380, 2

MONRO was a soldier of fortune. He had seen heavy action in Breitenfeld (Ger., Eng.) and  was part of the marching Kolonne which made its way from Leipzig through the Thuringian forrest, via Schmalkalden (Ger., Eng.), Neustadt (Saale) (Ger., Eng.), Münnerstadt (Ger., Eng.), Gemünden (Ger., Eng.), Karlstadt (Ger., Eng.), where they reached the valley of the Main river. While they advanced towards Würzburg king GUSTAV had taken the city by accord, but the fortress  (Ger., Eng.) was another affaire. King GUSTAV had only two possibilities: Take the fortress as fast as possible or stop the whole action. TILLY was reported not only to collect troops, but to advance through the Main valley, thus appearing in the back of the king’s army, only in three days marching distance.
The defenders had taken out an arch of the Alte Mainbrücke (Ger. only), only a plank was put over the gap. GUSTAV ordered the highlanders to attack, die Obersten  RAMSEY and HAMILTON should solve the problem. In the end they engaged the enemy at the bridge in a gunfight while they crossed the river in small boats, establishing a small bridge-head. When this had happened the troops run one by one over the plank and fierce fighting broke loose. RAMSEY received a shot in the left arm and HAMILTON took over. They swept the enemy literally out of the way, up the hill and into the fortress, but could not take the fortress itself. For the coming night the king ordered Swedish and German troops to attack and they found the weak spot, coming over the top of the wall and taking the whole place in one fierce and brutal attack taking no prisoners. This happened on the 18th of October 1631.
Some days later MONRO was billeted in Würzburg when the king ordered him to come down on the street. TILLY finally advanced and GUSTAV felt the need to take Ochsenfurt (Ger., Eng.) in possession, a small town up the river important because of a ford and a bridge. He took MONRO and his musketeers, riders and the necessary forces and they started the march to Ochsenfurt in the middle of the night. Arriving in the town in the early morning they realised that enemy forces were already in the area. Later in the day MONRO and his musketeers fought the enemy back under the king’s eyes. They put the town in fighting order as well as they could and stayed there until TILLY’s forces withdraw into the Oberpfalz.
The Scottish Oberst Robert MONRO ( Eng.) comes from the family Monro of Obsdale, a branch of the Monro of Foulis from Rossshire in Scotland. The date and place of his birth are unknown, as are the date of his death and his grave today. His father George died 1589, so Robert may be born in the 1580s, he may have died in the 1670s. Sir John HEPBURN (Ger., Eng.) calls MONRO a friend from school, so he may have attended St.Leonard’s College (Eng.) in St.Andrews. Together with HEPBURN he travels to Paris in 1615 and serves in the guard of Ludwig XIII (Ger., Eng.). 1626 he joins the Scottish regiment Mackay together with his brother John and his cousin Robert (Eng.), called the Black Baron, the 18th chief of the Monro clan. He will serve in Breitenfeld under his cousin’s command. The Scots first fought for CHRISTIAN of Denmark (Ger., Eng.) against the Emperor until they become demitted after the peace of Lübeck 1629 (Ger., Eng.). MONRO together with 1.400 men of the Mackay regiment enters the service for the Swedish king GUSTAV that year. They are first stationed in Eastern Prussia but see action in Rügenwalde, Frankfurt (Oder) and Breitenfeld, where he helps to secure the kings victory together with HEPBURN. The following Swedish triumphal procession leads him via Würzburg to Frankfurt (Main) up to the Mosel river. He can be found in the surroundings of the king, finally commanding the king’s Scottish guard (Leibgarde), taking accommodation together with GUSTAV in the residence in München. MONRO does not take part in the battle of Lützen (Ger., Eng.), where GUTAV dies in November 1632 – he is left behind in Bavaria with the Scots, still fighting onwards. He finally returns to Britain in 1637, soldiering on; retired since the mid 1650s, he lives quietly on  his estate in Comber, Northern Ireland (Ger., Eng.) until his death maybe 1680. The house he lived in is nearly totally destroyed today, his grave in The Old Priory of Newtownards (Eng.) is lost. The graves of his brother John in Bacharach and his cousin Robert in Ulm also vanished, no portrait of the old warhorse survived, his book does.

21 thoughts on “380, 2

  1. What an amazing amount of information to still exist about someone-or is it two seperate someones?- who lived so long ago. I like to think of you gathering the information for this post, poring over ancient leather bound tomes by candlelight in your velvet cloak, and lace collar, writing with a quill, a lackey or two scattered about the place….

  2. RAINE!

    It’s about one person, FN, saied Robert Monro. An edition of his book about his years in the German war from 1626 to 1634 can be found here (for a stunning hundred Euro! I always forget how expensive books are nowadays.). I poured another one while working meself through copies and the web in my torn jeans and holey t-shirt alone. BTW I ask myself seriously whether I will make an application as butler for The Queen, serving as lackey is not the worst – and as Volkskundler (something with culturra, you know) I am pretty used to a serving role. AND I could dwell in London town for free!

  3. It is amazing to think back to a time when ‘soldiers of fortune’ from one country would be fighting in the War of another… and yet I guess it is no different to what we would call ‘mercenaries’ today. Two very different terms.

  4. In the 80s a magzine “Soldier of Fortune” existed, Joanna, where people offered their services and private companies had advertisements. Wonder whether it’s still published, but I doubt.
    There were between 40 and 50 Monros serving in different units throughout the Thirty Years War, I think most of them on protestant side. But other Scots, namely the two executioners of Wallenstein, served on the side of the Emperor. They all stood in a personal relation to the one, whose side they took, had a personal contract, it is still the medieval type of personal relation between f.e. the king and an officer leading a unit, based on loyality – it’s all well before national states developed in central Europe. The deepfelt loyality Monro feels for king Gustav is a real and serious feeling.
    And of course one can – as Mackay did – have a regiment of one’s own: It needs a pretty big investion at the start for the necessary equipment, accomodation and cash (Handgeld), but it can be a good investment. I think Mackay’s regiment consisted of 12 Kompanien, a Kompanie with 126 men (remember the 1.400 men that were abgedankt by Christian of Denmark and joined the Swedish army). In the beginning the regiment is divided and Monro leads three Kompanien in the Northern campaigns before 1631. He becomes a Oberst, promoted by king Gustav, in 1632. Of course others did this on a smaller scale – and Monro describes that such enterprises collapsed with the death or serious wound of the officer. The loss generally was harsh, after the battle of Nördlingen 1634 one single Kompanie of Scots was left. The killer was not so much bullets bombs and grenades, but tetanus and blood poisening.
    Monro btw speaks on various occasions against looting ciivilians, farmers and citizens, and keeps discipline among his troops. He mentions that a high rank extorted a large amount of cash from various cities while they advanced towards Würzburg – sinking it completely in the own pocket, “giving no part to those, who did the work for him”. So he basically is not opposed to receiving money from besieged or won over cities or institutions, or so called salve guardia money, but it should be divided among the participants and everyone should get his fair share.
    I think Monro choose the military profession to seek adventure and fortune, he rose through the ranks and had a good career, with the necessary piece of luck, fortune, and he wanted to come through all this as honourable as possible.

  5. All that history but I want current info, did you have your birthday celebration? Happy Birthday Mago. History —I have been a widow for 45 years as of the 5th.

  6. Thank you, dear Joyce, yes I had my birthday some days ago. What can I say Joyce … let me give you a hug.

    Mhmh, nothing to get excited about, MsScarlet – glad to see you back from the dreaded dentist! Is it over now or have you one last go?

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