George Monck at the Siege of Breda - 1636

From: A True and Brief Relation of the Famous Siege of Breda1: besieged, and taken under the able and victorious conduct of his Highness the Prince of Orange2, Captain General of the States' Army, and Admiral of the Seas, &c. Composed by Henry Hexham, Quartermaster to the Regiment of the Honorable Colonel [George] Goring3. Printed at Delft by James Moxon, 1637.

    About two of the clock in the morning, the enemy being pot-valiant (for they love to send their men foxed4 to Purgatory) would needs have another bout with us, and as the enemy's Alferui Seignour De Belle, who next morning was taken prisoner in their horn-work reports, that he himself (being shot free) with some others, making a noise and crying 'Sa, Sa,' giving us warning long enough of his coming, fell5 down with his men from the top of the horn-work to the bottom, to discover our mine6, for that was their intent, Captain Monck the Colonel's Captain with four pikes7, and a musketeer or two, meeting with them under the Barme [berm] of the horn-work8, encountered them on the furthest side of the Damme at push of the pike9, beat them back again which spoiled their discovery. And those men of theirs which showed their bodies in giving fire from the top of their horn-work, our men all from the Corps de guard10 poured such vollies of shot upon them, and by giving fire from a Drake11 planted upon the top of our right hand Corps de guard, which carried two pounds of musket bullets, made them pull down their heads quickly, and keep themselves under cover.

    The next morning being Monday the seventh of September, the English and French mines being made ready, a messenger was sent to his highness the Prince of Orange, to acquaint him therewith. Whereupon the Prince of Orange himself, the Prince Elector12 with his brethren, and diverse other men of quality came down into the approaches. The Prince immediately gave order for the springing of both the mines, and the falling on upon the breaches which the mines should make. The first officer then of the English which was to fall up the breach and to enter it was Captain Monck, Colonel Goring's Captain, with 20 musketeers and 10 pikes, and after him a workmaster13 with certain workmen, to cast up a breast[work] behind them, that they might lodge our men upon the top of the horn-work. Next unto Captain Abrahall and Lieutenant Broome was to fall upon the right hand with forty pikes and 20 musketeers. And Captain Hammond with his Ensign on the left hand, to second Captain Monck, with Captain Abrahall, there fell on these noble volunteers, worthy officers, and cavilleros of the Colonel's Company: my Lord Grandisson, Captain Croft, Captain La Meere, Lieutenant Turuill, Cornet Lucas, Ensign Pagett, Mr. Oneall, Mr. Apsley, Mr. Eldrington, Mr. Symon Fanchy, Mr. Griffin, Mr. Postlumus Kirton, Mr. Evers, Mr. Morley, Mr. Daniell, Mr. Predeaux, Mr. Lenthol, Mr. Wilford, Mr. Bakersfield, Mr. Lyle, and Mr. Watson, with diverse other Gentlemen of quality. This company of pikes kept always together.

    The English mine then being sprung, and taking good effect, Captain Monck, ere the smoke was vanished, hastens up to the breach, and with his commanded men, fell up to the very top of it, where at first he was entertained with some musketry of the enemy. But they instantly gave back, and he with his commanded men, of which half had slunk away, advanced forward into the work, where he found a stand of pikes, of about six or seven score, ready to receive him. And falling in pell mell upon them, whether by order, or out of affection for the Colonel [recently wounded in action], or for a revenge upon the enemy, they gave the word 'a Goring, a Goring,' and though the enemy were twice their number, yet Captain Abrahall, being bravely followed with a Company of gallant men, charged home upon them, and came to push of the pike with them. And seeing this advantage, that Captain Monck fell upon the left flank of them, and galled them shordly[?] with his musketeers, Captain Abrahall pressing hard upon them, and this brought the enemy into a disorder, and made them give back. Upon this the French also falling on upon their right flank from their side, diverse of them were slain, drowned and wholly routed. Upon the first charge worthy Captain Crofts was slain, my Lord Grandisson at push of the pike received a wound in his arm, Mister Oneall in his thigh, and Mr. Connock of Colonel Goring's Company received there his mortal wound.

    The enemy being beaten out of their horn-work, Captain Abrahall with these Volunteers and Gentlemen which held together, followed them over a small bridge made of two planks broad, at the end whereof the enemy had planted a brass piece14 charged with musket-bullets, whither they pursued them so fast that they had no time to discharge it, fearing that they might kill some of their own men. Yet he that was to give fire stayed so long, till Mr. Eldrington clapped his hand upon the piece, and espying the cannoneer near unto the piece with his linstock15 in his hand, charged16 his pike against his breast, whereupon he took him prisoner, and gave him to a private soldier. Upon this service he got a Spanish blade17 from a dead officer.

    From thence our men drove the enemy up to their half-moon18 before Ginnekins Port, with the loss of 150 of their men at the least, and coming to the Counterskarfe19 of the moat, there our workmen turned up the earth against the enemy, and cast up a breast-work upon it, which we held and maintained.

    This service was thus performed, and much more fully than was expected, whereupon his Highness sent fresh troops to relieve those that had fallen on, and as they came out he embraced Captain Abrahall and Captain Hammond, and thanked all the officers, volunteers, and gentlemen who had performed so brave an action, and as if he rejoiced that Colonel Goring was in some part thus revenged on the enemy, by the valor of his Company, those of his regiment, and the other companies that were there, and so returned straightway out of the approaches, to visit him in his hut, and did relate what had passed unto him, which he did with particular Characters of the worth of those who had carried themselves so bravely upon this service.

    The most of the English that entered the horn-work were not above two hundred in all, and the like number of French (under the command of Colonel Maisonneuse) carried themselves very valiantly and bravely upon this piece of service (and turned up also a breast-work upon the enemy) so that the enemy were as strong within their horn-work as those that attempted it. Many prisoners were taken... Alferui Seignour De Belle... among the rest Don Godfredo de Bergerie, a Spanish Captain who commanded the horn-work and the out-works, was taken prisoner by young Mr. Francis Percevall, Inginier, who after he had received two hurts at push of the pike from him, yielded himself prisoner to him; next him Seignor Juan D'Albe, a Spanish Alferus (or Ensign)... Besides these men of quality20, there were about 50 Spaniards and Burgonians21 private soldiers taken prisoners, some of them being dangerously hurt, others sound and whole.

    The greatest part of our loss was after the enemy had lost their work, for at the first, of those that fell on with Captain Monck there was but one slain, which was a Corporal of the Colonel's company, shot through both his thighs; and but one more hurt, which was one Mr. Apsley, a volunteer, shot (but not mortally) in the face, and both his jaws broken. Of those that fell on with Captain Abrahall there were but two killed, Captain Crofts, a volunteer, shot through the heart, and much lamented by our whole nation, and Mister Connock, a gentleman of the Colonel's company; and of hurt, as is said, there was the Lord Grandisson hurt at push of the pike in the arm, Mister Oneall in the thigh, and Mr. Daniell shot in his side, the bullet falling down into his boot...

    This lofty horn-work then being so happily taken, it was the very Creve-Coeur or Break-Neck of the town, for it gave access unto his Highness to come unto the main moat of the town, and there upon the Counterskarfe to make Corps de Guards, batteries, and flanks upon it, for the more safe putting over of the two galleries22 which were to be begun...

    Before this strong and mighty city, Marquis Spinola23 lay eleven months to block it up, before he could famish our men out of it. For approaches he durst not venture on it. But his Highness the Prince of Orange made his line of circumvalation24 firm in a month, and by approaches took it in 7 weeks and one day, in which time he shot 23131 cannon shot upon the outworks, the walls, and into the town, besides many granadoes25 of 170 and 180 pound weight which were cast into the town, and which shattered and tore down many houses in pieces.

    On the south portal of the great church hung in a black board and white letters this inscription following.

    10 JY 36

1@@ location of Breda, why besiege.

2@@ Frederick Henry, Nassau, Princes of Orange, son and successor of @@@, commander of the armies and navies of the States General (the federal government of the United Provinces of the Netherlands), @@@

3Colonel George Goring @@@ English regiment, plus @@@ gentlemen volunteers. Goring himself had recently been wounded in battle, hence the references to his regiment's revenge. George Monck was "colonel's captain" of Goring's regiment, meaning he was senior captain in command of the colonel's own company of foot, and next in line for promotion should there be a vacancy. Henry Hexham was Goring's regimental quartermaster, a staff officer in charge of organizing quarters and camps for the soldiers of the regiment. Hexham was a prolific writer on military affairs. Both his narratives and his textbooks, such as @@@, introduced Dutch tactics and siegecraft to English officers who did not have the good fortune to serve under the Princes of Orange.

4Foxed – drunk.

5Fall – hasten, rush, charge.

6Mine – a tunnel dug under an enemy's fortification, then filled with gunpowder which was detonated in hopes of opening a breach in the defenses.

7Pikes - pikemen, infantrymen armed with pikes, thrusting spears about 18 feet long, as well as with swords. Pikemen wore armor, while musketeers did not.

8Horn Work - fortification, @@ pic from Hexham text

9Push of the pike – encounters between massed pikemen were considered the noblest form of combat. Gentleman volunteers wore full armor and "trailed the puissant pike."

10Corps de guard - @@ pic? from Hexham text. A hastily built strong point guarding a besieger's approach lines against counterattack.

11Drake – a light small cannon, used like a shotgun at close range against massed enemy troops.

12The Prince Elector – Prince @@@ Rupert ??or?? check this, Prince Elector of Rhine Palatine, @@ relationship to Charles I. In 166? Rupert and Monck were jointly to command the Royal Navy in the @third Anglo Dutch War. PROB RUPERT'S OLDER BROTHER NAME?

13Workmaster – engineer officer, probably Dutch, or possibly a civilian contractor.

14Piece – artillery piece.

15Linstock – polearm that held a length of burning slow match, for firing an artillery piece.

16Charged - leveled

17Spanish blade – swords made in Toledo, Spain, were widely believed at that time to be the best in Europe.

18Half moon – fortification, @@ pic from Hexham text.

19Counterscarp - fortification, @@ pic from Hexham text.

20Men of quality – gentlemen, who could be ransomed for cash.

21Burgonians - Burgundians, allies of Spain.

22Gallery – a siegework used for crossing a moat under fire.

23 Ambrosius Spinola, commander of the Spanish forces that had earlier taken and now were defending Breda

24Line of circumvalation – besiegers' trenches and other works surrounding the walls of a besieged city or fortress.

25 Granadoes - explosive bombs, hollow metal spheres filled with gunpowder that were fired nearly vertically from heavy short-barreled mortars so as to drop behind enemy walls and detonate with great destructive force. In the 1650s Monck would use siege mortars to good effect in the conquest of Scotland.