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Won By the Sword : a tale of the Thirty Years' War   By: (1832-1902)

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WON BY THE SWORD

A STORY OF THE THIRTY YEARS' WAR

By G.A. Henty

PREFACE.

MY DEAR LADS,

In my preface to the Lion of the North I expressed a hope that I might some day be able to continue the history of the Thirty Years' War. The deaths of Gustavus and his great rival Wallenstein and the crushing defeat of the Swedes and their allies at the battle of Nordlingen brought the first period of that war to a close. Hostilities, indeed, never ceased, but the Swedes no longer played the leading part on the Protestant side that they had hitherto occupied. Oxenstiern, the great chancellor of Sweden, saw that the only hope of eventual success lay in engaging France in the struggle, and he and the Duke of Weimar went to Paris and pointed out to Richelieu that unless France intervened, Austria must become the master of all Germany, and as the ally of Spain would have it in her power to completely dominate France. Richelieu perceived the opportunity, made a treaty with the Swedes and Weimar, and engaged to grant large subsidies to the former, and to send an army to cooperate with the latter. Then began the second period of this long and terrible struggle, France now taking the place that Sweden had hitherto occupied, and bearing the brunt of the conflict. She emerged triumphant with her territories largely increased, while Austria was crushed and humiliated, and Spain was dethroned from her position as the dominating power of Europe. The success of France was greatly due to the fact that her armies were led by two of the greatest military geniuses of all times, viz., Conde and Turenne, men of very different types, but equally great as commanders, and equally at the time of which we are speaking devoted to the cause of France. Both were men of extraordinary personal courage, and although one was as prudent and careful of the lives of his troops as the other was impetuous and careless at what cost he won his victories, they worked together with a harmony that could have hardly been expected among men so differently constituted. Although, in the subsequent wars of the Fronde they took different sides, their friendship, except during a short period of alienation, was never shaken, and their admiration for each other's genius never abated.

Yours sincerely,

G.A. HENTY

CHAPTER I: A STROKE OF GOOD FORTUNE

A mounted officer, followed by two orderlies, was proceeding at a brisk trot from Paris to St. Denis, in October, 1639, when he came upon a large party of boys, who, armed with sticks, were advancing in something like military order against a wall on the top of a low hill.

"What are you doing?" he asked the lad who appeared to be the leader.

"We are playing at war, sir. We are advancing against the fortress of La Motte. This is the regiment of Turenne."

"And who are you at other times?" the officer asked with a smile.

"My name is Hector Campbell, sir."

"Then you are not French?"

"No, sir; my father was an officer in the Scotch regiment. He was killed at the siege of La Rochelle."

"And who is taking care of you?"

"I live with Angus MacIntosh. He was a sergeant in my father's company. He was badly wounded at La Rochelle, and not being fit for further service, he took a cabaret near the barracks. The officers are very kind. They allow him a sum for taking care of me. Of course I am often in barracks, and have learned the drill, and I have heard and read about battles and sieges, so I am chosen to command."

"And so you know something of the battles in which Turenne was engaged?"

"I think I know about them all, sir, both in Holland and on the Rhine, and have seen plans of the battles. Of course this is not at all like La Motte, which was on the top of a high rock, so that when Turenne was ordered to attack with his regiment after the general's son had failed, he had to pass not only through a heavy fire, but through the huge stones that the enemy hurled down... Continue reading book >>




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