Correspondence of the Siege - Part 1

Czestochowa,  1655  (up to November 21)

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Historical Background to the Siege

Based on material from Twierdza Jasna Gora (Jasna Gora Fortress) by Ryszard Henryk Bochenek, Bellona Publisher, 1997 (Translated by Rick Orli, (c) 2002) 

Kordieski.jpg (145180 bytes)The memoirs of  Prior Augustin Kordecki, fortress commander, were published in 1658 as Nova Gigantomacia in Carlo Monte Czestochoviensi in Latin. Prior and Commander in 1655, he was 51 years old. He wrote a faithful synthesis of the battle modeled after traditional battle reports.    Also parts are based on text from The Deluge by Henryk Sienkiewicz, Translated by W. S. Kuniczak, Published by Copernicus Society of America, copyright 1991 W.S. Kuniczak. (The book - we strongly recommend the Kuniczak translation- is available from major e-bookstores like albris, also specialty stores. 

Also, from 'Potop' (The Deluge), a wonderful movie by Jerzy Hoffman, 1976, www.poleart.com_____________________________________

"On 6 August 1655, on this grim news, a council of war was held in the monastery of Jasna Gora under the leadership of Teofil Bronowski, the Priorship of Augustine Kordecki, and garrison commander of the fortress Colonel Jan Pawl, herb Cellari. We begin the preparations of the fortified monastery of Jasna Gora for armed defense." 

"The complement of the garrison was reinforced with 160 men.  We purchased and transported from Worclaw a supply of gunpowder and 60 muskets.  We strengthened the fort with 12 heavy cannon (12 pdrs) sent to us by the Castilian of Krakow, Stanislav Warszycki.  The slopes outside of the fortress – the field of fire – was cleared.  Even the small devotional shrines and booths were cleared.  The readied fort contained 160 foote, 70 monks, 20 noble knights and retainers with their lackeys.  About 50 artillerymen serve 12-18 light cannons (from 2-6 pdrs) and twelve 12 pdrs. In total 300 defenders and 24-30 cannon." 

Augustin Kordecki 

25 September 1655.                     

Previously, the commander of the garrison of the Jasna Gora fortress, Colonel J.P. Cellari, was instructed by king Jan II Kazimier to organize a partisan brigade in the region. Fortress commandant and Prior A. Kordicki nominated for command of the garrison miecznika (swordsman) Stefan Zamojski herb Poraj, and nominated defensive responsibilities to each of the four bastions. Defense of the south-west Bastion of Saint Jacob (B1) to Piotr Czarniecki herb Lodia (the older brother of the Hetman, Stefan Czarniecki) and Adam Stypulski; south east St Barbara (BII) to Jan Skorzewski herb Ogonczyk and Daniel Rychtalski; north-west, St Rocha (BIII), to Michael Krzysztopotski herb Nowina and Ignacious Miłecki north-east St Trojcy (BIV) to Zygmunt Moszczynski herb Nalecz and Hilar Slawoszewski.   Piotr Lasote was appointed master of the armory (starszym nad arsenalem). Marcel Dobrosza and Zachary Malachowski were appointed commanders of the Watch (wart)." - -

Augustin Kordecki

czestofortdetail1.jpg (348192 bytes)

 

The Jasna Gora Fortress (click to enlarge)

 

November 5 1655                                                                    (fictional letter)

General Burchard Muller Von Der Luhnen

My Lord:

I have been amazed at the obstinacy of the Prior.  I truly believed he would see reason.  I am not alone in trying to persuade him to allow us to accept the benevolent protection of his Majesty, King Charles.  The Commonwealth’s cause has been clearly lost; it is time to put aside our differences, can’t we all just get along in peace? But no, he and that Zamojski fellow are determined to get us all killed.  And today this Babinich fellow appears, typical Szlachcic, a complete braggart and hothead – but he did bring a bag of gold and jewels as an offering that would make Midas envious.

The fort has been reinforced and is now heavily armed, as I described in last week’s letter, which also included the fortress design.  Since the news of Kracow the artillery masters have been sighting and ranging their pieces - especially the new 12 pounders - and the roar is such that they wake the dead with every trial. The effort to stock food and other supplies has been largely successful.  All women and all servants who were not prepared to fight have been moved off premises, and the Holy Image has been secreted away.   The glacis has been cleared, but some nearby buildings that clearly should have been torn down – from a strictly military point of view as they would provide an attacker cover - still stand, at the insistence of the townsmen. I include a detailed sketch of the layout of the bastions, and how the sally port opens to the outside (specifically the north-west bastion, St Rocha (BIII),).  The second sketch outlines the general construction of the walls, should a siege and cannonade be necessary (God forefend!).

Although the defenders seem in high spirits, I hope that perhaps an initial strong and decisive demonstration of your power - together with an absolute guarantee of safety - will convince the Prior to see reason. I trust that at that time you will recall my devotion. Your expected arrival is the constant source of rumor - some this morning had it that you were already inside the walls.

Your obedient servant,

‘Szczurecki’

bastiondesignS.jpg (104289 bytes)walldesign.jpg (127013 bytes)  Szczurecki’s sketches (actually an archeological study, and a sketch from a contemporary engineering and artillery manual)

5 November 1655                                                      (fictional letter adapted from Sienkiewicz's The Deluge)

To: Pan Zagloba:

My friend,

This may be the last moment I have in Peace, so permit me to unburden my soul of my thoughts.

We have a royal guarantee of the sanctity of the Holy shrine, and in truth there would seem to be logic in it – how would they gain by the desecration and robbery of a place that millions revere? Yet the rumors persist that they plan to move on us.  We have already refused the gracious offer of a Swedish garrison for our protection. 

It may be that God and His Holy mother intend to blind the enemy on purpose, so that he’s go too far in his lawlessness and rapacity.  Otherwise he’s never dare to raise his sword against this holy place.  He didn’t conquer this country by himself alone; our own people helped him.  But no matter how low our nation has fallen, or how deeply steeped in sin it might be, there is a limit to every transgression which none of our people would ever go beyond.  They turned their backs on their King and the Commonwealth but they never ceased to honor and worship their Patroness and Mother who has always been the true Queen of Poland.

 The enemy jeers at us and despises us, asking what’s left of our former virtues.  And I’ll tell him this much:  we’ve lost them all but one and that is our Faith and the honor we show to the Holy Mother, and that is the foundation on which we can reconstruct the rest.  And I see this as clearly as the light of day, that if only one Swedish cannon ball ever scars these walls, then even our most hardened traitors will desert the Swedes, rise up against them and turn their swords upon them.  Nor are the Swedes oblivious of this fact.   They understand what is at stake here… Therefore, as I’ve said, if God hasn’t blinded them by design, they’d never dare to strike at Yasna Gora.  Because that day would be the end of their supremacy and the beginning of our reawakening.


With you in Faith,
Augustin Kordecki
Prior of Jasna Gora, and Fortress Commander

Cavalry banners 

7 November 1655

To Pan Zagloba

My dear and honored friend,

News spreads throughout the province that the miraculous painting has been hidden in a safe place. Please give all assistance to T. Bronowski of the Jasna Gora monastery as he travels to Slasku, to the fortress of Jendrz Cellari (brother of Jan Pawla) in Lublin. A safer final destination is the Pauline Fathers monastery in Glogowk, where it might remain safely until the danger has passed, I trust before this next year has passed.

With you in Faith,
Augustin Kordecki
Prior of Jasna Gora, and Fortress Commander

lodzcannon.jpg (29648 bytes)  Light cannon at Lodz     

 

9 November 1655

To Pan Zagloba

Pray for us.

On the evening of November 8, 10 o’clock, a surprise attack on the Jasna Gora fortress was carried out by about 300 reiters under Swedish General Jan Wejhard herb Wrzesowicz.  This probe tried to force us, the defenders of Jasna Gora, to surrender the fortress and admit a Swedish garrison.  My refusal to surrender the fort was delivered on this morning by a legation from the monastery, led by Benedyk Jaraczewski and Marcel Tomicki. General J.W Wrzwsowicz 9 November left to Krzepic, and then on to Wielunia.

With you in Faith,
Augustin Kordecki
Prior of Jasna Gora, and Fortress Commander
 

 a a Reiter

 

November 10, 1655                                                              (fictional letter adapted from the Deluge)

My dearest Masha:
I feel lucky to be able to write to you that I am well and safe. I had taken mass that evening at the holy shrine, and was sound asleep in the Inn at Czestochowa 2 nights ago when I heard trumpets, then shouts, then the clamor of bells as hundred of riders came by. “What is this, Judgment Day?’ the barkeep shouted. I looked outside and the watchmen had lit the barrels of pitch along the walls of Jasna Gora, which they keep to crank up on pulleys to hang above the ramparts. A scarlet light flooded the foot of the rock to show a troop of mounted trumpeters, their long brass horns still raised to their lips, and – stretching behind them as far as anyone could see—deeps ranks of Swedish Reiters looming out of darkness under a grove of banners. Some riders were returning from the gates, apparently having been refused admittance.
The trumpeters went on playing their shrill and frightening music for some time as if to terrify the monks altogether with this reminder of Swedish might and power. Then they were silent while a single horseman broke away from their ranks and rode to the gates waving a white flag. He was admitted, and the town settled in for a fitful and sleepless night. Some of the Swedes made camp, but at least a hundred stood at the ready. We learned that the commander was Pulkovnick (Colonel) Vehard. Shortly before dawn, two Brothers left the gate and met with Vehard, and shortly after returned. The mood of the Swedes told enough of what had transpired. Shortly thereafter, fires started in several buildings that huddled around the wayside chapel of St. Barbara. The fire swept through the old wooden buildings, leaping fiercely from one to another, until tall pillars of reddish smoke, licked by the flickering yellow tongues of fire, rose into the sky and a crimson lid hung over the entire countryside. Seen clearly in that crimson glare, troops of soldiers moved from one place to another, showing to some their first glimpse of war. Cattle were driven from their barns, filling the air with their mournful bellowing. Flocks of sheep huddled together in panic, and then pushed blindly into the fires so that soon the stench of burning flesh filled the air. The mounted reiters galloped among the buildings cutting and hacking at fleeing mobs of people and dragging screaming women by the hair. 
At some point a cannon fired from the fortress, and that perhaps saved our lives as the soldiers stopped paying attention to us as we fled to safety. There was some more cannon fire but by mid morning the cursed Swedes had departed. 

I shall be home by Friday next. Wheat at the market is 10 per weight, small beer 7, good tanned hides 17, hops 12 1/8.
Henryk

brothersfolksM.jpg (94798 bytes)

November 12, 1855                                                            (fictional letter)  

To Adolf Wengle of Brest

My Dearest Brother:

Now it is looking serious. The Swedes have visited again with some force, but did no real damage and now have moved away, but we feel certain that they will return soon in force, and we work urgently to secure Jasna Gora. As they rode off Father Kordetzki knelt on the wall and lifted both his arms to the crimson sky in prayer "Grant that he who comes here next will leave as these have done, with shame in his heart and empty anger gnawing at his soul".  Father Dobrosh showed them a few things about how monks shoot cannons!  We, his assistants and juniors, were very proud of him. The Prior is as steady and as calm as a rock.  We call him, simply, 'the good father' and gentry and peasantry alike kiss his hands and the edges of his robes as he passes.

 Now we busy ourselves with reinforcements to the walls, evacuation of flammables from the upper floors, positioning water, sand and fire fighting equipment, securing supplies from food to siege hooks (poles with which to repel scaling ladders), clearing the grounds around the walls.  Throngs of faithful come daily to worship, but there is now a strict control.  The masses are admitted, but after the service they are escorted out of the grounds.  The danger is that among their number there should be an agent who could secret himself to later allow access to a portal to attackers, or who could even rise and cause confusion as a surprise attack is launched from outside. There are several types of attacks that can defeat the fort.

-Atak niespodziewany – Surprise attack – such as the failed attack on Nov. 8.  But this type of attack might yet achieve success if we are not vigilant. A small group of men who gain access to the fort by scaling a wall at night.  It must be said that not a few fortresses have fallen through the expedient of bribing a traitor within the walls, to admit the attacker through some chink in the defense, as one such did to allow the Goths into Rome.

-Blokada – Blockade- to achieve submission by starvation

-Bombardowanie – Bombardment with direct fire from cannon to knock down walls and exposed buildings, or the indirect fire of the exploding shells of mortars or rockets.  Certain types of ammunition are incendiaries – designed to start fires.

-Atak otwarty – Overt frontal attack – sending in a wave of soldiers with scaling ladders, braving the fire of the fort.  This is suicidal against a strong defense, and is usually resorted to only when the defenses have been worn down by bombardment.  Even then, casualties among the attackers can be great.

-Atak regularny –Systematic engineering attack, using progressive approach trenches, supported with artillery and sometimes mining efforts.

Any of these methods can succeed under the right circumstances.  The method that is both nearly sure and fairly quick is the last.  Indeed modern armies practice it as a science. I include a sketch from an engineering manual that Father Dobrosh is having me study. I wish only that my interest was more, shall we say, theoretical.  I hope to write again before the Swedes seal us off, and I will tell more of what I have learned.

Joseph Wengle

Apprentice Engineer and Assistant Gunner

siegegeneral.jpg (61603 bytes) Wengle's sketch - Scientific method of zigzag approach trenches, supported by redoubts

November 13, 1855                                                                                            (fictional letter)  

To: His Excellency Field Marshall Arvid Wittemberg

Krakow

I write to you on behalf of the holy shrine of our lady of Czestochowa.  His Majesty King Charles had volunteered, without any prompting by us, to guarantee the inviolability and safety of the shrine.  All I ask that, as this vassal and servant, that you fulfill his wishes and instructions in this matter.

Your officer, the Count Veyhard, a Czech well known and until recently well respected in these parts, recently paid us a visit with a few companies of armed men. He started politely, arguing that it was not the shrine he had been ordered to seize but the town of Czestochowa, and as the Jasna Gora monastery dominates the town, he must of mere necessity occupy the shrine. He assured us that he himself as a Catholic thought of nothing else other than to maintain the safety of the place of our person.  Our arguments that the town was all the more secure under our watch did not satisfy him.  I took leave from him for the night and sought guidance from the holy Virgin in prayer.  Our inevitable conclusion was that we must trust to his Majesty’s assurances. 

Count Veyhard then stated that he and an army would return to force our surrender, if we did not submit immediately.  He then proceeded to pillage the town, and certain of his men committed atrocities before our eyes, and I regret to inform you that gunfire ensued. I cannot reconcile this course of events with the assurances offered by his Majesty, and am confident that this action was not authorized by you, as military governor of this region. 

I beg you, in the name of our Lady, to protect and respect the sanctity of this shrine. We have no higher aspiration then to be allowed to meditate in peace, and to tend to the spiritual needs of our flock. 

Sincerely,
Augustin Kordecki
Prior of Jasna Gora,
Pauline Fathers Monastery

terborch_stone_grinders_family.1653.jpeg (73161 bytes)

November 17, 1655          (fictional letter partially adapted from Deluge)

To Adolf Wengle, in Brest

My Dearest Brother:

We have now cleared all the building within 500 yards of the monastery walls, and leveled all other obstructions practical.  A ring of fire has surrounded the wall these last days.  Now the mouths of our cannon,  buffed bronze shining golden and brilliant, look out over empty space free of all obstructions, as if impatient for the enemy and anxious to meet them with their fire and thunder.  It is not far from Vyelun to here, and the enemy is not far away.

Father Kordecki continues to be a wonder.  ‘God will use even the winter frosts to help us, you’ll see! It won’t be easy for the enemy to dig in frozen ground for their batteries and emplacements, or a tunnel with their siege works and approaches.  You’ll have warm rooms to rest in between spells of duty on the walls and they’ll soon get sick of their sieges in their freezing tents”  He has set our minds at rest, fortified our courage, and lifted us from the depths of our despair, and melted out icy resignation with the hot fires of his own unquenchable faith in the triumph of goodness.  He promises days filled with miracles, and speaks of death itself as such a glorious and uplifting spiritual experience that our spirits rise to meet his own and we set about preparing for the assault in the same way that we celebrate the great feast days: solemnly and with joy.

I promised to describe further what I have learned of the techniques of modern siegecraft. The distance from the fort at which to start digging the approach trenches is strictly determined by the efficiency of the defender’s artillery, or the nearest safe approach.  Our new12 pdrs are very good, and on flat ground the attackers would have to start at over 1200 Yards distance.  However, the rolling terrain here will allow a safe start to the approach trenches at as little as 500 yards.

The process is simple if hard work.  First a Koszach - a basket also called a gabion – perhaps 2 feet wide, 2-3 feet tall, is filled partially with earth, but while still light enough to be carried is set out upon the ground, and the sappers (engineers) scurry behind the basket’s cover digging down and filling the basket up.  So it goes a basket or three at a time, each representing another two or three feet of progress. Just behind the leaders, other sappers dig deeper and wider. When they have dug three then four and five feet down and built a mound over the baskets 2-3 feet high, then they can work in fair safety.  The leading work is exposed to cannon fire, and even to musketry at closer ranges, so is usually done at night, but a hundred yards can be covered in a night if the conditions are favorable.

The trench works advance in a zigzag, such that no trench is exposed to direct fire. Every so often, a redoubt is built – a heavier earthwork fort that serves as a cannon position to allow close range fire. In time the works approach the very walls of the fort, and allow the attackers to undermine the walls, fill in the approaches, and eventually launch an attack from close cover.

For now the only activity below our walls is a twice or trice-daily procession around the fort by throngs of the faithful, and various of the Brothers, and Holy Fathers.  Now some hundred additional villagers and women and children are within the walls, in anticipation of a siege any day.  I hope to write again before we are sealed off.

Joseph Wengle

Apprentice Engineer and assistant Gunner

terborch_dispatch.1658.jpeg (50785 bytes) The Dispatch (by Terborch)

November 18, 1655                                                (fictional letter adapted from the Deluge)

To: Panna Marianna Zbrozka, Warsaw  

From Jan Zbrozki, Colonel of Pancerni Cavalry in the service of His Royal Majesty  Charles, King of Sweden and Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania

My Dear Wife Marianna

Today we marched into Czestochowa from Wielun,  and I have never been so dispirited by a visit here.  I had to promise my men that we will take no part in the fighting, and that the only reason we came at all was to protect the shrine from the ravages of pillage once the walls were breached and the monastery had fallen.   I just hope that I can keep my promise without losing my honor and my life.  The real reason why we came is because we obey Muller’s orders.  All Polish troops, regulars and volunteers alike, are now a part of the Swedish armies, marching to the beat of a Swedish drummer, and doing what we are told. This final and insignificant act of defiance does, I admit, warm my heart even as march to crush it. But he war is over, and this is futile and risks this holy place and the holy men for nothing. Would that it be not so, but now we must move forward and make the best of the situation.  When this final act has played out, I will come to the shrine again, on foot and on my knees from our home in Mazowsa, to beg for forgiveness and absolution of my sins.  

Your husband, Jan

 terborch_the_letter.1660.jpeg (66468 bytes)

  Left, the Letter (by Terborch)

                                Right, Polish Cavalry banner 

                 

     Right, The Fortress, November 1655czestofortw11.JPG (93124 bytes)

 

 

 

18 Nov 1655

To Pan Zagloba

My dear and honored friend,

On November 18, 1655, General Muller's army reached Jasna Góra demanding the sanctuary's immediate surrender. Nevertheless, as Jasna Góra's Prior, I decided to defend the holy site. The Swedes begin to near Jasna Gora. The corps under the command of General Burchard Muller Von Der Luhnen arrived at 14:00 beneath the fortifications of the monastery.  The force includes:

Task Force under General J.W. Wrsesowiez

300 foot (a regiment, short one company, with 2 4pdr regimental cannon)

300 Reiters (Waclaw Sadowski’s regiment , one company short)

8 6pdr cannon (artillery company, with about 40 men)

General Muller’s taskforce

400 reiters under Colonel Jan Krzystof von Beddecker

200 reiters of a squadron from Regiment of Colonel Hans Engell

100 reiters from a company from the Regiment of Prince Francis Erdman von Sachsen-Lauenburg

400 polish regular ‘quarter’ cavalry, Pulkovnick (Colonel) Jana Zbrozki

400 polish regular ‘quarter’ cavalry Pulkovnick Mikolaj Seweryna Kalinski

100 dragoons (company)

2250 – 1800 cavalry, 100 dragoons, 300 foote, 50 artillery. And 10 cannon.

The artillery of the fort opened fire on the Swedish positions in the afternoon. The Swedes were 360-450 M from the fortifications of the fort, in the monastery village of Czestochowa (precisely, in the region north of the Wielunski channel.

In the evening, the Swedes returned fire and missiles set fire to a wall of the monastery.  General Muller sent 2 Polish officers from Zbrozki’s regiment with a letter addressed to A. Kordecki, with a demand for capitulation of the fort and admittance of a Swedish garrison. 

While we will engage in negotiations to gain time, you can trust that we are determined in our course.

With you in Faith,
Augustin Kordecki
Prior of Jasna Gora, and Fortress Commander  

(Map attached)

czestofortw11_15.JPG (209996 bytes) The fortress, evening of the 18th of November (click to enlarge)PSwedcannonRoll2.jpg (44692 bytes)

   

                          PMullerBanner.jpg (44982 bytes)Right,  advancing regiments

PswedArtAdv.jpg (54286 bytes) Left, Muller's Banner, 

                                               -detail from Potop  

PMullersMen.jpg (53484 bytes)

 

19 Nov. 1655

To Pan Zagloba

My dear and honored friend,

The Swedish army camps blockaded the fort and siege works. To the south in the region of the new Saint Barbara Church (with the reiters of Prince Sachsen-Lauenburg and Col. Sadowski’s regiment) and north on the high ground of Czestochowa (with the main strength of their artillery) on a point that we now call, and perhaps will be known to our descendents as, ‘Swedish hill’.  The Swedish artillery began a systematic bombardment of the fort  - especially the monastery buildings exposed above the walls -in the morning with their 10 light artillery guns, and started constructing redoubts and other siege works. The fire came to the north face of the fortification wall (Bastion BII, St. Rocha and BIV St. Trojcy and the curtain wall between) from a range of 540-600 meters.

Retaliatory Fire from the front artillery concentrated on destroying the buildings of the village of Czestochowa where the Swedish forces were foolishly trying to find quarters. Around noon general Muller sent to the fort a parley led by Pulkovinik (Colonel) M.S. Kalinski, and requested capitulation.

With you in Faith,
Augustin Kordecki
Prior of Jasna Gora, and Fortress Commander

 

Jasna Gora, from late 1600s

 

Nov. 20 1655 

To Adolf Wengle of Brest  

My Dearest Brother:

I know you won’t be reading this until the siege has been resolved one way or the other. They have us sealed in as tight as a drum. The excitement level is high, and although a few despair most have unlimited faith that this small affair will resolve itself in a perfect way. Realistically, we know that there is no war any more. The good king Kazimer no longer has an army.  We do not see from where relief might come, so we wait for a miracle, but what sort of miracle god shall provide is quite inscrutable. Somehow, I have faith and am at ease.

I must say, the initial demonstration of Swedish might was quite encouraging. They first paraded about, and more than a few of us were itching to blast them – we could have done much mischief – but the hope was, I suppose, that the fighting could be postponed. They took up artillery positions on the high ground north of us, and we let them start throwing up gabions for their guns to fire behind without molestation. The village of Czestochowa had largely been evacuated by the time they arrived, and they were swarming over the town like ants, right under our quiet guns, digging up any little treasure they might yet find.  For all the world it looked like they were claiming this building and that building for comfortable quarters! Mind you, we were standing there with our gleaming12 pounder ‘Angelica’ primed and loaded, a bigger and better gun by far than any they had, and this was easy range.  What could they have been thinking?

Merciful heaven, at last the order came to fire.  You should have seen it!  Our first shot blasted away at the half-finished redoubt; unfortunately their guns were hidden from view.  We were reloading as fast as we could; I think we must have shot 3 times in two minutes.  I was working the sponge, so I got a good view of everything. Then we worked on the town. We could see a nest of the little ants huddling behind thin walls and then BOOM and a huge cloud of dust would rise and we could see the ants scurrying up and away into the hills, then there were some wagons on the road, we blasted them, then a group of soldiers not running, we blasted them, then we could see nobody who was not running and scattering as fast as their legs could take them. It was quite a sight.  We then started to work on the town again, to make sure there was no useable structure left standing.

Later, in the safety of night, they were at last able to emplace their guns. Then they started popping at us with their little light regimental guns and some 6 pdrs.   We fired back at their flash, but we needed some luck to do any damage. They could easily see the fortress looming in the starry sky, of course, so we actually had pitch lanterns burning to illuminate the grounds to ward against a sneak attack.

Of course, their puny guns do not threaten the main walls but the buildings within the walls – the basilica and the monastery are much higher than the walls, and are not especially designed to take cannon fire. The upper floors had been evacuated, except for the fire watch, so the lower levels were cozy now, with us plus the few hundred townsfolk and women and children.  So the gentle Swedes raised their sights and started their work.

They smashed up the glass and some walls right nicely, and a fire started that was quickly put out. That night I served the guns until midnight, and we had settled into an easy routine of slow return fire.  I was to go to bed, and in truth I was exhausted, but my eyes would not shut in my excitement.  I volunteered for fire watch in the north attic of the monastery.  While serving the guns, we knew we were well protected, and every once in a while we were showered with stone chips, but that was about the extent of the danger.  Up in the attic, that was something else.  Every few minutes – crash! A ball would come through, and bounce around.  Even then, sometimes the ball would simply bounce off, leaving some shattered slate behind. We would go inspect the damage, make sure the round was not incendiary.  If the damage looked like it affected the structure, we would make a special note of it for emergency repair the next day, but really there was only one such that cracked a main beam, and we quickly shored it up. The other 100 shots just punched a hole through, made a mess, and that was that. Some of the shots were grenades - explosive shells - but they seemed to blow up mostly before hitting us, not a problem as we were under cover, and we found a few that did not explode at all. The holes, they would be patched in daylight.    It was nerve-racking, but the absolute danger to us did not seem very high, and no one was injured beyond scratches. Believe it or not, after a while the three of us there were joking and laughing about the Swedish cannonballs.

I remember looking through a hole in the roof, and seeing 2 bright shooting stars at that very moment. A good sign, I felt, for if God had not seen fit to have the Swedes put a hole in the roof, I would have missed the stars.  I took the moment to say a little silent prayer in gratitude. 

Just before dawn I sat down to have some hot soup, and the next thing I knew it was mid-morning and I was still sitting in the same spot, and Brother Andrej was telling me it was time to take up my post with ‘Angelica’ again.

Joseph Wengle

Apprentice Engineer and Assistant Gunner

czestopaulineS.jpg (112109 bytes) Left, the final argument of the Good Father 

21 Nov.  1655

To Pan Zagloba

My dear and honored friend:

From noon on 19 November to 21 a formal cease-fire is in place. The 20th brought more talks and an exchange of letters. The Swedes begin intensive preparations to do a regular ‘inzynieryjno-artyleryjkiego’ (engineering-artillery) investiture of the fort.

With you in Faith,
Augustin Kordecki
Prior of Jasna Gora, and Fortress Commander

              Left The fortress, evening of the 20th of November 

                      (click to enlarge)

 

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   Left, the Madonna in protective icon 'crown'             

 

 

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