Won by the Sword by G. A. Henty
Chapter VII: The Duc D'Enghien
From time to time news came up of what was passing in the world. The Spaniards had afforded no assistance in men to the duke, for Richelieu had sent a powerful army into the heart of Flanders, and so kept them fully occupied. An Austrian force, however, joined that of the duke, and a battle was fought with the royal army which, under Marshal Chatillon, lay encamped a league from Sedan. The Austrian general commanded the main body, the Duc de Bouillon the cavalry, while the Count de Soissons was with the reserve. At first Chatillon's army had the advantage, but Bouillon charged with such vehemence that he drove the cavalry of the royalists down upon their infantry, which fell into confusion, most of the French officers being killed or made prisoners, and the rest put to rout. The duke, after the victory, rode to congratulate Soissons, whose force had not been engaged. He found the count dead, having accidentally shot himself while pushing up the visor of his helmet with the muzzle of his pistol.
Bouillon soon learned the hollowness of the promises of his allies. The Spaniards sent neither money nor men, while the Austrians received orders to march away from Sedan and to join the Spaniards, who were marching to the relief of Arras.
The duke, deserted by his allies, prepared to defend Sedan till the last. Fortunately for him, however, the position of the French at Arras was critical. The place was strong, two armies were marching to its relief, and it would therefore have been rash to have attempted at the same time the siege of Sedan. The king himself had joined the army advancing against Bouillon, while the cardinal remained in Paris. Many of those round the person of the king, foremost among whom was the Marquis of Cinq-Mars, his master of horse, spoke very strongly in favour of the duke, and represented that he had been driven to take up arms by the persecution of the cardinal. The king was moved by their representations, and gave a complete pardon to Bouillon, who was restored to the full possession of all his estates in France, while on his part he released the prisoners, baggage, and standards taken in the late battle.
This was welcome news to Hector, who at once prepared to cross into Italy; but when they reached Chambery he heard that Turenne had been ordered to join the army that was collected near the Spanish frontier, in order to conquer Roussillon, which lay between Languedoc and Catalonia. The latter province had been for three years in a state of insurrection against Spain, and had besought aid from France. This, however, could not easily be afforded them so long as the fortress of Perpignan guarded the way, and with other strongholds prevented all communication between the south of France and Catalonia. As it was uncertain whether Turenne would follow the coast route or cross the passes, Hector and his companion rode forward at once, and arrived at Turin before he left.
"I am glad to see you back again," the general said as Hector entered his room, "and trust that you are now strong again. Your letter, giving me your reasons for leaving Sedan, was forwarded to me by a messenger, with others from my brother and his wife. He speaks in high terms of you, and regretted your leaving them; but the reason you gave for so doing in your letter to me more than justified the course you took, and showed that you were thoughtful in other than military matters. You served me better by leaving Sedan than you could have done in any other way. In these unhappy disputes with my brother, the cardinal has never permitted my relationship to Bouillon to shake his confidence in me. But after being engaged for many years in combating plots against him, he cannot but be suspicious of all, and that an officer of my staff should be staying at Sedan when the dispute was going to end in open warfare might well have excited a doubt of me while, had you traveled direct here at that moment, it might, as you said, have been considered that you were the bearer of important communications between my brother and myself.
"Now, I hope that you are completely restored to health; you are looking well, and have grown a good deal, the consequence, no doubt, of your being so long in bed. You have heard that I am ordered to Roussillon, of which I am glad, for the war languishes here. The king, I hear, will take up his headquarters at Narbonne, and Richelieu is coming down to look after matters as he did at Rochelle. So I expect that things will move quickly there. They say the king is not in good health, and that the cardinal himself is failing. Should he die it will be a grievous loss for France, for there is no one who could in any way fill his place. It has been evident for some time that the king has been in weak health. The dauphin is but a child. A regency with the queen as its nominal head, and Richelieu as its staff and ruler, would be possible; but without Richelieu the prospect would be a very dark one, and I cannot think of it without apprehension. However, I must continue to do as I have been doing ever since Bouillon fell out with the court; I must think only that I am a soldier, prepared to strike where ordered, whether against a foreign foe or a rebellious subject.
"Happily my family troubles are over. I hear that there is a probability that, now Bouillon has been restored to favour, he will obtain the command of the army in Italy, which will just suit his active spirit."
Three days later Turenne with his staff crossed the Alps, and journeying across the south of France reached Perpignan. The Marquis of Mielleraye was in supreme command, and Turenne was to act as his lieutenant; the latter at once took charge of the operations of the siege of Perpignan, which had already been beleaguered for some months by the French. The fortress was a very strong one, but as the efforts of the Spanish to reinforce the garrison by a landing effected on the coast failed altogether, and as the operations of Mielleraye in the field were successful, and there was no chance of any relief being afforded to the besieged town by a Spanish army advancing through Catalonia, it was certain that the fortress must in time surrender by hunger. As it could not be captured by assault unless with a very heavy loss indeed, Turenne contented himself with keeping up so vigilant a watch round it that its communications were altogether cut off, and the garrison knew nothing whatever of what was passing around them.
The Duc de Bouillon had received the command of the army in Italy, and Turenne hoped that henceforth his mind would be free from the family trouble that had for the past four years caused him great pain and anxiety. Unfortunately, however, Cinq-Mars, the king's master of horse and personal favourite, had become embroiled with the cardinal. Rash, impetuous, and haughty, the young favourite at once began to intrigue. The Duke of Orleans, the king's only brother, one of the most treacherous and unstable of men, joined him heart and soul, and Bouillon was induced to ally himself with them, not from any political feeling, but because Cinq-Mars had been mainly instrumental in obtaining terms for him before, and appealed to his sense of gratitude to aid him now. He insisted, however, that this time there should be no negotiating with Spain and Austria, but that the movement should be entirely a French one.
Unknown to him, however, the others entered into an alliance with Spain, who engaged to find money and an army. The conspirators had gained the ear of the king, Cinq-Mars representing to him that their hostility was directed solely against the cardinal, and the latter was in great disfavour until he obtained a copy of the treaty with Spain. The disclosure opened the king's eyes. The Duke of Orleans, Cinq-Mars, Monsieur de Thou, his intimate friend, and de Bouillon were at once arrested. Orleans immediately turned traitor to his fellow conspirators, revealed every incident of the plot, and was sentenced to exile. Cinq-Mars and de Thou were tried and executed. De Bouillon saved his life by relinquishing his principality to France, any hesitation there may have been in sparing him on those terms being removed by the receipt of a message from the duchess, that if her husband were put to death she would at once deliver Sedan into the hands of the Spaniards. De Bouillon was therefore pardoned, and in exchange for the surrender of his principality, his estates in France were to be enlarged, and a considerable pension granted to him.
All this was a terrible trial to Turenne, who was deeply attached to his brother, and who mourned not only the danger he had incurred, but that he should have broken his engagements, and while commanding a royal army should have plotted against the royal authority.
At the end of November the cardinal's illness, from which he had long suffered, took an unfavourable turn, and the king, who had returned to Paris, went to see him. Richelieu advised him to place his confidence in the two secretaries of state, Chavigny and de Noyers, recommended Cardinal Mazarin strongly as first minister of the crown, and handed the king a document he had prepared barring the Duke of Orleans from any share in the regency in case of the king's death, the preamble calling to mind that the king had five times pardoned his brother, who had yet recently engaged in a fresh plot against him. On the 2nd of December, 1642, Richelieu died, and the king, on the following day, carried out his last advice, and appointed Mazarin to a place in his council.
The year had passed quietly with Hector Campbell. His duties had been but slight during the siege, and as during his stay at Sedan and in Switzerland he had continued to work hard at Italian, at the former place under a teacher, who instructed him in more courtly dialect than that which he acquired from Paolo, so during the six months before Perpignan he had, after taking the advice of Turenne, set himself to acquire a knowledge of German. Working at this for eight hours a day under the tuition of a German gentleman, who had been compelled to leave the country when his native town was captured by the Imperialists, he was soon able to converse as fluently in it as in Italian.
"It is in Germany that the next great campaign is likely to take place," Turenne said to him, "and your knowledge of German will be of infinite utility to you. Fortunately for myself, Sedan standing on the border between the two countries, I acquired German as well as French without labour, and while in Holland spoke it rather than French; the knowledge of languages is of great importance to one who would rise high in the army or at the court, and I am very glad that you have acquired German, as it may be of great use to you if we are called upon to invade that country again, that is, if the new council of the king are as kindly disposed towards me as Richelieu always showed himself to be; but I fear that ere long there may be changes. The king's health is very poor. He may not live long, and then we have a regency before us, and the regencies of France have always been times of grievous trouble.
"Even had Richelieu lived he might not have been able to avert such disasters. He and the queen have never been friends, and he would not have had the support from her that he has had from the king, who, although he no doubt fretted at times under Richelieu's dictation, yet recognized his splendid genius, and knew that he worked heart and soul for the good of France. However, his death is a sore misfortune. A regency needs a strong head, but where is it to come from? The Duke of Orleans is a schemer without principle, weak, easily led, ambitious, and unscrupulous. The Prince of Conde is equally ambitious, even more grasping, and much more talented. There is no one else, save men like Chavigny, the father of our friend here, de Noyers, and some others of good family, honest and capable business men, but who would speedily become mere ciphers; and Cardinal Mazarin, who has just been appointed to the council."
"Do you know him, sir?" Hector asked.
"I have seen him more than once. He is said to be very clever, and it is no secret that he is nominated to the council on Richelieu's recommendation, which speaks volumes in his favour, for Richelieu was a judge of men, and must have believed, when recommending him, that Mazarin would render good service to France. But however clever he is he cannot replace the great cardinal. On him was stamped by nature the making of a ruler of men. He was tall, handsome, and an accomplished cavalier. Seeing him dressed as a noble among noblemen, one would have picked him out as born to be the greatest of them. No doubt this noble appearance, aided by his haughty manner and by his ruthlessness in punishing those who conspired against him, had not a little to do with his mastery over men.
"Mazarin is a man of very different appearance. He is dark in complexion, handsome in a way, supple, and, I should say, crafty; an Italian rather than a Frenchman. Such a man will meet with difficulties far greater than those which assailed Richelieu. The latter, personally fearless, went straight to his end, crushing his enemies if they stood in his way, possessed of an indomitable will and unflinching determination. Mazarin, if I mistake not, will try to gain his end by other means -- by intrigues, by setting those who oppose him against each other, by yielding rather than by striking. He is said to stand high in the queen's favour, and this will be a great aid to him; for those who might rebel against the authority of a cardinal will hesitate to do so when he has at his back the protection and authority of a queen. However, we must hope for the best. It is probable that Richelieu acquainted him with all his plans and projects, and urged him to carry them into effect. I sincerely trust that he will do so; and in that case, if he comes to the head of affairs, I should assuredly serve him as willingly and faithfully as I served Richelieu, knowing that it will be for the good of France."
It was, indeed, but a short time after the loss of his great adviser that the king followed him to the tomb. He had for long suffered from bad health, and now that the statesman who had borne the whole burden of public affairs had left him, he felt the weight overpowering. He had always been devoted to religious exercises, and saw his end approaching without regret, and died calmly and peacefully on May 14, 1643. By his will he left the queen regent. He had never been on good terms with her, and now endeavoured to prevent her from having any real power. The Duke of Orleans was appointed lieutenant general, but as the king had rightly no confidence in him, he nominated a council which, he intended, should override both. It was composed of the Prince of Conde, Cardinal Mazarin, the chancellor, Seguerin, the secretary of state, Chavigny, and superintendent Bouthillier. The king's will prohibited any change whatever being made in the council, but this proviso was not observed. The queen speedily made terms with the ministers; and when the little king was conducted in great state to the parliament of Paris, the Duke of Orleans addressed the queen, saying that he desired to take no other part in affairs than that which it might please her to give him. The Prince of Conde said the same; and that evening, to their astonishment, the queen having become by their resignation the sole head of the administration, announced that she should retain Cardinal Mazarin as her minister, and shortly afterwards nominated Turenne to the command of the army in Italy. Prince Thomas had now broken altogether with the Spaniards, finding that their protection was not available, for the King of Spain had been obliged to recall a considerable proportion of his troops from Italy to suppress an insurrection in Catalonia. Hector did not accompany Turenne to Italy, for early in April Turenne had said to him:
"There seems no chance of employment here at present, Campbell, while there is likely to be some heavy fighting on the Rhine frontier.
"The death of Richelieu has given fresh courage to the enemies of France, and I hear that de Malo, the governor of the Low Countries, has gathered a large army, and is about to invade France. Our army there is commanded by the young Duc d'Enghien, the Prince of Conde's son. He is but twenty-two, and of course owes his appointment to his father's influence. The king has, however, sent with him Marshal de l'Hopital, who will be his lieutenant and director. I know Enghien well, and esteem his talents highly. He is brave, impetuous, and fiery; but at the same time, if I mistake not, cautious and prudent. I will give you a letter to him. I shall tell him that you have greatly distinguished yourself while on my staff, and being anxious above all things to acquire military knowledge and to serve with honour, I have sent you to him, begging him to give you the same post on his staff as you have had on mine, asking it as a personal favour to myself. This, I have no doubt, he will grant. He has affected my company a good deal when I have been in Paris, and has evinced the greatest desire to learn as much as he can of military matters from me."
"I am grateful indeed for your kindness, sir, of which I will most gladly avail myself, and shall indeed be pleased at the opportunity of seeing a great battle."
"I wish to show my approbation of the manner in which you have, since you left me in Italy, endeavoured to do all in your power to acquire useful knowledge, instead of wasting your time in idleness or gambling, to which so many young officers in the army give themselves up."
The next day Hector and Paolo joined the army of Enghien as it was on the march to Eperney. The former was now within a few months of seventeen, of middle height, strongly built, his hard exercise and training having broadened him greatly. He had a pleasant and good tempered face, his hair, which was brown with a tinge of gold, clustered closely round his head, for he had not adopted the French mode of wearing it in long ringlets, a fashion unsuited for the work of a campaign, and which de Lisle and Chavigny had in vain urged him to adopt. He was handsomely dressed, for he knew that Conde would be surrounded by many of the young nobles of France. He wore his broad hat with feather; his helmet and armour being carried, together with his valises, on a sumpter mule led by Paolo.
Putting up at an hotel, he made his way to the house occupied by Enghien and the marshal. It was crowded by young officers, many of whom were waiting in an anteroom. On one of the duke's chamberlains approaching him Hector gave his name, and requested him to deliver Viscount Turenne's letter to the prince. In a few minutes his name was called, to the surprise of those who had been waiting for some time for an interview. Enghien was seated at a table, from which he rose as Hector entered.
"I am glad to see you, Captain Campbell, both for your own sake and for that of Turenne, whom I greatly love and admire. As I was with Mielleraye during the campaign in the south, while you were with Turenne, we did not meet there, for though he once rode over and stayed for a few days you did not accompany him. But he has told me of your adventure at Turin, and has spoken of your diligent studies and your desire to learn all that is known of the art of war. I shall be glad indeed to have you riding with me, for I, too, am a diligent student in the art, though until last year I had no opportunity whatever of gaining practical knowledge. I envy Turenne his good fortune in having been sent to begin to learn his duty when he was but fourteen. He tells me that you were but a year older when you rode to Italy with him. It humiliates me to think that while I am sent to command an army simply because my father is a prince of the blood, Turenne gained every step by merit, and is a general in spite of the fact that his brother was an enemy of the cardinal and defied alike his power and that of the king. However, I hope to show that I am not altogether unworthy of my position; and at least, like Turenne, I can lead my troops into battle, and fight in their front, even if I cannot always come out victorious. Where have you put up your horses? With the best will in the world, I cannot put either room or stable at your disposal today, for I believe that every cupboard in the house is occupied; but at our halting place tomorrow we shall be under canvas, and a tent shall be assigned to you."
"I thank you, sir. I have fortunately been able to find quarters at an inn."
"At any rate, I hope that you will sup with me. I will then introduce you to some of my friends."
Enghien was at the age of twenty-two of a striking rather than a handsome figure. His forehead was wide, his eyes sunken and piercing, his nose very prominent and hooked giving to his face something of the expression of an eagle's. He resembled Turenne in the eagerness with which in childhood he had devoted himself to his studies, and especially to military exercises; but except that both possessed a remarkable genius for war, and both were extremely courageous, there was but slight resemblance between their characters. While Turenne was prudent, patient, and thoughtful, weighing duly every step taken, bestowing the greatest pains upon the comfort and well being of his troops, and careful as to every detail that could bring about success in his operations, Conde was passionate and impetuous, acting upon impulse rather than reflection. Personally ambitious, impatient of opposition, bitter in his enmities, his action and policy were influenced chiefly by his own ambitions and his own susceptibilities, rather than by the thought of what effect his action might have on the destinies of France. He was a born general, and yet but a poor leader of men, one of the greatest military geniuses that the world has ever seen, and yet so full of faults, foibles, and weaknesses that, except from a military point of view, the term "the Great Conde" that posterity has given him is but little merited. He had much brain and little heart. Forced by his father into a marriage with a niece of Richelieu's, he treated her badly and cruelly, although she was devoted to him, and was in all respects an estimable woman and a true wife, and that in a court where virtue was rare indeed.
At supper that evening Enghien introduced Hector first to the Marshal de l'Hopital and then to the young nobles of his company.
"Monsieur Campbell," he said, "is the youngest of our party, and yet he is, as the Viscount of Turenne writes to me, one in whom he has the greatest confidence, and who has so carefully studied the art of war, and so much profited by his opportunities, that he would not hesitate to commit to him any command requiring at once courage, discretion, and military knowledge. No one, gentlemen, could wish for a higher eulogium from a greater authority. Turenne has lent him to me for the campaign, and indeed I feel grateful to him for so doing. When I say, gentlemen, that it was he who saved the citadel of Turin to our arms, by undertaking and carrying out the perilous work of passing through the city and the Spanish lines to carry word to the half starved garrison that succour would arrive in a fortnight's time, and so prevented their surrendering, you will admit that Turenne has not spoken too highly of his courage and ability. I have heard the full details of the affair from Turenne's own lips, when he paid a short visit to Paris after that campaign closed; and I should feel proud indeed had I accomplished such an enterprise. Captain Campbell is a member of an old Scottish family, and his father died fighting for France at the siege of La Rochelle, a captain in the Scottish regiment. And now, gentlemen, to supper."
It was a joyous meal, and of a character quite new to Hector. Grave himself, Turenne's entertainments were marked by a certain earnestness and seriousness. He set, indeed, all his guests at ease by his courtesy and the interest he took in each; and yet all felt that in his presence loud laughter would be out of place and loose jesting impossible. Enghien, on the other hand, being a wild and reckless young noble, one who chose not his words, but was wont to give vent in terms of unbridled hatred to his contempt for those whom he deemed his enemies, imposed no such restraint upon his guests, and all talked, laughed, and jested as they chose, checked only by the presence of the gallant old marshal, who was nominally Enghien's guide and adviser. Next to Hector was seated General Gassion, one of the finest soldiers of the time. He, like Hector, had no family influence, but had gained his position solely by his own merits. He was enterprising and energetic, and eager to still further distinguish himself, and Hector was not long in perceiving that Enghien had his cordial support in combating the prudent and cautious counsels of the marshal. He spoke very cordially to the young captain. He saw in him one who, like himself, was likely to make his way by merit and force of character, and he asked him many questions as to his past history and the various services in which he had been engaged.
"I hope some day to win my marshal's baton, and methinks that if you have as good fortune as I have had, and escape being cut off by bullet or sabre, you, too, may look forward to gaining such a distinction. You see all these young men around us have joined rather in the spirit of knight errants than that of soldiers. Each hopes to distinguish himself, not for the sake of advancing his military career, but simply that he may stand well in the eyes of some court beauty. The campaign once over, they will return to Paris, and think no more of military service until another campaign led by a prince of the blood like Enghien takes place, when they will again take up arms and fight in his company.
"Such campaigns as those under Turenne in Italy would be distasteful in the extreme to them. They would doubtless bear the hardships as unflinchingly as we professional soldiers, but as soon as they could with honour retire you may be sure they would do so. It is well for us that they should. Were it otherwise our chances of advancement would be rare indeed, while as it is there are plenty of openings for men of determination and perseverance who will carry out precisely any order given to them, and who are always, whether in the field or in winter quarters, under the eyes of a commander like Turenne, who remains with his army instead of rushing off like d'Harcourt to spend his winter in the gaieties of the court, and to receive their smiles and praises as a reward for his successes."
"I suppose, general, there is no doubt that we shall give battle to the Spaniards?"
"No doubt whatever. It depends upon Enghien, though no doubt the marshal will throw every obstacle in the way. In the first place, there can be no denying that the Spanish infantry are superb, and that Fuentes, who commands them, is a fine old soldier, while our infantry are largely composed of new levies. Thus, though the armies are not unequal in strength, l'Hopital may well consider the chances of victory to be against us. In the second place, in a battle Enghien will be in command, and though all of us recognize that he possesses extraordinary ability, his impetuosity might well lead to a disaster. Then the marshal must feel that while the glory of a victory would fall to Enghien, the discredit of a defeat would be given to him, while if aught happened to Enghien himself the wrath of Conde and his faction would bring about his disgrace.
"I doubt not that he has received instructions not to hazard a battle except under extraordinary circumstances, while Enghien would, if possible, bring one about under any circumstances whatever. Lastly, the king is desperately ill, ill unto death, some say, and none can foretell what would take place were we to suffer a heavy defeat while France is without some great head to rally the nation and again show face to the Spaniards. At the same time, I may tell you at once, that in this matter I am heart and soul with Enghien. I consider that did we shrink from battle now, it would so encourage Spain and Austria that they would put such a force in the field as we could scarcely hope to oppose, while a victory would alter the whole position and show our enemies that French soldiers are equal to those of Spain, which at present no one believes. And lastly, if we win, Enghien, when his father dies, will be the foremost man in France, the leading spirit of the princes of the blood, and having behind him the vast possessions and wealth accumulated by Conde, will be a power that even the greatest minister might dread, and I need hardly say that my marshal's baton would be very appreciably nearer than it is at present."
"Then I may take it," Hector said with a smile, "that the chances are in favour of a pitched battle."
"That is certainly so; l'Hopital's instructions are to force the Spaniards, who have advanced against Rocroi, to raise the siege, but to do so if possible by manoeuvering, and to avoid anything like a pitched battle. But I fancy that he is likely to find circumstances too strong for him, and that one of these mornings we shall stand face to face with the enemy.
The Spaniards are doubtless grand soldiers, and the army we shall meet is largely composed of veteran troops; but we must remember that for years and years the Dutchmen, by nature peaceable and for the most part without training in arms, and although terribly deficient in cavalry, have boldly withstood the power of Spain."
"They seldom have met them in the open field," Hector said doubtfully.
"Not very often, I grant, though when allied with your countrymen they fairly beat them on the sands near Ostend, and that over and over again they fought them in their breaches on even terms, and, burghers though they were, beat back Alva's choicest troops."
The next morning the army marched forward. Hector rode with the group of young nobles who followed Enghien. Rocroi was a town of considerable strength lying in the forest of Ardennes. It was the key to the province of Champagne, and its capture would open the road to the Spaniards. The siege was being pressed forward by de Malo, who had with him an army of twenty-seven thousand veteran troops, being five thousand more than the force under Enghien. Gassion, who as Enghien's lieutenant had the control of the movements, so arranged the marches that, while steadily approaching Rocroi, the marshal believed that he intended to force the Spaniards to fall back, rather by menacing their line of communications than by advancing directly against them.
After the first day Gassion invited Hector to ride with him, an invitation which he gladly accepted, for the conversation of his younger companions turned chiefly upon court intrigues and love affairs in Paris, and on people of whose very names he was wholly ignorant. Riding with Gassion across from one road to another along which the army was advancing, he was able to see much of the movements of bodies of troops through a country wholly different from that with which he was familiar. He saw how careful the general was to maintain communication between the heads of the different columns, especially as he approached the enemy.
"De Malo ought," he said, "to have utilized such a country as this for checking our advance. In these woods he might have so placed his men as to annihilate one column before another could come to its assistance. I can only suppose that he relies so absolutely upon his numbers, and the valour and discipline of his soldiers, that he prefers to fight a pitched battle, where a complete success would open the road to Paris, and thus lay France at his feet and bring the war to a conclusion at one stroke."