War Sermon Illustrations

War Sermon Illustrations

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A Ragged Regiment

In 1690, the French attacked and defeated the Prince of Waldeck at Fleurus. During this action, a lieutenant-colonel of a French regiment was on the point of charging. Not knowing how to animate his men, who were discontented at having commenced the campaign without being fresh clothed, he said to them, "My friends, I congratulate you, that you have the good fortune to be in presence of a regiment newly clothed. Charge them vigorously, and we will clothe ourselves." This pleasantry so inspired the soldiers, that they rushed on, and speedily defeated the regiment.

The Ladies of Beauvais

Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy, laid siege to the City of Beauvais in the year 1472. After investing it closely for twenty-one days, his troops made a general assault, and were on the point of carrying the place, when a band of women, headed by a lady of the name of Jeanne Hachette, rushing to the walls, opposed such a resistance, with showers of stones, and other missiles, that the tide of fortune was instantaneously turned. A Burgundian officer, who attempted to plant the duke's standard on the walls, was fiercely attacked by Jeanne Hachette, who, snatching the standard from his hands, threw him headlong over the wall. The assailants, in short, were completely repulsed; nor was the distaff, once thrown aside, resumed, till the ladies of Beauvais had forced the Duke of Burgundy to retire in shame from their walls. In memory of this gallant achievement, the Municipality of Beauvais ordered a general procession of the inhabitants to take place every year, on the 10th of July, the day on which the siege was raised, in which the ladies were to have the privilege of preceding the men. As long as Jeanne Hachette lived, she marched in this annual procession, at the head of the women, bearing the standard which she had captured from the Burgundian officer; and at her death this standard was deposited in the church of the Dominicans, and a portrait of the heroine placed in the Town-Hall of Beauvais.

Charles XII. was dictating a letter to his secretary during the siege of Stralsund, when a bomb fell through the roof into the next room of the house where they were sitting. The terrified secretary let the pen drop from his hand. "What is the matter?" said Charles, calmly. The secretary replied, "Ah, sire, the bomb!" "But what has the bomb to do," said Charles, "with what I am dictating to you?—go on."

Gonsalvo of Cordova

In an engagement which the Spaniards fought under Gonsalvo of Cordova, their powder-magazine was blown up by the first discharge of the enemy; but so far was this from discouraging the general, that he immediately cried out to his soldiers, "My brave boys, the victory is ours! Heaven tells us by this signal that we shall have no further occasion for our artillery." This confidence of the general passed on to the soldiers; they rushed to the contest, and gained a complete victory.

Algerine Captain

Louis XIV., who had once bombarded Algiers, ordered the Marquess du Quesne to bombard it a second time, in order to punish the treachery and insolence of the Moors. The despair in which the Corsairs found themselves at not being able to beat the fleet off their coasts, caused them to bring all the French slaves, and fasten them to the mouths of their cannon, where they were blown to pieces, the different limbs of their bodies falling even among the French ships. An Algerine captain, who had been taken on a cruize, and well treated by the French while he had been their prisoner, one day perceived, among those unfortunate Frenchmen who were doomed to the cruel fate just mentioned, an officer named Choiseul, from whom he had received the most signal acts of kindness. The Algerine immediately begged, entreated, and solicited in the most pressing manner, to save the life of the generous Frenchman; but all in vain. At last, when they were going to fire the cannon to which Choiseul was fixed, the captain threw himself on the body of his friend, and closely embracing him in his arms, said to the cannonier, "Fire! since I cannot serve my benefactor, I shall at least have the consolation of dying with him." The Dey, in whose presence this scene passed, was so affected with it, that he commanded the French officer to be set free.

Marshal Boufflers

A few days previous to the battle of Malplaquet, it was publicly talked of at Versailles, that a very important battle would soon take place between the French army commanded by Marshal Villars, and the allied army under Prince Eugene and Marlborough. Louis XIV., who for some years had met with many mortifying repulses, seemed to be very uneasy about the event. Marshal Boufflers, in order to quiet in some degree the perturbation of his sovereign's mind, offered, though a senior officer to Villars, to go and serve under him, sacrificing all personal considerations to the glory of his country. His proposal was accepted, and he repaired to the camp. On his arrival, a very singular contest took place between the two commanders. Villars desired to have Boufflers for his leader; but the latter persisted in yielding him all the glory, while he shared the danger. No event in the life of Boufflers ever contributed more to render his name illustrious. Marshal Villars, who commanded the left wing at the battle, being obliged to retire on account of a wound he had received, Marshal Boufflers charged the enemy six times after this accident; but finding they had made themselves master of a wood through which they penetrated into the centre of the French army, he yielded them the field of battle, and made a retreat in such good order, that the allies declined pursuing him.

War by Candle Light

Shortly after the commencement of the last Peninsular war, a tax was laid on candles, which, as a political economist would prove, made them dearer. A Scotch wife, in Greenock, remarked to her chandler that the price was raised, and asked why. "It's a' owin' to the war," said he. "The war!" said the astonished matron, "gracious me! are they gaun to fight by candle licht?"

Admiral Duncan's address to the officers of his fleet, when they came on board his ship for his final instructions, previous to the memorable engagement with Admiral De Winter, was couched in the following laconic and humorous words:—"Gentlemen of my Fleet, you see a very severe Winter fast approaching; and I have only to advise you to keep up a good fire!"

A Noble Enemy

When the Laura and Andromeda frigates were wrecked in a violent hurricane in the West Indies, on the coast of the Martinique, thirty-five men were thrown ashore alive. The Marquess de Bouille, on hearing of the circumstance, took them to his house, where he treated them most hospitably. After he had cured them of their bruises and sickness, and had clothed them from head to foot, he sent them with a flag of truce to the commanding officer of St. Lucia, with a letter, stating that these men having experienced the horrors of shipwreck, he would not add those of war, and had therefore set them free, and at liberty again to serve their country.

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