Of the King’s Strength and Wars.
It remains now that I speak a little of the King’s Military Affairs. His Power consists, in the natural Strength of his Countrey, in his Watches, and in the Craft, more than the Courage, of his Soldiers.
He hath no Artificial Forts or Castles, but Nature hath supplied the want of them. For his whole Countrey of Cande Uda, standing upon such high Hills, and those so difficult to pass, is all an Impregnable Fort: and so is more especially Digligy-neur his present Palace. These Places have been already described at large; and therefore I omit speaking any further of them here.
There are constant Watches set in convenient places in all parts of the Countrey, and Thorn-gates: but in time of danger, besides the ordinary Watches, in all Towns, and in all places and in every cross Road, exceeding thick, that ’tis not possible for any to pass unobserved. These Thorn-gates which I here mention and have done before, are made of a sort of Thorn-bush or Thorn-tree, each stick or branch whereof thrusts out on all sides round about, sharp prickles, like Iron Nails, of three or four inches long: one of these very Thorns I have lately seen in the Repository at Gresham College: These sticks or branches being as big as a good Cane, are platted one very close to another, and so being fastned and tyed to three or four upright spars, are made in the fashion of a Door. This is hung upon a Door-case some ten or twelve foot high, (so that they may, and do ride thro upon Elephants) made of three pieces of Timber like a Gallows, after this manner the Thorn door hanging upon the transverse piece like a Shop window; and so they lift it up, or clap it down, as there is occasion: and tye it with a Rope to a cross Bar
But especially in all Roads and Passages from the City where the King now Inhabits, are very strict Watches set: which will suffer none to pass not having a Passport: which is the print of a Seal in clay: It is given at the Court to them that have Licence to go thro the Watches. The Seals are different, according to the Profession of the Party: as to a Soldier the print of a man with a Pike on his Shoulder: to a Labourer, a Man with two Bags hanging on each end of a Pole upon his Shoulder, which is the manner they commonly carry their Loads. And to a white man, the Passport is the print of a Man with a Sword by his side, and a Hat on his head. And so many Men as there are in the Company, so many prints there must be in the Clay. There is not half the examination for those that come into the City, as for those that go out, whom they usually search to see what they carry with them.
To speak now of their Soldiery, their Expeditions and manner of Fight. Besides the Dissauvas, spoken of before, who are great Generals, there are other great Captains. As those they call Mote-Ralls; as much as to say, Scribes. Because they keep the Rolls or Registers of certain Companies of Soldiers, each containing 970 Men, who are under their Command. Of these Mote-Ralls, there are four principal. But besides these, there are smaller Commanders over Soldiers; who have their Places from the King, and are not under the Command of the former great ones.
All these both Commanders and common Soldiers must wait at the Court. But with this difference. The great Men must do it continually: each one having his particular Watch appointed by the King. But the private Soldiers take their turns of Watching. And when they go, they do carry all their Provisions for the time of their stay with them upon their Backs. These Soldiers are not listed, (listing Soldiers being only upon extraordinary occasions) but are by Succession the Son after the Father. For which Service they injoy certain Lands and Inheritances, which is instead of Wages or Pay. This duty if they omit or neglect they loose or forfeit their Inheritance. Or if they please to be released or discharged, they may, parting with their Land. And then their Commander placeth another in their room; but so long as the Land lies void, he converts the Profits to his own proper use. And he that after takes it, gives a Bribe to the Commander, who yet notwithstanding will not permit him to hold it above two or three years, unless he renew his Bribes.
The Soldiers of the High Lands called Cande Uda, are dispersed all over the Land; so that one scarcely knows the other, the King not suffering many Neighbours and Townsmen to be in one Company; which hath always heretofore been so ordered for fear of Conspiracies.
When the King sends any of these Commanders with their Armies abroad to War or otherwise, sometimes they see not his face, but he sends out their Orders to them by a Messenger; sometimes admits them into his Presence, and gives them their Orders with his own mouth, but nothing in Writing. And when several of them are sent together upon any Design, there is not any one appointed to be Chief Commander or General over the whole Army; but each one as being Chief over his own Men, disposeth and ordereth them according to his pleasure; the others do the like. Which sometimes begets disagreement among themselves, and by that means their Designs are frustrated. Neither doth he like or approve, that the great Commanders of his Soldiers should be very intimate or good Friends, lest they should conspire against him, nor will he allow them to disagree in such a degree that it be publickly known and observed.
And when there is any tidings to send the King, they do not send in general together by consent, but each one sends particularly by himself. And there common custom and practice is to inform what they can one against another, thinking thereby to obtain the most favour and good will from the King. By this means there can nothing, be done or said, but he hath notice thereof.
Being in this manner sent forth, they dare not return, altho they have performed and finished the Business they were sent upon, until he send a special Order and Command to recall them.
When the Armies are sent abroad, as he doth send them very often against the Dutch, it goeth very hard with the Soldiers; who must carry their victuals and Pots to dress it in upon their Backs, besides their Arms, which are Swords, Pikes, Bows and Arrows, and good Guns. As for Tents, for their Armies alwayes ly in the Fields, they carry Tallipat leaves, which are very light and convenient, along with them. With these they make their Tents: Fixing sticks into the ground, and laying other pieces of Wood overthwart, after the manner of the roof of an House, and so lay their leaves overall, to shoot the Rains off. Making these Tents stronger or slighter, according to the time of their tarriance. And having spent what Provisions they carried out with them, they go home to fetch more. So that after a Month or two a great part of the Army is always absent.
Whensoever the King sends his Armies abroad upon any Expedition, the Watches beyond them are all secured immediately, to prevent any from passing to carry Intelligence to the Enemy. The Soldiers themselves do not know the Design they are sent upon, until they come there. None can know his intentions or meaning by his actions. For sometimes he sends Commanders with their Soldiers to ly in certain places in the Woods until farther order, or until he send Ammunition to them. And perhaps when they have laid there long enough, he sends for them back again. And after this manner oftentimes he catches the Hollanders before they be aware, to their great prejudice and dammage. He cares not that his great Men should be free-spirited or Valiant; if there be any better than the rest, them to be sure suddenly he cuts off, lest they might do him any mischief.
In their War there is but little valour used, altho they do accomplish many notable Exploits. For all they do is by crafty Stratagems. They will never meet their Enemies in the Field, to give them a repulse by Battel, and force of Arms: neither is the Enemy like to meet with any opposition at their first goings out to invade the King’s Coasts, the King’s Soldiers knowing the adverse Forces are at first wary and vigilant, as also well provided with all Necessaries. But their usual practice is to way lay them, and stop up the wayes before them: there being convenient places in all the Roads, which they have contrived for such purposes. And at these places the Woods are not suffered to be felled, but kept to shelter them from the fight of their enemies. Here they lye lurking, and plant their Guns between the Rocks and Trees, with which they do great damage to their Enemies before they are aware. Nor can they then suddenly rush in upon them, being so well guarded with Bushes and Rocks before them, thro which before their Enemies can get, they flee carrying their great Guns upon their Shoulders and are gone into the Woods, where it is impossible to find them, until they come them selves to meet them after the former manner.
Likewise they prepare against the enemies coming great bushy Trees, having them ready cut hanging only by withs which grow in the Wood; these as they march along they let fall among them with many shot and Arrows.
Being sent upon any design they are very circumspect to keep it hidden from the Enemies knowledg; by suffering only those to pass, who may make for their Benefit and advantage; their great endeavour being to take their Enemies unprovided and at unawares.
By the long wars first between them and the Portugueze, and since with the Hollander, they have had such ample experience, as hath much improved them in the art of War above what they were formerly. And many of the chief Commanders and Leaders of their Armies are men which formerly served the Portugueze against them. By which they come to know the disposition and discipline of Christian Armies. Insomuch as they have given the Dutch several overthrows, and taken Forts from them, which they had up in the Countrey.
Heretofore for bringing the head of an Enemy, the King used to gratify them with some reward, but now the fashion is almost out of use. The ordering of their battel is with great security, there being very few lost in Fight. For if they be not almost sure to win the battel, they had rather not fight, than run any hazzard of loosing it.
If his men do not successfully accomplish the design he sends them upon, to be sure they shall have a lusty piece of work given them, to take revenge on them; for not using their weapons well he will exercise them with other tools houghs and pickaxes, about his Palace. And during the time they stay to work, they must bring their Victuals with them not having monies there to buy: They cannot carry for above one month, and when their Provisions are all spent, if they will have any more, they must go home and fetch them. But that is not permitted them without giving a Fee to the Governour or his Overseer. Neither can they go without his leave, for besides the punishment, the Watches which are in every Road from the Kings City will stop and seize them.