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IT has been shewn how the Approaches, and the other works are to be made, as far as the third Parallel, without mentioning any other obstruction from the Besieged, than the fire of their Guns and small Arms; but it is to be presumed, that they will not be so remiss as to suffer themselves to be thus streighten’d without making use of all the means in their power to prevent it, and to prolong the Siege. And as Sallies are one of the principal, they will not fail to attempt them, and endeavour to destroy the Trenches as often as they possibly can. It will not be improper therefore, to shew how to prevent the effects of them, and even to render them, if possible, advantagious to the Besiegers.
As the garrison is but small in comparison to the Army of the Besiegers, the Trenches are, or ought to be so well guarded, as to be able not only to resist any Sally, even though composed of the whole garrison, but also to repulse them with the utmost vigour, and a considerable loss; a Sally therefore never succeds but by surprize; so that if the Besiegers are upon their guard, especially when the head of the work is at some distance from the place, it will hardly be possible for the Besieged to undertake any thing against the Trenches. But should they be so inconsiderate as to Sally out, notwithstanding that the Besiegers are apprised of it, it will undoubtedly turn to their great disadvantage and confusion. The intent of Sallies is to fall upon and destroy a part of the Approaches not quite finished, or not well supported, to nail up the Guns upon the Batteries, or to surprize a part of the guard in the Trenches; for which reason special care must be taken to watch and look out so well, that the enemy may not approach unperceived; and as soon as they are heard or seen, the workmen at the head of the Trenches are ordered to retire, and notice is given to the guard both in the Parallel, and in the Approaches, to be ready to receive them with a smart fire, which being well executed, will not fail of putting them in confusion, and then they must be immediately charged both in front and flank, taking care however not to pursue them too far, for fear of the fire from the covert-way, and other outworks of the Place, as soon as the enemies are under cover; the garrison generally waiting for such an opportunity.
Notwithstanding all the care that can be taken, the private men will be remiss in their duty; and therefore, an officer, serjeant, or corporal, should continually watch over the centries, who are posted to prevent a surprize; especially in a dark or rainy night, or early in the morning when the soldiers are fatigued, and so less upon their guard; it being chiefly at those times that the enemy undertakes those Sallies.
The works become more exposed to be insulted in proportion as they approach the Town; for which reason no work should be undertaken without being well supported, and for that purpose, as already said, the places of Arms are made; from thence the works are maintained till such time that the third Parallel is quite finished, which will so streighten the Besieged, as not to be any longer in a condition to Sally without the utmost danger.
Sallies are never made in the daytime, but by a presumptuous enemy; for then they are easily repulsed, unless the garrison is very numerous, or the Army of the Besiegers so weak, as not to be able to furnish a sufficient guard for the Trenches; in such cases a General ought to consider whether he is in a condition to continue the Siege.
A garrison may be in a state to insult or attac the Trenches after having received a strong reinforcement, or when the Besiegers are obliged to send a considerable part of their Army upon some other enterprize. It is then at the option of the General, either to continue or raise the Siege; if it appears that the Army suffers greatly without any certainty of taking the Place, he ought to retire.
But suppose that measures have been so well concerted by the General, as to prevent in all appearance the danger of being disappointed; then if parties of 10 or 12 men headed by a serjeant, are ordered to range in the night between the Trenches and the Town, to watch, and to discover the enemy, in case they come out, and give notice to the guard of the Trenches; this will defeat their design. These men must be on their faces as near the covert-way as possible, remaining in profound silence till they hear or perceive some motion, then send one of them immediately to the guard, whilst the rest continue there as long as they can be concealed, to see which way the enemy direct their course, and then retire. This may be easily executed without much danger, and will secure the Besiegers from all surprise.
When the works are advanced to the third Parallel, and before that Parallel is finished, if the enemy should then Sally out of a sudden, and fall upon the workmen, they must be ordered to retire, to let the guard fire briskly upon them, without minding the overturning a dozen or two of gabions; for the galling fire of the small Arms, will soon oblige them to retire, and then the workmen must return instantly and repair their works, which may soon be done; whereas the Besieged are not in a condition to repair their loss so quickly.
The Attac and Defence of Fortified Places · by John Muller ·
with Notes by David Manthey
ISBN 1-931468-18-4 · Copyright © 2004 by David Manthey · 6x9", 329 pages, 32 plates of figures.
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