Saturday, August 29, 2009

Horse-holders (3)

Above: 1st Maine Cavalry skirmishing during the fighting near Middleburg, Va., June 19, 1863. Pencil and Chinese white drawing by Alfred Waud. Library of Congress.

The narrative below, penned by Lt. Col. Arthur James Lyon Fremantle of the Coldstream Guards, in his book, Three Months in the Southern States (1864), describes a large skirmish near Franklin, Tenn., on June 4, 1863. The Confederate troops engaged belonged to Martin’s Division. It is clear from Fremantle’s account that the tactics employed were previously unknown to him.

“It was very curious to see three hundred horses suddenly emerge from the woods just in front of us, where they had been hidden--one man to every four horses, riding one and leading the other three, which were tied together by the heads. In this order I saw them cross a cotton-field at a smart trot, and take up a more secure position; two or three men cantered about in the rear, flanking up the led horses. They were shortly afterwards followed by the men of the regiment, retreating in skirmishing order under Colonel Webb, and they lined a fence parallel to us. The same thing went on on our right.”

And a little later …

“The way in which the horses were managed was very pretty, and seemed to answer admirably for this sort of skirmishing. They were never far from the men, who could mount and be off to another part of the field with rapidity, or retire to take up another position, or act as cavalry as the case might require. Both the superior officers and the men behaved with the most complete coolness; and, whilst we were waiting in hopes of a Yankee advance, I heard the soldiers remarking that they `didn’t like being done out of their good boots’--one of the principal objects in killing a Yankee being apparently to get hold of his valuable boots.”

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Bucquoy (Part 2)

Above: Image of Bucquoy taken from a biography.

Our previous post on Bucquoy covered his career up to 1618. We resume here in late 1618.

Arriving in Bohemia, Bucquoy had to contend first against the mercenary army of the Peter Ernst, Graf zu Mansfeld, which had been subsidized on behalf of the rebels by Spain’s enemy, Charles Emmanuel, Duke of Savoy. Mansfeld had taken Catholic Pilsen (Nov. 21), and used it as a base. Meantime, the rebels’ own largely-peasant field army under Heinrich Matthias, Count Thurn, blockaded Vienna. Bucquoy concentrated against Mansfeld and caught a detachment of the freebooter’s army under Mansfeld’s own command at Zablat (modern Záblati, June 10, 1619) and destroyed it, although Mansfeld himself escaped the debacle.

Zablat caused the rebels to raise the siege of Budweis, recall Thurn’s army from Vienna, and redouble their appeal for aid throughout Europe. Ultimately, only Gabriel Bethlen, Prince of Transylvania, agreed to an alliance with the rebels.

In the skirmishing during the advance to Prague, Bucquoy was severely wounded (musket shot in the groin) while on reconnaissance at Rakonitz (Nov. 4 or 5). Feverish and confined to a coach, he is said by at least one author (Reade) to have given up his command to Tilly, but this was evidently not the case—or was temporary—since he played an active role at the ensuing Battle of White Mountain (Nov. 8, 1620) under the ramparts of Prague, no doubt spurred by the palpable mismanagement of the first phase of the battle by Maximilian and Tilly. In fact, he took to horseback and helped to restore order on both flanks, thus at least facilitating what was probably an inevitable final victory over the rebellion by the combined armies of the Emperor and the League. White Mountain was a battle of annihilation and settled the fate of Bohemia for 300 years.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

AR Dampierre (Part 3): The Regiment in the Bohemian War

Above: The triumphal parade of AR Dampierre at the Hofburg, Vienna, on June 5, 1619 (see biography of Dampierre, posted previously).

Bohemian War. Sub-war of the Thirty Years’ War, lasting from May 23, 1618-1623.

The conflict began with the Defenestration of Prague (May 23, 1618), which also was the opening event of the Thirty Years’ War.

The regiment was involved in the following events:

Combat of Pilgram (Nov. 3, 1618)
Capture of Lomnitz (Nov. 9, 1618)
Combat of Unter-Wisternitz (Aug. 5, 1619)
Defense of Vienna (Dec. 1619)
Capture of Nikolsburg (Feb. 6, 1620)
Battle of the White Mountain at Prague (Nov. 8, 1620)
Combat at Neuhäusel (Jul. 10, 1621)
Action at Goutta (Jul. 17, 1621)
Combat at Wisternitz (Nov. 13, 1623)