Page images

the officer, without scruple, allowed him to set out before the rest of the troop marched, that he might secure it while the owners were looking for their horses among those on parade. They met on their march forty-three Scotch gentlemen who had come to join the Swedes, and they were equipped and embodied in the corps. At one place he was quartered on a Memnonite, one Peters, for several days, and his host had to make him a present of a rix-dollar every day. The Scotch gentlemen, he observes, who were not accustomed to live on booty, were very ill off, for their pay was small, and always in arrear, but he contrived, with the help of his comrades, to drive away the cattle of the villagers, and then restored them to the owners on being paid a dollar for bringing them back. This was done regularly twice a week, without his simple countrymen quartered in the same village knowing anything of the matter. When horses were impressed to convey the Colonel on his route, Gordon was employed, as orderly, to take them back to the peasantry, and his zeal in restoring them and the cattle which his comrades had lifted with his connivance, was rewarded with money as well as praise. These, and many similar entries in Gordon's Diary, give us a glimpse of the interior life and economy of those wild armies, in which, as in the Russian service at this day, the officers, military and civil, are so poorly and irregularly paid, that peculation and oppression are necessary for their subsistence.

In the beginning of 1657 Gordon was taken prisoner by a trick of some Polish peasants, and brought into Dantzig. He regrets that he could not get back his Latin Thomas a-Kempis from his captors, but consoles himself with having concealed from them a purse with a hundred dollars. The Poles endeavoured to persuade him and the other Scotch prisoners taken from the Swedish army, to enter into the Polish service. They were mustered, and marched to the main guard of the Polish garrison, where a Captain Patrick Gordon of the iron hand' had the command. Here Lieutenant-colonel Drummond, Major Fuleston, Lieutenant Scott, and others, were released. Gordon, who was the last on the list, was immediately recognised by his namesake of the iron hand, who asked him if he was not a son of Gordon of Auchluichries, and on being answered in the affirmative, urged him strongly to enter into the Polish service. But Gordon remained firmly by his Swedish engagement, and was at last exchanged, and returned to it. These Scotch adventurers, as we learn from the confessions of these illustrious prototypes of our friend Major Dalgetty, were not always steady in their adherence to the

service they originally engaged in, yet they observed certain laws of honour in changing from one service to another. When their capitulation, as their engagement was called, had expired, and it was seldom for a longer period than a campaign, or when it was ended by their being taken prisoners and not exchanged within a time specified in their engagement, generally within three months, they considered themselves free to enter the service of the very Power they had been fighting against. If recaptured by their original commanders, they could not be treated as deserters, because the numbers of Scotch officers and men on both sides was too great, and their bond of nationality and common interest in maintaining their privileges were too strong, to admit of severe or unpopular restraint upon any of them. The only bond that held them to the service they had first entered into, was the arrears of pay due to them, which were always considerable.

Gordon rejoined his troop in the Swedish service, and received a good horse, and 25 dollars, as compensation for his loss when taken prisoner, and as a reward for his fidelity to his capitulation. On the march southwards, he happened to lose his way, and fell in with some young men of the royal Swedish household in the same predicament, with whom he made a considerable capture of booty in a forest from some Polish nobleman who had taken refuge there. One day, soon after, he rescued a young lady from the hands of some Finlanders who were treating her indecently. Being afraid of the consequences, as the Finlanders belonged to the Swedish army, and to deprive them, who were fellow soldiers in the same service, of their prisoner or booty, might be a military offence, he made a long circuit, and came at last to an estate belonging to a relative of the lady, of the name of Koitzi, who politely requested she might be given up to him, which Gordon complied with, declining the ten ducats which Koitzi offered him; he also sent next day to young lady some female apparel of which there was a good stock among the booty he had taken in the forest. On rejoining his corps, he and one James Elphinstone, with a single attendant, made a foray, and gained a considerable booty of horses. Gordon made a present of two to Captain Meldrum, and gave away others to his friends. Field Marshal Douglas being ordered to Sweden, where an attack from the Danes was apprehended, and his Scotch troop not being allowed to accompany him, considerable discontent arose among the ill-paid mercenaries. The Swedish army was on its retreat, and the imperial army pursued them in force. Gordon and many others of the Scotch troop were made prisoners. The impe


rialists endeavoured to persuade them to take service under the Emperor, when the time had elapsed within which their engagements with the Swedes were at an end if they were not exchanged, and represented to them that, in the Swedish service, they were fighting for the ally of the traitor Cromwell, and against their lawful sovereign, King Charles. Gordon, however, and some others, remained firmly by their Swedish engagement. He escaped from prison, and after some dangerous adventures, rejoined his troop, but being tired of this Scotch corps, he took his discharge from it, and joined the Swedish regiment of Colonel Anderson in 1658, with the rank of ensign. The year passed in petty skirmishes, and in November Gordon was again taken prisoner by the Poles. He resolved at last to enter the Polish service, for,' said he, ⚫ with the Swedes the soldier is in danger of being starved to 'death from hunger.' He was appointed quartermaster, and was soon promoted to the rank of captain-lieutenant. During his service in Colonel Anderson's Swedish regiment, it appears that the colonel would not receive Gordon as an ensign, because he had not brought with him the number of recruits to entitle him to that commission, and Gordon, having his appointment from the Commander-in-chief, was considered a kind of supernumerary or unattached officer. He, and a lieutenant Montgomery who was in the same position, obtained leave from the Field Marshal to act in the meantime against the enemy as they pleased. They were so successful that Gordon acquired great booty and reputation; and when any prisoners were brought in, or any successful foray made, the credit was given to the Scotch. By his exchange of the Swedish for the Polish service, Gordon appears not to have lost the opportunity nor the national propensity to make money in a canny way. The Polish troops, instead of receiving pay and rations, were quartered on districts of the country and marched from village to village in it, the nobles and inhabitants having to subsist them. Extortion and plunder became, under this system of supporting troops, the common and almost legalised mode of subsistence in military life. Gordon was sent with a detachment of six dragoons to protect some villages from unauthorised pillage. He was for six weeks on an estate, which he protected by riding out several miles to meet any troops on their march towards it, and leading them past it, in fact leading them astray, and for every such ride he was paid from twenty to thirty florins, and on his departure, the steward, by order of the nobleman to whom the estate belonged, presented him with 100 gulden and a Turkish horse, old, but of good appearance. A


new uniform, two horses, a carriage, and two servants, all acquired in six weeks' service on an out-post, seem to prove that Quartermaster Gordon had not been slow in learning both how to make and how to spend money.


In 1660, the Sultan Nuradin of the Crimea, or more properly of the Crim-Tartars, whose territories extended beyond the Crimea to the countries on the Bug, the Don, and around the Sea of Asof, joined the Poles with 40,000 men, and several battles were fought, in which Gordon distinguished himself, between the Poles and their allies, the Tartars, on one side, and the Russians, aided by the Cossacks, on the other. The Russians were signally defeated in a great battle at Czudno, and their commander Scheremetof was obliged to conclude a treaty, or rather articles of a total surrender, in November 1660. The Russians had to deliver all their weapons, cannon, ammunition, and colours to the allied Poles and Tartars, and only 100 men, besides the officers, were allowed to retain their All Russian garrisons in the towns of the Ukraine had to be withdrawn, and Russia renounced all claims to them and to the whole Ukraine. The Russians were to pay 600,000 rixdollars to the Tartars. What remained of the Cossacks were to be delivered to the Poles. The Russian General Scheremet of and eight of the principal commanders were to remain as hostages with the Poles, until the two articles of the payment to the Tartars, and the evacuation of the Ukraine were fulfilled. Two hundred Russian officers were to be retained by the Poles until the garrisons of Kiew, Neschin, Czernischow, and Periaslow were withdrawn. Foreign officers in the Russian service who might choose to take service with the Poles, were to have their wives, children, and property sent to them from Russia. Hard conditions these, yet they were not kept by the conquerors, for the Tartars not only carried away the Cossacks into slavery, but, breaking into the Polish camp, carried off many of the Russians who were there as prisoners of war. A friend of Gordon, a lieutenant-colonel Menzies, then in the Russian service, was rescued in this affair by Lord Henry Gordon, Marquis of Huntly, but died of his Wounds. The incidents of this strange and romantic narrative are especially interesting to Scotch readers, as the actors in many of them were scions of the families of nobility and gentry still flourishing in Scotland. It is a curious illustration of the stability of our social state in this country that the parent stocks remain, and very generally in the same. localities and circumstances, while the numerous offshoots in



foreign lands, in Sweden, Poland, Austria, and Russia, although attaining often very high positions, have in very few instances taken root and established families now remaining in those countries. Of eight or ten Gordons whom General Patrick Gordon's successful career in Russia had brought into the Russian service, and who had settled and married in that country in the 17th century, the German editors could hear of only one of the name, an obscure clerk in some department of the Admiralty, whose widow they found in possession of two of the manuscript volumes of the Diary.


When Gordon heard of the Restoration of Charles II. in England, he became anxious to return home, in hopes that he should obtain employment in his native country. applied for his discharge from the Polish service, but the General advised him to remain until the winter was over, as he would not at that season find any vessel bound for Scotland, and he would only be spending his money uselessly in the expense of living. Gordon gratefully adopted this advice.

His father soon afterwards wrote to him that the army at home was being reduced, that the commands in it were bestowed on those who had suffered most in the royal cause, and that to live in Scotland, without employment, required considerable fortune. Gordon was sorry now that he had applied for his discharge, as the application might stand in the way of his advancement in the Polish service. After much hesitation, he determined to enter into the Russian service, having many acquaintances and friends among the superior officers of the Russian army taken prisoners at Czudno, and among others was his countryman and friend, Colonel Crawfurd, who had commanded a regiment in that service at the battle. He made an agreement with the Russian ambassador at Warsaw, to serve as major in the Russian army, and, after two years, to be promoted to a colonelcy; and, in September 1661, he proceeded to Moscow with Colonel Crawfurd and Paul Menzies, having been appointed to the majority of Crawfurd's regiment. Menzies was made a captain, and William Hay a lieutenant, in the same regiment. Seven hundred men, deserters from different regiments, were placed under Gordon's command, and he drilled them twice a day in the use of arms. About thirty officers, mostly Scotch, joined the regiment. He gives the names of Walter Airth, William Guild, George Keith, Andrew Burnet, Andrew Calderwood, Robert Stewart, and of many other Scotchmen, in the course of his Diary, who were in the Russian service.

In the diary of this year, 1661, Gordon makes many sound

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »