the war, however, soon 
extended itself to Hispania Citerior, where many nations, par- 
ticularly the Numantines, took up arms against Rome, 143. 
Viriathus, sometimes victorious and sometimes defeated, was 
never more formidable than in the moment of defeat, because 
he knew how to take advantage of his knowledge of the country 
and of the dispositions of his countrymen. After his murder, 



THE BATTLE OF THE METAURUS ii^ 

caused by the treachery of Csepio, 140, Lusitania was subdued ; 
but the Numantine war became still more violent, and the Nu- 
mantines compelled the consul Mancinus to a disadvantageous 
treaty, 137. When Scipio, in the year 133, put an end to this 
war, Spain was certainly tranquil ; the northern parts, however, 
were still unsubdued, though the Romans penetrated as far as 
Galatia." — (Heeren.) 

134. Commencement of the revolutionary century at Rome, 
i.e., from the time of the excitement produced by the attempts 
made by the Gracchi to reform the commonwealth, to the battle 
of Actium (B.C. 31), which established Octavianus Caesar as 
sole master of the Roman world. Throughout this period 
Rome was engaged in important foreign wars, most of which 
procured large accessions to her territory. 

118 — 106. The Jugurthine war. Numidia is conquered, and 
made a Roman conquest. 

1 13 — loi. The great and terrible war of the Cimbri and Teu- 
tones against Rome. These nations of northern warriors 
slaughter several Roman armies in Gaul, and in 102 attempt to 
penetrate into Italy. The military genius of Marius here saves 
his country; he defeats the Teutones near Aix, in Provence; 
and in the following year he destroys the army of the Cimbri, 
who had passed the Alps, near Vercellse. 

91 — 88. The war of the Italian allies against Rome. This was 
caused by the refusal of Rome to concede to them the rights of 
Roman citizenship. After a sanguinary struggle, Rome grad- 
ually concedes it. 

89 — 85. First war of the Romans against Mithridates the 
Great, king of Pontus, who had overrun Asia Minor, Mace- 
donia, and Greece. Sylla defeats his armies, and forces him to 
withdraw his forces from Europe. Sylla returns to Rome to 
carry on the civil war against the son and partisans of Marius. 
He makes himself dictator. 

74 — 64. The last Mithridatic wars. Lucullus, and after him 
Pompeius, command against the great king of Pontus, who at 
last is poisoned by his son, while designing to raise the warlike 
tribes of the Danube against Rome, and to invade Italy from 
the northeast. Great Asiatic conquests of the Romans. Be- 
sides the ancient province of Pergamus, the maritime countries 
of Bithynia and nearly all Paphlagonia and Pontus, are formed 
into a Roman province under the name of Bithynia, while on 



114 DECISIVE BATTLES 

the southern coast CiHcia and PamphyHa form another under 
the name of CiHcia ; Phoenicia and Syria compose a third, under 
the name of Syria. On the other hand, Great Armenia is left 
to Tigranes; Cappadocia to Ariobarzanes ; the Bosphorus to 
Pharnaces; Judaea to Hyrcanus; and some other small states 
are also given to petty princes, all of whom remain dependent 
on Rome. 

58 — 50. Caesar conquers Gaul. 

54. Crassus attacks the Parthians with a Roman army, but 
is overthrown and killed at Carrhse in Mesopotamia. His lieu- 
tenant Cassius collects the wrecks of the army, and prevents 
the Parthians from conquering Syria. 

49 — 45. The civil war between Caesar and the Pompeian 
party. Egypt, Mauritania, and Pontus are involved in the con- 
sequences of this war. 

44. Caesar is killed in the Capitol ; the civil wars are soon re- 
newed. 

42. Death of Brutus and Cassius at Philippi. 

31. Death of Antony and Cleopatra. Egypt becomes a Ro- 
man province, and Augustus Caesar is left undisputed master of 
Rome, and all that is Rome's. 



CHAPTER V. 

VICTORY OF ARMINIUS OVER THE ROMAN 
LEGIONS UNDER VARUS, a.d. 9. 

" Hac clade factum, ut Imperium quod in littore oceani non steterat, 
in ripa Rheni fluminis staret." — Florus. 

TO a truly illustrious Frenchman, whose reverses as a min- 
ister can never obscure his achievements in the world 
of letters, we are indebted for the most profound and 
most eloquent estimate that we possess of the importance of the 
Germanic element in European civilization, and of the extent 
to which the human race is indebted to those brave warriors 
who long were the unconquered antagonists, and finally became 
the conquerors, of imperial Rome. 

Twenty- three eventful years have passed away since M. Gui- 
zot delivered from the chair of modern history at Paris his 
course of lectures on the history of civilization in Europe. Dur- 
ing those years the spirit of earnest inquiry into the germs and 
primary developments of existing institutions has become more 
and more active and universal, and the merited celebrity of M. 
Guizot's work has proportionally increased. Its admirable 
analysis of the complex political and social organizations of 
which the modern civilized world is made up, must have led 
thousands to trace with keener interest the great crises of times 
past, by which the characteristics of the present were deter- 
mined. The narrative of one of these great crises, of the epoch 
A.D. 9, when Germany took up arms for her independence 
against Roman invasion, has for us this special attraction — 
that it forms part of our own national history. Had Arminius 
been supine or unsuccessful, our Germanic ancestors would 
have been enslaved or exterminated in their original seats along 
the Eyder and the Elbe. This island would never have borne 
the name of England, and " we, this great English nation, 
whose race and language are now overrunning the earth, from 

"5 



Ii6 DECISIVE BATTLES 

one end of it to the other,"* would have been utterly cut off 
from existence. 

Arnold may, indeed, go too far in holding that we are wholly 
unconnected in race with the Romans and Britons who inhabited 
this country before the coming over of the Saxons ; that, " na- 
tionally speaking, the history of Caesar's invasion has no more 
to do with us than the natural history of the animals which then 
inhabited our forests." There seems ample evidence to prove 
that the Romanized Celts whom our Teutonic forefathers found 
here influenced materially the character of our nation. But the 
main stream of our people was and is Germanic. Our language 
alone decisively proves this. Arminius is far more truly one 
of our national heroes than Caractacus; and it was our own 
primeval fatherland that the brave German rescued when he 
slaughtered the Roman legions eighteen centuries ago, in the 
marshy glens between the Lippe and the Ems.f 

Dark and disheartening, even to heroic spirits, must have 
seemed the prospects of Germany when Arminius planned the 
general rising of his countrymen against Rome. Half the land 
was occupied by Roman garrisons ; and, what was worse, many 
of the Germans seemed patiently acquiescent in their state of 
bondage. The braver portion, whose patriotism could be re- 
lied on, was ill armed and undiscipHned, while the enemy's 
troops consisted of veterans in the highest state of equipment 
and training, familiarized with victory, and commanded by offi- 
cers of proved skill and valor. The resources of Rome seemed 
boundless ; her tenacity of purpose was believed to be invincible. 
There was no hope of foreign sympathy or aid ; for " the self- 
governing powers that had filled the Old World had bent one 
after another before the rising power of Rome, and had van- 
ished. The earth seemed left void of independent nations."J 

The German chieftain knew well the gigantic power of the 
oppressor. Arminius was no rude savage, fighting out of mere 
animal instinct, or in ignorance of the might of his adversary. 
He was familiar with the Roman language and civilization ; he 
had served in the Roman armies ; he had been admitted to the 
Roman citizenship, and raised to the rank of the equestrian 

* Arnold's "Lectures on Modern History." 

t See post, remarks on the relationship between the Cherusci and the 
English. 
t Ranke. 



THE VICTORY OF ARMINIUS 117 

order. It was part of the subtle policy of Rome to confer rank 
and privileges on the youth of the leading families in the nations 
which she wished to enslave. Among other young German 
chieftains, Arminius and his brother, who were the heads of the 
noblest house in the tribe of the Cherusci, had been selected as 
fit objects for the exercise of this insidious system. Roman 
refinements and dignities succeeded in denationalizing the 
brother, who assumed the Roman name of Flavins, and adhered 
to Rome throughout all her wars against his country. Ar- 
minius remained unbought by honors or wealth, uncorrupted 
by refinement or luxury. He aspired to and obtained from 
Roman enmity a higher title than ever could have been given 
him by Roman favor. It is in the page of Rome's greatest his- 
torian that his name has come down to us with the proud addi- 
tion of " Liberator haud dubie Germanise."* 

Often must the young chieftain, while meditating the exploit 
which has thus immortalized him, have anxiously revolved in 
his mind the fate of the many great men who had been*crushed 
in the attempt which he was about to renew — the attempt to 
stay the chariot-wheels of triumphant Rome. Could he hope 
to succeed where Hannibal and Mithridates had perished? 
What had been the doom of Viriathus? and what warning 
against vain valor was written on the desolate site where Nu- 
mantia once had flourished? Nor was a caution wanting in 
scenes nearer home and more recent times. The Gauls had 
fruitlessly struggled for eight years against Caesar ; and the gal- 
lant Vercingetorix, who in the last year of the war had roused 
all his countrymen to insurrection, who had cut off Roman 
detachments, and brought Csesar himself to the extreme of peril 
at Alesia — he, too, had finally succumbed, had been led captive 
in Caesar's triumph, and had then been butchered in cold blood 
in a Roman dungeon. 

It was true that Rome was no longer the great military re- 
public which for so many ages had shattered the kingdoms of 
the world. Her system of government was changed ; and after 
a century of revolution and civil war, she had placed herself 
under the despotism of a single ruler. But the discipline of her 
troops was yet unimpaired, and her warlike spirit seemed un- 
abated. The first year of the empire had been signalized by 
conquests as valuable as any gained by the republic in a corre- 
* Tacitus, <' Annals," ii., 88. 



Ii8 DECISIVE BATTLES 

Spending period. It is a great fallacy, though apparently sanc- 
tioned by great authorities, to suppose that the foreign policy 
pursued by Augustus was pacific ; he certainly recommended 
such a policy to his successors (incertmn metn an per invidiam, 
— Tac, Ann., i., ii), but he himself, until Arminius broke 
his spirit, had followed a very different course. Besides his 
Spanish wars, his generals, in a series of generally aggressive 
campaigns, had extended the Roman frontier from the Alps to 
the Danube, and had reduced into subjection the large and im- 
portant countries that now form the territories of all Austria 
south of that river, and of East Switzerland, Lower Wirtem- 
berg, Bavaria, the Valtelline, and the Tyrol. While the prog- 
ress of the Roman arms thus pressed the Germans from the 
south, still more formidable inroads had been made by the im- 
perial legions on the west. Roman armies, moving from the 
province of Gaul, established a chain of fortresses along the 
right as well as the left bank of the Rhine, and, in a series of 
victorious campaigns, advanced their eagles as far as the Elbe, 
which now seemed added to the list of vassal rivers, to the Nile, 
the Rhine, the Rhone, the Danube, the Tagus, the Seine, and 
many more, that acknowledged the supremacy of the Tiber. 
Roman fleets also, sailing from the harbors of Gaul along the 
German coasts and up the estuaries, co-operated with the land- 
forces of the empire, and seemed to display, even more deci- 
sively than her armies, her overwhelming superiority ovier the 
rude Germanic tribes. Throughout the territory thus invaded, 
the Romans had with their usual military skill, established forti- 
fied posts; and a powerful army of occupation was kept on foot, 
ready to move instantly on any spot where any popular out- 
break might be attempted. 

Vast, however, and admirably organized as the fabric of 
Roman power appeared on the frontiers and in the provinces, 
there was rottenness at the core. In Rome's unceasing hos- 
tilities with foreign foes, and still more in her long series of 
desolating civil wars, the free middle classes of Italy had al- 
most wholly disappeared. Above the position which they had 
occupied, an oligarchy of wealth had reared itself ; beneath that 
position, a degraded mass of poverty and misery was ferment- 
ing. Slaves, the chance sweepings of every conquered country, 
shoals of Africans, Sardinians, Asiatics, Illyrians, and others, 
made up the bulk of the population of the Italian peninsula. 



1 



THE VICTORY OF ARMINIUS 119 

The foulest profligacy of manners was general in all ranks. 
In universal weariness of revolution and civil war, and in con- 
sciousness of being too debased for self-government, the na- 
tion had submitted itself to the absolute authority of Augustus. 
Adulation was now the chief function of the senate ; and the 
gifts of genius and accomplishments of art were devoted to 
the elaboration of eloquently false panegyrics upon the prince 
and his favorite courtiers. With bitter indignation must the 
German chieftain have beheld all this and contrasted with it the 
rough worth of his own countrymen : their bravery, their 
fidelity to their word, their manly independence of spirit, their 
love of their national free institutions, and their loathing of 
every pollution and meanness. Above all, he must have 
thought of the domestic virtues that hallowed a German home ; 
of the respect there shown to the female character, and of the 
pure affection by which that respect was repaid. His soul 
must have burned within him at the contemplation of such 
a race yielding to these debased Italians. 

Still, to persuade the Germans to combine, in spite of their 
frequent feuds among themselves, in one sudden outbreak 
against Rome ; to keep the scheme concealed from the Romans 
until the hour for action arrived ; and then, without possessing 
a single walled town, without military stores, without training, 
to teach his insurgent countrymen to defeat veteran armies and 
storm fortifications, seemed so perilous an enterprise, that 
probably Arminius would have receded from it had not a 
stronger feeling even than patriotism urged him on. Among 
the Germans of high rank who had most readily submitted to 
the invaders, and become zealous partisans of Roman author- 
ity, was a chieftain named Segestes. His daughter, Thusnelda, 
was pre-eminent among the noble maidens of Germany. Ar- 
minius had sought her hand in marriage ; but Segestes, who 
probably discerned the young chief's disaffection to Rome, for- 
bade his suit, and strove to preclude all communication be- 
tween him and his daughter. Thusnelda, however, sym- 
pathized far more with the heroic spirit of her lover than with 
the time-serving policy of her father. An elopement baffled 
the precautions of Segestes, who, disappointed in his hope of 
preventing the marriage, accused Arminius before the Roman 
governor of having carried off his daughter, and of planning 
treason against Rome. Thus assailed, and dreading to see his 



120 DECISIVE BATTLES 

bride torn from him by the officials of the foreign oppressor, 
Arminius delayed no longer, but bent all his energies to organ- 
ize and execute a general insurrection of the great mass of his 
countrymen, who hitherto had submitted in sullen hatred to 
the Roman dominion. 

A change of governors had recently taken place, which, while 
it materially favored the ultimate success of the insurgents, 
served, by the immediate aggravation of the Roman oppres- 
sions, which it produced, to make the native population more 
universally eager to take arms. Tiberius, who was afterwards 
emperor, had recently been recalled from the command in 
Germany, and sent into Pannonia to put down a dangerous re- 
volt which had broken out against the Romans in that prov- 
ince. The German patriots were thus delivered from the stern 
supervision of one of the most suspicious of mankind, and were 
also relieved from having to contend against the high military 
talents of a veteran commander, who thoroughly understood 
their national character, and also the nature of the country, 
which he himself had principally subdued. In the room of 
Tiberius, Augustus sent into Germany Quintilius Varus, who 
had lately returned from the proconsulate of Syria. Varus was 
a true representative of the higher classes of the Romans, 
among whom a general taste for literature, a keen susceptibil- 
ity to all intellectual gratifications, a minute acquaintance with 
the principles and practice of their own national jurisprudence, 
a careful training in the schools of the rhetoricians and a fond- 
ness for either partaking in or watching the intellectual strife 
of forensic oratory, had become generally diffused, without, 
however, having humanized the old Roman spirit of cruel in- 
difference for human feelings and human sufferings, and with- 
out acting as the least checks on unprincipled avarice and ambi- 
tion, or on habitual and gross profligacy. Accustomed to 
govern the depraved and debased natives of Syria, a country 
where courage in man and virtue in woman had for centuries 
been unknown, Varius thought that he might gratify his 
licentious and rapacious passions with equal impunity among 
the high-minded sons and pure-spirited daughters of Ger- 
many. When the general of any army sets the example of 
outrages of this description, he is soon faithfully imitated by 
his officers, and surpassed by his still more brutal soldiery. 
The Romans now habitually indulged in those violations of the 



THE VICTORY OF ARMINIUS 121 

sanctity of the domestic shrine, and those insults upon honor 
and modesty, by which far less gallant spirits than those of our 
Teutonic ancestors have often been maddened into insurrec- 
tion.* 

Arminius found among the other German chiefs many who 
sympathized with him in his indignation at their country's 
abasement, and many whom private wrongs had stung yet more 
deeply. There was little difficulty in collecting bold leaders for 
an attack on the oppressors, and little fear of the population not 
rising readily at those leaders' call. But to declare open war 
against Rome, and to encounter Varus' army in a pitched battle, 
would have been merely rushing upon certain destruction. 
Varus had three legions under him, a force which, after allow- 
ing for detachments, cannot be estimated at less than fourteen 
thousand Roman infantry. He had also eight or nine hundred 
Roman cavalry, and at least an equal number of horse and foot 
sent from the allied states, or raised among those provincials 
who had not received the Roman franchise. 

It was not merely the number, but the quality of this force 
that made them formidable ; and, however contemptible Varus 
might be as general, Arminius well knew how admirably the 
Roman armies were organized and officered- and how perfectly 
the legionaries understood every manoeuvre and every duty 
which the varying emergencies of a stricken field might re- 
quire. Stratagem was, therefore, indispensable; and it was 
necessary to blind Varus to their schemes until a favorable 
opportunity should arrive for striking a decisive blow. 

* I cannot forbear quoting Macaulay's beautiful lines, where he de- 
scribes how similar outrages in the early times of Rome goaded the 
plebeians to rise against the patricians: 

" Heap heavier still the fetters ; bar closer still the grate ; 
Patient as sheep we yield us up unto your cruel hate. 
But by the shades beneath us, and by the gods above, 
Add not unto your cruel hate your still more cruel love. 

***** 
Then leave the poor plebeian his single tie to life — 
The sweet, sweet love of daughter, of sister, and of wife, 
The gentle speech, the balm for all that his vex'd soul endures. 
The kiss in which he half forgets even such a yoke as yours. 
Still let the maiden's beauty swell the father's breast with pride; 
Still let the bridegroom's arm enfold an unpolluted bride. 
Spare us the inexpiable wrong, the unutterable shame, 
That turns the coward's heart to steel, the sluggard's blood to flame; 
Lest when our latest hope is fled ye taste of our despair, 
And learn by proof, in some wild hour, how much flie wretched dare." 



122 DECISIVE BATTLES 

For this purpose, the German confederates frequented the 
head-quarters of Varus, which seem to have been near the centre 
of the modern country of Westphalia, where the Roman gen- 
eral conducted himself with all the arrogant security of the 
governor of a perfectly submissive province. There Varus 
gratified at once his vanity, his rhetorical tastes, and his avarice, 
by holding courts, to which he summoned the Germans for the 
settlement of all their disputes, while a bar of Roman advo- 
cates attended to argue the cases before the tribunal of Varus, 
who did not omit the opportunity of exacting court-fees and ac- 
cepting bribes. Varus trusted implicitly to the respect which 
the Germans pretended to pay to his abilities as a judge, and to 
the interest which they affected to take in the forensic eloquence 
of their conquerors. Meanwhile, a succession of heavy rains 
rendered the country more difficult for the operations of reg- 
ular troops, and Arminius, seeing that the infatuation of Varus 
was complete, secretly directed the tribes near the Weser and 
the Ems to take up arms in open revolt against the Romans. 
This was represented to Varus as an occasion which required 
his prompt attendance at the spot ; but he was kept in studied 
ignorance of its being part of a concerted national rising ; and 
he still looked on Arminius as his submissive vassal, whose aid 
he might rely on in facilitating the march of his troops against 
the rebels, and in extinguishing the local disturbance. He 
therefore set his army in motion, and marched eastward in a 
line parallel to the course of the Lippe. For some distance his 
route lay along a level plain ; but on arriving at the tract be- 
tween the curve of the upper part of that stream and the sources 
of the Ems, the country assumes a very different character; 
and here, in the territory of the modern little principality of 
Lippe, it was that Arminius had fixed the scene of his enterprise. 

A woody and hilly region intervenes between the heads of 
the two rivers, and forms the water-shed of their streams. This 
region still retains the name (Teutobergenwald^Teutober- 
giensis saltus) which it bore in the days of Arminius. The 
nature of the ground has probably also remained unaltered. 
The eastern part of it, round Detmold, the modern capital of 
the principality of Lippe, is described by a modern German 
scholar, Dr. Plate, as being a "table-land intersected by nu- 
merous deep and narrow valleys, which in some places form 
small plains, surrounded by steep mountains and rocks, and 



THE VICTORY OF ARMINIUS 



123 



only accessible by narrow defiles. All the valleys are traversed 
by rapid streams, shallow in the dry season, but subject to sud- 
den swellings in autumn and winter. The vast forests which 
cover the summits and slopes of the hills consist chiefly of oak ; 
there is little underwood, and both men and horse would move 
with ease in the forests if the ground were not broken by gul- 
leys, or rendered impracticable by fallen trees." This is the dis- 
trict to which Varus is supposed to have marched; and Dr. 
Plate adds, that " the names of several localities on and near 
that spot seem to indicate that a great battle has once been 
fought there. We find the names * das Winnefeld ' (the field of 
victory), 'die Knochenbahn ' (the bone-lane), * die Knochen- 
leke ' (the bone-brook), ' der Mordkessel ' (the kettle of slaugh- 
ter), and others."* 

Contrary to the usual strict principles of Roman discipline, 
Varus had suffered his army to be accompanied and impeded 
by an immense train of baggage-wagons and by a rabble of 
camp followers, as if his troops had been merely changing their 
quarters in a friendly country. When the long array quitted 
the firm, level ground, and began to wind its way among the 
woods, the marshes, and the ravines, the difficulties of the 
march, even without the intervention of an armed foe, became 
fearfully apparent. In many places, the soil, sodden with rain, 
was impracticable for cavalry, and even for infantry, until trees 
had been felled, and a rude causeway formed through the 
morass. 

The duties of the engineer were familiar to all who served 
in the Roman armies. But the crowd and confusion of the 
columns embarrassed the working parties of the soldiery, and 
in the midst of their toil and disorder the word was suddenly 
passed through their ranks that the rear guard was attacked by 
the barbarians. Varus resolved on pressing forward; but a 
heavy discharge of missiles from the woods on either flank 
taught him how serious was the peril, and he saw his best men 
falling round him without the opportunity of retaliation ; for 
his light-armed auxiliaries, who were principally of Germanic 
race, now rapidly deserted, and it was impossible to deploy the 
legionaries on such broken ground for a charge against the 
enemy. Choosing one of the most open and firm spots' which 

* I am indebted for much valuable information on this subject to my 
friend, Mr. Henry Pearson. 



124 DECISIVE BATTLES 

they could force their way to, the Romans halted for the night ;' 
and, faithful to their national discipline and tactics, formed 
their camp amid the harassing attacks of the rapidly thronging 
foes, with the elaborate toil and systematic skill, the traces of 
which are impressed permanently on the soil of so many Eu- 
ropean countries, attesting the presence in the olden time of the 
imperial eagles. 

On the morrow the Romans renewed their march, the veteran 
officers who served under Varus now probably directing the 
operations, and hoping to find the Germans drawn up to meet 
them ; in which case they relied on their own superior discipline 
and tactics for such a victory as should reassure the supremacy 
of Rome. But Arminius was far too sage a commander to lead 
on his followers, with their unwieldly broad-swords and ineffi- 
cient defensive armor, against the Roman legionaries, fully 
armed with helmet, cuirass, greaves, and shield, who were 
skilled to commence the conflict with a murderous volley of 
heavy javelins, hurled upon the foe when a few yards distant, 
and then, with their short cut-and-thrust swords, to hew their 
way through all opposition, preserving the utmost steadine3s 
and coolness, and obeying each word of command in the midst 
of strife and slaughter with the same precision and alertness as 
if upon parade.* Arminius suffered the Romans to march out 
from their camp, to form first in line for action, and then in 
column for marching, without the show of opposition. For 
some distance Varus was allowed to move on, only harassed 
by slight skirmishes, but struggling with difficulty through the 
broken ground, the toil and distress of his men being aggra- 
vated by heavy torrents of rain, which burst upon the devoted 
legions, as if the angry gods of Germany were pouring out the 
vials of their wrath upon the invaders. After some little time 
their van approached a ridge of high woody ground, which 
is one of the offshoots of the great Hircynian forest, and is sit- 
uate between the modern villages of Driburg and Bielefeld. 
Arminius had caused barricades of hewn trees to be formed 
here, so as to add to the natural difficulties of the passage. Fa- 
tigue and discouragement now began to betray themselves in 
the Roman ranks. Their line became less steady; baggage- 

* See Gibbon's description (vol. i., chap, i.) of the Roman legions in 
the time of Augustus; and see the description in Tacitus, " Ann.," hb. ii., 
of the subsequent battles between Csecina and Arminius. 



THE VICTORY OF ARMINIUS 125 

wagons were abandoned from the impossibility of forcing them 
along ; and, as this happened, many soldiers left their ranks and 
crowded round the wagons to secure the most valuable por- 
tions of their property ; each was busy about his own affairs, 
and purposely slow in hearing the word of command from his 
officers. Arminius now gave the signal for a general attack. 
The fierce shouts of the Germans pealed through the gloom 
of the forests, and in thronging multitudes they assailed the 
flanks of the invaders, pouring in clouds of darts on the encum- 
bered legionaries, as they struggled up the glens or floundered 
in the morasses, and watching every opportunity of charging 
through the intervals of the disjointed column, and so cutting 
off the communication between its several brigades. Arminius, 
with a chosen band of personal retainers round him, cheered on 
his countrymen by voice and example. He and his men aimed 
their weapons particularly at the horses of the Roman cavalry. 
The wounded animals, slipping about in the mire and their own 
blood, threw their riders and plunged amon^ the ranks of the 
legions, disordering all round them. Varus now ordered the 
troops to be countermarched, in the hope of reaching the near- 
est Roman garrison on the Lippe.* But retreat now was as 
impracticable as advance ; and the falling back of the Romans 
only augmented the courage of their assailants, and caused 
fiercer and more frequent charges on the flanks of the dis- 
heartened army. The Roman officer who commanded the cav- 
alry, Numonius Vala, rode off with his squadrons in the vain 
hope of escaping by thus abandoning his comrades. Unable 
to keep together, or force their way across the woods and 
swamps, the horsemen were overpowered in detail, and 
slaughtered to the last man. The R^oman infantry still held 
together and resisted, but more through the instinct of dis- 
cipline and bravery than from any hope of success or escape. 

* The circumstances of the early part of the battle which Arminius 
fought with Cajcina six years afterwards evidently resembled those of his 
battle with Varus, and the result was very near being the same : I have 
therefore adopted part of the description which Tacitus gives (" Annal." 
lib. i., c. 65) of the last-mentioned engagement: " Neque tamen Armin- 
ius quamquam libero incursu, statim prorupit : sed ut haesere coeno fos- 
sisque impedimenta, turbati circum milites; incertus signorum ordo; 
utque tali in tempore sibi quisque properus, et lentae adversum imperia 
aures, irrumpore Germanos jubet, clamitans ' En varus, et eodem iterum 
fato victse legiones! ' Simul haec, et cum delectis scindit agmen, equis- 
que maxime vulnera ingerit; illi sanguine suo et lubrico paludum 
lapsantes, excussis rectoribus, disjicere obvios, proterere jacentes." 



126 DECISIVE BATTLES 

Varus, after being severely wounded in a charge of the Ger- 
mans against his part of the column, committed suicide to avoid 
falling into the hands of those whom he had, exasperated by 
his oppressions. One of the lieutenant generals of the army fell 
fighting; the other surrendered to the enemy. But mercy to 
a fallen foe had never been a Roman virtue, and those among 
her legions who now laid down their arms in hope of quarter, 
drank deep of the cup of suffering, which Rome had held to 
the lips of many a brave but unfortunate enemy. The infuri- 
ated Germans slaughtered their oppressors with deliberate 
ferocity, and those prisoners who were not hewn to pieces on 
the spot were only preserved to perish by a more cruel death in 
cold blood. 

The bulk of the Roman army fought steadily and stubbornly, 
frequently repelling the masses of the assailants, but gradually 
losing the compactness of their array, and becoming weaker 
and weaker beneath the incessant shower of darts and the re- 
iterated assaults of the vigorous and unencumbered Germans. 
At last, in a series of desperate attacks, the column was pierced 
through and through, two of the eagles captured, and the Ro- 
man host, which on the yester morning had marched forth in 
such pride and might, now broken up into confused fragments, 
either fell fighting beneath the overpowering numbers of the 
enemy, or perished in the swamps and woods in unavailing 
efforts at flight. Few, very few, ever saw again the left bank of 
the Rhine. One body of brave veterans, arraying themselves 
in a ring on a little mound, beat off every charge of the Ger- 
mans, and prolonged their honorable resistance to the close of 
that dreadful day. The traces of a feeble attempt at forming 
a ditch and mound attested in after years the spot where the last 
of the Romans passed their night of suffering and despair. 
But on the morrow, this remnant also, worn out with hunger, 
wounds, and toil, was charged by the victorious Germans, and 
either massacred on the spot, or offered up in fearful rites at 
the altars of the deities of the old mythology of the North. 

A gorge in the mountain ridge, through which runs the 
modern road between Paderborn and Pyrmont, leads from the 
spot where the heat of the battle raged to the Extersteine, a 
cluster of bold and grotesque rocks of sandstone, near which 
is a small sheet of water, overshadowed by a grove of aged trees. 
According to local tradition, this was one of the sacred groves 



THE VICTORY OF ARMINIUS 127 

of the ancient Germans, and it was here that the Roman cap- 
tives were slain in sacrifice by the victorious warriors of Ar- 
minius.* 

Never was victory more decisive, never was the liberation 
of an oppressed people more instantaneous and complete. 
Throughout Germany the Roman garrisons were assailed and 
cut off ; and within a few weeks after Varus had fallen, the Ger- 
man soil was freed from the foot of an invader. 

At Rome the tidings of the battle were received with an agony 
of terror, the reports of which we should deem exaggerated, 
did they not come from Roman historians themselves. They 
not only tell emphatically how great was the awe which the Ro- 
mans felt of the prowess of the Germans, if their various tribes 
could be brought to unite for a common purpose,! but also 
they reveal how weakened and debased the population of Italy 
had become. Dion Cassius says (lib. Ivi., sec. 23) : " Then Au- 
gustus, when he heard the calamity of Varus, rent his garment, 
and was in great affliction for the troops he had lost, and for 
terror respecting the Germans and the Gauls. And his chief 
alarm was that he expected them to push on against Italy and 
Rome ; and there remained no Roman youth fit for military 
duty that were worth speaking of, and the allied populations, 
that were at all serviceable, had been wasted away. Yet he 
prepared for the emergency as well as his means allowed ; and 
when none of the citizens of military age were willing to en- 
list, he made them cast lots, and punished by confiscation of 
goods and disfranchisement every fifth man among those un- 
der thirty-five, and every tenth man of those above that age. 
At last, when he found that not even thus could he make many 
come forward, he put some of them to death. So he made a 
conscription of discharged veterans and of emancipated slaves, 
and, collecting as large a force as he could, sent it, under Ti- 
berius, with all speed into Germany." 

* " Lucis propinquis barbaras arse, apud quas tribunes ac primorum 
ordinnm centuriones mactaverant." — Tacitus, Ann., lib. i., c. 61. 

t It is clear that the Romans followed the policy of fomenting dissen- 
sions and wars of the Germans among themselves. See the thirty-third 
section of the " Germania " of Tacitus, where he mentions the destruc- 
tion of the Bructeri by the neighboring tribes: " Favore quodam erga 
nos deorum: nam ne spectaculo quidem proelii invidere: super Ix. millia 
non armis telisque Romanis, sed, quod magnificentius est, oblectationi 
oculisque ceciderunt. Maneat quaeseo, duretque gentibus, si non amor 
nostri, at certe odium sui: quando urgentibus imperii fatis, nihil jam 
prasstare fortuna majus potest quam hostium iscordidam." 



128 DECISIVE BATTLES 

Dion mentions, also, a number of terrific portents that were 
believed to have occurred at the time, and the narration of 
which is not immaterial, as it shows the state of the public mind, 
when such things were so believed in and so interpreted. The 
summits of the Alps were said to have fallen, and three columns 
of fire to have blazed up from them. In the Campus Martins, 
the temple of the war-god, from whom the founder of Rome had 
sprung, was struck by a thunderbolt. The nightly heavens 
glowed several times, as if on fire. Many comets blazed forth 
together ; and fiery meteors, shaped Hke spears, had shot from 
the northern quarter of the sky down into the Roman camps. 
It was said, too, that a statue of Victory, which had stood at 
a place on the frontier, pointing the way towards Germany, had, 
of its own accord, turned round, and now pointed to Italy. 
These and other prodigies were believed by the multitude to ac- 
company the slaughter of Varus' legions, and to manifest the 
anger of the gods against Rome. Augustus himself was not 
free from superstition; but on this occasion no supernatural 
terrors were needed to increase the alarm and grief that he felt, 
and which made him, even months after the news of the battle 
had arrived, often beat his head against the wall, and exclaim, 
" Quintilius Varus, give me back my legions." We learn this 
from his biographer Suetonius; and, indeed, every ancient 
writer who alludes to the overthrow of Varus attests the im- 
portance of the blow against the Roman power, and the bitter- 
ness with which it was felt.* 

The Germans did not pursue their victory beyond their own 
territory ; but that victory secured at once and forever the in- 
dependence of the Teutonic race. Rome sent, indeed, her 
legions again into Germany, to parade a temporary superiority, 
but all hopes of permanent conquests were abandoned by Au- 
gustus and his successors. 

The blow which Arminius had struck never was forgotten. 
Roman fear disguised itself under the specious title of modera- 
tion, and the Rhine became the acknowledged boundary of the 
two nations until the fifth century of our era, when the Ger- 
mans became the assailants, and carved with their conquer- 
ing swords the provinces of imperial Rome into the kingdoms 
of modern Europe. 

* Florus expresses its effect most pithily : " Hac clade factum est ut 
imperium quod in litore oceani non steterat, in ripa Rheni fluminis 
stacet," iv., 12. 



THE VICTORY OF ARMlNIUS 1^9 

ARMINIUS. 

I have said above that the great Cheruscan is more truly 
one of our national heroes than Caractacus is. It may be 
added that an Englishman is entitled to claim a closer degree of 
relationship with Arminius than can be claimed by any German 
of modern Germany. The proof of this depends on the proof 
of four facts : first, that the Cheruscans were Old Saxons, or 
Saxons of the interior of Germany ; secondly, that the Anglo- 
Saxons, or Saxons of the coast of Germany, were more closely 
akin than other German tribes were to the Cheruscan Saxons ; 
thirdly, that the Old Saxons were almost exterminated by 
Charlemagne ; fourthly, that the Anglo-Saxons are our imme- 
diate ancestors. The last of these may be assumed as an axiom 
in English history. The proofs of the other three are partly 
philological and partly historical. I have not space to go into 
them here, but they will be found in the early chapters of the 
great work of my friend, Dr. Robert Gordon Latham, on 
the " English Language," and in the notes to his edition of 
the " Germania of Tacitus." It may be, however, here re- 
marked, that the present Saxons of Germany are of the High 
Germanic division of the German race, whereas both the Anglo- 
Saxon and Old Saxon were of the Low Germanic. 

Being thus the nearest heirs of the glory of Arminius, we 
may fairly devote more attention to his career than, in such a 
work as the present, could be allowed to any individual leader ; 
and it is interesting to trace how far his fame survived during 
the Middle Ages, both among the Germans of the Continent 
and among ourselves. 

It seems probable that the jealousy with which Maroboduus, 
the king of the Suevi and Marcomanni, regarded Arminius, 
and which ultimately broke out into open hostilities between 
those German tribes and the Dherusci, prevented Arminius 
from leading the confederate Germans to attack Italy after his 
first victory. Perhaps he may have had the rare moderation of 
being content with the liberation of his country, without seeking 
to retaliate on her former oppressors. When Tiberius marched 
into Germany in the year 10, Arminius was too cautious to at- 
tack him on ground favorable to the legions, and Tiberius was 
too skilful to entangle his troops in the difficult parts of the 
country. His march and countermarch were as unresisted as 
9 



t^ti 



DECISIVE BATTLES 



they were unproductive. A few years later, when a dangerous 
revolt of the Roman legions near the frontier caused their gen- 
erals to find them active employment by leading them into the 
interior of Germany, we find Arminius again active in his coun- 
try's defence. The old quarrel between him and his father-in- 
law, Segestes, had broken out afresh. Segestes now called in 
the aid of the Roman general, Germanicus, to whom he sur- 
rendered himself; and by his contrivance, his daughter Thus- 
nelda, the wife of Arminius, also came into the hands of the 
Romans, being far advanced in pregnancy. She showed, as 
Tacitus relates,* more of the spirit of her husband than of her 
father, a spirit that could not be subdued into tears or supplica- 
tions. She was sent to Ravenna, and there gave birth to a son, 
whose life we know, from an allusion in Tacitus, to have been 
eventful and unhappy; but the part of the great historian's 
work which narrated his fate has perished, and we only know 
from another quarter that the son of Arminius was, at the age 
of four years, led captive, in a triumphal pageant along the 
streets of Rome. 

The high spirit of Arminius was goaded almost into frenzy 
by these bereavements. The fate of his wife, thus torn from 
him, and of his babe doomed to bondage even before its birth, 
inflamed the elequent invectives with which he roused his coun- 
trymen against the home-traitors, and against their invaders, 
who thus made war upon women and children. Germanicus 
had marched his army to the place where Varus had perished, 
and had there paid funeral honors to the ghastly relics of his 
predecessor's legions that he found heaped around him.f Ar- 
minius lured him to advance a little further into the country, 
and then assailed him, and fought a battle, which, by the Roman 
accounts, was a drawn one. The effect of it was to make Ger- 
manicus resolve on retreating to the Rhine. He himself, with 
part of his troops, embarked in some vessels on the Ems, and 
returned by that river, and then by sea ; but part of his forces 
were intrusted to a Roman general named Caecina, to lead them 
back by land to the Rhine. Arminius followed this division on 
its march, and fought several battles with it, in which he in- 



t In the Museum of Rhenish Antiquities at Bonn there is a Roman 
sepulchral monument, the inscription on which records that it was erected 
to the memory of M. Coeljus, who fell " Bello Variano." 



THE VICTORY OF ARMINIUS 131 

flicted heavy loss on the Romans, captured the greater part of 
their baggage, and would have destroyed them completely, had 
not his skilful system of operations been finally thwarted by 
the haste of Inguiomerus, a confederate German chief, who 
insisted on assaulting the Romans in their camp, instead of 
waiting till they were entangled in the difficulties of the coun- 
try, and assailing their columns on the march. 

In the following year the Romans were inactive, but in the 
year afterwards Germanicus led a fresh invasion. He placed his 
army on shipboard, and sailed to the mouth of the Ems, where 
he disembarked, and marched to the Weser, where he en- 
camped, probably in the neighborhood of Minden. Arminius 
had collected his army on the other side of the river; and a 
scene occurred, which is powerfully told by Tacitus, and which 
is the subject of a beautiful poem by Praed. It has been already 
mentioned that the brother of Arminius, like himself, had been 
trained up while young to serve in the Roman armies ; but, 
unlike Arminius, he not only refused to quit the Roman service 
for that of his country, but fought against his country with 
the legions of Germanicus. He had assumed the Roman name 
of Flavins, and had gained considerable distinction in the 
Roman service, in which he had lost an eye from a wound in 
battle. When the Roman outposts approached the River 
Weser, Arminius called out to them from the opposite bank, 
and expressed a wish to see his brother. Flavins stepped for- 
ward, and Arminius ordered his own followers to retire, and re- 
quested that the archers should be removed from the Roman 
bank of the river. This was done ; and the brothers, who ap- 
parently had not seen each other for some years, began a con- 
versation from the opposite sides of the stream, in which 
Arminius questioned his brother respecting the loss of his eye, 
and what battle it had been lost in, and what reward he had 
received for his wound. Flavins told him how the eye was lost, 
and mentioned the increased pay that he had on account of its 
loss, and showed the collar and other military decorations that 
had been given him. Arminius mocked at these as badges of 
slavery; and then each began to try to win the other over. 
Flavius boasting the power of Rome, and her generosity to the 
submissive ; Arminius appealing to him in the name of their 
country's gods, of the mother that had borne them and by the 
holy names of fatherland and freedom, not to prefer being the 



132 DECISIVE BATTLES 

betrayer to being the champion of his country. They soon 
proceeded to mutual taunts and menaces, and Flavius called 
aloud for his horse and his arms, that he might dash across the 
river and attack his brother ; nor would he have been checked 
from doing so, had not the Roman general Stertinius run up to 
him and forcibly detained him. Arminius stood on the other 
bank, threatening the renegade, and defying him to battle. 

I shall not be thought to need apology for quoting here the 
stanzas in which Praed has described this scene — a scene 
among the most affecting, as well as the most striking, that his- 
tory suppHes. It makes us reflect on the desolate position of 
Arminius, with his wife and child captives in the enemy's hands, 
and with his brother a renegade in arms against him. The great 
liberator of our German race was there, with every source of 
human happiness denied him except the consciousness of doing 
his duty to his country. 

" Back, back! he fears not foaming flood 

Who fears not steel-clad line : 
No warrior thou of German blood, 

No brother thou of mine. 
Go, earn Rome's chain to load thy neck, 

Her gems to deck thy hilt ; 
And blazon honor's hapless wreck 

With all the gauds of guilt. 

" But wouldst thou have me share the prey? 

By all that I have done, 
The Varian bones that day by day 

Lie whitening in the sun, 
The legion's trampled panoply. 

The eagle's shatter' d wing — 
I would not be for earth or sky 

So scorn'd and mean a thing. 

" Ho, call me here the wizard, boy, 

Of dark and subtle skill. 
To agonize but not destroy, 

To torture, not to kill. 
When swords are out, and shriek and shout 

Leave little room for prayer. 
No fetter on man's arm or heart 

Hangs half so heavy there. 

" I curse him by the gifts the land 
Hath won from him and Rome, 
The riving axe, the wasting brand. 
Rent forest, blazing home. 



THE VICTORY OF ARMINIUS 133 

I curse him by our country's gods, 

The terrible, the dark, 
The breakers of the Roman rods. 

The smiters of the bark. 

" Oh, misery that such a ban 

On such a brow should be ! 
Why comes he not in battle's van 

His country's chief to be? 
To stand a comrade by my side, 

The sharer of my fame, 
And worthy of a brother's pride 

And of a brother's name ? 

" But it is past ! where heroes press 

And cowards bend the knee, 
Arminius is not brotherless, 

His brethren are the free. 
They come around: one hour, and light 

Will fade from turf and tide. 
Then onward, onward to the fight, 

With darkness for our guide. 

" To-night, to-night, when we shall meet 

In combat face to face. 
Then only would Arminius greet 

The renegade's embrace. 
The canker of Rome's guilt shall be 

Upon his dying name ; 
And as he lived in slavery. 

So shall he fall in shame." 

On the day after the Romans had reached the Weser, Ger- 
manicus led his army across that river, and a partial encounter 
took place, in which Arminius was successful. But on the suc- 
ceeding day a general action was fought, in which Arminius 
was severely wounded, and the German infantry routed with 
heavy loss. The horsemen of the two armies encountered, 
without either party gaining the advantage. But the Roman 
army remained master of the ground, and claimed a complete 
victory. Germanicus erected a trophy in the field, with a 
vaunting inscription, that the nations between the Rhine and 
the Elbe had been thoroughly conquered by his army. But 
that army speedily made a final retreat to the left bank of the 
Rhine ; nor was the effect of their campaign more durable than 
their trophy. The sarcasm with which Tacitus speaks of cer- 
tain other triumphs of Roman generals over Germans may 



134 DECISIVE BATTLES 

apply to the pageant which Germanicus celebrated on his re- 
turn to Rome from his command of the Roman army of the 
Rhine. The Germans were " triumphati potius quam victi.'* 

After the Romans had abandoned their attempts on Ger- 
many, we find Arminius engaged in hostilities with Maro- 
boduus, the king of the Suevi and Marcomanni, who was 
endeavoring to bring the other German tribes into a state of 
dependency on him. Arminius was at the head of the Germans 
who took up arms against this home invader of their liberties. 
After some minor engagements, a pitched battle was fought 
between the two confederacies, a.d. 19, in which the loss on 
each side was equal, but Maroboduus confessed the ascendency 
of his antagonist by avoiding a renewal of the engagement, 
and by imploring the intervention of the Romans in his defence. 
The younger Drusus then commanded the Roman legions in 
the province of Illyricum, and by his mediation a peace was con- 
cluded between Arminius and Maroboduus, by the terms of 
which it is evident that the latter must have renounced his am- 
bitious schemes against the freedom of the other German tribes. 

Arminius did not long survive this second war of inde- 
pendence, which he successfully waged for his country. He 
was assassinated in the thirty-seventh year of his age by some 
of his own kinsmen, who conspired against him. Tacitus says 
that this happened while he was engaged in a civil war, which 
had been caused by his attempts to make himself king over his 
countrymen. It is far more probable (as one of the best biog- 
raphers* has observed) that Tacitus misunderstood an attempt 
of Arminius to extend his influence as elective war-chieftain of 
the Cherusci, and other tribes, for an attempt to obtain the 
royal dignity. When we remember that his father-in-law and 
his brother were renegades, we can well understand that a 
party among his kinsmen may have been bitterly hostile to him, 
and have opposed his authority with the tribe by open vio- 
lence, and when that seemed ineffectual, by secret assassina- 
tion. 

Arminius left a name which the historians of the nation 
against which he combated so long and so gloriously have de- 
lighted to honor. It is from the most indisputable source, from 

* Dr. Plate, in " Biographical Dictionary," commenced by the Society 
for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge. 



THE VICTORY OF ARMINIUS 135 

the lips of enemies, that we know his exploits.* His country- 
men made history, but did not write it. But his memory Uved 
among them in the days of their bards, who recorded 

*' The deeds he did, the fields he won, 
The freedom he restored." 

Tacitus, writing years after the death of Arminius, says of 
him, " Canitur adhuc barbaras apud gentes." As time passed 
on, the gratitude of ancient Germany to her great deliverer 
grew into adoration, and divine honors were paid for centuries 
to Arminius by every tribe of the Low Germanic division of 
the Teutonic races. The Irmin-sul, or the column of Herman, 
near Eresburgh, the modern Stadtberg, was the chosen object 
of worship to the descendants of the Cherusci, the Old Saxons, 
and in defence of which they fought most desperately against 
Charlemagne and his Christianized Franks. " Irmin, in the 
cloudy Olympus of Teutonic belief, appears as a king and a 
warrior ; and the pillar, the ^ Irmin-sul,' bearing the statute, 
and considered as the symbol of the deity, was the Palladium 
of the Saxon nation until the temple of Eresburgh was de- 
stroyed by Charlemagne, and the column itself transferred to 
the monastery of Corbey, where perhaps a portion of the rude 
rock idol yet remains, covered by the ornaments of the Gothic 
era."t Traces of the worship of Arminius are to be found 
among our Anglo-Saxon ancestors, after their settlement in 
this island. One of the four great highways was held to be 
under the protection of the deity, and was called the " Irmin 
street." The name Arminius is, of course, the mere Latinized 
form of " Herman," the name by which the hero and the deity 
were known by every man of Low German blood on either 
side of the German Sea. It means, etymologically, the " War- 
man," the " man of hosts." No other explanation of the wor- 
ship of the " Irmin-sul," and of the name of the " Irmin street," 
is so satisfactory as that which connects them with the deified 
Arminius. We know for certain of the existence of other col- 
umns of an analogous character. Thus there was the Roland- 
seule in North Germany ; there was a Thor-seule in Sweden, 

* See Tacitus, " Ann.," lib. ii., sec. 88; Velleius Paterculus, lib. ii., sec. 
118. 
t Palgrave on the " English Commonwealth," vol. ii., p. 140. 



136 DECISIVE BATTLES 

and (what is more important) there was an Athelstan-seule in 
Saxon England.* 

There is at the present moment a song respecting the Irmin- 
sul current in the bishopric of Minden, one version of which 
might seem only to refer to Charlemagne having pulled down 
the Irmin-sul. 

" Herman, sla dermen, 

Sla pipen, sla trummen, 

De Kaiser will kummen, 

Met hamer un stangen, 

Will Herman uphangen." 

But there is another version, which probably is the oldest, and 
which clearly refers to the great Arminius. 

" Un Herman slaug dermen, 
Slaug pipen, slaug trummen ; 
De fiirsten sind kammen. 
Met all eren-mannen 
Hebt Varus uphangen." t 

About ten centuries and a half after the demolition of the 
Irmin-sul, and nearly eighteen after the death of Arminius, 
the modern Germans conceived the idea of rendering tardy 
homage to their great hero, and accordingly, some eight or ten 
years ago, a general subscription was organized in Germany 
for the purpose of erecting on the Osning — a conical mountain, 
which forms the highest summit of the Teutoberger Wald, and 
is eighteen hundred feet above the level of the sea — a colossal 
bronze statue of Arminius. The statue was designed by Ban- 
del. The hero was to stand uplifting a sword in his right hand, 
and looking towards the Rhine, The height of the statue was 
to be eighty feet from the base to the point of the sword, and 
was to stand on a circular Gothic temple ninety feet high, and 
supported by oak trees as columns. The mountain, where it 
was to be erected, is wild and stern, and overlooks the scene of 
the battle. It was calculated that the statue would be clearly 
visible at a distance of sixty miles. The temple is nearly fin- 
ished, and the statue itself has been cast at the copper works 
at Lemgo. But there, through want of funds to set it up, it 

* See Lappenburg's " Anglo-Saxons," p. 376. For nearly all the philo- 
logical and ethnographical facts respecting Arminius, I am indebted to 
my friend, Dr. R. G. Latham. 

t See Grim, " Deutsche Mythologie," 329. 



THE VICTORY OF ARMINIUS 137 

has lain for some years, in disjointed fragments, exposed to the 
mutilating homage of relic-seeking travellers. JThe idea of 
honoring a hero, who belongs to all Germany, is not one which 
the present rulers of that divided country* have any wish to en- 
courage; and the statue may long continue to lie there, and 
present too true a type of the condition of Germany herself, f 

Surely this is an occasion in which Englishmen might well 
prove, by acts as well as words, that we also rank Arminius 
among our heroes. 

I have quoted the noble stanzas of one of our modern Eng- 
lish poets on Arminius, and I will conclude this memoir with 
one of the odes of the great poet of modern Germany, Klop- 
stock, on the victory to which we owe our freedom, and Armin- 
ius mainly owes his fame. Klopstock calls it the " Battle of 
Winfield." The epithet of " sister of Cannae " shows that Klop- 
stock followed some chronologers, according to whom Varus 
was defeated on the anniversary of the day on which Paulus 
and Varro were defeated by Hannibal. 

SONG OF TRIUMPH AFTER THE VICTORY OF HERRMAN, 
THE DELIVERER OF GERMANY FROM THE ROMANS. 

FROM KLOPSTOCK's " HERRMAN UND DIE FURSTEN.'' 

Supposed to be sung by a chorus of Bards. 

A CHORUS. 

Sister of Cannae !t Winfield's § fight! 
We saw thee with thy streaming, bloody hair, 
With fiery eye, bright with the world's despair, 
Sweep by Walhalla's bards from out our sight, 

Herrman outspake : " Now Victory or Death ! " 
The Romans ..." Victory ! " 
And onward rushed their eagles with the cry. 
So ended the first day. 

" Victory or Death! " began 

Then, first, the Roman chief; and Herrman spake 
Not, but home-struck : the eagles fluttered — ^brake. 
So sped the second day. 

♦Written in 1851 when Germany was divided into numerous inde- 
pendent principalities. 

t On the subject of this statue, I must repeat an acknowledgment of 
my obligations to my friend, Mr. Henry Pearson. 

t The battle of Cannae, B.C. 216 — Hannibal's victory over the Romans. 

§ Winfield — the probable site of the " Herrmanschladt " ; see supra. 



138 DECISIVE BATTLES 



TWO CHORUSES, 



And the third came ... the cry was " Flight or Death ! " 
Flight left they not for them who'd make them slaves — 
Men who stab children ! flight for them ! . . . no ! graves ! 
" 'Twas their last day." 

TWO BARDS. 

Yet spared they messengers : they came to Rome — 
How drooped the plume — the lance was left to trail 
Down in the dust behind — their cheek was pale — 
So came the messengers to Rome. 

High in his hall the imperator sat — 

Octavianus CcBsar Augustus sat. 

They filled up wine-cups, wine-cups filled they up 

For him the highest — wine-cups filled they up 

For him the highest, Jove of all their state. 

The flutes of Lydia hushed before their voice. 
Before the messengers — tTie " Highest " sprung — 
The god * against the marble pillars, wrung 
By the dread words, striking his brow, and thrice 
Cried he aloud in anguish, "Varus! Varus! 
Give back my legions. Varus ! " 

And now the world-wide conquerors shrunk and feared 
For fatherland and home. 

The lance to raise ; and 'mongst those false to Rome 
The death-lot rolled, t and still they shrunk and feared ; 

" For she her face hath turned 

The victor goddess," cried those cowards— (for aye 

Be it!) — "from Rome and Romans, and her day 

Is done " — and still be mourned. 

And cried aloud in anguish, " Varus ! Varus ! 

Give back my legions, Varus ! " % 

* Augustus was worshipped as a deity in his lifetime, 
t See supra, p. 139. 

J I have taken this translation from an anonymous writer in French 
two years ago. 



THE VICTORY OF ARMINIUS 139 



Synopsis of Events between Arminius' Victory Over 
Varus and the Battle of Chalons. 

A.D. 43. The Romans commence the conquest of Britain, 
Claudius being then Emperor of Rome. The population of 
this island was then Celtic. In about forty years all the tribes 
south of the Clyde were subdued, and their land made a Roman 
province. 

58 — 60. Successful campaigns of the Roman general Corbulo 
against the Parthians. 

64. First persecution of the Christians at Rome under Nero. 

68 — 70. Civil wars in the Roman world. The Emperors Nero, 
Galba, Otho, and Vitellius cut off successively by violent deaths. 
Vespasian becomes emperor. 

70. Jerusalem destroyed by the Romans under Titus. 

83. Futile attack of Domitian on the Germans. 

86. Beginning of the wars between the Romans and the 
Dacians. 

98 — 117. Trajan emperor of Rome. Under him the empire 
acquires its greatest territorial extent by his conquests in Dacia 
and in the East. His successor, Hadrian, abandons the prov- 
inces beyond the Euphrates which Trajan had conquered. 

138 — 180. Era of the Antonines. 

167 — 176. A long and desperate war between Rome and a 
great confederacy of the German nations. Marcus Antoninus 
at last succeeds in repelling them. 

192 — 197. Civil wars throughout the Roman world. Se- 
verus becomes emperor. He relaxes the discipline of the sol- 
diers. After his death, in 211, the series of military insurrec- 
tions, civil wars, and murders of emperors recommences. 

226. Artaxerxes (Ardisheer) overthrows the Parthian, and 
restores the Persian kingdom in Asia. He attacks the Roman 
possessions in the East. 

250. The Goths invade the Roman provinces. The Em- 
peror Decius is defeated and slain by them. 

253 — 260. The Franks and Alemanni invade Gaul, Spain, and 
Africa. The Goths attack Asia Minor and Greece. The Per- 
sian conquer Armenia. Their king. Sapor, defeats the Roman 
Emperor Valerian, and takes him prisoner. General distress of 
the Roman empire. 



I40 DECISIVE BATTLES 

268 — 283. The Emperors Claudius, Aurelian, Tacitus, Pro- 
bus, and Carus defeat the various enemies of Rome, and restore 
order in the Roman state. 

285. Diocletian divides and reorganizes the Roman empire. 
After his abdication in 305 a fresh series of civil wars and con- 
fusion ensues. Constantine, the first Christian emperor, re- 
unites the empire in 324. 

330. Constantine makes Constantinople the seat of empire 
instead of Rome. 

363. The Emperor Julian is killed in action against the Per- 
sians. 

364 — 375. The empire is again divided, Valentinian being 
emperor of the West, and Valens of the East. Valentinian re- 
pulses the Alemanni, and other German invaders from Gaul. 
Splendor of the Gothic kingdom under Hermanric, north of the 
Danube. 

375 — 395. The Huns attack the Goths, who implore the pro- 
tection of the Roman emperor of the East. The Goths are al- 
lowed to pass the Danube, and to settle in the Roman provinces. 
A war soon breaks out between them and the Romans, and the 
Emperor Valens and his army are destroyed by them. They 
ravage the Roman territories. The Emperor Theodosius re- 
duces them to submission. They retain settlements in Thrace 
and Asia Minor. 

395. Final division of the Roman empire between Arcadius 
and Honorius, the two sons of Theodosius. The Goths revolt, 
and under Alaric attack various parts of both the Roman em- 
pires. 

410. Alaric takes the city of Rome. 

412. The Goths march into Gaul, and in 414 into Spain, 
which had been invaded by hosts of Vandals, Suevi, Alani, and 
other Germanic nations. Britain is formally abandoned by 
the Roman empire of the West. 

428. Genseric, king of the Vandals, conquers the Roman 
province of North Africa. 

441. The Huns attack the Eastern empire. 



CHAPTER VI. 

THE BATTLE OF CHALONS, A.D. 451. 

" The discomfiture of the mighty attempt of Attila to found a new anti- 
Christian dynasty upon the wreck of the temporal power of Rome, at 
the end of the term of twelve hundred years, to which its duration had 
been limited by the forebodings of the heathen." — Herbert. 

ABROAD expanse of plains, the Campi Catalaunici of 
the ancients, spreads far and wide around the city of 
Chalons, in the northeast of France. The long rows of 
poplars, through which the River Marne winds its way, and a 
few thinly scattered villages, are almost the only objects that 
vary the monotonous aspect of the greater part of this region. 
But about five miles from Chalons, near the little hamlets of 
Chape and Cuperly, the ground is indented and heaped up in 
ranges of grassy mounds and trenches, which attest the work of 
man's hands in ages past, and which, to the practised eye, dem- 
onstrate that this quiet spot has once been the fortified position 
of a huge military host. 

Local tradition gives to these ancient earth-works the name 
of Attila's Camp. Nor is there any reason to question the cor- 
rectness of the title, or to doubt that behind these very ram- 
parts it was that 1,400 years ago the most powerful heathen king 
that ever ruled in Europe mustered the remnants of his vast 
army, which had striven on these plains against the Christian 
soldiery of Toulouse and Rome. Here it was that Attila pre- 
pared to resist to the death his victors in the field ; and here he 
heaped up the treasures of his camp in one vast pile, which was 
to be his funeral pyre should his camp be stormed. It was here 
that the Gothic and Italian forces watched, but dared not assail 
their enemy in his despair, after that great and terrible day of 

battle when 

" The sound 
Of conflict was o'erpast, the shout of all 
Whom- earth could send from her remotest bounds, 
Heathen or faithful ; from thy hundred mouths, 
141 



142 DECISIVE BATTLES 

. That feed the Caspian with Riphean snows. 
Huge Volga ! from famed Hypanis, which once 
Cradled the Hun ; from all the countless realms 
Between Imaus and that utmost strand 
Where columns of Herculean rock confront 
The blown Atlantic ; Roman, Goth, and Hun, 
And Scythian strength of chivalry, that tread 
The cold Codanian shore, or what far lands 
Inhospitable drink Cimmerian floods, 
Franks, Saxons, Suevic, and Sarmatiari chiefs, 
And who from green Armorica or Spain 
Flocked to the work of death." * 

The victory which the Roman general, Aetius, with his 
Gothic allies, had then gained over the Huns, was the last vic- 
tory of imperial Rome. But among the long Fasti of her tri- 
umphs, few can be found that, for their importance and ultimate 
benefit to mankind, are comparable with this expiring effort 
of her arms. It did not, indeed, open to her any new career of 
conquest — it did not consolidate the relics of her power — it did 
not turn the rapid ebb of her fortunes. The mission of im- 
perial Rome was, in truth, already accomplished. She had re- 
ceived and transmitted through her once ample dominion the 
civilization of Greece. She had broken up the barriers of nar- 
row nationalities among the various states and tribes that dwelt 
around the coasts of the Mediterranean. She had fused these 
and many other races into one organized empire, bound to- 
gether by a community of laws, of government and institutions. 
Under the shelter of her full power the True Faith had arisen 
in the earth, and during the years of her decline it had been 
nourished to maturity, it had overspread all the provinces that 
ever obeyed her sway.f For no beneficial purpose to mankind 
could the dominion of the seven-hilled city have been restored 
or prolonged. But it was all-important to mankind what na- 
tions should divide among them Rome's rich inheritance of em* 
pire. Whether the Germanic and Gothic warriors should form 
states and kingdoms out of the fragments of her dominions, 
and become the free members of the commonwealth of Chris- 
tian Europe; or whether pagan savages, from the wilds of 
Central Asia, should crush the relics of classic civilization and 
the early institutions of the Christianized Germans in one hope- 

* Herbert's " Attila," book i., line 13. 

t See the Introduction to Ranke's " History of the Popes." 



THE BATTLE OF CHALONS 143 

less chaos of barbaric conquest. The Christian Visigoths of 
King Theodoric fought and triumphed at Chalons side by side 
with the legions of Aetius. Their joint victory over the Hun- 
nish host not only rescued for. a time from destruction the old 
age of Rome, but preserved for centuries of power and glory 
the Germanic element in the civilization of modern Europe. 

In order to estimate the full importance to mankind of the 
battle of Chalons, we must keep steadily in mind who and what 
the Germans were, and the important distinctions between 
them and the numerous other races that assailed the Roman 
empire ; and it is to be understood that the Gothic and Scan- 
dinavian nations are included in the German race. Now, " in 
two remarkable traits, the Germans differed from the Sarmatic 
as well as from the Slavic nations, and, indeed, from all those 
other races to whom the Greeks and Romans gave the designa- 
tion of barbarians. I allude to their personal freedom and re- 
gard for the rights of men ; secondly, to the respect paid by 
them to the female sex, and the chastity for which the latter 
were celebrated among the people of the North. These were 
the foundations of that probity of character, self-respect, ana 
purity of manners which may be traced among the Germans 
and Goths even during pagan times, and which, when their 
sentiments were enlightened by Christianity, brought out those 
splendid traits of character which distinguish the age of chivalry 
and romance."* What the intermixture of the German stock 
with the classic, at the fall of the Western empire, has done for 
mankind, may be best felt by watching, with Arnold, over how 
large a portion of the earth the influence of the German element 
is now extended. 

" It affects, more or less, the whole west of Europe, from 
the head of the Gulf of Bothnia to the most southern promon- 
tory of Sicily, from the Oder and the Adriatic to the Hebrides 
and to Lisbon. It is true that the language spoken over a 
large portion of this space is not predominantly German ; but 
even in France, and Italy, and Spain, the influence of the 
Franks, Burgundians, Visigoths, Ostrogoths, and Lombards 
while it has colored even the language, has in blood and insti- 
tutions left its mark legibly and indelibly. Germany, the Low 
Countries, Switzerland for the most part, Denmark, Norway, 

* See Prichard's " Researches into the Physical History of Man," vol. 
ii., p. 423. 



144 DECISIVE BATTLES 

and Sweden, and our own islands are all in language, in blood, 
and in institutions, German most decidedly. But all South 
America is peopled with Spaniards and Portuguese ; all North 
America, and all Australia with Englishmen. I say nothing of 
the prospects and influence of the German race in Africa and in 
India : it is enough to say that half of Europe, and all America 
and Australia, are German, more or less completely, in race, in 
language, or in institutions, or in all."* 

By the middle of the fifth century, Germanic nations had set- 
tled themselves in many of the fairest regions of the Roman 
empire, had imposed their yoke on the provincials, and had un- 
dergone, to a considerable extent, that moral conquest which 
the arts and refinements of the vanquished in arms have so often 
achieved over the rough victor. The Visigoths held the north 
of Spain, and Gaul south of the Loire. Franks, Alemanni, 
Alans, and Burgundians had established themselves in other 
Gallic provinces, and the Suevi were masters of a large south- 
ern portion of the Spanish peninsula. A king of the Vandals 
reigned in North Africa; and the Ostrogoths had firmly 
planted themselves in the provinces north of Italy. Of these 
powers and principalities, that of the Visigoths, under their 
king Theodoric, son of Alaric, was by far the first in power and 
in civilization. 

The pressure of the Huns upon Europe had first been felt 
in the fourth century of our era. They had long been formida- 
ble to the Chinese empire, but the ascendency in arms which 
another nomadic tribe of Central Asia, the Sienpi, gained over 
them, drove the Huns from their Chinese conquest westward ; 
and this movement once being communicated to the whole 
chain of barbaric nations that dwelt northward of the Black Sea 
and the Roman empire, tribe after tribe of savage warriors 
broke in upon the barriers of civilized Europe. " Velut unda 
supervenit undam." The Huns crossed the Tanais into Europe 
in 375, and rapidly reduced to subjection the Alans, the Ostro- 
goths, and other tribes that were then dwelling along the course 
of the Danube. The armies of the Roman emperor that tried 
to check their progress were cut to pieces by them, and Pan- 
nonia and other provinces south of the Danube were speedily 
occupied by the victorious cavalry of these new invaders. Not 
merely the degenerate Romans but the bold and hardy warriors 
* Arnold's " Lectures on Modern History," p. 35. 



THE BATTLE OF CHALONS 145 

of Germany and Scandinavia, were appalled at the number, the 
ferocity, the ghastly appearance, and the lightning-like rapidity 
of the Huns. Strange and loath some legends \yere coined 
and credited which attributed their origin to the union of 

" Secret, black, and midnight hags," 

with the evil spirits of the wilderness. 

Tribe after tribe, and city after city, fell before them. Then 
came a pause in their career of conquest in southwestern Eu- 
rope, caused probably by dissensions among their chiefs, and 
also by their arms being employed in attacks upon the Scan- 
dinavian nations. But when Attila (or Atzel, as he is called in 
the Hungarian language) became their ruler, the torrent of 
their arms was directed with augmented terrors upon the west 
and the south, and their myriads marched beneath the guidance 
of one master-mind to the overthrow both of the new and the 
old powers of the earth. 

Recent events have thrown such a strong interest over every- 
thing connected with the Hungarian name, that even the ter- 
rible renown of Attila now impresses us the more vividly 
through our sympathizing admiration of the exploits of those 
who claim to be descended from his warriors, and " ambitiously 
insert the name of Attila among their native kings." The au- 
thenticity of this martial genealogy is denied by some writers 
and questioned by more. But it is at least certain that the 
Magyars of Arpad, who are the immediate ancestors of the 
bulk of the modern Hungarians, and who conquered the coun- 
try which bears the name of Hungary in a.d. 889, were of the 
same stock of mankind as were the Huns of Attila, even if they 
did not belong to the same subdivision of that stock. Nor is 
there any improbability in the tradition that after Attila's 
death many of his warriors remained in Hungary, and that their 
descendants afterwards joined the Huns of Arpad in their career 
of conquest. It is certain that Attila made Hungary the seat 
of his empire. It seems also susceptible of clear proof that the 
territory was then called Hungvar and Attila's soldiers Hun- 
gvari. Both the Huns of Attila and those of Arpad came from 
the family of nomadic nations whose primitive regions were 
those vast wildernesses of High Asia which are included be- 
tween the Altaic and the Himalayan mountain chains. The in- 
roads of these tribes upon the lower regions of Asia and into 



146 DECISIVE BATTLES 

Europe have caused many of the most remarkable revolutions 
in the history of the world. There is every reason to believe that 
swarms of these nations made their way into distant parts of the 
earth, at periods long before the date of the Scythian invasion 
of Asia, which is the earUest inroad of the nomadic race that 
history records. The first, as far as we can conjecture, in re- 
spect to the time of their descent, were the Finnish and Ugrian 
tribes, who appear to have come down from the Altaic border 
of High Asia towards the northwest, in which direction they 
advanced to the Uralian Mountains. There they established 
themselves; and that mountain chain, with its valleys and 
pasture lands, became to them a new country, whence they sent 
out colonies on every side ; but the Ugrian colony, which, un- 
der Arpad, occupied Hungary, and became the ancestors of the 
bulk of the present Hungarian nation, did not quit their settle- 
ments on the Uralian Mountains till a very late period, and not 
until four centuries after the time when Attila led from the 
primary seats of the nomadic races in High Asia the host with 
which he advanced into the heart of France.* That host was 
Turkish, but closely allied in origin, language, and habits with 
the Finno-Ugrian settlers on the Ural. 

Attila's fame has not come down to us through the partial 
and suspicious medium of chroniclers and poets of his own 
race. It is not from Hunnish authorities that we learn the ex- 
tent of his might: it is from his enemies, from the literature 
and the legends of the nations whom he afflicted with his arms, 
that we draw the unquestionable evidence of his greatness. Be- 
sides the express narratives of Byzantine, Latin, and Gothic 
writers, we have the strongest proof of the stern reality of At- 
tila's conquests in the extent to which he and his Huns have 
been the themes of the earliest German and Scandinavian lays. 
Wild as many of those legends are, they bear concurrent and 
certain testimony to the awe with which the memory of Attila 
was regarded by the bold warriors who composed and delighted 
in them. Attila's exploits, and the wonders of his unearthly 
steed and magic sword, repeatedly occur in the Sagas of Nor- 
way and Iceland; and the celebrated Niebelungen Lied, the 
most ancient of Germanic poetry, is full of them. There Etsel, 
or Attila, is described as the wearer of twelve mighty crowns, 
and as promising to his bride the lands of thirty kings, whom 

* See Prichard's " Researches into the Physical History of Mankind." 



THE BATTLE OF CHALONS 147 

his irresistible sword had subdued. He is, in fact, the hero of 
the latter part of this remarkable poem ; and it is at his capital 
city, Etselenburgh, which evidently corresponds to the modern 
Buda, that much of its action takes place. 

When we turn from the legendary to the historic Attila, we 
see clearly that he was not one of the vulgar herd of barbaric 
conquerors. Consummate military skill may be traced in his 
campaigns ; and he relied far less on the brute force of armies 
for the aggrandizement of his empire, than on the unbounded 
influence over the affections of friends and the fears of foes 
which his genius enabled him to acquire. Austerely sober in 
his private life — severely just on the judgment seat — conspicu- 
ous among a nation of warriors for hardihood, strength, and 
skill in every martial exercise — grave and deliberate in coun- 
sel, but rapid and remorseless in execution, he gave safety and 
security to all who were under his dominion, while he waged 
a warfare of extermination against all who opposed or sought 
to escape from it. He watched the national passions, the 
prejudices, the creeds, ancj the superstitions of the varied na- 
tions over which he ruled, and of those which he sought to re- 
duce beneath his sway: all these feelings he had the skill to 
turn to his own account. His own warriors believed him to be 
the inspired favorite of their deities, and followed him with 
fanatic zeal ; his enemies looked on him as the pre-appointed 
minister of heaven's wrath against themselves; and though 
they believed not in his creed, their own made them tremble 
before him. 

In one of his early campaigns he appeared before his troops 
with an ancient iron sword in his grasp, which he told them 
was the god of war whom their ancestors had worshipped. It 
is certain that the nomadic tribes of Northern Asia, whom 
Herodotus described under the name of Scythians, from the 
earliest times worshipped as their god a bare sword. That 
sword-god was supposed, in Attila's time, to have disappeared 
from earth; but the Hunnish king now claimed to have re- 
ceived it by special revelation. It was said that a herdsman, 
who was tracking in the desert a wounded heifer by the drops 
of blood, found the mysterious sword standing fixed in the 
ground, as if it had darted down from heaven. The herdsmen 
bore it to Attila, who thenceforth was believed by the Huns to 
wield the Spirit of Death in battle, and their seers prophesied 



148 DECISIVE BATTLES 

that that sword was to destroy the world. A Roman,* who was 
on an embassy to the Hunnish camp, recorded in his memoirs 
Attila's acquisition of this supernatural weapon, and the im- 
mense influence over the minds of the barbaric tribes which 
its possession gave him. In the title which he assumed we shall 
see the skill with which he availed himself of the legends and 
creeds of other nations as well as of his own. He designated 
himself " Attila, Descendant of the Great Nimrod. Nurtured 
in Engaddi. By the Grace of God, King of the Huns, the 
Goths, the Danes, and the Medes. The Dread of the World." 

Herbert states that Attila is represented on an old medalHon 
with a Teraphim, or a head, on his breast ; and the same writer 
adds, " We know, from the * Hamartigenea ' of Prudentius, that 
Nimrod, with a snaky-haired head, was the object of adoration 
of the heretical followers of Marcion ; and the same head was 
the palladium set up by Antiochus Epiphanes over the gates of 
Antioch, though it has been called the visage of Charon. The 
memory of Nimrod was certainly regarded with mystic venera- 
tion by many ; and by asserting himself to be the heir of that 
mighty hunter before the Lord, he vindicated to himself at least 
the whole Babylonian kingdom. 

"The singular assertion in his style, that he was nurtured 
in Engaddi, where he certainly had never been, will be more 
easily understood on reference to the twelfth chapter of the 
Book of Revelation, concerning the woman clothed with the 
sun, who was to bring forth in the wilderness — * where she hath 
a place prepared of God ' — a man-child, who was to contend 
with the dragon having seven heads and ten horns, and rule 
all nations with a rod of iron. This prophecy was at that time 
understood universally by the sincere Christians to refer to the 
birth of Constantine, who was to overwhelm the paganism of 
the city on the seven hills, and it is still so explained; but it 
is evident that the heathens must have looked on it in a differ- 
ent light, and have regarded it as a foretelling of the birth of 
that Great one who should master the temporal power of Rome. 
The assertion, therefore, that he was nurtured in Engaddi, is 
a claim to be looked upon as that man-child who was to be 
brought forth in a place prepared of God in the wilderness. 
Engaddi means a place of palms and vines in the desert ; it was 
hard by Zoar, the city of refuge, which was saved in the Vale 
* Priscus apud Jornandem. 



THE BATTLE OF CHALONS 



149 



of Siddim, or Demons, when the rest were destroyed by fire 
and brimstone from the Lord in heaven and might, therefore, 
be especially called a place prepared of God in the wilderness." 

It is obvious enough why he styled himself ** By the Grace 
of God, King of the Huns and Goths" ; and it seems far from 
difficult to see why he added the names of the Medes and the 
Danes. His armies had been engaged in warfare against the 
Persian kingdom of the Sassanidae, and it is certain* that he 
meditated the invasion and overthrow of the Medo-Persian 
power. Probably some of the northern provinces of that 
kingdom had been compelled to pay him tribute ; and this would 
account for his styling himself King of the Medes, they being 
his remotest subjects to the south. From a similar cause, he 
may have called himself King of the Danes, as his power may 
well have extended northward as far as the nearest of the 
Scandinavian nations, and this mention of Medes and Danes as 
his subjects would serve at once to indicate the vast extent of his 
dominion.! 

The immense territory north of the Danube and Black Sea 
and eastward of Caucasus, over which Attila ruled, first in con- 
junction with his brother Bleda, and afterwards alone, cannot be 
very accurately defined, but it must have comprised within it, 
besides the Pluns, many nations of Slavic, Gothic, Teutonic, 
and Finnish origin. South also of the Danube, the country, 
from the River Sau, as far as Novi in Thrace, was a Hunnish 
province. Such was the empire of the Huns in a.d. 445 ; a 
memorable year, in which Attila founded Buda on the Danube 
as his capital city, and ridded himself of his brother by a crime 
which seems to have been prompted not only by selfish ambi- 
tion, but also by a desire of turning to his purpose the legends 
and forebodings which then were universally spread through- 
out the Roman empire, and must have been well known to 
the watchful and ruthless Hun. 

The year 445 of our era completed the twelfth century from 
the foundation of Rome, according to the best chronologers. 
It had always been believed among the Romans that the twelve 

* See the narrative of Priscus. 

t In the " Niebelungen Lied," the old poet who describes the reception 
of the heroine Chrimhild by Attila [Etsel], says that Attila's dominions 
were so vast that among his subject- warriors there were Russian, Greek, 
Wallachian, Polish, and even Danish knights. 



I50 



DECISIVE BATTLES 



vultures, which were said to have appeared to Romulus when 
he founded the city, signified the time during which the Roman 
power should endure. The twelve vultures denoted twelve 
centuries. This interpretation of the vision of the birds of 
destiny was current among learned Romans, even when there 
were yet many of the twelve centuries to run, and while the 
imperial city was at the zenith of its power. But as the allotted 
time drew nearer and nearer to its conclusion, and as Rome 
grew weaker and weaker beneath the blows of barbaric in- 
vaders, the terrible omen was more and more talked and thought 
of; and in Attila's time, men watched for the momentary ex- 
tinction of the Roman state with the last beat of the last vul- 
ture's wing. Moreover, among the numerous legends con- 
nected with the foundation of the city, and the fratricidal death 
of Remus, there was one most terrible one, which told that 
Romulus did not put his brother to death in accident or in hasty 
quarrel, but that 

" He slew his gallant twin 
With inexpiable sin," 

deliberately and in compliance with the warnings of super- 
natural powers. The shedding of a brother's blood was be- 
lieved to have been the price at which the founder of Rome had 
purchased from destiny her twelve centuries of existence.* 

We may imagine, therefore, with what terror in this, the 
twelve hundredth year after the foundation of Rome, the in- 
habitants of the Roman empire must have heard the tidings 
that the royal brethren, Attila and Bleda, had founded a new 
capital on the Danube, which was designed to rule over the 
ancient capital on the Tiber ; and that Attila, like Romulus, had 
consecrated the foundations of his new city by murdering his 
brother; so that for the new cycle of centuries then about to 
commence, dominion had been bought from the gloomy spirits 
of destiny in favor of the Hun by a sacrifice of equal awe and 
value with that which had formerly obtained it for the Roman. 

It is to be remembered that not only the pagans, but also 
the Christians of that age, knew and believed in these legends 

* See a curious justification of Attila for murdering his brother, by a 
zealous Hungarian advocate, in the note to Pray's " Annales Hun- 
norum," p. 117. The example of Romulus is the main authority quoted. 



THE BATTLE OF CHALONS 151 

and omens, however they might differ as to the nature of the 
superhuman agency by which such mysteries had heen made 
known to mankind. And we may observe, with Herbert, a 
modern learned dignitary of our church, how remarkably this 
augury was fulfilled ; for ** if to the twelve centuries denoted 
by the twelve vultures that appeared to Romulus, we add for 
the six birds that appeared to Remus six lustra, or periods of 
five years each, by which the Romans were wont to number 
their time, it brings us precisely to the year 476, in which the 
Roman empire was finally extinguished by Odoacer." 

An attempt to assassinate Attila, made, or supposed to have 
been made, at the instigation of Theodoric the younger, the 
Emperor of Constantinople, drew the Hunnish armies, in 445, 
upon the Eastern empire, and delayed for a time the destined 
blow against Rome. Probably a more important cause of delay 
was the revolt of some of the Hunnish tribes to the north of the 
Black Sea against Attila, which broke out about this period, 
and is cursorily mentioned by the Byzantine writers. Attila 
quelled this revolt, and having thus consolidated his power, and 
having punished the presumption of the Eastern Roman em- 
peror by fearful ravages of his fairest provinces, Attila, in 450 
A.D., prepared to set vast forces in motion for the conquest 
of Western Europe. He sought unsuccessfully by diplomatic 
intrigues to detach the King of the Visigoths from his alliance 
with Rome, and he resolved first to crush the power of Theo- 
doric, and then to advance with overwhelming power to trample 
out the last sparks of the doomed Roman empire. 

A strong invitation from a Roman princess gave him a pre- 
text for the war, and threw an air of chivalric enterprise over 
his invasion. Honoria, sister of Valentinian HL, the Emperor 
of the West, had sent to Attila to offer him her hand and her 
supposed right to share in the imperial power. This had been 
discovered by the Romans, and Honoria had been forthwith 
closely imprisoned. Attila now pretended to take up arms jn 
behalf of his self-promised bride, and proclaimed that he was 
about to march to Rome to redress Honoria's wrongs. Ambi- 
tion and spite against her brother must have been the sole mo- 
tives that led the lady to woo the royal Hun ; for Attila's face 
and person had all the natural ugliness of his race, and the de- 
scription given of him by a Byzantine ambassador must have 
been well known in the imperial courts, Herbert has well ver- 



152 DECISIVE BATTLES 

sified the portrait drawn by Priscus of the great enemy of both 
Byzantium and Rome : 

" Terrific was his semblance, in no mould 
Of beautiful proportion cast; his limbs 
Nothing exalted, but with sinews braced 
Of chalybaean temper, agile, lithe, 
And swifter than the roe; his ample chest 
Was overbrow'd by a gigantic head, 
With eyes keen, deeply sunk, and small, that gleam'd 
Strangely in wrath as though some spirit unclean 
Within that corporal tenement install'd 
Look'd from its windows, but with temper'd fire 
Beam'd mildly on the unresisting. Thin 
His beard and hoary; his flat nostrils crown'd 
A cicatrized, swart visage ; but, withal. 
That questionable shape such glory wore 
That mortals quail'd beneath him." 

Two chiefs of the Franks, who were then settled on the Lower 
Rhine, were at this period engaged in a feud with each other, 
and while one of them appealed to the Romans for aid, the other 
invoked the assistance and protection of the Huns. Attila thus 
obtained an ally whose co-operation secured for him the pass- 
age of the Rhine, and it was this circumstance which caused him 
to take a northward route from Hungary for his attack upon 
Gaul. The muster of the Hunnish hosts was swollen by war- 
riors of every tribe that they had subjugated ; nor is there any 
reason to suspect the old chroniclers of wilful exaggeration in 
estimating Attila's army at seven hundred thousand strong. 
Having crossed the Rhine probably a little below Coblentz, he 
defeated the King of the Burgundians, who endeavored to 
bar his progress. He then divided his vast forces into two 
armies, one of which marched northwest upon Tongres and 
Arras, and the other cities of that part of France, while the main 
body, under Attila himself, advanced up the Moselle, and de- 
stroyed Besanqon, and other towns in the country of Burgun- 
dians. One of the latest and best biographers of Attila* well 
observes, that, " having thus conquered the eastern part of 
France, Attila prepared for an invasion of the West Gothic 
territories beyond the Loire. He marched upon Orleans, 
where he intended to force the passage of that river, and only a 
little attention is requisite to enable us to perceive that he pro- 

* Biographical Dictionary commenced by the Useful Knowledge So- 
ciety in 1844. 



THE BATTLE OF CHALONS 153 

ceeded on a systematic plan: he had his right wing on the 
north for the protection of his Frank aUies ; his left wing on 
the south for the purpose of preventing the Burgundians from 
rallying, and of menacing the passes of the Alps from Italy ; 
and he led his centre towards the chief object of the campaign — 
the conquest of Orleans, and an easy passage into the West 
Gothic dominion. The whole plan is very hke that of the allied 
powers in 1814, with this difference, that their left wing en- 
tered France through the defiles of the Jura, in the direction of 
Lyons, and that the military object of the campaign was the 
capture of Paris." 

It was not until the year 451 that the Huns commenced the 
siege of Orleans ; and during their campaign in Eastern Gaul, 
the Roman general Aetius had strenuously exerted himself in 
collecting and organizing such an army as might, when united 
to the soldiery of the Visigoths, be fit to face the Huns in the 
field. He enHsted every subject of the Roman empire whom 
patriotism, courage, or compulsion could collect beneath the 
standards; and round these troops, which assumed the once 
proud title of the legions of Rome, he arrayed the large forces 
of barbaric auxiliaries, whom pay, persuasion, or the general 
hate and dread of the Huns brought to the camp of the last of 
the Roman generals. King Theodoric exerted himself with 
equal energy. Orleans resisted her besiegers bravely as in 
after times. The passage of the Loire was skilfully defended 
against the Huns ; and Aetius and Theodoric, after much 
manoeuvring and difficulty, effected a junction of their armies 
to the south of that important river. On the advance of the 
allies upon Orleans, Attila instantly broke up the siege of that 
city, and retreated towards the Marne. He did not choose to 
risk a decisive battle with only the central corps of his army 
against the combined power of his enemies, and he therefore 
fell back upon his base of operations, calling in his wings from 
Arras and Besanqon, and concentrating the whole of the Hun- 
nish forces on the vast plains of Chalons-sur-Marne. A glance 
at the map will show how scientifically this place was chosen 
by the Hunnish general as the point for his scattered forces to 
converge upon ; and the nature of the ground was eminently 
favorable for the operations of cavalry, the arm in which At- 
tila's strength peculiarly lay. 

It was during the retreat from Orleans that a Christian her- 



154 DECISIVE BATTLES 

mit is reported to have approached the Hunnish king, and said 
to him, " Thou art the Scourge of God for the chastisement of 
the Christians." Attila instantly assumed this new title of 
terror, which thenceforth became the appellation by which he 
was most widely and most fearfully known. 

The confederate armies of Romans and Visigoths at last met 
their great adversary face to face on the ample battle-ground 
of the Chalons plains. Aetius commanded on the right of the 
allies ; King Theodoric on the left ; and Sangipan, king of the 
Alans, whose fidelity was suspected, was placed purposely in 
the centre, and in the very front of the battle. Attila com- 
manded his centre in person, at the head of his own country- 
men, while the Ostrogoths, the Gepidae, and the other subject 
allies of the Huns were drawn up on the wings. Some man- 
CEUvring appears to have occurred before the engagement, in 
which Aetius had the advantage, inasmuch as he succeeded in 
occupying a sloping hill, which commanded the left flank of the 
Huns. Attila saw the importance of the position taken by 
Aetius on the high ground, and commenced the battle by a 
furious attack on this part of the Roman line, in which he seems 
to have detached some of his best troops from his centre to aid 
his left. The Romans, having the advantage of the ground, 
repulsed the Huns, and, while the allies gained this advantage 
on their right, their left, under King Theodoric, assailed the 
Ostrogoths, who formed the right of Attila's army. The gal- 
lant king was himself struck down by a javelin, as he rode on- 
ward at the head of his men; and his own cavalry, charging 
over him, trampled him to death in the confusion. But the 
Visigoths, infuriated, not dispirited, by their monarch's fall, 
routed the enemies opposed to them, and then wheeled upon 
the flank of the Hunnish centre, which had been engaged in a 
sanguinary and indecisive contest with the Alans. 

In this peril Attila made his centre fall back upon his camp ; 
and when the shelter of its intrenchments and wagons had once 
been gained, the Hunnish archers repulsed, without difficulty, 
the charges of the vengeful Gothic cavalry. Aetius had not 
pressed the advantage which he gained on his side of the field, 
and, when night fell over the wild scene of havoc, Attila's left 
was still undefeated, but his right had been routed, and his 
centre forced back upon his camp. 

Expecting an assault on the morrow, Attila stationed his best 



THE BATTLE OF CHALONS 155 

archers in front of the cars and wagons, which were drawn, up 
as a fortification along his hnes, and made every preparation 
for a desperate resistance. But the " Scourge of God " re- 
solved that no man should boast of the honor of having either 
captured or slain him, and he caused to be raised in the centre 
of his encampment a huge pyramid of the wooden saddles of his 
cavalry : round it he heaped the spoils and the wealth that he 
had won; on it he stationed his wives who had accompanied 
him in the campaign ; and on the summit Attila placed himself, 
ready to perish in the flames, and balk the victorious foe of their 
choicest booty, should they succeed in storming his defences. 

But when the morning broke and revealed the extent of the 
carnage with which the plains were heaped for miles, the suc- 
cessful allies saw also and respected the resolute attitude of their 
antagonist. Neither were any measures taken to blockade 
him in his camp, and so to extort by famine that submission 
which it was too plainly perilous to enforce with the sword. 
Attila was allowed to march back the remnants of his army 
without molestation, and even with the semblance of success. 

It is probable that the crafty Aetius was unwilling to be too 
victorious. He dreaded the glory which his allies the Visi- 
goths had acquired, and feared that Rome might find a second 
Alaric in Prince Thorismund, who had signalized himself in the 
battle, and had been chosen on the field to succeed his father, 
Theodoric. He persuaded the young king to return at once to 
his capital, and thus reheved himself at the same time of the 
presence of a dangerous friend, as well as of a formidable 
though beaten foe. 

Attila's attacks on the Western empire were soon renewed, 
but never with such peril to the civilized world as had menaced 
it before his defeat at Chalons ; and on his death, two years after 
that battle, the vast empire which his genius had founded was 
soon dissevered by the successful revolts of the subject nations. 
The name of the Huns ceased for some centuries to inspire ter- 
ror in Western Europe, and their ascendency passed away with 
the life of the great king by whom it had been so fearfully 
augmented.* 

* If I seem to have given fewer of the details of the battle itself than its 
importance would warrant, my excuse must be, that Gibbon has enriched 
our language with a description of it, too long for quotation and too 
splendid for rivalry. I have not, however, taken altogether the same 
view of it that he has. The notes to Mr. Herbert's poem of " Attila " 
bring together nearly all the authorities on the subject. 



156 DECISIVE BATTLES 

Synopsis of Events between the Battle of Chalons, 
A.D. 451, AND the Battle of Tours, a.d. 732. 

A.D. 476. The Roman empire of the West extinguished by 
Odoacer. 

481. EstabHshment of the French monarchy in Gaul by 
Clovis. 

42^ — ^82. The Saxons, Angles, and Frisians conquer Brit- 
ain, except the northern parts and the districts along the west 
coast. The German conquerors found eight independent king- 
doms. 

533 — 568. The generals of Justinian, the Emperor of Con- 
stantinople, conquer Italy and North Africa ; and these coun- 
tries are for a short time annexed to the Roman empire of the 
East. 

568 — 570. The Lombards conquer great part of Italy. 

570 — 627. The wars between the emperors of Constantinople 
and the kings of Persia are actively continued. 

622. The Mohammedan era of the Hegira. Mohammed is 
driven from Mecca, and is received as prince of Medina. 

629 — 632. Mohammed conquers Arabia. 

632 — 651. The Mohammedan Arabs invade and conquer 
Persia. 

632 — 709. They attack the Roman empire of the East. They 
conquer Syria, Egypt, and Africa. 

709 — 713. They cross the straits of Gibraltar, and invade and 
conquer Spain. 



I 



CHAPTER VII. 

THE BATTLE OF TOURS, A.D. 732. 

" The events that rescued our ancestors of Britain and our neighbors 
of Gaul from the civil and religious yoke of the Koran," — Gibbon, 

THE broad tract of champaign country which intervenes 
between the cities of Poitiers and Tours is principally 
composed of a succession of rich pasture lands, which 
are traversed and fertiHzed by the Cher, the Creuse, the Vienne, 
the Claine, the Indre, and other tributaries of the River Loire. 
Here and there the ground swells into picturesque eminences 
and occasionally a belt of forest land, a brown heath, or a clus- 
tering series of vineyards breaks the monontony of the wide- 
spread meadows ; but the general character of the land is that of 
a grassy plain, and it seems naturally adapted for the evolutions 
of numerous armies, especially of those vast bodies of cavalry 
which principally decided the fate of nations during the cen- 
turies that followed the downfall of Rome, and preceded the 
consolidation of the modern European powers. 

This region has been signalized by more than one memorable 
conflict ; but it is principally interesting to the historian by hav- 
ing been the scene of the great victory won by Charles Martel 
over the Saracens, a.d. 732, which gave a decisive check to the 
career of Arab conquest in Western Europe, rescued Christen- 
dom from Islam, preserved the relics of ancient and the germs 
of modern civilization, and re-established the old superiority 
of the Indo-European over the Semitic family of mankind. 

Sismondi and Michelet have underrated the enduring interest 
of this great Appeal of Battle between the champions of the 
Crescent and the Cross. But, if French writers have slighted 
the exploits of their national hero, the Saracenic trophies of 
Charles Martel have had full justice done to them by English 
and German historians. Gibbon devotes several pages of his 

157 



158 DECISIVE BATTLES 

great work* to the narrative of the battle of Tours, and to the 
consideration of the consequences which probably would have 
resulted if Abderrahman's enterprise had not been crushed by 
the Prankish chief. Schlegelf speaks of this " mighty victory " 
in terms of fervent gratitude, and tells how " the arm of Charles 
Martel saved and delivered the Christian nations of the West 
from the deadly grasp of all-destroying Islam " ; and Ranket 
points out, as " one of the most important epochs in the history 
of the world, the commencement of the eighth century, when 
on the one side Mohammedanism threatened to overspread Italy 
and Gaul, and on the other the ancient idolatry of Saxony and 
Friesland once more forced its way across the Rhine. In this 
peril of Christian institutions, a youthful prince of Germanic 
race, Karl Martell, arose as their champion, maintained them 
with all the energy which the necessity for self-defence calls 
forth, and finally extended them into new regions." 

Arnold§ ranks the victory of Charles Martel even higher 
than the victory of Arminius, " among those signal deliverances 
which have affected for centuries the happiness of mankind.'* 
In fact, the more we test its importance, the higher we shall be 
led to estimate it ; and, though all authentic details which we 
possess of its circumstances and its heroes are but meagre, we 
can trace enough of its general character to make us watch with 
deep interest this encounter between the rival conquerors of the 
decaying Roman empire. That old classic world, the history 
of which occupies so large a portion of our early studies, lay, 
in the eighth century of our era, utterly exanimate and over- 
thrown. On the north the German, on the south the Arab, 
was rending away its provinces. At last the spoilers encoun- 
tered one another, each striving for the full master of the prey. 
Their conflict brought back upon the memory of Gibbon the 
old Homeric simile, where the strife of Hector and Patroclus 
over the dead body of Cebriones is compared to the combat of 
two lions, that in their hate and hunger fight together on the 



* Vol. vii., p. 17 et seq. Gibbon's sneering remark, that if the Saracen 
conquests had not then been checked, " perhaps the interpretation of the 
Koran would now be taught in the schools of Oxford, and her pulpits 
might demonstrate to a circumcised people the sanctity and truth of the 
revelation of Mohammed," has almost an air of regret. 

t " Philosophy of History," p. 331. 

t " History of the Reformation in Germany," vol. i., p. 5. 

§ " History of the later Roman Commonwealth," vol. ii., p. 317. 



THE BATTLE OF TOURS 159 

mountain tops over the carcass of a slaughtered stag ; and the 
reluctant yielding of the Saracen power to the superior might 
of the Northern warriors might not inaptly recaU those other 
lines of the same book of the Iliad, where the downfall of 
Patroclus beneath Hector is likened to the forced yielding of 
the panting and exhausted wild boar, that had long and furious- 
ly fought with a superior beast of prey for the possession of the 
scanty fountain among the rocks at which each burned to 
drink.* 

Although three centuries had passed away since the Ger- 
manic conquerors of Rome had crossed the Rhine, never to 
repass that frontier stream, no settled system of institutions or 
government, no amalgamation of the various races into our 
people, no uniformity of language or habits had been established 
in the country at the time when Charles Martel was called to 
repel the menacing tide of Saracenic invasion from the south. 
Gaul was not yet France. In that, as in other provinces of 
the Roman empire of the West, the dominion of the Caesars 
had been shattered as early as the fifth century, and barbaric 
kingdoms and principalities had promptly arisen on the ruins 
of the Roman power. But few of these had any permanency, 
and none of them consolidated the rest, or any considerable 
number of the rest, into one coherent and organized civil 
and political society. The great bulk of the population still 
consisted of the conquered provincials, that is to say, of Ro- 
manized Celts, of a Gallic race which had long been under 
the dominion of the Caesars, and had acquired, together with 
no slight infusion of Roman blood, the language, the literature, 
the laws, and the civiHzation of Latium. Among these, and 
dominant over them, roved or dwelt the German victors ; some 
retaining nearly all the rude independence of their primitive 
national character, others softened and disciplined by the aspect 
and contact of the manners and institutions of civilized life ; for 
it is to be borne in mind that the Roman empire in the West 

"At' 6p€os Kopv<f)^a'i irepl KTafj.evr]s ixdcpoio^ 
"Aficpw veivdovre, fieya (ppoueovre fidx^o'^ov. 

'fls S* St€ (Tvv aKOiixavra Mwv i$Lri<TaTO X<»PM??> 
Tdi T 6p(6s Kopv^yffi ficya <ppov€Ovre /jidxcc^ou^ 
niSaKos oLfjiip' oKlyrfs ' i^€\ov<ri 5e irUfxcv &ij.<p<u ' 
IIoAA^ 5e T* aa^fxaluovra \cwv iSd/JLcurffe fiificpip: 

—II., v\ 823. 



i6o DECISIVE BATTLES 

was not crushed by any sudden avalanche of barbaric invasion. 
The German conquerors came across the Rhine, not in enor- 
mous hosts, but in bands of a few thousand warriors at a time. 
The conquest of a province was the result of an infinite series 
of partial local invasions, carried on by little armies of this 
description. The victorious warriors either retired with their 
booty, or fixed themselves in the invaded district, taking care to 
keep sufficiently concentrated for military purposes, and ever 
ready for some fresh foray, either against a rival Teutonic band, 
or some hitherto unassailed city of the provincials. Gradually, 
however, the conquerors acquired a desire for permanent landed 
possessions. They lost somewhat of the restless thirst for nov- 
elty and adventure which had first made them throng beneath 
the banner of the boldest captains of their tribe, and leave their 
native forests for a roving military life on the left bank of the 
Rhine. They were converted to the Christian faith, and gave 
up with their old creed much of the coarse ferocity which must 
have been fostered in the spirits of the ancient warriors of the 
North by a mythology which promised, as the reward of the 
brave on earth, an eternal cycle of fighting and drunkenness in 
heaven. 

But, although their conversion and other civilizing influ- 
ences operated powerfully upon the Germans in Gaul, and al- 
though the Franks (who were originally a confederation of the 
Teutonic tribes that dwelt between the Rhine, the Maine, and 
the Weser) established a decisive superiority over the other 
conquerors of the province, as well as over the conquered pro- 
vincials, the country long remained a chaos of uncombined and 
shifting elements. The early princes of the Merovingian 
dynasty were generally occupied in wars against other princes 
of their house, occasioned by the frequent subdivisions of the 
Frank monarchy ; and the ablest and best of them had found 
all their energies tasked to the utmost to defend the barrier of 
the Rhine against the pagan Germans who strove to pass that 
river and gather their share of the spoils of the empire. 

The conquests which the Saracens effected over the southern 
and eastern provinces of Rome were far more rapid than those 
achieved by the Germans in the north, and the new organiza- 
tions of society which the Moslems introduced were summarily 
and uniformly enforced. Exactly a century passed between the 
death of Mohammed and the date of the battle of Tours. Dur- 



THE BATTLE OF TOURS i6i 

ing that century the followers of the Prophet had torn away half 
the Roman empire; and, besides their conquests over Persia, 
the Saracens had overrun Syria, Egypt, Africa, and Spain, in 
an uncheckered and apparently irresistible career of victory. 
Nor, at the commencement of the eighth century of our era, 
was the Mohammedan world divided against itself, as it subse- 
quently became. All these vast regions obeyed the caliph; 
throughout them all, from the Pyrenees to the Oxus, the name 
of Mohammed was invoked in prayer, and the Koran revered 
as the book of the law. 

It was under one of their ablest and most renowned com- 
manders, with a veteran army, and with every apparent advan- 
tage of time, place, and circumstance, that the Arabs made their 
great effort at the conquest of Europe north of the Pyrenees. 
The victorious Moslem soldiery in Spain, 

" A countless multitude; 
Syrian, Moor, Saracen, Greek renegade, 
Persian, and Copt, and Tartar, in one bond 
Of erring faith conjoined — strong in the youth 
And heat of zeal — a dreadful brotherhood," 

were eager for the plunder of more Christian cities and shrines, 
and full of fanatic confidence in the invincibility of their arms. 

" Nor were the chiefs 
Of victory less assured, by long success 
Elate, and proud of that o'erwhelming strength 
Which, surely they believed, as it had rolled 
Thus far uncheck'd, would roll victorious on, 
Till, like the Orient, the subjected West 
Should bow in reverence at Mohammed's name; 
And pilgrims from remotest Arctic shores 
Tread with religious feet the burning sands 
Of Araby and Mecca's stony soil." 

— Southey's Roderick. 

It is not only by the modern Christian poet, but by the old 
Arabian chroniclers also, that these feelings of ambition and 
arrogance are attributed to the Moslems who had overthrown 
the Visigoth power in Spain. And their eager expectations of 
new wars were excited to the utmost on the reappointment by 
the caliph of Abderrahman Ibn Abdillah Alghafeki to the gov- 
ernment of that country, a.d. 729, which restored them a gen- 
eral who had signalized his skill and prowess during the con" 
II 



i62 DECISIVE BATTLES 

quests of Africa and Spain, whose ready valor and generosity 
had made him the idol of the troops, who had already been en- 
gaged in several expeditions into Gaul, so as to be well ac- 
quainted with the national character and tactics of the Franks, 
and who was known to thirst, like a good Moslem, for revenge 
for the slaughter of some detachments of the True Believers, 
which had been cut off on the north of the Pyrenees. 

In addition to his cardinal military virtues, Abderrahman is 
described by the Arab writers as a model of integrity and jus- 
tice. The first two years of his second administration in Spain 
were occupied in severe reforms of the abuses which under his 
predecessors had crept into the system of government, and in 
extensive preparations for his intended conquest in Gaul. Be- 
sides the troops which he collected from his province, he ob- 
tained from Africa a large body of chosen Berber cavalry, 
officered by Arabs of proved skill and valor ; and in the summer 
of 732, he crossed the Pyrenees at the head of an army which 
some Arab writers rate at eighty thousand strong, while some 
of the Christian chroniclers swell its numbers to many hundreds 
of thousands more. Probably the Arab account diminishes, 
but of the two keeps nearer to the truth. It was from this 
formidable host, after Eudes, the Count of Aquitaine, had 
vainly striven to check it, after many strong cities had fallen 
before it, and half the land had been overrun, that Gaul and 
Christendom were at last rescued by the strong arm of Prince 
Charles, who acquired a surname,* like that of the war-god of 
his forefathers* creed, from the might with which he broke and 
shattered his enemies in the battle. 

The Merovingian kings had sunk into absolute insignifi- 
cance, and had become mere puppets of royalty before the 
eighth century. Charles Martel, like his father, Pepin Heristal, 
was Duke of the Austrasian Franks, the bravest and most thor- 
oughly Germanic part of the nation, and exercised, in the name 
of the titular king, what little paramount authority the turbu- 
lent minor rulers of districts and towns could be persuaded or 
compelled to acknowledge. Engaged with his national com- 
petitors in perpetual conflicts for power, and in more serious 
struggles for safety against the fierce tribes of the unconverted 
Frisians, Bavarians, Saxons, and Thuringians, who at that 

* Martel — The Hammer. See the Scandinavian Sagas for an account 
of the favorite weapon of Thor. 



THE BATTLE OF TOURS 163 

epoch assailed with pecuHar ferocity the Christianized Germans 
on the left bank of the Rhine, Charles Martel^added experi- 
enced skill to his natural courage, and he had also formed a 
militia of veterans among the Franks. Hallam has thrown 
out a doubt whether, in our admiration of his victory at Tours, 
we do not judge a little too much by the event, and whether 
there was not rashness in his risking the fate of France on the 
result of a general battle with the invaders. But when we 
remember that Charles had no standing army, and the inde- 
pendent spirit of the Frank warriors who followed his standard, 
it seems most probable that it was not in his power to adopt the 
cautious pohcy of watching the invaders, and wearing out their 
strength by delay. So dreadful and so widespread were the 
ravages of the Saracenic light cavalry throughout Gaul, that it 
must have been impossible to restrain for any length of time 
the indignant ardor of the Franks. And, even if Charles could 
have persuaded his men to look tamely on while the Arabs 
stormed more towns and desolated more districts, he could not 
have kept an army together when the usual period of a military 
expedition had expired. If, indeed, the Arab account of the 
disorganization of the Moslem forces be correct, the battle was 
as well timed on the part of Charles, as it was, beyond all ques- 
tion, well fought. 

The monkish chroniclers, from whom we are obliged to glean 
a narrative of this memorable campaign, bear full evidence to 
the terror which the Saracen invasion inspired, and to the agony 
of that great struggle. The Saracens, say they, and their king, 
who was called Abdirames, came out of Spain, with all their 
wives, and their children, and their substance, in such great 
multitudes that no man could reckon or estimate them. They 
brought with them all their armor, and whatever they had, as 
if they were thenceforth always to dwell in France.* 

" Then Abderrahman, seeing the land filled with the multi- 
tude of his army, pierces through the mountains, tramples over 
rough and level ground, plunders far into the country of the 
Franks, and smites all with the sword, insomuch that when 
Eudo came to battle with him at the River Garonne, and fled 

* " Lors issirent d'Espaigne li Sarrazins, et un leur Roi qui avoit nom 
Abdirames, et ont leur fames et enfans et toute leur substance en si 
grand plente que nus ne le prevoit nombrer ne estimer : tout leur harnois 
et quanques il avoient amenement avec entz, aussi comme si ils deussent 
toujours mes habiter en France." 



i64 DECISIVE BATTLES 

before him, God alone knows the number of the slain. Then 
Abderrahman pursued after Count Eudo, and, while he strives 
to spoil and burn the holy shrine at Tours, he encounters the 
chief of the Austrasian Franks, Charles, a man of war from his 
youth up, to whom Eudo had sent warning. There for nearly 
seven days they strive intensely, and at last they set themselves 
in battle array, and the nations of the North standing firm as a 
wall, and impenetrable as a zone of ice, utterly slay the Arabs 
with the edge of the sword." * 

The European writers all concur in speaking of the fall of 
Abderrahman as one of the principal causes of the defeat of the 
Arabs ; who, according to one writer, after finding that their 
leader was slain, dispersed in the night, to the agreeable surprise 
of the Christians, who expected the next morning to see them 
issue from their tents and renew the combat. One monkish 
chronicler puts the loss of the Arabs at 375,000 men, while he 
says that only 1,007 Christians fell ; a disparity of loss which he 
feels bound to account for by a special interposition of Provi- 
dence. I have translated above some of the most spirited 
passages of these writers; but it is impossible to collect from 
them anything like a full or authentic description of the great 
battle itself, or of the operations which preceded and followed it. 

Though, however, we may have cause to regret the meagre- 
ness and doubtful character of these narratives, we have the 
great advantage of being able to compare the accounts given 
of Abderrahman's expedition by the national writers of each 
side. This is a benefit which the inquirer into antiquity so 
seldom can obtain, that the fact of possessing it, in the case of 
the battle of Tours, makes us think the historical testimony re- 
specting that great event more certain and satisfactory than is 
the case in many other instances, where we possess abundant 
details respecting military exploits, but where those details 
come to us from the annalist of one nation only, and where we 
have, consequently, no safeguard against the exaggerations, 
the distortions, and the fictions which national vanity has so 
often put forth in the garb and imder the title of history. The 
Arabian writers who recorded the conquests and wars of their 
countrymen in Spain have narrated also the expedition into 
Gaul of their great emir, and his defeat and death near Tours, in 

* Tunc Abdirrahman, multitudine sui exercitus repletam prospicens 
terram, &c. — Script. Gest. Franc, p. 785. 



THE BATTLE OF TOURS 165 

battle with the host of the Franks under King Caldus, the name 
into which they metamorphose Charles Martel.* 

They tell us how there was war between the" count of the 
Prankish frontier and the Moslems, and how the count gath- 
ered together all his people, and fought for a time with doubtful 
success. " But," say the Arabian chroniclers, " Abderrahman 
drove them back ; and the men of Abderrahman were puffed 
up in spirit by their repeated successes, and they were full of 
trust in the valor and the practice in war of their emir. So the 
Moslems smote their enemies, and passed the River Garonne, 
and laid waste the country, and took captives without number. 
And that army went through all places like a desolating storm. 
Prosperity made these warriors insatiable. At the passage of 
the river, Abderrahman overthrew the count, and the count re- 
tired into his stronghold, but the Moslems fought against it, 
and entered it by force and slew the count ; for everything gave 
way to their cimeters, which were the robbers of lives. All the 
nations of the Pranks trembled at that terrible army, and they 
betook them to their king Caldus, and told him of the havoc 
made by the Moslem horsemen, and how they rode at their will 
through all the land of Narbonne, Toulouse, and Bordeaux, 
and they told the king of the death of their count. Then the 
king bade them be of good cheer, and offered to aid them. And 
in the 114th yearf he mounted his horse, and he took with him 
a host that could not be numbered, and went against the Mos- 
lems. And he came upon them at the great city of Tours. And 
Abderrahman and other prudent cavaliers saw the disorder of 
the Moslem troops, who were loaded with spoil ; but they did 
not venture to displease the soldiers by ordering them to aban- 
don everything except their arms and war-horses. And Ab- 
derrahman trusted in the valor of his soldiers, and in the good 
fortune which had ever attended him. But (the Arab writer 
remarks) such defect of discipline always is fatal to armies. So 
Abderrahman and his host attacked Tours to gain still more 
spoil, and they fought against it so fiercely that they stormed 

* The Arabian chronicles were compiled and translated into Spanish 
by Don Jose Antonio Conde, in his " Historia de la Dominacion de los 
Arabos en Espafia," published at Madrid in 1820. Conde's plan, which I 
have endeavored to follow, was to preserve both the style and spirit of his 
Oriental authorities, so that we find in his pages a genuine Saracenic 
narrative of the wars in Western Europe between the Mohammedans 
and the Christians. 

t Of the Hegira. 



l66 DECISIVE BATTLES 

the city almost before the eyes of the army that came to save it ; 
and the fury and the cruelty of the Moslems towards the inhab- 
itants of the city were like the fury and cruelty of raging tigers. 
It was manifest," adds the Arab, " that God's chastisement was 
sure to follow such excesses; and Fortune thereupon turned 
her back upon the Moslems. 

" Near the River Owar,f the two great hosts of the two lan- 
guages and the two creeds were set in array against each other. 
The hearts of Abderrahman, his captains, and his men, were 
filled with wrath and pride, and they were the first to begin the 
fight. The Moslem horsemen dashed fierce and frequent for- 
ward against the battalions of the Franks, who resisted man- 
fully, and many fell dead on either side, until the going down of 
the sun. Night parted the two armies ; but in the gray of the 
morning the Moslems returned to the battle. Their cavaliers 
had soon hewn their way into the centre of the Christian host. 
But many of the Moslems were fearful for the safety of the spoil 
which they had stored in their tents, and a false cry arose in 
their ranks that some of the enemy were plundering the camp ; 
whereupon several squadrons of the Moslem horsemen rode off 
to protect their tents. But it seemed as if they fled ; and all the 
host was troubled. And, while Abderrahman strove to check 
their tumult, and to lead them back to battle, the warriors of 
the Franks came around him, and he was pierced through with 
many spears, so that he died. Then all the host fled before the 
enemy and many died in the flight. This deadly defeat of the 
Moslems, and the loss of the great leader and good cavalier, 
Abderrahman, took place in the hundred and fifteenth year." 

It would be difficult to expect from an adversary a more ex- 
pHcit confession of having been thoroughly vanquished than 
the Arabs here accord to the Europeans. The points on which 
their narrative differs from those of the Christians — as to how 
many days the conflict lasted, whether the assailed city was 
actually rescued or not, and the like — are of little moment com- 
pared with the admitted great fact that there was a decisive trial 
of strength between Frank and Saracen, in which the former 
conquered. The enduring importance of the battle of Tours in 
the eyes of the Moslems is attested not only by the expressions 
of " the deadly battle " and " the disgraceful overthrow " which 
their writers constantly employ when referring to it, but also by 
t Probably the Loire. 



THE BATTLE OF TOURS 167 

the fact that no more serious attempts at conquest beyond the 
Pyrenees were made by the Saracens. Charles Martel, and his 
son and grandson, were left at leisure to consolidate and extend 
their power. The new Christian Roman empire of the West, 
which the genius of Charlemagne founded, and throughout 
which his iron will imposed peace on the old anarchy of creeds 
and races, did not indeed retain its integrity after its great 
ruler's death. Fresh troubles came over Europe ; but Christen- 
dom, though disunited, was safe. The progress of civilization, 
and the development of the nationalities and governments of 
modern Europe, from that time forth went forward in not unin- 
terrupted, but ultimately certain career. 



Synopsis of Events between the Battle of Tours, a.d. 732, 
AND the Battle of Hastings, a.d. 1066. 

A.D. 768 — 814. Reign of Charlemagne. This monarch has 
justly been termed the principal regenerator of Western Europe, 
after the destruction of the Roman empire. The early death of 
his brother Carloman left him sole master of the dominion of the 
Franks, which, by a succession of victorious wars, he enlarged 
into the new empire of the West. He conquered the Lombards, 
and re-established the pope at Rome, who, in return, acknowl- 
edged Charles as suzerain of Italy. And in the year 800, Leo 
HL, in the name of the Roman people, solemnly crowned 
Charlemagne at Rome as emperor of the Roman empire of the 
West. In Spain, Charlemagne ruled the country between the 
Pyrenees and the Ebro ; but his most important conquests were 
effected on the eastern side of his original kingdom, over the 
Sclavonians of Bohemia, the Avars of Pannonia, and over the 
previously uncivilized German tribes, who had remained in 
their fatherland. The old Saxons were his most obstinate an- 
tagonists, and his wars with them lasted for thirty years. Under 
him the greater part of Germany was compulsorily civilized 
and converted from paganism to Christianity. His empire ex- 
tended eastward as far as the Elbe, the Saale, the Bohemian 
Mountains, and a line drawn from thence crossing the Danube 
above Vienna, and prolonged to the Gulf of Istria.* 

Throughout this vast assemblage of provinces, Charlemagne 

* Hallam's " Middle Ages." 



i68 DECISIVE BATTLES 

established an organized and firm government. But it is not 
as a mere conqueror that he demands admiration. " In a life 
restlessly active, we see him reforming the coinage and estab- 
lishing the legal divisions of money ; gathering about him the 
learned of every country ; founding schools and collecting libra- 
ries ; interfering, with the air of a king, in religious controver- 
sies ; attempting, for the sake of commerce, the magnificent en- 
terprise of uniting the Rhine and the Danube, and meditating 
to mould the discordant code of Roman and barbarian laws into 
a uniform system."* 

814 — 888. Repeated partitions of the empire and civil wars 
between Charlemagne's descendants. Ultimately the kingdom 
of France is finally separated from Germany and Italy. In 962, 
Otho the Great of Germany revives the imperial dignity. 

827. Egbert, king of Wessex, acquires the supremacy over 
the other Anglo-Saxon kingdoms. 

832. The first Danish squadron attacks part of the English 
coast. The Danes, or Northmen, had begun their ravages in 
France a few years earlier. For two centuries Scandinavia 
sends out fleet after fleet of sea rovers, who desolate all the west- 
ern kingdoms of Europe and in many cases effect permanent 
conquests. 

871 — 900. Reign of Alfred in England. After a long and 
varied struggle, he rescues England from the Danish invaders. 

911. The French king cedes Neustria to Hrolf the North- 
man. Hrolf (or Duke Rollo, as he thenceforth was termed) 
and his army of Scandinavian warriors, become the ruling class 
of the population of the province, which is called, after them, 
Normandy. 

1016. Four knights from Normandy, who had been on a pil- 
grimage to the Holy Land, while returning through Italy, head 
the people of Salerno in repelling an attack of a band of Saracen 
corsairs. In the next year many adventurers from Normandy 
settle in Italy, where they conquer Apulia (1040), and after- 
wards (1060) Sicily. 

1017. Canute, king of Denmark, becomes king of England. 
On the death of the last of his sons, in 1041, the Saxon line is 
restored, and Edward the Confessor (who had been bred in the 
court of the Duke of Normandy) is called by the English to the 

* Hallam, ut supra. 



THE BATTLE OF TOURS 



169 



throne of this island, as the representative of the house of 
Cedric. 

1035. Duke Robert of Normandy dies on his return from a 
pilgrimage to the Holy Land, and his son William (afterward 
the conqueror of England) succeeds to the dukedom of Nor- 
mandy. 



CHAPTER VIII. 

THE BATTLE OF HASTINGS, A.D. 1066. 

" Eis vos la Bataille assemblee. 
Dune encore est grant renomee." 

— Roman de Rou, 1. 3183. 

ARLETTA'S pretty feet twinkling in the brook made her 
the mother of William the Conqueror. Had she not 
thus fascinated Duke Robert the Liberal of Normandy, 
Harold would not have fallen at Hastings, no Anglo-Norman 
dynasty could have arisen, no British empire. The reflection 
is Sir Francis Palgrave's ;* and it is emphatically true. If any 
one should write a history of " Decisive loves that have ma- 
terially influenced the drama of the world in all its subsequent 
scenes," the daughter of the tanner of Falaise would deserve a 
conspicuous place in his pages. But it is her son, the victor of 
Hastings, who is now the object of our attention ; and no one 
who appreciates the influence of England and her empire upon 
the destinies of the world will ever rank that victory as one of 
secondary importance. 

It is true that in the last century some writers of eminence 
on our history and laws mentioned the Norman Conquest in 
terms from which it might be supposed that the battle of Has- 
tings led to little more than the substitution of one royal family 
on the throne of this country, and to the garbling and changing 
of some of our laws through the " cunning of the Norman law- 
yers." But, at least since the appearance of the work of Au- 
gustin Thierry on the Norman Conquest, these forensic fallacies 
have been exploded. Thierry made his readers keenly appre- 
ciate the magnitude of that political and social catastrophe. 
He depicted in vivid colors the atrocious cruelties of the con- 
querors, and the sweeping and enduring innovations that they 
wrought, involving the overthrow of the ancient constitution, 

* " History of Normandy and England," vol. i., p. 526. 
170 



THE BATTLE OF HASTINGS 171 

as well as of the last of the Saxon kings. In his pages we see 
new tribunals and tenures superseding the old ones, new di- 
visions of race and class introduced, whole districts devastated 
to gratify the vengeance or the caprice of the new tyrant, the 
greater part of the lands of the English confiscated and divided 
among aliens, the very name of Englishmen turned into a re- 
proach, the English language rejected as servile and barbarous, 
and all the high places in church and state for upward of a cen- 
tury filled exclusively by men of foreign race. 

No less true than eloquent is Thierry's summing up of the 
social effects of the Norman Conquest on the generation that 
witnessed it, and on many of their successors. He tells his 
reader that, " if he would form a just idea of England conquered 
by William of Normandy, he must figure to himself — not a 
mere change of political rule — not the triumph of one candidate 
over another candidate — of the man of one party over the man 
of another party, but the intrusion of one people into the bosom 
of another people — the violent placing of one society over an- 
other society which it came to destroy, and the scattered frag- 
ments of which it retained only as personal property, or (to use 
the words of an old act) as ' the clothing of the soil ' ; he must 
not picture to himself, on the one hand, William a king and a 
despot — on the other, subjects of William's, high and low, rich 
and poor, all inhabiting England, and consequently all Eng- 
lish ; he must imagine two nations, of one of which William is a 
member and the chief — two nations which (if the term must be 
used) were both subject to William, but as applied to which the 
word has quite different senses, meaning, in the one case, 
subordinate — in the other, subjugated. He must consider that 
there are two countries, two soils, included in the same geo- 
graphical circumference — that of the Normans, rich and free ; 
that of the Saxons, poor and serving, vexed by rent and tallage : 
the former full of spacious mansions, and walled and moated 
castles ; the latter scattered over with huts and straw, and ruined 
hovels ; that peopled with the happy and the idle — with men of 
the army arid of the court — with knights and nobles ; this with 
men of pain and labor — with farmers and artisans : on the one 
side, luxury and insolence ; on the other, misery and envy — not 
the envy of the poor at the sight of opulence they cannot reach, 
but the envy of the despoiled when in presence of the despoil- 
ers." 



172 DECISIVE BATTLES 

Perhaps the effect of Thierry's work has been to cast into the 
shade the ultimate good effects on England of the Norman Con- 
quest. Yet these are as undeniable as are the miseries which 
that conquest inflicted on our Saxon ancestors from the time of 
the battle of Hastings to the time of the signing of the Great 
Charter at Runnymede. That last is the true epoch of English 
nationality; it is the epoch when Anglo-Norman and Anglo- 
Saxon ceased to keep aloof from each other — the one in haughty 
scorn, the other in sullen abhorrence ; and when all the free men 
of the land, whether barons, knights, yeomen, or burghers, com- 
bined to lay the foundations of English freedom. 

Our Norman barons were the chiefs of that primary constitu- 
tional movement ; those " iron barons," whom Chatham has so 
nobly eulogized. This alone should make England remember 
her obligations to the Norman Conquest, which planted far and 
wide, as a dominant class in her land, a martial nobility of the 
bravest and most energetic race that ever existed. 

It may sound paradoxical, but it is in reality no exaggeration 
to say, with Guizot,* that England's liberties are owing to 
her having been conquered by the Normans. It is true that 
the Saxon institutions were the primitive cradle of English lib- 
erty, but by their own intrinsic force they could never have 
founded the enduring free English Constitution. It was the 
Conquest that infused into them a new virtue, and the political 
liberties of England arose from the situation in which the 
Anglo-Saxon and the Anglo-Norman populations and laws 
found themselves placed relatively to each other in this island. 
The state of England under her last Anglo-Saxon kings closely 
resembled the state of France under the last Carlovingian and 
the first Capetian princes. The crown was feeble, the great 
nobles were strong and turbulent; and although there was 
more national unity in Saxon England than in France — al- 
though the English local free institutions had more reality 
and energy than was the case with anything analogous to them 
on the Continent in the eleventh century — still the probability 
is that the Saxon system of polity, if left to itself, would have 
fallen into utter confusion, out of which would have arisen, 
first, an aristocratic hierarchy, like that which arose in France ; 
next, an absolute monarchy ; and, finally, a series of anarchical 

* " Essais sur I'Histoire de France," p. 273 et seq. 



THE BATTLE OF HASTINGS 173 

revolutions, such as we now behold aroused, but not among 



us. 



* 



The latest conquerors of this island were also the bravest and 
the best. I do not except even the Romans. And, in spite of 
our sympathies with Harold and Hereward, and our abhorrence 
of the founder of the New Forest and the desolator of York- 
shire, we must confess the superiority of the Normans to the 
Anglo-Saxons and Anglo-Danes, whom they met here in 
1066, as well as to the degenerate Frank noblesse, and the 
crushed and servile Romanesque provincials, from whom, in 
912, they had wrested the district in the north of Gaul, which 
still bears the name of Normandy. 

It was not merely by extreme valor and ready subordination 
to military discipline that the Normans were pre-eminent 
among all the conquering races of the Gothic stock, but also 
by an instinctive faculty of appreciating and adopting the supe- 
rior civilizations which they encountered. Thus Duke Rollo 
and his Scandinavian warriors readily embraced the creed, the 
language, the laws, and the arts, which France, in those 
troubled and evil times with which the Capetian dynasty com- 
menced, still inherited from imperial Rome and imperial 
Charlemagne. " They adopted the customs, the duties, the 
obedience that the capitularies of emperors and kings had es- 
tablished; but that which they brought to the application of 
those laws, was the spirit of life, the spirit of liberty — the habits 
also of military subordination, and the aptness for a state politic 
which could reconcile the security of all with the independence 
of each." f So, also, in all chivalric feelings, in enthusiastic re- 
ligious zeal, in almost idolatrous respect to females of gentle 
birth, in generous fondness for the nascent poetry of the time, 
in a keen intellectual relish for subtle thought and disputation, 
in a taste for architectural magnificence, and all courtly refine- 
ment and pageantry. The Normans were the Paladins of the 
world. Their brilliant qualities were sullied by many darker 
traits of pride, of merciless cruelty, and of brutal contempt for 
the industry, the rights, and the feelings of all whom they con- 
sidered the lower classes of mankind. 

Their gradual blending with the Saxons softened these harsh 
and evil points of their national character, and in return they 

* See Guizot, ut supra. 

t Sismondi, " Histoire des Frangais," vol, iii., p. 174. 



174 DECISIVE BATTLES 

fired the duller Saxon mass with a new spirit of animation and 
power. As Campbell boldly expressed it, " They high-mettled 
the blood of our veins." Small had been the figure which Eng- 
land made in the world before the coming over of the Normans, 
and without them she never would have emerged from insig- 
nificance. The authority of Gibbon may be taken as decisive 
when he pronounces that " assuredly England was a gainer 
by the Conquest." And we may proudly adopt the comment 
of the Frenchman Rapin, who, writing of the battle of Has- 
tings more than a century ago, speaks of the revolution effected 
by it as " the first step by which England is arrived to the height 
of grandeur and glory we behold it in at present." * 

The interest of this eventful struggle, by which William of 
Normandy became king of England, is materially enhanced 
by the high personal character of the competitors for our 
crown. They were three in number. One was a foreign prince 
from the north ; one was a foreign prince from the south ; and 
one was a native hero of the land. Harald Hardrada, the 
strongest and the most chivalric of the kings of Norway, f 
was the first ; Duke William of Normandy was the second ; and 
the Saxon Harold, the son of Earl Godwin, was the third. 
Never was a nobler prize sought by nobler champions, or 
striven for more gallantly. The Saxon triumphed over the 
Norwegian, and the Norman triumphed over the Saxon; but 
Norse valor was never more conspicuous than when Harald 
Hardrada and his host fought and fell at Stamford Bridge ; nor 
did Saxons ever face their foes more bravely than our Harold 
and his men on the fatal day of Hastings. 

During the reign of King Edward the Confessor over this 
land, the claims of the Norwegian king to our crown were 
little thought of; and though Hardrada's predecessor. King 
Magnus of Norway, had on one occasion asserted that, by 
virtue of a compact with our former king, Hardicanute, he was 
entitled to the English throne, no serious attempt had been 
made to enforce his pretensions. But the rivalry of the Saxon 
Harold and the Norman William was foreseen and bewailed 
by the Confessor, who was believed to have predicted on his 
death-bed the calamities that were impending over England. 

* Rapin, " Hist. England," p. 164. See, also, on this point Sharon Tur- 
ner, vol. iv., p. 72. 
t See in Snorre the Saga of Haraldi Hardrad. 



THE BATTLE OF HASTINGS 175 

Duke William was King Edward's kinsman. Harold was the 
head of the most powerful noble house, next to the royal blood, 
in England; and, personally, he was the bravest and most 
popular chieftain in the land. King Edward was childless, and 
the nearest collateral heir was a puny unpromising boy. Eng- 
land had suffered too severely, during royal minorities, to make 
the accession of Edgar Atheling desirable; and long before 
King Edward's death. Earl Harold was the destined king of the 
nation's choice, though the favor of the Confessor was believed 
to lead towards the Norman duke. 

A little time before the death of King Edward, Harold was 
in Normandy. The causes of the voyage of the Saxon earl to 
the Continent are doubtful ; but the fact of his having been, in 
1065, at the ducal court, and in the power of his rival, is indis- 
putable. William made skilful and unscrupulous use of the 
opportunity. Though Harold was treated with outward cour- 
tesy and friendship, he was made fully aware that his liberty 
and life depended on his compliance with the duke's requests. 
William said to him, in apparent confidence and cordiality, 
" When King Edward and I once lived like brothers under the 
same roof, he promised that if ever he became King of Eng- 
land, he would make me heir to his throne. Harold, I wish that 
thou wouldst assist me to realize this promise." Harold replied 
with expressions of assent ; and further agreed, at William's re- 
quest, to marry William's daughter, Adela, and to send over 
his own sister to be married to one of William's barons. The 
crafty Norman was not content with this extorted promise ; he 
determined to bind Harold by a more solemn pledge, the 
breach of which would be a weight on the spirit of the gallant 
Saxon, and a discouragement to others from adopting his 
cause. Before a full assembly of the Norman barons, Harold 
was required to do homage to Duke William, as the heir 
apparent of the English crown. Kneeling down, Harold placed 
his hands between those of the duke, and repeated the solemn 
form by which he acknowledged the duke as his lord, and 
promised to him fealty and true service. But William exacted 
more. He had caused all the bones and relics of saints, that 
were preserved in the Norman monasteries and churches, to be 
collected in a chest, which was placed in the council-room, 
covered over with a cloth of gold. On the chest of relics, which 
were thus concealed, was laid a missal. The duke then solemn- 



176 DECISIVE BATTLES 

ly addressed his titular guest and real captive, and said to him, 
" Harold, I require thee, before this noble assembly, to confirm 
by oath the promises which thou hast made me, to assist me 
in obtaining the crown of England after King Edward's death, 
to marry my daughter Adela, and to send me thy sister, that I 
may give her in marriage to one of my barons." Harold, once 
more taken by surprise, and not able to deny his former words, 
approached the missal, and laid his hand on it, not knowing 
that the chest of relics was beneath. The old Norman chron- 
icler, who describes the scene most minutely, * says, when 
Harold placed his hand on it, the hand trembled, and the 
flesh quivered ; but he swore, and promised upon his oath to 
take Ele [Adela] to wife, and to deliver up England to the duke 
and thereunto to do all in his power, according to his might and 
wit, after the death of Edward, if he himself should live; so 
help him God. Many cried, " God grant it ! " and when Harold 
rose from his knees, the duke made him stand close to the chest, 
and took off the pall that had covered it, and showed Harold 
upon what holy relics he had sworn; and Harold was sorely 
alarmed at the sight. 

Harold was soon after permitted to return to England ; and, 
after a short interval, during which he distinguished himself by 
the wisdom and humanity with which he pacified some for- 
midable tumults of the Anglo-Danes in Northumbria, he found 
himself called on to decide whether he would keep the oath 
which the Norman had obtained from him, or mount the 
vacant throne of England in compliance with the nation's 
choice. King Edward the Confessor died on the 5th of January, 
1066, and on the following day an assembly of the thanes and 
prelates present in London, and of the citizens of the metropo- 
lis, declared that Harold should be their king. It was reported 
that the dying Edward had nominated him as his successor. 
But the sense which his countrymen entertained of his pre- 
eminent merit was the true foundation of his title to the crown. 
Harold resolved to disregard the oath which he made in Nor- 
mandy as violent and void, and on the 7th day of that January 
he was anointed King of England, and received from the arch- 
bishop's hands the golden crown and sceptre of England, and 
also an ancient national symbol, a weighty battle-axe. He had 

* Wace, " Roman de Rou." I have nearly followed his words. 



THE BATTLE OF HASTINGS 177 

truly deep and speedy need of this significant part of the in- 
signia of Saxon royalty. 

A messenger from Normandy soon arrived to remind Harold 
of the oath which he had sworn to the duke " with his mouth, 
and his hand upon good and holy relics." " It is true," replied 
the Saxon king, " that I took an oath to WilHam ; but I took it 
under constraint: I promised what did not belong to me — 
what I could not in any way hold ; my royalty is not my own ; I 
could not lay it down against the will of the country, nor can I, 
against the will of the country, take a foreign wife. As for my 
sister, whom the duke claims that he may marry her to one of 
his chiefs, she has died within the year ; would he have me send 
her corpse? " 

William sent another message, which met with a similar 
answer; and then the duke published far and wide through 
Christendom what he termed the perjury and bad faith of his 
rival, and proclaimed his intention of asserting his rights by 
the sword before the year should expire, and of pursuing and 
punishing the perjurer even in those places where he thought 
he stood most strongly and most securely. 

Before, however, he commenced hostilities, William, with 
deep-laid policy, submitted his claims to the decision of the 
pope. Harold refused to acknowledge this tribunal, or to 
answer before an Italian priest for his title as an English king. 
After a formal examination of William's complaints by the 
pope and the cardinals, it was solemly adjudged at Rome that 
England belonged to the Norman duke ; and a banner was sent 
to William from the Holy See, which the pope himself had con- 
secrated and blessed for the invasion of this island. The clergy 
throughout the Continent were now assiduous and energetic 
in preaching up William's enterprise as undertaken in the 
cause of God. Besides these spiritual arms (the effect of which 
in the eleventh century must not be measured by the philoso- 
phy or the indififerentism of the nineteenth), the Norman duke 
applied all the energies of his mind and body, all the resources 
of his duchy, and all the influence he possessed among vassals 
or allies, to the collection of " the most remarkable and for- 
midable armament which the Western nations had wit- 
nessed." * All the adventurous spirits of Christendom flocked 
to the holy banner, under which Duke William, the most re- 

* Sir James Mackintosh's " History of England," vol. i., p. 97. 
12 



178 DECISIVE BATTLES 

nowned knight and sagest general of the age, promised to lead 
them to glory and wealth in the fair domains of England. His 
army was filled with the chivalry of Continental Europe, all 
eager to save their souls by fighting at the pope's bidding, 
eager to signalize their valor in so great an enterprise, and 
eager also for the pay and the plunder which William liberally 
promised. But the Normans themselves were the pith and the 
flower of the army, and William himself was the strongest, the 
sagest, and the fiercest spirit of them all. 

Throughout the sprmg and summer of 1066, all the seaports 
of Normandy, Picardy, and Brittany rang with the busy sound 
of preparation. On the opposite side of the Channel King 
Harold collected the army and the fleet with which he hoped to 
crush the southern invaders. But the unexpected attack of 
King Harald Hardrada of Norway upon another part of Eng- 
land disconcerted the skilful measures which the Saxon had 
taken against the menacing armada of Duke William. 

Harold's renegade brother. Earl Tostig, had excited the 
Norse king to this enterprise, the importance of which has 
naturally been eclipsed by the superior interest attached to the 
victorious expedition of Duke William, but which was on a 
scale of grandeur which the Scandinavian ports had rarely, if 
ever, before witnessed. Hardrada's fleet consisted of two hun- 
dred war-ships and three hundred other vessels, and all the 
best warriors of Norway were in his host. He sailed first to the 
Orkneys, where many of the islanders joined him, and then 
to Yorkshire. After a severe conflict near York, he completely 
routed Earls Edwin and Morcar, the governors of Northum- 
bria. The city of York opened its gates, and all the country, 
from the Tyne to the Humber, submitted to him. The tidings 
of the defeat of Edwin and Morcar compelled Harold to leave 
his position on the southern coast, and move instantly against 
the Norwegians. By a remarkably rapid march he reached 
Yorkshire in four days, and took the Norse king and his con- 
federates by surprise. Nevertheless, the battle which ensued, 
and which was fought near Stamford Bridge, was desperate, 
and was long doubtful. Unable to break the ranks of the Nor- 
wegian phalanx by force, Harold at length tempted them to 
quit their close order by a pretended flight. Then the English 
columns burst in among them, and a carnage ensued, the 
extent of which may be judged of by the exhaustion and in- 



THE BATTLE OF HASTINGS 179 

activity of Norway for a quarter of a century afterwards. King 
Harald Hardrada, and all the flower of his nobility, perished 
on the 25th of September, 1066, at Stamford Bridge, a battle 
which was a Flodden to Norway. 

Harold's victory was splendid ; but he had bought it dearly 
by the fall of many of his best officers and men, and still more 
dearly by the opportunity which Duke William had gained 
of effecting an unopposed landing on the Sussex coast. The 
whole of William's shipping had assembled at the mouth of the 
Dive, a little river between the Seine and the Orne, as early as 
the middle of August. The army which he had collected 
amounted to fifty thousand knights and ten thousand soldiers 
of inferior degree. Many of the knights were mounted, but 
many must have served on foot, as it is hardly possible to be- 
lieve that William could have found transports for the convey- 
ance of fifty thousand war-horses across the Channel. For a 
long time the winds were adverse, and the duke employed the 
interval that passed before he could set sail in completing 
the organization and in improving the discipline of his army, 
which he seems to have brought into the same state of perfec- 
tion as was seven centuries and a half afterwards the boast of 
another army assembled on the same coast, and which Na- 
poleon designed (but providentially in vain) for a similar de- 
scent upon England. 

It was not till the approach of the equinox that the wind 
veered from the northeast to the west, and gave the Normans 
an opportunity of quitting the weary shores of the Dive. They 
eagerly embarked, and set sail, but the wind soon freshened to 
a gale, and drove them along the French coast to St. Valery, 
where the greater part of them found shelter ; but many of their 
vessels were wrecked, and the whole coast of Normandy was 
strewn with the bodies of the drowned. William's army began 
to grow discouraged and averse to the enterprise, which the 
very elements thus seemed to fight against ; though, in reality, 
the northeast wind, which had cooped them so long at the 
mouth of the Dive, and the western gale, which had forced 
them into St. Valery, were the best possible friends to the in- 
vaders. They prevented the Normans from crossing the Chan- 
nel until the Saxon king and his army of defence had been called 
away from the Sussex coast to encounter Harald Hardrada in 
Yorkshire; and also until a formidable English fleet, which 



i8o DECISIVE BATTLES 

by King Harold's orders had been cruising in the Channel to 
intercept the Normans, had been obliged to disperse tem- 
porarily for the purpose of refitting and taking in fresh stores 
of provisions. 

Duke William used every expedient to reanimate the droop- 
ing spirits of his men at St. Valery ; and at last he caused the 
body of the patron saint of the place to be exhumed and carried 
in solemn procession, while the whole assemblage of soldiers, 
mariners, and appurtenant priests implored the saint's interces- 
sion for a change of wind. That very night the wind veered ; 
and enabled the mediaeval Agamemnon to quit his Aulis. 

With full sails, and a following southern breeze, the Norman 
Armada left the French shores and steered for England. The 
invaders crossed an undefended sea, and found an undefended 
coast. It was in Pevensey Bay, in Sussex, at Bulverhithe, be- 
tween the castle of Pevensey and Hastings, that the last con- 
querors of this island landed on the 29th of September, 1066. 

Harold was at York, rejoicing over his recent victory, which 
had delivered England from her ancient Scandinavian foes, 
and resetthng the government of the counties which Harald 
Hardrada had overrun, when the tidings reached him that 
Duke William of Normandy and his host had landed on the 
Sussex shore. Harold instantly hurried southward to meet 
this long-expected enemy. The severe loss which his army had 
sustained in the battle with the Norwegians must have made 
it impossible for many of his veteran troops to accompany 
him in his forced march to London, and thence to Sussex. He 
halted at the capital only six days, and during that time gave 
orders for collecting forces from the southern and midland 
counties, and also directed his fleet to reassemble off the Sussex 
coast. Harold was well received in London, and his summons 
to arms was promptly obeyed by citizen, by thane, by sokman, 
and by ceorl, for he had shown himself, during his brief reign, 
a just and wise king, affable to all men, active for the good 
of his country, and (in the words of the old historian) sparing 
himself from no fatigue by land or by sea. * He might have 
gathered a much more numerous army than that of William ; 
but his recent victory had made him over-confident, and he 
was irritated by the reports of the country being ravaged by 

* See Roger de Hoveden and William of Malmesbury, cited in Thierry, 
book iii. 



THE BATTLE OF HASTINGS i8i 

the invaders. As soon, therefore, as he had collected a small 
army in London, he marched off towards the coast, pressing 
forward as rapidly as his men could traverse Surrey and Sus- 
sex, in the hope of taking the Normans unawares, as he had 
recently, by a similar forced march, succeeded in surprising 
the Norwegians. But he had now to deal with a foe equally 
brave with Harald Hardrada, and far more skilful and wary. 

The old Norman chroniclers describe the preparations of 
William on his landing with a graphic vigor, which would be 
wholly lost by transfusing their racy Norman couplets and 
terse Latin prose into the current style of modern history. It is 
best to follow them closely, though at the expense of much 
quaintness and occasional uncouthness of expression. They tell 
us how Duke William's own ship was the first of the Norman 
fleet. It was called the Mora, and was the gift of his duchess 
Matilda. On the head of the ship, in the front, which mariners 
call the prow, there was a brazen child bearing an arrow with a 
bended bow. His face was turned towards England, and thither 
he looked, as though he was about to shoot. The breeze be- 
came soft and sweet, and the sea was smooth for their landing. 
The ships ran on dry land, and each ranged by the other's side. 
There you might see the good sailors, the sergeants, and 
squires sally forth and unload the ships ; cast the anchors, haul 
the ropes, bear out shields and saddles, and land the war-horses 
and the palfreys. The archers came forth, and touched land 
the first, each with his bow strung, and with his quiver full of 
arrows slung at his side. All were shaven and shorn ; and all 
clad in short garments, ready to attack, to shoot, to wheel about 
and skirmish. All stood well equipped, and of good courage 
for the fight ; and they scoured the whole shore, but found not 
an armed man there. After the archers had thus gone forth, 
the knights landed all armed, with their hauberks on, their 
shields slung at their necks, and their helmets laced. They 
formed together on the shore, each armed, and mounted on 
his war-horse ; all had their swords girded on, and rode forward 
into the country with their lances raised. Then the carpenters 
landed, who had great axes in their hands, and planes and 
adzes hung at their sides. They took counsel together, and 
sought for a good spot to place a castle on. They had brought 
with them in the fleet three wooden castles from Normandy in 
pieces, all ready for framing together, and they took the ma- 



i82 DECISIVE BATTLES 

terials of one of these out of the ships, all shaped and pierced 
to receive the gins which they had brought cut and ready in 
large barrels ; and before evening had set in, they had finished 
a good fort on the English ground, and there they placed their 
stores. All then ate and drank enough, and were right glad 
that they were ashore. 

When Duke William himself landed, as he stepped on the 
shore, he slipped and fell forward upon his two hands. Forth- 
with all raised a loud cry of distress. " An evil sign," said they, 
** is here." But he cried out lustily, " See, my lords, by the 
splendor of God, * I have taken possession of England with 
both my hands. It is now mine, and what is mine is yours." 

The next day they marched along the sea-shore to Hastings. 
Near that place the duke fortified a camp, and set up the two 
other wooden castles. The foragers, and those who looked out 
for booty, seized all the clothing and provisions they could 
find, lest what had been brought by the ships should fail them. 
And the English were to be seen fleeing before them, driving 
off their cattle, and quitting their houses. Many took shelter 
in burying-places, and even there they were in grievous alarm. 

Besides the maurauders from the Norman camp, strong bod- 
ies of cavalry were detached by William into the country, and 
these, when Harold and his army made their rapid march from 
London southward, fell back in good order upon the main body 
of the Normans, and reported that the Saxon king was rushing 
on like a madman. But Harold, when he found that his hopes 
of surprising his adversary were vain, changed his tactics, and 
halted about seven miles from the Norman lines. He sent some 
spies, who spoke the French language, to examine the number 
and preparations of the enemy, who, on their return, related 
with astonishment that there were more priests in William's 
camp than there were fighting men in the English army. They 
had mistaken for priests all the Norman soldiers who had short 
hair and shaven chins, for the English laymen were then accus- 
tomed to wear long hair and mustachios. Harold, who knew 
the Norman usages, smiled at their words, and said, " Those 
whom you have seen in such numbers are not priests, but stout 
soldiers, as they will soon make us feel." 

Harold's army was far inferior in number to that of the Nor- 
mans, and some of his captains advised him to retreat upon 
* William's customary oath. 



THE BATTLE OF HASTINGS 183 

London and lay waste the country, so as to starve down the 
strength of the invaders. The policy thus recommended was 
unquestionably the wisest, for the Saxon fleet had' now reas- 
sembled, and intercepted all William's communications with 
Normandy; and as soon as his stores of provisions were ex- 
hausted, he must have moved forward upon London, where 
Karold, at the head of the full military strength of the kingdom, 
could have defied his assault, and probably might have wit- 
nessed his rival's destruction by famine and disease, without 
having to strike a single blow. But Harold's bold blood was 
up, and his kindly heart could not endure to inflict on the South 
Saxon subjects even the temporary misery of wasting the 
country. " He would not burn houses and villages, neither 
would he take away the substance of his people." 

Harold's brothers, Gurth and Leofwine, were with him in 
the camp, and Gurth endeavored to persuade him to absent 
himself from the battle. The incident shows how well devised 
had been William's scheme of binding Harold by the oath on 
the holy relics. " My brother," said the young Saxon prince, 
" thou canst not deny that either by force or free will thou hast 
made Duke William an oath on the bodies of saints. Why then 
risk thyself in the battle with a perjury upon thee? To us, who 
have sworn nothing, this is a holy and a just war, for we are 
fighting for our country. Leave us then alone to fight this bat- 
tle, and he who has the right will win." Harold replied that he 
would not look on while others risked their lives for him. Men 
would hold him a coward, and blame him for sending his best 
friends where he dared not go himself. He resolved, therefore, 
to fight, and to fight in person; but he was still too good a 
general to be the assailant in the action ; and he posted his 
army with great skill along a ridge of rising ground which 
opened southward, and was covered on the back by an exten- 
sive wood. He strengthened his position by a palisade of 
stakes and osier hurdles, and there he said he would defend 
himself against whoever should seek him. 

The ruins of Battle Abbey at this hour attest the place where 
Harold's army was posted ; and the high altar of the abbey 
stood on the very spot where Harold's own standard was 
planted during the fight, and where the carnage was the thick- 
est. Immediately after his victory, William vowed to build an 
abbey on the site ; and a fair and stately pile soon rose there. 



i84 DECISIVE BATTLES 

where for many ages the monks prayed and said masses for 
the souls of those who were slain in the battle, whence the 
abbey took its name. Before that time the place was called 
Senlac. Little of the ancient edifice now remains ; but it is easy 
to trace in the park and the neighborhood the scenes of the 
chief incidents in the action ; and it is impossible to deny the 
generalship shown by Harold in stationing his men, especially 
when we bear in mind that he was deficient in cavalry, the arm 
in which his adversary's main strength consisted. 

William's only chance of safety lay in bringing on a general 
engagement; and he joyfully advanced his army from their 
camp on the hill over Hastings, nearer to the Saxon position. 
But he neglected no means of weakening his opponent, and re- 
newed his summonses and demands on Harold with an osten- 
tatious air of sanctity and moderation. 

" A monk, named Hugues Maigrot, came in William's name 
to call upon the Saxon king to do one of three things — either to 
resign his royalty in favor of William, or to refer it to the arbi- 
tration of the pope to decide which of the two ought to be 
king, or to let it be determined by the issue of a single combat. 
Harold abruptly replied, ' I will not resign my title, I will not 
refer it to the pope, nor will I accept the single combat.' He 
was far from being deficient in bravery ; but he was no more 
at liberty to stake the crown, which he had received from a 
whole people, in the chance of a duel, than to deposit it in the 
hands of an Italian priest. William, not at all ruffled by the 
Saxon's refusal, but steadily pursuing the course of his cal- 
culated measures, sent the Norman monk again, after giving 
him these instructions : * Go and tell Harold that if he will keep 
his former compact with me, I will leave to him all the country 
which is beyond the Humber, and will give his brother Gurth 
all the lands which Godwin held. If he still persist in refusing 
my offers, then thou shalt tell him, before all his people, that he 
is a perjurer and a liar ; that he and all who shall support him 
are excommunicated by the mouth of the pope, and that the 
bull to that effect is in my hands.' 

" Hugues Maigrot delivered this message in a solemn tone ; 
and the Norman chronicle says that at the word excommiini- 
cation, the English chiefs looked at one another as if some 
great danger were impending. One of them then spoke as fol- 
lows : * We must fight, whatever may be the danger to us ; 



THE BATTLE OF HASTINGS 185 

for what we have to consider is not whether we shall accept and 
receive a new lord, as if our king were dead ; the case in quite 
otherwise. The Norman has given our lands to his captains, to 
his knights, to all his people, the greater part of whom have 
already done homage to him for them : they will all look for 
their gift if their duke become our king; and he himself is 
bound to deliver up to them our goods, our wives, and our 
daughters: all is promised to them beforehand. They come, 
not only to ruin us, but to ruin our descendants also, and to 
take from us the country of our ancestors. And what shall we 
do — whither shall we go, when we have no longer a country ? * 
The English promised, by a unanimous oath, to make neither 
peace, nor truce, nor treaty with the invader, but to die, or drive 
away the Normans." * 

The 13th of October was occupied in these negotiations, and 
at night the duke announced to his men that the next day 
would be the day of battle. That night is said to have been 
passed by the two armies in very different manners. The 
Saxon soldiers spent it in joviality, singing their national songs, 
and draining huge horns of ale and wine round their camp- 
fires. The Normans, when they had looked to their arms and 
horses, confessed themselves to the priests with whom their 
camp was thronged, and received the sacrament by thousands 
at a time. 

On Saturday, the 14th of October, was fought the great 
battle. 

It is not difficult to compose a narrative of its principal inci- 
dents from the historical information which we possess, espe- 
cially if aided by an examination of the ground. But it is far 
better to adopt the spirit-stirring words of the old chroniclers, 
who wrote while the recollections of the battle were yet fresh ; 
and while the feelings and prejudices of the combatants yet 
glowed in the bosoms of living men. Robert Wace, the Nor- 
man poet, who presented his " Roman de Rou " to our Henry 
II., is the most picturesque and animated of the old writers, 
and from him we can obtain a more vivid and full description 
of the conflict than even the most brilliant romance-writer of 
the present time can supply. We have also an antique memorial 
of the battle more to be relied on than either chronicler or poet 
(and which confirms Wace's narrative remarkably), in the cele- 

* Thierry. 



i86 DECISIVE BATTLES 

brated Bayeux tapestry which represents the principal scenes 
of Duke WilHam's expedition, and of the circumstances con- 
nected with it, in minute though occasionally grotesque de- 
tails, and which was undoubtedly the production of the same 
age in which the battle took place, whether we admit or reject 
the legend that Queen Matilda and the ladies of her court 
wrought it with their own hands in honor of the royal con- 
queror. 

Let us therefore suffer the old Norman chronicler to trans- 
port our imaginations to the fair Sussex scenery northwest of 
Hastings, as it appeared on the morning of the fourteenth of 
October, seven hundred and eighty-five years ago. The Nor- 
man host is pouring forth from its tents, and each troop and 
each company is forming fast under the banner of its leader. 
The masses have been sung, which were finished betimes in the 
morning ; the barons have all assembled round Duke William ; 
and the duke has ordered that the army shall be formed in three 
divisions, so as to make the attack upon the Saxon position in 
three places. The duke stood on a hill where he could best 
see his men ; the barons surrounded him, and he spake to them 
proudly. He told them how he trusted them, and how all that 
he gained should be theirs, and how sure he felt of conquest, for 
in all the world there was not so brave an army, or such good 
men and true as were then forming around him. Then they 
cheered him in turn, and cried out, " * You will not see one cow- 
ard ; none here will fear to die for love of you, if need be.' And 
he answered them, ' I thank you well. For God's sake, spare 
not; strike hard at the beginning; stay not to take spoil; all 
the booty shall be in common, and there will be plenty for 
every one. There will be no safety in asking quarter or in 
flight ; the English will never love or spare a Norman. Felons 
they were, and felons they are ; false they were, and false they 
will be. Show no weakness towards them, for they will have no 
pity on you ; neither the coward for running well, nor the bold 
man for smiting well, will be the better liked by the English, 
nor will any be the more spared on either account. You may 
fly to the sea, but you can fly no farther ; you will find neither 
ships nor bridge there ; there will be no sailors to receive you ; 
and the English will overtake you there, and slay you in your 
shame. More of you will die in flight than in battle. Then, as 
flight will not secure you, fight, and you will conquer. I have 



THE BATTLE OF HASTINGS 187 

no doubt of the victory ; we are come for glory ; the victory is 
in our hands, and we may make sure of obtaining it if we so 
please.' As the duke was speaking thus and would yet have 
spoken more, William Fitz Osber rode up with his horse all 
coated with iron : * Sire,' said he, ' we tarry here too long ; let 
us all arm ourselves. Allans! allons! ' 

" Then all went to their tents, and armed themselves as they 
best might ; and the duke was very busy, giving every one his 
orders ; and he was courteous to all the vassals, giving away 
many arms and horses to them. When he prepared to arm him- 
self, he called first for his hauberk, and a man brought it on his 
arm, and placed it before him, but in putting his head in, to get 
it on, he unawares turned it the wrong way, with the back part in 
front. He soon changed it; but when he saw that those who 
stood by were sorely alarmed, he said, * I have seen many a 
man who, if such a thing had happened to him, would not have 
borne arms, or entered the field the same day ; but I never be- 
Heved in omens, and I never will. I trust in God, for he does in 
all things his pleasure, and ordains what is to come to pass ac- 
cording to his will. I have never liked fortune-tellers, nor be- 
lieved in diviners ; but I commend myself to Our Lady. Let 
not this mischance give you trouble. The hauberk which was 
turned wrong, and then set right by me, signifies that a change 
will arise out of the matter which we are now stirring. You 
shall see the name of duke changed into king. Yea, a king shall 
I be, who hitherto have been but duke.' Then he crossed him- 
self, and straightway took his hauberk, stooped his head, and 
put it on aright ; and laced his helmet, and girt on his sword, 
which a varlet brought him. Then the duke called for his good 
horse — a better could not be found. It had been sent him by a 
king of Spain, out of very great friendship. Neither arms nor 
the press of fighting men did it fear, if its lord spurred it on. 
Walter Giffard brought it. The duke stretched out his hand, 
took the reins, put foot in stirrup, and mounted ; and the good 
horse pawed, pranced, reared himself up, and curveted. The 
Viscount of Toarz saw how the duke bore himself in arms, and 
said to his people that were around him, ' Never have I seen a 
man so fairly armed, nor one who rode so gallantly, or bore his 
arms, or became his hauberk so well ; neither any one who bore 
his lance so gracefully, or sat his horse and managed him so 
nobly. There is no such knight under heaven ! a fair count he is, 



i88 DECISIVE BATTLES 

and fair king he will be. Let him fight, and he shall overcome ; 
shame be to the man who shall fail him.' 

" Then the duke called for the standard which the pope had 
sent him, and he who bore it having unfolded it, the duke took 
it and called to Raol de Conches. * Bear my standard/ said he, 

* for I would not but do you right ; by right and by ancestry your 
line are standard-bearers of Normandy, and very good knights 
have they all been.' But Raol said that he would serve the duke 
that day in other guise, and would fight the English with his 
hand as long as life should last. Then the duke bade Galtier 
Giflfart bear the standard. But he was old and white-headed, 
and bade the duke give the standard to some younger and 
stronger man to carry. Then the duke said fiercely, ' By the 
splendor of God, my lords, I think you mean to betray and 
fail me in this great need.' ' Sire,' said Giffart, ' not so ! we have 
done no treason, nor do I refuse from any felony toward you ; 
but I have to lead a great chivalry, both hired men and the men 
of my fief. Never had I such good means of serving you as I 
now have ; and, if God please, I will serve you ; if need be, I will 
die for you, and will give my own heart for yours.' 

" * By my faith,' quoth the duke, * I always loved thee, and 
now I love thee more ; if I survive this day, thou shalt be the 
better for it all thy days.' Then he called out a knight, whom 
he had heard much praised, Tosteins Fitz-Rou le Blanc by 
name, whose abode was at Bec-en-Caux. To him he delivered 
the standard ; and Tosteins took it right cheerfully, and bowed 
low to him in thanks, and bore it gallantly, and with good heart. 
His kindred still have quittance of all service for their inheri- 
tance on this account, and their heirs are entitled so to hold 
their inheritance forever. 

" William sat on his war-horse, and called out Rogier, whom 
they call De Montgomeri. * I rely much on you,' said he ; 

* lead your men thitherward, and attack them from that side. 
William, the son of Osber, the seneschal, a right good vassal, 
shall go with you and help in the attack, and you shall have the 
men of Boilogne and Poix, and all my soldiers. Alain Fergert 
and Ameri shall attack on the other side; they shall lead the 
Poitevins and the Bretons, and all the barons of Maine ; and I, 
with my own great men, my friends and kindred, will fight in 
the middle throng, where the battle shall be the hottest.' 

" The barons, and knights, and men-at-arms were all now 



THE BATTLE OF HASTINGS 189 

armed ; the foot-soldiers were well equipped, each bearing bow 
and sword; on their heads were caps, and to their feet were 
bound buskins. Some had good hides which they had bound 
round their bodies; and many were clad in frocks, and had 
quivers and bows hung to their girdles. The knights had hau- 
berks and swords, boots of steel, and shining helmets ; shields 
at their necks, and in their hands lances. And all had their 
cognizances, so that each might know his fellow, and Norman 
might not strike Norman, nor Frenchman kill his countryman 
by mistake. Those on foot led the way, with serried ranks, 
bearing their bows. The knights rode next, supporting the 
archers from behind. Thus both horse and foot kept their 
course and order of march as they began, in close ranks at a 
gentle pace, that the one might not pass or separate from the 
other. All went firmly and compactly, bearing themselves gal- 
lantly. 

" Harold had summoned his men, earls, barons, arud vavas- 
sors, from the castles and the cities, from the ports, the villages 
and boroughs. The peasants were also called together from 
the villages, bearing such arms as they found ; clubs and great 
picks, iron forks and stakes. The English had enclosed the 
place where Harold was with his friends and the barons of the 
country whom he had summoned and called together. 

" Those of London had come at once, and those of Kent, of 
Hertfort, and of Essesse; those of Suree and Susesse, of St. 
Edmund and Sufoc; of Norwis and Norfoc; of Cantorbierre 
and Stanfort; Bedefort and Hundestone. The men of North- 
anton also came ; and those of Eurowic and Bokinkeham, of 
Bed and Notinkeham, Lindesie and Nichole. There came also 
from the west all who heard the summons ; and very many were 
to be seen coming from Salebiere and Dorset, from Bat and 
from Sumerset. Many came, too, from about Glocestre, and 
many from Wirecestre, from Wincestre, Hontesire and Briche- 
sire; and many more from other counties that we have not 
named, and cannot, indeed, recount. All who could bear arms, 
and had learned the news of the duke's arrival, came to defend 
the land. But none came from beyond Humbre, for they had 
other business upon their hands, the Danes and Tosti having 
much damaged and weakened them. 

" Harold knew that the Normans would come and attack 
him hand to hand, so he had early enclosed the field in which 



I90 DECISIVE BATTLES 

he had placed his men. He made them arm early, and range 
themselves for the battle, he himself having put on arms and 
equipments that became such a lord. The duke, he said, ought 
to seek him, as he v^anted to conquer England ; and it became 
him to abide the attack v^ho had to defend the land. He com- 
manded the people, and counselled his barons to keep them- 
selves all together, and defend themselves in a body ; for if they 
once separated, they would with difficulty recover themselves. 
' The Normans,' he said, ' are good vassals, valiant on foot and 
on horseback; good knights are they on horseback, and well 
used to battle ; all is lost if they once penetrate our ranks. They 
have brought long lances and swords, but you have pointed 
lances and keen-edged bills; and I do not expect that their 
arms can stand against yours. Cleave whenever you can ; it will 
be ill done if you spare aught.' 

" The English had built up a fence before them with their 
shields, and with ash and other wood, and had well joined and 
wattled in the whole work, so as not to leave even a crevice ; 
and thus they had a barricade in their front through which any 
Norman who would attack them must first pass. Being covered 
in this way by their shields and barricades, their aim was to 
defend themselves; and if they had remained steady for that 
purpose, they would not have been conquered that day; for 
every Norman who made his way in, lost his life in dishonor, 
either by hatchet or bill, by club or other weapon. They wore 
short and close hauberks, and helmets that hung over their 
garments. King Harold issued orders, and made proclama- 
tion round, that all should be ranged with their faces toward the 
enemy, and that no one should move from where he was, so 
that whoever came might find them ready ; and that whatever 
any one, be he Norman or other, should do, each should do his 
best to defend his own place. Then he ordered the men of Kent 
to go where the Normans were likely to make the attack ; for 
they say that the men of Kent are entitled to strike first ; and 
that whenever the king goes to battle, the first blow belongs to 
them. The right of the men of London is to guard the king's 
body, to place themselves around him, and to guard his stand- 
ard; and they were accordingly placed by the standard to 
watch and defend it. 

" When Harold had made all ready, and given his orders, 
he came into the midst of the English and dismounted by the 



THE BATTLE OF HASTINGS 191 

side of the standard; Leofwin and Gurth, his brothers, were 
with him ; and around him he had barons enough, as he stood 
by his standard, which was, in truth, a noble one, sparkHng 
with gold and precious stones. After the victory William sent 
it to the pope, to prove and commemorate his great conquest 
and glory. The English stood in close ranks, ready and eager 
for the fight; and they, moreover, made a fosse, which went 
across the field, guarding one side of their army. 

" Meanwhile the Normans appeared advancing over the 
ridge of a rising ground, and the first division of their troops 
moved onward along the hill and across a valley. And pres- 
ently another division, still larger, came in sight, close follow- 
ing upon the first, and they were led towards another part of 
the field, forming together as the first body had done. And, 
while Harold saw and examined them, and was pointing 
them out to Gurth, a fresh company came in sight, covering 
all the plain ; and in the midst of them was raised the standard 
that came from Rome. Near it was the duke, and the best 
men and greatest strength of the army were there. The good 
knights, the good vassals and brave warriors were there ; and 
there were gathered together the gentle barons, the good arch- 
ers, and the men-at-arms, whose duty it was to guard the duke, 
and range themselves around him. The youths and common 
herd of the camp, whose business was not to join in the battle, 
but to take care of the harness and stores, moved off towards a 
rising ground. The priests and the clerks also ascended a hill, 
there to offer up prayers to God, and watch the event of the 
battle. 

" The English stood firm on foot in close ranks, and carried 
themselves right boldly. Each man had his hauberk on, with 
his sword girt, and his shield at his neck. Great hatchets were 
also slung at their necks, with which they expected to strike 
heavy blows. 

" The Normans brought on the three divisions of their army 
to attack at different places. They set out in three companies, 
and in three companies did they fight. The first and second 
had come up, and then advanced the third, which was the great- 
est ; with that came the duke with his own men, and all moved 
boldly forward. 

" As soon as the two armies were in full view of each other, 
great noise and tumult arose. You might hear the sound of 



192 DECISIVE BATTLES 

many trumpets, of bugles, and of horns ; and then you might 
see men ranging themselves in line, lifting their shields, raising 
their lances, bending their bows, handling their arrows, ready 
for assault and defense. 

" The English stood ready to their post, the Normans still 
moved on; and when they drew near, the English were to be 
seen stirring to and fro ; were going and coming ; troops rang- 
ing themselves in order; some with their color rising, others 
turning pale; some making ready their arms, others raising 
their shields ; the brave man rousing himself to fight, the cow- 
ard trembling at the approach of danger. 

" Then Taillefer, who sang right well, rode, mounted on a 
swift horse, before the duke, singing of Charlemagne and of 
Roland, of Oliver, and the peers who died in Roncesvalles. 
And when they drew nigh to the English, * A boon, sire ! ' cried 
Taillefer ; * I have long served you, and you owe me for all such 
service. To-day, so please you, you shall repay it. I ask as 
my guerdon, and beseech you for it earnestly, that you will 
allow me to strike the first blow in the battle ! ' And the duke 
answered, * I grant it.' Then Taillefer put his horse to a gal- 
lop, charging before all the rest, and struck an Englishman 
dead, driving his lance below the breast into his body, and 
stretching him upon the ground. Then he drew his sword, 
and struck another, crying out, ' Come on, come on ! What 
do ye, sirs ? Lay on, lay on ! ' At the second blow he struck, 
the English pushed forward, and surrounded, and slew him. 
Forthwith arose the noise and cry of war, and on either side the 
people put themselves in motion. 

" The Normans moved on to the assault, and the English 
defended themselves well. Some were striking, others urging 
onward ; all were bold, and cast aside fear. And now, behold, 
that battle was gathered whereof the fame is yet mighty. 

" Loud and far resounded the bray of the horns ; and the 
shocks of the lances, the mighty strokes of maces, and the 
quick clashing of swords. One while the Englishmen rushed 
on, another while they fell back ; one while the men from over 
sea charged onward, and again at other times retreated. The 
Normans shouted Dex Aie, the English people Out. Then 
came the cunning manoeuvres, tiie rude shocks and strokes of 
the lance and blows of the swords, among the sergeants and 
soldiers, both English and Norman. 



THE BATTLE OF HASTINGS 193 

" When the EngHsh fall the Normans shout. Each side 
taunts and defies the other, yet neither knoweth what the other 
saith; and the Normans say the English bark, because they 
understand not their speech. 

" Some wax strong, others weak : the brave exult, but the 
cowards tremble, as men who are sore dismayed. The Nor- 
mans press on the assault, and the English defend their post 
well ; they pierce the hauberks, and cleave the shields, receive 
and return mighty blows. Again, some press forward, others 
yield; and thus, in various ways, the struggle proceeds. In 
the plain was a fosse, which the Normans had now behind 
them, having passed it in the fight without regarding it. But 
the English charged and drove the Normans before them till 
they made them fall back upon this fosse, overthrowing into it 
horses and men. Many were to be seen falling therein, rolling 
one over the other, with their faces to the earth, and unable to 
rise. Many of the English, also, whom the Normans drew 
down along with them, died there. At no time during the day's 
battle did so many Normans die as perished in that fosse. So 
those said who saw the dead. 

" The varlets who were set to guard the harness began to 
abandon it as they saw the loss of the Frenchmen, when thrown 
back upon the fosse without power to recover themselves. 
Being greatly alarmed at seeing the difficulty in restoring order, 
they began to quit the harness, and sought around, not 
knowing where to find shelter. Then Duke William's brother, 
Odo, the good priest, the Bishop of Bayeux, galloped up, 
and said to them, ' Stand fast ! Stand fast ! Be quiet and 
move not! fear nothing; for, if God please, we shall con- 
quer yet.' So they took courage, and rested where they were ; 
and Odo returned galloping back to where the battle was most 
fierce, and was of great service on that day. He had put a 
hauberk on over a white aube, wide in the body, with the sleeve 
tight, and sat on a white horse, so that all might recognize him. 
In his hand he held a mace, and wherever he saw most need he 
held up and stationed the knights, and often urged them on to 
assault and strike the enemy. 

" From nine o'clock in the morning, when the combat be- 
gan, till three o'clock came, the battle was up and down, this 
way and that, and no one knew who would conquer and win the 
land. Both sides stood so firm and fought so well, that no one 
13 



194 DECISIVE BATTLES 

could guess which would prevail. The Norman archers with 
their bows shot thickly upon the English; but they covered 
themselves with their shields, so that the arrows could not reach 
their bodies, nor do any mischief, how true soever was their 
aim, or however well they shot. Then the Normans deter- 
mined to shoot their arrows upward into the air, so that they 
might fall on their enemies' heads, and strike their faces. The 
archers adopted this scheme, and shot up into the air towards 
the English ; and the arrows, in falling, struck their heads and 
faces, and put out the eyes of many ; and all feared to open their 
eyes, or leave their faces unguarded. 

" The arrows now flew thicker than rain before the wind ; 
fast sped the shafts that the English called ' wibetes.' Then it 
was that an arrow, that had been thus shot upward, struck 
Harold above his right eye, and put it out. In his agony he 
drew the arrow and threw it away, breaking it with his hands ; 
and the pain to his head was so great that he leaned upon his 
shield. So the English were wont to say, and still say to the 
French, that the arrow was well shot which was so sent up 
against their king, and that the archer won them great glory 
who thus put out Harold's eye. 

" The Normans saw that the English defended themselves 
well, and were so strong in their position that they could do 
little against them. So they consulted together privily, and 
arranged to draw off, and pretend to flee, till the English should 
pursue and scatter themselves over the field ; for they saw that, 
if they could once get their enemies to break their ranks, they 
might be attacked and discomfited much more easily. As they 
had said, so they did. The Normans by little and little fled, the 
English following them. As the one fell back, the other 
pressed after ; and, when the Frenchmen retreated, the English 
thought and cried out that the men of France fled, and would 
never return. 

" Thus they were deceived by the pretended flight, and great 
mischief thereby befell them ; for, if they had not moved from 
their position, it is not likely that they would have been con- 
quered at all ; but, like fools, they broke their hues and pursued. 

" The Normans were to be seen following up their strata- 
gem, retreating slowly so as to draw the English farther on. 
As they still flee, the English pursue ; they push out their lances 
and stretch forth their hatchets ; following the Normans as they 



THE BATTLE OF HASTINGS 195 

go, rejoicing in the success of their scheme, and scattering 
themselves over the plain. And the English meantime jeered 
and insulted their foes with words. * Cowards,' they cried, 
* you came hither in an evil hour, wanting our lands, and seek- 
ing to seize our property, fools that ye were to come ! Nor- 
mandy is too far off, and you will not easily reach it. It is of 
little use to run back ; unless you can cross the sea at a leap, or 
can drink it dry, your sons and daughters are lost to you.* 

" The Normans bore it all ; but, in fact, they knew not what 
the English said: their language seemed like the baying of 
dogs, which they could not understand. At length, they 
stopped and turned round, determined to recover their ranks ; 
and the barons might be heard crying Dex Aie ! for a halt. Then 
the Normans resumed their former position, turning their faces 
towards the enemy ; and their men were to be seen facing round 
and rushing onward to a fresh melee, the one party assaulting 
the other; this man striking, another pressing onward. One 
hits, another misses ; one flies, another pursues ; one is aiming 
a stroke, while another discharges his blow. Norman strives 
with Englishman again, and aims his blows afresh. One flies, 
another pursues swiftly: the combatants are many, the plain 
wide, the battle and the melee fierce. On every hand they fight 
hard, the blows are heavy, and the struggle becomes fierce. 

" The Normans were playing their part well, when an Eng- 
lish knight came rushing up, having in his company a hundred 
men, furnished with various arms. He wielded a northern 
hatchet, with the blade a full foot long, and was well armed 
after his manner, being tall, bold, and of noble carriage. In 
the front of the battle, where the Normans thronged most, he 
came bounding on swifter than the stag, many Normans falling 
before him and his company. He rushed straight upon a Nor- 
man who was armed and riding on a war-horse, and tried with 
his hatchet of steel to cleave his helmet ; but the blow miscar- 
ried, and the sharp blade glanced down before the saddle-bow, 
driving through the horse's neck down to the ground, so that 
both horse and master fell together to the earth. I know not 
whether the Englishman struck another blow; but the Nor- 
mans who saw the stroke were astonished, and about to aban- 
don the assault, when Roger de Montgomeri came galloping 
up, with his lance set, and heeding not the long-handled ax 
which the Englishman wielded aloft, struck him down, and left 



196 DECISIVE BATTLES 

him stretched on the ground. Then Roger cried out, ' French- 
men, strike ! The day is ours !' And again a fierce melee was 
to be seen, with many a blow of lance and sword ; the English 
still defending themselves, killing the horses and cleaving the 
shields. 

" There was a French soldier of noble mien, who sat his horse 
gallantly. He spied two Englishmen who were also carrying 
themselves boldly. They were both men of great worth, and 
had become companions in arms and fought together, the one 
protecting the other. They bore two long and broad bills, and 
did great mischief to the Normans, killing both horses and 
men. The French soldier looked at them and their bills, and 
was sore alarmed, for he was afraid of losing his good horse, 
the best that he had, and would willingly have turned to some 
other quarter, if it would not have looked like cowardice. He 
soon, however, recovered his courage, and, spurring his horse, 
gave him the bridle, he raised his shield, and struck one of the 
Englishmen with his lance on the breast, so that the iron passed 
out at his back. At the moment that he fell, the lance broke, 
and the Frenchman seized the mace that hung at his right side, 
and struck the other Englishman a blow that completely frac- 
tured his skull. 

" On the other side was an Englishman who much annoyed 
the French, continually assaulting them with a keen-edged 
hatchet. He had a helmet made of wood, which he had fast- 
ened down to his coat, and laced round his neck, so that no 
blows could reach his head. The ravage he was making was 
seen by a gallant Norman knight, who rode a horse that neither 
fire nor water could stop in its career, when its master urged it 
on. The knight spurred, and his horse carried him on well till 
he charged the Englishman, striking him over the helmet, so 
that it fell down over his eyes ; and, as he stretched out his hand 
to raise it and uncover his face, the Norman cut off his right 
hand, so that his hatchet fell to the ground. Another Norman 
sprang forward and eagerly seized the prize with both his 
hands, but he kept it little space, and paid dearly for it, for, as 
he stooped to pick up the hatchet, an Englishman with his 
long-handled ax struck him over the back, breaking all his 
bones, so that his entrails and lungs gushed forth. The knight 
of the good horse meantime returned without injury ; but on 
his way he met another Englishman and bore him down under 



THE BATTLE OF HASTINGS 197 

his horse, wounding him grievously and trampling him alto- 
gether under foot. 

" And now might be heard the loud clang and cry of battle, 
, and the clashing of lances. The English stood firm in their 
barricades, and shivered the lances, beating them into pieces 
with their bills and maces. The Normans drew their swords 
and hewed down the barricades, and the English, in great 
trouble, fell back upon their standard, where were collected the 
maimed and wounded. 

" There were many knights of Chauz who jousted and made 
attacks. The English knew not how to joust, or bear arms on 
horseback, but fought with hatchets and bills. A man, when 
he wanted to strike with one of their hatchets, was obliged to 
hold it with both his hands, and could not at the same time, as 
it seems to me, both cover himself and strike with any freedom. 

" The English fell back towards the standard, which was 
upon a rising ground, and the Normans followed them across 
the valley, attacking them on foot and horseback. Then Hue 
de Mortemer, with the Sires D'Auviler, D'Onebac, and Saint 
Cler, rode up and charged, overthrowing many. 

" Robert Fitz Erneis fixed his lance, took his shield, and gal- 
loping towards the standard, with his keen-edged sword struck 
an Englishman who was in front, killed him, and then, drawing 
back his sword, attacked many others, and pushed straight for 
the standard, trying to beat it down; but the English sur- 
rounded it and killed him with their bills. He was found on 
the spot, when they afterwards sought for him, dead and lying 
at the standard's foot. 

"Duke William pressed upon the. English with his lance 
striving hard to reach the standard with the great troop he led 
and seeking earnestly for Harold, on whose account the whole 
war was. The Normans follow their lord, and press around 
him, they ply their blows upon the English ; and these defend 
themselves stoutly, striving hard with their enemies, returning 
blow for blow. 

" One of them was a man of great strength, a wrestler, who 
did great mischief to the Normans with his hatchet ; all feared 
him, for he struck down a great many Normans. The Duke 
spurred on his horse, and aimed a blow at him, but he stooped, 
and so escaped the stroke ; then, jumping on one side, he lifted 
his hatchet aloft, and, as the duke bent to avoid the blow, the 



198 DECISIVE BATTLES 

Englishman boldly struck him on the head, and beat in his 
helmet, though without doing much injury. He was very near 
falling, however; but, bearing on his stirrups, he recovered 
himself immediately ; and, when he thought to have revenged 
himself upon the churl by killing him, he had escaped, dread- 
ing the duke's blow. He ran back in among the English, but 
he was not safe even there ; for the Normans seeing him, pur- 
sued and caught him, and, having pierced him through and 
through with their lances, left him dead on the ground. 

" Where the throng of the battle was greatest, the men of 
Kent and Essex fought wondrously well, and made the Nor- 
mans again retreat, but without doing them much injury. And 
when the duke saw his men fall back and the English triumph- 
ing over them, his spirit rose high, and he seized his shield and 
his lance, which a vassal handed to him, and took his post by 
his standard. 

" Then those who kept close guard by him, and rode where he 
rode, being about a thousand armed men, came and rushed 
with closed ranks upon the English; and with the weight of 
their good horses, and the blows the knights gave, broke the 
press of the enemy, and scattered the crowd before them, the 
good duke leading them on in front. Many pursued and many 
fled; many were the EngHshmen who fell around, and were 
trampled under the horses, crawling upon the earth, and not 
able to rise. Many of the richest and noblest men fell in the 
rout, but still the English rallied in places, smote down those 
whom they reached, and maintained the combat the best they 
could, beating down the men and killing the horses. One Eng- 
lishman watched the duke, and plotted to kill him ; he would 
have struck him with his lance, but he could not, for the duke 
struck him first, and felled him to the earth. 

" Loud was now the clamor, and great the slaughter ; many 
a soul then quitted the body it inhabited. The living marched 
over the heaps of dead, and each side was weary of striking. 
He charged on who could, and he who could no longer strike 
still pushed forward. The strong struggled with the strong; 
some failed, others triumphed ; the cowards fell back, the brave 
pressed on ; and sad was his fate who fell in the midst, for he 
had little chance of rising again ; and many in truth fell who 
never rose at all, being crushed under the throng. 

" And now the Normans had pressed on so far, that at last 



THE BATTLE OF HASTINGS 



199 



they had reached the standard. There Harold had remained, 
defending himself to the utmost ; but he was sorely wounded in 
his eye by the arrow, and suffered grievous pain from the blow. 
An armed man came in the throng of the battle, and struck 
him on the ventaille of his helmet, and beat him to the ground ; 
and as he sought to recover himself a knight beat him down 
again, striking him on the thick of his thigh, down to the bone. 

" Gurth saw the English falling around, and that there was 
no remedy. He saw his race hastening to ruin, and despaired 
of any aid ; he would have fled, but could not, for the throng 
continually increased. And the duke pushed on till he reached 
him, and struck him with great force. Whether he died of that 
blow I know not, but i-: was said that he fell under it, and rose 
no more. 

" The standard was beaten down, the golden standard was 
taken, and Harold and the best of his friends were slain ; but 
there was so much eagerness, and throng of so many around, 
seeking to kill him, that I know not who it was that slew him. 

" The English were in great trouble at having lost their king, 
and at the duke's having conquered and beat down the stand- 
ard ; but they still fought on, and defended themselves long, 
and, in fact, till the day drew to a close. Then it clearly ap- 
peared to all that the standard was lost, and the news had 
spread throughout the army that Harold, for certain, was dead ; 
and all saw that there was no longer any hope, so they left the 
field, and those fled who could. 

" William fought well ; many an assault did he lead, many a 
blow did he give, and many receive, and many fell dead under 
his hand. Two horses were killed under him, and he took a 
third when necessary, so that he fell not to the ground, and lost 
not a drop of blood. But, whatever any one did, and whoever 
lived or died, this is certain, that William conquered, and that 
many of the English fled from the field, and many died on the 
spot. Then he returned thanks to God, and in his pride ordered 
his standard to be brought and set up on high, where the Eng- 
lish standard had stood ; and that was the signal of his having 
conquered, and beaten down the standard. And he ordered his 
tent to be raised on the spot among the dead, and had his meat 
brought thither, and his supper prepared there. 

" Then he took off his armor ; and the barons and knights, 
pages and squires came, when he had unstrung his shield ; and 



200 DECISIVE BATTLES 

they took the helmet from his head, and the hauberk from his 
back, and saw the heavy blows upon his shield, and how his 
helmet was dinted in. And all greatly wondered, and said: 
* Such a baron (ber) never bestrode war-horse, nor dealt such 
blows, nor did such feats of arms; neither has there been on 
earth such a knight since Rollant and Oliver.' 

" Thus they lauded and extolled him greatly, and rejoiced in 
what they saw, but grieving also for their friends who were 
slain in the battle. And the duke stood meanwhile among 
them, of noble stature and mien, and rendered thanks to the 
King of glory, through whom he had the victory ; and thanked 
the knights around him, mourning also frequently for the dead. 
And he ate and drank among the dead, and made his bed that 
night upon the field. 

" The morrow was Sunday ; and those who had slept upon 
the field of battle, keeping watch around, and suffering great 
fatigue, bestirred themselves at break of day, and sought out 
and buried such of the bodies of their dead friends as they 
might find. The noble ladies of the land also came, some to 
seek their husbands, and others their fathers, sons, or brothers. 
They bore the bodies to their villages, and interred them at the 
churches ; and the clerks and priests of the country were ready, 
and, at the request of their friends, took the bodies that were 
found, and prepared graves and lay them therein. 

" King Harold was carried and buried at Varham ; but I 
know not who it was that bore him thither, neither do I know 
who buried him. Many remained on the field, and many had 
fled in the night." 

Such is a Norman account of the battle of Hastings,* which 
does full justice to the valor of the Saxons, as well as to the skill 
and bravery of the victors. It is, indeed, evident that the loss 
of the battle by the English was owing to the wound which 
Harold received in the afternoon, and which must have inca- 
pacitated him from effective command. When we remember 
that he had himself just won the battle of Stamford Bridge over 
Harald Hardrada by the manoeuvre of a feigned flight, it is im- 

* In the preceding pages I have woven together the " purpureos 
pannos " of the old chronicler. In so doing I have largely availed myself 
of Mr. Edgar Taylor's version of that part of the " Roman de Ron " 
which describes the conquest. By giving engravings from the Bayeux 
Tapestry and by his excellent notes Mr. Taylor has added much to the 
value and interest of his volume. 



THE BATTLE OF HASTINGS 201 

possible to suppose that he could be deceived by the same 
stratagem on the part of the Normans at Hastings. But his 
men, when deprived of his control, would very naturally be led 
by their inconsiderate ardor into the pursuit that proved so 
fatal to them. All the narratives of the battle, however much 
they vary as to the precise time and manner of Harold's fall, 
eulogize the generalship and the personal prowess which he 
displayed, until the fatal arrow struck him. The skill with 
which he had posted his army was proved both by the slaugh- 
ter which it cost the Normans to force the position, and also by 
the desperate rally which some of the Saxons made after the 
battle in the forest in the rear, in which they cut off a large 
number of the pursuing Normans. This circumstance is 
particularly mentioned by William of Poitiers, the Conquer- 
or's own chaplain. Indeed, if Harold, or either of his brothers, 
had survived, the remains of the English army might have 
formed again in the wood, and could at least have effected an 
orderly retreat, and prolonged the war. But both Gurth and 
Leofwine, and all the bravest Thanes of Southern England lay 
dead on Senlac, around their fallen king and the fallen standard 
of their country. The exact number that perished on the Sax- 
on's side is unknown ; but we read that on the side of the victors, 
out of sixty thousand men who had been engaged, no less than 
a fourth perished. So well had the English billmen " plyed 
the ghastly blow," and so sternly had the Saxon battle-axe cloven 
Norman's casque and mail.* The old historian Daniel justly, 
as well as forcibly, remarks if "Thus was tried, by the great 
assize of God's judgment in battle, the right of power between 
the English and Norman nations ; a battle the most memorable 
of all others ; and, however miserably lost, yet most nobly 
fought on the part of England." 

Many a pathetic legend was told in after years respecting 
the discovery and the burial of the corpse of our last Saxon 
king. The main circumstances, though they seem to vary, are 
perhaps reconcilable. J Two of the monks of Waltham Abbey, 
which Harold had founded a little time before his election to 
the throne, had accompanied him to the battle. On the morn- 

* The Conqueror's Chaplain calls the Saxon battle-axes " Saevissimge 
secures." 

t As cited in the " Pictorial History." 

t See them collected in Lingard, i., 452 et seq.; Thierry, i., 299 ; Sharon 
on Turner, i., 82; and Histoire de Normandie, par Lieguet, p. 242. 



202 DECISIVE BATTLES 

ing after the slaughter, they begged and gained permission of 
the Conqueror to search for the body of their benefactor. The 
Norman soldiery and camp-followers had stripped and gashed 
the slain, and the two monks vainly strove to recognize from 
among the mutilated and gory heaps around them the features 
of their former king. They sent for Harold's mistress, Edith, 
surnamed " the Fair," and " the swan-necked," to aid them. 
The eye of love proved keener than the eye of gratitude, and 
the Saxon lady even in that Aceldama knew her Harold. 

The king's mother now sought the victorious Norm^an, and 
begged the dead body of her son. But William at first an- 
swered, in his wrath and the hardness of his heart, that a man 
who had been false to his word and his religion should have no 
other sepulchre than the sand of the shore. He added, with a 
sneer, " Harold mounted guard on the coast while he was alive, 
he may continue his guard now he is dead." The taunt was 
an unintentional eulogy ; and a grave washed by the spray of 
the Sussex waves would have been the noblest burial-place for 
the martyr of Saxon freedom. But Harold's mother was ur- 
gent in her lamentations and her prayers ; the Conqueror re- 
lented : like Achilles, he gave up the dead body of his fallen foe 
to a parent's suppHcations, and the remains of King Harold 
were deposited with regal honors in Waltham Abbey. 

On Christmas day in the same year William the Conqueror 
was crowned at London King of England. 



Synopsis of Events between the Battle of Hastings, a.d. 
1066, AND Joan of Arc's Victory at Orleans, a.d. 1429. 

A.D. 1066 — 1087. Reign of William the Conqueror. Fre- 
quent risings of the English against him, which are quelled with 
merciless rigor. 

1096. The first Crusade. 

1 1 12. Commencement of the disputes about investitures be- 
tween the emperors and the popes. 

1140. Foundation of the city of Lubec, whence originated 
the Hanseatic League. Commencement of the feuds in Italy 
between the Guelfs and the Ghibellines. 

1146. The second Crusade. 

1154. Henry H. becomes King of England. Under him 



THE BATTLE OF HASTINGS 203 

Thomas a Becket is made Archbishop of Canterbury : the first 
instance of any man of the Saxon race being raised to high 
office in Church or State since the Conquest. - 

1 170. Strongbow, earl of Pembroke, lands with an EngHsh 
army in Ireland. 

1 189. Richard Coeur de Lion becomes King of England. 
He and King Philip Augustus of France join in the third Cru- 
sade. 

1 199 — 1204. On the death of King Richard, his brother 
John claims and makes himself master of England and Nor- 
mandy, and the other large continental possessions of the early 
Plantagenet princes. Philip Augustus asserts the cause of 
Prince Arthur, John's nephew, against him. Arthur is mur- 
dered, but the French king continues the war against John, and 
conquers from him Normandy, Brittany, Anjou, Maine, Tou- 
raine, and Poitiers. 

1215. The barons, the freeholders, the citizens, and the yeo- 
men of England rise against the tyranny of John and his for- 
eign favorites. They compel him to sign Magna Charta. This 
is the commencement of our nationality ; for our history from 
this time forth is the history of a national life, then complete 
and still in being. All English history before this period is a 
mere history of elements, of their collisions, and of the processes 
of their fusion. For upwards of a century after the Conquest, 
Anglo-Norman and Anglo-Saxon had kept aloof from each 
other: the one in haughty scorn, the other in sullen abhorrence. 
They were two peoples, though living in the same land. It is 
not until the thirteenth century, the period of the reigns of John 
and his son and grandson, that we can perceive the existence of 
any feeling of common nationality among them. But in study- 
ing the history of these reigns, we read of the old dissensions 
no longer. The Saxon no more appears in civil war against 
the Norman, the Norman no longer scorns the language of the 
Saxon, or refuses to bear together with him the name of Eng- 
lishman. No part of the community think themselves foreign- 
ers to another part. They feel that they are all one people, and 
they have learned to unite their efforts for the common purpose 
of protecting the rights and promoting the welfare of all. The 
fortunate loss of the Duchy of Normandy in John's reign 
greatly promoted these new feelings. Thenceforth our barons' 
only homes were in England. One language had, in the reign 



204 DECISIVE BATTLES 

of Henry III., become the language of the land, and that, also, 
had then assumed the form in which we still possess it. One 
law, in the eye of which all freemen are equal without distinc- 
tion of race, was modelled, and steadily enforced, and still con- 
tinues to form the ground-work of our judicial system.* 

1273. Rudolph of Hapsburg chosen Emperor of Germany. 

1283. Edward I. conquers Wales. 

1346. Edward III. invades France, and gains the battle of 
Crecy. 

1356. Battle of Poitiers. , 

1360. Treaty of Bretigny between England and France. By 
it Edward III. renounces his pretensions to the French crown. 
The treaty is ill kept, and indecisive hostilities continue be- 
tween the forces of the two countries. 

1414. Henry V. of England claims the crown of France, and 
resolves to invade and conquer that kingdom. At this time 
France was in the most deplorable state of weakness and suf- 
fering, from the factions that raged among her nobility, and 
from the cruel oppressions which the rival nobles practised on 
the mass of the community. " The people were exhausted by 
taxes, civil wars, and military executions ; and they had fallen 
into that worst of all states of mind, when the independence of 
one's country is thought no longer a paramount and sacred 
object. * What can the English do to us worse than the thing 
we suffer at the hands of our own princes ? ' was a common ex- 
clamation among the poor people of France." \ 

141 5. Henry invades France, takes Harfleur, and wins the 
great battle of Agincourt. 

141 7 — 1419. Henry conquers Normandy. The French dau- 
phin assassinates the Duke of Burgundy, the most powerful of 
the French nobles, at Montereau. The successor of the mur- 
dered duke becomes the active ally of the English. 

1420. The treaty of Troyes is concluded between Henry V. 
of England and Charles VI. of France, and Philip, duke of Bur- 
gundy. By this treaty it was stipulated that Henry should 
marry the Princess Catharine of France ; that King Charles, 
during his lifetime, should keep the title and dignity of King of 
France, but that Henry should succeed him, and should at once 
be intrusted with the administration of the government, and 

* " Creasy's Text-book of the Constitution," p. 4. 
t " Pictorial Hist, of England," vol. i., p. 28. 



THE BATTLE OF HASTINGS 205 

that the French crown should descend to Henry's heirs; that 
France and England should forever be united under one king, 
but should still retain their several usages, customs, and privi- 
leges ; that all the princes, peers, vassals, and communities of 
France should swear allegiance to Henry as their future king, 
and should pay him present obedience as regent. That Henry 
should unite his arms to those of King Charles and the Duke 
of Burgundy, in order to subdue the adherents of Charles, the 
pretended dauphin ; and that these three princes should make 
no peace or truce with the dauphin but by the common consent 
of all three. 

1421. Henry V. gains several victories over the French, who 
refuse to acknowledge the treaty of Troyes. His son, after- 
wards Henry VL, is born. 

1422. Henry V. and Charles VI. of France die. Henry VI. 
is proclaimed at Paris King of England and France. The fol- 
lowers of the French dauphin proclaim him Charles VII., king 
of France. The Duke of Bedford, the English regent in 
France, defeats the army of the dauphin at Crevant. 

1424. The Duke of Bedford gains the great victory of Ver- 
neuil over the French partisans of the dauphin and their Scotch 
auxiliaries. 

1428. The English begin the siege of Orleans. 



CHAPTER IX. 

JOAN OF ARC'S VICTORY OVER THE ENGLISH 
AT ORLEANS, A.D. 1429. 

" The eyes of all Europe were turned towards this scene, where it was 
reasonably supposed the French were to make their last stand for main- 
taining the independence of their monarchy and the rights of their 
sovereign." — H u m e. 

WHEN, after their victory at Salamis, the generals of the 
various Greek states voted the prizes for distin- 
guished individual rtierit, each assigned the first 
place of excellence to himself, but they all concurred in giving 
their second votes to Themistocles.* This was looked on as a 
decisive proof that Themistocles ought to be ranked first of all. 
If we were to endeavor, by a similar test, to ascertain which 
European nation had contributed the most to the progress of 
European civilization, we should find Italy, Germany, Eng- 
land, and Spain each claiming the first degree, but each also 
naming France as clearly next in merit. It is impossible to 
deny her paramount importance in history. Besides the for- 
midable part that she has for nearly three centuries played, as 
the Bellona of the European commonwealth of states, her influ- 
ence during all this period over the arts, the literature, the man- 
ners, and the feelings of mankind, has been such as to make the 
crisis of her earlier fortunes a point of world-wide interest ; and 
it may be asserted, without exaggeration, that the future career 
of every nation was involved in the result of the struggle by 
which the unconscious heroine of France, in the beginning of 
the fifteenth century, rescued her country from becoming a sec- 
ond Ireland under the yoke of the triumphant English. 

Seldom has the extinction of a nation's independence ap- 
peared more inevitable than was the case in France when the 
EngHsh invaders completed their lines round Orleans, four 

* Plutarch, Vit. Them., 17. 
206 



JOAN OF ARCS VICTORY 207 

hundred and twenty-two years ago. A series of dreadful de- 
feats had thinned the chivalry of France, and daunted the 
spirits of her soldiers. A foreign king had been proclaimed in 
her capital ; and foreign armies of the bravest veterans, and led 
by the ablest captains then known in the world, occupied the 
fairest portions of her territory. Worse to her, even, than the 
fierceness and the strength of her foes, were the factions, the 
vices, and the crimes of her own children. Her native prince 
was a dissolute trifier, stained with the assassination of the most 
powerful noble of the land, whose son, in revenge, had leagued 
himself with the enemy. Many more of her nobility, many of 
her prelates, her magistrates, and rulers, had sworn fealty to 
the English king. The condition of the peasantry amid the 
general prevalence of anarchy and brigandage, which were 
added to the customary devastations of contending armies, was 
wretched beyond the power of language to describe. The 
sense of terror and wretchedness seemed to have extended itself 
even to the brute creation. 

" In sooth, the estate of France was then most miserable. 
There appeared nothing but a horrible face, confusion, poverty, 
desolation, solitarinesse, and feare. The lean and bare labor- 
ers in the country did terrific even theeves themselves, who had 
nothing left them to spoile but the carkasses of these poore mis- 
erable creatures, wandering up and down like ghostes drawne 
out of their graves. The least farmes and hamlets were forti- 
fied by these robbers, English, Bourguegnons, and French, 
every one striving to do his worst: all men-of-war were well 
agreed to spoile the countryman and merchant. Even the 
cattell, accustomed to the larume hell, the signe of the enemy's 
approach, would run home of themselves zvithout any guide by 
this accustomed misery."^ 

In the autumn of 1428, the English, who were already mas- 
ters of all France north of the Loire, prepared their forces for 
the conquest of the southern provinces, which yet adhered to 
the cause of the dauphin. The city of Orleans, on the banks 
of that river, was looked upon as the last stronghold of the 
French national party. If the English could once obtain pos- 
session of it, their victorious progress through the residue of the 
kingdom seemed free from any serious obstacle. Accordingly, 
the Earl of Salisbury, one of the bravest and most experienced 
* De Serres, quoted in the Notes to Southey's " Joan of Arc." 



2o8 DECISIVE BATTLES 

of the English generals, who had been trained under Henry V., 
marched to the attack of the all-important city ; and, after re- 
ducing several places of inferior consequence in the neighbor- 
hood, appeared with his army before its walls on the I2th of 
October, 1428. 

The city of Orleans itself was on the north side of the Loire, 
but its suburbs extended far on the southern side, and a strong 
bridge connected them with the town. A fortification, which in 
modern military phrase would be termed a tete-du-pont, de- 
fended the bridge head on the southern side, and two towers, 
called the Tourelles, were built on the bridge itself, at a little 
distance from the tete-du-pont. Indeed, the solid masonry of 
the bridge terminated at the Tourelles ; and the communication 
thence with the tete-du-pont and the southern shore was by 
means of a draw-bridge. The Tourelles and the tete-du-pont 
formed together a strong-fortified post, capable of containing 
a garrison of considerable strength ; and so long as this was in 
possession of the Orleannais, -they could communicate freely 
with the southern provinces, the inhabitants of which, like the 
Orleannais themselves, supported the cause of their dauphin 
against the foreigners. Lord Salisbury rightly judged the 
capture of the Tourelles to be the most material step towards 
the reduction of the city itself. Accordingly, he directed his 
principal operations against this post, and after some severe 
repulses he carried the Tourelles by storm on the 23d of Octo- 
ber. The French, however, broke down the arches of the 
bridge that were nearest to the north bank, and thus rendered 
a direct assault from the Tourelles upon the city impossible. 
But the possession of this post enabled the English to distress 
the town greatly by a battery of cannon which they planted 
there, and which commanded some of the principal streets. 

It has been observed by Hume that this is the first siege in 
which any important use appears to have been made of artil- 
lery. And even at Orleans both besiegers and besieged seem 
to have employed their cannons merely as instruments of de- 
struction against their enemy's men, and not to have trusted to 
them as engines of demolition against their enemy's walls and 
works. The efBcacy of cannon in breaching solid masonry 
was taught Europe by the Turks a few years afterwards, at the 
memorable siege of Constantinople.* In our French wars, as 

* The occasional employment of artillery against slight defences, as at 
Jargeau in 1429, is no real exception. 



JOAN OF ARCS VICTORY 209 

in the wars of the classic nations, famine was looked on as the 
surest weapon to compel the submission of a well-walled town,; 
and the great object of the besiegers was to effect a complete 
circumvallation. The great ambit of the walls of Orleans, and 
the facilities which the river gave for obtaining succors and 
supplies, rendered the capture of the town by this process a 
matter of great difficulty. Nevertheless, Lord Salisbury, and 
Lord Suffolk, who succeeded him in command of the English 
after his death by a cannon ball, carried on the necessary works 
with great skill and resolution. Six strongly-fortified posts, 
called bastilles, were formed at certain intervals round the 
town, and the purpose of the English engineers was to draw 
strong lines between them. During the winter, little prog- 
ress was made with the intrenchments, but, when the spring of 
1429 came, the English resumed their work, with activity ; the 
communications between the city and the country became 
more difficult, and the approach of want began already to be 
felt in Orleans. 

The besieging force also fared hardly for stores and pro- 
visions, until reUeved by the effects of a brilliant victory which 
Sir John Fastolfe, one of the best English generals, gained at 
Rouvrai, near Orleans, a few days after Ash Wednesday, 1429. 
With only sixteen hundred fighting men. Sir John completely 
defeated an army of French and Scots, four thousand strong, 
which had been collected for the purpose of aiding the Orlean- 
nais and harassing the besiegers. After this encounter, which 
seemed decisively to confirm the superiority of the English in 
battle over their adversaries, Fastolfe escorted large supplies of 
stores and food to Suffolk's camp, and the spirits of the Eng- 
lish rose to the highest pitch at the prospect of the speedy cap- 
ture of the city before them, and the consequent subjection of 
all France beneath their arms. 

The Orleannais now, in their distress, offered to surrender 
the city into the hands of the Duke of Burgundy, who, though 
the ally of the English, was yet one of their native princes. The 
Regent Bedford refused these terms, and the speedy submis- 
sion of the city to the English seemed inevitable. The Dau- 
phin Charles, who was now at Chinon with his remnant of a 
court, despaired of continuing any longer the struggle for his 
crown, and was only prevented from abandoning the country 
by the more masculine spirits of his mistress and his queen. 
14 



210 DECISIVE BATTLES 

Yet neither they, nor the boldest of Charles' captains, could 
have shown him where to find resources for prolonging war ; 
and least of all could any human skill have predicted the quar- 
ter whence rescue was to come to Orleans and to France. 

In the village of Domremy, on the borders of Lorraine, there 
was a poor peasant of the name of Jacques d'Arc, respected in 
his station of life, and who had reared a family in virtuous 
habits and in the practice of the strictest devotion. His eldest 
daughter was named by her parents Jannette, but she was called 
Jeanne by the French, which was Latinized into Johanna, and 
Anglicized into Joan.* 

At the time when Joan first attracted attention, she was about 
eighteen years of age. She was naturally of a susceptible dis- 
position, which diligent attention to the legends of saints and 
tales of fairies, aided by the dreamy loneliness of her life while 
tending her father's flocks,! had made peculiarly prone to en- 
thusiastic fervor. At the same time, she was eminent for piety 
and purity of soul, and for her compassionate gentleness to the 
sick and the distressed. 

The district where she dwelt had escaped comparatively free 
from the ravages of war, but the approach of roving bands of 

* " Respondit quod in partibus suis vocabatur Johanneta, et postquam 
venit in Franciam vocata est Johanna." — Prods de Jeanne d'Arc, i.,p. 46. 

t Southey, in one of the speeches which he puts in the mouth of Joan 
of Arc, has made her beautifully describe the effect on her mind of the 
scenery in which she dwelt: 

" Here in solitude and peace 
My soul was nursed, amid the loveliest scenes 
Of unpolluted nature. Sweet it was, 
As the white mists of morning roll'd away, 
To see the mountain's wooded heights appear 
Dark in the early dawn, and mark its slope 
With gorse-flowers glowing, as the rising sun 
On the golden ripeness pour'd a deepening light. 
Pleasant at noon beside the vocal brook 
To lay me down, and watch the floating clouds. 
And shape to Fancy's wild similitudes 
Their ever-varying forms ; and oh ! how sweet, 
To drive my flock at evening to the fold, 
And hasten to our little hut, and hear 
The voice of kindness bid me welcome home." 

The only foundation for the story told by the Burgundian partisan 
Monstrelet, and adopted by Hume, of Joan having been brought up as a 
servant, is the circumstance of her having been once, with the rest of her 
family, obliged to take refuge in an auberge in Neufchateau for fifteen 
days, when a party of Burgundian cavalry made an incursion into Dom- 
remy. (See the " Quarterly Review " No. 138.) 



JOAN OF ARCS VICTORY 211 

Burgundian or English troops frequently spread terror through 
Domremy. Once the village had been plundered by some of 
these marauders, and Joan and her family had ,been driven 
from their home, and forced to seek refuge for a time at Neuf- 
chateau. The peasantry in Domremy were principally at- 
tached to the house of Orleans and the dauphin, and all the 
miseries which France endured were there imputed to the Bur- 
gundian faction and their allies, the English, who were seeking 
to enslave unhappy France. 

Thus, from infancy to girlhood, Joan had heard continually 
of the woes of the war, and had herself witnessed some of the 
wretchedness that it caused. A feeling of intense patriotism 
grew in her with her growth. The deliverance of France from 
the English was the subject of her reveries by day and her 
dreams by night. Blended with these aspirations were recollec- 
tions of the miraculous interpositions of Heaven in favor of the 
oppressed, which she had learned from the legends of her 
Church. Her faith was undoubting ; her prayers were fervent. 
" She feared no danger, for she felt no sin," and at length she be- 
lieved herself to have received the supernatural inspiration 
which she sought. According to her own narrative, delivered by 
her to her merciless inquisitors in the time of her captivity and 
approaching death, she was about thirteen years old when her 
revelations commenced. Her own words describe them best* 
" At the age of thirteen, a voice from God came to her to help 
her in ruling herself, and that voice came to her about the hour 
of noon, in summer time, while she was in her father's garden. 
And she had fasted the day before. And she heard the voice 
on her right, in the direction of the church ; and when she heard 
the voice, she saw also a bright light." Afterwards St. Michael, 
and St. Margaret, and St. Catharine appeared to her. They 
were always in a halo of glory ; she could see that their heads 
were crowned with jewels ; and she heard their voices, which 
were sweet and mild. She did not distinguish their arms or 
limbs. She heard them more frequently than she saw them ; 
and the usual time when she heard them was when the church 
bells were sounding for prayer. And if she was in the woods 
when she heard them, she could plainly distinguish their voices 
drawing near to her. When she thought that she discerned the 
Heavenly Voices, she knelt down, and bowed herself to the 
* " Proces de Jeanne d'Arc," vol. i., p. 52. 



212 DECISIVE BATTLES 

ground. Their presence gladdened her even to tears; and, 
after they departed, she wept because they had not taken her 
with them back to Paradise. They always spoke soothingly to 
her. They told her that France would be saved, and that she 
was to save it. Such were the visions and the voices that 
moved the spirit of the girl of thirteen ; and, as she grew older, 
they became more frequent and more clear. At last the tidings 
of the siege of Orleans reached Domremy. Joan heard her 
parents and neighbors talk of the sufferings of its population, 
of the ruin which its capture would bring on their lawful sover- 
eign, and of the distress of the dauphin and his court. Joan's 
heart was sorely troubled at the thought of the fate of Orleans ; 
and her voices now ordered her to leave her home ; and warned 
her that she was the instrument chosen by Heaven for driving 
away the English from that city, and for taking the dauphin to 
be anointed king at Rheims. At length she informed her 
parents of her divine mission, and told them that she must go 
to the Sire de Baudricourt, who commanded at Vaucouleurs, 
and who was the appointed person to bring her into the pres- 
ence of the king, whom she was to save. Neither the anger 
nor the grief of her parents, who said that they would rather see 
her drowned than exposed to the contamination of the camp, 
could move her from her purpose. One of her uncles con- 
sented to take her to Vaucouleurs, where De Baudricourt at 
first thought her mad, and derided her ; but by degrees was led 
to believe, if not in her inspiration, at least In her enthusiasm, 
and in its possible utility to the dauphin's cause. 

The inhabitants of Vaucouleurs were completely won over 
to her side by the piety and devoutness which she displayed, 
and by her firm assurance in the truth of her mission. She 
told them that it was God's will that she should go to the king, 
and that no one but her could save the kingdom of France. 
She said that she herself would rather remain with her poor 
mother, and spin ; but the Lord had ordered her forth. The 
fame of " The Maid," as she was termed, the renown of her holi- 
ness, and of her mission, spread far and wide. Baudricourt 
sent her with an escort to Chinon, where the Dauphin Charles 
was dallying away his time. Her Voices had bidden her as- 
sume the arms and the apparel of a knight ; and the wealthiest 
inhabitants of Vaucouleurs had vied with each other in equip- 
ping her with war-horse, armor, and sword. On reaching 



JOAN OF ARCS VICTORY 213 

Chinon, she was, after some delay, admitted into the presence 
of the dauphin. Charles designedly dressed hirnself far less 
richly than many of his courtiers were apparelled, and mingled 
with them, when Joan was introduced, in order to see if the 
Holy Maid would address her exhortations to the wrong per- 
son. But she instantly singled him out, and, kneeling before 
him, said : " Most noble dauphin, the King of Heaven an- 
nounces to you by me that you shall be anointed and crowned 
king in the city of Rheims, and that you shall be his viceregent 
in France." His features may probably have been seen by her 
previously in portraits, or have been described to her by 
others; but she herself believed that her Voices inspired her 
when she addressed the king;* and the report soon spread 
abroad that the Holy Maid had found the king by a miracle ; 
and this, with many other similar rumors, augmented the re- 
nown and influence that she now rapidly acquired. 

The state of public feeling in France was now favorable to an 
enthusiastic belief in a divine interposition in favor of the party 
that had hitherto been unsuccessful and oppressed. The 
humiliations which had befallen the French royal family and 
nobility were looked on as the just judgments of God upon 
them for their vice and impiety. The misfortunes that had 
come upon France as a nation were believed to have been 
drawn down by national sins. The English, who had been the 
instruments of Heaven's wrath against France, seemed now, 
by their pride and cruelty, to be fitting objects of it themselves. 
France in that age was a profoundly religious country. There 
was ignorance, there was superstition, there was bigotry ; but 
there was Faith — a faith that itself worked true miracles, even 
while it believed in unreal ones. At this time, also, one of 
those devotional movements began among the clergy in 
France, which from time to time occur In national churches, 
without it being possible for the historian to assign any ade- 
quate human cause for their immediate date or extension. 
Numberless friars and priests traversed the rural districts and 
towns of France, preaching to the people that they must seek 
from Heaven a deliverance from the pillages of the soldiery and 
the Insolence of the foreign oppressors.! The idea of a Provi- 
dence that works only by general laws was wholly alien to the 

* " Proces de Jeanne d'Arc," vol. i., p. 56. 

t See Sismondi, vol. xiii., p. 114; Michelet, vol. v., livre x. 



214 DECISIVE BATTLES 

feelings of the age. Every political event, as well as every 
natural phenomenon, was believed to be the immediate result 
of a special mandate of God. This led to the belief that his holy 
angels and saints were constantly employed in executing his 
commands and mingling in the affairs of men. The Church 
encouraged these feelings, and at the same time sanctioned the 
concurrent popular belief that hosts of evil spirits were also 
ever actively interposing in the current of earthly events, with 
whom sorcerers and wizards could league themselves, and 
thereby obtain the exercise of supernatural power. 

Thus, all things favored the influence which Joan obtained 
both over friends and foes. The French nation, as well as the 
English and Burgundians, readily admitted that superhuman 
beings inspired her; the only question was whether these be- 
ings were good or evil angels ; whether she brought with her 
" airs from heaven or blasts from hell." This question seemed 
to her countrymen to be decisively settled in her favor by the' 
austere sanctity of her life, by the holiness of her conversation, 
but still more by her exemplary attention to all the services and 
rites of the Church. The dauphin at first feared the injury 
that might be done to his cause if he laid himself open to the 
charge of having leagued himself with a sorceress. Every 
imaginable test, therefore, was resorted to in order to set Joan's 
orthodoxy and purity beyond suspicion. At last Charles and 
his advisers felt safe in accepting her services as those of a true 
and virtuous Christian daughter of the Holy Church. 

It is, indeed, probable that Charles himself and some of his 
counselors may have suspected Joan of being a mere enthu- 
siast, and it is certain that Dunois, and others of the best gen- 
erals, took considerable latitude in obeying or deviating from 
the military orders that she gave. But over the mass of the 
people and the soldiery her influence was unbounded. While 
Charles and his doctors of theology, and court ladies, had been 
deliberating as to recognizing or dismissing the Maid, a con- 
siderable period had passed away, during which a small army, 
the last gleanings, at is seemed, of the English sword, had been 
assembled at Blois, under Dunois, La Hire, Xaintrailles, and 
other chiefs, who to their natural valor were now beginning to 
urTite the wisdom that is taught by misfortune. It was resolved 
to send Joan with this force and a convoy of provisions to Or- 
leans. The distress of that city had now become urgent. But 



JOAN OF ARCS VICTORY 215 

the communication with the open country was not entirely cut 
off : the Orleannais had heard of the Holy Maid whom Provi- 
dence had raised up for their deliverance, and their messengers 
earnestly implored the dauphin to send her to them without 
delay. 

Joan appeared at the camp at Blois, clad in a new suit of 
brilliant white armor, mounted on a stately black war-horse, 
and with a lance in her right hand, which she had learned to 
wield with skill and grace.* Her head was unhelmeted, so 
that all could behold her fair and expressive features, her deep- 
set and earnest eyes, and her long black hair, which was parted 
across her forehead, and bound by a ribbon behind her back. 
She wore at her side a small battle-axe, and the consecrated 
sword, marked on the blade with five crosses, which had at her 
bidding been taken for her from the shrine of St. Catharine at 
Fierbois. A page carried her banner, which she had caused to 
be made and embroidered as her Voices enjoined. It was 
white satin, t strewn with fleurs-de-lis; and on it were the words 
" Jhesus Maria," and the representation of the Saviour in his 
glory. Joan afterwards generally bore her banner herself in 
battle; she said that, tliough she loved her sword much, she 
loved her banner forty times as much ; and she loved to carry 
it, because it could not kill any one. 

Thus accoutred, she came to lead the troops of France, who 
looked with soldierly admiration on her well-proportioned and 
upright figure, the skill with which she managed her war- 
horse, and the easy grace with which she handled her weapons. 
Her military education had been short, but she had availed her- 
self of it well. She had also the good sense to interfere little 
with the manoeuvres of the troops, leaving these things to 
Dunois, and others whom she had the discernment to recog- 
nize as the best officers in the camp. Her tactics in action were 
simple enough. As she herself described it, " I used to say to 
them, * Go boldly in among the English,' and then I used to go 
boldly in myself." J Such, as she told her inquisitors, was the 
only spell she used, and it was one of power. But, while inter- 
fering little with the military discipline of the troops, in all mat- 

* See the description of her by Gui de Laval, quoted in the note to 
Michelet, p. 69; and see the account of the banner at Orleans, which is 
believed to bear an authentic portrait of the Maid, in Murray's " Hand- 
book for France," p. 175. 

t " Proces de Jeanne d'Arc," vol. i., p. 238. t Id. ib. 



2i6 DECISIVE BATTLES 

ters of moral discipline she was inflexibly strict. All the 
abandoned followers of the camp were driven away. She com- 
pelled both generals and soldiers to attend regularly at confes- 
sional. Her chaplain and other priests marched with the army 
under her orders ; and at every halt, an altar was set up and the 
sacrament administered. No oath or foul language passed 
without punishment or censure. Even the roughest and most 
hardened veterans obeyed her. They put off for a time the 
bestial coarseness which had grown on them during a life of 
bloodshed and rapine ; they felt that they must go forth in a new 
spirit to a new career, and acknowledged the beauty of the holi- 
ness in which the heaven-sent Maid was leading them to certain 
victory. 

Joan marched from Blois on the 25th of April with a convoy 
of provisions for Orleans, accompanied by Dunois, La Hire, 
and the other chief captains of the French, and on the evening 
of the 28th they approached the town. In the words of the old 
chronicler Hall :* " The Englishmen, perceiving that thei 
within could not long continue for faute of vitaile and pouder, 
kepte not their watche so diligently as thei were accustomed, 
nor scoured now the countrey environed as thei before had or- 
dained. Whiche negligence the citizens shut in perceiving, 
sent worde thereof to the French captaines, which, with Pu- 
celle, in the dedde tyme of the nighte, and in a greate rayne and 
thundere, with all their vitaile and artillery, entered into the 
citie." 

When it was day, the Maid rode in solemn procession 
through the city, clad in complete armor, and mounted on a 
white horse. Dunois was by her side, and all the bravest 
knights of her army and of the garrison followed in her train. 
The whole population thronged around her ; and men, women, 
and children strove to touch her garments, or her banner, or 
her charger. They poured forth blessings on her, whom they 
already considered their deliverer. In the words used by two 
of them afterwards before the tribunal which reversed the sen- 
tence, but could not restore the life of the Virgin-martyr of 
France, " the people of Orleans, when they first saw her in their 
city, thought that it was an angel from Heaven that had come 
down to save them." Joan spoke gently in reply to their ac- 
clamations and addresses. She told them to fear God, and 
* Hall, f. 127. 



JOAN OF ARCS VICTORY 217 

trust in Him for safety from the fury of their enemies. She 
first went to the principal church, where Te Deum was chanted ; 
and then she took up her abode at the house of Jacques Bour- 
gier, one of the principal citizens, and whose wife was a matron 
of good repute. She refused to attend a splendid banquet 
which had been provided for her, and passed nearly all her time 
in prayer. 

When it was known by the English that the Maid was in Or- 
leans, their minds were not less occupied about her than were 
the minds of those in the city; but it was in a very different 
spirit. The English believed in her supernatural mission as 
firmly as the French did, but they thought her a sorceress who 
had come to overthrow them by her enchantments. An old 
prophecy, which told that a damsel from Lorraine was to save 
France, had long been current, and it was known and applied 
to Joan by foreigners, as well as by the natives. For months 
the English had heard of the coming Maid, and the tales of 
miracles which she was said to have wrought had been listened 
to by the rough yeomen of the English camp with anxious 
curiosity and secret awe. She had sent a herald to the English 
generals before she marched for Orleans, and he had sum- 
moned the English generals in the name of the Most High to 
give up to the Maid, who was sent by Heaven, the keys of the 
French cities which they had wrongfully taken; and he also 
solemnly adjured the English troops, whether archers, or men 
of the companies of war, or gentlemen, or others, who were 
before the city of Orleans, to depart thence to their homes, un- 
der peril of being visited by the judgment of God. On her 
arrival in Orleans, Joan sent another similar message ; but the 
English scoffed at her from their towers, and threatened to 
burn her heralds. She determined, before she shed the blood 
of the besiegers, to repeat the warning with her own voice ; and, 
accordingly, she mounted one of the boulevards of the town, 
which was within hearing of the Tourelles, and thence she 
spoke to the English, and bade them depart, otherwise they 
would meet with shame and woe. Sir William Gladsdale 
(whom the French call Glacidas) commanded the English post 
at the Tourelles, and he and another English officer replied by 
bidding her go home and keep her cows, and by ribald jests, 
that brought tears of shame and indignation into her eyes. 
But, though the English leaders vaunted aloud, the effect pro- 



2i8 DECISIVE BATTLES 

duced on their army by Joan's presence in Orleans was proved 
four days after her arrival, when, on the approach of re-enforce- 
ments and stores to the town, Joan and La Hire marched out 
to meet them, and escorted the long train of provision wagons 
safely into Orleans, between the bastilles of the English, who 
cowered behind their walls, instead of charging fiercely and 
fearlessly, as had been their wont, on any French band that 
dared to show itself within reach. 

Thus far she had prevailed without striking a blow ; but the 
time was now come to test her courage amid the horrors of 
actual slaughter. On the afternoon of the day on which she 
had escorted the re-enforcements into the city, while she was 
resting fatigued at home, Dunois had seized an advantageous 
opportunity of attacking the English bastille of St. Loup, and 
a fierce assault of the Orleannais had been made on it, which 
the English garrison of the fort stubbornly resisted. Joan was 
roused by a sound which she believed to be that of her Heav- 
enly Voices ; she called for her arms and horse, and, quickly 
equipping herself, she mounted to ride ofif to where the fight 
was raging. In her haste she had forgotten her banner ; she 
rode back, and, without dismounting, had it given to her from 
the window, and then she galloped to the gate whence the sally 
had been made. On her way she met some of the wounded 
French who had been carried back from the fight. " Ha ! " she 
exclaimed, " I never can see French blood flow without my 
hair standing on end." She rode out of the gate, and met the 
tide of her countrymen, who had been repulsed from the Eng- 
lish fort, and were flying back to Orleans in confusion. At the 
sight of the Holy Maid and her banner they rallied, and re- 
newed the assault. Joan rode forward at their head, waving 
her banner and cheering them on. The English quailed at 
what they believed to be the charge of hell ; Saint Loup was 
stormed, and its defenders put to the sword, except some few, 
whom Joan succeeded in saving. All her woman's gentleness 
returned when the combat was over. It was the first time she 
had ever seen a battle-field. She wept at the sight of so many 
bleeding corpses ; and her tears flowed doubly when she re- 
flected that they were the bodies of Christian men who had died 
without confession. 

The next day was Ascension day, and it was passed by Joan 
in prayer. But on the following morrow it was resolved by 



JOAN OF ARCS VICTORY 219 

the chiefs of the garrison to attack the English forts on the 
south of the river. For this purpose they crossed the river in 
boats, and, after some severe fighting, in which the Maid was 
wounded in the heel, both the English bastilles of the Augustins 
and St. Jean de Blanc were captured. The Tourelles were nov/ 
the only post which the besiegers held on the south of the river. 
But that post was formidably strong, and, by its command of 
the bridge, it was the key to the deliverance of Orleans. It 
was known that a fresh English army was approaching under 
Fastolfe to re-enforce the besiegers, and, should that army ar- 
rive while the Tourelles were yet in the possession of their 
comrades, there was great peril of all the advantages which the 
French had gained being nullified, and of the siege being again 
actively carried on. 

It was resolved, therefore, by the French to assail the Tour- 
elles at once, while the enthusiasm which the presence and the 
heroic valor of the Maid had created was at its height. But the 
enterprise was difficult. The rampart of the tete-du-pont, or 
landward bulwark, of the Tourelles was steep and high, and Sir 
John Gladsdale occupied this all-important fort with five hun- 
dred archers and men-at-arms, who were the very flower of the 
English army. 

Early in the morning of the 7th of May, some thousands of 
the best French troops in Orleans heard mass and attended the 
confessional by Joan's orders, and then, crossing the river in 
boats, as on the preceding day, they assailed the bulwark of the 
Tourelles " with light hearts and heavy hands." But Glads- 
dale's men, encouraged by their bold and skilful leader, made a 
resolute and able defence. The Maid planted her banner on 
the edge of the fosse, and then, springing down into the ditch, 
she placed the first ladder against the wall, and began to 
mount. An English archer sent an arrow at her, which pierced 
her corselet, and wounded her severely between the neck and 
shoulder. She fell bleeding from the ladder ; and the English 
were leaping down from the wall to capture her, but her follow- 
ers bore her off. She was carried to the rear, and laid upon the 
grass ; her armor was taken off, and the anguish of her wound 
and the sight of her blood made her at first tremble and weep. 
But her confidence in her celestial mission soon returned : her 
patron saints seemed to stand before her, and reassure her. 
She sat up and drew the arrow out with her own hands. Some 



220 DECISIVE BATTLES 

of the soldiers who stood by wished to stanch the blood by say- 
ing a charm over the wound ; but she forbade them, saying that 
she did not wish to be cured by unhallowed means. She had the 
wound dressed with a little oil, and then, bidding her confessor 
come to her, she betook herself to prayer. 

In the mean while, the English in the bulwark of the Tourelles 
had repulsed the oft-renewed efforts of the French to scale the 
wall. Dunois, who commanded the assailants, was at last dis- 
couraged, and gave orders for a retreat to be sounded. Joan 
sent for him and the other generals, and implored them not to 
despair. " By my God," she said to them, " you shall soon 
enter in there. Do not doubt it. When you see my banner 
wave again up to the wall, to your arms again! The fort is 
yours. For the present, rest a little, and take some food and 
drink." " They did so," says the old chronicler of the siege,* 
" for they obeyed her marvellously." The faintness caused by 
her wound had now passed off, and she headed the French in 
another rush against the bulwark. The English, who had 
thought her slain, were alarmed at her reappearance, while the 
French pressed furiously and fanatically forward. A Biscayan 
soldier was carrying Joan's banner. She had told the troops 
that directly the banner touched the wall, they should enter. 
The Biscayan waved the banner forward from the edge of the 
fosse, and touched the wall with it; and then all the French 
host swarmed madly up the ladders that now were raised in all 
directions against the English fort. At this crisis, the efforts 
of the English garrison were distracted by an attack from an- 
other quarter. The French troops who had been left in Or- 
leans had placed some planks over the broken arch of the 
bridge, and advanced across them to the assault of the Tour- 
elles on the northern side. Gladsdale resolved to withdraw 
his men from the landward bulwark, and concentrate his whole 
force in the Tourelles themselves. He was passing for this 
purpose across the drawbridge that connected the Tourelles 
and the tete-du-pont, when Joan, who by this time had scaled 
the wall of the bulwark, called out to him, " Surrender ! Sur- 
render to the King of Heaven ! Ah, Glacidas, you have foully 
wronged me with your words, but I have great pity on your 
soul and the souls of your men." The Englishman, disdainful 
of her summons, was striding on across the drawbridge, when 
* " Journal du Siege d'Orleans," p. 87. 



JOAN OF ARC'S VICTORY 221 

a cannon shot from the town carried it away, and Gladsdale 
perished in the water that ran beneath. After his fall, the rem- 
nant of the English abandoned all further resistance. Three 
hundred of them had been killed in the battle, and two hundred 
were made prisoners. 

The broken arch was speedily repaired by the exulting Or- 
leannais, and Joan made her triumph re-entry into the city by 
the bridge that had so long been closed. Every church in 
Orleans rang out its gratulating peal; and throughout the 
night, the sounds of rejoicing echoed, and the bonfires blazed 
up from the city. But in the lines and forts which the besiegers 
yet retained on the northern shore, there was anxious watching 
of the generals, and there was desponding gloom among the 
soldiery. Even Talbot now counselled retreat. On the follow- 
ing morning, the Orleannais, from their walls, saw the great 
forts called '' London " and " St. Lawrence " in flames, and 
witnessed their invaders busy in destroying the stores and 
munitions which had been relied on for the destruction of 
Orleans. Slowly and sullenly the English army retired ; and not 
before it had drawn up in battle array opposite to the city, as if 
to challenge the garrison to an encounter. The French troops 
were eager to go out and attack, but Joan forbade it. The day 
was Sunday. " In the name of God," she said, " let them de- 
part, and let us return thanks to God." She led the soldiers 
and citizens forth from Orleans, but not for the shedding of 
blood. They passed in solemn procession round the city walls, 
and then, while their retiring enemies were yet in sight, they 
knelt in thanksgiving to God for the deliverance which he had 
vouchsafed them. 

Within three months from the time of her first interview 
with the dauphin, Joan had fulfilled the first part of her 
promise, the raising of the siege of Orleans. Within three 
months more she had fulfilled the second part also, and had 
stood with her banner in her hand by the high altar at Rheims, 
while he was anointed and crowned as King Charles VIL of 
France. In the interval she had taken Jargeau, Troyes, and 
other strong places, and she had defeated an English army in a 
fair field at Patay. The enthusiasm of her countrymen knew 
no bounds ; but the importance of her services, and especially 
of her primary achievement at Orleans, may perhaps be best 
proved by the testimony of her enemies. There is extant a 



222 DECISIVE BATTLES 

fragment of a letter from the Regent Bedford to his royal 
nephew, Henry VL, in which he bewails the turn that the war 
has taken, and especially attributes it to the raising of the siege 
of Orleans by Joan. Bedford's own words, which are preserved 
in Rymer,* are as follows : 

" And alle thing there prospered for you til the tyme of the 
Siege of Orleans taken in hand God knoweth by what advis. 

" At the whiche tyme, after the adventure fallen to the per- 
sone of my cousin of Salisbury, whom God assoille, there felle, 
by the hand of God as it seemeth, a great strook upon your 
peuple that was assembled there in grete nombre, caused in 
grete partie, as y trowe, of lakke of sadde beleve, and of unleve- 
fulle doubte, that thei hadde of a disciple and lyme of the 
Feende, called the Pucelle, that used fals enchantments and 
sorcerie. 

"The whiche strooke and discomfiture nott oonly lessed in 
grete partie the nombre of your peuple there, but as well with- 
drewe the courage of the rernenant in merveillous wyse, and 
couraiged your adverse partie and ennemys to assemble them 
forthwith in grete nombre." 

When Charles had been anointed King of France, Joan be- 
lieved that her mission was accomplished. And in truth, the 
deliverance of France from the English, though not completed 
for many years afterwards, was then insured. The ceremony 
of a royal coronation and anointment was not in those days 
regarded as a mere costly formality. It was believed to confer 
the sanction and the grace of Heaven upon the prince, who had 
previously ruled with mere human authority. Thenceforth he 
was the Lord's Anointed. Moreover, one of the difficulties that 
had previously lain in the way of many Frenchmen when called 
on to support Charles VII. was now removed. He had been 
publicly stigmatized, even by his own parents, as no true son 
of the royal race of France. The queen-mother, the English, 
and the partisans of Burgundy called him the " Pretender to 
the title of Dauphin " ; but those who had been led to doubt his 
legitimacy were cured of their scepticism by the victories of 
the Holy Maid, and by the fulfilment of her pledges. They 
thought that Heaven had now declared itself in favor of Charles 
as the true heir of the crown of St. Louis, and the tales about 
his being spurious were thenceforth regarded as mere English 
* Vol. X., p. 408. 



JOAN OF ARCS VICTORY 223 

calumnies. With this strong tide of national feeling in his 
favor, with victorious generals and soldiers round him, and a 
dispirited and divided enemy before him, he couljd not fail to 
conquer, though his own imprudence and misconduct, and the 
stubborn valor which the English still from time to time dis- 
played, prolonged the war in France until the civil war of the 
Roses broke out in England, and left France to peace and 
repose. 

Joan knelt before the French king in the cathedral of Rheims 
and shed tears of joy. She said that she had then fulfilled the 
work which the Lord had commanded her. The young girl now 
asked for her dismissal. She wished to return to her peasant 
home, to tend her parents' flocks again, and live at her own 
will in her native village.* She had always believed that her 
career would be a short one. But Charles and his captains were 
loath to lose the presence of one who had such an influence upon 
the soldiery and the people. They persuaded her to stay with 
the army. She still showed the same bravery and zeal for the 
cause of France. She still was as fervent as before in her pray- 
ers, and as exemplary in all religious duties. She still heard her 
Heavenly Voices, but she now no longer thought herself the ap- 
pointed minister of Heaven to lead her countrymen to certain 
victory. Our admiration for her courage and patriotism ought 
to be increased a hundred fold by her conduct throughout the 
latter part of her career, amid dangers, against which she no 
longer believed herself to be divinely secured. Indeed, she be- 
lieved herself doomed to perish in a little more than a year ;t but 
she still fought on as resolutely, if not as exultingly as ever. 

As in the case of Arminius, the interest attached to individual 
heroism and virtue makes us trace the fate of Joan of Arc after 
she had saved her country. She served well with Charles' army 
in the capture of Laon, Soissons, Compiegne, Beauvais, and 
other strong places; but in a premature attack on Paris, in 
September, 1429, the French were repulsed, and Joan was 
severely wounded. In the winter she was again in the field with 
some of the French troops, and in the following spring she 
threw herself into the fortress of Compiegne, which she had 

* " Je voudrais bien qu'il voulut me faire ramener aupres mes pere et 
mere, a garder leurs brebis et betail, et faire ce que je voudrois faire." 

t " Des le commencement elle avait dit, 'II me faut employer; je ne 
durerai qu'un an, ou guere plus.' " — Michelet, x., p. loi. 



2 24 DECISIVE BATTLES 

herself won for the French king in the preceding autumn, and 
which was now besieged by a strong Burgundian force. 

She was taken prisoner in a sally from Compiegne, on the 
24th of May, and was imprisoned by the Burgundians first at 
Arras, and then at a place called Crotoy, on the Flemish coast, 
until November, when, for payment of a large sum of money, 
she was given up to the English, and taken to Rouen, which 
then was their main stronghold in France. 

" Sorrow it were, and shame to tell, 
The butchery that there befell." 

And the revolting details of the cruelties practised upon this 
young girl may be left to those whose duty, as avowed biog- 
raphers, it is to describe them.* She was tried before an 
ecclesiastical tribunal on the charge of witchcraft, and on the 
30th of May, 143 1, she was burned alive in the market-place at 
Rouen. 

I will add but one remark on the character of the truest hero- 
ine that the world has ever seen. 

If any person can be found in the present age who would 
join in the scoffs of Voltaire against the Maid of Orleans and 
the Heavenly Voices by which she believed herself inspired, let 
him read the life of the wisest and best man that the heathen 
nations produced. Let him read of the Heavenly Voices by 
which Socrates believed himself to be constantly attended; 
which cautioned him on his way from the field of battle at 
Delium, and which, from his boyhood to the time of his death, 
visited him with unearthly warnings, f Let the modern reader 
reflect upon this ; and then, unless he is prepared to term 
Socrates either fool or impostor, let him not dare to deride or 
villify Joan of Arc. 

* The whole of the " Proces de Condemnation et de Rehabilitation de 
Jeanne d'Arc " has been published in five volumes, by the Societe de 
I'Histoire de France. All the passages from contemporary chroniclers 
and poets are added; and the most ample materials are thus given for 
acquiring full information on a subject which is, to an Englishman, one 
of painful interest. There is an admirable essay on Joan of Arc in the 
138th number of the " Quarterly." 

t See Cicero, de Divinatione, lib. i., sec. 41; and see the words of 
Socrates himself, in Plato, Apol. Soc. : "Ort fiot ^€76v n /col taijxSviov ylyverai. 
E/iot 5^ rovr' eoriv « k vaiShs ao^dixevoy, (pupji ris yiyyofxepri, k. t. A. 



JOAN OF ARCS VICTORY 225 



Synopsis of Events between Joan of Arc's Victory at 
Orleans, a.d. 1429, and the Defeat of the Spanish 
Armada, a.d. 1588. 

A.D. 1452. Final expulsion of the English from France. 

1453. Constantinople taken, and the Roman empire of the 
East destroyed by the Turkish Sultan Mohammed II. 

1455. Commencement of the civil wars in England between 
the houses of York and Lancaster. 

1479. Union of the Christian kingdoms of Spain under 
Ferdinand and Isabella. 

1492. Capture of Grenada by Ferdinand and Isabella, and 
end of the Moorish dominion in Spain. 

1492. Columbus discovers the New World. 

1494. Charles VIII. of France invades Italy. 

1497. Expedition of Vasco di Gama to the East Indies 
round the Cape of Good Hope. 

1503. Naples conquered from the French by the great Span- 
ish general, Gonsalvo of Cordova. 

1508. League of Cambray by the Pope, the Emperor, and 
the King of France, against Venice. 

1509. Albuquerque establishes the empire of the Portuguese 
in the East Indies. 

1 5 16. Death of Ferdinand of Spain; he is succeeded by his 
grandson Charles, afterwards the Emperor Charles V. 

1 5 17. Dispute between Luther and Tetzel respecting the sale 
of indulgences, which leads to the Reformation. 

1 5 19. Charles V. is elected Emperor of Germany. 

1520. Cortez conquers Mexico. 

1525. Francis First of Spain defeated and taken prisoner by 
the imperial army at Pavia. 

1529. League of Smalcald formed by the Protestant princes 
of Germany. 

1533. Henry VIII. renounces the papal supremacy. 

1533. Pizarro conquers Peru. 

1556. Abdication of the Emperor Charles V., Philip II. be- 
comes King of Spain, and Ferdinand I. Emperor of Germany. 

1557. Elizabeth becomes Queen of England. 

1557. The Spaniards defeat the French at the battle of St. 
Quentin. 
15 



226 DECISIVE BATTLES 

1 571. Don John of Austria, at the head of the Spanish fleet, 
aided by the Venetian and the papal squadrons, defeats the 
Turks at Lepanto. 

1572. Massacre of the Protestants in France on St. Bar- 
tholomew's day. 

1579. The Netherlands revolt against Spain. 

1580. Philip 11. conquers Portugal. 



CHAPTER X. 

THE DEFEAT OF THE SPANISH ARMADA, A.D. 

1588. 

" In that memorable year, when the dark cloud gathered round our 
coasts, when Europe stood by in fearful suspense to behold what should 
be the result of that great cast in the game of human politics, what the 
craft of Rome, the power of Philip, the genius of Farnese could achieve 
against the island-queen, with her Drakes and Cecils — in that agony of 
the Protestant faith and English name." — Hallam, Const. Hist., vol, i., 
p. 220. 

ON the afternoon of the 19th of July, a.d. 1588, a group 
of English captains was collected at the Bowling 
Green on the Hoe at Plymouth, whose equals have 
never before or since been brought together, even at that 
favorite mustering place of the heroes of the British navy. 
There was Sir Francis Drake, the first English circumnavi- 
gator of the globe, the terror of every Spanish coast in the Old 
World and the New; there was Sir John Hawkins, the rough 
veteran of many a daring voyage on the African and American 
seas, and of many a desperate battle; there was Sir Martin 
Frobisher, one of the earliest explorers of the Arctic seas, in 
search of that Northwest Passage which is still the darling 
object of England's boldest mariners. There was the high ad- 
miral of England, Lord Howard of Effingham, prodigal of all 
things in his country's cause, and who had recently had the 
noble daring to refuse to dismantle part of the fleet, though the 
queen had sent him orders to do so, in consequence of an 
exaggerated report that the enemy had been driven back and 
shattered by a storm. Lord Howard (whom contemporary 
writers describe as being of a wise and noble courage, skilful 
in sea matters, wary and provident, and of great esteem among 
the sailors) resolved to risk his sovereign's anger, and to keep 
the ships afloat at his own charge, rather than that England 
should run the peril of losing their protection. 

227 



228 DECISIVE BATTLES 

Another of our Elizabethan sea-kings, Sir Walter Raleigh, 
was at that time commissioned to raise and equip the land- 
forces of Cornwall ; but we may well believe that he must have 
availed himself of the opportunity of consulting with the lord 
admiral and the other high officers, which was offered by the 
English fleet putting into Plymouth; and we may look on 
Raleigh as one of the group that was assembled at the Bowling 
Green on the Hoe. Many other brave men and skilful mar- 
iners, besides the chiefs whose names have been mentioned, 
were there, enjoying, with true sailor-like merriment, their 
temporary relaxation from duty. In the harbor lay the English 
fleet with which they had just returned from a cruise to 
Corunna in search of information respecting the real condition 
and movements of the hostile Armada. Lord Howard had as- 
certained that our enemies, though tempest-tossed, were still 
formidably strong; and fearing that part of their fleet might 
make for England in his absence, he had hurried back to the 
Devonshire coast. He resumed his station at Plymouth, and 
waited there for certain tidings of the Spaniard's approach. 

A match at bowls was being played, in which Drake and 
other high officers of the fleet were engaged, when a small 
armed vessel was seen running before the wind into Plymouth 
harbor with all sails set. Her commander landed in haste, and 
eagerly sought the place where the English lord admiral and 
his captains were standing. His name was Fleming; he was 
the master of a Scotch privateer ; and he told the English offi- 
cers that he had that morning seen the Spanish Armada off the 
Cornish coast. At this exciting information the captains began 
to hurry down to the water, and there was a shouting for the 
ships' boats ; but Drake coolly checked his comrades, and in- 
sisted that the match should be played out. He said that there 
was plenty of time both to win the game and beat the Spaniards. 
The best and bravest match that ever was scored was resumed 
accordingly. Drake and his friends aimed their last bowls with 
the same steady, calculating coolness with which they were 
about to point their guns. The winning cast was made ; and 
then they went on board and prepared for action with their 
hearts as light and their nerves as firm as they had been on the 
Hoe Bowling Green. 

Meanwhile the messengers and signals had been despatched 
fast and far through England, to warn each town and village 



THE DECISIVE ACTION WITH THE ARMADA 
OFF GRA VELINES, JUL Y jo, 1588. 

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THE DEFEAT OF THE SPANISH ARMADA 



229 



that the enemy had come at last. In every sea-port there was 
instant making ready by land and by sea ; in every shire and 
every city there was mstant mustering of horse and man.* 
But England's best defence then, as ever, was in her fleet ; and 
after warping laboriously out of Plymouth harbor against the 
wind, the lord admiral stood westward under easy sail, keeping 
an anxious look-out for the Armada, the approach of which 
was soon announced by Cornish lisher-boats and signals from 
the Cornish cliffs. 

The England of our own days is so strong, and the Spain 
of our own days is so feeble, that it is not easy, without some 
reflection and care, to comprehend the full extent of the peril 
which England then ran from the power and the ambition of 
Spain, or to appreciate the importance of that crisis m the his- 
tory of the world. We had then no Indian or colonial empire, 
save the feeble germs of our North American settlements, 
which Raleigh and Gilbert had recently planted. Scotland was 
a separate kingdom ; and Ireland was then even a greater 
source of weakness and a worse nest of rebellion than she has 
been in after times. Queen Elizabeth had found at her acces- 
sion an encumbered revenue, a divided people, and an unsuc- 
cessful foreign war, in which the last remnant of our pos- 
sessions in France had been lost; she had also a formidable 
pretender to her crown, whose interests were favored by all the 
Roman Catholic powers ; and even some of her subjects were 
warped by religious bigotry to deny her title, and to look on 
her as a heretical usurper. It is true that during the years of 
her reign which had passed away before the attempted inva- 
sion of 1588, she had revived the commercial prosperity, the 
national spirit, and the national loyalty of England. But her 
resources to cope with the colossal power of Philip II. still 
seemed most scanty ; and she had not a single foreign ally, ex- 
cept the Dutch, who were themselves struggling hard, and, as 
it seemed, hopelessly, to maintain their revolt against Spain. 

On the other hand, Philip II. was absolute master of an 
empire so superior to the other states of the world in extent, 

* In Macaulay's Ballad on the Spanish Armada, the transmission of 
the tidings of the Armada's approach, and the arming of the English 
nation, are magnificently described. The progress of the fire-signals is 
depicted in lines which are worthy of comparison with the renowned 
passage in the Agamemnon, which describes the transmission of the 
beacon-light announcing the fall of Troy from Mount Ida to Argos. 



230 



DECISIVE BATTLES 



in resources, and especially in military and naval forces, as to 
make the project of enlarging that empire into a universal 
monarchy seem a perfectly feasible scheme; and Philip had 
both the ambition to form that project, and the resolution to 
devote all his energies and all his means to its realization. 
Since the downfall of the Roman empire no such preponderat- 
ing power had existed in the world. During the mediaeval cen- 
turies the chief European kingdoms were slowly moulding 
themselves out of the feudal chaos ; and though the wars with 
each other were numerous and desperate, and several of their 
respective kmgs figured for a time as mighty conquerors, none 
of them in those times acquired the consistency and perfect 
organization which are requisite for a long-sustained career 
of aggrandizement After the consolidation of the great king- 
doms, they for some time kept each other in mutual check. 
During the first half of the sixteenth century, the balancing 
system was successfully practised by European statesmen. But 
Philip II. reigned, France had become so miserably weak 
through her civil wars, that he had nothing to dread from the 
rival state which had so long curbed his father, the Emperor 
Charles V. In Germany, Italy, and Poland he had either zealous 
friends and dependents, or weak and divided enemies. Against 
the Turks he had gained great and glorious successes; and 
he might look round the continent of Europe without discern- 
ing a single antagonist of whom he could stand in awe. Spain, 
when he acceded to the throne, was at the zenith of her power. 
The hardihood and spirit which the Aragonese, the Castilians, 
and the other nations of the peninsula had acquired during 
centuries of free institutions and successful war against the 
Moors, had not yet become obliterated. Charles V. had, in- 
deed, destroyed the liberties of Spain ; but that had been done 
too recently for its full evil to be felt in Philip's time. A people 
cannot be debased in a single generation; and the Spaniards 
under Charles V. and Philip IL proved the truth of the remark, 
that no nation is ever so formidable to its neighbors for a time, 
as a nation which, after being trained up in self-government, 
passes suddenly under a despotic ruler. The energy of demo- 
cratic institutions survives for a few generations, and to it 
are superadded the decision and certainty which are the at- 
tributes of government when all its powers are directed by a 
single mind„ It is true that this preternatural vigor is short- 



THE DEFEAT OF THE SPANISH ARMADA 231 

lived: national corruption and debasement gradually follow 
the loss of the national liberties ; but there is an interval before 
their workings are felt, and in that interval the most ambitious 
schemes of foreign conquest are often successfully undertaken. 

Philip had also the advantage of finding himself at the head 
of a large standing army m a perfect state of discipline and 
equipment, in an age when, except some few insignificant 
corps, standing armies were unknown in Christendom. The 
renown of the Spanish troops was justly high, and the infantry 
in particular was considered the best in the world. His fleet, 
also, was far more numerous, and better appointed than that 
of any other European power; and both his soldiers and his 
sailors had the confidence in themselves and their commanders 
which a long career of successful warfare alone can create. 

Besides the Spanish crown, Philip succeeded to the kingdom 
of Naples and Sicily, the duchy of Milan, Franche-Comte, and 
the Netherlands. In Africa he possessed Tunis, Oran, the Cape 
Verde, and the Canary Islands ; and in Asia, the Philippine and 
Sunda Islands, and a part of the Moluccas. Beyond the Atlantic 
he was lord of the most splendid portions of the New World, 
which Columbus found " for Castile and Leon." The empires 
of Peru and Mexico, New Spain, and Chili, with their abundant 
mines of the precious metals, Hispaniola and Cuba, and many 
other of the American islands, were provinces of the sovereign 
of Spain 

Philip had, indeed, experienced the mortification of seeing 
the inhabitants of the Netherlands revolt against his authority, 
nor could he succeed in bringing back beneath the Spanish 
sceptre all the possessions which his father had bequeathed to 
him. But he had reconquered a large number of the towns and 
districts that originally took up arms against him. Belgium 
was brought more thoroughly into implicit obedience to Spain 
than she had been before her insurrection, and it was only 
Holland and the six other northern states that still held out 
against his arms The contest had also formed a compact and 
veteran army on Philip's side, which, under his great general, 
the Prince of Parma, had been trained to act together under 
all difficulties and all vicissitudes of warfare, and on whose 
steadiness and loyalty perfect reliance might be placed 
throughout any enterprise, however difficult and tedious. 
Alexander Farnese, prince of Parma, captain general of the 



232 DECISIVE BATTLES 

Spanish armies, and governor of the Spanish possessions in the 
Netherlands, was beyond all comparison the greatest military 
genius of his age. He was also highly distinguished for politi- 
cal wisdom and sagacity, and for his great administrative tal- 
ents. He was idolized by his troops, whose affections he knew 
how to win without relaxing their discipline or diminishing his 
own authority. Pre-eminently cool and circumspect in his 
plans, but swift and energetic when the moment arrived for 
striking a decisive blow, neglecting no risk that caution could 
provide against, conciliating even the populations of the dis- 
tricts which he attacked by his scrupulous good faith, his mod- 
eration, and his address, Farnese was one of the most formida- 
ble generals that ever could be placed at the head of an army 
designed not only to win battles, but to effect conquests. 
Happy it is for England and the world that this island was 
saved from becoming an arena for the exhibition of his powers. 

Whatever diminution the Spanish empire might have sus- 
tained in the Netherlands seemed to be more than compensated 
by the acquisition of Portugal, which Philip had completely 
conquered in 1580. Not only that ancient kingdom itself, but 
all the fruits of the maritime enterprises of the Portuguese, had 
fallen into Philip's hands. All the Portuguese colonies in 
America, Africa, and the East Indies acknowledged the sov- 
ereignty of the King of Spain, who thus not only united the 
whole Iberian peninsula under his single sceptre, but had ac- 
quired a transmarine empire little inferior in wealth and extent 
to that which he had Inherited at his accession. The splendid 
victory which his fleet, in conjunction with the papal and Vene- 
tian galleys, had gained at Lepanto over the Turks, had de- 
servedly exalted the fame of the Spanish marine throughout 
Christendom ; and when Philip had reigned thirty-five years, 
the vigor of his empire seemed unbroken, and the glory of the 
Spanish arms had increased, and was increasing throughout 
the world. 

One nation only had been his active, his persevering, and his 
successful foe. England had encouraged his revolted subjects 
in Flanders against him, and given them the aid in men and 
money, without which they must soon have been humbled in 
the dust. English ships had plundered his colonies ; had defied 
his supremacy in the New World as well as the Old ; they had 
inflicted ignominious defeats on his squadrons ; they had cap- 



THE DEFEAT OF THE SPANISH ARMADA 



233 



tured his cities, and burned his arsenals on the very coasts of 
Spain. The EngHsh had made Philip himself the object of per- 
sonal insult. He was held up to ridicule in their stage-plays and 
masks, and these scoffs at the man had (as is not unusual in 
such cases) excited the angec of the absolute king even more 
vehemently than the injuries inflicted on his power.* Personal 
as well as political revenge urged him to attack England. Were 
she once subdued, the Dutch must submit; France could not 
cope with him, the empire would not oppose him ; and universal 
dominion seemed sure to be the result of the conquest of that 
malignant island. 

There was yet another and a stronger feeling which armed 
King Philip against England. He was one of the sincerest and 
one of the sternest bigots of his age. He looked on himself, and 
was looked on by others, as the appointed champion to extir- 
pate heresy and re-establish the papal power throughout 
Europe. A powerful reaction against Protestantism had taken 
place since the commencement of the second half of the six- 
teenth century, and he looked on himself as destined to com- 
plete it. The Reformed doctrines had been thoroughly rooted 
out from Italy and Spain. Belgium, which had previously been 
half Protestant, had been reconquered both in allegiance and 
creed by Philip, and had become one of the most Catholic coun- 
tries in the world. Half Germany had been won back to the 
old faith. In Savoy, in Switzerland, and in many other coun- 
tries, the progress of the counter-Reformation had been rapid 
and decisive. The Catholic league seemed victorious in 
France. The papal court itself had shaken off the supineness 
of recent centuries, and at the head of the Jesuits and the other 
new ecclesiastical orders, was displaying a vigor and a boldness 
worthy of the days of Hildebrand, or Innocent III. 

Throughout Continental Europe, the Protestants, discom- 
fited and dismayed, looked to England as their protector and 
refuge. England was the acknowledged central point of 
Protestant power and policy ; and to conquer England was to 
stab Protestantism to the very heart. Sixtus V., the then reign- 
ing pope, earnestly exhorted Philip to this enterprise. And 
when the tidings reached Italy and Spain that the Protestant 
Queen of England had put to death her Catholic prisoner, 
Mary Queen of Scots, the fury of the Vatican and Escurial 



234 DECISIVE BATTLES 

knew no bounds. Elizabeth was denounced as the murderous 
heretic whose destruction was an instant duty. A formal treaty 
was concluded (in June, 1587), by which the pope bound him- 
self to contribute a million of scudi to the expenses of the war ; 
the money to be paid as soon as the king had actual possession 
of an English port. Philip, on his part, strained the resources 
of his vast empire to the utmost. The French Catholic chiefs 
eagerly co-operated with him. In the sea-ports of the Med- 
iterranean, and along almost the whole coast from Gibraltar 
to Jutland, the preparations for the great armament were urged 
forward with all the earnestness of religious zeal as well as of 
angry ambition. " Thus," says the German historian of the 
popes,* " thus did the united powers of Italy and Spain, from 
which such mighty influences had gone forth over the whole 
world, now rouse themselves for an attack upon England! 
The king had already compiled, from the archives of Simancas, 
a statement of the claims which he had to the throne of that 
country on the extinction of the Stuart line ; the most brilHant 
prospects, especially that of a universal dominion of the seas, 
were associated in his mind with this enterprise. Everything 
seemed to conspire to such an end; the predominancy of Ca- 
tholicism in Germany, the renewed attack upon the Huguenots 
in France, the attempt upon Geneva, and the enterprise against 
England. At the same moment, a thoroughly Catholic prince, 
Sigismund III., ascended the throne of Poland, with the pros- 
pect also of future succession to the throne of Sweden. But 
whenever any principle or power, be it what it may, aims at 
unlimited supremacy in Europe, some vigorous resistance to it, 
having its origin in the deepest springs of human nature, in- 
variably arises. Philip II. had to encounter newly-awakened 
powers, braced by the vigor of youth, and elevated by a sense 
of their future destiny. The intrepid corsairs, who had rendered 
every sea insecure, now clustered round the coasts of their 
native island. The Protestants in a body — even the Puritans, 
although they had been subjected to as severe oppressions as 
the Catholics — rallied round their queen, who now gave ad- 
mirable proof of her masculine courage, and her princely talent 
of winning the afifections, and leading the minds, and preserv- 
ing the allegiance of men." 

Ranke should have added that the English Catholics at this 



THE DEFEAT OF THE SPANISH ARMADA 



235 



crisis proved themselves as loyal to their queen and true to 
their country as were the most vehement anti-Catholic zealots 
in the island. Some few traitors there were ; buf as a body, the 
Englishmen who held the ancient faith stood the trial of their 
patriotism nobly. The lord admiral himself was a CathoHc, 
and (to adopt the words of Hallam) " then it was that the 
Catholics in every county repaired to the standard of the lord 
lieutenant, imploring that they might not be suspected of 
bartering the national independence for their religion itself.'* 
The Spaniard found no partisans in the country which he as- 
sailed, nor did England, self-wounded, 

"Lie at the proud foot of her enemy." 

Each party at this time thought it politic to try to amuse its 
adversary by pretending to treat for peace, and negotiations 
were opened at Ostend in the beginning of 1588, which were 
prolonged during the first six months of that year. Nothing 
real was effected, and probably nothing real had been intended 
to be effected, by them. 

Meanwhile in England, from the sovereign on the throne to 
the peasant in the cottage, all hearts and hands made ready 
to meet the imminent deadly peril. Circular letters from the 
queen were sent round to the lords lieutenant of the several 
counties, requiring them to " call together the best sort of 
gentlemen under their lieutenancy, and to declare unto them 
these great preparations and arrogant threatenings, now burst 
forth in action upon the seas, wherein every man's particular 
state, in the highest degree, could be touched in respect of 
country, liberty, wives, children, lands, lives, and (which was 
specially to be regarded) the profession of the true and sincere 
religion of Christ. And to lay before them the infinite and 
unspeakable miseries that would fall out upon any such change, 
which miseries were evidently seen by the fruits of that hard 
and cruel government holden in countries not far distant. 
We do look," said the queen, " that the most part of them 
should have, upon this instant extraordinary occasion, a 
larger proportion of furniture, both for horsemen and footmen, 
but especially horsemen, than hath been certified thereby to be 
in their best strength against any attempt, or to be employed 
about our own oerson, or otherwise. Hereunto as we doubt 



236 DECISIVE BATTLES 

not but by your good endeavors they will be the rather con- 
formable, so also we assure ourselves that Almighty God will 
so bless these their loyal hearts borne towards us, their loving 
sovereign, and their natural country, that all the attempts of 
any enemy whatsoever shall be made void and frustrate, to 
their confusion, your comfort, and to God's high glory." * 

Letters of a similar kind were also sent by the council to each 
of the nobility, and to the great cities. The primate called on 
the clergy for their contributions; and by every class of the 
community the appeal was responded to with liberal zeal, that 
offered more even than the queen required. The boasting 
threats of the Spaniards had roused the spirit of the nation, and 
the whole people " were thoroughly irritated to stir up their 
whole forces for their defence against such prognosticated con- 
quests ; so that, in a very short time, all her whole realm, and 
every corner, were furnished with armed men, on horseback 
and on foot ; and those continually trained, exercised, and put 
into bands in warlike manner, as in no age ever was before in 
this realm. There was no sparing of money to provide horse, 
armor, weapons, powder, and all necessaries ; no, nor want of 
provision of pioneers, carriages, and victuals, in every county 
of the realm, without exception, to attend upon the armies. 
And to this general furniture every man voluntarily offered, 
very many their services personally without wages, others 
money for armor and weapons, and to wage soldiers ; a matter 
strange, and never the like heard of in this realm or elsewhere. 
And this general reason moved all men to large contributions, 
that when a conquest was to be withstood wherein all should 
be lost, it was no time to spare a portion." f 

Our lion-hearted queen showed herself worthy of such a 
people. A camp was formed at Tilbury; and there Elizabeth 
rode through the ranks, encouraging her captains and her 
soldiers by her presence and her words. One of the speeches 
which she addressed to them during this crisis has been pre- 
served ; and, though often quoted, it must not be omitted here. 

*' My loving people," she said, " we have been persuaded by 
some that are careful of our safety to take heed how we com- 

*Strype, cited in Southey's " Naval History." 

t Copy of contemporary letter in the Harleian Collection, quoted by 
Southey. 



THE DEFEAT OF THE SPANISH ARMADA 237 

mit ourselves to armed multitudes, for fear of treachery ; but 
I assure you I do not desire to live to distrust my faithful and 
loving people. Let tyrants fear! I have always so behaved 
myself, that, under God, I have placed my chief est strength, 
and safeguard in the loyal hearts and good-will of my subjects ; 
and, therefore, I am come among you, as you see, at this time, 
not for my recreation and disport, but being resolved, in the 
midst and heat of the battle, to live or die among you all, to 
lay down for my God, for my kingdom, and for my people, my 
honor and my blood even in the dust. I know I have the body 
but of a weak and feeble woman, but I have the heart and 
stomach of a king, and of a King of England, too, and think it 
foul scorn that Parma, or Spain, or any prince of Europe should 
dare to invade the borders of my realm, to which rather than 
any dishonor shall grow by me, I myself will take up arms, I 
myself will be your general, judge, and rewarder of every one of 
your virtues in the field. I know already, for your forwardness, 
you have deserved rewards and crowns ; and we do assure you, 
on the word of a prince, they shall be duly paid you. In the 
mean time, my lieutenant general shall be in my stead, than 
whom never prince commanded a more noble or worthy sub- 
ject, not doubting but by your obedience to my general, by 
your concord in the camp, and your valor in the field, we shall 
shortly have a famous victory over those enemies of my God, 
of my kingdom, and of my people." 

Some of Elizabeth's advisers recommended that the whole 
care and resources of the government should be devoted to the 
equipment of the armies, and that the enemy, when he at- 
tempted to land, should be welcomed with a battle on the shore. 
But the wiser counsels of Raleigh and others prevailed, who 
urged the importance of fitting out a fleet that should encounter 
the Spaniards at sea, and, if possible, prevent them from ap- 
proaching the land at all. In Raleigh's great work on the 
" History of the World," he takes occasion, when discussing 
some of the events of the first Punic war, to give his reasonings 
on the proper policy of England when menaced with invasion. 
Without doubt, we have there the substance of the advice 
which he gave to Elizabeth's council ; and the remarks of such 
a man on such a subject have a general and enduring interest, 
beyond the immediate crisis which called them forth. Raleigh 
says :* " Surely I hold that the best way is to keep our enemies 
* " Historic of the World," pp. 799-801. 



238 DECISIVE BATTLES 

from treading upon our ground ; wherein if we fail, then must 
we seek to make him wish that he had stayed at his own home. 
In such a case, if it should happen, our judgments are to weigh 
many particular circumstances, that belongs not unto this dis- 
course. But making the question general, the positive, 
Whether England, without the help of her fleet, be able to 
debar an enemy from landing, I hold that it is unable so to 
do, and therefore I think it most dangerous to make the ad- 
venture ; for the encouragement of a first victory to an enemy, 
and the discouragement of being beaten to the invaded, may 
draw after it a most perilous consequence. 

" Great difference I know there is, and a diverse considera- 
tion to be had, between such a country as France is, strength- 
ened with many fortified places, and this of ours, where our 
ramparts are but the bodies of men. But I say that an army to 
be transported over sea, and to be landed again in an enemy's 
country, and the place left to the choice of the invader, cannot 
be resisted on the coast of England without a fleet to impeach 
it ; no, nor on the coast of France, or any other country, except 
every creek, port, or sandy bay had a powerful army in each 
of them to make opposition. For let the supposition be granted 
that Kent is able to furnish twelve thousand foot, and that 
those twelve thousand be layed in the three best landing-places 
within that country, to wit, three thousand at Margat, three 
thousand at the Nesse, and six thousand at Foulkstone, that is, 
somewhat equally distant from them both, as also that two 
of these troops (unless some other order be thought more fit) 
be directed to strengthen the third, when they shall see the 
enemy's fleet to head towards it: I say, that notwithstanding 
this provision, if the enemy, setting sail from the Isle of Wight, 
in the first watch of the night, and towing their long boats at 
their sterns, shall arrive by dawn of day at the Nesse, and thrust 
their army on shore there, it will be hard for those three thou- 
sand that are at Margat (twenty-and-four long miles from 
thence) to come time enough to re-enforce their fellows at the 
Nesse. Nay, how shall they at Foulkstone be able to do it, who 
are nearer by more than half the way ? seeing that the enemy, 
at his first arrival, will either make his entrance by force, with 
three or four shot of great artillery, and quickly put the first 
three thousand that are intrenched at the Nesse to run, or else 
give them so much to do that they shall be glad to send for 



THE DEFEAT OF THE SPANISH ARMADA 239 

help to Foulkstone, and perhaps to Margat, whereby those 
places will be left bare. Now, let us suppose that all the twelve 
thousand Kentish soldiers arrive at the Nesse eze the enemy 
can be ready to disembarque his army, so that he will find it 
unsafe to land in the face of so many prepared to withstand 
him, yet must we believe that he will play the best of his own 
game (having liberty to go which way he list), and under 
covert of the night, set sail towards the east, where what shall 
hinder him to take ground either at Margat, the Downes, or 
elsewhere, before they at the Nesse can be well aware of his 
departure ? Certainly there is nothing more easy than to do it. 
Yea, the like may be said of Weymouth, Purbeck, Poole, and 
of all landing-places on the southwest ; for there is no man ig- 
norant that ships, without putting themselves out of breath, 
will easily outrun the soldiers that coast them. * Les armees 
ne volent point en poste,' ' Armies neither fly, nor run post,' 
saith a marshal of France. And I know it to be true, that a 
fleet of ships may be seen at sunset, and after it at the Lizard, 
yet by the next morning they may recover Portland, whereas 
an army of foot shall not be able to march it in six dayes. 
Again, when those troops lodged on the sea-shores shall be 
forced to run from place to place in vain, after a fleet of ships, 
they will at length sit down in the midway, and leave all at 
adventure. But say it were otherwise, that the invading enemy 
will offer to land in some such place where there shall be an 
army of ours ready to receive him ; yet it cannot be doubted 
but that when the choice of all our trained bands, and the 
choice of our commanders and captains, shall be drawn to- 
gether (as they were at Tilbury in the year 1588) to attend the 
person of the prince, and for the defence of the city of London, 
they that remain to guard the coast can be of no such force 
as to encounter an ar.my like unto that wherewith it was in- 
tended that the Prince of Parma should have landed in Eng- 
land. 

" For end of this digression, I hope that this question shall 
never come to trial : his majesty's many movable forts will for- 
bid the experience. And although the English will no less 
disdain, than any nation under heaven can do, to be beaten 
upon thei-r own ground, or elsewhere, by a foreign enemy, yet 
to entertain those that shall assail us, with their own beef in 
their bellies, and before they eat of our Kentish capons, I take 



240 DECISIVE BATTLES 

it to be the wisest way ; to do which his majesty, after God, will 
employ his good ships on the sea, and not trust in any intrench- 
ment upon the shore." 

The introduction of steam as a propelling power at sea has 
added ten-fold weight to these arguments of Raleigh. On the 
other hand, a well-constructed system of railways, especially 
of coast lines, aided by the operation of the electric telegraph, 
would give facilities for concentrating a defensive army to op- 
pose an enemy on landing, and for moving troops from place 
to place in observation of the movements of the hostile fleet, 
such as would have astonished Sir Walter, even more than the 
sight of vessels passing rapidly to and fro without the aid of 
wind or tide. The observation of the French marshal, whom he 
quotes, is now no longer correct. Armies can be made to pass 
from place to place almost with the speed of wings, and far 
more rapidly than any post-travelling that was known in the 
Elizabethan or any other age. Still, the presence of a sufficient 
armed force at the right spot, at the right time, can never be 
made a matter of certainty, and even after the changes that have 
taken place, no one can doubt but that the policy of Raleigh 
is that which England should ever seek to follow in defensive 
war. At the time of the Armada, that policy certainly saved the 
country, if not from conquest, at least from deplorable calam- 
ities. If indeed the enemy had landed, we may be sure that 
he would have been heroically opposed. But history shows 
us so many examples of the superiority of veteran troops over 
new levies, however numerous and brave^ that, without dis- 
paraging our countrymen's soldierly merits, we may well be 
thankful that no trial of them was then made on English land. 
Especially must we feel this when we contrast the high military 
genius of the Prince of Parma, who would have headed the 
Spaniards, with the imbecility of the Earl of Leicester, to whom 
the deplorable spirit of favoritism, which formed the great 
blemish on Elizabeth's character, had then committed the 
chief command of the English armies. 

The ships of the royal navy at this time amounted to no 
more than thirty-six ; but the most serviceable merchant ves- 
sels were collected from all the ports of the country ; and the 
citizens of London, Bristol, and the other great seats of com- 
merce showed as liberal a zeal in equipping and manning ves- 
sels as the nobility and gentry displayed in mustering forces 



THE DEFEAT OF THE SPANISH ARMADA 241 

by land. The seafaring population of the coast, of every rank 
and station, was animated by the same ready spirit; and the 
whole number of seamen who came forward to m^n the Eng- 
lish fleet was 17,472. The number of the ships that were col- 
lected was 191, and the total amount of their tonnage 31,985. 
There was one ship in the fleet (the Triumph) of 1,100 tons, one 
of 1,000, one of 900, two of 800 each, three of 600, five of 500, 
five of 400, six of 300, six of 250, twenty of 200, and the residue 
of inferior burden. Application was made to the Dutch for as- 
sistance ; and, as Stowe expresses it, " The Hollanders came 
roundly in, with threescore sail, brave ships of war, fierce and 
full of spleen, not so much for England's aid, as in just occasion 
for their own defence : these men foreseeing the greatness of 
the danger that might ensue if the Spaniards should chance to 
win the day and get the mastery over them; in due regard 
whereof, their manly courage was inferior to none." 

We have more minute information of the number and equip- 
ment of the hostile forces than we have of our own. In the 
first volume of Hakluyt's " Voyages," dedicated to Lord Ef- 
fingham, who commanded against the Armada, there is given 
(from the contemporary foreign writer, Meteran) a more com- 
plete and detailed catalogue than has perhaps ever appeared 
of a similar armament. 

" A very large and particular description of this navie was 
put in print and published by the Spaniards, wherein were set 
downe the number, names, and burthens of the shippes, the 
number of mariners and soldiers throughout the whole fleete ; 
likewise the quantitie of their ordinance, of their armor, of bul- 
lets, of match, of gun-poulder, of victuals, and of all their 
navall furniture was in the saide description particularized. 
Unto all these were added the names of the governours, cap- 
taines, noblemen, and gentlemen voluntaries, of whom there 
was so great a multitude, that scarce was there any family of 
accompt, or any one principall man throughout all Spaine, that 
had not a brother, sonne, or kinsman in that fleete ; who all of 
them were in good hope to purchase unto themselves in that 
navie (as they termed it) invincible, endless glory and renown, 
and to possess themselves of great seigniories and riches in 
England and in the Low Countreys. But because the said de- 
scription was translated and published out of Spanish into 
z6 



242 DECISIVE BATTLES 

divers other languages, we will here only make an abridge- 
ment or brief rehearsal thereof. 

" Portugall furnished and set foorth under the conduct of 
the Duke of Medina Sidonia, generall of the fleete, lo galeons, 
2 zabraes, 1300 mariners, 3300 souldiers, 300 great pieces, with 
all requisite furniture. 

" Biscay, under the conduct of John Martines de Ricalde, 
admiral of the whole fleete, set forth 10 galeons, 4 pataches, 700 
mariners, 2000 souldiers, 250 great pieces, &c. 

" Guipusco, under the conduct of Michael de Oquendo, 10 
galeons, 4 pataches, 700 mariners, 2000 souldiers, 310 great 
pieces. 

'* Italy, with the Levant islands, under Martine de Verten- 
dona, 10 galeons, 800 mariners, 2000 souldiers, 310 great 
pieces, &c. 

" Castile, under Diego Flores de Valdez, 14 galeons, 2 
pataches, 1700 mariners, 2400 souldiers, and 380 great pieces, 
&c. 

" Andaluzia, under the conduct of Petro de Valdez, 10 gale- 
ons, I patache, 800 mariners, 2400 souldiers, 280 great pieces, 
&c. 

" Item, under the conduct of John Lopez de Medina, 23 great 
Flemish hulkes, with 700 mariners, 3200 souldiers, and 400 
great pieces. 

" Item, under Hugo de Moncada, 4 galliasses, containing 
1200 gally-slaves, 460 mariners, 870 souldiers, 200 great pieces, 
&c. 

" Item, under Diego de Mandrana, 4 gallies of Portugall, 
with 888 gally-slaves, 360 mariners, 20 great pieces, and other 
requisite furniture. 

" Item, under Anthonie de Mendoza, 22 pataches and za- 
braes, with 574 mariners, 488 souldiers, and 193 great pieces. 

" Besides the ships aforementioned, there were 20 caravels 
rowed with oares, being appointed to performe necessary ser- 
vices under the greater ships, insomuch that all the ships ap- 
pertayning to this navie amounted unto the summe of 150, 
eche one being sufficiently provided of furniture and victuals. 

" The number of mariners in the saide fleete were above 8000, 
of slaves 2088, of souldiers 20,000 (besides noblemen and gen- 
tlemen voluntaries), of great cast pieces 2600. The foresaid 
ships were of an huge and incredible capacitie and receipt, for 



THE DEFEAT OF THE SPANISH ARMADA 243 

the whole fleete was large enough to containe the burthen of 
60,000 tunnes. 

" The galeons were 64 in number, being of an huge bignesse, 
and very flately built, being of marvellous force also, and so 
high that they resembled great castles, most fit to defend them- 
selves and to withstand any assault, but in giving any other 
ships the encounter farr inferiour unto the English and Dutch 
ships, which can with great dexteritie weild and turne them- 
selves at all assayes. The upper worke of the said galeons was 
of thicknesse and strength sufBcient to beare off musket-shot. 
The lower worke and the timbers thereof were out of measure 
strong, being framed of plankes and ribs foure or five foote in 
thicknesse, insomuch that no bullets could pierce them but such 
as were discharged hard at hand, which afterward prooved true, 
for a great number of bullets were founde to sticke fast within 
the massie substance of those thicke plankes. Great and well- 
pitched cables were twined about the masts of their shippes, to 
strengthen them against the battery of shot. 

" The galliasses were of such bignesse that they contained 
within them chambers, chapels, turrets, pulpits, and other com- 
modities of great houses. The galliasses were rowed with great 
oares, there being in eche one of them 300 slaves for the same 
purpose, and were able to do great service with the force of 
their ordinance. All these, together with the residue afore- 
named, were furnished and beautified with trumpets, streamers, 
banners, warHke ensignes, and other such like ornaments. 

" Their pieces of brazen ordinance were 1600, and of yron 
a 1000. 

" The bullets thereto belonging were 120,000. 

" Item of gun-poulder, 5600 quintals. Of matche, 1200 quin- 
tals. Of muskets and kaleivers, 7000. Of haleberts and par- 
tisans, 10,000. 

" Moreover, they had great stores of canons, double-canons, 
culverings and field-pieces for land services. 

" Likewise they were provided of all instruments necessary 
on land to conveigh and transport their furniturp from place 
to place, as namely of carts, wheeles, wagons, &c. Also they 
had spades, mattocks, and baskets to set pioners on worke. 
They had in like sort great store of mules and horses, and what- 
soever else was requisite for a land armie. They were so well 
stored of biscuit, that for the space of halfe a yeere they might 



244 DECISIVE BATTLES 

allow eche person in the whole fleete halfe a quintall every 
moneth, whereof the whole summe amounteth unto an hun- 
dreth thousand quintals. 

" Likewise of wine they had 147,000 pipes, sufficient also for 
halfe a yeere's expedition. Of bacon, 6500 quintals. Of cheese, 
3000 quintals. Besides fish, rise, beanes, pease, oile, vinegar, 
&c. 

" Moreover, they had 12,000 pipes of fresh water, and all 
other necessary provision, as namely candles, lanternes, lampes, 
sailes, hempe, oxe-hides, and lead, to stop holes that should 
be made with the battery of gunshot. To be short, they 
brought all things expedient, either for a fleete by sea, or for 
an armie by land. 

" This navie (as Diego Pimentelli afterward confessed) was 
esteemed by the king himselfe to containe 32,000 persons, and 
to cost him every day 30,000 ducates. 

" There were in the said navie five terzaes of Spaniards 
(which terzaes the Frenchmen call regiments), under the com- 
mand of five governours, termed by the Spaniards masters of 
the field, and among the rest there were many olde and expert 
souldiers chosen out of the garisons of Sicilie, Naples, and Ter- 
9era. Their captaines or colonels were Diego Pimentelli, Don 
Francisco de Toledo, Don Alonqo de LuQon, Don Nicolas de 
Isla, Don Augustin de Mexia, who had eche of them thirty- 
two companies under their conduct. Besides the which com- 
panies, there were many bands also of Castilians and Portugals, 
every one of which had their peculiar governours, captains, of- 
ficers, colors, and weapons." 

While this huge armament was making ready in the southern 
ports of the Spanish dominions, the Duke of Parma, with al- 
most incredible toil and skill, collected a squadron of war-ships 
at Dunkirk, and a large flotilla of other ships and of flat-bot- 
tomed boats for the transport to England of the picked troops, 
which were designed to be the main instruments in subduing 
England. Thousands of workmen were employed, night and 
day, in the construction of these vessels in the ports of Flanders 
and Brabant. One hundred of the kind called hendes, built at 
Antwerp, Bruges, and Ghent, and laden with provision and am- 
munition, together with sixty flat-bottomed boats, each capable 
of carrying thirty horses, were brought, by means of canals and 
fosses dug expressly for the purpose, to Nieuport and Dunkirk. 



THE DEFEAT OF THE SPANISH ARMADA 245 

One hundred smaller vessels were equipped at the former place, 
and thirty-two at Dunkirk, provided with twenty thousand empty 
barrels and with materials for making pontoons, for stopping 
up the harbors and raising forts and entrenchments. The 
army which these vessels were designed to convey to England 
amounted to thirty thousand strong, besides a body of four 
thousand cavalry, stationed at Courtroi, composed chiefly of the 
ablest veterans of Europe; invigorated by rest (the siege of 
Sluys having been the only enterprise in which they were 
employed during the last campaign) and excited by the hopes 
of plunder and the expectation of certain conquest. 

Philip had been advised by the deserter, Sir William Stanley, 
not to attack England in the first instance, but first to effect a 
landing and secure a strong position in Ireland; his admiral, 
Santa Cruz, had recommended him to make sure, in the first 
instance, of some large harbor on the coast of Holland or Zea- 
land, where the Armada, having entered the Channel, might 
find shelter In case of storm, and whence it could sail without 
difficulty for England ; but Philip rejected both these counsels, 
and directed that England itself should be made the immediate 
object of attack; and on the 20th of May the Armada left the 
Tagus, in the pomp and pride of supposed invincibility, and 
amid the shouts of thousands who believed that England was 
already conquered. But, steering to the northward, and before 
it was clear of the coast of Spain, the Armada was assailed by a 
violent storm, and driven back with considerable damage to 
the ports of Biscay and Galicia. It had, however, sustained its 
heaviest loss before it left the Tagus, in the death of the veteran 
admiral Santa Cruz, who had been destined to guide it against 
England. 

This experienced sailor, notwithstanding his diligence and 
success, had been unable to keep pace with the impatient ardor 
of his master. Philip II. had approached him with his dilatori- 
ness, and had said, with ungrateful harshness, " You make an 
ill return for all my kindness to you." These words cut the 
veteran's heart, and proved fatal to Santa Cruz. Overwhelmed 
with fatigue and grief, he sickened and died. Philip II. had 
replaced him by Alonzo Perez de Gusman, Duke of Medina 
Sidonia, one of the most powerful of the Spanish grandees, but 
wholly unquaHfied to command such an expedition. He had, 
however, as his lieutenants two seamen of proved skill and 



246 DECISIVE BATTLES 

bravery, Juan de Martinez Recalde, of Biscay, and Miguel 
Oquendo, of Guipuzcoa. 

The report of the storm which had taken back the Armada 
reached England with much exaggeration, and it was supposed 
by some of the queen's counsellors that the invasion would now 
be deferred to another year. But Lord Howard of Effingham, 
the lord high admiral of the English fleet, judged more wisely 
that the danger was not yet passed, and, as already mentioned, 
had the moral courage to refuse to dismantle his principal ships, 
though he received orders to that effect. But it was not How- 
ard's design to keep the English fleet in costly inaction and to 
wait patiently in our own harbors till the Spaniards had re- 
cruited their strength and sailed forth again to attack us. The 
English seamen of that age (like their successors) loved to strike 
better than to parry, though, when emergency required, they 
could be patient and cautious in their bravery. It was resolved 
to proceed to Spain to learn the enemy's real condition, and to 
deal him any blow for which there might be opportunity. In 
this bold policy we may well believe him to have been eagerly 
seconded by those who commanded under him. Howard and 
Drake sailed accordingly to Corunna, hoping to surprise and 
attack some part of the Armada in that harbor; but when near 
the coast of Spain, the north wind, which had blown up to that 
time, veered suddenly to the south; and, fearing that the Span- 
iards might put to sea and pass him unobserved, Howard re- 
turned to the entrance of the Channel, where he cruised for 
some time on the lookout for the enemy. In part of a letter 
written by him at this period, he speaks of the difficulty of 
guarding so large a breadth of sea — a difficulty that ought not 
to be forgotten when modern schemes of defence against hos- 
tile fleets from the south are discussed. " I myself," he wrote, 
"do He in the midst of the Channel, with the greatest force; 
Sir Francis Drake hath twenty ships and four or five pinnaces, 
which lie towards Ushant; and Mr. Hawkins, with as many 
more, lieth towards Scilly. Thus we are fain to do, or else with 
this wind they might pass us by, and we never the wiser. The 
Sleeve is another manner of thing than it was taken for: we find 
it by experience and daily observation to be lOO miles over — 
a large room for me to look unto! " But, after some time, fur- 
ther reports that the Spaniards were inactive in their harbor, 
where they were suffering severely from sickness, caused How- 



THE DEFEAT OF THE SPANISH ARMADA 247 

ard also to relax in his vigilance ; and he returned to Plymouth 
with the greater part of his fleet. 

On the I2th of July, the Armada, having completely refitted, 
sailed again for the Channel, and reached it without obstruction 
or observation by the English. 

The design of the Spaniards was that the Armada should 
give them, at least for a time, the command of the sea, and 
that it should join the squadron that Parma had collected off 
Calais. Then, escorted by an overpowering naval force, Parma 
and his army were to embark in their flotilla, and cross the sea 
to England, where they were to be landed, together with the 
troops which the Armada brought from the ports of Spain. The 
scheme was not dissimilar to one formed against England a 
little more than two centuries afterwards. 

As Napoleon, in 1805, waited with his army and flotilla at 
Boulogne, looking for Villeneuve to drive away the English 
cruisers, and secure him a passage across the Channel, so 
Parma, in 1588, waited for Medina Sidonia to drive away the 
Dutch and English squadrons that watched his flotilla, and to 
enable his veterans to cross the sea to the land that they were 
to conquer. Thanks to Providence, in each case England's 
enemy waited in vain ! 

Although the numbers of sail which the queen's govern- 
ment and the patriotic zeal of volunteers had collected for the 
defence of England exceeded the number of sail in the Span- 
ish fleet, the English ships were, collectively, far inferior in 
size to their adversaries, their aggregate tonnage being less 
by half than that of the enemy. In the number of guns and 
weight of metal, the disproportion was still greater. The Eng- 
lish admiral was also obliged to subdivide his force ; and Lord 
Plenry Seymour, with forty of the best Dutch and English 
ships, was employed in blockading the hostile ports in Flanders, 
and in preventing the Duke of Parma from coming out of Dun- 
kirk. 

The orders of King Philip to the Duke de Medina Sidonia 
were, that he should, on entering the Channel, keep near the 
French coast, and, if attacked by the English ships, avoid an 
action and steer on to Calais Roads, where the Prince of Parma's 
squadron was to join him. The hope of surprising and destroy- 
ing the English fleet in Plymouth led the Spanish admiral to 
deviate from these orders and to stand across to the English 



248 DECISIVE BATTLES 

shore; but, on finding that Lord Howard was coming out to 
meet him, he resumed the original plan, and determined to bend 
his way steadily toward Calais and Dunkirk, and to keep merely 
on the defensive against such squadrons of the EngHsh as might 
come up with him. 

It was on Saturday, the 20th of July, that Lord Effingham 
came in sight of his formidable adversaries. The Armada was 
drawn up in form of a crescent, which from horn to horn meas- 
ured some seven miles. There was a southwest wind, and be- 
fore it the vast vessels sailed slowly on. The English let them 
pass by, and then, following in the rear, commenced an attack 
on them. A running fight now took place, in which some of 
the best ships of the Spaniards were captured ; many more re- 
ceived heavy damage, while the English vessels, which took 
care not to close with their huge antagonists, but availed 
themselves of their superior celerity in tacking and manoeu- 
vring, suffered little comparative loss. Each day added not only 
to the spirit, but to the number of Effingham's force. Raleigh, 
Oxford, Cumberland, and Sheffield joined him ; and " the gen- 
tlemen of England hired ships from all parts at their own 
charge, and with one accord came flocking thither as to a set 
field, where glory was to be attained, and faithful service per- 
formed unto their prince and their country." 

Raleigh justly praises the English admiral for his skilful 
tactics. Raleigh says,* " Certainly, he that will happily per- 
form a fight at sea must be skilful in making choice of vessels 
to fight in : he must believe that there is more belonging to a 
good man of war, upon the waters, than great daring; and 
must know, that there is a great deal of difference between 
fighting loose or at large and grappling. The guns of a slow 
ship pierce as well and make as great holes, as those in a 
swift. To clap ships together, without consideration, belongs 
rather to a madman than to a man of war; for by such an 
ignorant bravery was Peter Strossie lost at the Azores, when 
he fought against the Marquis of Santa Cruza. In like sort had 
the Lord Charles Howard, admiral of England, been lost in the 
year 1588, if he had not been better advised than a great many 
malignant fools were that found fault with his demeanor. The 
Spaniards had an army aboard them, and he had none ; they 
had more ships than he had, and of higher building and charg- 

* " Historie of the World," p. 791. 



THE DEFEAT OF THE SPANISH ARMADA 249 

ing; so that, had he entangled himself with those great and 
powerful vessels, he had greatly endangered this kingdom of 
England; for twenty men upon the defences are equal to a 
hundred that board and enter ; whereas then, contrariwise, the 
Spaniards had a hundred, for twenty of ours, to defend them- 
selves withal. But our admiral knew his advantage, and held 
it; which had he not done, he had not been worthy to have 
held his head up." 

The Spanish admiral also showed great judgment and firm- 
ness in following the line of conduct that had been traced out 
for him ; and on the 27th of July, he brought his fleet unbroken, 
though sorely distressed, to anchor in Calais Roads. But the 
King of Spain had calculated ill the number and the activity of 
the English and Dutch fleets ; as the old historian expresses it, 
" It seemeth that the Duke of Parma and the Spaniards 
grounded upon a vain and presumptuous expectation, that all 
the ships of England and of the Low Countreys would at the 
first sight of the Spanish and Dunkirk navie have betaken 
themselves to flight, yeelding them sea-room, and endeavoring 
only to defend themselues, their havens, and sea-coasts from 
invasion. Wherefore their intent and purpose was, that the 
Duke of Parma, in his small and flat-bottomed ships, should, as 
it were under the shadow and wings of the Spanish fleet, convey 
over all his troupes, armor, and war-like provisions, and with 
their forces so united, should invade England; or while the 
English fleet were busied in fight against the Spanish, should 
enter upon any part of the coast, which he thought to be most 
convenient. Which invasion (as the captives afterward con- 
fessed) the Duke of Parma thought first to have attempted by 
the River of Thames ; upon the bankes whereof having at the 
first arrivall landed twenty or thirty thousand of his principall 
souldiers, he supposed that he might easily have wonne the 
citie of London ; both because his small shippes should have 
followed and assisted his land forces, and also for that the citie 
it-selfe was but meanely fortified and easie to ouercome, by 
reason of the citizens' delicacie and discontinuance from the 
warres, who, with continuall and constant labor, might be 
vanquished, if they yielded not at the first assault."* 

But the English and Dutch found ships and mariners enough 
to keep the Armada itself in check, and at the same time to 
* Hakluyt's " Voyages," vol. i., p. 601. 



250 DECISIVE BATTLES 

block up Parma's flotilla. The greater part of Seymour's 
squadron left its cruising-ground off Dunkirk to join the Eng- 
lish admiral off Calais ; but the Dutch manned about five-and- 
thirty sail of good ships, with a strong force of soldiers on 
board, all well seasoned to the sea-service, and with these they 
blockaded the Flemish ports that were in Parma's power. Still 
it was resolved by the Spanish admiral and the prince to en- 
deavor to effect a junction, which the English seamen were 
equally resolute to prevent ; and bolder measures on our side 
now became necessary. 

The Armada lay off Calais, with its largest ships ranged out- 
side, " like strong castles fearing no assault, the lesser placed 
in the middleward." The English admiral could not attack 
them in their position without great disadvantage, but on the 
night of the 29th he sent eight fire-ships among them, with 
almost equal effect to that of the fire-ships which the Greeks so 
often employed against the Turkish fleets in their late war of 
independence. The Spaniards cut their cables and put to sea 
in confusion. One of the largest galeasses ran foul of another 
vessel and was stranded. The rest of the fleet was scattered 
about on the Flemish coast, and when the morning broke, it 
was with difficulty and delay that they obeyed their admiral's 
signal to range themselves round him near Gravelines. Now 
was the golden opportunity for the English to assail them, 
and prevent them from ever letting loose Parma's flotilla 
against England, and nobly was that opportunity used. Drake 
and Fenner were the first English captains who attacked the 
unwieldly leviathans ; then came Fenton, Southwell, Burton, 
Cross, Raynor, and then the lord admiral, with Lord Thomas 
Howard and Lord Sheflield. The Spaniards only thought of 
forming and keeping close together, and were driven by the 
English past Dunkirk, and far away from the Prince of Parma, 
who, in watching their defeat from the coast, must, as Drake 
expressed it, have chafed like a bear robbed of her whelps. 
This was indeed the last and the decisive battle between the 
two fleets. It is, perhaps, best described in the very words of 
the contemporary writer, as we may read them in Hakluyt.* 

" Upon the 29 of July in the morning, the Spanish fleet after 
the forsayd tumult, having arranged themselues againe into 
order, were, within sight of Greveling, most bravely and furi- 

*Vol. i., p. 602. 



THE DEFEAT OF THE SPANISH ARMADA 



25^ 



ously encountered by the English, where they once again got 
the wind of the Spaniards, who suffered themselues to be de- 
prived of the commodity of the place in Caleis Road, and of the 
advantage of the wind neer unto Dunkerk, rather than they 
would change their array or separate their forces now con- 
joyned and united together, standing only upon their defence. 

" And albeit there were many excellent and warlike ships in 
the English fleet, yet scarce were there 22 or 23 among them 
all, which matched 90 of the Spanish ships in the bigness, or 
could conveniently assault them. Wherefore the English 
shippes using their prerogative of nimble steerage, whereby 
they could turn and wield themselues with the wind which way 
they listed, came often times very near upon the Spaniards, 
and charged them so sore, that now and then they were but a 
pike's length asunder; and so continually giving them one 
broadside after another, they discharged all their shot, both 
great and small, upon them, spending one whole day, from 
morning till night, in that violent kind of conflict, untill such 
time as powder and bullets failed them. In regard of which 
want they thought it convenient not to pursue the Spaniards 
any longer, because they had many great vantages of the Eng- 
Hsh, namely, for the extraordinary bigness of their shippes, 
and also for that they were so neerely conjoyned, and kept to- 
gether in so good array, that they could by no meanes be 
fought withall one to one. The English thought, therefore, 
that they had right well acquitted themselues in chasing the 
Spaniards first from Caleis, and then from Dunkerk, and by 
that means to have hindered them from joyning with the Duke 
of Parma his forces, and getting the wind of them, to have 
driven them from their own coasts. 

" The Spaniards that day sustained great loss and damage, 
having many of their shippes shot thorow and thorow, and 
they discharged likewise great store of ordinance against the 
English, who, indeed, sustained some hinderance, but not com- 
parable to the Spaniard's loss ; for they lost not any one ship 
or person of account ; for very diligent inquisition being made, 
the Englishmen all that time wherein the Spanish navy sayled 
upon their seas, are not found to haue wanted aboue one hun- 
dred of their people; albeit Sir Francis Drake's ship was 
pierced with shot aboue forty times, and his very cabben was 
twice shot thorow, and about the conclusion of the fight, the 



252 DECISIVE BATTLES 

bed of a certaine gentleman lying weary thereupon, was taken 
quite from under him with the force of a bullet. Likewise, as 
the Earle of Northumberland and Sir Charles Blunt were at 
dinner upon a time, the bullet of a demy-culvering brake 
thorow the middest of their cabben, touched their feet, and 
strooke downe two of the standers-by, with many such acci- 
dents befalling the English shippes, which it were tedious to 
rehearse." 

It reflects little credit on the English government that the 
English fleet was so deficiently supplied with ammunition as 
to be unable to complete the destruction of the invaders. But 
enough was done to insure it. Many of the largest Spanish 
ships were sunk or captured in the action of this day. And at 
length the Spanish admiral, despairing of success, fled north- 
ward with a southerly wind, in the hope of rounding Scotland, 
and so returning to Spain without a farther encounter with 
the English fleet. Lord EfBngham left a squadron to con- 
tinue the blockade of the Prince of Parma's armament; but 
that wise general soon withdrew his troops to more promising 
fields of action. Meanwhile the lord admiral himself, and 
Drake, chased the vincible Armada, as it was now termed, for 
some distance northward ; and then, when they seemed to bend 
away from the Scotch coast towards Norway, it was thought 
best, in the words of Drake, " to leave them to those boisterous 
and uncouth Northern seas." 

The sufferings and losses which the unhappy Spaniards sus- 
tained in their flight round Scotland and Ireland are well 
known. Of their whole Armada only fifty-three shattered ves- 
sels brought back their beaten and wasted crews to the Spanish 
coast, which they had quitted in such pageantry and pride. 

Some passages from the writings of those who took part in 
the struggle have been already quoted, and the most spirited 
description of the defeat of the Armada which ever was penned 
may perhaps be taken from the letter which our brave Vice- 
Admiral Drake wrote in answer to some mendacious stories by 
which the Spaniards strove to hide their shame. Thus does he 
describe the scenes in which he played so important a part : * 

" They were not ashamed to publish, in sundry languages 
in print, great victories in words, which they pretended to 

* See Strype, and the notes to the Life of Drake in the " Biographia 
Britannica." 



f 



THE DEFEAT OF THE SPANISH ARMADA 253 

have obtained against this realm, and spread the same in a 
most false sort over all parts of France, Italy, and elsewhere ; 
when, shortly afterward, it was happily manifested in very 
deed to all nations, how their navy, which they termed invin- 
cible, consisting of one hundred and forty sail of ships, not 
only of their own kingdom, but strengthened with the greatest 
argosies, Portugal carracks, Florentines, and large hulks of 
other countries, were by thirty of her majesty's own ships of 
war, and a few of our own merchants, by the wise, valiant, and 
advantageous conduct of the Lord Charles Howard, high ad- 
miral of England, beaten and shuffled together even from the 
Lizard in Cornwall, first to Portland, when they shamefully left 
Don Pedro de Valdez with his mighty ship ; from Portland to 
Calais, where they lost Hugh de Moncado, with the galleys of 
which he was captain ; and from Calais, driven with squibs from 
their anchors, were chased out of the sight of England, round 
about Scotland and Ireland ; where, for the sympathy of their 
religion, hoping to find succor and assistance, a great part of 
them were crushed against the rocks, and those others that 
landed, being very many in number, were, notwithstanding, 
broken, slain, and taken, and so sent from village to village, 
coupled in halters to be shipped into England, where her 
majesty, of her princely and invincible disposition, disdaining 
to put them to death, and scorning either to retain or to enter- 
tain them, they were all sent back again to their countries, to 
witness and recount the worthy achievement of their invincible 
and dreadful navy. Of which the number of soldiers, the fear- 
ful burden of their ships, the commanders' names of every 
squadron, with all others, their magazines of provision, were 
put in print, as an army and navy irresistible and disdaining 
prevention ; with all which their great and terrible ostentation, 
they did not in all their sailing round about England so much 
as sir^k or take one ship, barque, pinnace, or cock-boat of ours, 
or even \^urn so much as one sheep-cote on this land." 



254 DECISIVE BATTLES 



Synopsis of Events between the Defeat of the Spanish 
Armada^ a.d. 1588, and the Battle of Blenheim, 
A.D. 1704. 

A.D. 1594. Henry IV. of France conforms to the Roman 
Catholic Church, and ends the civil wars that had long deso- 
lated France. 

1598. Philip II. of Spain dies, leaving a ruined navy and an 
exhausted kingdom. 

1603. Death of Queen Elizabeth. The Scotch dynasty of 
the Stuarts succeeds to the throne of England. 

1619. Commencement of the Thirty Years' War in Germany. 

1624 — 1642. Cardinal Richelieu is minister of France. He 
breaks the power of the nobility, reduces the Huguenots to 
complete subjection, and by aiding the Protestant German 
princes in the latter part of the Thirty Years' War, he humili- 
ates France's ancient rival, Austria. 

1630. Gustavus Adolphus, King of Sweden, marches into 
Germany to the assistance of the Protestants, who were nearly 
crushed by the Austrian armies. He gains several great vic- 
tories, and, after his death, Sweden, under his statesmen and 
generals, continues to take a leading part in the war. 

1640. Portugal throws off the Spanish yoke ; and the house 
of Braganza begins to reign. 

1642. Commencement of the civil war in England between 
Charles I. and his Parliament. 

1648. The Thirty Years' War in Germany ended by the 
treaty of Westphalia. 

1653. Oliver Cromwell Lord Protector of England. 

1660. Restoration of the Stuarts to the English throne. 

1661. Louis XIV. takes the administration of affairs in 
France into his own hands. 

1667 — 1668. Louis XIV. makes war on Spain, and conquers 
a large part of the Spanish Netherlands. 

1672. Louis makes war upon Holland, and almost over- 
powers it. Charles II., of England, is his pensioner, and Eng- 
land helps the French in their attacks upon Holland until 1674. 
Heroic resistance of the Dutch under the Prince of Orange. 

1674. Louis conquers Franche-Comte. 

1679. Peace of Nimeguen. 



THE DEFEAT OF THE SPANISH ARMADA 



255 



1681. Louis invades and occupies Alsace. 

1682. Accession of Peter the Great to the throne of Russia. 
1685. Louis commences a merciless persecution^ of his Prot- 
estant subjects. 

1688. The glorious Revolution in England. Expulsion of 
James II. William of Orange is made King of England. 
James takes refuge at the French court, and Louis undertakes 
to restore him. General war in the west of Europe. 

1697. Treaty of Ryswick. Charles XII. becomes King of 
Sweden. 

1700. Charles II., of Spain, dies, having bequeathed his 
dominions to Philip of Anjou, Louis XIV.'s grandson. De- 
feat of the Russians at Narva by Charles XII. 

1701. William III. forms a " Grand Alhance " of Austria, 
the Empire, the United Provinces, England, and other powers, 
against France. 

1702. King William dies; but his successor. Queen Anne, 
adheres to the Grand Alliance, and war is proclaimed against 
France. 



CHAPTER XI. 

THE BATTLE OF BLENHEIM, A.D. 1704. 

" The decisive blow struck at Blenheim resounded through every part 
of Europe: it at once destroyed the vast fabric of power which it had 
taken Louis XIV., aided by the talents of Turenne and the genius of 
Vauban, so long to construct." — Alison. 

THOUGH more slowly moulded and less imposingly vast 
than the empire of Napoleon, the power which Louis 
XIV. had acquired and was acquiring at the com- 
mencement of the eighteenth century was almost equally men- 
acing to the general liberties of Europe. If tested by the 
amount of permanent aggrandizement which each procured for 
France, the ambition of the royal Bourbon was more success- 
ful than were the enterprises of the imperial Corsican. All the 
provinces that Bonaparte conquered were rent again from 
France within twenty years from the date when the very earliest 
of them was acquired. France is not stronger by a single city 
or a single acre for all the devastating wars of the Consulate and 
the Empire. But she still possesses Franche-Comte, Alsace, 
and part of Flanders. She has still the extended boundaries 
which Louis XIV. gave her ; and the royal Spanish marriages 
a few years ago proved clearly how enduring has been the polit- 
ical influence which the arts and arms of France's " Grand 
Monarque " obtained for her southward of the Pyrenees. 

When Louis XIV. took the reins of government into his own 
hands, after the death of Cardinal Mazarin, there was a union 
of ability with opportunity such as France had not seen since 
the days of Charlemagne. Moreover, Louis' career was no 
brief one. For upwards of forty years, for a period nearly 
equal to the duration of Charlemagne's reign, Louis steadily 
followed an aggressive and a generally successful policy. He 
passed a long youth and manhood of triumph before the mil- 
itary genius of Marlborough made him acquainted with 
humiliation and defeat. The great Bourbon lived too long. 

256 



b 



THE BATTLE OF BLENHEIM 257 

He should not have outstayed our two EngHsh kings, one his 
dependent, James IL, the other his antagonist, WilHam IIL 
Had he died when they died, his reign would be cited as un- 
equalled in the French annals for its prosperity. But he lived 
on to see his armies beaten, his cities captured and his kingdom 
wasted year after year by disastrous war. It is as if Charle- 
magne had survived to be defeated by the Northmen, and to 
witness the misery and shame that actually fell to the lot of his 
descendants. 

Still, Louis XIV. had forty years of success ; and from the 
permanence of their fruits, we may judge what the results 
would have been if the last fifteen years of his reign had been 
equally fortunate. Had it not been for Blenheim, all Europe 
might at this day suffer under the effect of French conquests 
resembling those of Alexander in extent and those of the 
Romans in durability. 

When Louis XIV. began to govern, he found all the ma- 
terials for a strong government ready to his hand. Richelieu 
had completely tamed the turbulent spirit of the French nobil- 
ity, and had subverted the " imperium in imperio " of the 
Huguenots. The faction of the Frondeurs in Mazarin's time 
had had the effect of making the Parisian Parliament utterly 
hateful and contemptible in the eyes of the nation. The As- 
semblies of the States-General were obsolete. The royal au- 
thority alone remained. The king was the state. Louis knew 
his position. He fearlessly avowed it, and he fearlessly acted 
up to it.* 

Not only was his government a strong one, but the coun- 
try which he governed was strong — strong in its geographical 
situation, in the compactness of its territory, in the number 
and martial spirit of its inhabitants, and in their complete and 
undivided nationality. Louis had neither a Hungary nor an 
Ireland in his dominions. The civil war in the Cevennes was 
caused solely by his own persecuting intolerance; and that 
did not occur till late in his reign, when old age had made his 
bigotry more gloomy, and had given fanaticism the mastery 
over prudence. 

Like Napoleon in after times, Louis XIV. saw clearly that 

* " Quand Louis XIV. dit, M'Etat, c'est moi:' il n'y eut dans cette 
parole ni enflure, ni vantere, mais la simple enonciation d'un fait." — 
MicHELET, Histoire Moderne, vol. ii., p. 106. 

17 



258 DECISIVE BATTLES 

the great wants of France were " ships, colonies, and com- 
merce." But Louis did more than see these wants: by the 
aid of his great minister, Colbert, he supplied them. One of 
the surest proofs of the genius of Louis was his skill in finding 
out genius in others and his promptness in calling it into ac- 
tion. Under him, Louvois organized, Turenne, Conde, Villars, 
and Berwick led the armies of France, and Vauban fortified her 
frontiers. Throughout his reign, French diplomacy was 
marked by skilfulness and activity, and also by comprehen- 
sive farsightedness, such as the representatives of no other 
nation possessed. Guizot's testimony to the vigor that was 
displayed through every branch of Louis XIV.'s government, 
and to the extent to which France at present is indebted to him, 
is remarkable. He says that, " taking the public services of 
every kind, the finances, the departments of roads and public 
works, the military administration, and all the establishments 
which belong to every branch of administration, there is not 
one that will not be found to have had its origin, its develop- 
ment, or its greatest perfection under the reign of Louis XIV."* 
And he points out to us that " the government of Louis XIV. 
was the first that presented itself to the eyes of Europe as a 
power acting upon sure grounds, which had not to dispute its 
existence with inward enemies, but was at ease as to its terri- 
tory and its people, and solely occupied with the task of admin- 
istering government, properly so called. All the European 
governments had been previously thrown into incessant wars, 
which deprived them of all security as well as of all leisure, or 
so pestered by internal parties or antagonists that their time 
was passed in fighting for existence. The government of Louis 
XIV. was the first to appear as a busy, thriving administration 
of affairs, as a power at once definitive and progressive, which 
was not afraid to innovate, because it could reckon securely on 
the future. There have been, in fact, very few governments 
equally innovating. Compare it with a government of the same 
nature, the unmixed monarchy of Philip XL in Spain ; it was 
more absolute than that of Louis XIV., and yet it was far less 
regular and tranquil. How did Philip II. succeed in estab- 
lishing absolute power in Spain ? By stifling all activity in the 
country, opposing himself to every species of amelioration, and 
rendering the state of Spain completely stagnant. The gov- 
* " History of European Civilization," Lecture 13. 



THE BATTLE OF BLENHEIM 259 

ernment of Louis XIV., on the contrary, exhibited alacrity for 
all sorts of innovations, and showed itself favorable to the 
progress of letters, arts, wealth — in short, of civihzation. This 
was the veritable cause of its preponderance in Europe, which 
arose to such a pitch, that it became the type of a government, 
not only to sovereigns, but also to nations, during the seven- 
teenth century." 

While France was thus strong and united in herself, and 
ruled by a martial, an ambitious, and (with all his faults) an 
enlightened and high-spirited sovereign, what European 
power was there fit to cope with her or keep her in check ? 

" As to Germany, the ambitious projects of the German 
branch of Austria had been entirely defeated, the peace of the 
empire had been restored, and almost a new constitution 
formed, or an old revived, by the treaties of Westphalia; 
nay, the imperial eagle was not only fallen, but her wings 
zvere clipped."'^ 

As to Spain, the Spanish branch of the Austrian house had 
sunk equally low. Philip IL left his successors a ruined mon- 
archy. He left them something worse ; he left them his ex- 
ample and his principles of government, founded in ambition, 
in pride, in ignorance, in bigotry, and all the pedantry of state, f 

It is not, therefore, to be wondered at, that France, in the 
first war of Louis XIV., despised the opposition of both 
branches of the once predominant house of Austria. Indeed, 
in Germany, the French king acquired allies among the princes 
of the empire against the emperor himself. He had a still 
stronger support in Austria's misgovernment of her own sub- 
jects. The words of Bolingbroke on this are remarkable, and 
some of them sound as if written within the last three years. 
Bolingbroke says, " It was not merely the want of cordial co- 

* Bolingbroke, vol. ii., p. 378. Lord Bolingbroke's ** Letters on the 
Use of History" and his " Sketch of the History and State of Europe " 
abound with remarks on Louis XIV. and his contemporaries, of which 
the substance is as sound as the style is beautiful. Unfortunately, like 
all his other works, they contain also a large proportion of sophistry and 
misrepresentation. The best test to use before we adopt any opinion or 
assertion of Bolingbroke's, is to consider whether in writing it he was 
thinking either of Sir Robert Walpole or of Revealed Religion. When 
either of these objects of his hatred was before his mind, he scrupled at 
no artifice or exaggeration that might serve the purpose of his malignity. 
On most other occasions he may be followed with advantage, as he always 
may be read with pleasure. 

t Ibid., p. 378. 



26o DECISIVE BATTLES 

operation among the princes of the empire that disabled the 
emperor from acting with vigor in the cause of his family then, 
nor that has rendered the house of Austria a dead weight upon 
all her allies ever since. Bigotry, and its inseparable compan- 
ion, cruelty, as well as the tyranny and avarice of the court of 
Vienna, created in those days, and has maintained in ours, al- 
most a perpetual diversion of the imperial arms from all effect- 
ual opposition to France. / mean to speak of the troubles in 
Hungary. Whatever they became in their progress, they were 
caused originally by the usurpations and persecutions of the em- 
peror; and zvhen the Hungarians were called rebels first, they 
were called so for no other reason than this, that they would 
not be slaves. The dominion of the emperor being less sup- 
portable than that of the Turks, this unhappy people opened 
a door to the latter to infest the empire, instead of making their 
country, what it had been before, a barrier against the Ottoman 
power. France became a sure though secret ally of the Turks 
as well as the Hungarians, and has found her account in it by 
keeping the emperor in perpetual alarms on that side, while she 
has ravaged the empire and the Low Countries on the other."* 

If, after having seen the imbecility of Germany and Spain 
against the France of Louis XIV., we turn to the two only 
remaining European powers of any importance at that time, 
to England and to Holland, we find the position of our own 
country as to European politics, from 1660 to 1688, most pain- 
ful to contemplate ; nor is our external history during the last 
twelve years of the eighteenth century by any means satis- 
factory to national pride, though it is infinitely less shameful 
than that of the preceding twenty-eight years. From 1660 
to 1668, " England, by the return of the Stuarts, was reduced 
to a nullity." The words are Michelet's,t and, though severe, 
they are just. They are, in fact, not severe enough ; for when 
England, under her restored dynasty of the Stuarts, did take 
any part in European politics, her conduct, or, rather, her 
king's conduct, was almost invariably wicked and dishonorable. 

Bolingbroke rightly says that, previous to the revolution 
of 1688, during the whole progress that Louis XIV. made 
towards acquiring such exorbitant power as gave him well- 
grounded hopes of acquiring at last to his family the Spanish 

* Bolingbroke, vol. ii., p. 397. 

t " Histoire Moderne," vol. ii., p. 106. 



THE BATTLE OF BLENHEIM 261 

monarchy, England had been either an idle spectator of what 
passed on the Continent, or a faint and uncertain ally against 
France, or a warm and sure ally on her side, or a partial medi- 
ator between her and the powers confederated together in their 
common defence. But though the court of England submitted 
to abet the usurpations of France, and the King of England 
stooped to be her pensioner, the crime was not national. On 
the contrary, the nation cried out loudly against it, even while 
it was committing.* 

Holland alone, of all the European powers, opposed from the 
very beginning a steady and uniform resistance to the ambi- 
tion and power of the French king. It was against Holland 
that the fiercest attacks of France were made, and, though 
often apparently on the eve of complete success, they were 
always ultimately baffled by the stubborn bravery of the Dutch, 
and the heroism of their great leader, William of Orange. 
When he became King of England, the power of this country 
was thrown decidedly into the scale against France; but 
though the contest was thus rendered less unequal, though 
William acted throughout " with invincible firmness, Hke a 
patriot and a hero,"t France had the general superiority in 
every war and in every treaty ; and the commencement of the 
eighteenth century found the last league against her dissolved, 
all the forces of the confederates against her dispersed and 
many disbanded; while France continued armed, with her 
veteran forces by sea and land increased, and held in readiness 
to act on all sides, whenever the opportunity should arise for 
seizing on the great prizes which, from the very beginning of 
his reign, had never been lost sight of by her king. 

This is not the place for any narrative of the first essay which 
Louis XIV. made of his power in the war of 1667 J o^ his rapid 
conquest of Flanders and Franche-Comte ; of the treaty of 
Aix-la-Chapelle, which " was nothing more than a composition 
between the bully and the bullied " ;X of his attack on Holland 
in 1672; of the districts and barrier towns of the Spanish 
Netherlands, which were secured to him by the treaty of Nime- 
guen in 1678 ; of how, after this treaty, he " continued to vex 
both Spain and the empire, and to extend his conquests in the 
Low Countries and on the Rhine, both by the pen and the 
sword ; how he took Luxembourg by force, stole Strasburg, 
* Bolingbroke, vol. ii., p. 418. t Ibid., p. 404. t Ibid., p. 399. 



262 DRCISIVrC nATTLRS 

aurl ])<j\\ff,\]i OiHftI " ; of liow the Icu^iir of Aiit<Hl»iir^ wftft formed 
against him in iOH6, arul tfic election of Wilhani of Orftn^je i/i 
the ICnf<H.Hh throne in 1688 j^ave a new spirit to the o(/|;ouili'»n 
whifh I'rance enrountered ; <ti the lorj^ aii'l ' I war 

that followed, in which the I'rench arf/iies wer< / vie- 

toriouft on the Continent, though hi* fleet wa» heaien at Lit 
Ifogue, and bin dependent, Janie* 11., wkn d'f ■'"' )t tim 
J5oync; or of the treaty of l<yjtwi< k, which left i pr/»- 

Keftftion ' , Artoih, 

rope no ^ ., "^t her ( 1 

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264 DECISIVE BATTLES 

as chimerical. Spain possessed enormous resources, and her 
strength was capable of being regenerated by a vigorous ruler. 
We should remember what Alberoni effected even after the 
close of the War of Succession. By what that minister did in a 
few years, we may judge what Louis XIV. would have done 
in restoring the maritime and military power of that great 
country, which nature had so largely gifted, and which man's 
misgovernment had so debased. 

The death of King WiUiam, on the 8th of March, 1702, at 
first seemed likely to paralyze the league against France ; *' for 
notwithstanding the ill success with which he made war gen- 
erally, he was looked upon as the sole centre of union that 
could keep together the great confederacy then forming; and 
how much the French feared from his life had appeared a few 
years before, in the extravagant and indecent joy they ex- 
pressed on a false report of his death. A short time showed 
how vain the fears of some and the hopes of others were."* 
Queen Anne, within three days after her accession, went down 
to the House of Lords, and there declared her resolution to 
support the measures planned by her predecessor, who had 
been " the great support, not only of these kingdoms, but of 
all Europe." Anne was married to Prince George of Denmark, 
and by her accession to the English throne the confederacy 
against Louis obtained the aid of the troops of Denmark ; but 
Anne's strong attachment to one of her female friends led to 
far more important advantages to the anti-Gallican confederacy 
than the acquisition of many armies, for it gave them Marl- 
borough as their captain-general. 

There are few successful commanders on whom Fame has 
shone so unwillingly as upon John Churchill, Duke of Marl- 
borough, prince of the Holy Roman Empire, victor of Blen- 
heim, Ramillies, Oudenarde, and Malplaquet, captor of Liege, 
Bonn, Limburg, Landau, Ghent, Bruges, Antwerp, Oudenarde, 
Ostend, Menin, Dendermonde, Ath, Lille, Tournay, Mons, 
Douay, Aire, Bethune, and Bouchain ; who never fought a 
battle that he did not win, and never besieged a place that he 
did not take. Marlborough's own character is the cause of this. 
Military glory may, and too often does, dazzle both contem- 
poraries and posterity, until the crimes as well as the vices of 
heroes are forgotten. But even a few stains of personal mean- 
* Bolingbroke, vol. ii., p. 445- 



THE BATTLE OF BLENHEIM 265 

ness will dim a soldier's reputation irreparably; and Marl- 
borough's faults were of a peculiarly base and mean order. 
Our feelings towards historical personages are in this respect 
like our feelings towards private acquaintances. There are ac- 
tions of that shabby nature, that however much they may be 
outweighed by a man's good deeds on a general estimate of 
his character, we never can feel any cordial liking for the per- 
son who has once been guilty of them. Thus, with respect to 
the Duke of Marlborough, it goes against our feelings to ad- 
mire the man who owed his first advancement in life to the 
court favor which he and his family acquired through his sister 
becoming one of the mistresses of the Duke of York. It is re- 
pulsive to know that Marlborough laid the foundation of his 
wealth by being the paid lover of one of the fair and frail 
favorites of Charles IL* His treachery, and his ingratitude to 
his patron and benefactor, James II., stand out in dark relief 
even in that age of thankless perfidy. He was almost equally 
disloyal to his new master, King William ; and a more un- 
English act cannot be recorded than Godolphin's and Marl- 
borough's betrayal to the French court in 1694 of the expedi- 
tion then designed against Brest, a piece of treachery which 
caused some hundreds of English soldiers and sailors to be 
helplessly slaughtered on the beach in Cameret Bay. 

It is, however, only in his military career that we have now 
to consider him; and there are very few generals, of either 
ancient or modern times, whose campaigns will bear a compari- 
son with those of Marlborough, either for the masterly skill 
with which they were planned, or for the bold yet prudent 
energy with which each plan was carried into execution. Marl- 
borough had served while young under Turenne, and had ob- 
tained the marked praise of that great tactician. It would be 
difficult, indeed, to name a single quality which a general ought 
to have, and with which Marlborough was not eminently gifted. 
What principally attracted the notice of contemporaries was 
the imperturbable evenness of his spirit. Voltaire f says of 
him: 

* Marlborough might plead the example of Sylla in this. Compare the 
anecdote in Plutarch about Sylla when young and Nicopolis, Koivrjs fify, 
fvirSpov 5e yvvaiKhs, and the anecdote about Marlborough and the Duchess 
of Cleveland, told by Lord Chesterfield, and cited in Macaulay's " His- 
tory," vol. i., p. 461. 

t " Siecle de Louis Quatorze." 



266 DECISIVE BATTLES 

" He had, to a degree above all other generals of his time, 
that calm courage in the midst of tumult, that serenity of soul 
in danger, which the English call a cool head [que les Anglais 
appellent cold heady tcte froide] , and it was, perhaps, this quality, 
the greatest gift of nature for command, which formerly gave 
the English so many advantages over the French in the plains 
of Cressy, Poictiers, and Agincourt." 

King William's knowledge of Marlborough's high abilities, 
though he knew his faithlessness equally well, is said to have 
caused that sovereign in his last illness to recommend Marl- 
borough to his successor as the fittest person to command her 
armies; but Marlborough's favor with the new queen, by 
means of his wife, was so high, that he was certain of obtain- 
ing the highest employment ; and the war against Louis opened 
to him a glorious theatre for the display of those military talents, 
which he had previously only had an opportunity of exercising 
in a subordinate character, and on far less conspicuous scenes. 

He was not only made captain-general of the English forces 
at home and abroad, but such was the authority of England in 
the council of the Grand Alliance, and Marlborough was so 
skilled in winning golden opinions from all whom he met with, 
that, on his reaching the Hague, he was received with trans- 
ports of joy by the Dutch, and it was agreed by the heads of 
that republic, and the minister of the emperor, that Marl- 
borough should have the chief command of all the allied armies. 

It must, indeed, in justice to Marlborough, be borne in mind 
that mere military skill was by no means all that was required 
of him in this arduous and invidious station. Had it not been 
for his unrivalled patience and sweetness of temper, and his 
marvellous ability in discerning the character of those whom 
he had to act with, his intuitive perception of those who were 
to be thoroughly trusted, and of those who were to be amused 
with the mere semblance of respect and confidence ; had not 
Marlborough possessed and employed, while at the head of the 
allied armies, all the qualifications of a polished courtier and 
a great statesman, he never would have led the allied armies to 
the Danube. The confederacy would not have held together 
for a single year. His great political adversary, Bolingbroke, 
does him ample justice here. Bolingbroke, after referring to 
the loss which King William^s death seemed to inflict on the 
cause of the allies, observes that, " By his death the Duke of 



THE BATTLE OF BLENHEIM 267 

Marlborough was raised to the head of the army, and, indeed, 
of the confederacy ; where he, a new, a private man, a subject, 
acquired by merit and by management a more deciding in- 
fluence than high birth, confirmed authority, and even the 
crown of Great Britain had given to King William. Not only 
all the parts of that vast machine, the Grand Alliance, were 
kept more compact and entire, but a more rapid and vigorous 
motion was given to the whole; and, instead of languishing 
and disastrous campaigns, we saw every scene of the war full of 
action. All those wherein he appeared, and many of those 
wherein he was not then an actor, but abettor, however, of their 
action, were crowned with the most triumphant success. 

" I take with pleasure this opportunity of doing justice to 
that great man, whose faults I knew, whose virtues I admired ; 
and whose memory, as the greatest general and the greatest 
minister that our country, or perhaps any other, has produced, 
I honor."* 

War was formally declared by the allies against France on 
the 4th of May, 1702. The principal scenes of its operation 
were, at first, Flanders, the Upper Rhine, and North Italy. 
Marlborough headed the allied troops in Flanders during the 
first two years of the war, and took some towns from the 
enemy, but nothing decisive occurred. Nor did any actions of 
importance take place during this period between the rival 
armies in Italy. But in the centre of that line from north to 
south, from the mouth of the Scheldt to the mouth of the Po, 
along which the war was carried on, the generals of Louis XIV. 
acquired advantages in 1703 which threatened one chief mem- 
ber of the Grand Alliance with utter destruction. France had 
obtained the important assistance of Bavaria as her confederate 
in the war. The elector of this powerful German state made 
himself master of the strong fortress of Ulm, and opened a 
communication with the French armies on the Upper Rhine. 
By this junction, the troops of Louis were enabled to assail the 
emperor in the very heart of Germany. In the autumn of the 
year 1703, the combined armies of the elector and French king 
completely defeated the Imperialists in Bavaria; and in the 
following winter they made themselves masters of the im- 
portant cities of Augsburg and Passau. Meanwhile the French 
army of the Upper Rhine and Moselle had beaten the allied 
* Bolingbroke, vol. ii., p. 445. 



268 DECISIVE BATTLES 

armies opposed to them, and taken Treves and Landau. At the 
same time, the discontents in Hungary with Austria again 
broke out into open insurrection, so as to distract the attention 
and complete the terror of the emperor and his council at 
Vienna. 

Louis XIV. ordered the next campaign to be commenced 
by his troops on a scale of grandeur and with a boldness of 
enterprise such as even Napoleon's military schemes have 
seldom equalled. On the extreme left of the line of the war, 
in the Netherlands, the French armies were to act only on the 
defensive. The fortresses in the hands of the French there 
• were so many and so strong that no serious impression seemed 
likely to be made by the allies on the French frontier in that 
quarter during one campaign, and that one campaign was to 
give France such triumphs elsewhere as would (it was hoped) 
determine the war. Large detachments were therefore to be 
made from the French force in Flanders, and they were to be 
led by Marshal Villeroy to the Moselle and Upper Rhine. The 
French army already in the neighborhood of those rivers was to 
march under Marshal Tallard through the Black Forest, and 
join the Elector of Bavaria, and the French troops that were 
already with the elector under Marshal Marsin. Meanwhile 
the French army of Italy was to advance through the Tyrol 
into Austria, and the whole forces were to combine between the 
Danube and the Inn. A strong body of troops was to be de- 
spatched into Hungary, to assist and organize the insurgents in 
that kingdom ; and the French grand army of the Danube was 
then in collected and irresistible might to march upon Vienna, 
and dictate terms of peace to the emperor. High military 
genius was shown in the formation of this plan, but it was met 
and baffled by a genius higher still. 

Marlborough had watched, with the deepest anxiety, the 
progress of the French arms on the Rhine and in Bavaria, and 
he saw the futility of carrying on a war of posts and sieges in 
Flanders, while death-blows to the empire were being dealt 
on the Danube. He resolved, therefore, to let the war in 
Flanders languish for a year, while he moved with all the dis- 
posable forces that he could collect to the central scenes of 
decisive operations. Such a march was in itself difficult ; but 
Marlborough had, in the first instance, to overcome the still 
greater difficulty of obtaining the consent and cheerful co- 



THE BATTLE OF BLENHEIM 269 

operation of the allies, especially of the Dutch, whose frontier 
it was proposed thus to deprive of the larger part of the force 
which had hitherto been its protection. Fortunately, among 
the many slothful, the many foolish, the many timid, and the 
not few treacherous rulers, statesmen, and generals of different 
nations with whom he had to deal, there were two men, eminent 
both in ability and integrity, who entered fully into Marl- 
borough's projects, and who, from the stations which they 
occupied, were enabled materially to forward them. One of 
these was the Dutch statesman Heinsius, who had been the 
cordial supporter of King William, and who now, with equal 
zeal and good faith, supported Marlborough in the councils of 
the allies ; the other was the celebrated general. Prince Eugene, 
whom the Austrian cabinet had recalled from the Italian fron- 
tier to take the command of one of the emperor's armies in 
Germany. To these two great men, and a few more, Marl- 
borough communicated his plan freely and unreservedly ; but 
to the general councils of his allies he only disclosed part of 
his daring scheme. He proposed to the Dutch that he should 
march from Flanders to the Upper Rhinfe and Moselle with the 
British troops and part of the foreign auxiliaries, and com- 
mence vigorous operations against the French armies in that 
quarter, while General Auverquerque, with the Dutch and 
the remainder of the auxiliaries, maintained a defensive war in 
the Netherlands. Having with difficulty obtained the consent 
of the Dutch to this portion of his project, he exercised the 
same diplomatic zeal, with the same success, in urging the 
King of Prussia, and other princes of the empire, to increase 
the number of the troops which they supplied, and to post 
them in places convenient for his own intended movements. 

Marlborough commenced his celebrated march on the 19th 
of May. The army which he was to lead had been assembled 
by his brother. General Churchill, at Bedburg, not far from 
Maestricht, on the Meuse : it included sixteen thousand Eng- 
lish troops, and consisted of fifty-one battalions of foot and 
ninety-two squadrons of horse. Marlborough was to collect 
and join with him on his march the troops of Prussia, Lune- 
burg, and Hesse, quartered on the Rhine, and eleven Dutch 
battalions that were stationed at Rothweil.* He had only 
marched a single day, when the series of interruptions, com- 
* Coxe's " Life of Marlborough." 



270 



DECISIVE BATTLES 



plaints, and requisitions from the other leaders of the allies be- 
gan, to which he seemed subjected throughout his enterprise, 
and which would have caused its failure in the hands of any one 
not gifted with the firmness and the exquisite temper of Marl- 
borough. One specimen of these annoyances and of Marl- 
borough's mode of dealing with them, may suffice. On his en- 
camping at Kupen on the 20th, he received an express from 
Auverquerque pressing him to halt, because Villeroy, who com- 
manded the French army in Flanders, had quitted the lines 
which he had been occupying, and crossed the Meuse at Namur 
with thirty-six battalions and forty-five squadrons, and was 
.threatening the town of Huys. At the same time Marlbor- 
ough received letters from the Margrave of Baden and Count 
Wratislaw, who commanded the Imperialist forces at Stoll- 
hoffen, near the left bank of the Rhine, stating that Tallard had 
made a movement, as if intending to cross the Rhine, and urg- 
ing him to hasten his march towards the lines of Stollhoffen. 
Marlborough was not diverted by these applications from the 
prosecution of his grand design. Conscious that the army of 
Villeroy would be too much reduced to undertake offensive 
operations, by the detachments which had already been made 
towards the Rhine, and those which must follow his own march, 
he halted only a day to quiet the alarms of Auverquerque. To 
satisfy also the margrave, he ordered the troops of Hompesch 
and Bulow to draw towards Philipsburg, though with private 
injunctions not to proceed beyond a certain distance. He even 
exacted a promise to the same effect from Count Wratislaw, 
who at the juncture arrived at the camp to attend him during 
the whole campaign.* 

Marlborough reached the Rhine at Coblentz, where he 
crossed that river, and then marched along its left bank to 
Broubach and Mentz. His march, though rapid, was admira- 
bly conducted, so as to save the troops from all necessary 
fatigue ; ample supplies of provisions were ready, and the most 
perfect discipline was maintained. By degrees Marlborough 
obtained more re-enforcements from the Dutch and the other 
confederates, and he also was left more at liberty by them to 
follow his own course. Indeed, before even a blow was struck, 
his enterprise had paralyzed the enemy, and had materially 
relieved Austria from the pressure of the war. Villeroy, with 
his detachments from the French Flemish army, was com- 

* Coxe. 



THE BATTLE OF BLENHEIM 271 

pletely bewildered by Marlborough's movements ; and, unable 
to divine where it was that the English general meant to strike 
his blow, wasted away the early part of the summer between 
Flanders and the Moselle without effecting anything.* 

Marshal Tallard, who commanded forty-five thousand 
French at Strasburg, and who had been destined by Louis 
to march early in the year into Bavaria, thought that Marl- 
borough's march along the Rhine was preliminary to an at- 
tack upon Alsace ; and the marshal therefore kept his forty-five 
thousand men back in order to protect France in that quarter. 
Marlborough skilfully encouraged his apprehensions, by caus- 
ing a bridge to be constructed across the Rhine at Philipsburg, 
and by making the Landgrave of Hesse advance his artillery 
at Manheim, as if for a siege of Landau. Meanwhile the 
Elector of Bavaria and Marshal Marsin, suspecting that Marl- 
borough's design might be what it really proved to be, forbore 
to press upon the Austrians opposed to them, or to send troops 
into Hungary ; and they kept back so as to secure their com- 
munications wdth France. Thus, when Marlborough, at the 
beginning of June, left the Rhine and marched for the Danube, 
the numerous hostile armies were uncombined and unable to 
check him. 

" With such skill and science had this enterprise been con- 
certed that at the very moment when it assumed a specific 
direction the enemy was no longer enabled to render it abor- 
tive. As the march was now to be bent towards the Dan- 
ube, notice was given for the Prussians, Palatines, and Hes- 
sians, who were stationed on the Rhine, to order their march 
so as to join the main body in its progress. At the same time 
directions were sent to accelerate the advance of the Danish 
auxiliaries, who were marching from the Netherlands." f 

Crossing the River Neckar, Marlborough marched in a 
south-eastern direction to Mundelshene, where he had his first 
personal interview with Prince Eugene, who was destined to 
be his colleague on so many glorious fields. Thence, through 
a difficult and dangerous country, Marlborough continued his 
march against the Bavarians, whom he encountered on the 

* " Marshal Villeroy," says Voltaire, " who had wished to follow Marl- 
borough on his first marches, suddenly lost sight of him altogether, and 
only learned where he really was on hearing of his victory at Donau- 
wert." — Siecle de Louis XIV. 

t Coxe. 



27:s DECISIVE BATTLES 

2d of July on the heights of the Schullenberg, near Donau- 
wert. Marlborough stormed their intrenched camp, crossed 
the Danube, took several strong places in Bavaria, and made 
himself completely master of the elector's dominions, except 
the fortified cities of Munich and Augsburg. But the elector's 
army, though defeated at Donauwert, was still numerous and 
strong; and at last Marshal Tallard, when thoroughly ap- 
prised of the real nature of Marlborough's movements, crossed 
the Rhine; and being suffered, through the supineness of the 
German general at Stollhoffen, to march without loss through 
the Black Forest, he united his powerful army at Biberbach, 
near Augsburg, with that of the elector and the French troops 
under Marshal Marsin, who had previously co-operating with 
the Bavarians. 

On the other hand, Marlborough recrossed the Danube, 
and on the nth of August united his army with the Imperial- 
ist forces under Prince Eugene. The combined armies occu- 
pied a position near Hochstadt, a little higher up the left bank 
of the Danube than Donauwert, the scene of Marlborough's 
recent victory, and almost exactly on the ground where Mar- 
shal Villars and the elector had defeated an Austrian army in 
the preceding year. The French marshals and the elector 
were now in position a little farther to the east, between Blen- 
heim and Lutzingen, and with the little stream of the Nebel 
between them and the troops of Marlborough and Eugene. 
The Gallo-Bavarian army consisted of about sixty thousand 
men, and they had sixty-one pieces of artillery. The army of the 
allies was about fifty-six thousand strong, with fifty-two guns. 

Although the French army of Italy had been unable to 
penetrate into Austria, and although the masterly strategy of 
Marlborough had hitherto warded off the destruction with 
which the cause of the allies seemed menaced at the beginning 
of the campaign, the peril was still more serious. It was abso- 
lutely necessary for Marlborough to attack the enemy before 
Villeroy should be roused into action. There was nothing 
to stop that general and his army from marching into Fran- 
conia, whence the alHes drew their principal supplies; and 
besides thus distressing them, he might, by marching on and 
joining his army to those of Tallard and the elector, form a 
mass which would overwhelm the force under Marlborough 
and Eugene. On the other hand, the chances of a battle 



THE BATTLE OF BLENHEIM 273 

seemed perilous, and the fatal consequences of a defeat were 
certain. The disadvantage of the allies in point of number 
was not very great, but still it was not to be disregarded ; and 
the advantage which the enemy seemed to have in the com- 
position of their troops was striking. Tallard and Marsin had 
forty-five thousand Frenchmen under them, all veterans and 
all trained to act together ; the elector's own troops also were 
good soldiers. Marlborough, like Wellington at Waterloo, 
headed an army, of which the larger proportion consisted not 
of English, but of men of many different nations and many 
different languages. He was also obliged to be the assailant 
in the action, and thus to expose his troops to comparatively 
heavy loss at the commencement of the battle, while the enemy 
would fight under the protection of the villages and lines 
which they were actively engaged in strengthening. The con- 
sequences of a defeat of the confederated army must have 
broken up the Grand Alliance, and realized the proudest hopes 
of the French king. Mr. Alison, in his admirable military 
history of the Duke of Marlborough, has truly stated the ef- 
fects which would have taken place if France had been suc- 
cessful in the war ; and when the position of the confederates 
at the time when Blenheim was fought is remembered — when 
we recollect the exhaustion of Austria, the menacing insur- 
rection of Hungary, the feuds and jealousies of the German 
princes, the strength and activity of the Jacobite party in 
England, and the imbecility of nearly all the Dutch statesmen 
of the time, and the weakness of Holland if deprived of her 
allies, we may adopt his words in speculating on what would 
have ensued if France had been victorious in the battle, and 
" if a power, animated by the ambition, guided by the fanat- 
icism, and directed by the ability of that of Louis XIV., had 
gained the ascendency in Europe, Beyond all question, a 
universal despotic dominion would have been established over 
the bodies, a cruel spiritual thraldom over the minds, of men. 
France and Spain united under Bourbon princes and in a 
close family alliance — the empire of Charlemagne with that of 
Charles V. — the power which revoked the Edict of Nantes 
and perpetrated the massacre of St. Bartholomew, with that 
which banished the Moriscoes and established the Inquisition, 
would have proved irresistible, and beyond example destruc- 
tive to the best interests of mankind. 
i3 ^ 



274 DECISIVE BATTLES 

" The Protestants might have been driven, like the pagan 
heathens of old by the son of Pepin, beyond the Elbe; the 
Stuart race, and v^ith them Romish ascendency, might have 
been re-established in England; the fire lighted by Latimer 
and Ridley might have been extinguished in blood ; and the 
energy breathed by religious freedom into the Anglo-Saxon 
race might have expired. The destinies of the vi^orld would 
have been changed. Europe, instead of a variety of inde- 
pendent states, whose mutual hostility kept alive courage, 
while their national rivalry stimulated talent, would have sunk 
into the slumber attendant on universal dominion. The co- 
lonial empire of England would have withered away and per- 
ished, as that of Spain has done in the grasp of the Inquisition. 
The Anglo-Saxon race would have been arrested in its mis- 
sion to overspread the earth and subdue it. The centralized 
despotism of the Roman empire would have been renewed on 
Continental Europe ; the chains of Romish tyranny, and with 
them the general infidelity of France before the Revolution, 
would have extinguished or perverted thought in the British 
Islands." * 

Marlborough's words at the council of war, when a battle 
was resolved on, are remarkable, and they deserve recording. 
We know them on the authority of his chaplain, Mr. (after- 
ward Bishop) Hare, who accompanied him throughout the 
campaign, and in whose journal the biographers of Marlbor- 
ough have found many of their best materials. Marlborough's 
words to the officers who remonstrated with him on the seem- 
ing temerity of attacking the enemy in their position were, 
" I know the danger, yet a battle is absolutely necessary, and 
I rely on the bravery and discipline of the troops, which will 
make amends for our disadvantages.'* In the evening orders 
were issued for a general engagement, and received by the 
army with an alacrity which justified his confidence. 

The French and Bavarians were posted behind a little stream 
called the Nebel, which runs almost from north to south into 
the Danube immediately in front of the village of Blenheim. 
The Nebel flows along a little valley, and the French occupied 
the rising ground to the west of it. The village of Blenheim 
was the extreme right of their position, and the village of 
Lutzingen, about three miles north of Blenheim, formed their 
* Alison's " Life of Marlborough," p. 248. 



THE BATTLE OF BLENHEIM 275 

left. Beyond Lutzingen are the rugged high grounds of the 
Godd Berg and Eich Berg, on the skirts of which some de- 
tachments were posted, so as to secure the Gallo-Bavarian 
position from being turned on the left flank. The Danube 
secured their right flank; and it was only in front that they 
could be attacked. The villages of Blenheim and Lutzingen 
had been strongly palisaded and intrenched; Marshal Tal- 
lard, who held the chief command, took his station at Blen- 
heim; the elector and Marshal Marsin commanded on the 
left. Tallard garrisoned Blenheim with twenty-six battalions 
of French infantry and twelve squadrons of French cavalry. 
Marsin and the elector had twenty-two battalions of infantry 
and thirty-six squadrons of cavalry in front of the village of 
Lutzingen. The centre was occupied by fourteen battalions 
of infantry, including the celebrated Irish brigade. These 
were posted in the little hamlet of Oberglau, which lies some- 
what nearer to Lutzingen than to Blenheim. Eighty squad- 
rons of cavalry and seven battalions of foot were ranged be- 
tween Oberglau and Blenheim. Thus the French position 
was very strong at each extremity, but was comparatively 
weak in the centre. Tallard seems to have relied on the 
swampy state of the part of the valley that reaches from below 
Oberglau to Blenheim for preventing any serious attack on 
this part of his Hne. 

The army of the allies was formed into two great divisions, 
the largest being commanded by the duke in person, and be- 
ing destined to act against Tallard, while Prince Eugene led 
the other division, which consisted chiefly of cavalry, and was 
intended to oppose the enemy under Marsin and the elector. 
As they approached the enemy, Marlborough's troops formed 
the left and the centre, while Eugene's formed the right of the 
entire army. Early in the morning of the 13th of August the 
allies left their own camp and marched towards the enemy. A 
thick haze covered the ground, and it was not until the allied 
right and centre had advanced nearly within cannon shot of 
the enemy that Tallard was aware of their approach. He 
made his preparations with what haste he could, and about 
eight o'clock a heavy fire of artillery was opened from the 
French right on the advancing left wing of the British. Marl- 
borough ordered up some of his batteries to reply to it, and 
while the columns that were to form the allied left and centre 



276 DECISIVE BATtLES 

deployed, and took up their proper stations in the Hne, a warm 
cannonade was kept up by the guns on both sides. 

The ground which Eugene's columns had to traverse was 
peculiarly difficult, especially for the passage of the artillery, 
and it was nearly mid-day before he could get his troops into 
line opposite to Lutzingen. During this interval, Marlborough 
ordered divine service to be performed by the chaplains at the 
head of each regiment, and then rode alone the lines, and 
found both officers and men in the highest spirits, and wait- 
ing impatiently for the signal for the attack. At length an aide- 
de-camp galloped up from the right with the welcome news 
that Eugene was ready. Marlborough instantly sent Lord 
Cutts, with a strong brigade of infantry, to assault the village 
of Blenheim, while he himself led the main body down the 
eastward slope of the valley of the Nebel, and prepared to 
effect the passage of the stream. 

The assault on Blenheim, though bravely made, was re- 
pulsed with severe loss, and Marlborough, finding how strong- 
ly that village was garrisoned, desisted from any further at- 
tempts to carry it, and bent all his energies to breaking the 
enemy's line between Blenheim and Oberglau. Some tem- 
porary bridges had been prepared, and planks and fascines had 
been collected ; and by the aid of these, and a little stone bridge 
which crossed the Nebel, near a hamlet called Unterglau, that 
lay in the centre of the valley, Marlborough succeeded in get- 
ting several squadrons across the Nebel, though it was di- 
vided into several branches, and the ground between them 
was soft, and, in places, little better than a mere marsh. But 
the French artillery was not idle. The cannon balls plunged 
incessantly among the advancing squadrons of the allies, and 
bodies of French cavalry rode frequently down from the west- 
ern ridge, to charge them before they had time to form on the 
firm ground. It was only by supporting his men by fresh 
troops, and by bringing up infantry, who checked the advance 
of the enemy's horse by their steady fire, that Marlborough 
was able to save his army in this quarter from a repulse, which, 
succeeding the failure of the attack upon Blenheim, would 
probably have been fatal to the allies. By degrees, his cavalry 
struggled over the blood-stained streams; the infantry were 
also now brought across, so as to keep in check the French 
troops who held Blenheim, and who, when no longer assailed 



THE BATTLE OF BLENHEIM 277 

in front, had begun to attack the alhes on their left with con- 
siderable effect. 

Marlborough had thus at last succeeded in drawing up the 
whole left wing of his army beyond the Nebel, and was about 
to press forward with it, when he was called away to another 
part of the field by a disaster that had befallen his centre. The 
Prince of Holstein-Beck had, with eleven Hanoverian battal- 
ions, passed the Nebel opposite to Oberglau, when he was 
charged and utterly routed by the Irish brigade which held that 
village. The Irish drove the Hanoverians back with heavy 
slaughter, broke completely through the line of the alhes, and 
nearly achieved a success as brilliant as that which the same 
brigade afterwards gained at Fontenoy. But at Blenheim their 
ardor in pursuit led them too far. Marlborough came up in 
person, and dashed in upon the exposed flank of the brigade 
with some squadrons of British cavalry. The Irish reeled back, 
and as they strove to regain the height of Oberglau, their 
column was raked through and through by the fire of three 
battalions of the allies, which Marlborough had summoned up 
from the reserve. Marlborough having re-established the 
order and communications of the allies in this quarter, now, as 
he returned to his own left wing, sent to learn how his col- 
league fared against Marsin and the elector, and to inform 
Eugene of his own success. 

Eugene had hitherto not been equally fortunate. He had 
made three attacks on the enemy opposed to him, and had 
been thrice driven back. It was only by his own desperate 
personal exertions, and the remarkable steadiness of the regi- 
ments of Prussian infantry, which were under him, that he was 
able to save his wing from being totally defeated. But it was 
on the southern part of the battlefield, on the ground which 
Marlborough had won beyond the Nebel with such difficulty, 
that the crisis of the battle was to be decided. 

Like Hannibal, Marlborough relied principally on his cav- 
alry for achieving his decisive successes, and it was by his 
cavalry that Blenheim, the greatest of his victories, was won. 
The battle had lasted till five in the afternoon. Marlborough 
had now eight thousand horsemen drawn up in two lines, and 
in the most perfect order for a general attack on the enemy's 
line along the space between Blenheim and Oberglau. The 
infantry was drawn up in battalions in their rear, so as to sup- 



278 DECISIVE BATTLES 

port them if repulsed, and to keep in check the large masses 
of the French that still occupied the village of Blenheim. Tal- 
lard now interlaced his squadrons of cavalry with battalions of 
infantry, and Marlborough, by a corresponding movement, 
brought several regiments of infantry and some pieces of artil- 
lery to his front line at intervals between the bodies of horse. 
A little after five, Marlborough commenced the decisive move- 
ment, and the allied cavalry, strengthened and supported by 
foot and guns, advanced slowly from the lower ground near 
the Nebel up the slope to where the French cavalry, ten 
thousand strong, awaited them. On riding over the summit 
of the acclivity, the allies were received with so hot a fire from 
the French artillery and small arms that at first the cavalry 
recoiled, but without abandoning the high ground. The guns 
and the infantry which they had brought with them maintained 
the contest with spirit and effect. The French fire seemed 
to slacken. Marlborough instantly ordered a charge along 
the line. The allied cavalry galloped forward at the enemy's 
squadrons, and the hearts of the French horsemen failed them. 
Discharging their carbines at an idle distance, they wheeled 
round and spurred from the field, leaving the nine infantry bat- 
tahons of their comrades to be ridden down by the torrent of 
the allied cavalry. The battle was now won. Tallard and Mar- 
sin, severed from each other, thought only of retreat. Tallard 
drew up the squadrons of. horse that he had left, in a line ex- 
tended towards Blenheim, and sent orders to the infantry in 
that village to leave it and join him without delay. But, long 
ere his orders could be obeyed, the conquering squadrons of 
Marlborough had wheeled to the left and thundered down on 
the feeble array of the French marshal. Part of the force which 
Tallard had drawn up for this last effort was driven into the 
Danube ; part fled with their general to the village of Sonder- 
heim, where they were soon surrounded by the victorious allies, 
and compelled to surrender. Meanwhile, Eugene had renewed 
his attack upon the Gallo-Bavarian left, and Marsin, finding his 
colleague utterly routed, and his own right flank uncovered 
prepared to retreat. He and the elector succeeded in with- 
drawing a considerable part of their troops in tolerable order 
to Dillingen ; but the large body of French who garrisoned 
Blenheim were left exposed to certain destruction. Marl- 
borough speedily occupied all the outlets from the village with 



THE BATTLE OF BLENHEIM 279 

his victorious troops, and then, collecting his artillery round 
it, he commenced a cannonade that speedily would have de- 
stroyed Blenheim itself and all who were in it. After several 
gallant but unsuccessful attempts to cut their way through the 
allies, the French in Blenheim were at length compelled to 
surrender at discretion ; and twenty-four battalions and twelve 
squadrons, with all their officers, laid down their arms, and 
became the captives of Marlborough. 

" Such," says Voltaire, " was the celebrated battle which the 
French called the battle of Hochstet, the Germans Plentheim, 
and the EngUsh Blenheim. The conquerors had about five 
thousand killed and eight thousand wounded, the greater part 
being on the side of Prince Eugene. The French army was 
almost entirely destroyed: of sixty thousand men, so long 
victorious, there never reassembled more than twenty thousand 
effective. About twelve thousand killed, fourteen thousand 
prisoners, all the cannon, a prodigious number of colors and 
standards, all the tents and equipages, the general of the army, 
and one thousand two hundred officers of mark in the power 
of the conqueror, signalized that day ! " 

Ulm, Landau, Treves, and Traerbach surrendered to the 
allies before the close of the year. Bavaria submitted to the 
emperor, and the Hungarians laid down their arms. Ger- 
many was completely delivered from France, and the military 
ascendency of the arms of the allies was completely estabhshed. 
Throughout the rest of the war Louis fought only in defence. 
Blenheim had dissipated forever his once proud visions of al- 
most universal conquest. 



Synopsis of Events between the Battle of Blenheim, a.d. 
1704, AND THE Battle of Pultowa, a.d. 1709. 

A.D. 1705. The Archduke Charles lands in Spain with a 
small English army under Lord Peterborough, who takes 
Barcelona. 

1706. Marlborough's victory at Ramillies. 

1707. The English army in Spain is defeated at the battle of 
Almanza. 

1708. Marlborough's victory at Oudenarde. 



CHAPTER XII. 

THE BATTLE OF PULTOWA, A.D. 1709. 

" Dread Pultowa's day, 
When fortune left the royal Swede, 
Around a slaughtered army lay, 

No more to combat and to bleed. 
The power and fortune of the war 
Had passed to the triumphant Czar." 

— Byron. 

NAPOLEON prophesied, at St. Helena, that all Europe 
would soon be either Cossack or republican. Three 
years ago the fulfilment of the last of these alterna- 
tives appeared most probable. But the democratic movements 
of 1848 were sternly repressed in 1849. The absolute author- 
ity of a single ruler and the austere stillness of martial law 
are now paramount in the capitals of the Continent, which 
lately owned no sovereignty save the will of the multitude, and 
where that which the Democrat calls his sacred right of insur- 
rection was so loudly asserted and so often fiercely enforced. 
Many causes have contributed to bring about this reaction, 
but the most effective and the most permanent have been Rus- 
sian influence and Russian arms. Russia is now the avowed 
and acknowledged champion of monarchy against democracy ; 
of constituted authority, however acquired, against revolution 
and change, for whatever purpose desired ; of the imperial 
supremacy of strong states over their weaker neighbors against 
all claims for political independence and all strivings for sepa- 
rate nationality. She had crushed the heroic Hungarians ; and 
Austria, for whom nominally she crushed them, is now one 
of her dependents. Whether the rumors of her being about 
to engage in fresh enterprises be well or ill founded, it is cer- 
tain that recent events must have fearfully augmented the 
power of the Muscovite empire, which, even previously, had 
been the object of well-founded anxiety to all Western Europe. 

280 



THE BATTLE OF PULTOWA. 281 

It was truly stated, eleven years ago, that " the acquisitions 
which Russia has made within the [then] last sixty-four years 
are equal in extent and importance to the whole- empire she 
had in Europe before that time ; that the acquisitions she has 
made from Sweden are greater than what remains of that 
ancient kingdom ; that her acquisitions from Poland are as 
large as the whole Austrian empire ; that the territory she has 
wrested from Turkey in Europe is equal to the dominions of 
Prussia, exclusive of her Rhenish provinces ; and that her ac- 
quisitions from Turkey in Asia are equal in extent to all the 
smaller states of Germany, the Rhenish provinces of Prussia, 
Belgium, and Holland taken together; that the country she 
has conquered from Persia is about the size of England ; that 
her acquisitions in Tartary have an area equal to Turkey in 
Europe, Greece, Italy, and Spain. In sixty-four years she has 
advanced her frontier eight hundred and fifty miles towards 
Vienna, BerHn, Dresden, Munich, and Paris; she has ap- 
proached four hundred and fifty miles nearer to Constanti- 
nople ; she has possessed herself of the capital of Poland, and 
has advanced to within a few miles of the capital of Sweden, 
from which, when Peter the First mounted the throne, her 
frontier was distant three hundred miles. Since that time she 
has stretched herself forward about one thousand miles towards 
India, and the same distance towards the capital of Persia."* 

Such, at that period, had been the recent aggrandizement of 
Russia ; and the events of the last few years, by weakening and 
disuniting all her European neighbors, have immeasurably 
augmented the relative superiority of the Muscovite empire 
over all the other Continental powers. 

With a population exceeding sixty millions, all implicitly 
obeying the impulse of a single ruling mind ; with a territorial 
area of six milHons and a half of square miles ; with a standing 
army eight hundred thousand strong ; with powerful fleets on 
the Baltic and Black seas; with a skilful host of diplomatic 
agents planted in every court and among every tribe ; with the 
confidence which unexpected success creates, and the sagacity 
which long experience fosters, Russia now grasps, with an 
armed right hand, the tangled thread of European politics, and 
issues her mandates as the arbitress of the movements of the 
age. Yet a century and a half have hardly elapsed since she 

* " Progress of Russia in the East," p. 142. 



282 DECISIVE BATTLES 

was first recog-nized as a member of the drama of modern 
European history — previous to the battle of Pultowa, Russia 
played no part. Charles V. and his great rival, our Elizabeth 
and her adversary Philip of Spain, the Guises, Sully, Richelieu, 
Cromwell, De Witt, William of Orange, and the other leading 
spirits of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, thought no 
more about the Muscovite Czar than we now think about the 
King of Timbuctoo. Even as late as 1735, Lord Bolingbroke, 
in his admirable ** Letters on History," speaks of the history 
of the Muscovites as having no relation to the knowledge 
which a practical English statesman ought to acquire.* It 
may be doubted whether a cabinet council often takes place 
now in our Foreign Office without Russia being uppermost 
in every English statesman's thoughts. 

But, though Russia remained thus long unheeded among 
her snows, there was a Northern power, the influence of which 
was acknowledged in the principal European quarrels, and 
whose good-will was sedulously courted by many of the bold- 
est chiefs and ablest counsellors of the leading states. This was 
Sweden ; Sweden, on whose ruins Russia has risen, but whose 
ascendency over her semi-barbarous neighbor was complete, 
until the fatal battle that now forms our subject. 

As early as 1542 France had sought the alliance of Sweden 
to aid her in her struggle against Charles V. And the name 
of Gustavus Adolphus is of itself sufficient to remind us that 
in the great contest for religious liberty, of which Germany was 
for thirty years the arena, it was Sweden that rescued the fall- 
ing cause of Protestantism, and it was Sweden that principally 
dictated the remodelling of the European state-system at the 
peace of Westphalia. 

From the proud pre-eminence in which the valor of the 
" Lion of the North," and of Torstenston, Bannier, Wrangel, 
and the other generals of Gustavus, guided by the wisdom of 
Oxenstiern, had placed Sweden, the defeat of Charles XII. at 
Pultowa hurled her down at once and forever. Her efforts dur- 
ing the wars of the French Revolution to assume a leading 
part in European politics met with instant discomfiture, and 
almost provoked derision. But the Sweden whose sceptre 

* Bolingbroke's Works, vol. ii., p. 374. In the same page he observes 
how Sweden had often turned her arms southward with prodigious 
effect. 



THE BATTLE OF PULTOWA. 283 

was bequeathed to Christina, and whose alliance Cromwell 
valued so highly, was a different power to the Sweden of the 
present day. Finland, Ingria, Livonia, Esthonia, Carelia, and 
other districts east of the Baltic then were Swedish provinces ; 
and the possession of Pomerania, Rugen, and Bremen made 
her an important member of the Germanic empire. These ter- 
ritories are now all reft from her, and the most valuable of them 
form the staple of her victorious rival's strength. Could she 
resume them — could the Sweden of 1648 be reconstructed, we 
should have a first-class Scandinavian state in the North, well 
qualified to maintain the balance of power, and check the pro- 
gress of Russia; whose power, indeed, never could have be- 
come formidable to Europe save by Sweden becoming weak. 

The decisive triumph of Russia over Sweden at Pultowa was 
therefore all-important to the world, on account of what it 
overthrew as well as for what it established; and it is the 
more deeply interesting, because it was not merely the crisis 
of a struggle between two states, but it was a trial of strength 
between two great races of mankind. We must bear in mind, 
that while the Swedes, like the English, the Dutch, and others, 
belong to the Germanic race, the Russians are a Sclavonic 
people. Nations of Sclavonian origin have long occupied the 
greater part of Europe eastward of the Vistula ; and the popula- 
tions also of Bohemia, Croatia, Servia, Dalmatia, and other 
important regions westward of that river are Sclavonic. In the 
long and varied conflicts between them and the Germanic na- 
tions that adjoin them, the Germanic race had, before Pultowa, 
almost always maintained a superiority. With the single but 
important exception of Poland, no Sclavonic state had made 
any considerable figure in history before the time when Peter 
the Great won his great victory over the Swedish king.* What 
Russia has done since that time we know and we feel. And 
some of the wisest and best men of our own age and nations, 
who have watched with deepest care the annals and the des- 
tinies of humanity, have believed that the Sclavonic element 
in the population of Europe has as yet only partially developed 
its powers ; that, while other races of mankind (our own, the 
Germanic, included) have exhausted their creative energies 
and completed their allotted achievements, the Sclavonic race 
has yet a great career to run ; and that the narrative of Scla- 

* The Hussite wars may, perhaps, entitle Bohemia to be distinguished. 



284 DECISIVE BATTLES 

vonic ascendency is the remaining page that will conclude the 
history of the world.* 

Let it not be supposed that in thus regarding the primary tri- 
umph of Russia over Sweden as a victory of the Sclavonic over 
the Germanic race, we are dealing with matters of mere eth- 
nological pedantry, or with themes of mere speculative curios- 
ity. The fact that Russia is a Sclavonic empire is a fact of 
immense practical influence at the present moment. Half the 
inhabitants of the Austrian empire are Sclavonians. The popu- 
lation of the larger part of Turkey in Europe is of the same race. 
Silesia, Posen, and other parts of the Prussian dominions are 
principally Sclavonic. And during late years, an enthusiastic 
zeal for blending all Sclavonians into one great united Scla- 
vonic empire has been growing up in these countries, which, 
however we may deride its principle, is not the less real and 
active, and of which Russia, as the head and the champion of 
the Sclavonic race, knows well how to take her advantage.! 

* See Arnold's " Lectures on Modern History," pp. 36 — 39. 

t " The idea of Panslavism had a purely Hterary origin. It was 
started by Kollar, a Protestant clergyman of the Sclavonic congrega- 
tion at Pesth, in Hungary, who wished to establish a national literature 
by circulating all works, written in the various Sclavonic dialects, 
through every country where and of them are spoken. He suggested 
that all the Sclavonic literati should become acquainted with the sister 
dialects, so that a Bohemian, or other work, might be read on the shores 
of the Adriatic as well as on the banks of the Volga or any other place 
where a Sclavonic language was spoken ; by which means an extensive 
literature might be created, tending to advance knowledge in all Scla- 
vonic countries; and he supported his arguments by observing that the 
dialects of ancient Greece differed from each other like those of his own 
language, and yet that they formed only one Hellenic literature. The 
idea of an intellectual union of all those nations naturally led to that of a 
political one; and the Sclavonians, seeing that their numbers amounted 
to about one-third part of the whole population of Europe, and occu- 
pied more than half its territory, began to be sensible that they might 
claim for themselves a position to which they had not hitherto aspired. 

** The opinion gained ground ; and the question now is, whether the 
Slcavonians can form a nation independent of Russia, or whether they 
ought to rest satisfied in being part of one great race, with the most 
powerful member of it as their chief. The latter, indeed, is gaining 
ground among them; and some Poles are disposed to attribute their 
sufferings to the arbitrary will of the Czar, without extending the blame 
to the Russians themselves. These begin to think that, if they cannot 
exist as Poles, the best thing to be done is to rest satisfied with a posi- 
tion in the Sclavonic empire, and they hope that when once they give up 
the idea of restoring their country, Russia may grant some concessions 
to their separate nationality. 

" The same idea has been put forward by writers in the Russian inter- 
est; great efforts are making among other Sclavonic people to induce 
them to look upon Russia as their future head, and she has already 
gained considerable influence over the Sclavonic populations of Tur- 
key." — Wilkinson's Dalmatia. 



THE BATTLE OF PULTOWA. 285 

It is a singular fact that Russia owes her very name to a 
band of Swedish invaders who conquered her a thousand years 
ago. They were soon absorbed in the Sclavonic population, 
and every trace of the Swedish character had disappeared in 
Russia for many centuries before her invasion by Charles XII. 
She was long the victim and the slave of the Tartars ; and for 
many considerable periods of years the Poles held her in sub- 
jugation. Indeed, if we except the expeditions of some of the 
early Russian chiefs against Byzantium, and the reign of Ivan 
Vasilovitch, the history of Russia before the time of Peter the 
Great is one long tale of suffering and degradation. 

But, whatever may have been the amount of national injuries 
that she sustained from Swede, from Tartar, or from Pole in 
the ages of her weakness, she has certainly retaliated ten-fold 
during the century and a half of her strength. Her rapid tran- 
sition at the commencement of that period from being the prey 
of every conqueror to being the conqueror of all with whom she 
comes into contact, to being the oppressor instead of the op- 
pressed, is almost without a parallel in the history of nations. 
It was the work of a single ruler ; who, himself without edu- 
cation, promoted science and literature among barbaric mill- 
ions ; who gave them fleets, commerce, arts, and arms ; who, 
at Pultowa, taught them to face and beat the previously in- 
vincible Swedes; and who made stubborn valor and implicit 
subordination from that time forth the distinguishing charac- 
teristics of the Russian soldiery, which had before his time been 
a mere disorderly and irresolute rabble. 

The career of Philip of Macedon resembles most nearly that 
of the great Muscovite Czar: but there is this important dif- 
ference, that Philip had, while young, received in Southern 
Greece the best education in all matters of peace and war that 
the ablest philosophers and generals of the age could bestow. 
Peter was brought up among barbarians and in barbaric ig- 
norance. He strove to remedy this, when a grown man, by 
leaving all the temptations to idleness and sensuality which his 
court oiifered, and by seeking instruction abroad. He labored 
with his own hands as a common artisan in Holland and Eng- 
land, that he might return and teach his subjects how ships, 
commerce, and civilization could be acquired. There is a de- 
gree of heroism here superior to anything that we know of in 
the Macedonian king. But Philip's consolidation of the long- 



286 DECISIVE BATTLES 

disunited Macedonian empire; his raising a people, which 
he found the scorn of their civiHzed Southern neighbors, to be 
their dread; his organization of a brave and well-discipHned 
army instead of a disorderly militia ; his creation of a maritime 
force, and his systematic skill in acquiring and improving sea- 
ports and arsenals ; his patient tenacity of purpose under re- 
verses ; his personal bravery, and even his proneness to coarse 
amusements and pleasures, — all mark him out as the prototype 
of the imperial founder of the Russian power. In justice, how- 
ever, to the ancient hero, it ought to be added that we find in 
the history of Philip no examples of that savage cruelty which 
deforms so grievously the character of Peter the Great. 

In considering the effects of the overthrow which the 
Swedish arms sustained at Pultowa, and in speculating on the 
probable consequences that would have followed if the in- 
vaders had been successful, we must not only bear in mind the 
wretched state in which Peter found Russia at his accession, 
compared with her present grandeur, but we must also keep in 
view the fact that, at the time when Pultowa was fought, his 
reforms were yet incomplete, and his new institutions imma- 
ture. He had broken up the Old Russia ; and the New Rus- 
sia, which he ultimately created, was still in embryo. Had he 
been crushed at Pultowa, his immense labors would have been 
buried with him, and (to use the words of Voltaire) " the most 
extensive empire in the world would have relapsed into the 
chaos from which it had been so lately taken.'' It Is this fact 
that makes the repulse of Charles XII. the critical point in 
the fortunes of Russia. The danger which she incurred a 
century afterwards from her invasion by Napoleon was in 
reality far less than her peril when Charles attacked her, though 
the French emperor, as, a military genius, was infinitely su- 
perior to the Swedish king, and led a host against her, com- 
pared with which the armies of Charles seem almost insig- 
nificant. But, as Fouche well warned his imperial master, 
when he vainly endeavored to dissuade him from his disastrous 
expedition against the empire of the Czars, the difference be- 
tween the Russia of 1812 and the Russia of 1709 was greater 
than the disparity between the power of Charles and the might 
of Napoleon. " If that heroic king," said Fouche, " had not, 
like your imperial majesty, half Europe in arms to back him, 
neither had his opponent, the Czar Peter, 400,000 soldiers and 



I 



THE BATTLE OF PULTOWA. 287 

50,000 Cossacks." The historians who describe the state of 
the Muscovite empire when revolutionary and imperial France 
encountered it, narrate with truth and justice how, *' at the 
epoch of the French Revolution, this immense empire, com- 
prehending nearly half of Europe and Asia within its domin- 
ions, inhabited by a patient and indomitable race, ever ready 
to exchange the luxury and adventure of the South for the 
hardships and monotony of the North, was daily becoming 
more formidable to the liberties of Europe. . . . The Rus- 
sian infantry had then long been celebrated for its immovable 
firmness. Tier immense population, amounting then in Europe 
alone to nearly thirty-five millions, afforded an inexhaustible 
supply of men. Her soldiers, inured to heat and cold from 
their infancy, and actuated by a blind devotion to their Czar, 
united the steady valor of the English to the impetuous energy 
of the French troops." * So, also, we read how the haughty 
aggressions of Bonaparte " went to excite a national feeling 
from the banks of the Borysthenes to the wall of China, and to 
unite against him the wild and uncivilized inhabitants of an 
extended empire, possessed by a love of their religion, their 
government, and their country, and having a character of stern 
devotion, which he was incapable of estimating." f But the 
Russia of 1709 had no such forces to oppose to an assailant. 
Her whole population then was below sixteen millions ; and, 
what is far more important, this population had neither ac- 
quired military spirit nor strong nationality, nor was it united 
in loyal attachment to its ruler. 

Peter had wisely abolished the old regular troops of the 
empire, the Strelitzes; but the forces which he had raised in 
their stead on a new and foreign plan, and principally officered 
with foreigners, had, before the Swedish invasion, given no 
proof that they could be relied on. In numerous encounters 
with the Swedes, Peter's soldiery had run like sheep before 
inferior numbers. Great discontent, also, had been excited 
among all classes of the community by the arbitrary changes 
which their great emperor introduced, many of which clashed 
with the most cherished national prejudices of his subjects. A 
career of victory and prosperity had not yet raised Peter above 
the reach of that disaffection, nor had superstitious obedience 
to the Czar yet become the characteristic of the Muscovite 
* Alison. t Scott's " Life of Napoleon." 



2 88 DECISIVE BATTLES 

mind. The victorious occupation of Moscow by Charles XII. 
would have quelled the Russian nation as effectually, as had 
been the case when Baton Khan and other ancient invaders 
captured the capital of primitive Muscovy. How little such a 
triumph could effect towards subduing modern Russia, the 
fate of Napoleon demonstrated at once and forever. 

The character of Charles XII. has been a favorite theme 
with historians, moralists, philosophers, and poets. But it is 
his military conduct during the campaign in Russia that alone 
requires comment here. Napoleon, in the Memoirs dictated 
by him at St. Helena, has given us a systematic criticism on 
that, among other celebrated campaigns, his own Russian cam- 
paign included. He labors hard to prove that he himself ob- 
served all the true principles of offensive war; and probably 
his censures on Charles' generalship were rather highly col- 
ored, for the sake of making his own military skill stand out in 
more favorable relief. Yet, after making all allowances, we 
must admit the force of Napoleon's strictures on Charles' tac- 
tics, and own that his judgment, though severe, is correct, when 
he pronounces that the Swedish king, unlike his great pred- 
ecessor Gustavus, knew nothing of the art of war, and was 
nothing more than a brave and intrepid soldier. Such, how- 
ever, was not the light in which Charles was regarded by his 
contemporaries at the commencement of his Russian expedi- 
tion. His numerous victories, his daring and resolute spirit, 
combined with the ancient renown of the Swedish arms, then 
filled all Europe with admiration and anxiety. As Johnson 
expresses it, his name was then one at which the world grew 
pale. Even Louis le Grand earnestly soHcited his assistance; 
and our own Marlborough, then in the full career of his vic- 
tories, was specially sent by the English court to the camp of 
Charles, to propitiate the hero of the North in favor of the cause 
of the allies, and to prevent the Swedish sword from being flung 
into the scale in the French king's favor. But Charles at that 
time was solely bent on dethroning the sovereign of Russia, as 
he had already dethroned the sovereign of Poland, and all Eu- 
rope fully believed that he would entirely crush the Czar, and 
dictate conditions of peace in the Kremlin.* Charles himself 

* Voltaire attests, from personal inspection of the letters of several 
public ministers to their respective courts, that such was the general 
expectation. 



THE BATTLE OF PULTOWA. 289 

looked on success as a matter of certainty, and the romantic 
extravagance of his views was continually increasing. '' One 
year, he thought, would suffice for the conquest of Russia. The 
court of Rome was next to feel his vengeance, as the pope had 
dared to oppose the concession of religious liberty to the 
Silesian Protestants. No enterprise at that time appeared im- 
possible to him. He had even despatched several officers pri- 
vately into Asia and Egypt, to take plans of the towns and ex- 
amine into the strength and resources of those countries. "f 

Napoleon thus epitomizes the earlier operations of Charles' 
invasion of Russia: 

" That prince set out from his camp at Aldstadt, near 
Leipsic, in September, 1707, at the head of 45,000 men, and 
traversed Poland ; 20,000 men, under Count Lewenhaupt, dis- 
embarked at Riga; and 15,000 were in Finland. He was 
therefore in a condition to have brought together 80,000 of the 
best troops in the world. He left 10,000 men at Warsaw to 
guard King Stanislaus, and in January, 1708, arrived at 
Grodno, where he wintered. In June he crossed the forest 
of Minsk and presented himself before Borisov; forced the 
Russian army, which occupied the left bank of the Beresina; 
defeated 20,000 Russians who were strongly intrenched behind 
marshes ; passed the Borysthenes at Mohilov, and vanquished 
a corps of 16,000 Muscovites near Smolensko on the 22d of 
September. He was now advanced to the confines of Lithu- 
ania, and was about to enter Russia Proper ; the Czar, alarmed 
at his approach, made him proposals of peace. Up to this 
time all his movements were conformable to rule, and his 
communications were well secured. He was master of Po- 
land and Riga, and only ten days' march distant from Moscow; 
and it is probable that he would have reached that capital, had 
he not quitted the high road thither, and directed his steps 
towards the Ukraine, in order to form a junction with Mazeppa, 
who brought him only 6,000 men. By this movement, his 
line of operations, beginning at Sweden, exposed his flank to 
Russia for a distance of four hundred leagues, and he was 
unable to protect it, or to receive either re-enforcements or 
assistance." 

Napoleon severely censures this neglect of one of the great 
rules of war. He points out that Charles had not organized 
t Crighton's " Scandinavia." 
19 



290 DECISIVE BATTLES 

his war, like Hannibal, on the principle of relinquishing all 
communications with home, keeping all his forces concen- 
trated, and creating a base of operations in the conquered 
country. Such had been the bold system of the Carthaginian 
general ; but Charles acted on no such principle, inasmuch as 
he caused Lewenhaupt, one of his generals who commanded 
a considerable detachment, and escorted a most important 
convoy, to follow him at a distance of twelve days' march. 
By this dislocation of his forces he exposed Lewenhaupt to 
be overwhelmed separately by the full force of the enemy, 
and deprived the troops under his own command of the aid 
which that general's men and stores might have afforded at the 
very crisis of the campaign. 

The Czar had collected an army of about 100,000 effective 
men ; and though the Swedes, in the beginning of the invasion, 
were successful in every encounter, the Russian troops were 
gradually acquiring discipline ; and Peter and his officers were 
learning generalship from their victors, as the Thebans of old 
learned it from the Spartans. When Lewenhaupt, in the Oc- 
tober of 1708, was striving to join Charles in the Ukraine, the 
Czar suddenly attacked him near the Borysthenes with an 
overwhelming force of 50,000 Russians. Lewenhaupt fought 
bravely for three days, and succeeded in cutting his way 
through the enemy with about 4,000 of his men to where 
Charles awaited him near the River Desna; but upwards of 
8,000 Swedes fell in these battles ; Lewenhaupt's cannon and 
ammunition were abandoned ; and the whole of his important 
convoy of provisions, on which Charles and his half-starved 
troops were relying, fell into the enemy's hands. Charles 
was compelled to remain in the Ukraine during the winter; 
but in the spring of 1709 he moved forward towards Moscow, 
and invested the fortified town of Pultowa, on the River Vors- 
kla, a place where the Czar had stored up large supplies of 
provisions and military stores, and which commanded the 
passes leading towards Moscow. The possession of this place 
would have given Charles the means of supplying all the wants 
of his suffering army, and would also have furnished him with 
a secure base of operations for his advance against the Mus- 
covite capital. The siege was therefore hotly pressed by the 
Swedes ; the garrison resisted obstinately ; and the Czar, 
feeling the importance of saving the town, advanced in June 



THE BATTLE OF PULTOWA. 291 

to its relief, at the head of an army from fifty to sixty thou- 
sand strong. 

Both sovereigns now prepared for the general action, which 
each saw to be inevitable, and which each felt would be de- 
cisive of his own and of his country's destiny. The Czar, by 
some masterly manoeuvres, crossed the Vorskla, and posted 
his army on the same side of that river with the besiegers, but 
a little higher up. The Vorskla falls into the Borysthenes 
about fifteen leagues below Pultowa, and the Czar arranged 
his forces in two Hues, stretching from one river towards the 
other, so that if the Swedes attacked him and were repulsed, 
they would be driven backward into the acute angle formed 
by the two streams at their junction. He fortified these lines 
with several redoubts, lined with heavy artillery; and his 
troops, both horse and foot, were in the best possible condition, 
and amply provided with stores and ammunition. Charles' 
forces were about 24,000 strong. But not more than half of 
these were Swedes: so much had battle, famine, fatigue, and 
the deadly frosts of Russia thinned the gallant bands which 
the Swedish king and Lewenhaupt had led to the Ukraine. 
The other 12,000 men, under Charles, were Cossacks and 
Wallachians, who had joined him in the country. On hear- 
ing that the Czar was about to attack him, he deemed that 
his dignity required that he himself should be the assailant; 
and, leading his army out of their intrenched Hues before the 
town, he advanced with them against the Russian redoubts. 

He had been severely wounded in the foot in a skirmish a 
few days before, and was borne in a litter along the ranks into 
the thick of the fight. Notwithstanding the fearful disparity 
of numbers and disadvantage of position, the Swedes never 
showed their ancient valor more nobly than on that dreadful 
day. Nor do their Cossack and Wallachian aUies seem to 
have been unworthy of fighting side by side with Charles' 
veterans. Two of the Russian redoubts were actually entered, 
and the Swedish infantry began to raise the cry of victory. 
But, on the other side, neither general nor soldiers flinched 
in their duty. The Russian cannonade and musketry were 
kept up ; fresh masses of defenders were poured into the for- 
tifications, and at length the exhausted remnants of the Swed- 
ish columns recoiled from the blood-stained redoubts. Then 
the Czar led the infantry and cavalry of his first line outside 



292 DECISIVE BATTLES 

the works, drew them up steadily and skilfully, and the action 
was renewed along the whole fronts of the two armies on the 
open ground. Each sovereign exposed his life freely in the 
world-winning battle, and on each side the troops fought ob- 
stinately and eagerly under their ruler's eyes. It was not till 
two hours from the commencement of the action that, over- 
powered by numbers, the hitherto invincible Swedes gave 
way. All was then hopeless disorder and irreparable rout. 
Driven downward to where the rivers join, the fugitive Swedes 
surrendered to their victorious pursuers or perished in the 
waters of the Borysthenes. Only a few hundreds swam that 
river with their king and the Cossack Mazeppa, and escaped 
into the Turkish territory. Nearly 10,000 lay killed and 
wounded in the redoubts and on the field of battle. 

In the joy of his heart the Czar exclaimed, when the strife 
was over, '* That the son of the morning had fallen from hea- 
ven, and that the foundation of St. Petersburg at length stood 
firm." Even on that battle-field, near the Ukraine, the Rus- 
sian emperor's first thoughts were of conquests and ag- 
grandizement on the Baltic. The peace of Nystadt, which 
transferred the fairest provinces of Sweden to Russia, ratified 
the judgment of battle which was pronounced at Pultowa. 
Attacks on Turkey and Persia by Russia commenced almost 
directly after that victory. And though the Czar failed in his 
first attempts against the sultan, the successors of Peter have, 
one and all, carried on a uniformly aggressive and uniformly 
successive system of policy against Turkey, and against every 
other state, Asiatic as well as European, which has had the 
misfortune of having Russia for a neighbor. 

Orators and authors, who have discussed the progress of 
Russia, have often alluded to the similitude between the mod- 
ern extension of the Muscovite empire and the extension of 
the Roman dominions in ancient times. But attention has 
scarcely been drawn to the closeness of the parallel between 
conquering Russia and conquering Rome, not only in the ex- 
tent of conquests, but in the means of effecting conquest. 
The history of Rome during the century and a half which fol- 
lowed the close of the second Punic war, and during which 
her largest acquisitions of territory were made, should be 
minutely compared with the history of Russia for the last one 
hundred and fifty years. The main points of similitude can 



THE BATTLE OF PULTOWA. 



293 



only be indicated in these pages ; but they deserve the fullest 
consideration. Above all, the sixth chapter of Montesquieu's 
great treatise on Rome, " De la conduite que les Romains tinrent 
pour soumettre les peuples," should be carefully studied by 
every one who watches the career and policy of Russia. The 
classic scholar will remember the statecraft of the Roman 
senate, which took care in every foreign war to appear in the 
character of a Protector. Thus Rome protected the ^tolians 
and the Greek cities against Macedon ; she protected Bithynia 
and other small Asiatic states against the Syrian kings; she 
protected Numidia against Carthage ; and in numerous other 
instances assumed the same specious character. But " woe 
to the people whose liberty depends on the continued for- 
bearance of an overmighty protector." * Every state which 
Rome protected was ultimately subjugated and absorbed by 
her. And Russia has been the protector of Poland — the pro- 
tector of the Crimea — the protector of Courland — the pro- 
tector of Georgia, Immeritia, Mingrelia, the Tcherkessian and 
Caucasian tribes, etc. She has first protected, and then appro- 
priated, them all. She protects Moldavia and Wallachia. A 
few years ago she became the protector of Turkey from Me- 
hemet Ali; and since the summer of 1849 she has made her- 
self the protector of Austria. 

When the partisans of Russia speak of the disinterestedness 
with which she withdrew her protecting troops from Con- 
stantinople and from Hungary, let us here also mark the 
ominous exactness of the parallel between her and Rome. 
While the ancient world yet contained a number of inde- 
pendent states, which might have made a formidable league 
against Rome if she had alarmed them by openly avowing 
her ambitious schemes, Rome's favorite policy was seeming 
disinterestedness and moderation. After her first war against 
Philip, after that against Antiochus, and many others, vic- 
torious Rome promptly withdrew her troops from the terri- 
tories which they occupied. She affected to employ her arms 
only for the good of others. But, when the favorable moment 
came, she always found a pretext for marching her legions 
back into each coveted district, and making it a Roman prov- 
ince. Fear, not moderation, is the only effective check on 
the ambition of such powers as ancient Rome and modern 
* Malkin's " History of Greece." 



294 DECISIVE BATTLES 

Russia. The amount of that fear depends on the amount of 
timely vigilance and energy which other states choose to em- 
ploy against the common enemy of their freedom and national 
independence. 



Synopsis of Events between the Battle of Pultowa, 
A.D. 1709, AND the Defeat of Burgoyne at Saratoga, 
A.D. 1777. 

A.D. 1713. Treaty of Utrecht. Philip is left by it in pos- 
session of the throne of Spain. But Naples, Milan, the Spanish 
territories on the Tuscan coast, the Spanish Netherlands, and 
some parts of the French Netherlands are given to Austria. 
France cedes to England Hudson's Bay and Straits, the island 
of St. Christopher, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland in Amer- 
ica. Spain cedes to England, Gibraltar and Minorca, which 
the English had taken during the war. The King of Prussia 
and the Duke of Savoy both obtain considerable additions of 
territory to their dominions. 

1715. Death of Queen Anne. The house of Hanover be- 
gins to reign in England. A rebellion in favor of the Stuarts 
is put down. Death of Louis XIV. 

1718. Charles XII. killed at the siege of Frederickshall. 

1725. Death of Peter the Great of Russia. 

1740. Frederick II. King of Prussia. He attacks the Aus- 
trian dominions, and conquers Silesia. 

1742. War between France and England. 

1743. Victory of the English at Dettingen. 

1745. Victory of the French at Fontenoy. Rebellion in 
Scotland in favor of the house of Stuart; finally quelled by 
the battle of Culloden in the next year. 

1748. Peace of Aix-la-Chapelle. 

1756 — 1763. The Seven Years' War, during which Prussia 
makes a heroic resistance against the armies of Austria, Rus- 
sia, and France. England, under the administration of the 
elder Pitt (afterward Lord Chatham), takes a glorious part in 
the war in opposition to France and Spain. Wolfe wins the 
battle of Quebec, and the English conquer Canada, Cape 



THE BATTLE OF PULTOWA. 295 

Breton, and St. John. Give begins his career of conquest in 
India. Cuba is taken by the EngUsh from Spain. 

1763. Treaty of Paris; which leaves the power of Prussia 
increased, and its mihtary reputation greatly exalted. 

*' France, by the treaty of Paris, ceded to England, Canada 
and the island of Cape Breton, with the islands and coasts of 
the gulf and river of St. Lawrence. The boundaries between 
the two nations in North America were fixed by a line drawn 
along the middle of the Mississippi, from its source to its 
mouth. All on the left or eastern bank of that river was given 
up to England, except the city of New Orleans, which was 
reserved to France ; as was also the liberty of the fisheries on 
a part of the coasts of Newfoundland and the Gulf of St. Law- 
rence. The islands of St. Peter and Miquelon were given 
them as a shelter for their fishermen, but without permission 
to raise fortifications. The islands of Martinico, Guadaloupe, 
Mariegalante, Desirada, and St. Lucia were surrendered to 
France ; while Grenada, the Grenadines, St. Vincent, Domin- 
ica, and Tobago were ceded to England. This latter power 
retained her conquests on the Senegal, and restored to France 
the island of Gorea, on the coast of Africa. France was put 
in possession of the forts and factories which belonged to her 
in the East Indies, on the coasts of Coromandel, Orissa, Mala- 
bar, and Bengal, under the restriction of keeping up no mili- 
tary force in Bengal. 

" In Europe, France restored all the conquests she had made 
in Germany, as also the island of Minorca. England gave up 
to her Belleisle, on the coast of Brittany ; while Dunkirk was 
kept in the same condition as had been determined by the 
peace of Aix-la-Chapelle. The island of Cuba, with the 
Havana, were restored to the King of Spain, who, on his part, 
ceded to England Florida, with Port Augustine and the Bay 
of Pensacola. The King of Portugal was restored to the same 
state in which he had been before the war. The colony of St. 
Sacrament in America, which the Spaniards had conquered, 
was given back to him. 

" The peace of Paris, of which we have just now spoken, 
was the era of England's greatest prosperity. Her commerce 
and navigation extended over all parts of the globe, and were 
supported by a naval force, so much the more imposing, as 



296 DECISIVE BATTLES 

it was no longer counterbalanced by the maritime power of 
France, which had been almost annihilated in the preceding 
war. The immense territories which that peace had secured 
her, both in Africa and America, opened up new channels for 
her industry; and what deserves specially to be remarked is, 
that she acquired at the same time vast and important posses- 
sions in the East Indies." * 

* Koch's '■ Revolutions of Europe.'* 



CHAPTER XIII. 

VICTORY OF THE AMERICANS OVER BURGOYNE 
AT SARATOGA, A.D. 1777. 

" Westward the course of empire takes its way ; 
The first four acts already past, 
A fifth shall close the drama with the day: 
Time's noblest offspring is its last." 

— Bishop Berkeley. 

" Even of those great conflicts in which hundreds of thousands have 
been engaged and tens of thousands have fallen, none has been more 
fruitful of results than this surrender of thirty-five hundred fighting 
men at Saratoga. It not merely changed the relations of England and 
the feelings of Europe towards these insurgent colonies, but it has modi- 
fied, for all time to come, the connection between every colony and 
every parent state." — Lord Mahon. 

OF the four great powers that now principally rule the 
political destinies of the world, France and England 
are the only two whose influence can be dated back 
beyond the last century and a half. The third great power, 
Russia, was a feeble mass of barbarism before the epoch of 
Peter the Great; and the very existence of the fourth great 
power as an independent nation commenced within the mem- 
ory of living men. By the fourth great power of the world I 
mean the mighty commonwealth of the Western Continent 
which now commands the admiration of mankind. That 
homage is sometimes reluctantly given, and is sometimes ac- 
companied with suspicion and ill-will. But none can refuse 
it. All the physical essentials for national strength are unde- 
niably to be found in the geographical position and amplitude 
of territory which the United States possess ; in their almost 
inexhaustible tracts of fertile but hitherto untouched soil, in 
their stately forests, in their mountain-chains and their rivers, 
their beds of coal and stores of metallic wealth, in their ex- 
tensive sea-board along the waters of two oceans, and in 
their already numerous and rapidly increasing population. 
And when we examine the character of this population, no 

297 



298 DECISIVE BATTLES 

one can look on the fearless energy, the sturdy determination, 
the aptitude for local self-government, the versatile alacrity, 
and the unresting spirit of enterprise which characterize the 
Anglo-Americans, without feeling that here he beholds the 
true elements of progressive might. 

Three-quarters of a century have not yet passed since the 
United States ceased to be mere dependencies of England. 
And even if we date their origin from the period when the 
first permanent European settlements out of which they grew 
w-ere made on the western coast of the North Atlantic, the 
increase of their strength is unparalleled either in rapidity 
or extent. 

The ancient Roman boasted, with reason, of the growth of 
Rome from humble beginnings to the greatest magnitude 
which the world had then ever witnessed. But the citizen of 
the United States is still more justly entitled to claim this 
praise. In two centuries and a half his country has acquired 
ampler dominion than the Roman gained in ten. And even 
if we credit the legend of the band of shepherds and outlaws 
with which Romulufe is said to have colonized the Seven Hills, 
we find not there so small a germ of future greatness as we 
find in the group of a hundred and five ill-chosen and disunited 
emigrants who founded Jamestown in 1607, or in the scanty 
band of Pilgrim Fathers who, a few years later, moored their 
bark on the wild and rock-bound coast of the wilderness that 
was to become New England. The power of the United States 
is emphatically the " Imperium quo neque ab exordio ullum 
fere minus, neque incrementis toto orbe amplius humana po- 
test memoria recordari." * 

Nothing is more calculated to impress the mind with a 
sense of the rapidity with which the resources of the American 
republic advance, than the difficulty which the historical in- 
quirer finds in ascertaining their precise amount. If he con- 
sults the most recent works, and those written by the ablest 
investigators of the subject, he finds in them admiring com- 
ments on the change which the last few years, before those 
books were written, had made; but when he turns to apply 
the estimates in those books to the present moment, he finds 
them wholly inadequate. Before a book on the subject of the 
United States has lost its novelty, those states have outgrown 
* Eutropius, lib. i., exordium. 



BATTLE OF SARATOGA 299 

the descriptions which it contains. The celebrated work of 
the French statesman, De Tocqueville, appeared about fifteen 
years ago. In the passage which I am about to- quote, it will 
be seen that he predicts the constant increase of the Anglo- 
American power, but he looks on the Rocky Mountains as 
their extreme western limit for many years to come. He had 
evidently no expectation of himself seeing that power domi- 
nant along the Pacific as well as along the Atlantic coast. 
He says : "^ 

" The distance from Lake Superior to the Gulf of Mexico 
extends from the 47th to the 30th degree of latitude, a dis- 
tance of more than 1,200 miles as the bird flies. The frontier 
of the United States winds along the whole of this immense 
line, sometimes falling within its limits, but more frequently 
extending far beyond it into the waste. It has been calcu- 
lated that the whites advance every year a mean distance of 
seventeen miles along this vast boundary. Obstacles, such 
as an unproductive district, a lake, or an Indian nation un- 
expectedly encountered, are sometimes met with. The ad- 
vancing column then halts for a while; its two extremities 
fall back upon themselves, and as soon as they are reunited 
they proceed onward. This gradual and continuous progress 
of the European race towards the Rocky Mountains has the 
solemnity of a providential event ; it is like a deluge of men 
rising unabatedly, and daily driven onward by the hand of God. 

" Within this first line of conquering settlers towns are built 
and vast states founded. In 1790 there were only a few thou- 
sand pioneers sprinkled along the valleys of the Mississippi ; 
and at the present day these valleys contain as many inhabi- 
tants as were to be found in the whole Union in 1790. Their 
population amounts to nearly four millions. The City of 
Washington was founded in 1800, in the very centre of the 
Union ; but such are the changes which has taken place that 
it now stands at one of the extremities ; and the delegates of 
the most remote Western States are already obliged to per- 
form a journey as long as that from Vienna to Paris. 

" It must not, then, be imagined that the impulse of the 

* The original French of these passages will be found^ in the chapter 
on " Qitelles sont les chances de duree de I'Union Americaine — Quels 
dangers la menacent," in the third volume of the first part of De Tocque- 
ville, and in the conclusion of the first part. They are (with others) 
collected and translated by Mr. Alison, in his " Essays," vol. iii., p. 374, 



300 DECISIVE BATTLES 

British race in the New World can be arrested. The dismem- 
berment of the Union, and the hostihties which might ensue, 
the aboHtion of repubHcan institutions, and the tyrannical 
government which might succeed it, may retard this impulse, 
but they cannot prevent it from ultimately fulfilling the des- 
tinies to which that race is reserved. No power upon earth 
can close upon the emigrants that fertile wilderness, which 
offers resources to all industry and a refuge from all want. 
Future events, of whatever nature they may be, will not de- 
prive the Americans of their climate or of their inland seas, 
of their great rivers or of their exuberant soil. Nor will bad 
news, revolutions, and anarchy be able to obliterate that love 
of prosperity and that spirit of enterprise which seem to be 
the distinctive characteristics of their race, or to extinguish 
that knowledge which guides them on their way. 

" Thus, in the midst of the uncertain future, one event at 
least is sure — at a period which may be said to be near (for 
we are speaking of the life of a nation), the Anglo-x\mericans 
will alone cover the immense space contained between the 
polar regions and the tropics, extending from the coast of 
the Atlantic to the shores of the Pacific Ocean ; the territory 
which will probably be occupied by the Anglo-Americans at 
some future time may be computed to equal three-quarters of 
Europe in extent. The climate of the Union is upon the whole 
preferable to that of Europe, and its natural advantages are 
not less great; it is therefore evident that its population will 
at some future time be proportionate to our own. Europe, 
divided as it is between so many different nations, and torn 
as it has been by incessant wars and the barbarous manners of 
the Middle Ages, has, notwithstanding, attained a population of 
410 inhabitants to the square league. What cause can pre- 
vent the United States from having as numerous a population 
in time? 

" The time will therefore come when one hundred and fifty 
millions of men will be living in North America, equal in con- 
dition, the progeny of one race, owing their origin to the same 
cause, and preserving the same civilization, the same language, 
the same religion, the same habits, the same manners, and 
imbued with the same opinions, propagated under the same 
forms. The rest is uncertain, but this is certain; and it is a 
fact new to the world, a fact fraught with such portentous 



BATTLE OF SARATOGA 301 

consequences as to baffle the efforts even of the imagina- 
tion." 

Let us turn from the French statesman writing in 1835, to 
an Enghsh statesman who is justly regarded as the highest 
authority in all statistical subjects, and who described the 
United States only five years ago. Macgregor* tells us : 

" The states which, on the ratification of independence, 
formed the American Republican Union, were thirteen, viz. : 

" Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Rhode 
Island, New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Penn- 
sylvania, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and 
Georgia. 

*' The foregoing thirteen states {the whole inhabited terri- 
tory of zvhich, zvith the exception of a few small settlements, 
zvas confined to the region extending between the Alleghany 
Mountains and the Atlantic) were those which existed at the 
period when they became an acknowledged separate and in- 
dependent federal sovereign power. The thirteen stripes of 
the standard or flag of the United States continue to repre- 
sent the original number. The stars have multipHed to twen- 
ty-six, f according as the number of states have increased. 

'* The territory of the thirteen original states of the Union, 
including Maine and Vermont, comprehended a superficies of 
371,124 Enghsh square miles ; that of the whole United King- 
dom of Great Britain and Ireland, 120,354; that of France, 
including Corsica, 214,910; that of the Austrian empire, in- 
cluding Hungary and all the Imperial states, 257,540 Enghsh 
square miles. 

" The present superficies of the twenty-six constitutional 
states of the Anglo-American Union, and the District of Co- 
lumbia, and territories of Florida, include 1,029,025 square 
miles ; to which, if we add the Northwest or Wisconsin Ter- 
ritory, east of the Mississippi, and bound by Lake Superior on 
the north and Michigan on the east, and occupying at least 
100,000 square miles, and then add the great western region, 
not yet weh-defined territories, but at the most limited calcula- 
tion comprehending 700,000 square miles, the whole unbroken 
in its vast length and breadth by foreign nations, comprehends 
a portion of the earth's surface equal to 1,729,025 English, 
or 1,296,770 geographical, square miles." 

* Macgregor's " Commercial Statistics," vol. iii., p. 13. 
t Fresh stars have dawned since this was written. 



302 DECISIVE BATTLES 

We may add that the population of the states when they 
declared their independence was about two millions and a half ; 
it is now twenty-three millions. 

I have quoted Macgregor, not only on account of the clear 
and full view which he gives of the progress of America to 
the date when he wrote, but because his description may be 
contrasted with what the United States have become even 
since his book appeared. Only three years after the time when 
Macgregor thus wrote, the American president truly stated: 
• " Within less than four years the annexation of Texas to 
the Union has been consummated ; all conflicting title to the 
Oregon Territory, south of the forty-ninth degree of north 
latitude, adjusted; and New Mexico and Upper California 
have been acquired by treaty. The area of these several ter- 
ritories contains 1,193,061 square miles, or 763,559,040 acres; 
while the area of the remaining twenty-nine states, and the 
territory not yet organized into states east of the Rocky Moun- 
tains, contains 2,059,513 square miles, or 1,318,126,058 acres. 
These estimates show that the territories recently acquired, 
and over which our exclusive jurisdiction and dominion have 
been extended, constitute a country more than half as large 
as all that which was held by the United States before their 
acquisition. If Oregon be excluded from the estimate, there 
will still remain within the Hmits of Texas, New Mexico, and 
CaHfornia 851,598 square miles, or 545,012,720 acres, being 
an addition equal to more than one-third of all the territory 
owned by the United States before their acquisition, and, in- 
cluding Oregon, nearly as great an extent of territory as the 
whole of Europe, Russia only excepted. The Mississippi, so 
lately the frontier of our country, is now only its centre. With 
the addition of the late acquisitions, the United States are now 
estimated to be nearly as large as the whole of Europe. The 
extent of the sea-coast of Texas on the Gulf of Mexico is up- 
wards of 400 miles ; of the coast of Upper California, on the Pa- 
cific, of 970 miles, and of Oregon, including the Straits of Fuca, 
of 650 miles ; making the whole extent of sea-coast on the Pacific 
1,620 miles, and the whole extent on both the Pacific and the 
Gulf of Mexico 2,020 miles. The length of the coast on the 
Atlantic, from the northern limits of the United States, round 
the Capes of Florida to the Sabine on the eastern boundary 
of Texas, is estimated to be 3,100 miles, so that the addition 



BATTLE OF SARATOGA 303 

of sea-coast, including Oregon, is very nearly two-thirds as 
great as all we possessed before; and, excluding Oregon, is 
an addition of 1,370 miles, being nearly equal, to one-half of 
the extent of coast which we possessed before these acquisi- 
tions. We have now three great maritime fronts — on the At- 
lantic, the Gulf of Mexico, and the Pacific — making, in the 
whole, an extent of sea-coast exceeding 5,000 miles. This is 
the extent of the sea-coast of the United States, not including 
bays, sounds, and small irregularities of the main shore and 
of the sea islands. If these be included, the length of the 
shore-line of coast, as estimated by the superintendent of the 
Coast Survey in his report, would be 33,063 miles." 

The importance of the power of the United States being 
then firmly planted along the Pacific applies not only to the 
New World, but to the Old. Opposite to San Francisco, on 
the coast of that ocean, lie the wealthy but decrepit empires 
of China and Japan. Numerous groups of islets stud the 
larger part of the intervening sea, and form convenient step- 
ping-stones for the progress of commerce or ambition. The 
intercourse of traffic between these ancient Asiatic monarchies 
and the young Anglo-American republic must be rapid and 
extensive. Any attempt of the Chinese or Japanese rulers to 
check it will only accelerate an armed collision. The Ameri- 
can will either buy or force his way. Between such populations 
as that of China and Japan on the one side, and that of the 
United States on the other — the former haughty, formal, and 
insolent ; the latter bold, intrusive, and unscrupulous — causes 
of quarrel must sooner or later arise. The results of such a 
quarrel cannot be doubted. America will scarcely imitate the 
forbearance shown by England at the end of our late war with 
the Celestial Empire; and the conquests of China and Japan 
by the fleets and armies of the United States are events which 
many now living are likely to witness. Compared with the 
magnitude of such changes in the dominion of the Old World, 
the certain ascendency of the Anglo-Americans over Central 
and Southern America seems a matter of secondary impor- 
tance. Well may we repeat De Tocqueville's words, that the 
growing power of this commonwealth is " un fait entierement 
nouveau dans le monde, et dont I'imagination elle-meme ne 
saurait saisir la portee." 

An Englishman may look, and ought to look, on the grow- 



304 DECISIVE BATTLES 

ing grandeur of the Americans with no small degree of gen- 
erous sympathy and satisfaction. They, like ourselves, are 
members of the great Anglo-Saxon nation, " whose race and 
language are now overrunning the world from one end of it 
to the other." "^ And whatever differences of form of govern- 
ment may exist between us and them — whatever reminis- 
cences of the days when, though brethren, we strove together, 
may rankle in the minds of us, the defeated party, we should 
cherish the bonds of common nationality that still exist be- 
tween us. We should remember, as the Athenians remem- 
bered of the Spartans at a season of jealousy and temptation, 
that our race is one, being of the same blood, speaking the 
same language, having an essential resemblance in our insti- 
tutions and usages, and worshipping in the temples of the 
same God.f All this may and should be borne in mind. And 
yet an Englishman can hardly watch the progress of America 
without the regretful thought that America once was English, 
and that, but for the folly of our rulers, she might be English 
still. It is true that the commerce between the two countries 
has largely and beneficially increased, but this is no proof that 
the increase would not have been still greater had the states 
remained integral portions of the same great empire. By giv- 
ing a fair and just participation in political rights, these, '' the 
fairest possessions " of the British crown, might have been 
preserved to it. " This ancient and most noble monarchy " X 
would not have been dismembered; nor should we see that 
which ought to be the right arm of our strength, now menac- 
ing us in every political crisis as the most formidable rival of 
our commercial and maritime ascendency. 

The war which rent away the North American colonies from 
England is, of all subjects in history, the most painful for an 
Englishman to dwell on. It was commenced and carried on 
by the British ministry in iniquity and folly, and it was con- 
cluded in disaster and shame. But the contemplation of it 
cannot be evaded by the historian, however much it may be 
abhorred. Nor can any military event be said to have exer- 
cised more important influence on the future fortunes of man- 
kind than the complete defeat of Burgoyne's expedition in 

* Arnold. 

f Ebj/ ofiaifxSv T€ Kol 6u6y\a}<r<rov^ Kol &ecov iSpvfiard re Koivh KUi dvalatf ijded re 
d/xSTpoTra. — Herodotus^ viii., 144. 
t Lord Chatham. 



BATTLE OF SARATOGA 305 

1777; a defeat which rescued the revolted colonists from cer- 
tain subjection, and which, by inducing the courts of France 
and Spain to attack England in their behalf, insured the inde- 
pendence of the United States and the formation of that trans- 
Atlantic power which not only America, but both Europe and 
Asia, now see and feel. 

Still, in proceeding to describe this " decisive battle of the 
world," a very brief recapitulation of the earlier events of the 
war may be sufficient; nor shall I linger unnecessarily on a 
painful theme. 

The five northern colonies of Massachusetts, Connecticut, 
Rhode Island, New Hampshire, and Vermont, usually classed 
together as the New England colonies, were the strongholds 
of the insurrection against the mother country. The feeling 
of resistance was less vehement and general in the central 
settlement of New York, and still less so in Pennsylvania, 
Maryland, and the other colonies of the South, although every- 
where it was formidably strong. But it was among the de- 
scendants of the stern Puritans that the spirit of Cromwell and 
Vane breathed in all its fervor; it was from the New Eng- 
landers that the first armed opposition to the British crown 
had been offered ; and it was by them that the most stubborn 
determination to fight to the last, rather than waive a single 
right or privilege, had been displayed. In 1775 they had suc- 
ceeded in forcing the British troops to evacuate Boston ; and 
the events of 1776 had made New York (which the Royalists 
captured in that year) the principal basis of operations for the 
armies of the mother country. 

A glance at the map will show that the Hudson River, which 
falls into the Atlantic at New York, runs down from the north 
at the back of the New England States, forming an angle of 
about forty-five degrees with the line of the coast of the 
Atlantic, along which the New England States are situate. 
Northward of the Hudson we see a small chain of lakes com- 
municating with the Canadian frontier. It is necessary to 
attend closely to these geographical points in order to under- 
stand the plan of the operations which the English attempted 
in 1777, and which the battle of Saratoga defeated. 

The English had a considerable force in Canada, and in 
1776 had completely repulsed an attack which the Americans 
had made upon that province. The British ministry resolved 



3o6 DECISIVE BATTLES 

to avail themselves, in the next year, of the advantage which 
the occupation of Canada gave them, not merely for the pur- 
pose of defence, but for the purpose of striking a vigorous and 
crushing blow against the revolted colonies. With this view 
the army in Canada was largely re-enforced. Seven thousand 
veteran troops were sent out from England, with a corps of 
artillery abundantly supplied and led by select and experi- 
enced officers. Large quantities of military stores were also 
furnished for the equipment of the Canadian volunteers, who 
were expected to join the expedition. It was intended that 
the force thus collected should march southward by the line 
of the lakes, and thence along the banks of the Hudson River. 
The British army from New York (or a large detachment of 
it) was to make a simultaneous movement northward, up the 
line of the Hudson, and the two expeditions were to unite at 
Albany, a town on that river. By these operations all com- 
munication between the northern colonies and those of the 
centre and south would be cut off. An irresistible force would 
be concentrated, so as to crush all further opposition in New 
England; and when this was done, it was believed that the 
other colonies would speedily submit. The Americans had 
no troops in the field that seemed able to baffie these move- 
ments. Their principal army, under Washington, was occu- 
pied in watching over Pennsylvania and the South. At any 
rate, it was believed that, in order to oppose the plan intended 
for the new campaign, the insurgents must risk a pitched 
battle, in which the superiority of the Royalists, in numbers, 
in discipline, and in equipment, seemed to promise to the latter 
a crowning victory. Without question, the plan was ably 
formed ; and had the success of the execution been equal to 
the ingenuity of the design, the reconquest or submission of 
the thirteen United States must in all human probability have 
followed, and the independence which they proclaimed in 1776 
would have been extinguished before it existed a second year. 
No European power had as yet come forward to aid America. 
It is true that England was generally regarded with jealousy 
and ill-will, and was thought to have acquired, at the treaty 
of Paris, a preponderance of dominion which was perilous to 
the balance of power; but, though many were willing to 
wound, none had yet ventured to strike ; and America, if de- 
feated in 1777, would have been suffered to fall unaided. 



BATTLE OF SARATOGA 307 

Burgoyne had gained celebrity by some bold and dashing 
exploits in Portugal during the last war; he was personally 
as brave an officer as ever headed British troops ; he had con- 
siderable skill as a tactician ; and his general intellectual abili- 
ties and acquirements were of a high order. He had several 
very able and experienced officers under him, among whom 
were Major-General Phillips and Brigadier-General Fraser. 
His regular troops amounted, exclusively of the corps of ar- 
tillery, to about 7,200 men, rank and file. Nearly half of these 
were Germans. He had also an auxiliary force of from two 
to three thousand Canadians. He summoned the warriors of 
several tribes of the red Indians near the Western lakes to 
join his army. Much eloquence was poured forth both in 
America and in England in denouncing the use of these savage 
auxiliaries. Yet Burgoyne seems to have done no more than 
Montcalm, Wolfe, and other French, American, and English 
generals had done before him. But, in truth, the lawless 
ferocity of the Indians, their unskilfulness in regular action, 
and the utter impossibility of bringing them under any disci- 
pline made their services of little or no value in times of diffi' 
culty; while the indignation which their outrages inspired 
went far to rouse the whole population of the invaded districts 
into active hostilities against Burgoyne's force. 

Burgoyne assembled his troops and confederates near the 
River Bouquet, on the west side of Lake Champlain. He 
then, on the 21st of June, 1777, gave his red allies a war feast, 
and harangued them on the necessity of abstaining from their 
usual cruel practices against unarmed people and prisoners. 
At the same time he published a pompous manifesto to the 
Americans, in which he threatened the refractory with all the 
horrors of war, Indian as well as European. The army pro- 
ceeded by water to Crown Point, a fortification which the 
Americans held at the northern extremity of the inlet by which 
the water from Lake George is conveyed to Lake Champlain. 
He landed here without opposition; but the reduction of 
Ticonderoga, a fortification about twelve miles to the south 
of Crown Point, was a more serious matter, and was supposed 
to be the critical part of the expedition. Ticonderoga com- 
manded the passage along the lakes, and was considered to 
be the key to the route which Burgoyne wished to follow. 
The English had been repulsed in an attack on it in the war 



3o8 DECISIVE BATTLES 

with the French in 1758, with severe loss. But Burgoyne 
now invested it with great skill; and the American general, 
St. Clair, who had only an ill-equipped army of about 3,000 
men, evacuated it on the 5th of July. It seems evident that a 
different course would have caused the destruction or capture 
of his whole army, which, weak as it was, was the chief force 
then in the field for the protection of the New England States. 
When censured by some of his countrymen for abandoning 
Ticonderoga, St. Clair truly replied '' that he had lost a post, 
but saved a province." Burgoyne's troops pursued the re- 
tiring Americans, gained several advantages over them, and 
took a large part of their artillery and military stores. 

The loss of the British in these engagements was trifling. 
The army moved southward along Lake George to Skenes- 
borough, and thence, slowly and with great difficulty, across 
a broken country, full of creeks and marshes, and clogged by 
the enemy with felled trees and other obstacles, to Fort Ed- 
ward, on the Hudson River, the American troops continuing 
to retire before them. 

Burgoyne reached the left bank of the Hudson River on the 
30th of July. Hitherto he had overcome every difficulty which 
the enemy and the nature of the country had placed in his 
way. His army was in excellent order and in the highest 
spirits, and the peril of the expedition seemed over when they 
were once on the bank of the river which was to be the chan- 
nel of communication between them and the British army in 
the South. But their feelings, and those of the English nation 
in general, when their successes were announced, may best be 
learned from a contemporary writer. Burke, in the " Annual 
Register" for 1777, describes them thus: 

" Such was the rapid torrent of success, which swept every 
thing away before the Northern army in its onset. It is not 
to be wondered at if both officers and private men were highly 
elated with their good fortune, and deemed that and their prow- 
ess to be irresistible; if they regarded their enemy with the 
greatest contempt ; considered their own toils to be nearly at 
an end ; Albany to be already in their hands ; and the reduction 
of the northern provinces to be rather a matter of some time 
than an arduous task full of difficulty and danger. 

" At home the joy and exultation was extreme ; not only 
at court, but with all those who hoped or wished the unquali- 



BATTLE OF SARATOGA 309 

fied subjugation and unconditional submission of the colonies. 
The loss in reputation was greater to the Americans, and 
capable of more fatal consequences, than even that of ground, 
of posts, of artillery, or of men. All the contemptuous and 
most degrading charges which had been made by their ene- 
mies, of their wanting the resolution and abilities of men, even 
in their defence of whatever was dear to them, were now re- 
peated and believed. Those who still regarded them as men, 
and who had not yet lost all affection to them as brethren; 
who also retained hopes that a happy reconciliation upon con- 
stitutional principles, without sacrificing the dignity of the 
just authority of government on the one side, or a dereliction 
of the rights of freemen on the other, was not even now im- 
possible, notwithstanding their favorable dispositions in gen- 
eral, could not help feeling upon this occasion that the Ameri- 
cans sunk not a little in their estimation. It was not difficult 
to diffuse an opinion that the war, in effect, was over, and that 
any further resistance could serve only to render the terms of 
their submission the worse. Such were some of the immediate 
effects of the loss of those grand keys of North America — 
Ticonderoga and the lakes." 

The astonishment and alarm which these events produced 
among the Americans were naturally great ; but in the midst 
of their disasters none of the colonists showed any disposition 
to submit. The local governments of the New England States, 
as well as the Congress, acted with vigor and firmness in their 
efforts to repel the enemy. General Gates was sent to take 
the command of the army at Saratoga ; and Arnold, a favorite 
leader of the Americans, was despatched by Washington to 
act under him, with re-enforcements of troops and guns from 
the main American army. Burgoyne's employment of the 
Indians now produced the worst possible effects. Though he 
labored hard to check the atrocities which they were accus- 
tomed to commit, he could not prevent the occurrence of many 
barbarous outrages, repugnant both to the feelings of hu- 
manity and to the laws of civilized warfare. The American 
commanders took care that the reports of these excesses 
should be circulated far and wide, well knowing that they 
would make the stern New Englanders not droop, but rage. 
Such was their effect; and though, when each man looked 
upon his wife, his children, his sisters, or his aged parents, the 



3IO 



DECISIVE BATTLES 



thought of the merciless Indian " thirsting for the blood of 
man, woman, and child," of " the cannibal savage torturing, 
murdering, roasting, and eating the mangled victims of his 
barbarous battles," * might raise terror in the bravest breasts ; 
this very terror produced a directly contrary effect to causing 
submission to the royal army. It was seen that the few friends 
of the royal cause, as well as its enemies, were liable to be the 
victims of the indiscriminate rage of the savages ; f and thus 
" the inhabitants of the open and frontier countries had no 
choice of acting: they had no means of security left but by 
abandoning their habitations and taking up arms. Every man 
saw the necessity of becoming a temporary soldier, not only 
for his own security, but for the protection and defence of 
those connections which are dearer than life itself. Thus an 
army was poured forth by the woods, mountains, and marshes, 
which in this part were thickly sown with plantations and 
villages. The Americans recalled their courage, and, when 
their regular army seemed to be entirely wasted, the spirit of 
the country produced a much greater and more formidable 
force." X 

While resolute recruits, accustomed to the use of firearms, 
and all partially trained by service in the provincial militias, 
were thus flocking to the standard of Gates and Arnold at 
Saratoga, and while Burgoyne was engaged at Fort Edward 
in providing the means for the further advance of his army 
through the intricate and hostile country that still lay before 
him, two events occurred, in each of which the British sus- 
tained loss and the Americans obtained advantage, the moral 
effects of which were even more important than the immediate 
result of the encounters. When Burgoyne left Canada, Gen- 
eral St. Leger was detached from that province with a mixed 
force of about i,ooo men and some light field-pieces across 
Lake Ontario against Fort Stanwix, which the Americans 
held. After capturing this, he was to march along the Mo- 
hawk River to its confluence with the Hudson, between Sara- 
toga and Albany, where his force and that of Burgoyne's were 
to unite. But, after some successes, St. Leger was obliged to 
retreat, and to abandon his tents and large quantities of stores 

* Lord Chatham's speech on the employment of Indians in the war. 
t See, in the " Annual Register" for 1777, p. 117, the " Narrative of 
the Murder of Miss M'Crea, the daughter of an American Loyalist." 
t Burke. 



BATTLE OF SARATOGA 311 

to the garrison. At the very time that General Burgoyne 
heard of this disaster, he experienced one still more severe in 
the defeat of Colonel Baum, with a large detachment of Ger- 
man troops, at Bennington, whither Burgoyne had sent them 
for the purpose of capturing some magazines of provisions, 
of which the British army stood greatly in need. The Ameri- 
cans, augmented by continual accessions of strength, suc- 
ceeded, after many attacks, in breaking this corps, which fled 
into the woods, and left its commander mortally wounded on 
the field: they then marched against a force of five hundred 
grenadiers and light infantry, which was advancing to Colonel 
Baum's assistance under Lieutenant-Colonel Breyman, who, 
after a gallant resistance, was obliged to retreat on the main 
army. The British loss in these two actions exceeded six 
hundred men ; and a party of American loyalists, on their 
way to join the army, having attached themselves to Colonel 
Baum's corps, were destroyed with it. 

Notwithstanding these reverses, which added greatly to the 
spirit and numbers of the American forces, Burgoyne deter- 
mined to advance. It was impossible any longer to keep up 
his communications with Canada by way of the lakes, so as to 
supply his army on his southward march ; but having, by un- 
remitting exertions, collected provisions for thirty days, he 
crossed the Hudson by means of a bridge of rafts, and, march- 
ing a short distance along its western bank, he encamped on 
the 14th of September on the heights of Saratoga, about six- 
teen miles from Albany. The Americans had fallen back from 
Saratoga, and were now strongly posted near Stillwater, about 
half way between Saratoga and Albany, and showed a deter- 
mination to recede no further. 

Meanwhile Lord Howe, with the bulk of the British army 
that had lain at New York, had sailed away to the Delaware, 
and there commenced a campaign against Washington, in 
which the English general took Philadelphia, and gained other 
showy but unprofitable successes. But Sir Henry Clinton, a 
brave and skilful officer, was left with a considerable force at 
New York, and he undertook the task of moving up the Hud- 
json to co-operate with Burgoyne. Clinton was obliged for 
J this purpose to wait for re-enforcements which had been prom- 
ised from England, and these did not arrive till September. As 
30on as he received them, Clinton embarked about 3,000 of his 



312 DECISIVE BATTLES 

men on a flotilla, convoyed by some ships-of-war under Com- 
mander Hotham, and proceeded to force his way up the river. 

The country between Burgoyne's position at Saratoga and 
that of the Americans at Stillwater was rugged, and seamed 
with creeks and water-courses ; but, after great labor in mak- 
ing bridges and temporary causeways, the British army moved 
forward. About four miles from Saratoga, on the afternoon 
of the 19th of September, a sharp encounter took place be- 
tween part of the English right wing, under Burgoyne himself, 
and a strong body of the enemy, under Gates and Arnold. The 
conflict lasted till sunset. The British remained masters of the 
field ; but the loss on each side was nearly equal (from five to 
six hundred men) ; and the spirits of the Americans were 
greatly raised by having withstood the best regular troops of 
the English army. Burgoyne now halted again, and strength- 
ened his position by field-works and redoubts ; and the Ameri- 
cans also improved their defences. The two armies remained 
nearly within cannon-shot of each other for a considerable 
time, during which Burgoyne was anxiously looking for in- 
telligence of the promised expedition from New York, which, 
according to the original plan, ought by this time to have been 
approaching Albany from the south. At last a messenger from 
Clinton made his way, with great difficulty, to Burgoyne's 
camp, and brought the information that Clinton was on his 
way up the Hudson to attack the American forts which barred 
the passage up that river to Albany. Burgoyne, in reply, on 
the 30th of September, urged Clinton to attack the forts as 
speedily as possible, stating that the effect of such an attack, 
or even the semblance of it, would be to move the American 
army from its position before his own troops. By another mes- 
senger, who reached Clinton on the 5th of October, Burgoyne 
informed his brother general that he had lost his communica- 
tions with Canada, but had provisions which would last him 
till the 20th. Burgoyne described himself as strongly posted, 
and stated that, though the Americans in front of him were 
strongly posted also, he made no doubt of being able to force 
them and making his way to Albany; but that he doubted 
whether he could subsist there, as the country was drained of 
provisions. He wished Clinton to meet him there and to keep 
open a communication with New York. 

Burgoyne had overestimated his resources, and in the very 



BATTLE OF SARATOGA 313 

beginning of October found difficulty and distress pressing him 
hard. 

The Indians and Canadians now began to .desert him, 
while, on the other hand. Gates' army was continually re-en- 
forced by fresh bodies of the militia. An expeditionary force 
was detached by the Americans, which made a bold though 
unsuccessful attempt to retake Ticonderoga. And finding the 
number and spirit of the enemy to increase daily, and his own 
stores of provisions to diminish, Burgoyne determined on at- 
tacking the Americans in front of him, and, by dislodging them 
from their position, to gain the means of moving upon Albany, 
or, at least, of relieving his troops from the straitened position 
in which they were cooped up. 

Burgoyne's force was now reduced to less than 6,000 men. 
The right of his camp was on high ground a little to the west 
of the river; thence his intrenchments extended along the 
lower ground to the bank of the Hudson, their line being nearly 
at a right angle with the course of the stream. The lines were 
fortified with redoubts and field-works. On the extreme right 
a strong redoubt and entrenchments were thrown up. The 
numerical force of the Americans was now greater than the 
British, even in regular troops, and the numbers of the militia 
and volunteers which had joined Gates and Arnold were 
greater still. 

General Lincoln, with 2,000 New England troops, had 
reached the American camp on the 29th of September. Gates 
gave him the command of the right wing, and took in person 
the command of the left wing, which was composed of two 
brigades under Generals Poor and Learned, of Colonel Mor- 
gan's rifle corps, and part of the fresh New England militia. 
The whole of the American lines had been ably fortified under 
the direction of the celebrated Polish general, Kosciusko, who 
was now serving as a volunteer in Gates's army. The right of 
the American position — that is to say, the part of it nearest to 
the river — was too strong to be assailed wath any prospect of 
success, and Burgoyne therefore determined to endeavor to 
force their left. For this purpose he formed a column of 1,500 
regular troops, with two twelve-pounders, two howitzers, and 
six six-pounders. He headed this in person, having Generals 
Phillips, Riedesel, and Eraser under him. The enemy's force 
irnmediately in front of his lines was so strong that he dared not 



314 DECISIVE BATTLES 

weaken the troops who guarded them by detaching any more 
to strengthen his column of attack. 

It was on the 7th of October that Burgoyne led his column 
on to the attack ; and on the preceding day, the 6th, Clinton 
had successfully executed a brilliant enterprise against the two 
American forts which barred his progress up the Hudson. He 
had captured them both, with severe loss to the American 
forces opposed to him ; he had destroyed the fleet which the 
Americans had been forming on the Hudson, under the pro- 
tection of their forts ; and the upward river was laid open to his 
squadron. He was now only a hundred and fifty-six miles dis- 
tant from Burgoyne, and a detachment of 1,700 men actually 
advanced within forty miles of Albany. Unfortunately, Bur- 
goyne and Clinton were each ignorant of the other's move- 
ments ; but if Burgoyne had won his battle on the 7th, he must, 
on advancing, have soon learned the tidings of Clinton's suc- 
cess, and Clinton would have heard of his.\ A junction would 
soon have been made of the two victorious armies, and the 
great objects of the campaign might yet have been accom- 
plished. All depended on the fortune of the column with which 
Burgoyne, on the eventful 7th of October, 1777, advanced 
against the American position. There were brave men, both 
English and German, in its ranks ; and, in particular, it com- 
prised one of the best bodies of Grenadiers in the British ser- 
vice. 

.Burgoyne pushed forward some bodies of irregular troops to 
distract the enemy's attention, and led his column to within 
three-quarters of a mile from the left of Gates's camp, and then 
deployed his men into line. The grenadiers under Major Ack- 
land, and the artillery under Major Williams, were drawn up 
on the left; a corps of Germans under General Riedesel, and 
some British troops under General PhilHps were in the centre, 
and the English light infantry and the 24th Regiment under 
Lord Balcarres and General Eraser were on the right. But 
Gates did not wait to be attacked; and directly the British line 
was formed and began to advance, the American general, with 
admirable skill, caused General Poor's brigade of New York 
and New Hampshire troops, and part of General Learned's 
brigade, to make a sudden and vehement rush against its left, 
and at the same time sent Colonel Morgan, with his rifle corps 
and other troops, amounting to 1,500, to turn the right of the 



BATTLE OF SARATOGA 315 

English. The grenadiers under Ackland sustained the charge 
of superior numbers nobly. But Gates sent more Americans 
forward, and in a few minutes the action became general along 
the centre, so as to prevent the Germans from detaching any 
help to the grenadiers. Morgan, with his riflemen, was now 
pressing Lord Balcarres and General Fraser hard, and fresh 
masses of the enemy were observed advancing from their ex- 
treme left, with the evident intention of forcing the British right 
and cutting off its retreat. The English light infantry and the 
24th now fell back and formed an oblique second line, which 
enabled them to haffie this manoeuvre and also to succor their 
comrades in the left wing, the gallant grenadiers, who were 
overpowered by superior numbers and, but for this aid, must 
have been cut to pieces. 

The contest now was fiercely maintained on both sides. The 
English cannon were repeatedly taken and retaken; but when 
the grenadiers near them were forced back by the weight of 
superior numbers, one of the guns was permanently captured 
by the Americans, and turned upon the English. Major Will- 
iams and Major Ackland were both made prisoners, and in this 
part of the field the advantage of the Americans was decided. 
The British centre still held its ground; but now it was that 
the American general Arnold appeared upon the scene and did 
more for his countrymen than whole battalions could have ef- 
fected. Arnold, when the decisive engagement of the 7th of 
October commenced, had been deprived of his command by 
Gates, in consequence of a quarrel between them about the action 
of the 19th of September. He had listened for a short time in 
the American camp to the thunder of the battle, in which he had 
no military right to take part, either as commander or as com- 
batant. But his excited spirit could not long endure such a state 
of inaction. He called for his horse, a powerful brown charger, 
and, springing on it, galloped furiously to where the fight seemed 
to be the thickest. Gates saw him, and sent an aide-de-camp 
to recall him; but Arnold spurred far in advance, and placed 
himself at the head of three regiments which had formerly been 
under him, and which welcomed their old commander with joy- 
ous cheers. He led them instantly upon the British centre; 
and then, galloping along the American line, he issued orders 
for a renewed and a closer attack, which were obeyed with 
alacrity, Arnold himself setting the example of the most daring 



3i6 DECISIVE BATTLES 

personal bravery and charging more than once, sword in hand, 
into the Enghsh ranks. On the British side the officers did 
their duty nobly; but General Fraser was the most eminent of 
them all, restoring order wherever the line began to waver, and 
infusing fresh courage into his men by voice and example. 
Mounted on an iron-gray charger, and dressed in the full uni- 
form of a general officer, he was conspicuous to foes as well as 
to friends. The American Colonel Morgan thought that the 
fate of the battle rested on this gallant man's life, and, calling 
several of his best marksmen round him, pointed Fraser out, 
and said: "That officer is General Fraser; I admire him, but 
he must die. Our victory depends on it. Take your stations 
in that clump of bushes, and do your duty." Within five min- 
utes Fraser fell, mortally wounded, and was carried to the British 
camp by two grenadiers. Just previously to his being struck by 
the fatal bullet, one rifle-ball had cut the crupper of his saddle 
and another had passed through his horse's mane close behind 
the ears. His aide-de-camp had noticed this, and said: " It is 
evident that you are marked out for particular aim; would it 
not be prudent for you to retire from this place?" Fraser re- 
plied: " My duty forbids me to fly from danger "; and the next 
moment he fell. 

Burgoyne's whole force was soon compelled to retreat tow- 
ards their camp; the left and centre were in complete dis- 
order; but the Light Infantry and the 24th checked the fury 
of the assailants, and the remains of the column with great 
difficulty effected their return to their camp, leaving six of 
their cannons in the possession of the enemy, and great num- 
bers of killed and wounded on the field, and especially a large 
proportion of the artillerymen, who had stood to their guns 
until shot down or bayoneted beside them by the advancing 
Americans. 

Burgoyne's column had been defeated, but the action was 
not yet over. The English had scarcely entered the camp, 
when the Americans, pursuing their success, assaulted it in sev- 
eral places with remarkable impetuosity, rushing in upon the 
intrenchments through a severe fire of grape-shot and mus- 
ketry. Arnold especially, who on this day appeared mad- 
dened with the thirst of combat and carnage, urged on the 
attack against a part of the intrenchments which was occupied 
by the Light Infantry under Lord Balcarres!* But the Eng- 
* Botta's " American War," book viii. 



BATTLE OF SARATOGA 317 

lish received him with vigor and spirit. The struggle here was 
obstinate and sanguinary. At length, as it grew towards even- 
ing, Arnold having forced all obstacles, entered th^ works with 
some of the most fearless of his followers. But in this critical 
moment of glory and danger, he received a painful wound in 
the same leg which had already been injured at the assault on 
Quebec. To his bitter regret, he was obliged to be carried 
back. His party still continued the attack; but the English 
also continued their obstinate resistance, and at last night fell, 
and the assailants withdrew from this quarter of the British 
intrenchments. But in another part the attack had been more 
successful. A body of the Americans, under Colonel Brooke, 
forced their way in through a part of the intrenchments on 
the extreme right, which was defended by the Hessian reserve 
under Colonel Breyman. The Germans resisted well, and 
Breyman died in defence of his post, but the Americans made 
good the ground which they had won, and captured baggage, 
tents, artillery, and a store of ammunition, which they were 
greatly in need of. They had, by establishing themselves on 
this point, acquired the means of completely turning the right 
flank of the British, and gaining their rear. To prevent this 
calamity, Burgoyne effected during the night an entire 
change of position. With great skill, he removed his whole 
army to some heights near the river, a little northward of the 
former camp, and he there drew up his men, expecting to be 
attacked on the following day. But Gates was resolved not to 
risk the certain triumph which his success had already secured 
for him. He harassed the English with skirmishes, but at- 
tempted no regular attack. Meanwhile he detached bodies of 
troops on both sides of the Hudson to prevent the British from 
recrossing that river and to bar their retreat. When night fell, 
it became absolutely necessary for Burgoyne to retire again, 
and, accordingly, the troops were marched through a stormy 
and rainy night towards Saratoga, abandoning their sick and 
wounded, and the greater part of their baggage to the enemy. 

Before the rear-guard quitted the camp, the last sad honors 
were paid to the brave General Eraser, who expired on the day 
after the action. 

He had, almost with his last breath, expressed a wish to be 
buried in the redoubt which had formed the part of the British 
lines where he had been stationed, but which had now been 



3t8 decisive battles 

abandoned by the English, and was within full range of the 
cannon which the advancing Americans were rapidly placing 
in position to bear upon Burgoyne's force. Burgoyne resolved, 
nevertheless, to comply with the dying wish of his comrade; 
and the interment took place under circumstances the most 
affecting that have ever marked a soldier's funeral. Still more 
interesting is the narrative of Lady Ackland's passage from the 
British to the American camp, after the battle, to share the 
captivity and alleviate the sufferings of her husband, who had 
.been severely wounded and left in the enemy's power. The 
American historian Lossing has described both these touching 
episodes of the campaign in a spirit that does honor to the writer 
as well as to his subject. After narrating the death of General 
Fraser on the 8th of October, he says that " it was just at sun- 
set, on that calm October evening, that the corpse of General 
Fraser was carried up the hill to the place of burial within the 
* great redoubt.' It was attended only by the members of his 
military family and Mr. Brudenell, the chaplain; yet the eyes 
of hundreds of both armies followed the solemn procession, 
while the Americans, ignorant of its true character, kept up a 
constant cannonade upon the redoubt. The chaplain, unawed 
by the danger to which he was exposed, as the cannon-balls 
which struck the hill threw the loose soil over him, pronounced 
the impressive funeral service of the Church of England with 
an unfaltering voice. The growing darkness added solemnity 
to the scene. Suddenly the irregular firing ceased, and the 
solemn voice of a single cannon, at measured intervals, boomed 
along the valley, and awakened the responses of the hills. It 
was a minute-gun fired by the Americans in honor of the gallant 
dead. The moment information was given that the gathering 
at the redoubt was a funeral company, fulfilling, amid imminent 
perils, the last-breathed wishes of the noble Fraser, orders were 
issued to withhold the cannonade with balls and to render mili- 
tary homage to the fallen brave. 

'' The case of Major Ackland and his heroic wife presents 
kindred features. He belonged to the corps of grenadiers, and 
was an accomplished soldier. His wife accompanied him to 
Canada in 1776, and during the whole campaign of that year, 
and until his return to England after the surrender of Burgoyne, 
in the autumn of 1777, endured all the hardships, dangers, and 
privations of an active campaign in an enemy's country. At 



BATTLE OF SARATOGA 



319 



Chambly, on the Sorel, she attended him in illness, in a miser- 
able hut; and when he was wounded in the battle of Hubbard- 
ton, Vermont, she hastened to him at Skenesborough from Mon- 
treal, where she had been persuaded to remain, and resolved to 
follow the army thereafter. Just before crossing the Hudson, 
she and her husband came near losing their Hves in consequence 
of their tent accidentally taking fire. 

" During the terrible engagement of the 7th of October, she 
heard all the tumult and dreadful thunder of the battle in which 
her husband was engaged; and when, on the morning of the 
8th, the British fell back in confusion to Wilbur's Basin, she, 
with the other women, was obliged to take refuge among the 
dead and dying, for the tents were all struck, and hardly a shed 
was left standing. Her husband was wounded and a prisoner 
in the American camp. That gallant officer was shot through 
both legs. When Poor and Learned's troops assaulted the 
grenadiers and artillery on the British left, on the afternoon of 
the 7th, Wilkinson, Gates's adjutant-general, while pursuing the 
flying enemy when they abandoned their battery, heard a feeble 
voice exclaim, * Protect me, sir, against that boy.' He turned 
and saw a lad with a musket taking deliberate aim at a wounded 
British officer, lying in a corner of a worm fence. Wilkinson 
ordered the boy to desist, and discovered the wounded man to 
be Major Ackland. He had him conveyed to the quarters of 
General Poor (now the residence of Mr. Neilson) on the heights, 
where every attention was paid to his wants. 

*' When the intelligence that he was wounded and a prisoner 
reached his wife, she was greatly distressed, and, by the advice 
of her friend, Baron Riedesel, resolved to visit the American 
camp and implore the favor of a personal attendance upon her 
husband. On the 9th she sent a message to Burgoyne by Lord 
Petersham, his aide, asking permission to depart. * Though I 
was ready to believe,' says Burgoyne, ' that patience and forti- 
tude, in a supreme degree, were to be found, as well as every 
other virtue, under the most tender forms, I was astonished at 
this proposal. After so long an agitation of spirits, exhausted 
not only for want of rest but absolute want of food, drenched 
in rain for twelve hours together, that a woman should be 
capable of such an undertaking as delivering herself to an enemy, 
probably in the night, and uncertain of what hands she might 
fall into, appeared an effort above human nature. The assistance 



320 DECISIVE BATTLES 

I was enabled to give was small indeed. I had not even a cup 
of wine to offer her. All I could furnish to her was an open 
boat, and a few lines, written upon dirty wet paper, to General 
Gates, recommending her to his protection.' 

" The following is a copy of the note from Burgoyne to Gen- 
eral Gates : * Sir — Lady Harriet Ackland, a lady of the first 
distinction of family, rank, and personal virtues, is under such 
concern on account of Major Ackland, her husband, wounded 
and a prisoner in your hands, that I cannot refuse her request 
to commit her to your protection. Whatever general impro- 
priety there may be in persons in my situation and yours to 
solicit favors, I cannot see the uncommon perseverance in every 
female grace and the exaltation of character of this lady, and 
her very hard fortune, without testifying that your attentions 
to her will lay me under obligations. I am, sir, your obedient 
servant, J. Burgoyne.' 

" She set out in an open boat upon the Hudson, accompanied 
by Mr. Brudenell, the chaplain, Sarah Pollard her waiting-maid, 
and her husband's valet, who had been severely wounded while 
searching for his master upon the battle-field. It was about 
sunset when they started, and a violent storm of rain and wind, 
which had been increasing since morning, rendered the voyage 
tedious and perilous in the extreme. It was long after dark 
when they reached the American outposts; the sentinel heard 
their oars and hailed them. Lady Harriet returned the answer 
herself. The clear, silvery tones of a woman's voice amid the 
darkness filled the soldier on duty with superstitious fear, and 
he called a comrade to accompany him to the river bank. The 
errand of the voyagers was made known, but the faithful guard, 
apprehensive of treachery, would not allow them to land until 
they sent for Major Dearborn. They were invited by that of- 
ficer to his quarters, where every attention was paid to them, 
and Lady Harriet was comforted by the joyful tidings that her 
husband was safe. In the morning she experienced parental 
tenderness from General Gates, who sent her to her husband, 
at Poor's quarters, under a suitable escort. There she remained 
until he was removed to Albany." 

Burgoyne now took up his last position on the heights near 
Saratoga; and, hemmed in by the enemy, who refused any en- 
counter, and baffled in all his attempts at finding a path of 
escape, he there lingered until famine compelled him to capit- 



BATTLE OF SARATOGA 32 f 

ulate. The fortitude of the British army during this melancholy 
period has been justly eulogized by many native historians, but 
I prefer quoting the testimony of a foreign writer, as free from 
all possibility of partiality. Botta says: 

" It exceeds the power of words to describe the pitiable con- 
dition to which the British army was now reduced. The troops 
were worn down by a series of toil, privation, sickness, and des- 
perate fighting. They were abandoned by the Indians and Ca- 
nadians; and the effective force of the whole army was now 
diminished by repeated and heavy losses, which had principally 
fallen on the best soldiers and the most distinguished officers, 
from ten thousand combatants to less than, one-half that number. 
Of this remnant Httle more than three thousand were English. 

" In these circumstances, and thus weakened, they were in- 
vested by an army of four times their own number, whose posi- 
tion extended three parts of a circle round them; who refused 
to fight them, as knowing their weakness, and who, from the 
nature of the ground, could not be attacked in any part. In 
this helpless condition, obliged to be constantly under arms 
while the enemy's cannon played on every part of their camp 
and even the American rifle-balls whistled in many parts of the 
lines, the troops of Burgoyne retained their customary firm- 
ness; and, while sinking under a hard necessity, they showed 
themselves worthy of a better fate. They could not be re- 
proached with an action or a word which betrayed a want of 
temper or of fortitude." 

At length the 13th of October arrived, and as no prospect of 
assistance appeared, and the provisions were nearly exhausted, 
Burgoyne, by the unanimous advice of a council of war, sent 
a messenger to the American camp to treat of a convention. 

General Gates in the first instance demanded that the royal 
army should surrender prisoners of war. He also proposed 
that the British should ground their arms. Burgoyne replied, 
" This article is inadmissible in every extremity ; sooner than 
this army will consent to ground their arms in their encamp- 
ment, they will rush on the enemy, determined to take no quar- 
ter." After various messages, a convention for the surrender of 
the army was settled which provided that " the troops under 
General Burgoyne were to march out of their camp with the 
honors of war, and the artillery of the intrenchments, to the 
verge of the river, where the arms and artillery were to be left. 
21 



322 



DECISIVE BATTLES 



The arms to be piled by word of command from their own offi- 
cers. A free passage was to be granted to the army under 
Lieutenant-General Burgoyne to Great Britain, upon condi- 
tion of not serving again in North America during the present 
contest." 

The Articles of Capitulation were settled on the 15th of Oc- 
tober; and on that very evening a messenger arrived from 
Clinton with an account of his successes, and with the tidings 
that part of his force had penetrated as far as Esopus, within 
fifty miles of Burgoyne's camp. But it was too late. The pub- 
lic faith was pledged ; and the army was indeed too debilitated 
by fatigue and hunger to resist an attack, if made ; and Gates 
certainly would have made it, if the convention had been 
broken oflf. Accordingly, on the 17th, the Convention of Sara- 
toga was carried into effect. By this convention 5,790 men 
surrendered themselves as prisoners. The sick and wounded 
left in the camp when the British retreated to Saratoga, to- 
gether with the numbers of the British, German, and Canadian 
troops who were killed, wounded, or taken, and who had de- 
serted in the preceding part of the expedition, were reckoned 
to be 4,689. 

The British sick and wounded who had fallen into the hands 
of the Americans after the battle of the 7th were treated with 
exemplary humanity ; and when the Convention was executed. 
General Gates showed a noble delicacy of feeling, which 
deserves the highest degree of honor. Every circumstance 
was avoided which could give the appearance of triumph. The 
American troops remained within their lines until the British 
had piled their arms ; and when this was done, the vanquished 
officers and soldiers were received with friendly kindness by 
their victors, and their immediate wants were promptly and 
liberally supplied. Discussions and disputes afterwards arose 
as to some of the terms of the Convention, and the American 
Congress refused for a long time to carry into effect the article 
which provided for the return of Burgoyne's men to Europe ; 
but no blame was imputable to General Gates or his army, who 
showed themselves to be generous as they had proved them- 
selves to be brave. 

Gates, after the victory, immediately despatched Colonel 
Wilkinson to carry the happy tidings to Congress. On being 
introduced into the hall, he said: "The whole British army 



BATTLE OF SARATOGA 323 

has laid down its arms at Saratoga ; our own, full of vigor and 
courage, expect your orders. It is for your wisdom to decide 
where the country may still have need for their service." Hon- 
ors and rewards were liberally voted by the Congress to their 
conquering general and his men; and it would be difficult 
(says the Italian historian) to describe the transports of joy 
which the news of this event excited among the Americans. 
They began to flatter themselves with a still more happy future. 
No one any longer felt any doubt about their achieving their 
independence. All hoped, and with good reason, that a suc- 
cess of this importance would at length determine France, and 
the other European powers that waited for her example, to 
declare themselves in favor of America. *' There could no 
longer be any question respecting the future, since there was 
no longer the risk of espousing the cause of a people too feeble 
to defend themselves.""^ 

The truth of this was soon displayed in the conduct of 
France. When the news arrived at Paris of the capture of Ti- 
conderoga, and of the victorious march of Burgoyne towards 
Albany, events which seemed decisive in favor of the English, 
instructions had been immediately despatched to Nantes, and 
the other ports of the kingdom, that no American privateers 
should be suffered to enter them, except from indispensable 
necessity ; as to repair their vessels, to obtain provisions, or 
to escape the perils of the sea. The American commissioners at 
Paris, in their disgust and despair, had almost broken off all 
negotiations with the French government ; and they even en- 
deavored to open communications with the British ministry. 
But the British government, elated with the first successes of 
Burgoyne, refused to listen to any overtures for accommoda- 
tion. But when the news of Saratoga reached Paris the whole 
scene was changed. Franklin and his brother commissioners 
found all their difficulties with the French government vanish. 
The time seemed to have arrived for the house of Bourbon to 
take a full revenge for all its humiliations and losses in previous 
wars. In December a treaty was arranged, and formally signed 
in the February following, by which France acknowledged 
the Independent United States of America. This was, of course, 
tantamount to a declaration of war with England. Spain soon 
followed France; and, before long, Holland took the same 
* Botta, book ix. 



324 DECISIVE BATTLES 

course. Largely aided by French fleets and troops, the Ameri- 
cans vigorously maintained the war against the armies which 
England, in spite of her European foes, continued to send 
across the Atlantic. But the struggle was too unequal to be 
maintained by this country for many years ; and when the 
treaties of 1783 restored peace to the world, the independence 
of the United States was reluctantly recognized by their an- 
cient parent and recent enemy, England. 



Synopsis of European Events between the Defeat of Bur- 
GOYNE AT Saratoga, ^777^ and the Battle of Valmy, 
1792. 

1782. Rodney's victory over the Spanish fleet. Unsuccessful 
siege of Gibraltar by the Spaniards and French. 

1788. The States-General are convened in France; begin- 
ning of the French Revolution. 



Synopsis of Events in American History between the 
Declaration of Independence, a.d. 1776, and the Bat- 
tle of Gettysburg, a.d. 1863. 

Declaration of Independence of the American Colonies, July 

4, -^77^' 

Independence of the United States recognized by Great 
Britain by treaty signed at Paris, September 3, 1783. 

The same treaty ratified by Congress, January 4, 1784. 

Second war between the United States and Great Britain 
ends with the Treaty of Ghent, which is ratified by Congress, 
February 17, 181 5. 

Henry Clay's " Missouri Compromise," to effect a modus 
Vivendi between the slaveholding states and those opposed to 
slavery, February, 1820. 

Treaty of peace closing the war between the United States 
and Mexico, ratified, May 19, 1848. 

John Brown's raid on Harper's Ferry, Virginia, October 16, 
1859. 

Abraham Lincoln, Republican candidate, elected President 
of the United States in succession to James Buchanan, No- 
vember 6, i860. 



I 



CHAPTER XIV. 

THE BATTLE OF VALMY, A.D. 1792. 

" Purpurei metuunt tyranni 

Injurioso ne pede proruas 
Stantem coluninam : neu populus frequens 
Ad arma cessantes ad arma 
Concitet, imperiumque frangat," 

— HoRAT., Od. i., 35. 
" A little fire is quickly trodden out, 
Which, being suffered, rivers cannot quench." 

— Shakespeare. 

A FEW miles distant from the little town of St. Mene- 
hould, in the northeast of France, are the village and 
hill of Valmy, and near the crest of that hill a simple 
monument points out the burial-place of the heart of a general 
of the French republic and a marshal of the French empire. 

The elder Kellermann (father of the distinguished officer of 
that name, whose cavalry charge decided the battle of Maren- 
go) held high commands in the French armies throughout the 
wars of the Convention, the Directory, the Consulate, and the 
Empire. He survived those wars, and the empire itself, dying 
in extreme old age in 1820. The last wish of the veteran on his 
death-bed was that his heart should be deposited in the battle- 
field of Valmy, there to repose among the remains of his old 
companions in arms who had fallen at his side on that spot 
twenty-eight years before, on the memorable day when they 
won the primal victory of Revolutionary France, and prevented 
the armies of Brunswick and the emigrant bands of Conde 
from marching on defenceless Paris and destroying the im- 
mature democracy in its cradle. 

The Duke of Valmy (for Kellermann, when made one of 
Napoleon's military peers in 1802, took his title from this same 
battle-field) had participated, during his long and active career, 
in the gaining of many a victory far more immediately dazzling 

325 



326 DECISIVE BATTLES 

than the one the remembrance of which he thus cherished. He 
had been present at many a scene of carnage, where blood 
flowed in deluges, compared with which the libations of slaugh- 
ter poured out at Valmy would have seemed scant and insig- 
nificant. But he rightly estimated the paramount importance 
of the battle with which he thus wished his appellation while 
living, and his memory after his death, to be identified. The 
successful resistance which the raw Carmagnole levies and the 
disorganized relics of the old monarchy's army then opposed to 
the combined hosts and chosen leaders of Prussia, Austria, and 
the French refugee noblesse, determined at once and forever 
the belHgerent character of the revolution. The raw artisans 
and tradesmen, the clumsy burghers, the base mechanics, and 
low peasant-churls, as it had been the fashion to term the mid- 
dle and lower classes in France, found that they could face 
cannon-balls, pull triggers, and cross bayonets without having 
been drilled into military machines, and without being officered 
by scions of noble houses. They awoke to the consciousness 
of their own instinctive soldiership. They at once acquired 
confidence in themselves and in each other; and that confi- 
dence soon grew into a spirit of unbounded audacity and am- 
bition. " From the cannonade of Valmy may be dated the 
commencement of that career of victory which carried their 
armies to Vienna and the Kremlin."* 

One of the gravest reflections that arises from the contem- 
plation of the civil restlessness and military enthusiasm which 
the close of the last century saw nationalized in France, is the 
consideration that these disturbing influences have become 
perpetual. No settled system of government, that shall en- 
dure from generation to generation, that shall be proof against 
corruption and popular violence, seems capable of taking root 
among the French. And every revolutionary movement in 
Paris thrills throughout the rest of the world. Even the suc- 
cesses which the powers allied against France gained in 1814 
and 1815, important as they were, could not annul the effects 
of the preceding twenty-three years of general convulsion and 
war. 

In 1830, the dynasty which foreign bayonets had imposed 
on France was shaken off, and men trembled at the expected 
outbreak of French anarchy and the dreaded inroads of French 

* Alison. 



THE BATTLE OF VALMY 327 

ambition. They " looked forward with harassing anxiety to 
a period of destruction similar to that which the Roman world 
experienced about the middle of the third century of our era."* 
Louis Philippe cajoled Revolution, and then strove with seem- 
ing success to stifle it. But, in spite of Fieschi laws, in spite of 
the dazzle of Algerian razzias and Pyrenee-effacing marriages, 
in spite of hundreds of armed forts, and hundreds of thousands 
of coercing troops, Revolution lived, and struggled to get free. 
The old Titan spirit heaved restlessly beneath " the monarchy 
based on republican institutions." At last, three years ago, the 
whole fabric of kingcraft was at once rent and scattered to the 
winds by the uprising of the Parisian democracy ; and insur- 
rections, barricades, and dethronements, the downfalls of coro- 
nets and crowns, the armed collisions of parties, systems, and 
populations, became the commonplaces of recent European 
history. 

France now calls herself a repubHc. She first assumed that 
title on the 20th of September, 1792, on the very day on which 
the battle of Valmy was fought and won. To that battle the 
democratic spirit which in 1848, as well as in 1792, proclaimed 
the Republic in Paris, owed its preservation, and it is thence 
that the imperishable activity of its principles may be dated. 

Far different seemed the prospects of democracy in Europe 
on the eve of that battle, and far different would have been 
the present position and influence of the French nation, if 
Brunswick's columns had charged with more boldness, or the 
lines of Dumouriez resisted with less firmness. When France, 
in 1792, declared war with the great powers of Europe, she was 
far from possessing that splendid military organization which 
the experience of a few revolutionary campaigns taught her 
to assume, and which she has never abandoned. The army 
of the old monarchy had, during the latter part of the reign of 
Louis XV., sunk into gradual decay, both in numerical force 
and in efficiency of equipment and spirit. The laurels gained 
by the auxiliary regiments which Louis XVL sent to the 
American war, did but little to restore the general tone of the 
army. The insubordination and license which the revolt of the 
French guards, and the participation of other troops in many 
of the first excesses of the Revolution, introduced among the 

* See Niebuhr's Preface to the second volume of the History of 
Rome, written in October, 1830. 



328 DECISIVE BATTLES 

soldiery, were soon rapidly disseminated through all the ranks. 
Under the Legislative Assembly every complaint of the soldier 
against his officer, however frivolous or ill-founded, was lis- 
tened to with eagerness, and investigated with partiality, on the 
principles of liberty and equality. Discipline accordingly be- 
came more and more relaxed ; and the dissolution of several 
of the old corps, under the pretext of their being tainted with 
an aristocratic feeling, aggravated the confusion and ineffi- 
ciency of the war department. Many of the most effective regi- 
ments during the last period of the monarchy had consisted 
of foreigners. These had either been slaughtered in defence 
of the throne against insurrections, like the Swiss, or had been 
disbanded, and had crossed the frontier to recruit the forces 
which were assembled for the invasion of France. Above all, 
the emigration of the noblesse had stripped the French army 
of nearly all its officers of high rank, and of the greatest portion 
of its subalterns. Above twelve thousand of the high-born 
youth of France, who had been trained to regard military com- 
mand as their exclusive patrimony, and to whom the nation 
had been accustomed to look up as its natural guides and 
champions in the storm of war, were now marshalled beneath 
the banner of Conde and the other emigrant princes for the 
overthrow of the French armies and the reduction of the 
French capital. Their successors in the French regiments and 
brigades had as yet acquired neither skill nor experience ; they 
possessed neither self-reliance, nor the respect of the men who 
were under them. 

Such was the state of the wrecks of the old army ; but the 
bulk of the forces with which France began the war consisted 
of raw insurrectionary levies, which were even less to be de- 
pended on. The Carmagnoles, as the revolutionary volunteers 
were called, flocked, indeed, readily to the frontier from every 
department when the war was proclaimed, and the fierce lead- 
ers of the Jacobins shouted that the country was in danger. 
They were full of zeal and courage, " heated and excited by the 
scenes of the Revolution, and inflamed by the florid eloquence, 
the songs, dances, and signal-words with which it had been 
celebrated."* But they were utterly undisciplined, and turbu- 
lently impatient of superior authority or systematic control. 
Many ruffians, also, who were sullied with participation in the 
* Scott, " Life of Napoleon," vol. i., c. viii. 



THE BATTLE OF VALMY 



329 



most sanguinary horrors of Paris, joined the camps, and were 
pre-eminent alike for misconduct before the enemy and for 
savage insubordination against their own officers. ^ On one oc- 
casion during the campaign of Valmy, eight battahons of 
federates, intoxicated with massacre and sedition, joined the 
forces under Dumouriez, and soon threatened to uproot all dis- 
cipline, saying openly that the ancient officers were traitors, 
and that it was necessary to purge the army, as they had Paris, 
of its aristocrats. Dumouriez posted these battalions apart 
from the others, placed a strong force of cavalry behind them, 
and two pieces of cannon on their flank. Then, affecting to 
review them, he halted at the head of the line, surrounded by 
all his staff, and an escort of a hundred hussars. " Fellows," 
said he, " for I will not call you either citizens or soldiers, you 
see before you this artillery, behind you this cavalry ; you are 
stained with crimes, and I do not tolerate here assassins or 
executioners. I know that there are scoundrels among you 
charged to excite you to crime. Drive them from among you, 
or denounce them to me, for I shall hold you responsible for 
their conduct." * 

One of our recent historians of the Revolution, who nar- 
rates this incident,! thus apostrophizes the French general: 

" Patience, O Dumouriez ! this uncertain heap of shriekers, 
mutineers, were they once drilled and inured, will become a 
phalanxed mass of fighters; and wheel and whirl to order 
swiftly, like the wind or the whirlwind; tanned mustachio- 
figures, often barefoot, even bare-backed, with sinews of iron, 
who require only bread and gunpowder ; very sons of fire, the 
adroitest, hastiest, hottest ever seen, perhaps, since Attila's 
time." 

Such phalanxed masses of fighters did the Carmagnoles ulti- 
mately become ; but France ran a fearful risk in being obliged 
to rely on them when the process of their transmutation had 
barely commenced. 

The first events, indeed, of the war were disastrous and dis- 
graceful to France, even beyond what might have been ex- 
pected from the chaotic state in which it found her armies as 
well as her government. In the hopes of profiting by the un- 
prepared state of Austria, then the mistress of the Netherlands, 
the French opened the campaign of 1792 by an invasion of 
* Lamartine. t Carlyle. 



330 DECISIVE BATTLES 

Flanders, with forces whose muster-rolls showed a numerical 
overwhelming superiority to the enemy, and seemed to promise 
a speedy conquest of that old battle-field of Europe. But the 
first flash of an Austrian sabre, or the first sound of an Austrian 
gun, was enough to discomfit the French. Their first corps, 
four thousand strong, that advanced from Lille across the fron- 
tier, came suddenly upon a far inferior detachment of the Aus- 
trian garrison of Tournay. Not a shot was fired, nor a bayonet 
levelled. With one simultaneous cry of panic, the French broke 
and ran headlong back to Lille, where they completed the 
specimen of insubordination which they had given in the field 
by murdering their general and several of their chief officers. 
On the same day, another division under Biron, mustering ten 
thousand sabres and bayonets, saw a few Austrian skirmishers 
reconnoitring their position. The French advanced posts 
had scarcely given and received a volley, and only a few balls 
from the enemy's field-pieces had fallen among the lines, when 
two regiments of French dragoons raised the cry " We are be- 
trayed," galloped off, and were followed in disgraceful rout 
by the rest of the whole army. Similar panics, or repulses al- 
most equally discreditable, occurred whenever Rochambeau, 
or Liickner, or Lafayette, the earliest French generals in the 
war, brought their troops into the presence of the enemy. 

Meanwhile the allied sovereigps had gradually collected on 
the Rhine a veteran and finely-disciplined army for the inva- 
sion of France, which for numbers, equipment, and martial 
renown, both of generals and men, was equal to any that Ger- 
many had ever sent forth to conquer. Their design was to 
strike boldly and decisively at the heart of France, and, pene- 
trating the country through the Ardennes, to proceed by Cha- 
lons upon Paris. The obstacles that lay in their way seemed 
insignificant. The disorder and imbecility of the French armies 
had been even augmented by the forced flight of Lafayette 
and a sudden change of generals. The only troops posted on 
or near the track by which the allies were about to advance 
were the 23,000 men at Sedan, whom Lafayette had com- 
manded, and a corps of 20,000 near Metz, the command of 
which had just been transferred from Liickner to Kellermann. 
There were only three fortresses which it was necessary for 
the allies to capture or mask — Sedan, Longwy, and Verdun. 
The defences and stores of all these three were known to be 



THE BATTLE OF VALMY 331 

wretchedly dismantled and insufficient; and when once these 
feeble barriers were overcome and Chalons reached, a fertile 
and unprotected country seemed to invite the invaders to that 
" military promenade to Paris " which they gayly talked of 
accomplishing. 

At the end of July, the allied army, having fully completed 
all preparations for the campaign, broke up from its canton- 
ments, and, marching from Luxembourg upon Longwy, 
crossed the French frontier. Sixty thousand Prussians, trained 
in the schools, and many of them under the eye of the Great 
Frederick, heirs of the glories of the Seven Years' War, and uni- 
versally esteemed the best troops in Europe, marched in one 
column against the central point of attack. Forty-five thou- 
sand Austrians, the greater part of whom were picked troops, 
and had served in the recent Turkish war, supplied two formi- 
dable corps that supported the flanks of the Prussians. There 
was also a powerful body of Hessians ; and leagued with the 
Germans against the Parisian democracy came 15,000 of the 
noblest and the bravest among the sons of France. In these 
corps of emigrants, many of the highest born of the French 
nobility, scions of houses whose chivalric trophies had for 
centuries filled Europe with renown, served as rank and file. 
They looked on the road to Paris as the path which they were 
to carve out by their swords to victory, to honor, to the rescue 
of their king, to reunion with their families, to the recovery of 
their patrimony, and to the restoration of their order.* 

Over this imposing army the allied sovereigns placed as 
generalissimo the Duke of Brunswick, one of the minor reign- 
ing princes of Germany, a statesman of no mean capacity, and 
who had acquired in the Seven Years' War a military reputa- 
tion second only to that of the Great Frederick himself. He had 
been deputed a few years before to quell the popular move- 
ments which then took place in Holland, and he had put down 
the attempted revolution in that country with a promptitude 
which appeared to augur equal success to the army that now 
marched under his orders on a similar mission into France. 

Moving majestically forward, with leisurely deliberation, 

that seemed to show the consciousness of superior strength, 

and a steady purpose of doing their work thoroughly, the allies 

appeared before Longwy on the 20th of August, and the dispir- 

* See Scott, " Life of Napoleon," vol. i., c. xi. 



332 



DECISIVE BATTLES 



ited and despondent garrison opened the gates of that fortress 
to them after the first shower of bombs. On the 2d of Septem- 
ber, the still more important stronghold of Verdun capitulated 
after scarcely the shadow of resistance. 

Brunswick's superior force was now interposed between 
Kellermann's troops on the left and the other French army near 
Sedan, which Lafayette's flight had, for the time, left destitute 
of a commander. It was in the power of the German general, 
by striking with an overwhelming mass to the right and left, 
to crush in succession each of these weak armies, and the allies 
might then have marched irresistible and unresisted upon 
Paris. But at this crisis Dumouriez, the new commander-in- 
chief of the French, arrived at the camp near Sedan, and com- 
menced a series of movements by which he reunited the dis- 
persed and disorganized forces of his country, checked the 
Prussian columns at the very moment when the last obstacles 
to their triumph seemed to have given way, and finally rolled 
back the tide of invasion far across the enemy's frontier. 

The French fortresses had fallen; but nature herself still 
offered to brave and vigorous defenders of the land the means 
of opposing a barrier to the progress of the allies. A ridge of 
broken ground, called the Argonne, extends from the vicinity 
of Sedan towards the southwest for about fifteen or sixteen 
leagues. The country of L' Argonne has now been cleared 
and drained ; but in 1792 it was thickly wooded, and the lower 
portions of its unequal surface were filled with rivulets and 
marshes. It thus presented a natural barrier of from four to 
five leagues broad which was absolutely impenetrable to an 
army, except by a few defiles, such as an inferior force might 
easily fortify and defend. Dumouriez succeeded in marching 
his army down from Sedan behind the Argonne, and in occupy- 
ing its passes, while the Prussians still lingered on the north- 
eastern side of the forest line. Ordering Kellermann to wheel 
round from Metz to St. Menehould and the re-enforcements 
from the interior and the extreme north also to concentrate at 
that spot, Dumouriez trusted to assemble a powerful force in 
the rear of the southwest extremity of the Argonne, while with 
the twenty-five thousand men under his immediate command 
he held the enemy at bay before the passes, or forced him to a 
long circumvolution round one extremity of the forest ridge, 
during which, favorable opportunities of assailing his flank 



THE BATTLE OF VALMY 



333 



were almost certain to occur. Dumouriez fortified the principal 
defiles, and boasted of the Thermopylae which he had found for 
the invaders ; but the simile was nearly rendered^ fatally com- 
plete for the defending force. A pass, which was thought of 
inferior importance, had been but slightly manned, and an 
Austrian corps, under Clairfayt, forced it after some sharp 
fighting. Dumouriez with great difficulty saved himself from 
being enveloped and destroyed by the hostile columns that now 
pushed through the forest. But instead of despairing at the 
failure of his plans, and falling back into the interior, to be 
completely severed from Kellermann's army, to be hunted as 
a fugitive under the walls of Paris by the victorious Germans, 
and to lose all chance of ever rallying his dispirited troops, he 
resolved to cling to the difficult country in which the armies 
still were grouped, to force a junction with Kellermann, and so 
to place himself at the head of a force which the invaders would 
not dare to disregard, and by which he might drag them back 
from the advance on Paris, which he had not been able to bar. 
Accordingly, by a rapid movement to the south, during which, 
in his own words, " France was within a hair's breadth of de- 
struction," and after with difficulty checking several panics of 
his troops, in which they ran by thousands at the sight of a few 
Prussian hussars, Dumouriez succeeded in establishing his 
head-quarters in a strong position at St. Menehould, protected 
by the marshes and shallows of the rivers Aisne and Aube, be- 
yond which, to the northwest, rose a firm and elevated plateau, 
called Dampierre's camp, admirably situated for commanding 
the road by Chalons to Paris, and where he intended to post 
Kellermann's army so soon as it came up.* 

The news of the retreat of Dumouriez from the Argonne 
passes, and of the panic flight of some divisions of his troops, 
spread rapidly throughout the country, and Kellermann, who 
believed that his comrade's army had been annihilated, and 
feared to fall among the victorious masses of the Prussians, 
had halted on his march from Metz when almost close to St. 
Menehould. He had actually commenced a retrograde move- 
ment, when couriers from his commander-in-chief checked him 
from that fatal course ; and then continuing to wheel round the 

* Some late writers represent that Brunswick did not wish to crush 
Dumouriez. There is no sufficient authority for this insinuation, which 
seems to have been first prompted by a desire to soothe the wounded 
military pride of the Prussians. 



334 DECISIVE BATTLES 

rear and left flank of the troops at St. Menehould, Kellerman, 
with twenty thousand of the army of Metz, and some thousands 
of volunteers, who had joined him in the march, made his ap- 
pearance to the west of Dumouriez on the very evening when 
Westerman and Thouvenot, two of the staff-officers of Du- 
mouriez, galloped in with the tidings that Brunswick's army 
had come through the upper passes of the Argonne in full force, 
and was deploying on the heights of La Lune, a chain of emi- 
nences that stretch obliquely from southwest to northeast, op- 
posite the high ground which Dumouriez held, and also op- 
posite but at a shorter distance from the position which Kel- 
lermann was designed to occupy. 

The allies were now, in fact, nearer to Paris than were the 
French troops themselves; but, as Dumouriez had foreseen, 
Brunswick deemed it unsafe to march upon the capital with 
so large a hostile force left in his rear between his advancing 
columns and his base of operations. The young King of Prus- 
sia, who was in the allied camp, and the emigrant princes, 
eagerly advocated an instant attack upon the nearest French 
general. Kellermann had laid himself unnecessarily open, by 
advancing beyond Dampierre's camp, which Dumouriez had 
designed for him, and moving forward across the Aube to the 
plateau of Valmy, a post inferior in strength and space to that 
which he had left, and which brought him close upon the Prus- 
sian lines, leaving him separated by a dangerous interval from 
the troops under Dumouriez himself. It seemed easy for the 
Prussian army to overwhelm him while thus isolated, and then 
they might surround and crush Dumouriez at their leisure. 

Accordingly, the right wing of the allied army moved for- 
ward in the gray of the morning of the 20th of September to 
gain Kellermann's left flank and rear, and cut him of¥ from re- 
treat upon Chalons, while the rest of the army, moving from 
the heights of La Lune, which here converge semi-circularly 
round the plateau of Valmy, were to assail his position in front, 
and interpose between him and Dumouriez. An unexpected 
collision between some of the advanced cavalry on each side 
in the low ground warned Kellermann of the enemy's approach. 
Dumouriez had not been unobservant of the danger of his com- 
rade, thus isolated and involved, and he had ordered up troops 
to support Kellermann on either flank in the event of his being 
attacked. These troops, however, moved forward slowly ; and 



THE BATTLE OF VALMY 335 

Kellermann's army ranged on the plateau of Valmy " projected 
like a cape into the midst of the lines of the Prussian bayo- 
nets."* A thick autumnal mist floated in waves of vapor over 
the plains and ravines that lay between the two armies, leaving 
only the crests and peaks of the hills glittering in the early 
light. About ten o'clock the fog began to clear off, and then 
the French from their promontory saw emerging from the white 
wreaths of mist, and glittering in the sunshine, the countless 
Prussian cavalry, which were to envelop them as in a net if 
once driven from their position, the solid columns of the in- 
fantry, that moved forward as if animated by a single will, the 
bristling batteries of the artillery, and the glancing clouds of 
the Austrian light troops, fresh from their contests with the 
Spahis of the east. 

The best and bravest of the French must have beheld this 
spectacle with secret apprehension and awe. However bold 
and resolute a man may be in the discharge of duty, it is an 
anxious and fearful thing to be called on to encounter danger 
among comrades of whose steadiness you can fell no certainty. 
Each soldier of Kellermann's army must have remembered the 
series of panic routs which had hitherto invariably taken place 
on the French side during the war, and must have cast restless 
glances to the right and left, to see is any symptoms of waver- 
ing began to show themselves, and to calculate how long it was 
likely to be before a general rush of his comrades to the rear 
would either hurry him off with involuntary disgrace, or leave 
him alone and helpless to be cut down by assailing multitudes. 

On that very morning, and at the self-same hour in which 
the allied forces and the emigrants began to descend from La 
Lune at the attack of Valmy, and while the cannonade was 
opening between the Prussian and Revolutionary batteries, 
the debate in the National Convention at Paris commenced on 
the proposal to proclaim France a republic. 

The old monarchy had little chance of support in the hall of 
the Convention ; but if its more effective advocates at Valmy 
had triumphed, there were yet the elements existing in France 
for an effective revival of the better part of the ancient institu- 
tions, and for substituting Reform for Revolution. Only a 
few weeks before, numerously signed addresses from the mid- 

* See Lamartine, Hist. Girond., Hvre xvii. I have drawn much of 
the ensuing description from him. 



33^ DECISIVE BATTLES 

die classes in Paris, Rouen, and other large cities had been 
presented to the king expressive of their horror of the anar- 
chists, and their readiness to uphold the rights of the crown, to- 
gether with the liberties of the subject. And an armed resist- 
ance to the authority of the Convention, and in favor of the 
king, was in reality at this time being actively organized in La 
Vendee and Brittany, the importance of which may be esti- 
mated from the formidable opposition which" the Royalists of 
these provinces made to the Republican party at a later period, 
and under much more, disadvantageous circumstances. It is 
a fact peculiarly illustrative of the importance of the battle of 
Valmy, that " during the summer of 1792 the gentlemen of 
Brittany entered into an extensive association for the purpose 
of rescuing the country from the oppressive yoke which had 
been imposed by the Parisian demagogues. At the head of the 
whole was the Marquis de la Rouarie, one of those remarkable 
men who rise into eminence during the stormy days of a 
revolution, from conscious ability to direct its current. Ardent, 
impetuous, and enthusiastic, he was first distinguished in the 
American war, when the intrepidity of his conduct attracted 
the admiration of the republican troops, and the same qualities 
rendered him at first an ardent supporter of the Revolution in 
France ; but when the atrocities of the people began, he es- 
poused with equal warmth the opposite side, and used the 
utmost efforts to rouse the noblesse of Brittany against the 
plebeian yoke which had been imposed upon them by the 
National Assembly. He submitted his plan to the Count 
d'Artois, and had organized one so extensive as would have 
proved extremely formidable to the Convention, if the retreat 
of the Duke of Brunswick, in September, 1792, had not damped 
the ardor of the whole of the west of France, then ready to 
break out into insurrection."* 

And it was not only among the zealots of the old monarchy 
that the cause of the king would then have found friends. The 
ineffable atrocities of the September massacres had just oc- 
curred, and the reaction produced by them among thousands 
who had previously been active on the ultra-democratic side 
was fresh and powerful. The nobility had not yet been made 
utter aliens in the eyes of the nation by long expatriation and 
civil war. There was not yet a generation of youth educated 
* Alison, vol. iii., p. 323. 



THE BATTLE OF VALMY 



337 



in revolutionary principles, and knowing no worship save that 
of miHtary glory. Louis XVI. was just and humane, and 
deeply sensible of the necessity of a gradual extens^ion of polit- 
ical rights among all classes of his subjects. The Bourbon 
throne, if rescued in 1792, would have had the chances of sta- 
bility such as did not exist for it in 1814, and seem never Hkely 
to be found again in France. 

Serving under Kellermann on that day was one who experi- 
enced, perhaps the most deeply of all men, the changes for 
good and for evil which the French Revolution has produced. 
He who, in his second exile, bore the name of the Count de 
Neuilly in this country, and who lately was Louis Philippe, 
king of the French, figured in the French lines at Valmy as a 
young and gallant officer, cool and sagacious beyond his years, 
and trusted accordingly by Kellermann and Dumouriez with 
an important station in the national army. The Due de 
Chartres (the title he then bore) commanded the French right, 
General Valence was on the left, and Kellerman himself took 
his post in the centre, which was the strength and key of his 
position. 

Besides these celebrated men who were in the French army, 
and besides the King of Prussia, the Duke of Brunswick, and 
other men of rank and power who were in the lines of the 
allies, there was an individual present at the battle of Valmy, 
of little political note, but who has exercised, and exercises, 
a greater influence over the human mind, and whose fame is 
more widely spread than that of either duke, or general, or 
king. This was the German poet Goethe, then in early youth, 
and who had, out of curiosity, accompanied the allied army on 
its march into France as a mere spectator. He has given us 
a curious record of the sensations which he experienced dur- 
ing the cannonade. It must be remembered that many thou- 
sands in the French ranks then, like Goethe, felt the " cannon 
fever " for the first time. The German poet says :* 

" I had heard so much of the cannon fever, that I wanted 
to know what kind of thing it was. Ennui, and a spirit which 
every kind of danger excites to daring, nay, even to rashness, 
induced me to ride up quite coolly to the outwork of La Lune. 
This was again occupied by our people ; but it presented the 
wildest aspect. The roofs were shot to pieces, the corn-shocks 

* Goethe's " Campaign in France in 1792," Farie's translation, p. 77, 
22 



33S DECISIVE BATTLES 

scattered about, the bodies of men mortally wounded stretched 
upon them, here and there, and occasionally a spent cannon-ball 
fell and rattled among the ruins of the tile roofs. 

" Quite alone, and left to myself, I rode away on the heights 
to the left, and could plainly survey the favorable position of 
the French; they were standing in the form of a semicircle, 
in the greatest quiet and security, Kellermann, then on the left 
wing, being the easiest to reach. 

" I fell in with good company on the way, officers of my 
acquaintance, belonging to the general staff and the regiment, 
greatly surprised to find me here. They wanted to take me 
back again with them ; but I spoke to them of particular ob- 
jects I had in view, and they left me, without further dissuasion, 
to my well-known singular caprice. 

" I had now arrived quite in the region where the balls were 
playing across me : the sound of them is curious enough, as if 
it were composed of the humming of tops, the gurgling of 
water, and the whistling of birds. They were less dangerous 
by reason of the wetness of the ground ; wherever one fell, it 
stuck fast. And thus my foolish experimental ride was secured 
against the danger at least of the balls rebounding. 

" In the midst of these circumstances, I was soon able to 
remark that something unusual was taking place within me. I 
paid close attention to it, and still the sensation can be described 
only by similitude. It appeared as if you were in some ex- 
tremely hot place, and, at the same time, quite penetrated by 
the heat of it, so that you feel yourself, as it were, quite one 
with the element in which you are. The eyes lose nothing of 
their strength or clearness ; but it is as if the world had a kind 
of brown-red tint, which makes the situation, as well as the 
surrounding objects, more impressive. I was unable to per- 
ceive any agitation of the blood ; but everything seemed rather 
to be swallowed up in the glow of which I speak. From this, 
then, it is clear in what sense this condition can be called a 
fever. It is remarkable, however, that the horrible uneasy feel- 
ing arising from it is produced in us solely through the ears. 
For the cannon thunder, the howling and crashing of the balls 
through the air, is the real cause of these sensations. 

" After I had ridden back and was in perfect security, I 
remarked, with surprise, that the glow was completely extin- 
guished, and not the slightest feverish agitation was left be- 



THE BATTLE OF VALMY 339 

hind. On the whole, this condition is one of the least desir- 
able ; as, indeed, among my dear and noble comrades, I found 
scarcely one who expressed a really passionate desire to try 
it." 

Contrary to the expectations of both friends and foes, the 
French infantry held their ground steadily under the fire of 
the Prussian guns, which thundered on them from La Lune, 
and their own artillery replied with equal spirit and greater 
effect on the denser masses of the allied army. Thinking that 
the Prussians were slackening in their fire, Kellermann formed 
a column in charging order, and dashed down into the valley 
in the hopes of capturing some of the nearest guns of the en- 
emy. A masked battery opened its fire on the French column, 
and drove it back in disorder, Kellermann having his horse shot 
under him, and being with difficulty carried off by his men. 
The Prussian columns now advanced in turn. The French ar- 
tillery-men began to waver and desert their posts, but were 
rallied by the efforts and example of their officers, and Keller- 
mann, reorganizing the line of his infantry, took his station in 
the ranks on foot, and called out to his men to let the enemy 
come close up, and then to charge them with the bayonet. The 
troops caught the enthusiasm of their general, and a cheerful 
shout of Vive la nation, taken up by one battalion from another, 
pealed across the valley to the assailants. The Prussians hesi- 
tated from a charge up hill against a force that seemed so 
resolute and formidable ; they halted for a while in the hollow, 
and then slowly retreated up their own side of the valley. 

Indignant at being thus repulsed by such a foe, the King of 
Prussia formed the flower of his men in person, and, riding 
along the column, bitterly reproached them with letting their 
standard be thus humiliated. Then he led them on again to the 
attack, marching in the front line, and seeing his staff mowed 
down around him by the deadly fire which the French artillery 
reopened. But the troops sent by Dumouriez were now co- 
operating effectually with Kellerman, and that general's own 
men, flushed by success, presented a firmer front than ever. 
Again the Prussians retreated, leaving eight hundred dead be- 
hind, and at nightfall the French remained victors on the 
heights of Valmy. 

All hopes of crushing the Revolutionary armies, and of the 
promenade to Paris, had now vanished, though Brunswick 



340 



DECISIVE BATTLES 



lingered long in the Argonne, till distress and sickness wasted 
away his once splendid force, and finally but a mere wreck of 
it recrossed the frontier. France, meanwhile, felt that she pos- 
sessed a giant's strength, and like a giant did she use it. Before 
the close of that year all Belgium obeyed the National Con- 
vention at Paris, and the kings of Europe, after the lapse of 
eighteen centuries, trembled once more before a conquering 
military republic. 

Goethe's description of the cannonade has been quoted. His 
observation to his comrades, and the camp of the allies at the 
end of the battle, deserves quotation also. It shows that the 
poet felt (and probably he alone, of the thousands there as- 
sembled, felt) the full importance of that day. He describes the 
consternation and the change of demeanor which he observed 
among his Prussian friends that evening. He tells us that 
" most of them were silent, and, in fact, the power of reflec- 
tion and judgment was wanting to all. At last I was called 
upon to say what I thought of the engagement, for I had been 
in the habit of enlivening and amusing the troop with short 
sayings. This time I said, * From this place and from this day 
forth commences a new era in the world's history, and you can 
all say that you were present at its birth/ " 



Synopsis of Events between the Battle of Valmy, a.d. 
1792, AND the Battle of Waterloo, a.d. 181 5. 

A.D. 1793. Trial and execution of Louis XVI. at Paris. Eng- 
land and Spain declare war against France. Royalist war in 
La Vendee. Second invasion of France by the allies. 

1794. Lord Howe's victory over the French fleet. Final 
partition of Poland by Russia, Prussia, and Austria. 

1795. The French armies, under Pichegru, conquer Holland. 
Cessation of the war in La Vendee. 

1796. Bonaparte commands the French army of Italy, and 
gains repeated victories over the Austrians. 

1797. Victory of Jervis ofif Cape St. Vincent. Peace of Campo 
Formio between France and Austria. Defeat of the Dutch off 
Camperdown by Admiral Duncan. 

1798. Rebellion in Ireland. Expedition of the French under 



i 



THE BATTLE OF VALMY 341 

Bonaparte to Egypt. Lord Nelson destroys the French fleet 
at the battle of the Nile. 

1799. Renewal of the war between Austria and France. The 
Russian emperor sends an army in aid of Austria under Suwar- 
row. The French are repeatedly defeated in Italy. Bona- 
parte returns from Egypt and makes himself First Consul of 
France. Massena wins the battle of Zurich. The Russian em- 
peror makes peace with France. 

1800. Bonaparte passes the Alps, and defeats the Austrians 
at Marengo. Moreau wins the battle of Hohenlinden. 

1801. Treaty of Luneville between France and Austria. 
The battle of Copenhagen. 

1802. Peace of Amiens. 

1803. War between England and France renewed. 

1804. Napoleon Bonaparte is made Emperor of France. 

1805. Great preparations of Napoleon to invade England. 
Austria, supported by Russia, renews war with France. Napo- 
leon marches into Germany, takes Vienna, and gains the battle 
of Austerlitz. Lord Nelson destroys the combined French 
and Spanish fleets, and is killed at the battle of Trafalgar. 

1806. War between Prussia and France. Napoleon con- 
quers Prussia at the battle of Jena. 

1807. Obstinate warfare between the French and Prussian 
armies in East Prussia and Poland. Peace of Tilsit. 

1808. Napoleon endeavors to make his brother king of 
Spain. Rising of the Spanish nation against him. England 
sends troops to aid the Spaniards. Battle of Vimiera and 
Corunna. 

1809. War renewed between France and Austria. Battles 
of Asperne and Wagram. Peace granted to Austria. Lord 
Wellington's victory of Talavera, in Spain. 

1 8 10. Marriage of Napoleon and the Archduchess Maria 
Louisa. Holland annexed to France. 

1812. War between England and the United States. Napo- 
leon invades Russia. Battle of Borodino. The French occupy 
Moscow, which is burned. Disastrous retreat and almost total 
destruction of the great army of France. 

1813. Prussia and Austria take up arms again against 
France. Battles of Liitzen, Bautzen, Dresden, Culm, and Leip- 
sic. The French are driven out of Germany. Lord Welling- 



342 DECISIVE BATTLES 

ton gains the great battle of Vittoria, which completes the res- 
cue of Spain from France. 

1 8 14. The allies invade France on the eastern, and Lord 
Wellington invades it on the southern, frontier. Battles of 
Laon, Montmirail, Arcis-sur-Aube, and others in the north- 
east of France; and of Toulouse in the south. Paris sur- 
renders to the allies, and Napoleon abdicates. First restoration 
of the Bourbons. Napoleon goes to the Isle of Elba, which is 
assigned to him by the allies. Treaty of Ghent between the 
United States and England, 



CHAPTER XV. 

BATTLE OF WATERLOO, A.D. 1815. 

" Thou first and last of fields, king-making victory! " 

— Byron. 

ENGLAND has now been blessed with thirty-six years of 
peace. At no other period of her history can a sim- 
ilarly long cessation from a state of warfare be found. 
It is true that our troops have had battles to fight during this 
interval for the protection and extension of our Indian posses- 
sions and our colonies, but these have been with distant and un- 
important enemies. The danger has never been brought near 
our own shores, and no matter of vital importance to our em- 
pire has ever been at stake. We have not had hostilities with 
either France, America, or Russia ; and when not at war with 
any of our peers, we feel ourselves to be substantially at peace. 
There has, indeed, throughout this long period, been no great 
war, like those with which the previous history of modern Eu- 
rope abounds. There have been formidable collisions between 
particular states, and there have been still more formidable 
collisions between the armed champions of the conflicting prin- 
ciples of absolutism and democracy;, but there has been no 
general war, like those of the French Revolution, like the 
American, or the Seven Years' War, or like the war of the 
Spanish Succession. It would be far too much to augur from 
this that no similar wars will again convulse the world ; but 
the value of the period of peace which Europe has gained is 
incalculable, even if we look on it as only a truce, and expect 
again to see the nations of the earth recur to what some philoso- 
phers have termed man's natural state of warfare. 

No equal number of years can be found during which sci- 
ence, commerce, and civilization have advanced so rapidly and 
so extensively as has been the case since 181 5. When we trace 
their progress, especially in this country, it is impossible not 

343 



344 DECISIVE BATTLES 

to feel that their wondrous development has been mainly due 
to the land having been at peace.* Their good effects cannot 
be obliterated even if a series of wars were to recommence. 
When we reflect on this and contrast these thirty-six years with 
the period that preceded them — a period of violence, of tumult, 
of unrestingly destructive energy — a period throughout which 
the wealth of nations was scattered like sand, and the blood of 
nations lavished like water, it is impossible not to look with 
deep interest on the final crisis of that dark and dreadful epoch 
— the crisis out of which our own happier cycle of years has 
been evolved. The great battle which ended the twenty-three 
years' war of the first French Revolution, and which quelled 
the man whose genius and ambition had so long disturbed and 
desolated the world, deserves to be regarded by us not only 
with peculiar pride as one of our greatest national victories, 
but with peculiar gratitude for the repose which it secured for 
us and for the greater part of the human race. 

One good test for determining the importance of Waterloo is 
to ascertain what was felt by wise and prudent statesmen before 
that battle respecting the return of Napoleon from Elba to 
the imperial throne of France, and the probable effects of his 
success. For this purpose, I will quote the words, not of any 
of our vehement anti-Gallican politicians of the school of Pitt, 
but of a leader of our Liberal party, of a man whose reputation 
as a jurist, an historian, and a far-sighted and candid statesman 
was, and is, deservedly high, not only in this country, but 
throughout Europe. Sir James Mackintosh, on the 20th of 
April, 1815, spoke thus of the return from Elba: 

" Was it in the power of language to describe the evil ? 
Wars which had raged for more than twenty years through- 
out Europe; which had spread blood and desolation from 
Cadiz to Moscow, and from Naples to Copenhagen; which 
had wasted the means of human enjoyment, and destroyed the 
instruments of social improvement; which threatened to dif- 
fuse among the European nations the dissolute and ferocious 
habits of a predatory soldiery — at length, by one of those vicis- 
situdes which bid defiance to the foresight of man, had been 
brought to a close, upon the whole, happy, beyond all reason- 
able expectation, with no violent shock to national inde- 

* See the excellent Introduction to Mr. Charles Knight's History of 
the " Thirty Years' Peace." 



AFTER. WATERLOO. 
{Sauve Qui Petit.) 

Photogravure from the original painting by A. C Gow, R.A. 





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BATTLE OF WATERLOO 345 

pendence, with some tolerable compromise between the opin- 
ions of the age and the reverence due to ancient institutions ; 
with no too signal or mortifying triumph over the legitimate 
interests or avowable feelings of any numerous body of men, 
and, above all, without those retaliations against nations or 
parties which beget new convulsions, often as horrible as those 
which they close, and perpetuate revenge, and hatred, and 
blood shed from age to age. Europe seemed to breathe after 
her sufferings. In the midst of this fair prospect and of these 
consolatory hopes, Napoleon Bonaparte escaped from Elba; 
three small vessels reached the coast of Provenqe; our hopes 
are instantly dispelled ; the work of our toil and fortitude is un- 
done ; the blood of Europe is spilled in vain — 

" ' Ibi omnis effusus labor ! ' " 

The congress of emperors, kings, princes, generals, and states- 
men who had assembled at Vienna to remodel the world after 
the overthrow of the mighty conqueror, and who thought that 
Napoleon had passed away forever from the great drama of 
European politics, had not yet completed their triumphant fes- 
tivities and their diplomatic toils, when Talleyrand, on the nth 
of March, 181 5, rose up among them and announced that the 
ex-emperor had escaped from Elba, and was emperor of France 
once more. It is recorded by Sir Walter Scott, as a curious 
physiological fact, that the first effect of the news of an event 
which threatened to neutralize all their labors was to excite a 
loud burst of laughter from nearly every member of the con- 
gress. But the jest was a bitter one; and they were soon deeply 
busied in anxious deliberations respecting the mode in which 
they should encounter their arch-enemy, who had thus started 
from torpor and obscurity into renovated splendor and strength : 

" Qualis ubi in lucem coluber mala gramina pastus, 
Frigida sub terra tumidum quern bruma tegebat, 
Nunc positis novus exuviis nitidusque juventa, 
Lubrica convolvit sublato pectore terga 
Arduus ad solem, et linguis micata ore trisulcis." 

— Vergil, ^neid. 

Napoleon sought to disunite the formidable confederacy 
which he knew would be arrayed against him, by endeavoring 
to negotiate separately with each of the allied sovereigns. It 
is said that Austria and Russia were at first not unwilling to treat 



346 DECISIVE BATTLES 

with him. Disputes and jealousies had been rife among several 
of the Allies on the subject of the division of the conquered 
countries; and the cordial unanimity with which they had acted 
during 1813 and the first months of 1814 had grown chill dur- 
ing some weeks of discussions. But the active exertions of 
Talleyrand, who represented Louis XVIII at the congress, and 
who both hated and feared Napoleon with all the intensity of 
which his powerful spirit was capable, prevented the secession 
of any member of the congress from the new great league 
against their ancient enemy. Still, it is highly probable that 
if Napoleon had triumphed in Belgium over the Prussians and 
the English, he would have succeeded in opening negotiations 
with the Austrians and Russians; and he might have thus gained 
advantages similar to those which he had obtained on his re- 
turn from Egypt, when he induced the Czar Paul to withdraw 
the Russian armies from co-operating with the other enemies 
of France in the extremity of peril to which she seemed re- 
duced in 1799. But fortune now had deserted him, both in 
diplomacy and in war. 

On the 13th of March, 181 5, the ministers of the seven pow- 
ers, Austria, Spain, England, Portugal, Prussia, Russia, and 
Sweden, signed a manifesto by which they declared Napoleon 
an outlaw; and this denunciation was instantly followed up 
by a treaty between England, Austria, Prussia, and Russia (to 
which other powers soon acceded), by which the rulers of those 
countries bound themselves to enforce that decree, and to prose- 
cute the war until Napoleon should be driven from the throne 
of France and rendered incapable of disturbing the peace of 
Europe. The Duke of Wellington was the representative of 
England at the Congress of Vienna, and he was immediately 
applied to for his advice on the plan of military operations 
against France. It was obvious that Belgium would be the 
first battle-field; and by the general wish of the Allies, the Eng- 
lish duke proceeded thither to assemble an army from the con- 
tingents of Dutch, Belgian, and Hanoverian troops that were 
most speedily available, and from the English regiments which 
his own government was hastening to send oVer from this coun- 
try. A strong Prussian corps was near Aix-la-Chapelle, having 
remained there since the campaign of the preceding year. This 
was largely reinforced by other troops of the same nation; and 
Marshal Bliicher, the favorite hero of the Prussian soldiery and 



BATTLE OF WATERLOO 347 

the deadliest foe of France, assumed the command of this army, 
which was termed the " Army of the Lower Rhine," and which, 
in conjunction with WelHngton's forces, was to make the van 
of the armaments of the alhed powers. Meanwhile Prince 
Schwartzenberg was to collect 130,000 Austrians and 124,000 
troops of other Germanic states, as the " Army of the Upper 
Rhine" ; and 168,000 Russians, under the command of Bar- 
clay de Tolly, were to form the " Army of the Middle Rhine," 
and to repeat the march from Muscovy to that river's banks. 

The exertions which the allied powers made at this crisis to 
grapple promptly with the French emperor have truly been 
termed gigantic, and never were Napoleon's genius and ac- 
tivity more signally displayed than in the celerity and skill by 
which he brought forward all the military resources of France, 
which the reverses of the three preceding years, and the pacific 
policy of the Bourbons during the months of their first restora- 
tion, had greatly diminished and disorganized. He re-entered 
Paris on the 20th of March, and by the end of May, besides 
sending a force into La Vendee to put down the armed risings 
of the Royalists in that province, and besides providing troops 
under Massena and Suchet for the defence of the southern fron- 
tiers of France, Napoleon had an army assembled in the north- 
east for active operations under his own command, which 
amounted to between 120,000 and 130,000 men,* with a superb 
park of artillery, and in the highest possible state of equipment, 
discipline, and efficiency. 

The approach of the multitudinous Russian, Austrian, Ba- 
varian, and other foes of the French Emperor to the Rhine 
was necessarily slow; but the two most active of the allied 
powers had occupied Belgium with their troops, while Napo- 
leon was organizing his forces. Marshal Bliicher was there 
with one hundred and sixteen thousand Prussians; and, be- 
fore the end of May the Duke of Wellington was there also 
with about one hundred and six thousand troops, either British 
or in British pay.f Napoleon determined to attack these en- 
emies in Belgium. The disparity of numbers was indeed great, 
but delay was sure to increase the proportionate numerical 
superiority of his enemies over his own ranks. The French 

* See, for these numbers, Siborne's " History of the Campaign of 
Waterloo," vol. i., p. 41. 
t Siborne, vol. i., chap. iii. 



348 DECISIVE BATTLES 

Emperor considered also that " the enemy's troops were now 
cantoned under the command of two generals, and composed 
of nations differing both in interest and in feelings." * His 
own army was under his own sole command. It was com- 
posed exclusively of French soldiers, mostly of veterans, well 
acquainted with their officers and with each other, and full of 
enthusiastic confidence in their commander. If he could 
separate the Prussians from the British, so as to attack each 
singly, he felt sanguine of success, not only against these the 
"most resolute of his many adversaries, but also against the 
other masses that were slowly laboring up against his eastern 
dominions. 

The triple chain of strong fortresses which the French pos- 
sessed on the Belgian frontier formed a curtain, behind which 
Napoleon was able to concentrate his army, and to conceal till 
the very last moment the precise line of attack which he in- 
tended to take. On the other hand, Bliicher and Wellington 
were obliged to canton their troops along a line of open coun- 
try of considerable length, so as to watch for the outbreak of 
Napoleon from whichever point of his chain of strongholds he 
should please to make it. Bliicher, with his army, occupied the 
banks of the Sambre and the Meuse, from Liege on his left to 
Charleroi on his right; and the Duke of Wellington covered 
Brussels, his cantonments being partly in front of that city, and 
between it and the French frontier, and partly on its west ; their 
extreme right reaching to Courtray and Toumay, while their 
left approached Charleroi and communicated with the Prussian 
right. It was upon Charleroi that Napoleon resolved to level 
his attack, in hopes of severing the two allied armies from each 
other, and then pursuing his favorite tactics of assailing each 
separately with a superior force on the battle-field, though the 
aggregate of their numbers considerably exceeded his own. 

The first French corps d'armee, commanded by Count d'Er- 
lon, was stationed, in the beginning of June, in and around the 
city of Lille, near to the northeastern frontier of France. The 
second corps, under Count Reille, was at Valenciennes, to the 
right of the first one. The third corps, under Count Vandamme, 
was at Mezieres. The fourth, under Count Gerard, had its head- 
quarters at Metz; and the sixth, f under Count Lobau, was at 
Laon. Four corps of reserve cavalry, under Marshal Grouchy, 

* See Montholon's " Memoirs," p. 45. 

1" The fifth corps was under Count Rapp at Strasburg. 



BATTLE OF WATERLOO 349 

were also near the frontier, between the rivers Aisne and Sambre. 
The Imperial Guard remained in Paris until the 8th of June, 
when it marched towards Belgium, and reached Avesnes on the 
13th; and in the course of the same and the following day, the 
five corps d'armee, with the cavalry reserves which have been 
mentioned, were, in pursuance of skilfully combined orders, 
rapidly drawn together and concentrated in and around the same 
place, on the right bank of the river Sambre. On the 14th Na- 
poleon arrived among his troops, who were exulting at the dis- 
play of their commander's skill in the celerity and precision with 
which they had been drawn together and in the consciousness 
of their collective strength. Although Napoleon too often per- 
mitted himself to use language unworthy of his own character 
respecting his great English adversary, his real feeHngs in com- 
mencing this campaign may be judged from the last words 
which he spoke, as he threw himself into his travelling-carriage 
to leave Paris for the army. " I go," he said, " to measure my- 
self with Wellington." 

The enthusiasm of the French soldiers at seeing their em- 
peror among them was still more excited by the " Order of the 
Day," in which he thus appealed to them : 

" Napoleon, by the Grace of God, and the Constitution of the Empire, 
Emperor of the French, etc., to the Grand Army. 

''At the Imperial Headquarters, 
"Avesnes, June 14th, 1815. 

" Soldiers ! this day is the anniversary of Marengo and of Friedland, 
which twice decided the destiny of Europe. Then, as after Austerlitz, 
as after Wagram, we were too generous ! We believed in the protesta- 
tions and in the oaths of princes, whom we left on their thrones. Now, 
however, leagued together, they aim at the independence and the most 
sacred rights of France. They have commenced the most unjust of 
aggressions. Let us, then, march to meet them. Are they and we no 
longer the same men? 

" Soldiers ! at Jena, against these same Prussians, now so arrogant, 
you were one to three, and at Montmirail one to six! 

" Let those among you who have been captives to the English describe 
the nature of their prison ships, and the frightful miseries they endured. 

" The Saxons, the Belgians, the Hanoverians, the soldiers of the Con- 
federation of the Rhine, lament that they are compelled to use their 
arms in the cause of princes, the enemies of justice and of the rights of 
all nations. They know that this coalition is insatiable ! After having 
devoured twelve millions of Poles, twelve millions of Italians, one 



350 DECISIVE BATTLES 

million of Saxons, and six millions of Belgians, it now wishes to devour 
the states of the second rank in Germany. 

" Madmen ! one moment of prosperity has bewildered them. The 
oppression and the humiliation of the French people are beyond their 
power. If they enter France, they will there find their grave. 

" Soldiers ! we have forced marches to make, battles to fight, dangers 
to encounter; but, with firmness, victory will be ours. The rights, the 
honor, and the happiness of the country will be recovered ! 

" To every Frenchman who has a heart, the moment is now arrived 
to conquer or to die. 

" Napoleon. 
" The Marshal Duke of Dalmatia, 
Major-general." 

The 15th of June had scarcely dawned before the French 
army was in motion for the decisive campaign and crossed the 
frontier in three columns, which were pointed upon Charleroi 
and its vicinity. The French line of advance upon Brussels, 
which city Napoleon resolved to occupy, thus lay right through 
the centre of the cantonments of the AlHes. 

Much criticism has been expended on the supposed surprise 
of Wellington's army in its cantonments by Napoleon's rapid 
advance. These comments would hardly have been made if 
sufficient attention had been paid to the geography of the Wa- 
terloo campaign, and if it had been remembered that the pro- 
tection of Brussels was justly considered by the alHed generals 
a matter of primary importance. If Napoleon could, either by 
manoeuvring or fighting, have succeeded in occupying that city, 
the greater part of Belgium would unquestionably have de- 
clared in his favor; and the results of such a success, gained by 
the emperor at the commencement of the campaign, might have 
decisively influenced the whole after current of events. A glance 
at the map will show the numerous roads that lead from the dif- 
ferent fortresses on the French northeastern frontier and con- 
verge upon Brussels, any one of which Napoleon might have 
chosen for the advance of a strong force upon that city. The 
duke's army was judiciously arranged so as to enable him to 
concentrate troops on any one of these roads sufficiently in 
advance of Brussels to check an assailing enemy. The army 
was kept thus available for movement in any necessary direc- 
tion, till certain intelHgence arrived on the 15th of June that the 
French had crossed the frontier in large force near Thuin, that 
they had driven back the Prussian advanced troops under Gen- 



BATTLE OF WATERLOO 351 

eral Ziethen, and were also moving across the Sambre upon 
Charleroi. 

Marshal Blucher now rapidly concentrated his forces, calling 
them in from the left upon Ligny, which is to the northeast of 
Charleroi. WelHngton also drew his troops together, calling 
them in from the right. But even now, though it was certain 
that the French were in large force at Charleroi, it was unsafe 
for the English general to place his army directly between that 
place and Brussels, until it was certain that no corps of the 
enemy was marching upon Brussels by the western road through 
Mons and Hal. The duke, therefore, collected his troops in 
Brussels and its immediate vicinity, ready to move due south- 
ward on Quatre Bras and co-operate with Bliicher, who was 
taking his station at Ligny, but also ready to meet and defeat 
any manoeuvre that the enemy might make to turn the right of 
the AlHes and occupy Brussels by a flanking movement. The 
testimony of the Prussian general. Baron Miififling, who was 
attached to the duke's staff during the campaign, and who ex- 
pressly states the reasons on which the English general acted, 
ought forever to have silenced the " weak inventions of the ene- 
my " about the Duke of Wellington having been deceived and 
surprised by his assailant, which some writers of our own nation, 
as well as foreigners, have incautiously repeated. 

It was about three o'clock in the afternoon of the 15th that 
a Prussian ofBcer reached Brussels, whom General Ziethen had 
sent to Muffling to inform him of the advance of the main 
French army upon Charleroi. MiifBing immediately communi- 
cated this to the Duke of WelHngton, and asked him whether 
he would now concentrate his army, and what would be his 
point of concentration, observing that Marshal Blucher in con- 
sequence of this intelligence would certainly concentrate the 
Prussians at Ligny. The duke replied: "If all is as General 
Ziethen supposes, I will concentrate on my left wing, and so 
be in readiness to fight in conjunction with the Prussian army. 
Should, however, a portion of the enemy's force come by Mons, 
I must concentrate more towards my centre. This is the reason 
why I must wait for positive news from Mons before I fix the 
rendezvous. Since, however, it is certain that the troops must 
march, though it is uncertain upon what precise spot they must 
march, I will order all to be in readiness and will direct a brigade 
to move at once towards Quatre Bras." 



352 DECISIVE BATTLES 

Later in the same day a message from Bliicher himself was 
delivered to Muffling, in which the Prussian field-marshal in- 
formed the baron that he was concentrating his men at Sombref 
and Ligny, and charged Miiffling to give him speedy intelligence 
respecting the concentration of Wellington. Muffling immedi- 
ately communicated this to the duke, who expressed his satis- 
faction with Bliicher's arrangements, but added that he could 
not even then resolve upon his own point of concentration be- 
fore he obtained the desired intelligence from Mons. About 
midnight this information arrived. The duke went to the quar- 
ters of General Miiffling and told him that he now had received 
his reports from Mons and was sure that no French troops were 
advancing by that route, but that the mass of the enemy's force 
was decidedly directed on Charleroi. He informed the Prussian 
general that he had ordered the British troops to move forward 
upon Quatre Bras; but with characteristic coolness and sa- 
gacity resolved not to give the appearance of alarm by hurrying 
on with them himself. A ball was to be given by the Duchess 
of Richmond at Brussels that night, and the duke proposed to 
General Muffling that they should go to the ball for a few hours, 
and ride forward in the morning to overtake the troops at 
Quatre Bras. 

To hundreds who were assembled at that memorable ball the 
news that the enemy was advancing, and that the time for battle 
had come, must have been a fearfully exciting surprise, and 
the magnificent stanzas of Byron (" Childe Harold," Canto HI) 
are as true as they are beautiful ; but the duke and his principal 
officers knew well the stern termination to that festive scene 
which was approaching. One by one, and in such a way as to 
attract as little observation as possible, the leaders of the various 
corps left the ballroom and took their stations at the head of 
their men, who were pressing forward through the last hours 
of the short summer night to the arena of anticipated slaughter. 

Napoleon's operations on the 15th had been conducted with 
signal skill and vigor, and their results had been very advan- 
tageous for his plan of the campaign. With his army formed 
in three vast columns, he had struck at the centre of the line 
of cantonments of his allied foes ; and he had so far made good 
his blow that he had effected the passage of the Sambre, he had 
beaten with his left wing the Prussian corps of General Ziethen 
at Thuin, and with his centre he had in person advanced right 



BATTLE OF WATERLOO 



3^3 



through Charleroi upon Fleurus, inflicting considerable loss 
upon the Prussians that fell back before him. His right column 
had with little opposition moved forward as far as the bridge 
of Chatelet. 

Napoleon had thus a powerful force immediately in front of 
the point which Bliicher had fixed for the concentration of the 
Prussian army, and that concentration was still incomplete. 
The French emperor designed to attack the Prussians on the 
morrow in person with the troops of his centre and right col- 
umns, and to employ his left wing in beating back such English 
troops as might advance to the help of their allies, and also in 
aiding his own attack upon Bliicher. He gave the command 
of his left wing to Marshal Ney. Napoleon seems not to have 
originally intended to employ this celebrated general in the cam- 
paign. It was only on the night of the i ith of June that Marshal 
Ney received at Paris an order to join the army. Hurrying for- 
ward to the Belgian frontier, he meet the emperor near Charleroi. 
Napoleon immediately directed him to take the command of 
the left wing and to press forward with it upon Quatre Bras by 
the line of the road which leads from Charleroi to Brussels, 
through Gosselies, Frasne, Quatre Bras, Genappe, and Water- 
loo. Ney immediately proceeded to the post assigned him; and 
before ten on the night of the 15th he had occupied Gosselies 
and Frasne, driving out without much difficulty some weak 
Belgian detachments which had been stationed in those villages. 
The lateness of the hour and the exhausted state of the French 
troops, who had been marching and fighting since ten in the 
morning, made him pause from advancing farther to attack the 
much more important position of Quatre Bras. In truth, the 
advantages which the French gained by their almost super- 
human energy and activity throughout the long day of the 15th 
of June were necessarily bought at the price of more delay and 
inertness during the following night and morrow than would 
have been observable if they had not been thus overtasked. Ney 
has been blamed for want of promptness in his attack upon 
Quatre Bras, and Napoleon has been criticised for not having 
fought at Ligny before the afternoon of the i6th; but their cen- 
sors should remember that soldiers are but men and that there 
must be necessarily some interval of time before troops that have 
been worn and weakened by twenty hours of incessant fatigue 

23 



354 DECISIVE BATTLES 

and strife can be fed, rested, reorganized, and brought again 
into action with any hope of success. 

Having on the night of the 15th placed the most advanced of 
the French under his command in position in front of Frasne, 
Ney rode back to Charleroi, vi^here Napoleon also arrived about 
midnight, having returned from directing the operations of the 
centre and right column of the French. The emperor and the 
marshal supped together, and remained in earnest conversation 
till two in the morning. An hour or two afterwards Ney rode 
back to Frasne, where he endeavored to collect tidings of the 
numbers and movements of the enemy in front of him ; and also 
busied himself in the necessary duty of learning the amount and 
composition of the troops which he himself was commanding. 
He had been so suddenly appointed to his high station that he 
did not know the strength of the several regiments under him, 
or even the names of their commanding officers. He now caused 
his aide-de-camps to prepare the requisite returns, and drew to- 
gether the troops, whom he was thus learning before he used 
them. 

Wellington remained at the Duchess of Richmond's ball at 
Brussels till about three o'clock in the morning of the i6th, 
" showing himself very cheerful," as Baron Muffling, who ac- 
companied him, observes. At five o'clock the duke and the 
baron were on horseback and reached the position at Quatre 
Bras about eleven. As the French, who were in front of Frasne, 
were perfectly quiet, and the duke was informed that a very large 
force under Napoleon in person was menacing Bliicher, it was 
thought possible that only a slight detachment of the French 
was posted at Frasne in order to mask the English army. In 
that event Wellington, as he told Baron Muffling, would be 
able to employ his whole strength in supporting the Prussians; 
and he proposed to ride across from Quatre Bras to Bliicher's 
position in order to concert with him personally the measures 
which should be taken in order to bring on a decisive battle 
with the French. Wellington and Muffling rode accordingly 
towards Ligny, and found Marshal Bliicher and his staff at the 
windmill of Bry, near that village. The Prussian army, 80,000 
strong, was drawn up chiefly along a chain of heights, with the 
villages of Sombref, St. Amand, and Ligny in their front. These 
villages were strongly occupied by Prussian detachments, and 
formed the keys of Bliicher's position. The heads of the col- 



BATTLE OF WATERLOO 355 

umns which Napoleon was forming for the attack were visible 
in the distance. The duke asked Blucher and General Gneise- 
nau (who was Bliicher's adviser in matters of strategy) what they 
wished him to do. Muffling had already explained to them in 
a few words the duke's earnest desire to support the field-mar- 
shal, and that he would do all that they wished, provided they 
did not ask him to divide his army, which was contrary to his 
principles. The duke wished to advance with his army (as soon 
as it was concentrated) upon Frasne and GosseHes, and thence 
to move upon Napoleon's flank and rear. The Prussian leaders 
preferred that he should march his men from Quatre Bras by 
the Namur road, so as to form a reserve in the rear of Bliicher's 
army. The duke replied, " Well, I will come if I am not at- 
tacked myself," and galloped back with Muffling to Quatre Bras, 
where the French attack was now actually raging. 

Marshal Ney began the battle about two o'clock in the after- 
noon. He had at this time in hand about 16,000 infantry, nearly 
2,000 cavalry, and 38 guns. The force which Napoleon nom- 
inally placed at his command exceeded 40,000 men. But more 
than one-half of these consisted of the first French corps d'armee, 
under Count d'Erlon; and Ney was deprived of the use of this 
corps at the time that he most required it, in consequence of 
its receiving orders to march to the aid of the emperor at Ligny. 
A magnificent body of heavy cavalry under Kellermann, nearly 
5,000 strong, and several more battalions of artillery were added 
to Ney's army during the battle of Quatre Bras; but his effective 
infantry force never exceeded 16,000. 

When the battle began, the greater part of the duke's army 
was yet on its march towards Quatre Bras from Brussels and 
the other parts of its cantonments. The force of the Allies, 
actually in position there, consisted only of a Dutch and Belgian 
division of infantry, not quite 7,000 strong, with one battalion of 
foot and one of horse-artillery. The Prince of Orange com- 
manded them. A wood, called the Bois de Bossu, stretched 
along the right (or western) flank of the position of Quatre Bras ; 
a farmhouse and building, called Gemiancourt, stood on some 
elevated ground in its front; and to the left (or east) were the 
enclosures of the village of Pierremont. The Prince of Orange 
endeavored to secure these posts; but Ney carried Gemiancourt 
in the centre, and Pierremont on the east, and gained occupa- 
tion of the southern part of the wood of Bossu. He ranged the 



3S6 DECISIVE BATTLES 

chief part of his artillery on the high ground of Gemiancourt, 
whence it played throughout the action with most destructive 
effect upon the Allies. He w^as pressing forward to further ad- 
vantages, when the fifth infantry division, under Sir Thomas 
Picton, and the Duke of Brunswick's corps, appeared upon the 
scene. Wellington (who had returned to Quatre Bras from his 
interview with Bliicher shortly before the arrival of these forces) 
restored the fight with them; and as fresh troops of the Allies 
arrived, they were brought forward to stem the fierce attacks 
which Ney's columns. and squadrons continued to make with 
unabated gallantry and zeal. The only cavalry of the Anglo- 
allied army that reached Quatre Bras during the action con- 
sisted of Dutch and Belgians, and a small force of Brunswickers 
under their duke, who was killed on the field. These proved 
wholly unable to encounter Kellermann's cuirassiers and Pire's 
lancers. The Dutch and Belgian infantry also gave way early 
in the engagement; so that the whole brunt of the battle fell 
on the British and Germany infantry. They sustained it nobly. 
Though repeatedly charged by the French cavalry, though ex- 
posed to the murderous fire of the French batteries, which from 
the heights of Gemiancourt sent shot and shell into the devoted 
squares whenever the French horsemen withdrew, they not only 
repelled their assailants, but Kempt's and Pack's brigades, led 
on by Picton, actually advanced against and through their charg- 
ing foes, and with stern determination made good to the end of 
the day the ground which they had thus boldly won. Some, 
however, of the British regiments were during the confusion 
assailed by the French cavalry before they could form squares, 
and suffered severely. One regiment, the g2d, was almost wholly 
destroyed by the cuirassiers. A French private soldier named 
Lami, of the 8th Regiment of cuirassiers, captured one of the 
English colors and presented it to Ney. It was a solitary trophy. 
The arrival of the English Guards about half-past six o'clock 
enabled the duke to recover the wood of Bossu, which the French 
had almost entirely won and the possession of which by them 
would have enabled Ney to operate destructively upon the allied 
flank and rear. Not only was the wood of Bossu recovered on 
the British right, but the enclosures of Pierremont were also 
carried on the left. When night set in the French had been 
driven back on all points towards Frasne; but they still held 
the farm of Gemiancourt in front of the duke's centre. Well- 



BATTLE OF WATERLOO 357 

Ington and Muffling were unacquainted with the result of the 
collateral battle between Bliicher and Napoleon, the cannon- 
ading of which had been distinctly audible at Quatre Bras 
throughout the afternoon and evening. The duke observed to 
Muffling that of course the two allied armies would assume the 
offensive against the enemy on the morrow, and, consequently, 
it would be better to capture the farm at once, instead of wait- 
ing till next morning. Miiffling agreed in the duke's views, and 
Gemiancourt was forthwith attacked by the English and cap- 
tured with little loss to the assailants. 

Meanwhile the French and the Prussians had been fighting 
in and round the villages of Ligny, Sombref, and St. Amand, 
from three in the afternoon to nine in the evening, with a sav- 
age inveteracy almost unparalleled in modern warfare. Bliicher 
had in the field, when he began the battle, 83,417 men and 224 
guns. Bulow's corps, which was 25,000 strong, had not joined 
him. But the field-marshal hoped to be reinforced by it or by 
the English army before the end of the action. But Bulow, 
through some error in the transmission of orders, was far in 
the rear; and the Duke of Wellington was engaged, as we have 
seen, with Marshal Ney. Bliicher received early warning from 
Baron Muffling that the duke could not come to his assistance; 
but, as Miiffling observes, WelHngton rendered the Prussians 
the great service of occupying more than 40,000 of the enemy, 
who otherwise would have crushed Bliicher's right flank. For 
not only did the conflict at Quatre Bras detain the French troops 
which actually took part in it, but d'Erlon received orders from 
Ney to join him, which hindered d'Erlon from giving effectual 
aid to Napoleon. Indeed, the whole of d'Erlon's corps, in con- 
sequence of conflicting directions from Ney and the emperor, 
marched and countermarched, during the i6th, between Quatre 
Bras and Ligny without firing a shot in either battle. 

Bliicher had, in fact, a superiority of more than 12,000 in 
number oVer the French army that attacked him at Ligny. The 
numerical difference was even greater at the beginning of the 
battle, as Lobau's corps did not come up from Charleroi till 
eight o'clock. After five hours and a half of desperate and long- 
doubtful struggle. Napoleon succeeded in breaking the centre 
of the Prussian line at Ligny, and in forcing his obstinate an- 
tagonists off the field of battle. The issue was attributable to 
his skill, and not to any want of spirit or resolution on the part 



358 DECISIVE BATTLES 

of the Prussian troops; nor did they, though defeated, abate 
one jot in discipline, heart, or hope. As Bliicher observed, it 
was a battle in which his army lost the day but not its honor. 
The Prussians retreated during the night of the i6th and the 
early part of the 17th, with perfect regularity and steadiness. 
The retreat was directed not towards Maestricht, where their 
principal depots were established, but towards Wavre, so as to 
be able to maintain their communication with Wellington's 
army, and still follow out the original plan of the campaign. 
The heroism with which the Prussians endured and repaired 
their defeat at Ligny is more glorious than many victories. 
' The messenger who was sent to inform Wellington of the 
retreat of the Prussian army was shot on the way, and it was 
not until the morning of the 17th that the Allies, at Quatre 
Bras, knew the result of the battle of Ligny. The duke was 
ready at daybreak to take the offensive against the enemy with 
vigor, his whole army being by that time fully assembled. But 
on learning that Bliicher had been defeated, a different course 
of action was clearly necessary. It was obvious that Napoleon's 
main army would now be directed against Wellington, and a 
retreat was inevitable. On ascertaining that the Prussian arm.y 
had retired upon Wavre, that there was no hot pursuit of them 
by the French, and that Bulow's corps had taken no part in the 
action at Ligny, the duke resolved to march his army back 
towards Brussels, still intending to cover that city and to halt 
at a point in a hne with Wavre, and there restore his communi- 
cation with Bliicher. An officer from Bliicher's army reached 
the duke about nine o'clock, from whom he learned the ef- 
fective strength that Bliicher still possessed, and how little dis- 
couraged his ally was by yesterday's battle. Wellington sent 
word to the Prussian commander that he would halt in the 
position of Mont St. Jean, and accept a general battle with the 
French, if Bliicher would pledge himself to come to his as- 
sistance with a single corps of 25,000 men. This was readily 
promised; and after allowing his men ample time for rest and 
refreshment, Wellington retired over about half the space be- 
tween Quatre Bras and Brussels. He was pursued, but little 
molested, by the main French army, which about noon of the 
17th moved laterally from Ligny and joined Ney's forces, which 
had advanced through Quatre Bras when the British abandoned 
that position. The Earl of Uxbridge, with the British cavalry, 



BATTLE OF WATERLOO 359 

covered the retreat of the duke's army with great skill and gal- 
lantry; and a heavy thunder-storm, with torrents of rain, im- 
peded the operations of the French pursuing squadrons. The 
duke still expected that the French would endeavor to turn his 
right and march upon Brussels by the highroad that leads 
through Mons and Hal. In order to counteract this anticipated 
manoeuvre, he stationed a force of 18,000 men, under Prince 
Frederick of the Netherlands, at Hal, with orders to maintain 
himself there, if attacked, as long as possible. The duke halted 
with the rest of his army at the position near Mont St. Jean, 
which, from a village in its neighborhood, has received the ever- 
memorable name of the field of Waterloo. 

Wellington was now about twelve miles distant, on a line run- 
ning from west to east, from Wavre, where the Prussian army 
had now been completely reorganized and collected, and where 
it had been strengthened by the junction of Bulow's troops, 
which had taken no part in the battle of Ligny. Bliicher sent 
word from Wavre to the duke that he was coming to help the 
English at Mont St. Jean, in the morning, not with one corps, 
but with his whole army. The fiery old man only stipulated that 
the combined armies, if not attacked by Napoleon on the i8th, 
should themselves attack him on the 19th. So far were Bliicher 
and his army from being in the state of annihilation described 
in the boastful bulletin by which Napoleon informed the Paris- 
ians of his victory at Ligny. Indeed, the French emperor seems 
himself to have been misinformed as to the extent of loss which 
he had inflicted on the Prussians. Had he known in what good 
order and with what undiminished spirit they were retiring, he 
would scarcely have delayed sending a large force to press them 
in their retreat until noon on the 17th. Such, however, was the 
case. It* was about that time that he confided to Marshal 
Grouchy the duty of pursuing the defeated Prussians and pre- 
venting them from joining Wellington. He placed for this 
purpose 32,000 men and 96 guns under his orders. Violent 
complaints and recriminations passed afterwards between the 
emperor and the marshal respecting the manner in which 
Grouchy attempted to perform this duty, and the reasons why 
he failed on the i8th to arrest the lateral movement of the Prus- 
sians from Wavre to Waterloo. It is sufficient to remark here, 
that the force which Napoleon gave to Grouchy (though the 
utmost that the emperor's limited means would allow) was in- 



360 DECISIVE BATTLES 

sufficient to make head against the entire Prussian army, espe- 
cially after Bulow's junction with Bliicher. We shall presently 
have occasion to consider what opportunities were given to 
Grouchy during the i8th, and what he might have effected if 
he had been a man of original military genius. 

But the failure of Grouchy was in truth mainly owing to the 
indomitable heroism of Bliicher himself, who, though he had 
received severe personal injuries in the battle of Ligny, was as 
energetic and ready as ever in bringing his men into action 
again, and who had the resolution to expose a part of his army, 
under Thielman, to be overwhelmed by Grouchy at Wavre on 
the i8th, while he urged the march of the mass of his troops 
upon Waterloo. " It is not at Wavre, but at Waterloo," said 
the old field-marshal, " that the campaign is to be decided ; " 
and he risked a detachment, and won the campaign accord- 
ingly. Wellington and Bliicher trusted each other as cordially, 
and co-operated as zealously, as formerly had been the case 
with Marlborough and Eugene. It was in full reliance on 
Bliicher's promise to join him that the duke stood his ground 
and fought at Waterloo ; and those who have ventured to im- 
pugn the duke's capacity as a general ought to have had com- 
mon-sense enough to perceive that to charge the duke with 
having won the battle of Waterloo by the help of the Prussians 
is really to say that he won it by the very means on which he 
relied, and without the expectation of which the battle would 
not have been fought. 

Napoleon himself has found fault with Wellington * for not 
having retreated farther, so as to complete a junction of his 
army with Bliicher's before he risked a general engagement. 
But, as we have seen, the duke justly considered it important to 
protect Brussels. He had reason to expect that his army could 
singly resist the French at Waterloo until the Prussians came 
up, and that, on the Prussians joining, there would be a suffi- 
cient force united under himself and Bliicher for completely 
overwhelming the enemy. And while Napoleon thus censures 
his great adversary, he involuntarily bears the highest possible 
testimony to the military character of the English, and proves 
decisively of what paramount importance was the battle to 
which he challenged his fearless opponent. Napoleon asks, " // 
the English army had been beaten at Waterloo, what would have 
* See Montholon's " Memoirs," vol. iv., p. 44. 



BATTLE OF WATERLOO 361 

been the use of those numerous bodies of troops, of Prussians, 
Austrians, Germans, and Spaniards, which were advancing by 
forced marches to the Rhine, the Alps, and the Pyrenees? " * 

The strength of the army under the Duke of WelHngton at 
Waterloo was 49,608 infantry, 12,402 cavalry, and 5,645 ar- 
tillery-men, with 156 guns.f But of this total of 67,655 men, 
scarcely 24,000 were British, a circumstance of very serious im- 
portance if Napoleon's own estimate of the relative value of 
troops of different nations is to be taken. In the emperor's own 
words, speaking of this campaign, " A French soldier would 
not be equal to more than one English soldier, but he would not 
be afraid to meet two Dutchmen, Prussians, or soldiers of the 
Confederation."! There were about 6,000 men of the old 
German Legion with the duke ; these were veteran troops, and 
of excellent quality. Of the rest of the army the Hanoverians 
and Brunswickers proved themselves deserving of confidence 
and praise. But the Nassauers, Dutch, and Belgians were 
almost worthless ; and not a few of them were justly suspected 
of a strong wish to fight, if they fought at all, under the French 
eagles rather than against them. 

Napoleon's army at Waterloo consisted of 48,950 infantry, 
15,765 cavalry, 7,232 artillery-men, being a total of 71,947 men 
and 246 guns.§ They were the flower of the national forces of 
France; and of all the numerous gallant armies which that 
martial land has poured forth, never was there one braver, or 
better disciplined, or better led, than the host that took up its 
position at Waterloo on the morning of the i8th of June, 1815. 

Perhaps those who have not seen the field of battle at Water- 
loo, or the admirable model of the ground and of the conflicting 
armies which was executed by Captain Siborne, may gain a 
generally accurate idea of the localities by picturing to them- 
selves a valley between two and three miles long, of various 
breadths at different points, but generally not exceeding half 
a mile. On each side of the valley there is a winding chain of 
low hills, running somewhat parallel with each other. The 
declivity from each of these ranges of hills to the intervening 
valley is gentle but not uniform, the undulations of the ground 
being frequent and considerable. The English army was 
posted on the northern, and the French army occupied the 

* See Montholon's " Memoirs," vol. iv., p. 44. t Siborne, vol. i., p. zi^- 
X Montholon's " Memoirs," vol. iv., p. 41. S See Siborne, ut supra. 



362 DECISIVE BATTLES 

southern ridge. The artillery of each side thundered at the 
other from their respective heights throughout the day, and 
the charges of horse and foot were made across the valley that 
has been described. The village of Mont St. Jean is situate 
a little behind the centre of the northern chain of hills, and the 
village of La Belle Alliance is close behind the centre of the 
southern ridge. The high road from Charleroi to Brussels 
(a broad paved causeway) runs through both these villages, 
and bisects, therefore, both the English and the French posi- 
tions. The line of this road was the line of Napoleon's intended 
advance on Brussels. 

There are some other local particulars connected with the 
situation of each army which it is necessary to bear in mind. 
The strength of the British position did not consist merely in 
the occupation of a ridge of high ground. A village and ravine, 
called Merk Braine, on the Duke of Wellington's extreme 
right, secured him from his flank being turned on that side ; 
and on his extreme left, two little hamlets, called La Haye and 
Papellote, gave a similar though a slighter protection. Behind 
the whole British position is the extensive forest of Soignies. 
As no attempt was made by the French to turn either of the 
English flanks, and the battle was a day of straightforward 
fighting, it is chiefly important to see what posts there were in 
front of the British Hne of hills of which advantage could be 
taken either to repel or facilitate an attack ; and it will be seen 
that there were two, and that each was of very great importance 
in the action. In front of the British right — that is to say, on 
the northern slope of the valley towards its western end — there 
stood an old-fashioned Flemish farmhouse called Goumont 
or Hougoumont, with out-buildings and a garden, and with 
a copse of beech-trees of about two acres in extent around it. 
This was strongly garrisoned by the allied troops ; and while 
it was in their possession, it was difficult for the enemy to press 
on and force the British right wing. On the other hand, if the 
enemy could take it, it would be difficult for that wing to keep 
its ground on the heights, with a strong post held adversely in 
its immediate front, being one that would give much shelter 
to the enemy's marksmen, and great facilities for the sudden 
concentration of attacking columns. Almost immediately in 
front of the British centre, and not so far down the slope as 
Hougoumont, there was another farmhouse, of a smaller size, 



BATTLE OF WATERLOO 363 

called La Haye Sainte,* which was also held by the British 
troops, and the occupation of which was found to be of very 
serious consequence. 

With respect to the French position, the principal feature to 
be noticed is the village of Planchenoit, which lay a little in the 
rear of their right (i.e., on the eastern side), and which proved 
to be of great importance in aiding them to check the advance 
of the Prussians. 

Napoleon, in his memoirs, and other French writers, have 
vehemently blamed the duke for having given battle in such a 
position as that of Waterloo. They particularly object that the 
duke fought without having the means of a retreat, if the attacks 
of his enemy had proved successful ; and that the English army, 
if once broken, must have lost all its guns and materiel in its 
flight through the forest of Soignies, that lay in its rear. In 
answer to these censures, instead of merely referring to the 
event of the battle as proof of the correctness of the duke's judg- 
ment, it is to be observed that many military critics of high 
authority have considered the position of Waterloo to have been 
admirably adapted for the duke's purpose of protecting Brussels 
by a battle; and that certainly the duke's opinion in favor of it 
was not lightly or hastily formed. It is a remarkable fact (men- 
tioned in the speech of Lord Bathurst when moving the vote 
of thanks to the duke in the House of Lords) that, when the 
Duke of Wellington was passing through Belgium in the pre- 
ceding summer of 18 14, he particularly noticed the strength of 
the position of Waterloo, and made a minute of it at the time, 
stating to those who were with him that if it ever should be his 
fate to fight a battle in that quarter for the protection of Brussels, 
he should endeavor to do so in that position. And with respect 
to the forest of Soignies, which the French (and some few Eng- 
lish) critics have thought calculated to prove so fatal to a re- 
treating force, the duke, on the contrary, believed it to be a 
post that might have proved of infinite value to his army in the 
event of his having been obliged to give way. The forest of 
Soignies has no thicket or masses of close-growing trees. It 
consists of tall beeches, and is everywhere passable for men and 
horses. The artillery could have been withdrawn by the broad 
road which traverses it towards Brussels; and in the mean while 

* Not to be confounded with the hamlet of La Haye, at the extreme 
left of the British line. 



364 DECISIVE BATTLES 

a few regiments of resolute infantry could have held the forest 
and kept the pursuers in check. One of the best writers on the 
Waterloo campaign, Captain Pringle, well observes that " every 
person the least experienced in war knows the extreme difficulty 
of forcing infantry from a wood which cannot be turned." The 
defense of the Bois de Bossu near Quatre Bras on the i6th of 
June had given a good proof of this ; and the Duke of Welling- 
ton, when speaking in after years of the possible events that 
might have followed if he had been beaten back from the open 
field of Waterloo, pointed to the wood of Soignies as his secure 
rallying place, saying, "They never could have beaten us so 
that we could not have held the wood against them." He was 
always confident that he could have made good that post until 
joined by the Prussians, upon whose co-operation he through- 
out depended. 

As has been already mentioned, the Prussians, on the morn- 
ing of the i8th, were at Wavre, about twelve miles to the east 
of the field of battle at Waterloo. The junction of Bulow's di- 
vision had more than made up for the loss sustained at Ligny ; 
and leaving Thielman, with about 17,000 men, to hold his 
ground as he best could against the attack which Grouchy was 
about to make on Wavre, Bulow and Blucher moved with the 
rest of the Prussians through St. Lambert upon Waterloo. It 
was calculated that they would be there by three o'clock ; but 
the extremely difficult nature of the ground which they had to 
traverse, rendered worse by the torrents of rain that had just 
fallen, delayed them long on their twelve miles march. 

An army, indeed, less animated by bitter hate against the 
enemy than were the Prussians and under a less energetic chief 
than Blucher, would have failed altogether in effecting a passage 
through the swamps into which the incessant rain had trans- 
formed the greater part of the ground through which it was 
necessary to move,, not only with columns of foot, but with 
cavalry and artillery. At one point of the march, on entering 
the defile of St. Lambert, the spirits of the Prussians almost gave 
way. Exhausted in the attempts to extricate and drag forward 
the heavy guns, the men began to murmur. Bliicher came to 
the spot and heard cries from the ranks of " We cannot get on." 
" But you must get on," was the old field-marshal's answer. 
" I have pledged my word to Wellington, and you surely will 
not make me break it. Only exert yourselves for a few hours 



BATTLE OF WATERLOO 365 

longer, and we are sure of victory." This appeal from old 
" Marshal Forwards," as the Prussian soldiers loved to call 
Bliicher, had its wonted effect. The Prussians^ again moved 
forward, slowly, indeed, and with pain and toil; but still they 
moved forward. 

The French and British armies lay on the open field during 
the wet and stormy night of the 17th; and when the dawn of 
the memorable i8th of June broke, the rain was still descending 
heavily upon Waterloo. The rival nations rose from their dreary 
bivouacs and began to form, each on the high ground which it 
occupied. Towards nine the weather grew clearer, and each 
army was able to watch the position and arrangements of the 
other on the opposite side of the valley. 

The Duke of Wellington drew up his army in two lines, the 
principal one being stationed near the crest of the ridge of hills 
already described, and the other being arranged along the slope 
in the rear of his position. Commencing from the eastward, on 
the extreme left of the first or main line, were Vivian's and 
Vandeleur's brigades of Hght cavalry, and the fifth Hanoverian 
brigade of infantry under Von Vincke. Then came Best's fourth 
Hanoverian brigade. Detachments from these bodies of troops 
occupied the little villages of Papelotte and La Haye, down the 
hollow in advance of the left of the duke's position. To the right 
of Best's Hanoverians, Bylandt's brigade of Dutch and Belgian 
infantry was drawn up on the outer slope of the heights. Be- 
hind them were the ninth brigade of British infantry under 
Pack; and to the right of these last, but more in advance, stood 
the eighth brigade of English infantry under Kempt. These 
were close to the Charleroi road and to the centre of the entire 
position. These two English brigades, with the fifth Hanove- 
rian, made up the fifth division, commanded by Sir Thomas 
Picton. Immediately to their right, and westward of the Char- 
leroi road, stood the third division, commanded by General 
Alten, and consisting of Ompteda's brigade of the king's Ger- 
man Legion and Kielmansegge's Hanoverian brigade. The 
important post of La Haye Sainte, which, it will be remembered, 
lay in front of the duke's centre, close to the Charleroi road, 
was garrisoned with troops from this division. Westward, and 
on the right of Kielmansegge's Hanoverians, stood the fifth 
brigade under Halkett; and behind, Kruse's Nassau brigade 
was posted. On the right of Halkett's men stood the English 



366 DECISIVE BATTLES 

Guards. They were in two brigades, one commanded by Mait- 
land and the other by Byng. The entire division was under 
General Cooke. The buildings and gardens of Hougoumont, 
which lay immediately under the height on which stood the 
British Guards, were principally manned by detachments from 
Byng's brigade, aided by some brave Hanoverian riflemen and 
accompanied by a battalion of a Nassau regiment. On a plateau 
in the rear of Cooke's division of Guards, and inclining west- 
ward towards the village of Merk Braine, were Clinton's second 
tnfantry division, composed of Adams's third brigade of light 
infantry, Du Plat's first brigade of the king's German Legion, 
and third Hanoverian brigade under Colonel Halkett. 

The duke formed his second line of cavalry. This only ex- 
tended behind the right and centre of his first line. The largest 
mass was drawn up behind the brigades of infantry in the cen- 
tre, on either side of the Charleroi road. The brigade of house- 
hold cavalry under Lord Somerset was on the immediate right 
of the road, and on the left of it was Ponsonby's brigade. Behind 
these were Trip's and Ghingy's brigades of Dutch and Belgian 
horse. The third Hussars of the king's German Legion were 
to the right of Somerset's brigade. To the right of these, and 
behind Maitland's infantry, stood the third brigade under Dorn- 
berg, consisting of the twenty-third English light dragoons and 
the regiments of light dragoons of the king's German Legion. 
The last cavalry on the right was Grant's brigade, stationed in 
the rear of the Foot Guards. The corps of Brunswickers, both 
horse and foot, and the tenth British brigade of foot were in 
reserve behind the centre and right of the entire position. The 
artillery was distributed at convenient intervals along the front 
of the whole line. Besides the generals who have been men- 
tioned, Lord Hill, Lord Uxbridge (who had the general com- 
mand of the cavalry), the Prince of Orange, and General Chasse 
were present and acting under the Duke.* 

On the opposite heights the French army was drawn up in 

* Prince Frederick's force remained at Hal, and took no part in the 
battle of the i8th. The reason for this arrangement (which has been 
much cavilled at) may best be given in the words of Baron Muffling: 
" The Duke had retired from Quatre Bras in three columns, by three 
chaussees; and on the evening of the 17th, Prince Frederick of Orange 
was at Hal, Lord Hill at Braine I'Alleud, and the Prince of Orange 
with the reserve at Mont St. Jean. This distribution was necessary, as 
Napoleon could dispose of these three roads for his advance on Brussels, 
Napoleon on the 17th had pressed on by Genappe as far as Rossomme. 



BATTLE OF WATERLOO 367 

two general lines, with the entire force of the Imperial Guards, 
cavalry as well as infantry, in rear of the centre, as a reserve. 

The first line of the French army was formed of the two corps 
commanded by Count d'Erlon and Count Reille. D'Erlon's 
corps was on the right, that is, eastward of the Charleroi road, 
and consisted of four divisions of infantry under Generals 
Durette, Marcognet, Alix, and Donzelot, and of one division 
of light cavalry under General Jaquinot. Count Reille's corps 
formed the left or western wing, and was formed of Bachelu's, 
Foy's, and Jerome Bonaparte's divisions of infantry and of Fire's 
division of cavalry. The right wing of the second general 
French line was formed of Milhaud's corps, consisting of two 
divisions of heavy cavalry. The left wing of this line was formed 
by Kellermann's cavalry corps, also in two divisions. Thus each 
of the corps of infantry that composed the first line had a corps 
of cavalry behind it; but the second line consisted also of Lobau's 
corps of infantry and Domont and Subervie's divisions of light 
cavalry; these three bodies of troops being drawn up on either 
side of La Belle Alliance and forming the centre of the second 
line. The third, or reserve, line had its centre composed of the 
infantry of the Imperial Guard. Two regiments of grenadiers 
and two of chasseurs formed the foot of the Old Guard under 
General Friant. The Middle Guard, under Count Morand, was 
similarly composed; while two regiments of voltigeurs and two 
of tirailleurs, under Duhesme, constituted the Young Guard. 

On the two other roads no enemy had yet shown himself. On the i8th 
the offensive was taken by Napoleon on its greatest scale, but still the 
Nivelles road was not overstepped by his left wing. These circum- 
stances made it possible to draw Prince Frederick to the army, which 
would certainly have been done if entirely new circumstances had not 
arisen. The duke had, twenty-four hours before, pledged himself to 
accept a batde at Mont St. Jean if Bliicher would assist him there with 
one corps of 25,000 men. This being promised, the duke was taking his 
measures for defence, when he learned that, in addition to the one corps 
promised, Bliicher was actually already on the march with his whole 
force, to break in by Planchenoit on Napoleon's flank and rear. If 
three corps of the Prussian army should penetrate by the unguarded 
plateau of Rossomme, which was not improbable, Napoleon would be 
thrust from his line of retreat by Genappe, and might possibly lose even 
that by Nivelles. In this case Prince Frederick, with his 18,000 men 
(who might be counted superfluous at Mont St. Jean), might have 
rendered the most essential service.'' See Miiffling, p. 246, and the 
Quarterly Review, No. 178. It is also worthy of observation that 
Napoleon actually detached a force of 2,000 cavalry to threaten Hal, 
though they returned to the main French army during the night of 
the 17th. 



368 DECISIVE BATTLES 

The chasseurs and lancers of the Guard were on the right of 
the mfantry, under Lefebvre Desnouettes; and the grenadiers 
and dragoons of the Guards, under Guyot, were on the left. 
All the French corps comprised, besides their cavalry and in- 
fantry regiments, strong batteries of horse-artillery; and Na- 
poleon's numerical superiority in guns was of deep importance 
throughout the action. 

Besides the leading generals who have been mentioned as 
commanding particular corps, Ney and Soult were present, and 
acted as the emperor's lieutenants in the battle. 

English military critics have highly eulogized the admirable 
arrangement which Napoleon made of his forces of each arm, 
so as to give him the most ample means of sustaining, by an 
immediate and sufficient support, any attack, from whatever 
point he might direct it, and of drawing promptly together a 
strong force, to resist any attack that might be made on himself 
in any part of the field.* When his troops were all arrayed, he 
rode along the lines, receiving everywhere the most enthusiastic 
cheers from his men, of whose entire devotion to him his as- 
surance was now doubly sure. On the southern side of the 
valley the duke's army was also arrayed, and ready to meet the 
menaced attack. 

WelHngton had caused, on the preceding night, every brigade 
and corps to take up its station on or near the part of the ground 
which it was intended to hold in the coming battle. He had 
slept a few hours at his headquarters in the village of Waterloo ; 
and rising on the i8th, while it was yet deep night, he wrote 
several letters, to the Governor of Antwerp, to the English Min- 
ister at Brussels, and other official personages, in which he ex- 
pressed his confidence that all would go well ; but, " as it was 
necessary to provide against serious losses should any accident 
occur," he gave a series of judicious orders for what should be 
done in the rear of the army in the event of the battle going 
against the Allies. He also, before he left the village of Water- 
loo, saw to the distribution of the reserves of ammunition which 
had been parked there, so that supplies should be readily for- 
warded to every part of the line of battle where they might be 
required. The duke, also, personally inspected the arrangements 
that had been made for receiving the wounded and providing 

* Siborne, vol. i., p. 376. 



BATTLE OF WATERLOO 369 

temporary hospitals in the houses in the rear of the army. Then, 
mounting a favorite charger, a small thoroughbred chestnut 
horse, named " Copenhagen," Wellington rode forward to the 
range of hills where his men were posted. Accompanied by 
his staff and by the Prussian General Miiffling, he rode along 
his lines, carefully inspecting all the details of his position. 
Hougoumont was the object of his special attention. He rode 
down to the southeastern extremity of its enclosures, and, after 
having examined the nearest French troops, he made some 
changes in the disposition of his own men who were to defend 
that important post. 

Having given his final orders about Hougoumont, the duke 
galloped back to the high ground in the right centre of his 
position, and, halting there, sat watching the enemy on the 
opposite heights and conversing with his staff with that cheer- 
ful serenity which was ever his characteristic in the hour of 
battle. 

Not all brave men are thus gifted; and many a glance of 
anxious excitement must have been cast across the valley that 
separated the two hosts during the protracted pause which en- 
sued between the completion of Napoleon's preparations for 
attack and the actual commencement of the contest. It was, 
indeed, an awful calm before the coming storm, when armed 
myriads stood gazing on their armed foes, scanning their num- 
ber, their array, their probable powers of resistance and destruc- 
tion, and listening with throbbing hearts for the momentarily 
expected note of death ; while visions of victory and glory came 
thronging on each soldier's high-strung brain, not unmingled 
with recollections of the home which his fall might soon leave 
desolate, nor without shrinking nature sometimes prompting 
the cold thought that in a few moments he might be writhing 
in agony, or lie a trampled and mangled mass of clay on the 
grass now waving so freshly and purely before him. 

Such thoughts will arise in human breasts, though the brave 
man soon silences " the child within us that trembles before 
death," and nerves himself for the coming struggle by the men- 
tal preparation which Xenophon has finely called " the soldier's 
arraying his own soul for battle." Well, too, may we hope and 
believe that many a spirit sought aid from a higher and holier 
source, and that many a fervent, though silent, prayer arose on 
that Sabbath morn (the battle of Waterloo was fought on a 
24 



370 DECISIVE BATTLES 

Sunday) to the Lord of Sabaoth, the God of Battles, from the 
ranks whence so many thousands were about to appear that day 
before his judgment-seat. 

Not only to those who were thus present as spectators and 
actors in the dread drama, but to all Europe, the decisive con- 
test then impending between the rival French and English 
nations, each under its chosen chief, was the object of exciting 
interest and deepest solicitude. " Never, indeed, had two such 
generals as the Duke of Wellington and the Emperor Napoleon 
encountered since the day when Scipio and Hannibal met at 
Zama." 

The two great champions who now confronted each other 
were equals in years, and each had entered the military pro- 
fession at the same early age. The more conspicuous stage on 
which the French general's youthful genius was displayed, his 
heritage of the whole military power of the French republic, 
the position on which for years he was elevated as sovereign 
head of an empire surpassing that of Charlemagne, and the 
dazzling results of his victories, which made and unmade kings, 
had given him a formidable pre-eminence in the eyes of man- 
kind. Military men spoke with justly rapturous admiration of 
the brilliancy of his first Italian campaigns, when he broke 
through the pedantry of traditional tactics and with a small but 
promptly wielded force shattered army after army of the Aus- 
trians, conquered provinces and capitals, dictated treaties, and 
annihilated or created states. The iniquity of his Egyptian ex- 
pedition was too often forgotten in contemplating the skill and 
boldness with which he destroyed the Mameluke cavalry at the 
Pyramids and the Turkish infantry at Aboukir. None could 
forget the marvellous passage of the Alps in 1800, or the victory 
of Marengo, which wrested Italy back from Austria and de- 
stroyed the fruit of twenty victories which the enemies of France 
had gained over her in the absence of her favorite chief. Even 
higher seemed the glories of his German campaigns, the tri- 
umphs of Ulm, of Austerlitz, of Jena, of Wagram. Napoleon's 
disasters in Russia, in 1812, were imputed by his admirers to 
the elements; his reverses in Germany, in 1813, were attributed 
by them to treachery; and even those two calamitous years had 
been signalized by his victories at Borodino, at Lutzen, at Baut- 
zen, at Dresden, and at Hanau. His last campaign, in the early 
months of 1814, was rightly cited as the most splendid exhibi- 



BATTLE OF WATERLOO 371 

tion of his military genius, when, with a far inferior army, he 
long checked and frequently defeated the vast hosts that were 
poured upon France. His followers fondly hoped that the cam- 
paign of 181 5 would open with another " week of miracles," like 
that which had seen his victories at Montmirail and Montereau. 
The laurel of Ligny was even now fresh upon his brows. 
Bliicher had not stood before him; and who was the adversary 
that now should bar the emperor's way? 

That adversary had already overthrown the emperor's best 
generals and the emperor's best armies, and, like Napoleon him- 
self, had achieved a reputation in more than European wars. 
Wellington was illustrious as the destroyer of the Mahratta 
power, as the liberator of Portugal and Spain, and the successful 
invader of Southern France. In early youth he had held high 
command in India, and had displayed eminent skill in planning 
and combining movements, and unrivalled celerity and bold- 
ness in execution. On his return to Europe, several years passed 
away before any fitting opportunity was accorded for the exer- 
cise of his genius. In this important respect, Wellington, as a 
subject, and Napoleon, as a sovereign, were far differently situ- 
ated. At length his appointment to the command in the Spanish 
Peninsula gave him the means of showing Europe that England 
had a general who could revive the glories of Crecy, of Poitiers, 
of Agincourt, of Blenheim, and of Ramillies. At the head of 
forces always numerically far inferior to the armies with which 
Napoleon deluged the Peninsula; thwarted by jealous and in- 
competent allies; ill supported by friends and assailed by factious 
enemies at home, Wellington maintained the war for seven 
years, unstained by any serious reverse, and marked by victory 
in thirteen pitched battles, at Vimiera, the Douro, Talavera, 
Busaco, Fuentes de Onoro, Salamanca, Vittoria, the Pyrenees, 
the Bidassoa, the Nive, the Nivelle, Orthes, and Toulouse. 
Junot, Victor, Massena, Ney, Marmont, and Jourdain — mar- 
shals whose names were the terror of Continental Europe — had 
been bafifled by his skill and smitten down by his energy, while 
he Hberated the kingdoms of the Peninsula from them and their 
imperial master. In vain did Napoleon at last despatch Soult, 
the ablest of his lieutenants, to turn the tide of Wellington's 
success and defend France against the English invader. Wel- 
ington met Soult's manoeuvres with superior skill, and his bold- 
ness with superior vigor. When Napoleon's first abdication, in 



372 DECISIVE BATTLES 

1814, suspended hostilities, Wellington was master of the fairest 
districts of Southern France, and had under him a veteran army 
with which (to use his own expressive phrase) " he felt he could 
have gone anywhere and done anything." The fortune of war 
had hitherto kept separate the orbits in which Napoleon and he 
had moved. Now, on the ever-memorable i8th of June, 181 5, 
they met at last. 

It is, indeed, remarkable that Napoleon, during his numerous 
campaigns in Spain as well as other countries, not only never 
encountered the Duke of Wellington before the day of Water- 
loo, but that he was never until then personally engaged with 
British troops, except at the siege of Toulon, in 1793, which 
was the very first incident of his military career. Many, how- 
ever, of the French generals who were with him in 181 5 knew 
well, by sharp experience, what English soldiers were and what 
the leader was who now headed them. Ney, Foy, and other 
officers who had served in the Peninsula warned Napoleon that 
he would find the English infantry " very devils in fight." The 
emperor, however, persisted in employing the old system of at- 
tack, with which the French generals often succeeded against 
Continental troops but which had always failed against the Eng- 
lish in the Peninsula. He adhered to his usual tactics of em- 
ploying the order of the column, a mode of attack probably 
favored by him (as Sir Walter Scott remarks) on account of his 
faith in the extreme valor of the French officers by whom the 
column was headed. It is a threatening formation, well calcu- 
lated to shake the firmness of ordinary foes, but which, when 
steadily met, as the English have met it, by heavy volleys of 
musketry from an extended line, followed up by a resolute bayo- 
net charge, has always resulted in disaster to the assailants.* 

It was approaching noon before the action commenced. Na- 
poleon, in his memoirs, gives as the reason for this delay, the 
miry state of the ground through the heavy rain of the preced- 
ing night and day, which rendered it impossible for cavalry or 
artillery to manoeuvre on it till a few hours of dry weather had 
given it its natural consistency. It has been supposed, also, that 

* See especially Sir W. Napier's glorious pictures of the battles of 
Busaco and Albuera. The theoretical advantages of the attack in 
cokimn, and its pecuHar fitness for a French army, are set forth in the 
Chevalier Folard's " Traite de la Colonne," prefixed to the first volume 
of his " Polybius." See also the preface to the sixth volume. 



BATTLE OF WATERLOO 373 

he trusted to the effect which the sight of the imposing array of 
his own forces was Hkely to produce on the part of the alhed 
army. The Belgian regiments had been tampered with; and 
Napoleon had well-founded hopes of seeing them quit the Duke 
of Wellington in a body, and range themselves under his own 
eagles. The duke, however, who knew and did not trust them, 
had guarded against the risk of this by breaking up the corps 
of Belgians, and distributing them in separate regiments among 
troops on whom he could rely. 

At last, at about half-past eleven o'clock, Napoleon began 
the battle by directing a powerful force from his left wing under 
his brother, Prince Jerome, to attack Hougoumont. Column 
after column of the French now descended from the west of the 
southern heights, and assailed that post with fiery valor, which 
was encountered with the most determined bravery. The 
French won the copse round the house, but a party of the Brit- 
ish Guards held the house itself throughout the day. The 
whole of Byng's brigade was required to man this hotly con- 
tested post. Amid shell and shot, and the blazing fragments 
of part of the buildings, this obstinate contest was continued. 
But still the English were firm at Hougoumont, though the 
French occasionally moved forward in such numbers as en- 
abled them to surround and mask this post with part of their 
troops from their left wing, while others pressed onward up 
the slope, and assailed the British right. 

The cannonade, which commenced at first between the Brit- 
ish right and the French left, in consequence of the attack on 
Hougoumont, soon became general along both lines; and 
about one o'clock Napoleon directed a grand attack to be made 
under Marshal Ney upon the centre and left wing of the allied 
army. For this purpose four columns of infantry, amounting 
to about 18,000 men, were collected, supported by a strong 
division of cavalry under the celebrated Kellermann, and seven- 
ty-four guns were brought forward ready to be posted on the 
ridge of a little undulation of the ground in the interval be- 
tween the two principal chains of heights, so as to bring their 
fire to bear on the duke's line at a range of about seven hundred 
yards. By the combined assault of these formidable forces, led 
on by Ney, " the bravest of the brave," Napoleon hoped to 
force the left centre of the British position, to take La Haye 
Sainte, and then, pressing forward, to occupy also the farm of 



374 DECISIVE BATTLES 

Mont St. Jean. He then could cut the mass of WelHngton's 
troops off from their line of retreat upon Brussels, and from 
their own left, and also completely sever them from any Prus- 
sian troops that might be approaching. 

The columns destined for this great and decisive operation 
descended majestically from the French range of hills, and 
gained the ridge of the intervening eminence, on which the bat- 
teries that supported them were now ranged. As the columns 
descended again from this eminence, the seventy-four guns 
opened over their heads with terrible effect upon the troops of 
the allies that were stationed on the heights to the left of the 
Charleroi road. One of the French columns kept to the east, 
and attacked the extreme left of the allies; the other three 
continued to move rapidly forward upon the left centre of the 
allied position. The front line of the allies here was com- 
posed of Bylandt's brigade of Dutch and Belgians. As the 
French columns moved up the southward slope of the height on 
which the Dutch and Belgians stood, and the skirmishers in 
advance began to open their fire, Bylandt's entire brigade 
turned and fled in disgraceful and disorderly panic ; but there 
were men more worthy of the name behind. 

In this part of the second line of the allies were posted Pack 
and Kempt's brigades of English infantry, which had suffered 
severely at Quatre Bras. But Picton was here as general of 
division, and not even Ney himself surpassed in resolute bravery 
that stern and fiery spirit. Picton brought his two brigades 
forward, side by side, in a thin, two-deep line. Thus joined to- 
gether, they were not three thousand strong. With these Picton 
had to make head against the three victorious French columns, 
upwards of four times that strength, and who, encouraged by 
the easy rout of the Dutch and Belgians, now came confidently 
over the ridge of the hill. The British infantry stood firm; and 
as the French halted and began to deploy into line, Picton seized 
the critical moment. He shouted in his stentorian voice to 
Kempt's brigade: " A volley, and then charge! " At a distance 
of less than thirty yards that volley was poured upon the de- 
voted first sections of the nearest column; and then, with a fierce 
hurrah, the British dashed in with the bayonet. Picton was 
shot dead as he rushed forward, but his men pushed on with 
the cold steel. The French reeled back in confusion. Pack's 
infantry had checked the other two columns, and down came a 



BATTLE OF WATERLOO 375 

whirlwind of British horse on the whole mass, sending them 
staggering from the crest of the hill and cutting them down by- 
whole battalions. Ponsonby's brigade of heavy cavalry (the 
Union Brigade, as it was called, from its being made up of the 
British Royals, the Scotch Greys, and the Irish Inniskillings) 
did this good service. On went the horsemen amid the wrecks 
of the French columns, capturing two eagles and two thousand 
prisoners ; onward still they galloped, and sabred the artillery- 
men of Ney's seventy-four advanced guns; then severing the 
traces and cutting the throats of the artillery horses, they ren- 
dered these guns totally useless to the French throughout the 
remainder of the day. While thus far advanced beyond the 
British position and disordered by success, they were charged 
by a large body of French lancers and driven back with severe 
loss, till Vandeleur's light-horse came to their aid and beat off 
the French lancers in their turn. 

Equally unsuccessful with the advance of the French infantry 
in this grand attack had been the efforts of the French cavalry 
who moved forward in support of it, along the east of the Charle- 
roi road. Somerset's cavalry of the English Household Brigade 
had been launched, on the right of Picton's division, against the 
French horse, at the same time that the English Union Brigade 
of heavy-horse charged the French infantry columns on the left. 

Somerset's brigade was formed of the Life Guards, the Blues, 
and the Dragoon Guards. The hostile cavalry, which Keller- 
mann led forward, consisted chiefly of cuirassiers. This steel- 
clad mass of French horsemen rode down some companies of 
German infantry near La Haye Sainte and, flushed with success, 
they bounded onward to the ridge of the British position. The 
English Household Brigade, led on by the Earl of Uxbridge in 
person, spurred forward to the encounter, and in an instant the 
two adverse lines of strong swordsmen on their strong steeds 
dashed furiously together. A desperate and sanguinary hand- 
to-hand fight ensued, in which the physical superiority of the 
Anglo-Saxons, guided by equal skill and animated with equal 
valor, was made decisively manifest. Back went the chosen cav- 
alry of France ; and after them, in hot pursuit, spurred the Eng- 
lish Guards. They went forward as far and as fiercely as their 
comrades of the Union Brigade ; and, like them, the Household 
cavalry suffered severely before they regained the British posi- 
tion, after their magnificent charge and adventurous pursuit. 



376 DECISIVE BATTLES 

Napoleon's grand effort to break the English left centre had 
thus completely failed; and his right wing was seriously weak- 
ened by the heavy loss which it had sustained. Hougoumont 
was still being assailed, and was still successfully resisting. 
Troops were now beginning to appear at the edge of the hori- 
zon on Napoleon's right, which he too well knew to be Prus- 
sian, though he endeavored to persuade his followers that they 
were Grouchy's men coming to their aid. 

Grouchy was, in fact, now engaged at Wavre with his whole 
force against Thielman's single Prussian corps, while the other 
three corps of the Prussian army were moving without opposi- 
tion, save from the difficulties of the ground, upon Waterloo. 
Grouchy believed, on the 17th, and caused Napoleon to believe, 
that the Prussian army was retreating by lines of march remote 
from Waterloo upon Namur and Maestricht. Napoleon learned 
only on the i8th that there were Prussians in Wavre, and felt 
jealous about the security of his own right. He accordingly, 
before he attacked the English, sent Grouchy orders to engage 
the Prussians at Wavre without delay, and to approach the 
main French army, so as to unite his communication with the 
emperor's. Grouchy entirely neglected this last part of his in- 
structions; and in attacking the Prussians whom he found at 
Wavre, he spread his force more and more towards his right, 
that is to say, in the direction most remote from Napoleon. He 
thus knew nothing of Bliicher's and Bulow's flank march upon 
Waterloo till six in the evening of the i8th, when he received 
a note which Soult, by Napoleon's orders, had sent ofif from the 
field of battle at Waterloo at one o'clock, to inform Grouchy 
that Bulow was coming over the heights of St. Lambert, on the 
emperor's right flank, and directing Grouchy to approach and 
join the main army instantly, and crush Bulow en flagrant delit. 
It was then too late for Grouchy to obey; but it is remarkable 
that as early as noon on the i8th, and while Grouchy had not 
proceeded as far as Wavre, he and his suite heard the sound of 
heavy cannonading in the direction of Planchenoit and Mont St. 
Jean. General Gerard, who was with Grouchy, implored him 
to march towards the cannonade and join his operations with 
those of Napoleon, who was evidently engaged with the Eng- 
lish. Grouchy refused to do so or even to detach part of his 
force m that direction. He said that his instructions were to 
fight the Prussians at Wavre. He marched upon Wavre, and 



BATTLE OF WATERLOO 377 

fought for the rest of the day with Thielman accordingly, while 
Bliicher and Btilow were attacking the emperor.* 

Napoleon had witnessed with bitter disappointment the rout 
of his troops — foot, horse, and artillery — which attacked the left 
centre of the English, and the obstinate resistance which the 
garrison of Hougoumont opposed to all the exertions of his left 
wing. He now caused the batteries along the line of high ground 
held by him to be strengthened, and for some time an unre- 
mitting and most destructive cannonade raged across the valley, 
to the partial cessation of other conflict. But the superior fire 
of the French artillery, though it weakened, could not break 
the British line, and more close and summary measures were 
requisite. 

It was now about half-past three o'clock; and though Well- 
ington's army had suffered severely by the unremitting can- 
nonade and in the late desperate encounter, no part of the 
British position had been forced. Napoleon determined to 
try what effect he could produce on the British centre and 
right by charges of his splendid cavalry, brought on in such 
force that the duke's cavalry could not check them. Fresh 
troops were at the same time sent to assail La Haye Sainte 

* I have heard the remark made that Grouchy twice had in his hands 
the power of changing the destinies of Europe, and twice wanted nerve 
to act : first, when he flinched from landing the French army at Bantry 
Bay in 1796 (he was second in command to Hoche, whose ship was 
blown back by a storm), and, secondly, when he failed to lead his whole 
force from Wavre to the scene of decisive conflict at Waterloo. But 
such were the arrangements of the Prussian general that even if Grouchy 
had marched upon Waterloo, he would have been held in check by the 
nearest Prussian corps, or certainly by the two nearest ones, while the 
rest proceeded to join Wellington. This, however, would have dimin- 
ished the number of Prussians who appeared at Waterloo, and (what 
is still more important) would have kept them back to a later hour. 

There are some very valuable remarks on this subject in an article 
on the " Life of Bliicher," usually attributed to Sir Francis Head. The 
Prussian writer, General Clausewitz, is there cited as " expressing a 
positive opinion, in which every military critic but a Frenchman must 
concur, that, even had the whole of Grouchy's force been at Napoleon's 
disposal, the duke had nothing to fear pending Bliicher's arrival. 

" The duke is often talked of as having exhausted his reserves in the 
action. This is another gross error, which Clausewitz has thoroughly 
disposed of (p. 125). He enumerates the tenth British brigade, the 
division of Chasse, and the cavalry of Collaert as having been little or 
not at all engaged; and he might have also added two brigades of light 
cavalry." The fact, also, that Wellington did not at any part of the 
day order up Prince Frederick's corps from Hal is a conclusive proof 
that the duke was not so distressed as some writers have represented. 
Hal i§ not ten miles from the field of Waterloo." 



378 DECISIVE BATTLES 

and Hougoumont, the possession of these posts being the em- 
peror's unceasing object. Squadron after squadron of the 
French cuirassiers accordingly ascended the slopes on the 
duke's right, and rode forward with dauntless courage against 
the batteries of the British artillery in that part of the field. 
The artillery-men were driven from their guns, and the cuiras- 
siers cheered loudly at their supposed triumph. But the duke 
had formed his infantry in squares, and the cuirassiers charged 
in vain against the impenetrable hedges of bayonets, while the 
fire from the inner ranks of the squares told with terrible effect 
on their squadrons. Time after time they rode forward with 
invariably the same result; and as they receded from each 
attack, the British artillery-men rushed forward from the cen- 
tres of the squares, where they had taken refuge, and plied their 
guns on the retiring horsemen. Nearly the whole of Napo- 
leon's magnificent body of heavy cavalry was destroyed in 
these fruitless attempts upon the British right. But in another 
part of the field fortune favored him for a time. Two French 
columns of infantry from Donzelot's division took La Haye 
Sainte between six and seven o'clock, and the means were now 
given for organizing another formidable attack on the centre of 
the allies. 

There was no time to be lost: Bliicher and Bulow were be- 
ginning to press upon the French right; as early as five 
o'clock, Napoleon had been obliged to detach Lobau's infantry 
and Domont's horse to check these new enemies. They suc- 
ceeded in doing so for a time; but, as large numbers of the 
Prussians came on the field, they turned Lobau's right flank, 
and sent a strong force to seize the village of Planchenoit, 
which, it will be remembered, lay in the rear of the French 
right. 

The design of the Allies was not merely to prevent Napoleon 
from advancing upon Brussels, but to cut off his line of retreat 
and utterly destroy his army. The defence of Planchenoit there- 
fore became absolutely essential for the safety of the French, 
and Napoleon was obliged to send his Young Guard to occupy 
that village, which was accordingly held by them with great 
gallantry against the reiterated assaults of the Prussian left, 
under Bulow. Three times did the Prussians fight their way 
into Planchenoit, and as often did the French drive them out; 
the contest was maintained with the fiercest desperation on both 



BATTLE OF WATERLOO 379 

sides, such being the animosity between the two nations that 
quarter was seldom given or even asked. Other Prussian forces 
were now appearing on the field nearer to the English left, whom 
also Napoleon kept in check by troops detached for that pur- 
pose. Thus a large part of the French army was now thrown 
back on a line at right angles with the line of that portion which 
still confronted and assailed the English position. But this por- 
tion was now numerically inferior to the force under the Duke 
of Wellington, which Napoleon had been assailing throughout 
the day, without gaining any other advantage than the capture 
of La Haye Sainte. It is true that, owing to the gross miscon- 
duct of the greater part of the Dutch and Belgian troops, the 
duke was obliged to rely exclusively on his English and Ger- 
man soldiers, and the ranks of these had been fearfully thinned; 
but the survivors stood their ground heroically, and opposed a 
resolute front to every forward movement of their enemies. 

On no point of the British line was the pressure more severe 
than on Halkett's brigade in the right centre, which was com- 
posed of battahons of the 30th, the 33d, the 69th, and the 73d 
British regiments. We fortunately can quote from the journal 
of a brave officer of the 30th a narrative of what took place in 
this part of the field. The late Major Macready served at Water- 
loo in the light company of the 30th. The extent of the peril 
and the carnage which Halkett's brigade had to encounter may 
be judged of by the fact that this light company marched into 
the field three officers and fifty-one men, and that at the end of 
the battle they stood one officer and ten men. Major Ma- 
cready's blunt, soldierly account of what he actually saw and 
felt gives a far better idea of the terrific scene than can be gained 
from the polished generalizations which the conventional style 
of history requires, or even from the glowing stanzas of the 
poet. During the earlier part of the day Macready and his 
light company were thrown forward as skirmishers in front of 
the brigade; but when the French cavalry commenced their 
attacks on the British right centre, he and his comrades were 
ordered back. The brave soldier thus himself describes what 
passed : 

" Before the commencement of this attack our company and 
the grenadiers of the 73d were skirmishing briskly in the low 
ground, covering our guns and annoying those of the enemy. 
The line of tirailleurs opposed to us was not stronger than our 



380 DECISIVE BATTLES 

own, but on a sudden they were reinforced by numerous bodies, 
and several guns began playing on us with canister. Our poor 
fellows dropped very fast, and Colonel Vigoureux, Rumley, and 
Pratt were carried off badly wounded in about two minutes, I 
was now commander of our company. We stood under this 
hurricane of small shot till Halkett sent to order us in, and I 
brought away about a third of the light bobs; the rest were 
killed or wounded, and I really wonder how one of them es- 
caped. As our bugler was killed, I shouted and made signals 
to move by the left, in order to avoid the fire of our guns and to 
put as good a face upon the business as possible. 

" When I reached Lloyd's abandoned guns, I stood near them 
for about a minute to contemplate the scene: it was grand be- 
yond description. Hougoumont and its wood sent up a broad 
flame through the dark masses of smoke that overhung the field; 
beneath this cloud the French were indistinctly visible. Here 
a waving mass of long red feathers could be seen ; there, gleams 
as from a sheet of steel showed that the cuirassiers were mov- 
ing; 400 cannon were belching forth fire and death on every 
side; the roaring and shouting were indistinguishably commixed 
— together they gave an idea of a laboring volcano. Bodies of 
infantry and cavalry were pouring down on us, and it was time 
to leave contemplation; so I moved towards our columns, which 
were standing up in square. Our regiment and 73d formed 
one, and 33d and 69th another; to our right beyond them were 
the Guards, and on our left the Hanoverians and German Legion 
of our division. As I entered the rear face of our square I had 
to step over a body, and, looking down, recognized Harry Beere, 
an officer of our grenadiers, who about an hour before shook 
hands with me, laughing, as I left the columns. I was on the 
usual terms of military intimacy with poor Harry — that is to 
say, if either of us had died a natural death, the other would 
have pitied him as a good fellow, and smiled at his neighbor as 
he congratulated him on the step; but seeing his herculean 
frame and animated countenance thus suddenly stiff and motion- 
less before me (I know not whence the feeling could originate, 
for I had just seen my dearest friend drop, almost with indiffer- 
ence), the tears started in my eyes as I sighed out, * Poor Harry ! ' 
The tear was not dry on my cheek when poor Harry was no 
longer thought of. In a few minutes after, the enemy's cavalry 
galloped up and crowned the crest of our position. Our guns 



BATTLE OF WATERLOO 381 

were abandoned, and they formed between the two brigades, 
about a hundred paces in our front. Their first charge was 
magnificent. As soon as they quickened their trot into a gallop, 
the cuirassiers bent their heads so that the peaks of their helmets 
looked like vizors, and they seemed cased in armor from the 
plume to the saddle. Not a shot was fired till they were within 
thirty yards, when the word was given and our men fired away 
at them. The effect was magical. Through the smoke we could 
see helmets falling, cavaliers starting from their seats with con- 
vulsive springs as they received our balls, horses plunging and 
rearing in the agonies of fright and pain, and crowds of the 
soldiery dismounted, part of the squadron in retreat, but the 
more daring remainder backing their horses to force them on 
our bayonets. Our fire soon disposed of these gentlemen. The 
main body reformed in our front, and rapidly and gallantly re- 
peated their attacks. In fact, from this time (about four o'clock) 
till near six, we had a constant repetition of these brave but 
unavailing charges. There was no difficulty in repulsing them, 
but our ammunition decreased alarmingly. At length an artil- 
lery wagon galloped up, emptied two or three casks of cart- 
ridges into the square, and we were all comfortable. 

" The best cavalry is contemptible to a steady and well- 
supplied infantry regiment; even our men saw this, and began 
to pity the useless perseverance of their assailants, and, as they 
advanced, would growl out, 'Here come these fools again!* 
One of their superior officers tried a ruse de guerre, by advancing 
and dropping his sword, as though he surrendered; some of us 
were deceived by him, but Halkett ordered the men to fire, and 
he coolly retired, saluting us. Their devotion was invincible. 
One officer whom we had taken prisoner was asked what force 
Napoleon might have in the field, and replied with a smile of 
mingled derision and threatening, * Vous verrez hientot sa force, 
messieurs!' A private cuirassier was wounded and dragged into 
the square; his only cry was, * Tuez done, tuez, tuez moi, soldats! ' 
and as one of our men dropped dead close to him, he seized his 
bayonet and forced it into his own neck; but this not despatch- 
ing him, he raised up his cuirass and, plunging the bayonet into 
his stomach, kept working it about till he ceased to breathe. 

" Though we constantly thrashed our steel-clad opponents, 
we found more troublesome customers in the round shot and 
grape, which all this time played on us with terrible effect and 



382 DECISIVE BATTLES 

fully avenged the cuirassiers. Often as the volleys created open- 
ings in our square would the cavalry dash on, but they were 
uniformly unsuccessful. A regiment on our right seemed sadly 
disconcerted, and at one moment was in considerable confusion. 
Halkett rode out to them, and, seizing their color, waved it over 
his head and restored them to something like order, though not 
before his horse was shot under him. At the height of their 
unsteadiness we got the order to * right face ' to move to their 
assistance ; some of the men mistook it for * right about face,' 
and faced accordingly, when old Major M'Laine, 73d, called 
out, ' No, my boys, it's *' right face " ; you'll never hear the 
right about as long as a French bayonet is in front of you ! ' 
In a few moments he was mortally wounded. A regiment of 
light dragoons, by their facings either the i6th or 23d, came up 
to our left and charged the cuirassiers. We cheered each other as 
they passed us; they did all they could, but were obliged to re- 
tire after a few minutes at the sabre. A body of Belgian cavalry 
advanced for the same purpose, but on passing our square they 
stopped short. Our noble Halkett rode out to them and offered 
to charge at their head; it was of no use; the Prince of Orange 
came up and exhorted them to do their duty, but in vain. They 
hesitated till a few shots whizzed through them, when they 
turned about and galloped like fury, or, rather, like fear. As 
they passed the right face of our square the men, irritated by 
their rascally conduct, unanimously took up their pieces and 
fired a volley into them, and * many a good fellow was destroyed 
so cowardly.' 

" The enemy's cavalry were by this time nearly disposed of, 
and as they had discovered the inutility of their charges, they 
commenced annoying us by a spirited and well-directed carbine 
fire. While we were employed in this manner it was impossible 
to see farther than the columns on our right and left, but I im- 
agine most of the army were similarly situated : all the British 
and Germans were doing their duty. About six o'clock I per- 
ceived some artillery trotting up our hill, which I knew by their 
caps to belong to the Imperial Guard. I had hardly mentioned 
this to a brother officer when two guns unlimbered within sev- 
enty paces of us, and, by their first discharge of grape, blew 
seven men into the centre of the square. They immediately re- 
loaded, and kept up a constant and destructive fire. It was noble 
to see our fellows fill up the gaps after every discharge. I was 
much distressed at this moment; having ordered up three of 



BATTLE OF WATERLOO 383 

my light bobs, they had hardly taken their station when two of 
them fell, horribly lacerated. One of them looked up in my 
face and uttered a sort of reproachful groan, and I involuntarily 
exclaimed, * I couldn't help it.' We would willingly have charged 
these guns, but, had we deployed, the cavalry that flanked them 
would have made an example of us. 

" The vivida vis animi — the glow which fires one upon enter- 
ing into action — had ceased; it was now to be seen which side 
had most bottom, and would stand killing longest. The duke 
visited us frequently at this momentous period; he was coolness 
personified. As he crossed the rear face of our square a shell 
fell amongst our grenadiers, and he checked his horse to see 
its effect. Some men were blown to pieces by the explosion, 
and he merely stirred the rein of his charger, apparently as little 
concerned at their fate as at his own danger. No leader ever 
possessed so fully the confidence of his soldiery: wherever he 
appeared, a murmur of * Silence! Stand to your front! Here's 
the duke ! ' was heard through the column, and then all was 
steady as on a parade. His aides-de-camp, Colonels Canning 
and Gordon, fell near our square, and the former died within it. 
As he came near us late in the evening, Halkett rode out to him 
and represented our weak state, begging his Grace to afford 
us a little support. * It's impossible, Halkett,' said he. And 
our general replied, * If so, sir, you may depend on the brigade 
to a man. ' " 

All accounts of the battle showed that the duke was ever 
present at each spot where danger seemed the most pressing, 
inspiriting his men by a few homely and good-humored words 
and restraining their impatience to be led forward to attack in 
their turn. " Hard pounding this, gentlemen: we will try who 
can pound the longest," was his remark to a battalion on which 
the storm from the French guns was pouring with peculiar fury. 
Riding up to one of the squares, which had been dreadfully 
weakened and against which a fresh attack of French cavalry 
was coming, he called to them: "Stand firm, my lads; what 
will they say of this in England? " As he rode along another 
part of the line, where the men had for some time been falHng 
fast beneath the enemy's cannonade without having any close 
fighting, a murmur reached his ear of natural eagerness to ad- 
vance and do something more than stand still to be shot at. The 
duke called to them: "Wait a little longer, my lads, and you 
shall have your wish." The men were instantly satisfied and 



384 DECISIVE BATTLES 

steady. It was, indeed, indispensable for the duke to bide his 
time. The premature movement of a single corps down from 
the British line of heights would have endangered the whole 
position, and have probably made Waterloo a second Hastings. 

But the duke inspired all under him with his own spirit of 
patient firmness. When other generals besides Halkett sent to 
him begging for reinforcements, or for leaVe to withdraw corps 
which were reduced to skeletons, the answer was the same: *' It 
is impossible; you must hold your ground to the last man, and 
all will be well." He gave a similar reply to some of his staff 
who asked instructions from him, so that, in the event of his 
falling, his successor might follow out his plan. He answered, 
" My plan is simply to stand my ground here to the last man." 
His personal danger was indeed imminent throughout the day; 
and though he escaped without injury to himself or horse, one 
only of his numerous staff was equally fortunate.* 

Napoleon had stationed himself during the battle on a little 
hillock near La Belle Alliance, in the centre of the French posi- 
tion. Here he was seated, with a large table from the neighbor- 
ing farmhouse before him, on which maps and plans were spread; 
and thence with his telescope he surveyed the various points of 
the field. Soult watched his orders close at his left hand, and 
his staff was grouped on horseback a few paces in the rear.f 

* " As far as the French accounts would lead us to infer, it appears 
that the losses among Napoleon's staff were comparatively trifling. On 
this subject, perhaps, the marked contrast afforded by the following 
anecdotes, which have been related to me on excellent authority, may 
tend to throw some light. At one period of the battle, when the duke 
was surrounded by several of his staff, it was very evident that the group 
had become the object of the fire of a French battery. The shot fell fast 
about them, generally striking and turning up the ground on which they 
stood. The horses became restive, and ' Copenhagen ' himself so fidgety 
that the duke, getting impatient, and having reasons for remaining on 
the spot, said to those about him, ' Gentlemen, we are rather too close 
together — better to divide a little.' Subsequently, at another point of 
the line, an officer of artillery came up to the duke, and stated that he 
had a distinct view of Napoleon, attended by his staff ; that he had the 
guns of his battery well pointed in that direction, and was prepared to 
fire. His Grace instantly and emphatically exclaimed ' No ! no ! I'll not 
allow it. It is not the business of commanders to be firing upon each 
other.' " — SiBORNE, How different is this from Napoleon's conduct at 
the battle of Dresden, when he personally directed the fire of the battery, 
which, as he thought, killed the Emperor Alexander, and actually killed 
Moreau. 

t " Ouvrard, who attended Napoleon as chief commissary of the 
French army on that occasion, told me that Napoleon was suffering 
from a complaint which made it very painful for him to ride." — Lord 
Ellesmere. 



BATTLE OF WATERLOO 385 

Here he remained till near the close of the day, preserving the 
appearance at least of calmness, except some expressions of irri- 
tation which escaped him when Ney's attack on the British left 
centre was defeated. But now that the crisis of the battle was 
evidently approaching, he mounted a white Persian charger, 
which he rode in action because the troops easily recognized 
him by the horse's color. He had still the means of effecting a 
retreat. His Old Guard had yet taken no part in the action. 
Under cover of it he might have withdrawn his shattered forces 
and retired upon the French frontier. But this would only have 
given the English and Prussians the opportunity of completing 
their junction; and he knew that other armies were fast com- 
ing up to aid them in a march upon Paris, if he should succeed 
in avoiding an encounter with them and retreating upon the 
capital. A victory at Waterloo was his only alternative from 
utter ruin, and he determined to employ his Guard in one bold 
stroke more to make that victory his own. 

Between seven and eight o'clock the infantry of the Old 
Guard was formed into two columns, on the declivity near La 
Belle Alliance. Ney was placed at their head. Napoleon him- 
self rode forward to a spot by which his veterans were to pass ; 
and as they approached he raised his arm, and pointed to the 
position of the alHes, as if to tell them that their path lay there. 
They answered with loud cries of " Vive VEmpereur! " and 
descended the hill from their own side into that " valley of the 
shadow of death," while their batteries thundered with re- 
doubled vigor over their heads upon the British line. The line 
of march of the columns of the Guard was directed between 
Hougoumont and La Haye Sainte, against the British right 
centre ; and at the same time, Donzelot and the French, who 
had possession of La Haye Sainte, commenced a fierce attack 
upon the British centre, a little more to its left. This part of 
the battle has drawn less attention than the celebrated attack 
of the Old Guard ; but it formed the most perilous crisis for 
the allied army ; and if the Young Guard had been there to sup- 
port Donzelot, instead of being engaged with the Prussians at 
Planchenoit, the consequences to the allies in that part of the 
field must have been most serious. The French tirailleurs, who 
were posted in clouds in La Haye Sainte, and the sheltered 
spots near it, picked off the artillery-men of the English bat- 
teries near them ; and, taking advantage of the crippled state 
25 



386 DECISIVE BATTLES 

of the English guns, the French brought some field-pieces 
up to La Haye Sainte, and commenced firing grape from 
them on the infantry of the allies, at a distance of not more than 
a hundred paces. The allied infantry here consisted of some 
German brigades, who were formed in squares, as it was be- 
lieved that Donzelot had cavalry ready behind La Haye Sainte 
to charge them with, if they left that order of formation. In 
this state the Germans remained for some time with heroic 
fortitude, though the grape-shot was tearing gaps in their 
ranks, and the side of one square was literally blown away by 
one tremendous volley which the French gunners poured into 
it. The Prince of Orange in vain endeavored to^ lead some 
Nassau troops to the aid of the brave Germans. The Nas- 
sauers would not or could not face the French ; and some bat- 
tahons of Brunswickers, whom the Duke of Wellington had 
ordered up as a re-enforcement, at first fell back until the duke 
in person rallied them and led them on. Having thus barred 
the farther advance of Donzelot, the duke then galloped ofif to 
the right to head his men who were exposed to the attack of 
the Imperial Guard. He had saved one part of his centre from 
being routed, but the French had gained ground and kept it, 
and the pressure on the allied line in front of La Haye Sainte 
was fearfully severe, until it was relieved by the decisive suc- 
cess which the British in the right centre achieved over the col- 
umns of the Guard. 

The British troops on the crest of that part of the position, 
which the first column of Napoleon's Guards assailed, were 
Maitland's brigade of British Guards, having Adams's brigade 
on their right. Maitland's men were lying down, in order to 
avoid, as far as possible, the destructive effect of the French 
artillery, which kept up an unremitting fire from the opposite 
heights, until the first column of the Imperial Guard had ad- 
vanced so far up the slope towards the British position that any 
further firing of the French artillery-men would have endan- 
gered their own comrades. Meanwhile, the British guns were 
not idle ; but shot and shell ploughed fast through the ranks of 
the stately array of veterans that still moved imposingly on. 
Several of the French superior officers were at its head. Ney's 
horse was shot under him, but he still led the way on foot, 
sword in hand. The front of the massy column now was on the 
ridge of the hill. To their surprise, they saw no troops before 



BATTLE OF WATERLOO 387 

them. All they could discern through the smoke was a small 
band of mounted officers. One of them was the duke himself. 
The French advanced to about fifty yards from where the Brit- 
ish Guards were lying down, when the voice of one of the group 
of British officers was heard calling, as if to the ground before 
him, " Up, Guards, and at them ! " It was the duke who gave 
the order ; and at the words, as if by magic, up started before 
them a line of the British Guards four deep, and in the most 
compact and perfect order. They poured an instantaneous vol- 
ley upon the head of the French column, by which no less than 
three hundred of those chosen veterans are said to have fallen. 
The French officers rushed forward, and, conspicuous in front 
of their men, attempted to deploy them into a more extended 
line, so as to enable them to reply with effect to the British 
fire. But Maitland's brigade kept showering in volley after vol- 
ley with deadly rapidity. The decimated column grew dis- 
ordered in its vain efforts to expand itself into a more efficient 
formation. The right word was given at the right moment to 
the British for the bayonet-charge, and the brigade sprung for- 
ward with a loud cheer against their dismayed antagonists. In 
an instant the compact mass of the French spread out into a 
rabble, and they fled back down the hill pursued by Maitland's 
men, who, however, returned to their position in time to take 
part in the repulse of the second column of the Imperial Guard. 
This column also advanced with great spirit and firmness 
under the cannonade which was opened on it, and, passing by 
the eastern wall of Hougoumont, diverged slightly to the right 
as it moved up the slope towards the British position, so as to 
approach the same spot where the first column had surmounted 
the height and been defeated. This enabled the British regi- 
ments of Adams's brigade to form a line parallel to the left flank 
of the French column, so that while the front of this column 
of French Guards had to encounter the cannonade of the Brit- 
ish batteries, and the musketry of Maitland's Guards, its left 
flank was assailed with a destructive fire by a four-deep body 
of British infantry, extending all along it. In such a position, 
all the bravery and skill of the French veterans were vain. The 
second column, like its predecessor, broke and fled, taking at 
first a lateral direction along the front of the British line 
towards the rear of La Haye Sainte, and so becoming blended 
with the divisions of French infantry, which, under Donzelot, 



388 DECISIVE BATTLES 

had been pressing the alHes so severely in that quarter. The 
sight of the Old Guard broken and in flight checked the ardor 
which Donzelot's troops had hitherto displayed. They, too, 
began to waver. Adams's victorious brigade was pressing after 
the flying Guard, and now cleared away the assailants of the 
allied centre. But the battle was not yet won. Napoleon had 
still some battalions in reserve near La Belle Alliance. He was 
rapidly rallying the remains of the first column of his Guards, 
and he had collected into one body the remnants of the various 
corps of cavalry, which had suffered so severely in the earher 
part of the day. The duke instantly formed the bold resolution 
of now himself becoming the assailant, and leading his success- 
ful though enfeebled army forward, while the disheartening 
effect of the repulse of the Imperial Guard on the rest of the 
French army was still strong, and before Napoleon and Ney 
could rally the beaten veterans themselves for another and a 
fiercer charge. As the close approach of the Prussians now 
completely protected the duke's left, he had drawn some re- 
serves of horse from that quarter, and he had a brigade of Hus- 
sars under Vivian fresh and ready at hand. Without a mo- 
ment's hesitation he launched these against the cavalry near 
La Belle Alliance. The charge was as successful as it was dar- 
ing; and as there was now no hostile cavalry to check the 
British infantry in a forward movement, the duke gave the 
long-wished-for command for a general advance of the army 
along the whole line upon the foe. It was now past eight 
o'clock, and for nearly nine deadly hours had the British and 
German regiments stood unflinching under the fire of artillery, 
the charge of cavalry, and every variety of assault that the com- 
pact columns or the scattered tirailleurs of the enemy's infantry 
could inflict. As they joyously sprung forward against the 
discomfited masses of the French, the setting sun broke 
through the clouds which had obscured the sky during the 
greater part of the day, and glittered on the bayonets of 
the allies while they poured down into the valley and towards 
the heights that were held by the foe. The duke himself was 
among the foremost in the advance, and personally directed 
the movements against each body of the French that es- 
sayed resistance. He rode in front of Adams's brigade, cheer- 
ing it forward, and even galloped among the most advanced 
of the British skirmishers, speaking joyously to the men and 
receiving their hearty shouts of congratulation. The bullets of 



BATTLE OF WATERLOO 389 

both friends and foes were whistling fast around him ; and one 
of the few survivors of his staff remonstrated with him for thus 
exposing a Hfe of such value. *' Never mind," was^the duke's 
answer — "never mind, let them fire away; the battle's won, 
and my life is of no consequence now." And, indeed, almost 
the whole of the French host were now in irreparable confusion. 
The Prussian army was coming more and more rapidly forward 
on their right ; and the Young Guard, which had held Planche- 
noit so bravely, was at last compelled to give way. Some regi- 
ments of the Old Guard in vain endeavored to form in squares 
and stem the current. They were swept away and wrecked 
among the waves of the flyers. Napoleon had placed himself 
in one of these squares: Marshal Soult, Generals Bertrand, 
Drouot, Corbineau, De Flahaut, and Gourgaud were with him. 
The emperor spoke of dying on the field, but Soult seized his 
bridle and turned his charger round, exclaiming, " Sire, are not 
the enemy already lucky enough? " With the greatest difficulty, 
and only by the utmost exertion of the devoted officers round 
him. Napoleon cleared the throng of fugitives and escaped from 
the scene of the battle and the war, which he and France had 
lost past all recovery. Meanwhile the Duke of Wellington still 
rode forward with the van of his victorious troops, until he 
reined up on the elevated ground near Rossomme. The day- 
light was now entirely gone; but the young moon had risen, 
and the light which it cast, aided by the glare from the burning 
houses and other buildings in the line of the flying French and 
pursuing Prussians, enabled the duke to assure himself that his 
victory was complete. He then rode back along the Charleroi 
road towards Waterloo; and near La Belle Alliance he met 
Marshal Bliicher. Warm were the congratulations that were 
exchanged between the allied chiefs. It was arranged that the 
Prussians should follow up the pursuit and give the French no 
chance of rallying. Accordingly the British army, exhausted 
by its toils and sufferings during that dreadful day, did not ad- 
vance beyond the heights which the enemy had occupied. But 
the Prussians drove the fugitives before them in merciless chase 
throughout the night. Cannon, baggage, and all the materiel 
of the army were abandoned by the French; and many thou- 
sands of the infantry threw away their arms to facilitate their 
escape. The ground was strewn for miles with the wrecks of 
their host. There was no rear-guard; nor was even the sem- 
blance of order attempted. An attempt at resistance was made 



390 DECISIVE BATTLES 

at the bridge and village of Genappe, the first narrow pass 
through which the bulk of the French retired. The situation 
was favorable; and a few resolute battalions, if ably commanded, 
might have held their pursuers at bay there for some consider- 
able time. But despair and panic were now universal in the 
beaten army. At the first sound of the Prussian drums and 
bugles, Genappe was abandoned and nothing thought of but 
headlong flight. The Prussians, under General Gneisenau, still 
followed and still slew; nor even when the Prussian infantry 
stopped in sheer exhaustion, was the pursuit given up. Gneise- 
nau still pushed on with the cavalry ; and by an ingenious strat- 
agem made the French believe that his infantry were still close 
on them, and scared them from every spot where they attempted 
to pause and rest. He mounted one of his drummers on a horse 
which had been taken from the captured carriage of Napoleon, 
and made him ride along with the pursuing cavalry and beat the 
drum whenever they came on any large number of the French. 
The French thus fled, and the Prussians pursued, through 
Quatre Bras and even over the heights of Frasne; and when at 
length Gneisenau drew bridle, and halted a little beyond Frasne 
with the scanty remnant of keen hunters who had kept up the 
chase with him to the last, the French were scattered through 
Gosselies, Marchiennes, and Charleroi, and were striving to re- 
gain the left bank of the river Sambre, which they had crossed 
in such pomp and pride not a hundred hours before. 

Part of the French left wing endeavored to escape from the 
field without blending with the main body of the fugitives who 
thronged the Genappe causeway. A French officer who was 
among those who thus retreated across the country westward of 
the highroad has vividly described what he witnessed and what 
he suffered. Colonel Lemonnier-Delafosse served in the cam- 
paign of 1815 in General Foy's staff, and was consequently in 
that part of the French army at Waterloo which acted against 
Hougoumont and the British right wing. When the column of 
the Imperial Guard made their great charge at the end of the 
day, the troops of Foy's division advanced in support of them, 
and Colonel Lemonnier-Delafosse describes the confident hopes 
of victory and promotion with which he marched to that attack, 
and the fearful carnage and confusion of the assailants, amid 
which he was helplessly hurried back by his flying comrades. 
He then narrates the closing scene : — 

" Near one of the hedges of Hougoumont farm, without even 



BATTLE OF WATERLOO 391 

a drummer to beat the rappel, we succeeded in rallying under 
the enemy's fire 300 men: they were nearly all that remained 
of our splendid division. Thither came together a band of gen- 
erals. There was Reille, whose horse had been shot under him; 
there were d'Erlon, Bachelu, Foy, Jamin, and others. All were 
gloomy and sorrowful, like vanquished men. Their words 
were, — ' Here is all that is left of my corps, of my division, of 
my brigade: I, myself.' We had seen the fall of Duhesme, of 
Pelet-de-Morvan, of Michel — generals who had found a glorious 
death. My general, Foy, had his shoulder pierced through by a 
musket-ball; and out of his whole staff two officers only were 
left to him, Cahour Duhay and I. Fate had spared me in the 
midst of so many dangers, though the first charger I rode had 
been shot and had fallen on me. 

" The enemy's horse were coming down on us, and our little 
group was obliged to retreat. What had happened to our divi- 
sion of the left wing had taken place all along the line. The 
movement of the hostile cavalry, which inundated the whole 
plain, had demoralized our soldiers, who, seeing all regular re- 
treat of the army cut off, strove each man to effect one for him- 
self. At each instant the road became more encumbered. In- 
fantry, cavalry, and artillery were pressing along pell-mell: 
jammed together like a solid mass. Figure to yourself 40,000 
men struggling and thrusting themselves along a single cause- 
way. We could not take that way without destruction ; so the 
generals who had collected together near the Hougoumont 
hedge dispersed across the fields. General Foy alone re- 
mained with the 300 men whom he had gleaned from the field 
of battle, and marched at their head. Our anxiety was to 
withdraw from the scene of action without being confounded 
with the fugitives. Our general wished to retreat like a true 
soldier. Seeing three lights in the southern horizon, like 
beacons. General Foy asked me what I thought of the position 
of each. I answered, ' The first to the left is Genappe ; the 
second is at Bois de Bossu, near the farm of Quatre Bras ; the 
third is at GosseUes/ * Let us march on the second one, then,' 
replied Foy, * and let no obstacle stop us — take the head of the 
column, and do not lose sight of the guiding light.' Such was 
his order, and I strove to obey. 

" After all the agitation and the incessant din of a long day 
of battle, how imposing was the stillness of that night! We 



392 DECISIVE BATTLES 

proceeded on our sad and lonely march. We were a prey to 
the most cruel reflections; we were humiliated, we were hope- 
less; but not a word of complaint was heard. We walked si- 
lently as a troop of mourners and it might have been said that 
we were attending the funeral of our country's glory. Suddenly 
the stillness was broken by a challenge — ' Qui vivef ' * France ! ' 
* Kellermann ! ' ' Foy ! ' * Is it you, general ? come nearer to us.' 
At that moment we were passing over a little hillock, at the foot 
of which was a hut, in which Kellermann and some of his officers 
had halted. They came out to join us. Foy said to me, * Keller- 
mann knows the country: he has been along here before with 
his cavalry ; we had better follow him.' But we found that the 
direction which Kellermann chose was towards the first light, 
towards Genappe. That led to the causeway which our general 
rightly wished to avoid. I went to the left to reconnoitre, and 
was soon convinced that such was the case. It was then that I 
was able to form a full idea of the disorder of a routed army. 
What a hideous spectacle ! The mountain torrent, that uproots 
and whirls along with it every momentary obstacle, is a feeble 
image of that heap of men, of horses, of equipages, rushing one 
upon another; gathering before the least obstacle which dams 
up their way for a few seconds, only to form a mass which over- 
throws everything in the path which it forces for itself. Woe 
to him whose footing failed him in that deluge! He was 
crushed, trampled to death ! I returned and told my general 
what I had seen, and he instantly abandoned Kellermann and 
resumed his original Hne of march. 

" Keeping straight across the country, over fields and the 
rough thickets, we at last arrived at the Bois de Bossu, where 
we halted. My general said to me : * Go to the farm of Quatre 
Bras and announce that we are here. The emperor or Soult 
must be there. Ask for orders, and recollect that I am waiting 
here for you. The Hves of these men depend on your exactness.' 
To reach the farm I was obliged to cross the highroad : I was on 
horseback, but nevertheless was borne away by the crowd that 
fled along the road, and it was long ere I could extricate myself 
and reach the farmhouse. General Lobau was there with his 
stafif, resting in fancied security. They thought that their troops 
had hahed there; but, though a halt had been attempted, the 
men had soon fled forward, like their comrades of the rest of the 
army. The shots of the approaching Prussians were now heard; 



BATTLE OF WATERLOO 393 

and I believe that General Lobau was taken prisoner in that 
farmhouse. I left him to rejoin my general, which I did with 
difficulty. I found him alone. His men, as they came near the 
current of flight, were infected with the general panic and fled 
also. 

" What was to be done? Follow that crowd of runaways? 
General Foy would not hear of it. There were five of us still 
with him, all officers. He had been wounded at about five in 
the afternoon, and the wound had not been dressed. He suf- 
fered severely ; but his moral courage was unbroken. * Let us 
keep,' he said, * a line parallel to the highroad, and work our way 
hence as we best can.' A foot track was before us, and we fol- 
lowed it. 

" The moon shone out brightly, and revealed the full wretch- 
edness of the tableau which met our eyes. A brigadier and four 
cavalry soldiers, whom we met with, formed our escort. We 
marched on; and, as the noise grew more distant, I thought 
that we were losing the parallel of the highway. Finding that 
we had the moon more and more on the left, I felt sure of this, 
and mentioned it to the general. Absorbed in thought, he made 
me no reply. We came in front of a windmill, and endeavored 
to procure some information; but we could not gain an en- 
trance or make any one answer, and we continued our nocturnal 
march. At last we entered a village, but found every door 
closed against us, and were obliged to use threats in order to 
gain admission into a single house. The poor woman to whom 
it belonged, more dead than alive, received us as if we had been 
enemies. Before asking where we were, * Food, give us some 
food! ' was our cry. Bread and butter and beer were brought, 
and soon disappeared before men who had fasted for twenty- 
four hours. A little revived, we asked, ' Where are we? what is 
the name of this village? ' — ' Vieville.' 

" On looking at the map, I saw that in coming to that village 
we had leaned too much to the right, and that we were in the 
direction of Mons. In order to reach the Sambre at the bridge 
of Marchiennes, we had four leagues to traverse; and there was 
scarcely time to march the distance before daybreak. I made 
a villager act as our guide, and bound him by his arm to my 
stirrup. He led us through Roux to Marchiennes. The poor 
fellow ran alongside of my horse the whole way. It was cruel 
but necessary to compel him, for we had not an instant to spare. 
At six in the morning we entered Marchiennes. 



394 DECISIVE BATTLES 

" Marshal Ney was there. Our general went to see him, and 
to ask what orders he had to give. Ney was asleep ; and, rather 
than rob him of the first repose he had had for four days, our 
general returned to us without seeing him. And, indeed, what 
orders could Marshal Ney have given? The whole army was 
crossing the Sambre, each man where and how he chose; some 
at Charleroi, some at Marchiennes. We were about to do the 
same thing. When once beyond the Sambre, we might safely 
halt; and both men and horses were in extreme need of rest. 
We passed through Thuin; and finding a little copse near the 
road, we gladly sought its shelter. While our horses grazed, we 
lay down and slept. How sweet was that sleep after the fatigues 
of the long day of battle, and after the night of retreat more 
painful still ! We rested in the little copse till noon, and sat there 
watching the wrecks of our army defile along the road before us. 
It was a soul-harrowing sight ! Yet the dififerent arms of the ser- 
vice had resumed a certain degree of order amid their disorder; 
and our general, feeling his strength revive, resolved to follow a 
strong column of cavalry which was taking the direction of 
Beaumont, about four leagues of¥. We drew near Beaumont, 
v/hen suddenly a regiment of horse was seen debouching from 
a wood on our left. The column that we followed shouted out, 
*The Prussians! the Prussians! ' and galloped off in utter dis- 
order. The troops that thus alarmed them were not a tenth part 
of their number, and were in reality our own 8th Hussars, who 
wore green uniforms. But the panic had been brought even 
thus far from the battle-field, and the disorganized column gal- 
loped into Beaumont which was already crowded with our in- 
fantry. We were obliged to follow that debacle. On entering 
Beaumont we chose a house of superior appearance, and de- 
manded of the mistress of it refreshments for the general. 
* Alas! ' said the lady, * this is the tenth general who has been to 
this house since this morning. I have nothing left. Search, if 
you please, and see.' Though unable to find food for the gen- 
eral, I persuaded him to take his coat ofif and let me examine 
his wound. The bullet had gone through the twists of the left 
epaulette, and, penetrating the skin, had run round the shoul- 
der without injuring the bone. The lady of the house made 
some lint for me; and without any great degree of surgical 
skill I succeeded in dressing the wound. 

" Being still anxious to procure some food for the general 



BATTLE OF WATERLOO 395 

and ourselves, if it were but a loaf of ammunition bread, I left 
the house and rode out into the town. I saw pillage going on in 
every direction: open caissons, stripped and half broken, 
blocked up the streets. The pavement was covered with plun- 
dered and torn baggage. Pillagers and runaways, such were all 
the comrades I met with. Disgusted at them, I strove, sword 
in hand, to stop one of the plunderers; but, more active than I, 
he gave me a bayonet stab in my left arm, in which I fortunately 
caught his thrust, which had been aimed full at my body. He 
disappeared among the crowd, through which I could not force 
my horse. My spirit of discipline had made me forget that in 
such circumstances the soldier is a mere wild beast. But to be 
wounded by a fellow countryman after having passed unharmed 
through all the perils of Quatre Bras and Waterloo! — this did 
seem hard, indeed. I was trying to return to General Foy, when 
another horde of flyers burst into Beaumont, swept me into the 
current of their flight, and hurried me out of the town with them. 
Until I received my wound I had preserved my moral courage in 
full force ; but now, worn out with fatigue, covered with blood, 
and suffering severe pain from the wound, I own that I gave way 
to the general demoralization and let myself be inertly borne 
along with the rushing mass. At last I reached Landrecies, 
though I know not how or when. But I found there our Col- 
onel Hurday, who had been left behind there in consequence of 
an accidental injury from a carriage. He took me with him to 
Paris, where I retired amid my family and got cured of my 
wound, knowing nothing of the rest of political and military 
events that were taking place." 

No returns ever were made of the amount of the French loss 
in the battle of Waterloo; but it must have been immense, and 
may be partially judged of by the amount of killed and wounded 
in the armies of the conquerors. On this subject both the Prus- 
sian and British official evidence is unquestionably full and au- 
thentic. The figures are terribly emphatic. 

Of the army that fought under the Duke of Wellington nearly 
15,000 men were killed and wounded on this single day of battle. 
Seven thousand Prussians also fell at Waterloo. At such a fear- 
ful price was the deliverance of Europe purchased. 

By none was the severity of that loss more keenly felt than 
by our great deliverer himself. As may be seen in Major Mac- 
ready's narrative, the duke, while the battle was raging, be- 



396 DECISIVE BATTLES 

trayed no sign of emotion at the most ghastly casualties; but, 
when all was over, the sight of the carnage with which the field 
was covered, and, still more, the sickening spectacle of the ag- 
onies of the wounded men who lay moaning in their misery by 
thousands and tens of thousands, weighed heavily on the spirit 
of the victor, as he rode back across the scene of strife. On 
reaching his headquarters in the village of Waterloo, the duke 
inquired anxiously after the numerous friends who had been 
round him in the morning, and to whom he was warmly at- 
tached. Many, he was told, were dead; others were lying alive, 
but mangled and suffering, in the houses round him. It is in our 
hero's own words alone that his feelings can be adequately told. 
In a letter written by him almost immediately after his return 
from the field, he thus expressed himself: " My heart is broken 
by the terrible loss I have sustained in my old friends and com- 
panions and my poor soldiers. Believe me, nothing except a 
battle lost can be half so melancholy as a battle won. The brav- 
ery of my troops has hitherto saved me from the greater evil; 
but to win such a battle as this of Waterloo, at the expense of so 
many gallant friends, could only be termed a heavy misfortune 
but for the result to the republic." 

It is not often that a successful general in modern warfare is 
called on, like the victorious commander of the ancient Greek 
armies, to award a prize of superior valor to one of his soldiers. 
Such was to some extent the case with respect to the battle of 
Waterloo. In the August of 1818, an English clergyman of- 
fered to confer a small annuity on some Waterloo soldier, to be 
named by the duke. The duke requested Sir John Byng to 
choose a man from the second brigade of Guards, which had 
so highly distinguished itself in the defense of Hougoumont. 
There were many gallant candidates, but the election fell on Ser- 
geant James Graham, of the light company of the Coldstreams. 
This brave man had signalized himself throughout the day in 
the defense of that important post, and especially in the critical 
struggle that took place at the period when the French, who had 
gained the wood, the orchard, and detached garden, succeeded 
in bursting open a gate of the courtyard of the chateau itself, 
and rushed in in large masses, confident of carrying all before 
them. A hand-to-hand fight, of the most desperate character, 
was kept up between them and the Guards for a few minutes; 
but at last the British bayonets prevailed. Nearly all the French- 



BATTLE OF WATERLOO 397 

men who had forced their way in were killed on the spot; and, 
as the few survivors ran back, five of the Guards, Colonel Mac- 
donnell, Captain Wyndham, Ensign Gooch, Ensign Llervey, and 
Sergeant Graham, by sheer strength, closed the gate again, in 
spite of the efforts of the French from without, and effectually 
barricaded it against further assaults. Over and through the 
loopholed wall of the courtyard the EngHsh garrison now kept 
up a deadly fire of musketry, which was fiercely answered by 
the French, who swarmed round the curtilage like ravening 
wolves. Shells, too, from their batteries were falling fast into 
the besieged place, one of which set part of the mansion and 
some of the outbuildings on fire. Graham, who was at this time 
standing near Colonel Macdonnell at the wall, and who had 
shown the most perfect steadiness and courage, now asked 
permission of his commanding officer to retire for a moment. 
Macdonnell replied, " By all means, Graham ; but I wonder 
you should ask leave now." Graham answered, " I would not, 
sir, only rriy brother is wounded, and he is in that outbuilding 
there, which has just caught fire." Laying down his musket, 
Graham ran to the blazing spot, lifted up his brother, and laid 
him in a ditch. Then he was back at his post, and was plying 
his musket against the French again before his absence was 
noticed, except by his colonel. 

Many anecdotes of individual prowess have been preserved; 
but of all the brave men who were in the British army on that 
eventful day, none deserves more honor for courage and indom- 
itable resolution than Sir Thomas Picton, who, as has been 
mentioned, fell in repulsing the great attack of the French upon 
the British left centre. It was not until the dead body was ex- 
amined after the battle that the full heroism of Picton was dis- 
cerned. He had been wounded on the i6th, at Quatre Bras, 
by a musket-ball, which had broken two of his ribs and caused 
also severe internal injuries; but he had concealed the circum- 
stance, evidently in expectation that another and greater battle 
would be fought in a short time, and desirous to aVoid being so- 
Hcited to absent himself from the field. His body was blackened 
and swollen by the wound, which must have caused severe and 
incessant pain ; and it was marvellous how his spirit had borne 
him up, and enabled him to take part in the fatigues and duties 
of the field. The bullet which, on the i8th, killed the renowned 
leader of " the fighting division " of the Peninsula entered the 



398 DECISIVE BATTLES 

head near the left temple, and passed through the brain ; so that 
Picton's death must have been instantaneous. 

One of the most interesting narratives of personal adventure 
at Waterloo is that of Colonel Frederick Ponsonby, of the 12th 
Light Dragoons, who was severely wounded when Vandeleur's 
brigade, to which he belonged, attacked the French lancers, in 
order to bring off the Union Brigade, which was retiring from 
its memorable charge. The 12th, like those whom they rescued, 
advanced much farther against the French position than pru- 
dence warranted. Ponsonby, with many others, was speared by a 
reserve of Polish lancers, and left for dead on the field. It is 
well to refer to the description of what he suffered (as he after- 
wards gave it, when almost miraculously recovered from his 
numerous wounds), because his fate, or worse, was the fate of 
-thousands more; and because the narrative of the pangs of an 
individual, with whom we can identify ourselves, always comes 
more home to us than a general description of the miseries of 
whole masses. His tale may make us remember what are the 
horrors of war as well as its glories. It is to be remembered that 
the operations which he refers to took place about three o'clock 
in the day, and that the fighting went on for at least five hours 
more. After describing how he and his men charged through 
the French whom they first encountered, and went against 
other enemies, he states : 

" We had no sooner passed them than we w^ere ourselves at- 
tacked, before we could form, by about 300 Polish lancers, who 
had hastened to their relief, the French artillery pouring in 
among us a heavy fire of grape, though for one of our men they 
killed three of their own. 

" In the melee I was almost instantly disabled in both arms, 
losing first my sword, and then my reins; and followed by a few 
men, who were presently cut down, no quarter being allowed, 
asked, or given, I was carried along by my horse, till, receiving a 
blow from a sabre, I fell senseless on my face to the ground. 

" Recovering, I raised myself a little to look around, being at 
that time, I beHeve, in a condition to get up and run away; when 
a lancer, passing by, cried out, ' Tu n'es pas mort, coquin! ' and 
struck his lance through my back. My head dropped, the blood 
gushed into my mouth, a diflficulty of breathing came on, and I 
thought all was over. 

" Not long afterwards (it was impossible to measure time, but 



BATTLE OF WATERLOO * 399 

I must have fallen in less than ten minutes after the onset) a 
tirailleur stopped to plunder me, threatening my life. I directed 
him to a small side pocket, in which he found three^ dollars, all 
I had; but he continued to threaten, and I said he might search 
me: this he did immediately, unloosing my stock and tearing 
open my waist coat, and leaving me in a very uneasy posture. 

" But he was no sooner gone than an officer bringing up some 
troops, to which probably the tirailleur belonged, and happen- 
ing to halt where I lay, stooped down and addressed me, saying 
he feared I was badly wounded ; I said that I was, and expressed 
a wish to be removed to the rear. He said it was against their 
orders to remove even their own men ; but that if they gained 
the day (and he understood that the Duke of Wellington was 
killed, and that some of our battalions had surrendered), every 
attention in his power would be shown me. I complained of 
thirst, and he held his brandy-bottle to my lips, directing one 
of the soldiers to lay me straight on my side and place a knap- 
sack under my head. He then passed on into action — soon, 
perhaps, to want, though not receive, the same assistance ; and 
I shall never know to whose generosity I was indebted, as I 
believe, for my life. Of what rank he was, I cannot say: he 
wore a great-coat. By and by another tirailleur came up, a 
fine young man, full of ardor. He knelt down and fired over 
me, loading and firing many times, and conversing with me all 
the while." The Frenchman, with strange coolness, informed 
Ponsonby of how he was shooting, and what he thought of 
the progress of the battle. " At last he ran off, exclaiming, 
* You will probably not be sorry to hear that we are going to 
retreat. Good day, my friend.' It was dusk," Ponsonby adds, 
" when two squadrons of Prussian cavalry, each of them two 
deep, came across the valley and passed over me in full trot, 
lifting me from the ground and tumbling me about cruelly. 
The clatter of their approach, and the apprehensions they ex- 
cited, may be imagined ; a gun taking that direction must have 
destroyed me. 

" The battle was now at an end, or removed to a distance. 
The shouts, the imprecations, the outcries of * Vive VEmpe- 
reurl ' the discharge of musketry and cannon, were over; and 
the groans of the wounded all around me became every moment 
more and more audible. I thought the night would never end. 

" Much about this time I found a soldier of the Royals lying 



400 DECISIVE BATTLES 

across my legs — he had probably crawled thither in his agony; 
and his weight, his convulsive motions, and the air issuing 
through a wound in his side, distressed me greatly; the last 
circumstance most of all, as I had a wound of the same nature 
myself. 

" It was not a dark night, and the Prussians were wandering 
about to plunder ; the scene in ' Ferdinand Count Fathom ' came 
into my mind, though no women appeared. Several stragglers 
looked at me, as they passed by, one after another, and at last 
one of them stopped to examine me. I told him as well as I 
could, for I spoke German very imperfectly, that I was a British 
ofilicer, and had been plundered already; he did not desist, how- 
ever, and pulled me about roughly. 

" An hour before midnight I saw a man in an English uni- 
form walking towards me. He was, I suspect, on the same er- 
rand, and he came and looked in my face. I spoke instantly, 
telling him who I was, and assuring him of a reward if he would 
remain by me. He said he belonged to the 40th, and had missed 
his regiment; he released me from the dying soldier, and, being 
unarmed, took up a sword from the ground and stood over me, 
pacing backward and forward. 

" Day broke; and at six o'clock in the morning some Eng- 
lish were seen at a distance, and he ran to them. A messenger 
being sent off to Hervey, a cart came for me, and I was placed 
in it, and carried to the village of Waterloo, a mile and a half off, 
and laid in the bed from which, as I understood afterwards, Gor- 
don had been just carried out. I had received seven wounds; 
a surgeon slept in my room, and I was saved by excessive bleed- 
ing." 

Major Macready, in the journal already cited, justly praises 
the deep devotion to their emperor which marked the French 
at Waterloo. Never, indeed, had the national bravery of the 
French people been more nobly shown. One soldier in the 
French ranks was seen, when his arm was shattered by a cannon- 
ball, to wrench it off with the other; and, throwing it up in the 
air, he exclaimed to his comrades, " Vive I'Empereur jusqu'a la 
mortl" Colonel Lemonnier-Delafosse mentions in his " Me- 
moires " that, at the beginning of the action, a French soldier 
who had had both legs carried off by a cannon-ball was borne 
past the front of Foy's division, and called out to them, " Ce 
fCest rien, camarades ! Vive I'Empereur! Gloire a la France! " 



BATTLE OF WATERLOO 401 

The same officer, at the end of the battle, when all hope was lost, 
tells us that he saw a French grenadier, blackened with powder 
and with his clothes torn and stained, leaning on his jmusket and 
immovable as a statue. The colonel called to him to join his 
comrades and retreat; but the grenadier showed him his musket 
and his hands and said, " These hands have with this musket 
used to-day more than twenty packets of cartridges: it was more 
than my share. I supplied myself with ammunition from the 
dead. Leave me to die here on the field of battle. It is not cour- 
age that fails me, but strength." Then, as Colonel Delafosse left 
him, the soldier stretched himself on the ground to meet his fate, 
exclaiming, " Tout est perdu! paiivre France! " The gallantry 
of the French officers at least equalled that of their men. Ney, 
in particular, set the example of the most daring courage. Here, 
as in every French army in which he ever served or commanded, 
he was " le brave des braves.'^ Throughout the day he was in 
the front of the battle, and was one of the very last Frenchmen 
who quitted the field. His horse was killed under him in the last 
attack made on the English position; but he was seen on foot, 
his clothes torn with bullets, his face smirched with powder, 
striving, sword in hand, first to urge his men forward, and at last 
to check their flight. 

There was another brave general of the French army, whose 
valor and good conduct on that day of disaster to his nation 
should never be unnoticed when the story of Waterloo is re- 
counted. This was General Pelet, who, about seven in the even- 
ing, led the first battalion of the 2d regiment of the Chasseurs of 
the Guard to the defense of Planchenoit, and on whom Napoleon 
personally urged the deep importance of maintaining possession 
of that village. Pelet and his men took their post in the central 
part of the village, and occupied the church and churchyard in 
great strength. There they repelled every assault of the Prus- 
sians, who in rapidly increasing numbers rushed forward with 
infuriated pertinacity. They held their post till the utter rout of 
the main army of their comrades was apparent and the victorious 
Allies were thronging around Planchenoit. Then Pelet and his 
brave Chasseurs quitted the churchyard and retired with steady 
march, though they suffered fearfully from the moment they left 
their shelter, and Prussian cavalry as well as infantry dashed 
fiercely after them. Pelet kept together a little knot of 250 vet- 
erans, and had the eagle covered over and borne along in the 
26 



402 DECISIVE BATTLES 

midst of them. At one time the inequality of the ground caused 
his ranks to open a little, and in an instant the Prussian horsemen 
were on them and striving to capture the eagle. Captain Siborne 
relates the conduct of Pelet with the admiration worthy of one 
brave soldier for another : — 

*' Pelet, taking advantage of a spot of ground which afiforded 
them some degree of cover against the fire of grape by which 
they were constantly assailed, halted the standard-bearer, and 
called out, 'A moi, Chasseurs! Sauvons I'aigle, ou mourons 
autour d'elle! ' The Chasseurs immediately pressed around him, 
forming what is usually termed the rallying square, and, lower- 
ing their bayonets, succeeded in repulsing the charge of cavalry. 
Some guns were then brought to bear upon them, and subse- 
quently a brisk fire of musketry; but notwithstanding the awful 
sacrifice which was thus offered up in defense of their precious 
charge, they succeeded in reaching, the main line of retreat, 
favored by the universal confusion, as also by the general ob- 
scurity which now prevailed, and thus saved alike the eagle and 
the honor of the regiment." 

French writers do injustice to their own army and general 
when they revive malignant calumnies against Wellington and 
speak of his having blundered into victory. No blunderer could 
have successfully encountered such troops as those of Napoleon 
and under such a leader. It is superfluous to cite against these 
cavils the testimony which other Continental critics have borne 
to the high military genius of our illustrious chief. I refer to 
one only, which is of peculiar value on account of the quarter 
whence it comes. It is that of the great German writer Niebuhr, 
whose accurate acquaintance with every important scene of mod- 
ern as well as ancient history was unparalleled, and who was no 
mere pedant, but a man practically versed in actiVe life, and had 
been personally acquainted with most of the leading men in the 
great events of the early part of this century. Niebuhr, in the 
passage which I allude to, after referring to the military " blun- 
ders " of Mithridates, Frederick the Great, Napoleon, Pyrrhus, 
and Hannibal, uses these remarkable words : " The Duke of 
WelHngton is, I believe, the only general in whose conduct of 
war we cannot discover any important mistake." Not that it is 
to be supposed that the duke's merits were simply of a negative 
order, or that he was merely a cautious, phlegmatic general, fit 
only for defensive warfare, as some recent French historians 






BATTLE OF WATERLOO 403 

have described him. On the contrary, he was bold even to au- 
dacity when boldness was required. " The intrepid advance and 
fight at Assaye, the crossing of the Douro, and the movement 
on Talavera in 1809, the advance to Madrid and Burgos in 1812, 
the action before Bayonne in 1813, and the desperate stand made 
at Waterloo itself, when more tamely prudent generals would 
have retreated beyond Brussels, place this beyond a doubt." 

The overthrow of the French military power at Waterloo was 
so complete that the subsequent events of the brief campaign 
have little interest. Lamartine truly says : " This defeat left 
nothing undecided in future events, for victory had given judg- 
ment. The war began and ended in a single battle." Napoleon 
himself recognized instantly and fully the deadly nature of the 
blow which had been dealt to his empire. In his flight from the 
battle-field he first halted at Charleroi, but the approach of the 
pursuing Prussians drove him thence before he had rested there 
an hour. With difficulty getting clear of the wrecks of his own 
army, he reached Philippeville, where he remained a few hours, 
and sent orders to the French generals in the various extremities 
of France to converge with their troops upon Paris. He or- 
dered Soult to collect the fugitives of his own force and lead 
them to Laon. He then hurried forward to Paris, and reached 
his capital before the news of his own defeat. But the stern truth 
soon transpired. At the demand of the Chambers of Peers and 
Representatives, he abandoned the throne by a second and final 
abdication on the 22d of June. On the 29th of June he left the 
neighborhood of Paris, and proceeded to Rochefort in the hope 
of escaping to America; but the coast was strictly watched, and 
on the 15th of July the ex-emperor surrendered himself on board 
of the English man-of-war Bellerophon. 

Meanwhile the allied armies had advanced steadily upon Paris, 
driving before them Grouchy 's corps and the scanty force which 
Soult had succeeded in rallying at Laon. Cambray, Peronne, 
and other fortresses were speedily captured; and by the 29th of 
June the invaders were taking their positions in front of Paris. 
The Provisional Government, which acted in the French cap- 
ital after the emperor's abdication, opened negotiations with 
the allied chiefs. Bliicher, in his quenchless hatred of the French, 
was eager to reject all proposals for a suspension of hostilities, 
and to assault and storm the city. But the sager and calmer 
spirit of Wellington prevailed over his colleague; the entreated 



404 DECISIVE BATTLES 

armistice was granted; and on the 3d of July the capitulation of 
Paris terminated the war of the battle of Waterloo. 

On closing our observations on this, the last of the Decisive 
Battles of the World, it is pleasing to contrast the year which 
it signalized with the one that is now passing over our heads. 
We have not (and long may we be without) the stern excite- 
ment of the struggles of war, and we see no captive standards 
of our European neighbors brought in triumph to our shrines. 
But we behold an infinitely prouder spectacle. We see the ban- 
ners of every civilized nation waving over the arena of our com- 
petition with each other in the arts that minister to our race's 
support and happiness, and not to its suffering and destruction. 

" Peace hath her victories 
No less renowned than War ; " 

and no battle-field ever witnessed a victory more noble than 
that which England, under her sovereign lady and her royal 
prince, is now teaching the peoples of the earth to achieve over 
selfish prejudices and international feuds, in the great cause of 
the general promotion of the industry and welfare of mankind. 



Synopsis of Events in European History between the 
Battle of Waterloo, a.d. 181 5, and the Battle of 
Sedan, a.d. 1870. 

Flight of Louis Philippe from Paris and establishment of 
the Second French Republic, February, 1848. 

Insurrection at Berlin in favor of a constitutional monarchy 
to replace the older despotic order of things, March, 1848. 

Louis Napoleon, nephew of Napoleon I., having been elected 
President of the French Republic, has himself declared Em- 
peror of the French by means of the " Coup d'Etat," Decem- 
ber 2, 1851. 

Peace of Villa Franca ends the war between France and 
Italy on the one side, and Austria on the other, July 11, 1859. 

Prussian victory over Austria at Sadowa (Koniggratz), July 
3d, leading to Peace of Nikolsburg, July 26th, and formation 
of North German Confederation, August, 1866. 

Settlement of the Luxembourg Question, May 1 1, 1867. 



CHAPTER XVI. 

THE BATTLE OF GETTYSBURG, A.D. 1863. 

THE Civil War in America, from 1861 to 1865, was an in- 
evitable happening. In a country whose freedom from 
England had been achieved in the sacred name of 
human liberty, negro slavery still existed — ^the country being 
half slave and half free. That a government formed of sov- 
ereign States could continue under such conditions without 
a revolution was impossible. The blow fell when Lincoln was 
elected President of the United States, and South Carolina and 
several other States seceded from the Union. Buchanan, 
whose term as President was about to expire, paltered with the 
situation and so the seceding States became more confident, 
and an army of defence was quickly organized. The actual 
fighting began at Bull Run, in Virginia, though the first shots 
had been fired at Fort Sumter, in Charleston harbor. The 
Union or Northern troops were completely routed at Bull Run ; 
there was consternation in the North and a corresponding ex- 
ultation in the South. The Civil War had now begun in ear- 
nest, and not only human slavery, but democratic government 
was on its trial. At the beginning success was mostly with 
the Southern or Confederate forces. . It is true that Grant 
gained some victories in the West, and that McClellan, in the 
East, fought some drawn battles. But fortune seemed with the 
Confederates. By this time the people in the South were as 
one man, and zealous for independence with slavery. In the 
North, public opinion was much divided, and there was a strong 
party that was in favor of ending the war as quickly as possible 
and at any sacrifice. And so the Federal Government was at- 
tacked in front by a victorious army under a very able general, 
and harassed in the rear by a political party which, if not dis- 
loyal, was certainly not zealous in support of the Union cause. 
It was at this time that Grant conquered at Vicksburg and 
Meade won at Gettysburg. 

40s 



4o6 DECISIVE BATTLES 

This was the turning point of the war. If Lee had beaten 
Meade, the North would have been in a panic of fear and the 
Union disrupted; but, as Lee was beaten, the Confederates 
were, thereafter, on the defensive. The Confederate hope was 
not utterly destroyed at Gettysburg ; had the issue been differ- 
ent, however. Union hope would have been destroyed. And 
so Gettysburg was one of the great decisive battles of the 
world. 

At the beginning of the summer of 1863, the command of 
the Union Army had passed from Winfield Scott to McClel- 
lan, and from McClellan to Halleck, as if Lincoln were making 
a series of experiments in the hope of finding a competent gen- 
eral. The first days of May of that year saw Lee, with an 
army of Confederates greatly inferior in numbers to his ad- 
versary's, driving Hooker from the field of Chancellorsville 
with heavy loss. This victory was, in the eyes of the Con- 
federates, nothing more than the natural culmination of the 
series of triumphs over the Northerners which they had so far 
regarded as a mere matter of course. The victory gained by 
Meade two months later, though, in a purely strategic sense, 
it was not a decisive victory at all, had the moral effect of con- 
vincing thousands of doubters that there was still hope for 
the preservation of the Union, while, politically, it stopped Lee 
in a movement which might very well have ended in his dic- 
tating the terms of peace to Lincoln's cabinet at Washington. 

After the victory of Chancellorsville, it virtually rested with 
Lee to determine the line of that season's campaign. He stood 
between Richmond and Washington, and might defend the 
one capital or threaten the other as he chose. His choice was 
to defend Richmond by threatening Washington. 

The forces under Lee's command were divided in three 
corps under Longstreet, Ewell, and A. P. Hill, respectively. 
Ewell attacked and routed Milroy on June 15th, thus clearing 
the line of march up the valley of Virginia, and Longstreet and 
A. P. Hill soon followed. By the twenty-seventh of June, Lee 
himself, with Hill's and Longstreet's corps, was at Chambers- 
burg, Pa., while Ewell was at Carlisle, and threatened Harris- 
burg, the State capital. The people of the North began to feel 
that their country was in imminent danger of being overrun 
by the enemy. 

On the twenty-eighth, Hooker, having been refused a re- 



THE BATTLE OF GETTYSBURG 



407 



quest made by him to Halleck, resigned the command of the 
Union Army on the Potomac and was succeeded by Meade. 
Meade recognized the fact that Lee was gradually, but surely, 
separating himself perilously from his base and jeoparding his 
communications ; it, therefore, became the Union general's im- 
mediate object to place his army in Lee's rear and so cut him 
off. Lee, on his side, consummate strategist as he was, was 
fully alive to this danger. He saw that it would be folly for him 
to push on any further until Meade's army, which hung on his 
rear and flank, should at least be crippled. 

So far the Confederate leader was right. Whatever error 
he may have committed in the battle that followed is fairly at- 
tributable to his lack of information as to the distribution of 
the Union forces. J. E. B. Stuart, the famous cavalry leader, 
upon whom Lee had learned to rely for intelligence of the en- 
emy, had been left in Virginia, harassing the enemy's rear, and 
had made so extensive a raid through the enemy's country 
that he did not rejoin his own army until late on the third of 
July. And not only was Lee left in the dark for lack of means 
to reconnoitre, but Stuart's absence positively misled him, since 
he took it as an indication that the main body of Meade's army 
was still on the other side of the Potomac. 

On the morning of July ist, A. P. Hill's corps had ap- 
proached the town of Gettysburg on the north and was scat- 
tered along the Chambersburg turnpike. Opposite to Hill's 
position and about a mile and a half outside the town, was 
Buford, with a force of some 6,000 Union cavalry. It was here 
that the first day's battle began. Hill sent word to his chief 
that he was going to attack in force and received Lee's con- 
sent. The Confederate general had already made up his mind 
that the great battle of this campaign must be fought at Get- 
tysburg. 

It soon became evident that the cavalry force which Hill's 
advance had attacked was no mere party of reconnaissance that 
had wandered far from its main body. Large bodies of infantry 
soon began arriving to support Buford, and so began the 
first struggle for Seminary Ridge, or, to be more precise, for 
the slight elevation which forms the continuation of Seminary 
Ridge to the west of the town. The first advantage was with 
the Union troops, but in a few hours the whole or a greater 
part of A. P. Hill's corps had arrived from the direction of 



4o8 DECISIVE BATTLES 

Chambersburg, and, with Ewell's coming from Carlisle, to the 
north of the position, formed an aggregate force of some 
50,000 men, which by far outnumbered the Federal troops 
actually opposed to it. The latter were steadily pushed back 
towards Seminary Ridge, then driven pell-mell through the 
town itself, losing, it is estimated, about 5,000 of their number 
in killed and wounded, and as many again taken prisoners, 
while the list of killed and wounded on the Confederate side 
was, if anything, larger. 

Meanwhile, General Meade, at Pipe Creek, fifteen miles to 
the southeast of the scene of battle, learned that fighting was 
going on at Gettysburg and dispatched Hancock to take the 
command, with discretionary authority. Hancock, on arriv- 
ing, sent back urgent word to his chief to push the Union forces 
northward as fast as possible, which Meade did. The conse- 
quence was that, by the morning of July 2d, the scant 30,000 
Union troops that had begun the first day's battle were in- 
creased, with all allowance for losses already inflicted, to as 
many as 75,000 men, a force numerically equal to Lee's. 

South of Gettysburg, and facing Seminary Ridge, from 
which it is separated by a depression about 1,400 yards wide, is 
a height called Cemetery Ridge. This rising curves at its 
northern end to the east, in such a way as to present a broad 
bastion to the southern side of the town of Gettysburg, and 
terminates in Gulp's Hill, to the southeast of the town. Here 
was the key of the whole position. On the morning of the 
second day the whole line of Cemetery Ridge was occupied by 
the Union forces under Hancock, while two of Lee's three 
corps — Hill's and Longstreet's — occupied Seminary Ridge, 
and the third — Ewell's — lay at the foot of Gulp's Hill. 

Still unaware, it seems, of the strength of the forces opposed 
to him, Lee ordered Longstreet, on the extreme south of Sem- 
inary Ridge, to attack the enemy's strong position directly op- 
posite him, on Round Top, the southern point of Cemetery 
Ridge. A mere accident. General Sickles having disobeyed or 
mistaken the orders of Meade, who had now arrived on the 
field, resulted in Longstreet's corps being allowed to break in 
on the Union's left. But for another mere accident, by which 
it was discovered in time that Little Round Top, a position of 
the greatest importance, had been left unoccupied, that eleva- 
tion would have fallen into the hands of the same corps. 



THE BATTLE OF GETTYSBURG 409 

On Meade's right, Ewell's attack on Gulp's Hill was delayed 
until late in the day, but was eventually successful. 

By the prompt action of Hancock, who succeeded Sickles 
when the latter was wounded, the Confederates were prevented 
from holding Little Round Top, but Longstreet's men at the 
close of the day still held the gap in Cemetery Ridge which they 
had won through Sickles' disobedience or misunderstanding. 

Thus the second day of Gettysburg ended with Lee's army 
by no means beaten, it is true, yet with an advantage far less 
than that which had been theirs at the end of the first day's 
fight. Half of Sickles' — now Hancock's — corps had been cut 
to pieces, and the Union losses were again placed at 10,000. 
But the gains of position to the Confederates were strategically 
of little value. Still Lee was determined to fight yet another 
day on the same line. 

Early in the morning of July 3d, Meade began his attack on 
the Confederates' left. The positions which Ewell had gained 
on the previous afternoon were assaulted and captured early 
in the day. And this time accident was decidedly in favor of the 
Union forces. It was an accident that Lee remained ignorant 
of Ewell's failure to hold his ground, a failure which meant 
much, since the plans for that day's action supposed that Ewell 
should use his position of the previous evening as a point of 
departure for this day's attack. 

One very great advantage on Lee's side was the character 
of the ground on Seminary Ridge, which was such as to per- 
mit of its being used for an artillery position, while the ground 
opposite, on Cemetery Ridge, was too broken for any such 
purpose. Meade was at least as well supplied with artillery as 
was Lee, but Lee could use all of his, and Meade could use only 
a part of his. The Confederates opened fire from Seminary 
Ridge at a little after one o'clock in the afternoon with 120 
guns ; the Federals replied with only eighty. This was the fa- 
mous artillery duel of Gettysburg. It is said, whether cor- 
rectly or not, that Lee's object in ordering it was to exhaust the 
enemy's supply of ammunition and destroy his guns, so that 
when the time came to break his line at its left centre, he should 
be left weak in this formidable means of defence. The theory 
can hardly be called a plausible one. Anyhow, the ending of 
the artillery duel was unfortunate for the Confederates. And 
here, too, misfortune came by accident. 



410 DECISIVE BATTLES 

At about three o'clock Hunt, who directed the Union artil- 
lery, gave the order to cease firing. His object in doing this 
was simply to let the dense smoke blow away, in order that his 
gunners might get a view of the enemy's movements. The 
same thing has repeatedly been done in more recent battles 
for much the same reason, though with smokeless powder it 
would be unnecessary. Lee, unfortunately for him, inter- 
preted the lull in the firing to mean that the Union guns had 
been pretty well placed hors de combat. From this he argued 
that it was time to develop his grand attack. 

Lee was cruelly undeceived. The forward movement which 
through Longstreet he then directed — or permitted — was that 
" Pickett's charge," the fame of which has spread all over the 
globe, wherever the stories of battles are read. Every English, 
Australian, or Canadian schoolboy knows of it ; certainly every 
American schoolboy should know of it. It was a terrible and 
wonderful thing, fully as wonderful as the charge at Balaklava, 
which Tennyson immortalized in verse. 

Opposite Longstreet's left was the angle of the stone wall 
which surrounded the cemetery on Cemetery Hill. General 
Pickett, with his veteran division of Virginians, and Petti- 
grew's, comprising a force of 18,000 men, was to charge the 
enemy with this point as their central objective. Pickett him- 
self " had no faith in the movement," it is said. Longstreet, 
when Pickett asked him, " Shall I move on that point. Gen- 
eral ? " bit his lip and hesitated. But Longstreet did not say, 
" No," and so Pickett moved on that point. 

Then it was that Lee found how mistaken he had been about 
the condition of the Union artillery. From end to end of the 
Cemetery Ridge the guns opened fire on Pickett's men. Lee's 
original intention of advancing his artillery to support this 
charge could not be carried out, because, in fact, it appeared 
that the Confederate ammunition was running short. So 
Pickett's charge went unsupported. It was aimed at first for 
Doubleday's division, but soon changed its course when Pick- 
ett noticed that this body of troops fought behind breastworks. 
Inclining to the Federal right, the column made for Hancock's 
corps — the same that had fought and suffered so terribly when 
it was Sickles' the day before. Hancock waited until Petti- 
grew's brigade had got to within 300 yards, then he gave volley 
after volley, sending it to atoms. The resf of Pickett's men 



THE BATTLE OF GETTYSBURG 411 

went on until they had charged over the stone wall of the 
cemetery and mto the midst of the Union batteries. Then 
from all sides the Northerners crowded in upon them and 
forced them almost by sheer pressure of numbers back, down 
the slopes. 

The end of Pickett's charge was that only about twenty per 
cent, of Pickett's men came out of it alive. 

Then Meade thought it time to deliver his final blow. Hood, 
on Lee's right, was driven back, and the Confederate hopes of 
crushing the army that threatened their communications were 
at an end. Meade did not follow up his victory by a resolute 
pursuit of Lee, but rested his men and permitted Lee to recross 
the Potomac. Military critics think that Lee might have been 
destroyed during the retreat, and the war ended at once, if 
Meade had seen fit to gather the full fruits of his victory. 

By this remarkable series of bloody struggles, in which, it is 
said, the losers lost some 15,500 men, killed and wounded, and 
the victors over 16,000, Lee's invasion of the North was put 
a stop to. It was Gettysburg that aroused the North to strug- 
gle more earnestly than ever before for the preservation of the 
Union. And after Gettysburg, until the final surrender, Lee 
never again found himself in the position of an invader, the 
Confederacy being thenceforward on the defensive. 



Synopsis of Events in American History between the 
Battle of Gettysburg, a.d. 1863, and the War with 
Spain, a.d. 1898. 

Lee surrenders, with the Confederate Army of Northern 
Virginia, to General Grant, at Appomattox, April 9, 1865. 

Abraham Lincoln assassinated at Ford's Theatre, Washing- 
ton, by Wilkes Booth, April 14, 1865. 

" The World's Columbian Exposition," at Chicago, opened 
by President Cleveland, in the presence of the Spanish Duke 
of Veragua, a Hneal descendant of Columbus, May i, 1893. 



CHAPTER XVII. 

THE BATTLE OF SEDAN, A.D. 1870. 

WHEN Louis Napoleon said " The Empire is Peace," he 
probably intended to register in history something epi- 
grammatic that should match the famous *' My an- 
cestors are myself" of his uncle, and the still more famous 
*' The State is I " of Louis XIV. The great difference between 
the latest of these three mots and the two former was that there 
was no truth whatever in what Napoleon HL said. The French 
Empire that began in the coup d'etat of 185 1 and ended at 
Sedan was not peace, even if it was not war; its existence de- 
pended to a considerable degree upon the survival of a popular 
belief that the military glory of France was rooted in the Na- 
poleonic tradition. To keep life in this political creed Louis 
Napoleon was obHged to spend his time in either waging spec- 
tacular wars or commemorating the conquests of his uncle and 
himself, or scheming to filch scraps of territory from other 
powers. His lot was surely not a happy one. In presence of a 
large and noisy minority of the French people he occupied a 
position comparable to that of an acrobat, whose audience is 
incessantly howling for one more " turn," offering him the al- 
ternative of being hissed and pelted off the stage. He was tired 
in his muscles and at his wits' end to devise new tricks as sub- 
stitutes for genuine feats of strength, but the performance had 
to go on. 

And all this time another performance was going on across 
the Rhine, which gave great uneasiness both to the Chauvinists 
and to many of the quieter and wiser among the French people. 
Prussia — the country of Frederick the Great and of Blucher — 
was gaining power daily under the hand of a wonder-worker 
less spectacular than Louis Napoleon, perhaps, but far more 
really effectual. Guided by the counsels of Bismarck, William 
I. had used Austria's authority and assistance to wrest Schleswig- 
Holstein from Denmark,, and then impudently shouldered Aus- 

412 



THE BATTLE OF SEDAN 413 

tria away from the spoils. When Austria protested against such 
treatment he had shattered her sword at Koniggratz, in 1866, 
using for the purpose an army raised and maintained only by 
systematically ignoring the Prussian Constitution, which he had 
sworn to respect, and then with the glamour of that very victory 
he had bought of his people indemnity for his crime against 
their liberties. After Koniggratz the old Germanic Confed- 
eration dissolved itself, and its northern constituents formed a 
new Confederation, of which Prussia was the leader. Louis 
Napoleon had in contemplation a most striking trick to ofifset 
this: he would form another Confederation of the South Ger- 
man States under Austria. But before that feat could be ac- 
compHshed it was found that Bismarck and his master had 
anticipated it in their quiet way by concluding secret treaties 
with Bavaria, Wiirtemberg, and Hesse-Darmstadt. 

Add to all this that the projected Franco-Austro-Mexican 
Empire had turned out an unqualified failure, that the stupid 
King of Holland had ruined with his absurd honesty the trick 
by which the Duchy of Luxembourg was to have been sud- 
denly found on the French side of the boundary, and that the 
scheme for bringing the Belgian railroads under Napoleonic 
control was blocked, and it appears that the spectacular Em- 
peror had reason to feel very nervous when the year 1869 came 
to a close. The great Paris Exposition of two years before 
had been a gorgeous success, it is true, offering to the pubHc 
an unparalleled display of friendly princes and potentates, among 
whom the King of Prussia and his son Frederick were con- 
spicuous, and France had just reaped all the glory of opening, 
in the Suez Canal, a short cut to India, which has since proved 
invaluable to England. Still, considering what was going on 
over the Rhine, it was uneasily felt in imperial circles that the 
Napoleonic performance was not all that the people had a right 
to expect. 

At the beginning of 1870 it was joyfully predicted that a year 
of general peace and good-will had dawned. An English states- 
man declared in a moment of expansive benevolence to all 
mankind that " there was not a cloud to be seen on the political 
horizon." In one way at least the Emperor of the French was 
testifying in the sight of Heaven and his own conscience his 
behef in his own saying, " The Empire is Peace "; for between 
him and his military favorites the empire's army had been 



414 DECISIVE BATTLES 

brought to a condition in which it was fit for nothing but peace; 
but of this the French people, who paid the taxes, were not 
aware. In strong contrast, Bismarck and WilHam of Prussia, 
while they fought the popular representatives by fair means 
and foul to get money for military expenditures, were spending 
every pfennig they could get on that for which they professedly 
extorted it — the army. And all this time Von Roon, Minister 
of War, and Von Moltke, Chief of Staff, were completing prepa- 
rations for a great eventuality which nobody dreamed of as a 
near probability. 

It was the House of Hohenzollern, of which William I. was 
hereditary head, that gave the Emperor his opportunity to do 
something for the Napoleonic dynasty. The throne of Spain 
was vacant, and the Spanish people, having tried a republic for 
two years, were already tired of their experiment. Marshal 
Prim, in the name of Spain, offered the throne to first one 
Hohenzollern prince and then another. In June, 1870, it was 
announced that Prince Leopold of Hohenzollern had signified 
his willingness to become King of Spain. Napoleon must have 
been fully aware, months before, of what was going on in Ma- 
drid, for all these things were not done in a corner. Neverthe- 
less, as the French people were in a mood to take offence at 
anything that might promise further aggrandizement to the 
Prussian crown, it was his cue to express deep pain and surprise 
at what had occurred. This was done in thorough theatrical 
fashion by Benedetti, the French Ambassador to Prussia, who 
was at the time a fellow-sojourner with King William at the 
baths of Ems. The old King replied with perfect civility that 
what his kinsman chose to do about the Spanish throne was 
no concern of his. Prince Leopold, on learning that his pros- 
pective advancement was likely to embroil Europe in a war, 
withdrew his acceptance of Prim's offer. Nevertheless Bene- 
detti dogged the footsteps of the Prussian King, pestering the 
old man, when he was taking his early walk before breakfast 
for an exphcit assurance that no Hohenzollern should at any 
future time become sovereign of Spain. The sum and sub- 
stance of the various accounts of what took place between 
Benedetti and the King is that the King declined further to 
discuss the matter with the ambassador. War was declared by 
the Emperor of the French on the fifteenth of July — two days 
after the abortive interview on the promenade at Ems, in which 



THE BATTLE OF SEDAN 415 

France had seen an insult to her ambassador, and Prussia an 
insuh to her King. 

In the historical dispute as to whether France gave the provo- 
cation to this quarrel, or Prussia, the balance of circumstantial 
evidence must always be conceded to the French side, inasmuch 
as it may be plausibly argued that no sane government would 
have willingly gone to war trusting in so ill-equipped an army 
as the French then was; on the other hand, the operations of 
the Germans gave evidence, from the very first, of long and 
strenuous preparation, not merely for war, but specially for this 
war. It may or may not be literally true that Von Moltke had 
only to open his bureau and take from its proper drawer a plan 
for the invasion of France that had long been awaiting its turn 
for execution, but it is certain that when the royal decree to 
mobilize was made known to the famous Chief of Staf¥, that 
greatest of modern strategists had very little thinking to do. 
Everything was ready, and it seemed that Moltke had only to 
pull a cord, which, as in the now familiar ceremony of opening 
an industrial exhibition, set all the complicated machinery in 
motion. 

Sixteen days after the declaration of war the foes met at 
Saarbriicken, a small place on the Prussian side, about two 
miles from the frontier. The arms of France triumphed on this 
occasion, and the outlook for the Emperor brightened tem- 
porarily. He was seen to kiss his fourteen-year-old son, he was 
also observed to weep, and he coined the phrase *' baptism of 
fire " to describe the Prince Imperial's exploit of sitting on 
horseback and watching the French troops swarming up the 
heights over the Saar. But from and after this skirmish, in 
which 169 lives were lost, the fortune of war went incessantly 
against Napoleon III. 

Coming to the serious business of the campaign, the im- 
mediate objective points of the Prussian operation were Stras- 
burg, in Alsace, and Metz, about ninety miles northwest of 
Strasburg, in Lorraine. The battle of Worth, in which Mac- 
Mahon was defeated by the Crown Prince of Prussia, left Stras- 
burg exposed to the Prussian attack, and on the fourteenth of 
August, eight days after this bloody and hard-fought encounter, 
the slow, methodical, and terribly effective bombardment of 
Strasburg was begun. On the same day General Von Stein- 
metz won from Bazaine the victory of Courcelles, at an expense 



4i6 DECISIVE BATTLES 

of so much blood that the historians of the war leave it doubtful 
whether Steinmetz received from his King on this occasion an 
expression of thanks or a reprimand. Two days later Prince 
Frederick Charles beat the same Bazaine at Mars-la-Tour, and 
after another interval of two days the combined armies inflicted 
a third defeat at Gravelotte and Rezonville, which reduced their 
unfortunate adversary to the necessity of retiring on Metz and 
its fortifications. Three days after Gravelotte, Bazaine was 
isolated at Metz. The first chapter of the war had been closed 
in thirty-seven days. 

It was at this point that an element of uncertainty began to 
enter into the development of the drama on the German side. 
The German armies now actually on French soil numbered half 
a million men. These were opposed by 300,000 French troops. 
Of the German forces about 150,000, under Prince Frederick 
Charles, were engaged in keeping Bazaine, who commanded 
about an equal number, shut up in Metz. With the exception 
of scattered bodies, numbering between 50,000 and 100,000, 
whose duties concerned the investment of Strasburg and the 
occupation of territory already conquered, the remainder of this 
huge army of invasion was occupied with Marshal MacMahon. 
The element of uncertainty consisted in the movements of Mac- 
Mahon and the army of 150,000 which he had collected and 
reorganized at Chalons. It may be said that this uncertainty 
was shared by the French themselves ; MacMahon's own judg- 
ment would have prompted him to march northward to Me- 
zieres, but Count Palikao, the Minister of War, insisted on his 
making every eflort to relieve Bazaine. In vain did the Em- 
peror, who now accompanied MacMahon's army, remind him 
that a piece of advice from the ministry of war was not equivalent 
to an order; MacMahon, for some reason or other — probably 
because he wished to reduce his own responsibility to a mini- 
mum — chose the course suggested to him from Paris. 

MacMahon's choice once made, and revealed to the ever- 
vigilant Uhlans by the direction of his march, the rest was 
comparatively easy for Moltke. The French marshal was, 
without knowing it, being surely and patiently worked into a 
pocket of French territory, in the department of the Ardennes, 
formed by the Belgian frontier. On the French side there was 
not, nor ever had been in this war, anything like the systematic 
application of strategic science to actuality which marked the 



THE BATTLE OF SEDAN 417 

movements of the German army during the last week of August. 
No one man — neither the Emperor, nor MacMahon, nor Le- 
boeuf, the nominal Chief of Stafif — wielded the unquestioned 
authority over the French soldiers which made it possible for 
Moltke to move his corps of Germans hither and thither like 
chessmen. Not only were the soldiers of France demoralized 
by their earlier reverses, not only had they lost confidence in 
their leaders, but, even if they had idolized their leader and felt 
the most fanatical confidence in his destiny, they had, in fact, 
no such one leader: they were being victimized by a politician 
in Paris, who was ignorant of both the general principles of 
war and the particular conditions ; an Emperor whose wits were 
clouded by both physical suffering and anxiety for the future 
of his dynasty; and several subordinate generals, each of whom 
was convinced that his leader misunderstood the situation, and 
that in his own plan alone was safety for France. And so the 
disasters of that August culminated on the last day but one of 
the month, when the old King took his seat on the height of 
Sommauthe and watched the Crown Prince of Saxony, with 
three army corps that had been detached from Steinmetz, driv- 
ing General Failly's troops into the village of Beaumont and 
out again on the other side. 

The next day was the eve of Sedan. 

It has been necessary to sketch the outlines of the campaign 
up to this point, because Sedan, decisive as it was, was only the 
crowning of a series of lesser strategic triumphs, all wrought 
with a purposeful regard for the end which stamps the work of 
Moltke and his subordinates as, in the strictest sense, artistic. 
Men of the Anglo-Saxon race, whose triumphs in war have 
generally been won more by the stubborn bravery — the " game- 
ness " — of their rank and file than by the science of their gen- 
erals, need to have this distinction emphasized for them. It 
was not that German valor is in the least superior to French, 
or how could the fathers of these same Frenchmen have so 
crushed the fathers of these same Germans as they did at Jena 
and on a score of other fields? It was the patient desk-work 
of Roon, pursued through a period of many previous years, 
the perfect discipline of an army drawn from half a dozen dif- 
ferent German States, and the consummate skill of Moltke, 
matured through half a century of patient study and, when oc- 
casion arose, experiment. 
27 



4i8 DECISIVE BATTLES 

Close to the Belgian frontier stands the ancient French strong- 
hold of Sedan on the Meuse. Its fortifications, the work of 
Vauban himself, were once deemed impregnable, but their 
strength had long been a mere memory, in the presence of 
modern arms, when, on August 31, 1870, Marshal MacMahon, 
with the Emperor and the Army of Chalons, realizing the failure 
of his movement to reheve Metz, made them the base and 
centre of his last desperate stand. What MacMahon intended 
to do next, supposing he should succeed in repulsing the Ger- 
mans, is not quite clear. He, or some of his generals, may have 
hoped for an orderly retreat across the Belgian frontier, but 
King William had thoughtfully anticipated that contingency, 
and, while orders were issued to the German commanders to 
pursue the enemy, if necessary into Belgian territory, a despatch 
to the Belgian government plainly reminded it of its duties as 
a neutral power, and demanded that all French troops found 
within its territories should be disarmed by its representatives. 
But it seems more probable that MacMahon's own plan was to 
secure a retreat to Mezieres, about fifteen miles to the west of 
Sedan. 

If this plan of retreat on Mezieres had been carried out, the 
name of MacMahon must have descended to posterity as that 
of the greatest fighter of a losing battle in many generations. 
It is hard to understand how the gallant hero of Magenta can 
have believed such a movement possible, unless we take into 
account the absurdly inefficient service of the French scouts, 
or suppose that their generals, strong in their national ideas of 
the German character, altogether failed to realize the rapidity 
of German military movements on this particular occasion. As 
a matter of fact, the way from Sedan to Mezieres was effectually 
barred to MacMahon's army on the day immediately following 
the battle of Beaumont and preceding that of Sedan. 

When the King of Prussia arrived that evening to take up 
his quarters for the night at the chateau of Vendresse, after pre- 
siding at a council of war at Chemery, the left wing of Crown 
Prince Frederick's army was already within easy striking dis- 
tance of the route from Sedan to Mezieres, while its right rested 
on the river Meuse, south of Sedan. To the southeast