History is something that we must learn from and the lessons we should embrace are given to us enmasse. I was watching a cool history video on the Battle of Fraustadt, presented in the Sabaton History YouTube channel. (Yes, I like power metal and history. Two thrills in one).
It was interesting to hear who was involved and how one army suckered the other army into chasing them. They set into motion a battle that made an awesome backdrop for beautiful artwork. It involved a moderate number of soldiers from a few different geographical areas. And yes, it involved one of my favorite historical leaders; Charles XII or Carolus Rex.
The armies lined up for battle. Cannon, muskets, cavalry, men in the cold. The Swedish had the territorial advantage. The Swedish didn’t have the numbers that the Saxon/Polish/Russian side did. I left out how all of the people involved got there but that is for a different lesson. It isn’t the size of the dogs in the fight but the bite of those dogs. And yes, the Swedish bit hard and fast.
The Swedish flanked on both sides and went to proverbial time. The fleeing troops were caught by swift movements. The cavalry and infantry surrounded the combined forces. The Saxons ended up surrendering after a short fight, many had been set upon panic.
The Swedes had used the Saxon’s weapons against them. The Saxons had surrendered. The irony is that a commonly known even handed set of soldiers accepted the surrender of thousands. But the rub lies in the several hundred of Russian soldiers were executed.
The arguments were made that the Russians had tried to turn their uniforms inside out, disguising themselves as another army’s troops. I had read somewhere that the other side, noticing the Swedes lacked the numbers and artillery, had boasted that quarter need not be given. Every side had been in conflict and everyone had an ax to grind.
In our modern times, we had been given guidelines amongst inviolate rules on how to be soldiers and conduct ourselves. It was to fight with a sense of propriety and not enflame the opposition to the point that they know not when to stop, encouraging the worst in humanity. But I have times that deviate from what a gentleman normally prescribes.
I think it was proper for the Swedes to execute the Russians. It was often cowardly in appearance for a soldier to change uniforms, such as it looked cowardly for a supposed soldier to throw his weapon down and run in surrender in his underwear. (As in the OEF conflicts in Iraq). It was considered unmanly in the 1700’s. And we have our own equivalents in our current times.
I think that it would have been merciful to dispatch a few of the marauding bandits that were caught in the civil disorder being laid forth in major cities. The supposed adults, specifically men, are far removed from the civilized set of rules that they benefitted from. And the cowardice showed through their uneven combatant actions and in limited circumstances; crying when caught (even after being given mercy at the hands of those that they attacked).
If one wants to show themselves as a soldier and commit to a Crusade, one must compose themselves as a Crusader. If not, one should never expect to be treated as one. Just as a person who wants to be treated as a gentleman or a lady, one must act as one and treat others appropriately.
To transgress earns the stern actions and one should never expect mercy, not even the weak that line up against those that can be found right.