1655] DIARY OF PATRICK GORDON. 21   and actions at home

1655] DIARY OF PATRICK GORDON. 21 and actions at home



Passages from the diary of General Patrick Gordon of Auchleuchries : A.D. 1635-A.D. 1699"


and actions at home), advanced money, for the which four regiments were
levyed in stift Bremen and Verden.

[Tlie Swedish army began its march from Stettin, upon the sixteenth of July. Crossing the J"'y ^^■
river Netz, it encamped near Posen, which ofiPered no resistance. Here Gordon had an oppor- J"'y -*•
tunity of revisiting his countrymen who had befriended him a twelvemonth before, but whose
joy on again seeing him did not appear to be immoderate. He notes more than one instance
of the extreme severity of the discipline enforced by Field-marshal Wittenberg— 'not justice,
but tyrrany,' as Gordon calls it. ' A boy of fourteen was hanged for flinging a stone at a Pole August 2. ,
who was searching the camp, under an escort, for horses which had been stolen from him. A August 7.
soldier, pursued by the reproaches of a woman, was carrying off a pot of milk from a farm
house, when the Field-marshal happened to be passing. The trooper in his terror dropped the
can, as well he might, for it was in vain that the good dame whom he had robbed begged his
life upon her knees. He was hanged upon the spot.' Gordon was told, on good authority, that
between Stettin and Konin, where the King joined the host, and rebuked this excessive rigour,
470 persons were put to death for slight offences, within little more than a month.

On the thirty-first of August, the army resumed its march, the signal being given by great August 31.
kettle-drums, each of them as large as nine or ten hogsheads. They were carried on a, broad
waggon drawn by six horses: the drummer stood behind, and the sound might be heard at a
distance of two German miles. Four or five days brought the Swedish force to Sobota, where September 3
Gordon, while foraging, encountered some personal adventures. The army rested for a day September 8,
beside a Jesuit monastery, from which the inmates had fled into Silesia. The place, having
been plundered of everything but its library, the Field-marshal sent his secretary to select some
books for his own use. Gordon was called in to assist in the task, and so had an opportunity
of providing himself with a few volumes. Three days afterwards, the rear guard, in which h^ September l:
happened to ride, was, through the imprudence of the officer in command, surprised by the
Polish cavalry, which took the (vhole body prisoners except a corporal and eight troopers, 5f
whom Gordon was one. On galloping up to the main army, they were at once taken to the
Field-marshal. That personage had a fit of the gout, and, on hearing that no more than nine
had escaped, 'wished only that the devil had taken them too.' In this affair, Gordon received
a dangerous wound under the ribs. The surgebn was unable to find the ball until the second
day ; and such was the pain for a week afterwards, that, every time the sore was dressed, the
patient fainted. But by the assiduity of the leech, and care in diet, he soon recovered.

When the Swedes came in sight of Cracow, they found the northern suburb in flames, the September 2."
Poles having set it on fire lest it should give shelter to the invaders. On the second day of the September 2(
siege, Gordon, who was sent out to reconnoitre, narrowly escaped being taken prisoner. A fort- October 10-1
night afterwards, he was engaged, under his countryman General Douglas,* in the attack and

* This successful soldier was the youngest hame, a judge of the Court of Session from
son of Patrick Douglas of Slandingstane, the 1575 to 1590. Joining the banners of Gustavns
ninth son of William Douglas of Whitting- Adolphus, along with his three brothers, Will

Gordon was brought up and remained a lifelong Roman Catholic, at a time when the Church was being persecuted in Scotland. At age of fifteen, he entered the Jesuit college at Braunsberg, East Prussia, then part of Poland. In 1661, after many years experiences as a soldier of fortune, he joined the Russian army under Tsar Aleksei I, and in 1665 was sent on a special mission to England. After his return, he distinguished himself in several wars against the Turks and Tatars in southern Russia. In recognition of his service he was promoted to major-general in 1678, was appointed to the high command at Kiev in 1679, and in 1683 was made lieutenant-general. In 1687 and 1689 he took part in expeditions against the Tatars in the Crimea, being made a full general. Later in 1689, a revolution broke out in Moscow, and with the troops under his command, Gordon virtually decided events in favor of Peter the Great against the Regent, Tsarevna Sophia Alekseyevna. Consequently, he was for the remainder of his life in high favor with the Tsar, who confided to him the command of his capital during his absence from Russia. In 1696, Gordon's design of a "moveable rampart" played a key role in helping the Russians take Azov. One of Gordon's convinced the Tsars to establish the first Roman Catholic church and school in Muscovy, of which he remained the main benefactor and headed the Catholic community in Russia until his death. For his services his second son James, brigadier of the Russian army, was created Count of the Holy Roman Empire in 1701. At the end of his life the Tsar, who had visited Gordon frequently during his illness, was with him when he died, and with his own hands closed his eyes. General Gordon left behind him a uniquely detailed diary of his life and times, written in English. This is preserved in manuscript in the Russian State Military Archive in Moscow. Passages from the Diary of General Patrick Gordon of Auchleuchries (1635–1699) was printed, under the editorship of Joseph Robertson, for the Spalding Club, at Aberdeen, Scotland, 1859.



1635 - 1699


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