"The Partisan in War"
There is no branch of the service that requires more judgement than the management of spies, because such kind of people, in general, are actuated solely by the hope of gain; and yet a commander in chief cannot dispense with them, much less a Partisan, who is always stationed at the advanced posts, and from whom the commander in chief has a right to expect perhaps, his best intelligence. The variety of ways in which they are to be made useful, it would not be prudent here to explain; I shall therefore only say a few words on the subject in general.
Spies are to be found of all ranks and prices, as well as of both sexes. Whenever there is occasion for their services, they should be well and punctually paid, and never detained a moment waiting for their reward, lest they should become known to one another, to the officers or soldiers, or any other person besides the commander, by whom they are employed.
If a Partisan should, at any time, discover an enemy's spy amongst his corps, he may, very probably, convert him, by proper management, to his own use and advantage; nor until he has tried every means of making him serviceable, should he in policy punish him; but a careful watch should be set over him, to observe his motions, and endeavour to discover whether he has any acquaintances in the corps, or in the neighbourhood, of its station. The Partisan should take an opportunity of throwing himself in his way, and from his own knowledge of these sort of people, he will most probably not only be able to gain from him, very useful intelligence, but even to engage him in his own interests; in which case, as he has free access to the enemy's army, he may become of infinite importance to the Partisan in the direction of his measures; any information however, he might afterwards give, should not be entirely depended upon, until it is so far confirmed by the accounts of others, as to leave no room for suspicion, or doubt of its certainty and truth.
The commander in chief of an army, may often have occasion to employ an enterprising officer, upon particular services, in a great degree connected with the business of the Partisan, and will naturally expect to be furnished with one of this description from the light corps. The service upon which such an officer is generally employed, is to penetrate through the enemy's army, get into their rear, intercept their messengers or couriers, destroy their convoys, or magazines of provisions and ammunition, keep the roads in constant alarm, and distress them in all other respects, as fas as lies in his power; but he is commonly enjoined to direct his chief and principal aim to the interception of couriers or messengers.
Having been entrusted with an enterprise of the latter sort in the last German war, by my commanding officer, General Freytag, I had the good fortune to execute his orders, by intercepting two French couriers, with dispatches from the court of Versailles, to the commander in chief of the French army. This I effected near Frankfort, on the Maine, more than two hundred miles in the rear of the French army, which was then in the Hanoverian dominions, and conveyed the dispatches to Duke Ferdinand, before the French General had any knowledge of their being intercepted.
Upon my return from this expedition, the success of which obtained me the confidence and esteem of my commander officer, General Freytag, and the good opinion of the Prince Hereditary, the present Duke of Brunswick, I had the honour of being recommended by the latter to Duke Ferdinand, who took me from the Hanoverian chasseurs, and employed me in similar enterprises during the remaining part of the war; The general orders, which he commanded me strictly to observe on this service, were not to molest or injure the peaceable inhabitants of any country, or suffer my detachment to commit depredations on them; to pay for all provisions and other necessaries, whenever it could be done with safety, and without subjecting myself to a discovery, that the enemy might not have it in their power to say, a party had been sent in their rear for the purposes of plunder; to treat such prisoners, as should fall into my hands, with humanity and liberality; and lastly, upon no account whatsoever, to open any dispatches, I should take, but to convey them directly to head quarters.
Being desirous of assisting every officer who is employed on such service, I do not therefore know how I can more effectually instruct him in the nature of the duty he undertakes, than by mentioning a few of those cases which have happened to myself on service, as the different success which attended my own conduct in them, may help in some measure, to direct his, on the same or similar occasions.
1. In the year 1761, when the French army, under the command of the Duke of Broglio, was in the Hanoverian dominions, I received orders at Sababourg, in Reinhordswald in the Hessian territory, to get in the rear of the army, and endeavour to intercept the couriers coming with dispatches from Paris, to the French commander in chief. I set out in the morning with a detachment, composed of Prussian hussars, and Hanoverian mounted chasseurs, and marched to the river Diemel, on which the furthest advanced post of the allied army was stationed, where my party was furnished with provisions and forage for three days; in the evening I crossed the river near Oxendorff, -- slipped through the enemy's out posts, under the command of General Stainvill, -- continued my march during the night, through the Waldeck country, and the next day lay concealed in the woods, sending out my spies to get information of the situation of the enemy, and to discover how I could pursue my march the following evening. In this manner I proceeded until I learned that the couriers from Paris, took, at that time, the road from Frankfort to Fulda, in their way to the head quarters of the French army.
On obtaining this intelligence, I ordered my march so as to take post, before day-light, in a wood, between Gelnhausen and Wachtersbach, on the river Kintz, and so near to the road, as to be able to see everything that passed. In this situation I lay two days and two nights. In the afternoon of the third day, the two French couriers, accompanied by a postillion from Gelnhausen, came riding full speed towards the place where I waited to intercept them.
I accordingly took and carried them, with the postillion, into the wood, where I searched them, so that no dispatches or letters could possibly lie concealed about them; informing them, at the same time, it was by Duke Ferdinand's orders I did so, but that they should receive no personal injury. Finding by the directions on the dispatches, that they were most probably those which I had been ordered to intercept, and anxiously desirous of conveying them, with all possible expedition, to Duke Ferdinand, I resolved to be the bearer of them myself. I left the detachment under the care of the officer next in command, with instructions for his conduct in my absence, charging him to keep the couriers and postillion in safe custody, until I either re-joined him, or let him hear from me.
Having disguised myself, I set out with the dispatches, on my way to the head quarters of the allied army, taking with me a trusty and faithful servant; and, to avoid suspicion, put the dispatches in a portmanteau fixed behind his saddle. I proceeded on my route, meeting with many French officers and other troops, but no interruption until I came to a Hessian village at daybreak, near the river Diemel, where, upon enquiry, I learned that the head quarter of the allied army was then at Bune, near Warburg, and that the patrols of the light troops of both armies, frequently met and skirmished near that village, which was about six miles from it.
From this intelligence of the motions of the enemy's patrols, I was apprehensive it would be difficult for me to avoid falling in with them; I therefore directed my servant to keep at a convenient distance behind, and if he should see the enemy's patrols stop me, to cut the portmanteau off, quit his horse, which was very tired, and take to the woods. Being lame from having a little time before [I] sprained my leg, I was obliged to undertake this duty on horseback, otherwise, as soon as I found my danger from the enemy's patrols, I would myself have travelled on foot through the woods with my servant.
I had not got above a mile from the village, when a party, consisting of thirty of Chamborant's hussars, rushed out of a wood, on my right, and immediately seized and examined me. I told them I was a steward to Baron Spiegel, a nobleman well known to them by name; but on searching me, the number of ducats, a gold watch, and in particular, a pair of very valuable Paris pistols, which I had with me, together with other appearances, made them suspect that I was an officer of the allied army, and a spy; they answered therefore, they must escort me to their General, who was not many miles off, and if I proved the person I pretended, everything they had taken from me, should be returned. Knowing, that if I had been conducted to their General's quarters, a discovery must have followed, that would inevitably have proved fatal to my life, as I was taken in disguise, I had no alternative left, but to concert my escape.
This I most fortunately effected, in a manner, which it would be perhaps, ostentatious in me to relate, and got safe to Duke Ferdinand the same night, when to my inexpressible joy I found, from Adjutant General Wvreyden, that worthy and distinguished officer, who was the first person I met, that my servant had brought in the dispatches. Among these, was a present of some medicines and a child's coral, of great value, from the French court, to the Duchess of Broglio, then lying in child-bed at Hesse Cassell, which Duke Ferdinand immediately sent by a flag of truce.
This was the first intimation the Duke of Broglio had of his dispatches being intercepted. The following are copies of a letter and certificate, I afterwards obtained from General Chamborant, upon another occasion. As they may assist in proving that the hardships and hazards, to which I exposed myself, were undertaken in zeal for the service, and my ambition to deserve the confidence and trust reposed in me, more than any other motives; it will not, I hope, be any intrusion here, to insert them.
Translation of Genl Chamborant's
Letter and Certificate.
I have received your letter, and I perfectly recollect the manner in which you conducted yourself in your military capacity; and I feel myself happy in having an occasion of doing justice to a brave soldier, and, at the same time, an officer, who behaved so honourably towards the Baron de Blumm, a captain in my regiment, who fell into the hands of your detachment, in his way to his native country; a retreat which his wounds and infirmities obliged him to seek.
Although he has long been dead, yet the circumstance is fresh in my memory; and the certificate, which you have requested, in due form, hereto annexed, will mark the regard and esteem I entertain for military men, who, in their conduct and manners, unite honour and generosity with valour and intelligence. If we should meet again as enemies, and fortune should procure me the advantage which I once had over you, but of which I was prevented from availing myself, I shall endeavour so to soften, by my behaviour towards you, the misfortunes of war, to which we are all liable, and which, under such circumstances, you would have experienced, that I trust, you will not wish to leave me before the time in which you are authorized to be released by the rules of war.
I have the honour to be,
Le Ms. de Chamborant.
5th Octo. 1773.
C E R T I F I C A T E.
We Andrew Claude, Marquis de Chamborant, Lord of Villemendeur, Baron, &c. &c. certify to have known that Captain Andreas Emmerich of the Brunswick Hussars, belonging to the allied army, having particular orders, on the part of their Highness Prince Ferdinand, and the Hereditary Prince of Brunswick, to keep in the rear of the French army, fell in with, and took prisoner the Baron de Blumm, on the road from Frankfort to Oppenheim, then returning to his native country, having quitted the service on account of his health and wounds; and that far from permitting his troops to abuse, or avail themselves of the advantage, which this circumstance offered them, he was satisfied with taking the said officer's horses, for the use of his troops, who stood in need of them; at the same time presenting him with one of his own, to enable him to continue his journey; and that he would not permit, that any part of his baggage, effects, or money should be taken from him.
It is with great readiness we attest this circumstance, and do justice to this act of generosity before that respectable nation, upon which he is making certain claims, and of which all the members serving in the late war, have given proofs of those sentiments, that render the English equally respected by their enemies, as by their allies.
In witness whereof, we have given the said Captain A. Emmerich, the present certificate, in order that it may be of use to him upon all occasions; and we therefore request those, whom it may any way concern, to give and procure him all the aid and assistance which he may have occasion for.
Done at St. Germains, the 13th
of October, 1773.
(L.S.) (L.S.) (L.S.)
I had been but two days at headquarters, when Colonel Bauer, quarter-master general to the allied army, came in great haste to me, at Count de Lippe Buckabourg's, before the Count went to Portugal, and informed me that the French Post-master General would shortly set out, under a very strong guard of cavalry, with all the dispatches from the head quarters of the French army, to Paris, and expressed an anxious wish that they might be intercepted. I perfectly understood that this wish proceeded from the desire of a higher person, and accordingly prepared to comply with it as an order.
Having got a fresh detachment of volunteers, I immediately set out, and as before, slipped through the French army. Learning, on my march, that the Post-master General would travel the same route as the couriers I had lately intercepted, I made such expedition, that I arrived at the place where I had left my former detachment, and joined it four days before the Post-master General passed. As soon as he came up, I attacked his guard, composed of red dragoons, between Wachtersbach and Gelnhausen, near the very spot where I had stopped the two couriers; took him and a Gentleman, who I afterwards understood to be a Bavarian Ambassador, going from the Duke of Broglio's head quarters, to Paris, with their guard prisoners, secured the dispatches, and having taken the paroles of the Post-master General, and the Ambassador, for themselves and their guard, and procuring the necessary assistance for their wounded men, I immediately forwarded the dispatches, which filled eight leather valises, and loaded four horses, to Duke Ferdinand, to whom they were safely delivered, at Wilhelmstal, near Hesse Cassell. Finding that I could not make use of the other horses I had taken, they were destroyed.
The foregoing are a few of a great number of similar expeditions on which I was ordered, but forbear to detail, presuming that those I have mentioned, will be sufficient to give a proper idea of the nature of the service, upon which an officer, who acts in the same capacity, may be employed, and probably help him to acquit himself, in similar situations, with merit; particularly as it is not courage only, which is necessary, but a genius, fruitful in expedients and resources, address, perseverance, and precaution, must contribute to form a Partisan.
Experience alone however, can render service easy. I found it very practicable to slip through the enemy's army, on the lower Rhine, remain at any distance I found necessary in their rear, for three, four, and sometimes six weeks; transverse the country, make prisoners, destroy convoys, and magazines of provisions, intercept couriers, and at last get round the flanks of the enemy, through Franconia, and join the allied army, after having happily accomplished every object of the service entrusted to me, without incurring any censure or reproaches on my conduct from the enemy. This sort of expedition I repeated eleven times in the space of two campaigns, from the beginning of the year 1761, until the peace in 1762.
Having in the last chapter mentioned a few of the enterprises, the execution of which had been entrusted to my particular care, I shall here speak of those general rules for the service, which, if properly attended to, may be of use to future Partisans, as they are entirely the result of my own experience, during the time I was appointed to such commands.
No consideration whatsoever should induce a Partisan to disguise himself upon any occasion; the fatal consequences that may attend such a step, I myself narrowly escaped, as the instance a little before related, must have shown.
When a Partisan is ordered on an expedition, a detachment is usually formed of volunteers from the different regiments of light troops in the army, and put under his command; that in case the detachment should be taken, the loss may more easily be borne, than if it had been wholly drafted from one.
He should himself take care that the men are young, active, well armed and mounted, that the captains, from whose troops they are taken, can vouch for their being men of good character, and acquainted with service; and upon no account, suffer a deserter from the enemy, much less a man the least suspected of drinking, to be one of the number. Although the former might be naturally brave on any other occasion, yet the dread he must be under, from the chance of his being taken prisoner, makes him altogether unfit for service of this nature. And as to the latter, there are so many opportunities in the expeditions of a Partisan, of committing excesses, from which the greatest inconveniences and dangerous accidents often arise, that no dependence can be placed by him on men, who are not constitutionally temperate and sober.
As soon as the detachment is put under the Partisan's command, and he has received his orders, he is to move with it behind the army, and carefully inspect both men and horses, to see that they are properly equipped in every point, particularly that every man is furnished with two spare horse shoes, fitted to his horse's feet, and a proper number of nails; and lastly, that his detachment is provided with three days provision and forage, no part of which must be touched before he sets out. Previous to his march, an intelligent spy should be dispatched before him on the route he intends to pursue.
When he has everything in readiness, he should regulate his march, so as to be near the enemy's advanced posts pretty early in the morning, take his ground as if he meant to keep it, and place videts accordingly. During the day, he must be diligent in finding out the situation of the enemy, and make his attempt soon to slip, undiscerned, through their line, as then he has the whole night before him, to effect this most difficult and dangerous pass on his expedition.
Should he meet with any of the enemy's patrols, or have reason to think that he is discovered, it will be prudent to return, and wait an opportunity next night, of passing through some other part of their line. If he has no cause however for such apprehensions, after he has got into the rear of their army, he must continue his march with all convenient expedition, avoiding the roads as much as possible, and taking post always before morning in a wood, or other place, where he can lie concealed during the day. He is then to send out his spies, to learn if there is any rumour respecting his detachment, and at the same time to find out the securest course for continuing his march at night, leaving however one of his spies on the ground which he quits, with injunctions to remain there the greatest part of the next day, and instructions where to find him in the evening of it. If no party from the enemy should appear in quest of him, it will be a sure sign that he has not been discovered, and that he has surmounted his greatest difficulty.
In this manner the Partisan must proceed towards the object of his expedition, leaving always a spy at the last place he quits, with distinct directions to follow him wherever he goes. But as the detachment advances a considerable way in the rear of the enemy's army, it is not to be supposed that the Partisan can always ascertain the spot where the spy is to join him, in which case it will be necessary to fall upon some expedient to obviate this difficulty; as for instance, by appointing some public house, or place where he is to wait till a person shall appear, who from some particular mark will be known to him, and who shall also know him, by a signal previously concerted between the Partisan and the spy.
The person sent from the detachment to meet the spy, might be instructed to wear a handkerchief tied under his chin, as if he had the toothache, and the spy might have some mark about him, which would immediately discover to the other the purpose for which they were met, without making either of them liable to suspicion from spectators, -- or many other contrivances might answer the same purpose. There should also, at every place where he stops, certain trees, stones, or other remarkable objects, be agreed upon between the Partisan and his spy, for the purpose of leaving directions upon them where to follow him, or perhaps a letter, with instructions for that or any other necessary step.
When the detachment is so far
advanced, without recruiting their store of provisions and forage,
that their first stock is consequently consumed, and a fresh supply
absolutely necessary, it may not be improper to point out the
means of procuring it, least likely to expose them to a discovery.
While the enemy have no apprehensions that any party of troops,
besides their own, can be at so great a distance in the rear of
their army, the farmers of the country are only required to bring
in their provisions and forage to the nearest magazines. As this
is generally done without a guard, the Partisan should send out
one of his spies, to bring him intelligence of the time when such
provisions and forage are on the road.
He is then to march his detachment near the place where they are to pass in the night, tell the farmers he belongs to the army, for which the provisions, &c. are intended, and that being in want of a supply, they must furnish him with what he requires, for which he should give them fictitious receipts. He must afterwards, also direct his march, as if he was going towards the enemy's army, to leave no room for suspicion; but turn out of the road when he thinks proper, and regain his former station. Care must be taken, however, that the language of the enemy, and no other, is spoken to the farmers, if it is understood by the Partisan, or any of his detachment, if not, some undistinguishable jargon must be used, to disguise their own.
But it may happen, that though the Partisan can procure forage, he may not be able to obtain provisions for his men, in the manner above stated, in which case, as it is impossible to do without them, recourse must be had to some other method of supply. That which I have found, from experience, to be the best, is to look out for a sheepfold, during the march in the night, and send two or three men to inform the keeper of the fold that they belong to a party of the enemy, which being in want of provisions, must have some of his sheep, and accordingly bring away as many as will serve the detachment for three or four days. It is much to be wished that such injuries could be avoided, by paying the value for whatever is taken from the country people; but as offering money would expose the detachment to suspicions, which might frustrate the execution of its designs, all other considerations must give way to the necessities of the service. Two or three fictitious letters, which he should have ready written with him, or other papers, addressed to officers belonging to the enemy's army, should be dropped, seemingly by accident, that they might be picked up by the keeper of the sheep-fold, in the morning, as they might amuse, and lead him to believe the grounds of the application, and trust to a retribution from that quarter.
The Partisan must never suffer his detachment to make fires, when he is lying concealed in the woods, during the day, but find out the most contiguous single farm-house, to his station, where the meat may be carried and dressed, taking care to secure every person in it, and make the farmer furnish him with bread, sufficient for three days; but, in the evening before the detachment marches, he should be told, that if a word transpires, either of their motions or stay with him, not only his personal safety, but that of his family and property, would be in danger. He should then be liberally paid for whatever he had furnished, and generous presents also made to himself, and every person in his house. This mode of treatment will, probably, not only prevent him or his people from discovering the detachment to the enemy, but incline him, from self-interest, to render any service to the party, in his power, if they should ever pass his way again.
When the Partisan meets with a single farm or other house, near a wood, where he can be safe, and the owner of it willing to supply him, for payment, with everything he wants, it will be prudent in him, to attach such a person to his interests, by paying liberally, and even double price for all the provisions or other necessaries which are furnished by him; as artifices or violence, which are often the means resorted to, for procuring both, always lead more or less to the discovery of a Partisan and his party; not to mention that when he makes a friend of this kind, first by the temptation of grain, and lastly by the secret collusion he draws him into, with the views of an enemy, of which the punishment is death, he secures not only good and safe quarters to himself in future, but even a secret supply of provisions, if requisite, while he is at any other station, of moderate distance, in the same neighbourhood. By careful behaviour on every such occasion, I never failed to make myself friends, who supplied me with money, or whatever I wanted, and made me require at last to carry no money with me from the army.
What has been just mentioned, must be understood to apply to a country, rather friendly to the Partisan's cause, or at least neuter in it; for in any other situation, where he cannot but expect the inhabitants to be hostile to all his intentions, he must make no such attempts. If he cannot complete his march through an enemy's province in the night, he must discontinue it at day-break, and lie concealed in the woods, whether he has provisions and forage enough for the day or not, until evening returns, when he must supply himself and party in the best way he can. If there is any grass in the wood, a certain number of the horses may be unbridled, at a time, and allowed to graze, while the men hold them by a halter in one hand, and keep the bridles ready in the other, until the whole of them have had a little refreshment. If any country people should happen to pass, and see where the detachment is lying, they must be secured, if possible, until evening, when, as the party moves, a present should be given them for their detention. The Partisan is then to take a false route for his march, until he thinks he is clear of their observation, when he may alter his course, and proceed towards his destination.
Before the Partisan takes the station where he intends to wait for the objects of his expedition, he must be particularly careful to have three or four days provision for his men and horses, and know from his spies, that there is plenty of water, at or near his post in the wood; in order that if he should find it necessary to remain there a day or two longer than he intended, or should be pursued by an enemy, after he has executed the service required, he may be ready to retreat, or make his escape, without hindrance or delay.
While the Partisan advances on his route, he must take notice of every building, particularly every castle or strong single house in his way, which in case of any hard attack upon him by cavalry, and desperate circumstances, would form a retreat to him where he might probably be able to defend himself, during a day, while no infantry were at hand, to blockade and reduce his party, and from whence, in the evening he might, by a spirited effort, at a favourable opportunity, force his way through the enemy. If this should not be practicable, rather than give the enemy time to bring infantry to their assistance, and thus run the risk of being taken with both men and horses, the detachment must be dismounted, the horses left behind, but destroyed, and a sally made on foot, in order to effect the best retreat possible in the night. This case never happened to myself, but as it may to others, I mention the best resource on such an occasion, and that of which I should have availed myself, had it ever proved necessary.
As a Partisan, however, would be uneasy, and even ashamed to return to head quarters without horses, he may recruit his loss, by captures from the enemy, for which, in the rear of an army, there is always plenty of opportunity. And although he may not be able to equip his detachment with horses and furniture, equally fit for his service, yet he may return double the number to the army, which will offer a good apology for his misfortune, relieve his reputation, and entitle him to the conduct of another expedition, when he may seek for revenge or reprisals.
Men who are brave and zealous in their profession can effect, what to others would appear impossible, particularly if they are so lucky as to have a commander in chief, who is beloved by the army, and knows how to cherish and reward efforts of distinction and merit.
A Partisan must not, on such expeditions, seek occasions of attacking or engaging with the enemy, but on the contrary, avoid them as much as he can; for it is not in his power to take any proper care of the wounded, on the stations which he must in general chose, much less to convey them to the army; besides, that they are entirely foreign to the service required of him, which is not to operate with strength, but address in war. If a courier, however, passes his post, under an escort of the enemy's army, whom he cannot take without an attack, he must then, as a soldier, risk everything, in the execution of his duty; but to expose men, because they are brave and volunteers in the service, rashly and wantonly, for plunder, or idle fame, is disgraceful to an officer, and proves him unfit for his command.
As soon as the Partisan has chosen his station near the road, where he expects couriers to and from the enemy or others to pass, he must dispatch his spies to the nearest towns or villages, on his right and left. The whole main body may dismount, and keep the bridles in their hands, excepting fourteen, four of whom must be stationed at some distance on the right, and four, at a similar distance, on the left, both within call, and so near the road as to see what passes, without being seen. The other six must remain with the main body, but keep themselves in constant readiness. The Partisan must then step, on foot, from the main body, close to the road, or climb a tree, from whence he can carefully watch it, unseen, and prevent any wrong person, such as a merchant, an officer belonging to the army of the enemy, or any indifferent passenger, from being stopped, which might, by creating an alarm, defeat the principal object in view, by the commander in chief. By letting a few persons pass quietly, to or from the enemy, particularly if they have any baggage of value with them, or if there should have been any rumours of the detachment's situation, the roads will be reputed safe, and couriers will consequently be enjoined to travel the same way.
When this deposition of the party is made, and a courier is seen coming by day, for by night every passenger or carriage, must be stopped; the Partisan, as soon as he sees him advance within his line, gives the signal to his three small parties, who immediately make to the road, while the main body mount, and keep in readiness to support them, if necessary.
When the courier is taken, which must be done without firing, if possible, in order to avoid giving any alarm, great care must be taken to prevent him from destroying or dropping any of his dispatches, particularly in the night. He should be immediately removed from the road into the wood or mountains, his pockets, saddle, boots, and everything else about himself or horse strictly searched, and every paper, found upon him, carefully secured. The place on the road, where he was taken, should at the same time be instantly examined, that nothing which might fall from the men or horses, by accident, and excite suspicion in other passengers, may be left upon the ground. If any country or other people should be witnesses of the encounter, an endeavour should be made, to secure and detain them, until the party moves to another station.
The Partisan should, on every occasion, acquaint couriers that he wants nothing from them but their dispatches, and what the rules of war allow. As it most always happens, that a courier is accompanied by a postillion from the next post-house, the Partisan must, in this case, make him, privately, a handsome present, which will induce him to let himself be taken on other opportunities, and perhaps be otherwise serviceable, as I have myself experienced.
Immediately after taking the dispatches of the enemy, the Partisan should lose no time in sending them off, by careful persons, to the commander in chief, as the great point is to convey them to him, before the enemy know of their being intercepted. The prisoners therefore must be detained, until such time as he thinks they may be received. If however, a prisoner should, on any occasion, make his escape, the Partisan must think of his own safety, as his situation will then become dangerous, from the certainty of its being immediately after discovered to the enemy.
When a Partisan has accomplished his chief object, he is still not to quit his station. He may remain there for a day or two longer, and advance the service, by other captures and detriment to the enemy, before he is discovered; such as officers, provisions, forage, &c. &c. He must however never fail in the proper treatment of the enemies that fall into his hands. They should be used always strictly according to the rules of war, which admit of neither insult nor injury to prisoners. The personal property they may have about them, such as money, watches, &c. ought to be civilly, but privately demanded by one of the non-commissioned officers, and distributed among themselves and the privates, as their perquisites(sic), on such service, but nothing of this kind ever appropriated to himself. Baggage of every kind must be restored to them, untouched. All their arms, however, must be taken from them, and immediately broken to pieces. He should always have plenty of blank paroles in the language of the enemy, with him, which his prisoners, of every rank, are to fill up, when he dismisses them; at which time he ought to take care that they have money enough left for the expences of their journey to the next garrison. If he should happen to make prisoners of passengers, such as merchants, or other persons, who are unconnected with the war or the enemy, he may secure their stay with him until he changes his station, but upon no account make them suffer any other loss or inconvenience, than that detention, which the safety of the service requires.
A strict observance of the rules of war, by a Partisan, particularly in his behaviour and conduct to prisoners, is essentially requisite, as it adds merit to every successful expedition, and lessens the misfortune of every defeat, by exciting the same disposition in an enemy. By invariably attending to them, he leaves none but pleasing reflections in his own mind, on the services he has undergone.
If, while he still remains at his station, provisions, forage or horses, going for the use of the enemy, should pass, if they cannot be removed from the road into the woods, after they are stopped, the waggons which carry them must be burnt where they stand; the provisions, if flour, must be strewed about on the ground, and trampled under the feet of the horses; -- of the cavalry going for the use of the enemy, the best should be selected, to supply the place of those in the detachment, which may be worn out by hard service; the rest must be destroyed. If there should be wine or other liquors amongst the provisions, the casks must be set on end, their tops taken out, and rendered useless, and the wine left for the benefit and regale of the neighbouring inhabitants, who will not fail to profit by the opportunity. Such an incident, produces a friendly understanding between them and the Partisan, as I have frequently experienced, particularly in the country round Frankfort, on the Maine,&c. On such occasions, however, the Partisan, after allowing his detachment a moderate stock of liquors for use, during their stay on that station, must carefully endeavour to prevent, as well as forbid and caution them, under severe penalties, against the least intemperance or abuse of his indulgence.
When a Partisan has made his last efforts to distress the enemy, and committed himself so far to their notice and observation, by these open attacks, as to render his station exceedingly insecure, he should lose no time in preparing to leave it; if he is near any garrison of the enemy where there are cavalry, his danger is still more pressing. He must, immediately therefore, summon all his prisoners, and enquire how they have been treated, that if they have suffered any insult or wrong, it may be punished, or redressed, and that they may be put in a condition to make their journey to the next garrison. If the next garrison should be at a great distance however, and the horses of the officers who are prisoners, should not be wanted by the detachment, or could not be conveniently led along with it to the army, the Partisan will act prudently in returning them to their owners, as they are private property, rather than destroying them.
A few hours before the departure of his prisoners, whom he must always dismiss towards evening, he should endeavour to amuse them with a false idea, of his route, by mentioning the names of one or two places in a quite contrary direction to it; and asking information as to their situation and distance. When they take leave, he should be ready to set out with his detachment, and take the course he proposed to them, for a little way, in order to confirm their belief of his intentions; but as soon as he thinks they are at a sufficient distance, he may turn about, and proceed to the station it will be proper for him next to chose, according to the intelligence his spies have furnished him of the dispositions of the enemy. As it is very probable that the prisoners, who have left him, will spread this false information, as to his route, among the neighbouring garrisons, and totally mislead any strong party that is sent in pursuit of his detachment, he will have an easy and safe opportunity of taking post near to some other road, which is thought secure by the enemy, and effecting a repetition of the same important services, before he quits their rear, and returns to his own army.
It is at such a moment that a Partisan has the utmost scope for action; and may severely pinch, if not distress the enemy. When his spies have laid open to him the whole situation of their ground, and perhaps discovered that a party is sent a false and distant route in quest of him, he may act openly for several days, attack, and effectually destroy every magazine that is not too strongly guarded, intercept couriers, make prisoners, and create damage and confusion everywhere.
By this artful change of his situation, and appearing with his detachment by day, the enemy, not aware of its being one and the same party, will apprehend different forces to be traversing their country; and spread an alarm, until the garrisons shut themselves up, and every communication and passage is stopped behind their army. This circumstance happened on several of my expeditions to the towns of Hannau and Frankfort where between two and three thousand men were in garrison, and is always attended with the greatest inconvience and interruption to the plans of an enemy.
Before they can gain perfect intelligence of the Partisan's change of station, or his strength, and send a party to attack him, he must shape his march back to his own army, with the utmost caution and expedition.
As soon as he arrives at head-quarters, he should make his return so public, at the enemy's advanced posts, that they may know it, discontinue their search after him, and relax in their vigilance; when the Partisan, as long as the season permits, must again leave head-quarters, recover his ground in the rear of their army, and continue to act as before, wherever he can be of benefit to the service; to which, his experience, and the perfect intelligence his spies, whom he leaves behind in the mean time, must be able to gain, of every disposition and plan, formed by the adversary, in that quarter, will powerfully contribute.
Notwithstanding so much has been said of the precautions necessary to be used by a Partisan, I have by no means been successful in all my expeditions, but like every soldier, whose life is checkered with victory and defeat, have met with disappointments and miscarriages. On this account, I am more confident in offering to others that advice, by the want of which I have sailed myself. -- The following are two instances.
In the year 1759, after the retreat of the allied army, from the battle of Bergen, near Frankfort, on the Maine, I was ordered with a detachment of cavalry, into the Bishop of Wurstburg's dominions, for the purpose of reconnoitring the situation of the Imperial army.
I proceeded to a town called Lower Weisbach, where I improperly dismounted all my men, and allowed them to refresh, without apprehension of any enemy, as upon enquiry at the inhabitants of that place and its neighbourhood, I could hear of none.
A detachment of the Emperor's hussars, named Schichine, and the Hohenzollern, Cuirassiers, who were concealed in a wood, near the village, and saw me enter it at mid-day, seized the opportunity, and made me and my detachment prisoners. If I had dismounted a part of my men only, at a time, and kept proper watch, this would not have happened.
I had met that morning, between Upper and Lower Weisbach, a Roman Catholic Priest, who declared to me, on his priestly honour, that he had seen no Imperial troops; but the Cuirassiers told me, soon after they took me, that they had made a stop at his house the evening before.
In the year 1760, when the
battle of Johanesberg, near Fridberg, was fought, between the
Hereditary Prince, now Duke of Brunswick, and Prince Condé,
commander of the French army, who was joined by Prince Soubise
with his army, I was ordered with a detachment of cavalry, behind
both the latter, in order, that if the French lost the battle,
I might fall upon their baggage, and by occasioning an alarm,
retard their retreat. I took my station, for this purpose, in
a wood near Filbel, on the river Neida, about nine miles behind
the French armies, and about half a mile from the road, where
some hundred of their baggage-waggons were passing. In the time
of the battle, which began in the morning, I conceived, from the
motions of the French, and my spies also reported, that they had
lost, as their army was twice driven back, though they recovered,
and continued the engagement. I however, considered the allied
army had gained the day, and could not any longer check my impatience
to attack the multitude of baggage before me; I accordingly went
out, from the wood, with my detachment, amongst them, and continued
taking possession of them, for some time, until I was attacked
by Conflans's hussars, and dragoons; I was soon sensible of my
mistake, and the precipitation of my conduct; but my men were
so dispersed, that I returned with only a few of my number to
the allied army, at Staden, in the night; where I suffered no
small derision at my disappointment and failure, which my ardour
and impatience had chiefly occasioned. Had I waited till
night, for the success of my enterprise, I might, by an attack
then, have startled the enemy, notwithstanding their victory,
as they could not have guessed at my strength, and made myself
master of a great part of their baggage.