CHAP. XVII. Of Wisdome and Policy; the vse of it; how it may be attained: with a briefe Summary of stratagems and policies, pertinent for these times, divulged for such as haue the command ouer thousands: I meane, for young Commanders, not old Soldiers.
WIsdome and Policie is fit for euery Souldier,* but more proper for those Commanders before mentioned; there∣fore they must studie to get wisdome and policy, for it is the onely meanes, next vnder God, whereby they may preserue their owne liues, and the liues of their Souldiers. If a Captaine bee void of wisdome and learning, Martial discipline wanteth her greatest stay; courage proueth rashnesse, and policy will be but weakely suppor∣ted. Learning in a Souldier (saith Vegetius) is an Armour of ne∣uer tainted proofe, and a wounding Dart vnresistable: Therefore let Soldiers, if it be possible, study to attaine to learning: learning is obtained by industry and instruction, as policy and wisdome by experience.
The way to attaine wisdome and Policy,* is to be frequent in the reading of Histories; especially of such Histories as are stored with worthy stratagems, and the braue exploits of worthy Gene∣rals: There young Commanders shall finde store of examples, and be taught to obserue euery one of these particulars;
1 When they are to take a iourney, and to make warre with an enemie in his owne Countrey, they must by all meanes get aduer∣tisement, by intelligencers, of all the difficult passages of the same, the shortnesse of the waies, the turnings, the mountaines, and all the riuers that are therein, lest in going they suffer inuasion of the enemie, to their detriment, or finall destruction: but being pread∣monished, they are halfe armed, and preuent the danger with lit∣tle losse.
2 When they are prepared, and setting forth to march, there must be this warinesse and heed taken that it be not knowne or di∣vulged abroad vnto what places they goe, nor by what waies they meane to passe, for that iourney is taken in hand without feare, Page [unnumbered] which the enemy doth not so much as once suspect.
The two famous Souldiers of Rome and Greece, which shot like two thunder bolts into the West and East, and filled the whole world with the fame of their Victories, are renowned for nothing more then their celerity in doing and preuenting the very report of their comming.
*They who would arriue at the Port of Victory, and by her gates enter the Tower of Fame, must keepe their intentions secret.
Old Metellus being importunated by an insinuating friend of his touching the army, and setting forward of some expedition, an∣swered him thus: If I will (quoth hee) that my shirt which i• ne•• my skin knew this my inward intent and secret purpose, I would put it off and fling it into the fire
*The old men of warre (saith Vegetius) had in then Legions the badge and signe of the Minotaure, that as he was said to be hid in the innermost and most secret place of the Labyrinth, euen so the intent of the Captaine should be kept secret and hid, therefore it must be kept close, vnto what places and by what wayes they meane to passe forth. But because Spies sent out on the other party doe either see or suspect which way they are intended to goe, and many times there wanteth not Runnagates or Traitors. In the next place it shall be declared how these things at hand may be preuen∣ted and resisted.
3. When they are vpon their march, they must send most trustie and fine witted men, with the best tried horse, which must search the places thorow which they must take their iourney, before and behinde, on the right hand and on the left hand, lest the enemie goe about to set an ambushment, and lie in wait to deceiue them.
4. When they haue discried an Ambush, they must compasse the same about politikely; so it shall suffer more perill and danger than it went about to doe.
5. When they approach nigh vnto the enemie, they must be in∣quisitiue to know what manner of man their aduersarie is, what his Companions are and Leaders, whether they be rash and hastie, or warie and circumspect, whether they be hardy, or fearefull, cun∣ning in the feats of warre, or such as are wont to fight at all aduen∣ture; whether they excell or exceed them in number of men, or mu∣nition and fence of armour; whether they can doe more with foot∣men, or horsemen; with Pi•emen, or Musquetiers; whether by Page [unnumbered] night, or in the dawning of the day, or in the 〈◊〉 of repast, their custome be to assaile their wearied enemies. Then to debate and treat of their owne power, what may be done in this case; whether it be more profitable to prolong the vrgent necessitie of battell, or to fight it out of hand. If they know themselues to haue the better Horsemen, the better Footmen, the better Souldiers, the better furnished in many things, let them not deferre the conuenient and fit occasion of figh•ing. But if they perceiue their enemies to be the better, let them auoid the open and set battell, for a few in number and weake in strength, oftentimes vnder good Captaines haue ob∣tained the victory, by sudden inuasions and lying priuily in wai•, which they may doe, taking time.
6. When they are resolued to aduenture a set battell with the enemie, they are first to sound the mindes and dispositions of their Souldiers, whether they stand affected to fight or no, (it being as they would haue it) they must begin to forecast how to get the Sunne, the Wind and Dust, in the face of the enemie. The higher ground likewise, to the intent the enemie may fight both against them and the place; for these are not the least meanes of obtaining the victorie.
7. When they hope for victory through Footmen, against the Horsemen of their enemies, they must chuse ruffe places, vneuen, and full of hils. But if they looke to gaine the victory through Horsemen, against the Footmen of their enemies, they must chuse such places as be indeed somewhat higher, but plaine and open, encumbred neither with woods nor sennes.
8 When they haue cunningly incompast the battels of their enemies, they must leaue them some way whereby they may flie, for if a passage to depart away be once opened, as soon as the minds of all doe agree to runne away; they are slaine and murdered like beasts. Neither is there any danger to pursue them, when they haue flung downe their weapons and will fight no longer but being so inclosed, that they haue no way to flie, they fight stoutly, and become desperately desperate, because they looke for no safetie or life; so you haue no oddes at all, but are both indifferent alike. For they are as couragious and as desperate to fight as you, rather more, by the occasion. Therefore young Scipio's counsell is to be fol∣lowed:* The way whereby the enemie may flie must not bee for∣tified.
Page [unnumbered]9 When they are not resolued to fight, but to depart away from the enemie, the Souldiers must not know that they doe it to shunne battell, but they must bee brought in beliefe that they are called back for this policie: That the enemie may be allured vnto a more conuenient place, that he may be the more easily vanquished and intrapped by them.* This they must not faile to doe, (for Ʋegetius saith) they will be readie to flie, if they perceiue their owne Cap∣aines to despaire.
10 When their enemies doth perceiue their flight, then their care must be to send some before to possesse the places of greatest aduantage which the enemie doth couet, that the rest may the bet∣ter passe in safety, and the enemy be frustrated of his purpose. Others behind must lie in ambush to intrap the enemy who comes on with boldnesse, no whit suspecting this policy. The rest must be pread∣monished to be euer in readinesse, lest the sudden cōming of their enemies make them fearefull:
11 When they are in feare to bee inclosed by the number of their enemies, they must either seeke some place of naturall defence, or make the place so by art. I will explaine both by examples.
*Agesilau• being in Aegypt, and hauing to do with a great mul∣titude of Aegyptians, of whom he stood in feare of, to abide them battell in the champion, by reason of their multitude, did thus: He brought his men into the field. One while hee made as though hee fled, and inticed them to follow him; suddenly againe he would turne this way, and that way, in fine he brought all this multitude into a strait sluce walled about on either side, with great broad dit∣ches full of running water, so that euen when they were in the mid∣dest of it, he suddenly stopped their passage with the front of his battaile, which he cast to the breadth of the sluce, and thus made the number of his fighting men equal with the number of his ene∣mies, who could neuer compasse him in behinde, nor flanke him on the sides.* This he did by choosing a place fit for his purpose.
*The place may be helped by art, in case it be otherwise too open, and fit for the enemy, that abounds in number, to incompasse them on euery side.
So Caesara being to fight against multitudes of Gaules, drew a deepe Trench on both the Flankes of his army, to secure it from the charge of the enemie. The like did Syllab against Archelaus, the Generall of Mithridates, in the battell of Orchomene, and both of Page [unnumbered] them so securing their armies from circumuention, became Masters of the Field, and Conquerours of their enemies. Of latter times Iohn Huniades the Hungarianc King, being to fight against the huge armie of the Turke, gained a noble battell against them, by placing his armie on the one side against a Fenne, and inclosing it on the other side with his Waggons.
12. When they cannot preuaile against the Enemy by strength, then let them minister and breed causes of discord amongst their Souldiers; for no Army, though it be very little, can quickly be destroyed of the Enemies, except it be consumed with priuate dis∣sentions and hatred within it selfe. This is practised to this day, and is tollerated by our chiefes of Warre, who prefer policy before strength, therefore let it be followed. The old Spartan that had conquered by policie, offered an Oxe; but he that preuailed by force, offered only a Cocke; because the greater sacrifice of thank∣fulnesse, was due to the gods from him, for the one; and the greater praise and reward was due vnto him, from the State for the other. But this is the greatest glory of all to driue out the naile of their Enemies practise, with a stronger of their owne, and to blow him vp in his owne Mine. Policie against force deserueth much, and preuaileth often; but by Stratagem to preuaile against Policy is euer excellent. Behold it in this.
The Souldiers of Ferdinand, plotted with some of the French Garrison in Gifon-Castle, neere San-Seuerino, to betray the place vnto them: the French entertained the motion, and assigned an houre, and the manner, for the execution: In the meane while, they acquainted the Gouernour. The Arragoneses came at the time appointed; found a Port open, and enter; they were taken in the trap; seuen hundred, part horse, and part foot, were slaine on the place; the rest were taken prisoners. Thus Stratagem did preuaile against Policy: Stratagem and Policie are of great force, and in Warre may be lawfully vsed.
It is vsuall and allowable by the Law of Armes (saith Sir Robert Dallington) for a publique and professed enemy to attempt that by stratagem, fraud, or suborned treachery,* which cannot be got by fine force without long time, vttermost danger, and extreame charge, for this way the purchase is sooner made and at lesse rate. Therefore let them vse all stratagems and policies that may be to circumuent and ouerthrow an enemy; let them vpon fit occasion Page [unnumbered] corrupt the enemies men with money; let them by cunning meanes and fained letters cause the enemies Captaines to be suspe∣cted; Let them bring the Generall himselfe into more dislike, if hee bee disliked of his Souldiers: So they may bee rid of him by policie, whom they could not be rid of by force. I will shew you the euents of all these by presidents.
*Monsieur Trimouille, Monsieur de Ligny, and Iohn Iaques Tri∣ultio, being to warre with Lodowick Sforza Duke of Milan in the behalfe of Lewis the twelfth the French King, thought with them∣selues there was no quicker way to end the Warre than to corrupt Lodowicks Souldiers with money. He had entertained many Swis∣sers into pay, and these Swissers were valiant men of their hands, but very couetous, and easie to be corrupted with gold: therefore they sent priuily to the Colonels of the Swissers, profering them great summes of money to forsake Lodowicke, or to betray him into their hands. They being tickled with these proffers, stirred all the rest to mutiny, taking their occasions that their payes were not performed at the iust dayes that were promised. The Duke ran to the stirre in person, bringing forth vnto them all his siluer, plate and vessels, desiring them to rest contented but till the money came from Milan, yet they would not yeeld, but said they would depart suddenly into their Countrey. The Duke not being able neither with prayers, nor with teares, nor by infinite promises to pacifie any whit their barbarous disloyalty, recommended himselfe wholly vnto them, to the end that at the least they would lead him to a place of safety. But because they had contracted with the French Captaines,* to goe their wayes, and not to lead him with them, being not willing to grant vnto his full demand, yet they consented that he should march away amongst them, taking the habit of one of their footmen; and so, if he were not knowne, to saue himselfe by the helpe of his fortune. The which conditi∣ons being accepted of him, for a last necessitie, was not sufficient for his safety: for that marching by direction, through the midst of the French Armie, he was knowne by the diligent espiall of such as were assigned to that charge; or rather disclosed by the Swissers themselues, as he marched in a Squadron of Foot, attired and armed in all points as a Swisser, and was by that meanes made prisoner.* Here you see the French Pistolets could doe more than their men at Armes; ouercomming him who stiled himselfe Page [unnumbered] the sonne of Fortune. From these acute and politique French, we take our next president or example by fained letters to cause our enemies Captaines to be suspected.
Burbon and Triuultio the King of France his Generals,* being besieged and very hardly distressed within Milan by the Emperor Maximilian, deuised this policie to free themselues: They sent a seruant of Triuultio's (who spake the Swissers tongue perfectly well) with fained letters vnto the Captaines of that Nation, then seruing in Maximilians Campe, thereby to make them to be suspe∣cted and doubted; the which fained messenger being taken by the Sentinels and Watches, cunningly (like Sinon of Troy) humbly be∣seeched them his life and pardon, and that he would deliuer them certaine things, which he had to deliuer to the Colonels and Cap∣taines of the Swissers: the which being granted him, hee drew out of his shooe the deuised letters, which hee carried to cause a suspition to grow vpon these Captaines: the which being seene and read by the Emperor, holding for certaine their contents to be true, and mistrusting some treason, as they had before vsed vnto Lodowicke Sforza, raised presently his Campe, and withdrew him∣selfe with lesse constancie and credit, then to his honour and repu∣tation was conuenient.
Here was a way made without a golden bridge: Here was a fetch fit for a Carthaginian Haniball: from whom we take the last president or example, how to bring our enemies Generall into fur∣ther dislike, by adding fuell to the former fire.
Haniball being in Italy did such hurt to the Romanes,* as they were almost at their wits end, not knowing what to doe, nor what Consull to choose: at length they sent against him Quintus Fa∣bius Maximus, who was both their Dictator and Generall; one both skilfull and politique, and by delay meant to prolong the Warre, so to haue wearied Hanibals strength and power out (for hauing increased his pouerty by his long stay, spending his owne stocke, he should at last haue beene forced of his owne accord to haue forsaken Italy, to the great glory of this man,) who by policy and wisdome, might haue beene said to haue ouerthrowne Hani∣ball; for this he was despised of the Romanes, and counted a cow∣ard, and confronted by them: But Haniball most of all feared him, and therefore craftily put this tricke vpon him.Page [unnumbered]
*Hee commanded his Souldiers, when they came neere any of Fabi•s lands, that they should burne and destroy all round about them, but gaue them charge in no wise to meddle with Fabius lands, nor any thing of his, and did purposely appoint a Garrison to see that nothing of Fabius should miscarry nor take hurt. This was streight carried to Rome, which did wonderfully incense the people against him, by the meanes of Metellus their Tribune, who made them an Oration, in which he taxed him no more of Cow∣ardlinesse, but of flat Treason, accusing the Nobility and greatest men of Rome, saying, that from the first beginning, they had laid a plot to draw these Warres out at length, only to destroy the Peoples power and authority, hauing brought the whole Com∣mon-weale into the state of a Monarchy, and into the hands of a priuate person, who by his remisnesse and delayes, would giue Ha∣niball leisure to plant himselfe in Italy, and in time giue open pas∣sage to the Carthaginians, at their pleasure, to send Haniball a se∣cond aide and Armie, and to make a full conquest of all Italy: perswading the people therefore to take the Tyrannicall power of Dictatorship from him, and to put their affaires into the hands of Minutius Generall of their Horsemen, who would and could tell how to bring them safely to passe: The people were tickled mar∣uellously with these seditious words, but yet they durst not force Fabius to resigne his Dictatorship,* though they bare him a great grudge, and were angry with him in their hearts: Howbeit they ordained, that Minutius should thenceforth haue equall power and authority with the Dictator in the Warres; a thing that was neuer seene nor heard of before. Now say; Was not this a braue policie of Haniball to bring Fabius into such dislike at Rome? and Rome it selfe into such an vprore vpon it? Surely it was: and it had as good successe as might be. Therefore hauing sufficient pre∣sidents for these things, feare not to put them in execution, when you see fit time. I conclude now as I began, that all these policies and more, are to be attained with learning, and often reading of Histories, as by all braue Commanders which euer were yet, may well be vnderstood. And therefore let no man thinke but a Soul∣dier ought to be learned and read, the which ioyned with experi∣ence, makes him a perfect man of Warre, and without this lear∣ning and reading, a Souldier may haunt the Warres many yeeres, Page [unnumbered] and neuer attaine to the deepe points of Souldiery;* the which by much reading and few yeeres of experience, may be farre bet∣ter perfected, as may be seene by Lucullus the Romane Comman∣der, and many others of other Nations.
Thus much of Policie, and of the qualities which befits Mar∣tiall men.
The next eight Chapters following declares the vse of Facing, the vse of Wheeling, the vse of Counter-marching, the vse of Dou∣bling, the vse of those Distances which are to be obserued in Bat∣tell, (naturally arising out of Doubling) with the words of com∣mand for either.