The practice, proceedings, and lawes of armes described out of the doings of most valiant and expert captaines, and confirmed both by ancient, and moderne examples, and præcedents, by Matthevv Sutcliffe.
Sutcliffe, Matthew, 1550?-1629.

CHAP. IIII. Part. 11. Of the exercise and trayning of young souldiers, whereby they are made apte, and ready for the warres.

A Wise Generall hauing once enrolled his souldi∣ers, will not loose any one houre of time, but will either exercise them, or employ them in seruice. There is nothing in warres more pretious then time, which once passed, cannot be recalled. And whether the army be idle, or well employed, the pay and charge stil runneth on. But because it is dangerous to bring yong souldiers into the face of the enemie, before they be both fashio∣ned by exercise, & also fleshed by light encounters with the enemie: he ought both diligently to exercise them at such times, as ye enemie gi∣ueth him leysure, & also to harden them by skirmishes and other light enterprises against the enemie, before he hazard to fight with his full forces. Therein what example can I set before him better to follow then that of Scipio, that ouercame Annibal, and in al deedes of armes shewed himselfe most vigilant and skilfull. He before he drew foorth his army out of new Carthage into the fielde, when as yet the time of the yeere was not proper for seruice, did continually diuers dayes exercise his men, aswell in fight at sea, as at land. The first day he caused all his regiments to runne in array and order of battell 4. miles: the second day he appointed euery man to make his armes cleane and fit: theathird day he caused them to diuide themselues into two partes, and in order of battel to fight the one against the other with cudgels, and blunt dartes. The same course hee tooke in Sicile, before he transported hisb army into Afrike. He caused his souldiers in order of battel to march and runne armed, and set his ships in aray within ye harbour in such good order, as if hee were pre∣sently Page  83to fight. TheaVolscians hauing bin oftentimes foyled by the Romanes, and determining to set vp their rest, tooke great care in arming and exercising their men, as if that were the onely meanes to harten and harden their souldiers. And sure much good doth exer∣cise and teaching, as well in warre as other artes, where the leaders are skilfull. Tit.bSempronius by exercising his young souldiers, taught them to followe their ensignes, and keepe rankes both stan∣ding, and fighting in array of battell, and obteined by them diuers victories against the enemie.cCato likewise in his voyage into Spaine, tooke no small paines in exercising of his men, before hee brought them to see the enemie; whereby he so fashioned them, that he gaue diuers repulses to the enemie. Tullus Hostilius, when the mindes of the Romanes were mollified ky long peace, in the dayes of his predecessor Numa, yet by exercise obteined so much, that they durst encounter, and were not inferiour to olde souldiers.

Epaminondas by framing and excercising the Thebanes, made them of a base nation, the most warlike people of Greece, and with them ouerthrewe the Lacedemonians, which from their youth vp were trayned vp in the exercise of armes. In the first warres with Car∣thage, the Romanes perceiuing that for want of skill in Sea causes, they were inferiour to the Carthaginians, practised their men in imaginarie Sea fightes, and so long exercised them therein, that at lenghth they ouercame them aswell by sea, as by land.dStatorius the Romane teaching the souldiers of Syphax to followe their leaders, and to keeperankes, and other orders of warres, in short time made them of nouices so expert, that after that Syphax doubted not to encoūter the Carthaginians. This caused Tissaphernes the Persian, to make such reckoning of Phalinus, a Grecian, for that hee waseskilfull in ordering of men, and teaching them to fight in armes. Of English men Philip of Comines giueth this testimonie, tha al∣though when they first come into France they haue small skill, yet with exercise they first come into France they haue small skill, yet with exercise they become good souldiers: and therefore seeing most of our souldiers are yong, and of small experience in warres, by reason of our long peace, they are diligently to be exercised before that they see the enemie.fCassius the Romane according to the olde guise of the Romanes, exercised his souldiers at all idle times, albeit many of them were expert in warres.

Much more therefore ought we to exercise our young souldiers, Page  84and that first in fat̄tes of actiuities, as running, leaping, throwing, wrastling; secondly in the vse of their weapon, & that both singly by themselues euery man, & also in company: thirdly in marching and keeping of rankes, and other exercises of warre.

By these exercises, the souldiers obteine three commidities: the body is first made actiue, and strong, and fit for labour; souldiers also learne to march in their armes, to carry some weight, to run, to work in trenches, and other necessary fortification; without which neither can the souldier rest safely in his campe, nor so easily preuaile against the enemie in the fielde. Caesar did no lesse preuaile against ye Gaules with the mattocke and spade, then with the sword. In a short time he made huge trenches and mountes, such as theaenemie wondred at. Now because we haue forgotten the true practise of warre, our soul∣diers refuse to worke, and Princes vse the helpe of pioners, insomuch that hardly we see that brought to passe in a moneth, which Caesar could effect in fewe houres. The Romanes from their youth exerci∣sed their bodies in running, leaping, wrastling, swimming. Coruinus the Romane captaine in his youth, in these exercises wasbequall to the best. By thiscexercise they were made able to carry beside their armes, halfe a moneths victuals, and certaine stakes.

Secondly, euery souldier is made acquainted and cunning with the weapon, wherewith he serueth. The shot learneth to charge and discharge redily, and at marke. The piquier how to vse his pike, both against footemen and borsemen: the halbardier vnderstandeth the vse of his halberd both to defend, & to strike his enemie: the targetter how to manage his sword and target; and euery one learneth ye vse of sword and dagger, for that they are common weapons. Without skill men oft times wearie themselues, breake their weapons hurt not their enemie. ThedRomane youthes learned first to vse the tar∣get, or shield and sword, (for that was their most cōmon armes,) and howe with slent blowes to breake the force of their enemies weapons, or dartes.

Afterward they practised ye vse of all other sortes of weapons. And as absurd it is for a souldier to take on him yt name, not knowing the vse of his armes, as for an ignorant person, to call himselfe an artifi∣cer, and yet not to know the vse of the tooles of his occupation.

Lastly by learning & vnderstanding the arrayes, & iust distances of horsemen, & footemen, & the standings of all sortes of weapons, and Page  85the differences in marching, fighting, retiring, according to diuers sortes of groundes, & how to march to ye assalt or defence of a Towne or place, (which may be shewed them by those that are good leaders,) Souldiers may learne howe to place themselues vpon an instant, and not as I haue seene done, runne away, or runne vp & downe like men amazed; they may also vnderstand how to cake aduantage of the enemie, howe to rally themselues being disordered, and in what place euery kind of weapon is to be sorted, & employed with most aduan∣tage. In summe, array & order may both better be kept, & more easily repayred; without whichaarmes haue no vse. And as well can an armie march or fight being out of array, as a body doe the functions of the body, hauing the partes out of frame. There is certainely nothingbmore beautifull in the eyes of friendes, then an armie set in order, neither is any thing more fearefull to the enemie. But this cannot be done without instruction and exercise: of which I hope our gouernours will haue more care hereafter. But (may some say) what neede so many wordes in these matters: especially if we consi∣der both the charge, & labour that hath bin spent in trayning of soul∣diers within our Realme of late time? men able (as some thinke) to encounter the most florshing armie in Christendome? against whom I haue no purpose to speake. Nay I wish with al my heart, they were so strong, and ready as is imagined. Onely I thought good to shewe first the defectes in our trayning, which I would wish were supplied, and our men better instructed; and next howe little trust there is to be put in trayned men, that neuer sawe enemie, vnlesse there be many olde souldiers mingled among them. In trayning of souldiers there∣fore in places where I haue bin, these wants I haue obserued. First, the souldiers are not alwayes best chosen: secondly, their bodies are not exercised as they should be: thirdly, they are not taught the vse of their seuerall weapons. Fewe teach souldiers the right vse of the piece, and none the vse of the pike, halberd, and sworde, and target. Fourthly, the men are rather wearied in marching vp and downe, and wheeling in ringes, and filing of rankes, which are to no vse in fighting, then instructed howe to take their places in marching, in fighting, assalting, retiring, or other deede of armes. Fifthly, there is seldome or neuer sufficient companie brought together, so that men may conceiue the reasons of the places of euery sort of weapons: horsemen are seldome seene in traynings of souldiers. So yt hardly Page  86can any conceiue howe things should stand, by any thing yt is shewed. Lastly such for the most part vpon some cōmendation of some great mans letters, are employed in teaching our souldiers, as either neuer went to the schoole of armes, or know very little themselues. So that I see no other effect of training men, then expense of time & powder. And for mine owne part, I wish rather to haue men neuer exercised, then in this sort trayned. But were they better trained then they are, yet are we not to put too great trust in them. The Venetians making reckoning of the trayned men of their state (which are such like, as ours are) were abused (saithaGuicciardin) and ouerthrowen. Andbeuill were the Florentines apaid, trusting in their trayned souldi∣ers. The same being appointed to the garde of Prato, a Towne of their dominion, seeing but two Spaniards to mount vpō a litle breach, threwe downe their weapons, and ranne as fast as they might out of the Towne.

Generally there is no trust in yong souldiers. A smallccompanie of olde beaten souldiers, is better then a multitude of people with∣out knowledge, and experience of warres. Yong souldiers that haue not heard the noyse of battell, nor seene the slaughter of men, nor felt knockes, will hardly abide them at the first. If not in trayned souldi∣ers, much lesse in tumultuarie forces ought we to put any confidence. ThedLatines and Hetruscians seeing the Romanes range their countrey in no great number, came foorth by multitudes against them, thinking to swallowe them vp. But the first were no sooner slaine, then the rest fled. 500. olde souldiers put all the rascall route ofeTacfarinas in Affrike to flight. At*Annibals first comming into Italy the countrey people seeing the spoiles he made, had thought to haue cut a certaine out wing in pieces. But in be ginning the execu∣tion, 35. thousand were put to flight by a very sew. The Spaniards at Puente de Butgos in Galicia, assembled together in great num∣bers, fledde from vs vpon the first approche of our men. And so it is commonly in all yong souldiers. Wherefore the best is to vse olde souldiers, the next to mingle newe, and olde together, and diligently to teache them, and trayne them, before we hazard our whole state vpon them. For albeit much is in mans naturall courage, yet the same is much encreased by skill and exercise, and that not feyned, but in fight with the enemie.