Military instructions for the cavallrie, or, Rules and directions for the service of horse collected out of divers forrein authours, ancient and modern, and rectified and supplied according to the present practice of the Low-Countrey warres.
Cruso, John, d. 1681.
Page  42

CHAP. IV. How to do, meeting the enemie marching.

A Commander, marching with one or more troops, and chancing to meet the enemie, or other∣wise having news of him, must presently resolve either to offer combat, or to retreat, or to attend the charge of the enemie: and herein he must govern himself according to the intelligence he hath, and the convenience of thea place. To get the more certain intelligence, besides his scouts, he shall send out (a good distance before him) a Corporall with ten or twelve souldiers, who (pretending to be of the enemie, if the countrey be at the enemies devotion) shall discover and take information, &c.

If you meet the enemie near his own quarter, and farre from yours, you must resolve with a generous courage to go andb charge him, though inferiour in number; it being often seen that va∣liant resolutions are seconded with good luck. But being near to your own holds, and knowing the enemie to be much stronger then your self, it will be prudently done toc save your men by the nearest retreat: making your retreat in good order, and taking heed you spoil not your hor∣ses by too much haste, but suffer them now and then to gather breath, leaving a Lieutenant in the rear with some of the best mounted souldiers. The retreat shall be by the same way you went, so long as day continues; but night being come, you must take some other way (though the longer) to return to your garrison, or quarter. Thus you shall gain time by turning away from the ene∣mie by the benefit of the night; causing the footing of your horses to be defaced at the place where you left the way; for it is to be supposed the enemie will follow you by the direct way. To de∣face or put out the footing of the horse, if the way be dustie, two souldiers are appointed to stay behind all the rest, which draw a great bough between them along the ground, and so put out the marks of the horses footing. Or if there be a great number of horse, and the way be broad, then foure souldiers with two boughs do it. But if the way be soft, the Chief commandeth five or six souldiers to alight, and with their hands and feet to deface the footings; and in such wayes the horse are commanded to march with doubled files, and closed, for a little space when they turn out of the usuall way, that so they may trample the lesse. Besides, you may avoid the danger of being traced by the horse footings (especially in the night) by turning out of the way at some house, or through some garden, breaking the hedge on the further side, and going into the way by wayes unthought of: by all which means you gain time, whilest the enemie is constrained to spend time in discovering of your footing, and taking information of the way that you took.