Equality in Danger.—The French General, Cherin, was once conducting a detachment through a very difficult defile. He exhorted his soldiers to endure patiently the fatigues of the march. "It is easy for you to talk," said one of the soldiers near him; "you who are mounted on a fine horse—but we poor devils!"—On hearing these words, Cherin dismounted, and quickly proposed to the discontented soldier to take his place. The latter did so; but scarcely had he mounted, when a shot from the adjoining heights struck and killed him. "You see," says Cherin, addressing his troops, "that the most elevated place is not the least dangerous." After which he remounted his horse, and continued the march.
Marshal Suwarrow in his march to the attack of Ockzakow, proceeded with such rapidity at the head of his advanced guard, that his men began to murmur at the fatigues they endured. The Marshal, apprized of this circumstance, after a long day's march, drew his men up in a hollow square, and addressing them, said, "that his legs had that day discovered some symptoms of mutiny, as they refused to second the impulses of his mind, which urged him forward to the attack of the enemy's fortress." He then ordered his boots to be taken off, and some of the drummers to advance with their cats, and flog his legs, which ceremony was continued till they bled considerably. He put on his boots again very coolly, expressing a hope that his legs would in future better know how to discharge their duty. The soldiers after that marched on without a murmur, struck at once with the magnanimity of their commander, and the ingenuity of his device to remind them of their duty.
A French colonel, in taking a redoubt from the Russians on the Moskwa, lost twelve hundred of his men, more than one half of whom remained dead in the entrenchment which they had so energetically carried. When Bonaparte the next morning reviewed this regiment, he asked the colonel what he had done with one of his battalions? "Sire," replied he, "it is in the redoubt."
At the battle of Malplaquet, in 1709, Marshal Villars was dangerously wounded, and desired to receive the Holy Sacrament. Being advised to receive in private, he said, "No, if the army cannot see me die like a hero, they shall see me die as a Christian."
Anne Duc de Montmorenci, who was prime minister and great constable of France during the reigns of Francis I., Henry II., Francis II., and Charles IX., was very unwilling to take up arms against the Prince of Condé and the Coligny's, to whom he was endeared by the ties of friendship, as well as those of consanguinity. He was however induced to give way by the following animated and forcible speech of his wife, Magdeline de Savoie: "It is then in vain, sir, that you have taken as a motto to your escutcheon, the word of command that your ancestors always gave at the outset of every battle in which they were engaged (Dieu aide du premier Chretien). If you do not fight with all your energy in defence of that religion which is now attempted to be destroyed, who then is to give an example of respect and of veneration for the Holy See, if not he who takes his very name, his arms, his nobility, from the first baron of France who professed the holy religion of Christ?"
Rivardes, a Piedmontese, had attached himself to the house of France, and was much esteemed as a soldier. He had lost one of his legs, and had worn a wooden one for some time, when in an engagement a ball carried off the latter, leaving him the other safe and sound. On being raised up, he exclaimed laughingly, "What fools these fellows are! They would have saved their shot had they known that I had two others equally good among my baggage."
During the Crimean war a French captain wrote to the Curé of his native place in these words: "I endeavour to regulate my affairs in such sort, that if God should address to me the call, I may be able to answer, Present!" Not long after this the brave captain met his death under the walls of Sebastopol.
At an election for Shrewsbury, in the reign of George I., a half-pay officer, who was a nonresident burgess, was, with some other voters, brought down from London at the expense of Mr. Kynaston, one of the candidates. The old campaigner regularly attended and feasted at the houses which were opened for the electors in Mr. Kynaston's interest until the last day of the polling, when, to the astonishment of the party, he gave his vote to his opponent. For this strange conduct he was reproached by his quondam companions, and asked what could have induced him to act so dishonourable a part as to become an apostate. "An apostate," answered the old soldier, "an apostate! by no means—I made up my mind about whom I would vote for before I set out upon this campaign, but I remembered Marlborough's constant advice to us when I served with the army in Flanders, 'Always quarter upon the enemy, my lads—always quarter upon the enemy.'"
The Count de Grancé being wounded in the knee with a musket ball, the surgeons made many incisions. At last, losing patience, he asked them why they treated him so unmercifully? "We are seeking for the ball," said they. "Why then did you not speak before?" said the Count, "I could have saved you the trouble, for I have it in my pocket."
In the year 1675, the Council of Vienna sent Montecuculi to oppose Turenne, as the only officer that was thought to be a match for him. Both generals were perfect masters of the art of war. They passed four months in watching each other, and in marches and counter-marches; at length Turenne thought he had got his rival into such a situation as he wanted, near Saltsbach, when, going to choose a place to erect a battery, he was unfortunately struck by a cannon shot, which killed him on the spot. The same ball having carried away the arm of St. Hilaire, lieutenant-general of the artillery, his son, who was near, could not forbear weeping. "Weep not for me," said Hilaire, "but for the brave man who lies there, whose loss to his country nothing can repair."
The deputies of a great metropolis in Germany, once offered the great Turenne one hundred thousand crowns not to pass with his army through their city. "Gentlemen," said he, "I cannot in conscience accept your money, as I had no intention to pass that way."