The Thirty Years War, book 5

Friedrich von Schiller
The Thirty Years War, book 5

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Title: The Thirty Years War, Book V.
Author: Frederich Schiller
Release Date: Oct, 2004 [EBook #6774] [Yes, we are more than one year ahead of schedule] [This file was first posted on January 14, 2003]
Edition: 10
Language: English
Character set encoding: ASCII


This eBook was produced by David Widger, [email protected]


Translated from the German



Wallenstein's death rendered necessary the appointment of a new generalissimo; and the Emperor yielded at last to the advice of the Spaniards, to raise his son Ferdinand, King of Hungary, to that dignity. Under him, Count Gallas commanded, who performed the functions of commander-in-chief, while the prince brought to this post nothing but his name and dignity. A considerable force was soon assembled under Ferdinand; the Duke of Lorraine brought up a considerable body of auxiliaries in person, and the Cardinal Infante joined him from Italy with 10,000 men. In order to drive the enemy from the Danube, the new general undertook the enterprise in which his predecessor had failed, the siege of Ratisbon. In vain did Duke Bernard of Weimar penetrate into the interior of Bavaria, with a view to draw the enemy from the town; Ferdinand continued to press the siege with vigour, and the city, after a most obstinate resistance, was obliged to open its gates to him. Donauwerth soon shared the same fate, and Nordlingen in Swabia was now invested. The loss of so many of the imperial cities was severely felt by the Swedish party; as the friendship of these towns had so largely contributed to the success of their arms, indifference to their fate would have been inexcusable. It would have been an indelible disgrace, had they deserted their confederates in their need, and abandoned them to the revenge of an implacable conqueror. Moved by these considerations, the Swedish army, under the command of Horn, and Bernard of Weimar, advanced upon Nordlingen, determined to relieve it even at the expense of a battle.
The undertaking was a dangerous one, for in numbers the enemy was greatly superior to that of the Swedes. There was also a further reason for avoiding a battle at present; the enemy's force was likely soon to divide, the Italian troops being destined for the Netherlands. In the mean time, such a position might be taken up, as to cover Nordlingen, and cut off their supplies. All these grounds were strongly urged by Gustavus Horn, in the Swedish council of war; but his remonstrances were disregarded by men who, intoxicated by a long career of success, mistook the suggestions of prudence for the voice of timidity. Overborne by the superior influence of Duke Bernard, Gustavus Horn was compelled to risk a contest, whose unfavourable issue, a dark foreboding seemed already to announce. The fate of the battle depended upon the possession of a height which commanded the imperial camp. An attempt to occupy it during the night failed, as the tedious transport of the artillery through woods and hollow ways delayed the arrival of the troops. When the Swedes arrived about midnight, they found the heights in possession of the enemy, strongly entrenched. They waited, therefore, for daybreak, to carry them by storm. Their impetuous courage surmounted every obstacle; the entrenchments, which were in the form of a crescent, were successfully scaled by each of the two brigades appointed to the service; but as they entered at the same moment from opposite sides, they met and threw each other into confusion. At this unfortunate moment, a barrel of powder blew up, and created the greatest disorder among the Swedes. The imperial cavalry charged upon their broken ranks, and the flight became universal. No persuasion on the part of their general could induce the fugitives to renew the assault.
He resolved, therefore, in order to carry this important
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