GUSTAVUS ADOLPHUS ON THE FIELD OF LEIPSIC
 WITH the accession to the throne of Sweden in 1611 of Gustavus Adolphus, grandson of Gustavus Vasa,
that country gained its ablest king, and the most famous with the exception of the firebrand of war,
Charles XII., of later date. For courage, judgment, administrative ability, generous devotion to the
good of his country, and military genius this great monarch was unequalled in his time and won a
renown which has placed his name in the roll of the great rulers of mankind.
The son of Charles IX., the third and ablest son of Gustavus Vasa to fill the throne, he was
carefully educated in all the lore of his time and when a boy of sixteen won a brilliant victory
over a Danish invading army. During the same year he ascended the throne, his father dying on
November 30, 1611.
During the preceding reigns Sweden had taken a prominent part in the affairs of northern Europe,
having frequent wars with Russia, Poland, and Denmark, and the young king fell heir to these wars,
all of which he prosecuted with striking ability. But a conflict soon broke out that threatened all
Europe and brought Sweden into the field as the arbiter of continental destinies. This was the
famous "Thirty Years' War," the greatest and most ferocious religious war known in history. Into
 it Sweden was drawn and the hand of Gustavus was potent in saving the Protestant cause from
destruction. The final event in his career, in which he fell covered with glory on the fatal field
of Lutzen, is dealt with in the German "Historical Tales." We shall here describe another equally
famous battle of the war, that of Leipsic.
It was in 1629, when Denmark was in peril from the great armies of Ferdinand II. of Austria, and
Sweden also was threatened, that Gustavus consented to become the champion of the Protestants of
northern Europe, and in June, 1630, he landed in Pomerania at the head of eight thousand men. Here
six Scottish regiments joined him, under the Duke of Hamilton, and he marched onward, taking towns
and fortresses in rapid succession and gaining large reinforcements from the German states.
Three great leaders headed the Austrian armies, the famous Wallenstein, the able but ferocious
Tilly, and the celebrated cavalry leader Pappenheim. All these skilled soldiers Gustavus had to face
alone, but he did so with the support of the best-drilled army then in Europe, a body of soldiery
which his able hands had formed into an almost irresistible engine of war.
What spurred Gustavus to the great battle to be described was the capture by Tilly on May 20, 1631,
of the city of Magdeburg, and the massacre of its thirty thousand citizens, men, women, and
children. From this scene of frightful outrage and destruction Tilly failed to call off his men
until the city lay in
 ruins and its people in death. A tall, haggard, grim warrior, hollow-cheeked, and wild-looking,
with large bright eyes under his shaggy brows, Tilly looked capable of the deeds of ferocity with
which the world credited him.
STATUE OF GUSTAVUS ADOLPHUS
While all Christendom shuddered with horror at the savage slaughter at Magdeburg, the triumphant
Tilly marched upon and captured the city of Leipsic. Here he fixed his headquarters in the house of
a grave-digger, where he grew pale at seeing the death's-head and cross-bones with which the owner
had decorated his walls. These significant emblems may have had something to do with the unusual
mildness with which he treated the citizens of that town.
The cause of Protestantism in Germany was now in serious jeopardy and Gustavus felt that the time
had come to strike a hard blow in its behalf. The elector of Saxony, who had hitherto stood aloof,
now came to his aid with an army of eighteen thousand men, and it was resolved to attack Tilly at
once, before the reinforcements on the way to join him could arrive. These statements are needful,
to show the momentous import of the great battle of September 7, 1631.
In the early morning of that day the two armies came face to face, Tilly having taken a strong and
advantageous position not far from Leipsic, where he hoped to avoid a battle. But he was obliged,
when the enemy began to move upon him, to alter his plans and move towards the hills on his left.
 At the foot of these his army was drawn up in a long line, with the artillery on the heights
beyond, where it would sweep the extensive plain of Breitenfeld in his front. Over this plain the
Swedes and Saxons advanced in two columns, towards a small stream named the Lober, which ran in
To prevent this crossing Pappenheim had early moved at the head of two thousand cuirassiers, a
movement which Tilly reluctantly permitted, though strictly ordering him not to fight. Disregarding
this order Pappenheim charged the vanguard of the Swedes, only to find that he had met an
impregnable line and to be driven back in disorder. To check pursuit he set fire to a village at the
crossing-point, but this had no effect upon the movement of the advancing troops nor his own
The army of Gustavus was organized for the coming battle in the following manner. On the right the
Swedes were drawn up in a double line; the infantry being in the centre, divided into small
battalions that could be rapidly manoeuvred without breaking their order; the cavalry on the wings,
similarly drawn up in small squadrons, with bodies of musketeers between; this being done to make a
greater show of force and annoy the enemy's horse. On the left, at a considerable distance, were the
It was the defeat of Pappenheim which obliged Tilly to abandon his first strong position and draw up
his army under the western heights, where it formed a single extended line, long enough to
 outflank the Swedish army; the infantry in large battalions, the cavalry in equally large and
unwieldy squadrons; the artillery, as stated, on the slopes above. The position was one for defence
rather than attack, for Tilly's army could not advance far without being exposed to the fire of its
own artillery. Each army numbered about thirty-five thousand men.
These forces were small in view of the momentous nature of the struggle before them and the fact
that two great generals, both hitherto invincible, were now to be matched in a contest on which the
fate of the whole war largely depended and to which the two parties battling for the mastery looked
forward with fear and trembling. But of the two, while Gustavus was cool and collected, Tilly seemed
to have lost his usual intrepidity. He was anxious to avoid battle, and had formed no regular plan
to fight the enemy when forced into it by Pappenheim's impetuous charge. "Doubts which he had never
before felt struggled in his bosom; gloomy forebodings clouded his ever-open brow; the shade of
Magdeburg seemed to hover over him."
The lines being ready for action, King Gustavus rode to the centre of his front, reined in his
horse, took off his hat, and with the sword in his right hand lowered to the ground, offered in a
loud voice the following prayer:
"Almighty God, Thou who holdest victory and defeat in the hollow of Thine hand, turn Thine eye unto
us Thy servants, who have come from our
 distant homes to fight for freedom and truth and for Thy gospel. Give us victory for the honor of
Thy holy name. Amen!"
Then, raising his sword and waving it over his head, he commanded:
"Forward in the name of the Lord!"
"God with us!" was the battle-cry as the Swedes, inspired by his words, prepared for the fatal fray.
The battle, which had lulled after the defeat of Pappenheim, was now resumed with the thunder of the
cannon, which continued for two hours, the west wind meanwhile blowing clouds of smoke and dust from
ploughed and parched fields into the faces of the Swedes. To avoid this they were wheeled to face
northwards, the movement being executed so rapidly and skilfully that the enemy had no time to
The cannonading ending, Tilly left the shelter of the heights and advanced upon the Swedes. But so
hot was their fire that he filed off towards the right and fell impetuously upon the Saxons, whose
ranks quickly broke and fled before the fierce charge. Of the whole force of the elector only a few
regiments held their ground, but these did so in a noble manner that saved the honor of Saxony. So
confident now was Tilly of victory that he sent off messengers in all haste to Munich and Vienna
with word that the day was his.
He was too hasty. The unbroken army of Sweden, the most thoroughly drilled body of soldiers then in
Europe, was still to be dealt with. Pappenheim, who
 commanded the imperial left, charged with his whole force of cavalry upon the Swedish right, but it
stood against him firm as a rock. Here the king commanded in person, and repulsed seven successive
charges of the impetuous Pappenheim, driving him at last from the field with broken and decimated
In the meantime Tilly, having routed the small remnant of the Saxons, turned upon the left wing of
the Swedes with the prestige of victory to animate his troops. This wing Gustavus, on seeing the
repulse of his allies, had reinforced with three regiments, covering the flank left exposed by the
flight of the Saxons.
Gustav Horn commanded here, and met the attack with a spirited resistance, materially aided by the
musketeers who were interspersed among the squadrons of horse. While the contest went on and the
vigor of the attack was showing signs of weakening, King Gustavus, having put Pappenheim to rout,
wheeled to the left and by a sharp attack captured the heights on which the enemy's artillery was
planted. A short struggle gave him possession of the guns and soon Tilly's army was being rent with
the fire of its own cannon.
This flank attack by artillery, coming in aid of the furious onset of the Swedes, quickly threw the
imperial ranks into confusion. Hitherto deemed invincible, Tilly's whole army broke into wild
disorder, a quick retreat being its only hope. The only portion of it yet standing firm was a
 four veteran regiments, which had never yet fled the field and were determined never to do so.
Closing their ranks, they forced their way by a fierce charge through the opposing army and gained a
small thicket, where they held their own against the Swedes until night, when only six hundred of
them remained. With the retreat of this brave remnant the battle was at an end, the remainder of
Tilly's army being then in full flight, actively pursued by the Swedish cavalry, which kept close
upon their tracks until the darkness of night spread over the field.
On all sides the bells of the villages pealed out the tidings of the victory, and the people poured
forth in pursuit of the fleeing foe, giving short shrift to the unhappy fugitives who fell into
their hands. Eleven thousand of Tilly's men had fallen and more than five thousand, including the
wounded, were held as prisoners. On the other side the Saxons had lost about two thousand, but of
the Swedes only about seven hundred had fallen. The camp and artillery of the enemy had fallen into
the hands of Gustavus, and more than a hundred standards had been taken. The rout was so complete
that Tilly had left with him only about six hundred men and Pappenheim less than fifteen hundred.
Thus was destroyed that formidable army which had long been the terror of Germany.
As for Tilly himself, chance alone left him his life. Exhausted by his wounds and summoned to
surrender by a Swedish captain of horse, he refused.
 In an instant more he would have been cut down, when a pistol shot laid low the Swede. But though
saved in body, he was lost in spirit, utterly depressed and shaken by the defeat which had wiped
out, as he thought, the memory of all his past exploits.
Though he recovered from his wounds, he never regained his former cheerfulness and good fortune
seemed to desert him, and in a second battle with Gustavus on the Lech he was mortally wounded,
dying a few days later.
As for Gustavus, he had won imperishable renown as a military leader. All Germany seemed to lie open
before him and it appeared as if nothing could prevent a triumphant march upon Vienna. He had proved
himself the ablest captain and tactician of the age, his device of small, rapidly moving brigades
and flexible squadrons being the death-blow of the solid and unwieldy columns of previous wars. And
his victory formed an epoch in history as saving the cause of Protestantism in Germany.
The emperor, in despair, called again into his service the disgraced and disgruntled Wallenstein,
granting him extraordinary powers. But this great captain also was beaten by Gustavus on the field
of Lutzen, where the career of the Swedish hero came to an untimely end. His renown as a great
soldier will live long in history.
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