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squire and the man-at-arms one shilling, and the archer sixpence. A short seventy years since Crecy had sufficed to double the archer's wages; but four centuries were to pass away before they should be doubled again.
At sea there was no less activity than ashore. Not a ship of twenty tons burden and upwards in all the ports, even to Newcastleon-Tyne, but had been seized by the King's orders and impressed for the King's service. Emissaries had been for weeks in Holland, hiring vessels; and the clumsy, heavy-sterned tubs were passing over in fleets to the English coast. Moreover, selected masters were searching every hole and corner for mariners to man these transport-ships. In the North there was activity in guarding the marches, for England had never fought a war yet, but the Scotch seized the moment to cross the border; but in the South all were preparing for an expedition beyond sea. The tomb of tall King Edward was still bright in the Abbey, the arms of the Black Prince not yet worn to blackness over his monument at Canterbury; and now another king, conscious of great military talent and thirsting for military fame, was about to essay the task of the conquest of France.
One difficulty alone stood in his way-a deficiency of cash. For, in spite of the generosity of Parliament, money had fallen short, and the King was obliged to appeal to all loyal subjects for an advance, offering such security as would, with the grace of God,' content them. The divine grace apparently was lacking, for, though a few comfortable sums were contributed, the appeal was a failure. The case was desperate, for the King had already advanced one quarter's pay to his retinue, and had promised them another on the day of embarkation; and it would have been sad waste if the first instalment had been thrown away to no purpose. But the retinue cared little for that. The promise had been made, and the King's word was doubtless good; but unless the second instalment were paid, or good security given for payment, not a man, even the humblest of them, would embark. So the Crown jewels were broken up and pawned, and a 'paxbrede enamelled white, and a crucifix with an image of the blessed Mary and St. John the Evangelist,' went among other articles in part payment for six lances and eighteen archers. One creditor actually received a fragment of the Holy Coat in satisfaction of his demands. Thus the sinews of war were braced; and after some further delay through internal troubles the day of rendezvous was
fixed, and all men were ordered to be at Southampton within three days of July 29.
Then began the work of embarkation at Southampton and the neighbouring havens. Not a chronicler has vouchsafed us a word as to the scene, so we must conjure up each for ourselves what picture we may. Three hundred and forty ships lay in Southampton water alone, and we must imagine as we can the groups around the banners of the knights, the squires painfully solicitous for the precious armour that was committed to their keeping, the men-at-arms not less anxious in looking after their own, the archer, with the red cross of St. George conspicuous across his chest, tenderly nursing his long yew bow, the jostling of the sailors, the chatter of the townsfolk, and the angry neighing of the Spanish war-horses. Thirty thousand men, combatant and not combatant, and several thousand horses were to be got on boarda formidable task even in these days. At last, on August 10, the King came down and embarked on the Trinity Royal. The sailors flew aloft and loosed the mainsail, and, at the signal, ships of all shapes and sizes came swarming out of the other havens by scores and by hundreds. Next day the whole flotilla, not less, it is reckoned, than fifteen hundred sail, steered southward with a fair wind for the mouth of the Seine. Old men and women and children on the shore stood watching till the sails were but tiny points on the horizon; Hampshire yeomen on the fleet strained their eyes for a last glimpse of the Needles; and the first act of a great campaign was begun.
For two whole days the Channel claimed its tribute from thirty thousand landsmen, for the fairest of weather could not but have been trying to such small craft. Yet there seems to have been no very serious loss, either of men or of horses, and the arrangements of 1415 shine by comparison with those for the Irish war of 1689. Still there must have been joy among the thirty thousand when, on the evening of August 13, the transports anchored before Harfleur. A few officers were landed that night and sent forward to reconnoitre, and next day the disembarkation, which even a small body of defending troops might have rendered extremely difficult, was effected without resistance.
Then came the work of landing the stores, and of organising the army for service. The force was divided, according to rule and precedent, into three divisions, called vanguard, battle, and rearguard; which in action took their place as first, second, and third
line respectively. Each consisted partly of archers and partly of men-at-arms-of infantry, that is to say, and of cavalry; and the distribution of the different corps had no doubt been arranged before the flotilla sailed from England. But, over and above this, ! there was a new departure in an English army, a great train of the best and newest artillery, including several choice pieces known by such pet names as the 'London' and the 'King's Daughter,' which had been imported by Henry from Germany, and were now landed, doubtless amid loud expressions of astonishment from the whole army, under the superintendence of four German gunners.
Then the articles of war were issued, being the same which had been drawn up by Richard II. in 1386, and, what was far more to the mind of Henry, had been inspired by the spirit of the Black Prince. We need mention only the first article, which is headed Obeysaunce': 'That all manner of men, of whatsoever nation, estate, and condition he be, be obedient to our Sovereign Lord the King, and to his constable and marshal.'1 An army needs few rules, if any, besides this, provided that it be enforced; and Henry, as we shall presently see, was not the man to suffer it to be ignored.
It speaks volumes for the discipline of the army and for Henry's talent for organisation that on August 17, only three days after disembarkation, he was able to move his force up to Harfleur, and two days later to invest it completely. Then came five weeks of such a siege as has rarely been witnessed. For the old art of war was dying and the new art just coming to birth, so that the instruments of both were strangely mingled together. Quaint engines, which might have been used by the Romans, played their old part in slinging stones into one quarter of the town, while a little way off the German gunner stood over his cannon with powder-scale and ladle and rammer, using villainous saltpetre and a metal tube to accomplish exactly the same result. Here a wooden tower rose high above the walls, and rival archers exchanged showers of arrows; there the spade was diligently and scientifically at work, and the siege was pushed by sap and mine and countermine. The French garrison was weak, but made a gallant resistance, and it soon found a most effective and terrible ally. Dysentery, the scourge of armies, as Napoleon called it, raged with awful fury in the trenches, and
These two officers corresponded, roughly speaking, to the Adjutant and Quarter-master General.
presently spread from besiegers to besieged. Still both parties stuck vigorously to their work, and it was not until September 19 that the garrison sent a message to the King, begging him that he would make his gunners cease, for the fire was intolerable. Three days later the capitulation was signed, and Harfleur received an English garrison. It was the first town that the English had reduced by the fire of cannon.
But Henry was by no means satisfied. His losses through sickness had been appalling; quite two-thirds of his force had melted away, dead or invalided; the season for campaigning was far advanced; but he had no intention of sailing back to England from Harfleur. He would be called coward, he said, if he did so; and he would march across France to Calais and embark there. His real motive beyond all doubt was emulation of the two great Plantagenet soldiers. Edward III. had marched aimlessly through France, from the Seine to the Somme, and had won Crecy; the Black Prince had made a wild raid from the Dordogne to the Loire and had fought Poitiers on his way back; and Henry too meant to make his march through France and fight such another action as they had fought. So he reorganised the remnants of his force into a flying column of ten thousand men, collected provisions for eight days, parked his precious waggons in Harfleur, set all that he meant to take with him on packhorses, and marched away northward along the coast for Calais (October 8).
Meanwhile the French, disorganised though they were through the insanity of their king, Charles VI., began to bestir themselves, and collected an army of 60,000 men, 14,000 of them men-at-arms, together with several thousand archers and crossbowmen. Their simplest plan for barring Henry's march was to hold the line of the Somme, as Philip VI. had attempted to hold it against King Edward III. Henry was prepared for this; it was quite in accordance with precedent; and he too would follow the precedent of his great ancestor and cross the Somme as Edward had crossed it, low down by the tidal ford of Blanche Tache. But his advanced parties came back from reconnaissance with the intelligence that the ford was impracticable and the passage strongly beset on both sides of the river. Henry swung sharp round to the eastward and made a dash at Pont de Rémy to secure the passage there. He was repulsed. He moved further up the river to Hangst and tried to cross there, still further up to
St. Audemar and tried to cross there; all was in vain. Every bridge was broken down, and every crossing-place was held in force. It was plain that he was more effectually entrapped even than his great predecessor.
The eight days for which supplies had been provided were now past, and the situation of the English became most critical. The hare-brained expedition in quest of glory had turned to a very serious matter, and it behoved Henry to pluck himself out of the difficulty if he could. Retreat he would not; force the passage of the Somme he could not; but it was still possible by forced marches to outstrip the French and pass round their flank, and even if necessary to turn the head-waters of the Somme. He took his decision at once, and marched with all speed up the river past Amiens to Nesle. Here, to his joy, he learned from a countryman of a ford, the access to which lay across a morass. Two causeways that provided a footing over the morass had been broken down by the French, but these could be easily repaired. Houses in the neighbourhood were pulled down to provide material, and what with straw, wood, faggots and rubbish, the causeways were restored sufficiently to admit the passage of three horsemen abreast. All was conducted in the most perfect order, and the King himself was indefatigable in the work. He took personal charge of one end of the causeways and appointed special officers to attend to the other. Then the baggage passed along one path, and the men along the other; and morass and river were successfully traversed between eight in the morning and an hour before dusk of an October day.
But now, for some unexplained reason, the French, who were lying in force at Peronne, retreated towards the north-west; sending, however, a challenge to Henry to fix time and place for a pitched battle. 'I am marching straight to Calais through open country,' he replied. You will have no difficulty in finding me;' and he continued his advance. At Peronne he struck the line of the French march and looked for an immediate engagement (October 20). The force moved in order of battle, every man fully armed and ready for action; while the archers, by Henry's order, carried stakes, eleven feet long and pointed at both ends, to make them defence against cavalry. To his surprise no enemy appeared, and Henry was presently able to spread his force along a wider front, with the advantage alike of obtaining better supply of victuals and surer information of the opposing host.