Of all the officers who have commanded the army and enjoyed the presidency, Santa Anna has occupied the most distinguished position since the death of Iturbidé.
Dragoon sitting on his bed eating from mess-tin
Dragoon in full dress uniform 1880
A Fatigue Party of Dragoons
A Duel in the Riding School
Exercises in Riding School (vaulting)
In the Additional MS. 11,695, in the British Museum, a work of the eleventh century, there are several representations of warriors thus fully armed, very rude and coarse in drawing, but valuable for the clearness with which they represent the military equipment of the time. At folio 194 there is a large figure of a warrior in a mail shirt, a conical helmet,[Pg 316] strengthened with iron ribs converging to the apex, the front rib extending downwards, into what is called a nasal, i.e., a piece of iron extending downwards over the nose, so as to protect the face from a sword-cut across the upper part of it.
Suppose the king and his chivalry in the following woodcut to be only summoning the castle; and suppose them, on receiving a refusal to surrender, to resolve upon an assault. They retire a few hundred yards and dismount, and put their horses under the care of a guard. Presently they return supported by a strong body of archers, who ply the mail-clad defenders with such a hail of arrows that they are driven to seek shelter behind the battlements.
The woodcut shows the style of carriage associated—grotesquely associated, it seems to our eyes—with the armour and costume of the Middle Ages. It might represent Duke Theseus going in state through the streets of Athens, hung with tapestry and cloth of gold, to the solemn deed of arms of Palamon and Arcite.
In the monumental effigy of Sir Robert Shurland, who was made a knight-banneret in 1300, we seem to have a curious and probably unique effigy of a knight in the gameson. We give a woodcut of it, reduced from Stothard’s engraving. The smaller figure of the man placed at the feet of the effigy is in the same costume, and affords us an additional example.
The accompanying drawing is perhaps one of the clearest and best contemporary illustrations we have of these mediæval galleys. It will be seen that it consists of a long low open boat, with outrigger galleries for the rowers, while the hold is left[free for merchandise, or, as in the present instance, for men-at-arms. It has a forecastle like an ordinary ship; the shields of the men-at-arms who occupy it are hung over the bulwarks; the commander stands at the stern under a pent-house covered with tapestry, bearing his shield, and holding his leader’s truncheon. A close examination of the drawing seems to show that there are two men to each oar; we know from other sources that several men were sometimes put to each oar. The difference in costume between the soldiers and the sailors is conspicuous. The former are men-at-arms in full armour—one on the forecastle is very distinctly shown; the sailors are entirely unarmed, except the man at the stroke-oar, probably an officer, who wears an ordinary hat of the period, the rest wear the hood drawn over the head. The ship in the same illustration is an ordinary ship of burden, filled with knights and men-at-arms; the trumpeters at the stern indicate that the commander of the fleet is on board this ship; he will be seen amidships, with his visor raised and his face towards the spectator, with shield on arm and truncheon in hand.
Saxon freemen seem to have universally borne arms. Tacitus tells us of their German ancestors, that swords were rare among them, and the majority did not use lances, but that spears, with a narrow, sharp and short head, were the common and universal weapon, used either in distant or close fight; and that even the cavalry were satisfied with a shield and one of these spears.
Saxon Soldier, in Leather Armour
Saxon Horse Soldiers
Of the quilted armours we know very little. In the illuminations is often seen armour covered over with lines arranged in a lozenge pattern, which perhaps represents garments stuffed and sewn in this commonest of all patterns of quilting; but it has been suggested that it may represent lozenged-shaped scales, of horn or metal, fastened upon the face of the garments. In the wood-cut here given from the MS. Caligula A. vii., we have one of the clearest and best extant illustrations of this quilted armour.
Saxon soldier in armour
Every castle offered hope, not only of hospitality, but also of a trial of arms; for in every castle there would be likely to be knights and squires glad of the opportunity of running a course with bated spears with a new and skilful antagonist. Here is a picture from an old MS. which represents the preliminaries of such a combat on the green between the castle walls and the moat.
Picture represents very clearly the half-armour worn by the pikeman and the weapon from which they took their name.
Next, round plates of metal, called placates or roundels, were applied to shield the armpits from a thrust; and sometimes they were used also at the elbow to protect the inner side of the joint where, for the convenience of motion, it was destitute of armour. An example of a roundel at the shoulder will be seen in one of the men-at-arms in the woodcut
The other great invention of this period was that of armorial bearings, properly so called. Devices painted upon the shield were common in classical times. They are found ordinarily on the shields in the Bayeux tapestry, and were habitually used by the Norman knights. In the Bayeux tapestry they seem to be fanciful or merely decorative; later they were symbolical or significant. But it was only towards the close of the twelfth century that each knight assumed a fixed device, which was exclusively appropriated to him, by which he was known, and which became hereditary in his family.
The cut is a spirited little sketch of a mounted knight. The horse, it may be admitted, is very like those which children draw nowadays, but it has more life in it than most of the drawings of that day; and the way in which the knight sits his horse is much more artistic. The picture shows the equipment of the knight very clearly, and it is specially valuable as an early example of horse trappings, and as an authority for the shape of the saddle, with its high pommel and croupe.
The accompanying wood-cut represents various peculiarities of the armour in use towards the close of the thirteenth century.
The picture is a mediæval representation of no less a personage than Julius Cæsar crossing the Rubicon. The foremost figure is Cæsar. He is in a complete suit of plate-armour; over his armour he wears a very curious drapery like a short tabard without sleeves; it is of a yellow brown colour, but of what material it is not possible to determine.
Illustration the sepulchral effigy in Westminster Abbey of John of Eltham, the second son of King Edward II., who died in 1334. Here we see first and lowest the hacqueton; then the hauberk of chain mail, slightly pointed in front, which was one of the fashions of the time
The man on the right of the cut wears a visored helmet, but it has no amail; his body is protected by a skirt of mail, which appears at the shoulders and hips, and at the openings of his blue surcoat; the legs are in brown hose, and the feet in brown shoes. The centre figure has a helmet and camail, sleeves of mail, and iron breastplate of overlapping plates; the upper plate and the skirt are of red spotted with gold; his hose and shoes are of dark grey. The third man has a helmet with camail, and the body protected by mail, which shows under the arm, but he has also shoulder-pieces and elbow-pieces of plate; his surcoat is yellow, and his hose red. The artist has here admirably illustrated the use of the crossbow. In one case we see the archer stringing it by help of a little winch; in the next he is taking a bolt out of the quiver at his side with which to load his weapon; in the third we have the attitude in which it was discharged.
Picture represents very clearly the half-armour worn by the Arquebusier and the weapon from which they took their name.
The illuminators are never tired of representing battles and sieges; and the general impression which we gather from them is that a mediæval combat must have presented to the lookers-on a confused melée of rushing horses and armoured men in violent action, with a forest of weapons overhead—great swords, and falchions, and axes, and spears, with pennons fluttering aloft here and there in the breeze of the combat.[Pg 376] We almost fancy we can see the dust caused by the prancing horses, and hear the clash of weapons and the hoarse war-cries, and sometimes can almost hear the shriek which bursts from the maddened horse, or the groan of the man who is wounded and helpless under the trampling hoofs.
The legend reads: “Machin, the staff officer, the terror of the soldier, doesn’t joke with the rules and regulations; has risen from the `rank` and file; a very useful individual; it’s always Machin here and Machin there, ask Machin. He terrorizes the one-year volunteers, whom he treats as young shoots (literal translation beets); an old bachelor to the core.”
The original weapon of the Chinese, which by the way seems to be the offensive arms of most savages, is the bow. It is still preferred by them to the matchlock; and the Tartars are so fond of it, that it forms an essential part of the education of the young princes of the blood. Their bows are large, and require a considerable degree of strength, as well as a peculiar knack to string them. Even the Emperor wears a ring of agate on the right thumb for the string to press against in drawing the bow, which is the weapon he uses every summer in hunting tigers and other wild beasts in the forests of Tartary.
Of the Tartar horse another specimen has been given in this work. This represents a Tartar dragoon armed with the common instruments, the bow, and a short sabre. This corps is probably of little use beyond that of carrying dispatches, and assisting in the imperial hunts in the forests of Tartary. All the cavalry that were seen by the British Embassy had a mean, irregular, and most unsoldierlike appearance.
The military of China differs, as every thing else differs, from that of all other nations, in the nature of its establishment, its occupation, and its dress. They have two distinct armies, if they may be so called; the one composed entirely of Tartars, who are stationed in the several provinces on the Tartar frontier, and occupy all the garrison towns of the empire; the other composed of Chinese, who are parcelled out in the smaller towns and hamlets to keep the peace, by acting as constables, subordinate collectors of the taxes, guards to the granaries, and assisting in various ways the civil magistrate. Along the public roads, canals and rivers, are placed, at certain intervals, small square guard-houses, at which are stationed from six to twelve men, who are employed in settling disputes upon the rivers or roads, and also in conveying the public dispatches.
The annexed figure, either from the striped dress, or the furious looking head painted on the shield, has been called a tiger of war; but he is not so fierce as he appears to be, or as the name would imply; indeed the Chinese admit that the monstrous face, on the basket-work shield, is intended to frighten the enemy, and make him run away; like another Gorgon’s head to petrify those who look upon it. This corps of infantry, in its exercise, assumes all kinds of whimsical attitudes, jumping about and tumbling over each other, like so many mountebanks.
At certain distances, more or less remote according to the nature of the country, along the roads, and the banks of the interior navigations, are placed small parties of soldiers from five or six to a dozen, and sometimes more. They are employed in conveying the public dispatches, and in assisting the magistrates to quell disturbances. The immense army of China is for the most part parcelled out in this way. Near each of these posts is a tall wooden building from whence they can see and communicate by signals with the next stations. The men till the ground, and perform other kinds of labour; but are always expected to turn out in their holiday dress when an embassador or any of their ta-zin or great men happen to pass the station, on which occasion they generally fire three little petards stuck into the ground with the muzzle upwards as a salute.
Roman Soldiers Leaving Britain
When the British began to swarm into South Carolina he raised and drilled a company of his neighbors and friends known as "Marion's Brigade." These men, without uniforms, without tents, and without pay, were among the bravest and best of the Revolutionary soldiers. Old saws beaten at the country forge furnished them with sabres, and pewter mugs and dishes supplied material for bullets. The diet of these men was simple. Marion, their leader, usually[Pg 218] ate hominy and potatoes, and drank water flavored with a little vinegar.
After his marriage with Mrs. Custis, who had large property of her own, Washington became a man of much wealth. He was at one time one of the largest landholders in America. As a manager of all this property, he had much to do. Let us delay our story a little to get a glimpse of the life led by him and other Virginia planters of his time.
As military leader Miles Standish at once became conspicuous in the life of the colony. He was born in Lancashire, England, in 1584, of a noble family, but was in some way deprived of his estates. Going to the Continent he became a valiant and daring soldier in the Netherlands. Feeling a deep interest in the cause of the Pilgrims, he joined them when they sailed for America in the Mayflower, and made their fortunes his own.
Small of stature, quick-witted, hot-tempered, and ready to brave any danger, this stout-hearted man was a fitting leader for the little Pilgrim army of something like a score of men who were obliged to defend themselves and their families against wild beasts and unfriendly Indians
German Knights (Fifteenth Century). from Drawings by Albert Durer.
Entry of the Roi de l'Epinette at Lille in the Sixteenth Century
.--From a Manuscript of the Library of Rouen.
Warrior of Java
Civic Guard of Ghent (Brotherhood of St. Sebastian)