A Knight Errant of the Sea

22 mins read

Editor’s note: The following is extracted from Hero Tales of the Far North, by Jacob A. Riis (published 1919). All spelling in the original.

The Eighteenth Century broke upon a noisy family quarrel in the north of Europe. Charles the Twelfth of Sweden, the royal hotspur of all history, and Frederik of Denmark had fallen out. Like their people, they were first cousins, and therefore all the more bent on settling the old question which was the better man. After the fashion of the lion and the unicorn, they fought “all about the town,” and, indeed, about every town that came in their way, now this and now that side having the best of it. On the sea, which was the more important because neither Swedes nor Danes could reach their fighting ground or keep up their armaments without command of the waterways, the victory rested finally with the Danes. And this was due almost wholly to one extraordinary figure, the like of which is scarce to be found in the annals of warfare, Peder Tordenskjold. Rising in ten brief years from the humblest place before the mast, a half-grown lad, to the rank of admiral, ennobled by his King and the idol of two nations, only to be assassinated on the “field of honor” at thirty, he seems the very incarnation of the stormy times of the Eleven Years’ War, with which his sun rose and set; for the year in which peace was made also saw his death.

Peder Jansen Wessel was born on October 28, 1690, in the city of Trondhjem, Norway, which country in those days was united with Denmark under one king. His father was an alderman with eighteen children. Peder was the tenth of twelve wild boys. It is related that the father in sheer desperation once let make for him a pair of leathern breeches which he would not be able to tear. But the lad, not to be beaten so easily, sat on a grind-stone and had one of his school-fellows turn it till the seat was worn thin, a piece of bravado that probably cost him dear, for doubtless the exasperated father’s stick found the attenuated spot.

Since he would have none of the school, his father had him apprenticed out to a tailor with the injunction not to spare the rod. But sitting cross-legged on a tailor’s stool did not suit the lad, and he took it out of his master by snowballing him thoroughly one winter’s day. Next a barber undertook to teach him his trade; but Peder ran away and was drifting about the streets when the King came to Norway. The boy saw the splendid uniforms and heard the story of the beautiful capital by the Öresund, with its palaces and great fighting ships. When the King departed, he was missing, and for a while there was peace in Trondhjem.

Down in Copenhagen the homeless lad was found wandering about by the King’s chaplain, who, being himself a Norwegian, took him home and made him a household page. But the boy’s wanderings had led him to the navy-yard, where he saw mid-shipmen of his own size at drill, and he could think of nothing else. When he should have been waiting at table he was down among the ships. For him there was ever but one way to any goal, the straight cut, and at fifteen he wrote to the King asking to be appointed a midshipman. “I am wearing away my life as a servant,” he wrote. “I want to give it, and my blood, to the service of your Majesty, and I will serve you with all my might while I live!”

The navy had need of that kind of recruits, and the King saw to it that he was apprenticed at once. And that was the beginning of his strangely romantic career.

Three years he sailed before the mast and learned seamanship, while Charles was baiting the Muscovite and the North was resting on its arms. Then came Pultava and the Swedish King’s crushing defeat. The storm-centre was transferred to the North again, and the war on the sea opened with a splendid deed, fit to appeal to any ardent young heart. At the battle in the Bay of Kjöge, the Dannebrog, commanded by Ivar Hvitfeldt, caught fire, and by its position exposed the Danish fleet to great danger. Hvitfeldt could do one of two things: save his own life and his men’s by letting his ship drift before the wind and by his escape risking the rest of the fleet and losing the battle, or stay where he was to meet certain death. He chose the latter, anchored his vessel securely, and fought on until the ship was burned down to the water’s edge and blew up with him and his five hundred men. Ivar Hvitfeldt’s name is forever immortal in the history of his country. A few years ago they raised the wreck of the Dannebrog, fitly called after the Danish flag, and made of its guns a monument that stands on Langelinie, the beautiful shore road of Copenhagen.

Fired by such deeds, young Wessel implored the King, before he had yet worn out his first midshipman’s jacket, to give him command of a frigate. He compromised on a small privateer, the Ormen, but with it he did such execution in Swedish waters and earned such renown as a dauntless sailor and a bold scout whose information about the enemy was always first and best, that before spring they gave him a frigate with eighteen guns and the emphatic warning “not to engage any enemy when he was not clearly the stronger.” He immediately brought in a Swedish cruiser, the Alabama of those days, that had been the terror of the sea. In a naval battle in the Baltic soon after, he engaged with his little frigate two of the enemy’s line-of-battle ships that were trying to get away, and only when a third came to help them did he retreat, so battered that he had to seek port to make repairs. Accused of violating his orders, his answer was prompt: “I promised your Majesty to do my best, and I did.” King Frederik IV, himself a young and spirited man, made him a captain, jumping him over fifty odd older lieutenants, and gave him leave to war on the enemy as he saw fit.

The immediate result was that the Governor of Göteborg, the enemy’s chief seaport in the North Sea, put a price on his head. Captain Wessel heard of it and sent word into town that he was outside—to come and take him; but to hurry, for time was short. While waiting for a reply, he fell in with two Swedish men-of-war having in tow a Danish prize. That was not to be borne, and though they together mounted ninety-four guns to his eighteen, he fell upon them like a thunderbolt. They beat him off, but he returned for their prize. That time they nearly sank him with three broad-sides. However, he ran for the Norwegian coast and saved his ship. In his report of this affair he excuses himself for running away with the reflection that allowing himself to be sunk “would not rightly have benefited his Majesty’s service.”

However, the opportunity came to him swiftly of “rightly benefiting” the King’s service. After the battle of Kolberger Heide, that had gone against the Swedes, he found them beaching their ships under cover of the night to prevent their falling into the hands of the victors. Wessel halted them with the threat that every man Jack in the fleet should be made to walk the plank, saved the ships, and took their admiral prisoner to his chief. When others slept, Wessel was abroad with his swift sailer. If wind and sea went against him, he knew how to turn his mishap to account. Driven in under the hostile shore once, he took the opportunity, as was his wont, to get the lay of the land and of the enemy. He learned quickly that in the harbor of Wesensö, not far away, a Swedish cutter was lying with a Danish prize. She carried eight guns and had a crew of thirty-six men; but though he had at the moment only eighteen sailors in his boat, he crept up the coast at once, slipped quietly in after sundown, and took ship and prize with a rush, killing and throwing overboard such as resisted. In Sweden mothers hushed their crying children with his dreaded name; on the sea they came near to thinking him a troll, so sudden and unexpected were his onsets. But there was no witchcraft about it. He sailed swiftly because he was a skilled sailor and because he missed no opportunity to have the bottom of his ship scraped and greased. And when on board, pistol and cutlass hung loose; for it was a time of war with a brave and relentless foe.

His reconnoitring expeditions he always headed himself, and sometimes he went alone. Thus, when getting ready to take Marstrand, a fortified seaport of great importance to Charles, he went ashore disguised as a fisherman and peddled fish through the town, even in the very castle itself, where he took notice, along with the position of the guns and the strength of the garrison, of the fact that the commandant had two pretty daughters. He was a sailor, sure enough. Once when ashore on such an expedition, he was surprised by a company of dragoons. His men escaped, but the dragoons cut off his way to the shore. As they rode at him, reaching out for his sword, he suddenly dashed among them, cut one down, and, diving through the surf, swam out to the boat, his sword between his teeth. Their bullets churned up the sea all about him, but he was not hit. He seemed to bear a charmed life; in all his fights he was wounded but once. That was in the attack on the strongly fortified port of Strömstad, in which he was repulsed with a loss of 96 killed and 246 wounded, while the Swedish loss footed up over 1500, a fight which led straight to the most astonishing chapter in his whole career, of which more anon.

All Denmark and Norway presently rang with the stories of his exploits. They were always of the kind to appeal to the imagination, for in truth he was a very knight errant of the sea who fought for the love of it as well as of the flag, ardent patriot that he was. A brave and chivalrous foe he loved next to a loyal friend. Cowardice he loathed. Once when ordered to follow a retreating enemy with his frigate Hvide Örnen (the White Eagle) of thirty guns, he hugged him so close that in the darkness he ran his ship into the great Swedish man-of-war Ösel of sixty-four guns. The chance was too good to let pass. Seeing that the Ösel’s lower gun-ports were closed, and reasoning from this that she had been struck in the water-line and badly damaged, he was for boarding her at once, but his men refused to follow him. In the delay the Ösel backed away. Captain Wessel gave chase, pelted her with shot, and called to her captain, whose name was Söstjerna (sea-star), to stop.

“Running away from a frigate, are you? Shame on you, coward and poltroon! Stay and fight like a man for your King and your flag!”

Seeing him edge yet farther away, he shouted in utter exasperation, “Your name shall be dog-star forever, not sea-star, if you don’t stay.”

“But all this,” he wrote sadly to the King, “with much more which was worse, had no effect.”

However, on his way back to join the fleet he ran across a convoy of ten merchant vessels, guarded by three of the enemy’s line-of-battle ships. He made a feint at passing, but, suddenly turning, swooped down upon the biggest trader, ran out his boats, made fast, and towed it away from under the very noses of its protectors. It meant prize-money for his men, but their captain did not forget their craven conduct of the night, which had made him lose a bigger prize, and with the money they got a sound flogging.

The account of the duel between his first frigate, Lövendahl’s Galley, of eighteen guns, and a Swede of twenty-eight guns reads like the doings of the old vikings, and indeed both commanders were likely descended straight from those arch fighters. Wessel certainly was. The other captain was an English officer, Bactman by name, who was on the way to deliver his ship, that had been bought in England, to the Swedes. They met in the North Sea and fell to fighting by noon of one day. The afternoon of the next saw them at it yet. Twice the crew of the Swedish frigate had thrown down their arms, refusing to fight any more. Vainly the vessel had tried to get away; the Dane hung to it like a leech. In the afternoon of the second day Wessel was informed that his powder had given out. He had a boat sent out with a herald, who presented to Captain Bactman his regrets that he had to quit for lack of powder, but would he come aboard and shake hands?

The Briton declined. Meanwhile the ships had drifted close enough to speak through the trumpet, and Captain Wessel shouted over from his quarter-deck that “if he could lend him a little powder, they might still go on.” Captain Bactman smilingly shook his head, and then the two drank to one another’s health, each on his own quarter-deck, and parted friends, while their crews manned what was left of the yards and cheered each other wildly.

Wessel’s enemies, of whom he had many, especially among the nobility, who looked upon him as a vulgar upstart, used this incident to bring him before a court-martial. It was unpatriotic, they declared, and they demanded that he be degraded and fined. His defence, which with all the records of his career are in the Navy Department at Copenhagen, was brief but to the point. It is summed up in the retort to his accusers that “they themselves should be rebuked, and severely, for failing to understand that an officer in the King’s service should be promoted instead of censured for doing his plain duty,” and that there was nothing in the articles of war commanding him to treat an honorable foe otherwise than with honor.

It must be admitted that he gave his critics no lack of cause. His enterprises were often enough of a hair-raising kind, and he had scant patience with censure. Thus once, when harassed by an Admiralty order purposely issued to annoy him, he wrote back: “The biggest fool can see that to obey would defeat all my plans. I shall not do it. It may suit folk who love loafing about shore, but to an honest man such talk is disgusting, let alone that the thing can’t be done.” He was at that time twenty-six years old, and in charge of the whole North Sea fleet. No wonder he had enemies.

However, the King was his friend. He made him a nobleman, and gave him the name Tordenskjold. It means “thunder shield.”

“Then, by the powers,” he swore when he was told, “I shall thunder in the ears of the Swedes so that the King shall hear of it!” And he kept his word.

Charles had determined to take Denmark with one fell blow. He had an army assembled in Skaane to cross the sound, which was frozen over solid. All was ready for the invasion in January 1716. The people throughout Sweden had assembled in the churches to pray for the success of the King’s arms, and he was there himself to lead; but in the early morning hours a strong east wind broke up the ice, and the campaign ended before it was begun. Charles then turned on Norway, and laid siege to the city of Frederikshald, which, with its strong fort, Frederiksteen, was the key to that country. A Danish fleet lay in the Skagerak, blocking his way of reënforcements by sea. Tordenskjold, with his frigate, Hvide Örnen, and six smaller ships (the frigate Vindhunden of sixteen guns, and five vessels of light draught, two of which were heavily armed), was doing scouting duty for the Admiral when he learned that the entire Swedish fleet of forty-four ships that was intended to aid in the operations against Frederikshald lay in the harbor of Dynekilen waiting its chance to slip out. It was so well shielded there that its commander sent word to the King to rest easy; nothing could happen to him. He would join him presently.

Tordenskjold saw that if he could capture or destroy this fleet Norway was saved; the siege must perforce be abandoned. And Norway was his native land, which he loved with his whole fervid soul. But no time was to be lost. He could not go back to ask for permission, and one may shrewdly guess that he did not want to, for it would certainly have been refused. He heard that the Swedish officers, secure in their stronghold, were to attend a wedding on shore the next day. His instructions from the Admiralty were: in an emergency always to hold a council of war, and to abide by its decision. At daybreak he ran his ship alongside Vindhunden, her companion frigate, and called to the captain:

“The Swedish officers are bidden to a wedding, and they have forgotten us. What do you say—shall we go unasked?”

Captain Grip was game. “Good enough!” he shouted back. “The wind is fair, and we have all day. I am ready.”

That was the council of war and its decision. Tordenskjold gave the signal to clear for action, and sailed in at the head of his handful of ships.

The inlet to the harbor of Dynekilen is narrow and crooked, winding between reefs and rocky steeps quite two miles, and only in spots more than four hundred feet wide. Halfway in was a strong battery. Tordenskjold’s fleet was received with a tremendous fire from all the Swedish ships, from the battery, and from an army of four thousand soldiers lying along shore. The Danish ships made no reply. They sailed up grimly silent till they reached a place wide enough to let them wear round, broadside on. Then their guns spoke. Three hours the battle raged before the Swedish fire began to slacken. As soon as he noticed it, Tordenskjold slipped into the inner harbor under cover of the heavy pall of smoke, and before the Swedes suspected their presence they found his ships alongside. Broadside after broadside crashed into them, and in terror they fled, soldiers and sailors alike. While they ran Tordenskjold swooped down upon the half-way battery, seized it, and spiked its guns. The fight was won.

But the heaviest part was left—the towing out of the captured ships. All the afternoon Tordenskjold led the work in person, pulling on ropes, cheering on his men. The Swedes, returning gamely to the fight, showered them with bullets from shore. One of the abandoned vessels caught fire. Lieutenant Tönder, of Tordenskjold’s staff, a veteran with a wooden leg, boarded it just as the quartermaster ran up yelling that the ship was full of powder and was going to blow up. He tried to jump overboard, but the lieutenant seized him by the collar and, stumping along, made him lead the way to the magazine. A fuse had been laid to an open keg of powder, and the fire was sputtering within an inch of it when Lieutenant Tönder plucked it out, smothered it between thumb and forefinger, and threw it through the nearest port-hole. There were two hundred barrels of powder in the ship.

Tordenskjold had kept his word to the King. Not as much as a yawl of the Dynekilen fleet was left to the enemy. He had sunk or burned thirteen and captured thirty-one ships with his seven, and all the piled-up munitions of war were in his hands. King Charles gave up the siege, marched his army out of Norway, and the country was saved. The victory cost Tordenskjold but nineteen killed and fifty-seven wounded. On his own ship six men were killed and twenty wounded.

Of infinite variety was this sea-fighter. After a victory like this, one hears of him in the next breath gratifying a passing whim of the King, who wanted to know what the Swedish people thought of their Government after Charles’s long wars that are said to have cost their country a million men. Tordenskjold overheard it, had himself rowed across to Sweden, picked up there a wedding party, bridegroom, minister, guests, and all, including the captain of the shore watch who was among them, and returned in time for the palace dinner with his catch. King Frederik was entertaining Czar Peter the Great, who had been boasting of the unhesitating loyalty of his men which his Danish host could not match. He now had the tables turned upon him. It is recorded that the King sent the party back with royal gifts for the bride. One would be glad to add that Tordenskjold sent back, too, the silver pitcher and the parlor clock his men took on their visit. But he didn’t. They were still in Copenhagen a hundred years later, and may be they are yet. It was not like his usual gallantry toward the fair sex. But perhaps he didn’t know anything about it.

Then we find him, after an unsuccessful attack on Göteborg that cost many lives, sending in his adjutant to congratulate the Swedish commandant on their “gallant encounter” the day before, and exchanging presents with him in token of mutual regard. And before one can turn the page he is discovered swooping down upon Marstrand, taking town and fleet anchored there, and the castle itself with its whole garrison, all with two hundred men, swelled by stratagem into an army of thousands. We are told that an officer sent out from the castle to parley, issuing forth from a generous dinner, beheld the besieging army drawn up in street after street, always two hundred men around every corner, as he made his way through the town, piloted by Tordenskjold himself, who was careful to take him the longest way, while the men took the short cut to the next block. The man returned home with the message that the town was full of them and that resistance was useless. The ruse smacks of Peder Wessel’s boyish fight with a much bigger fellow who had beaten him once by gripping his long hair, and so getting his head in chancery. But Peder had taken notice. Next time he came to the encounter with hair cut short and his whole head smeared with soft-soap, and that time he won.

The most extraordinary of all his adventures befell when, after the attack on Strömstad, he was hastening home to Copenhagen. Crossing the Kattegat in a little smack that carried but two three-pound guns, he was chased and overtaken by a Swedish frigate of sixteen guns and a crew of sixty men. Tordenskjold had but twenty-one, and eight of them were servants and non-combatants. They were dreadfully frightened, and tradition has it that one of them wept when he saw the Swede coming on. Her captain called upon him to surrender, but the answer was flung back:

“I am Tordenskjold! Come and take me, if you can.”

With that came a tiny broadside that did brisk execution on the frigate. Tordenskjold had hauled both his guns over on the “fighting side” of his vessel. There ensued a battle such as Homer would have loved to sing. Both sides banged away for all they were worth. In the midst of the din and smoke Tordenskjold used his musket with cool skill; his servants loaded while he fired. At every shot a man fell on the frigate.

Word was brought that there was no more round shot. He bade them twist up his pewter dinner service and fire that, which they did. The Swede tried vainly to board. Tordenskjold manoeuvred his smack with such skill that they could not hook on. Seeing this, Captain Lind, commander of the frigate, called to him to desist from the useless struggle; he would be honored to carry such a prisoner into Göteborg. Back came the taunt:

“Neither you nor any other Swede shall ever carry me there!” And with that he shot the captain down.[1]

When his men saw him fall, they were seized with panic and made off as quickly as they could, while Tordenskjold’s crew, of whom only fourteen were left, beat their drums and blew trumpets in frantic defiance. Their captain was for following the Swede and boarding her, but he couldn’t. Sails, rigging, and masts were shot to pieces. Perhaps the terror of the Swedes was increased by the sight of Tordenskjold’s tame bear making faces at them behind his master. It went with him everywhere till that day, and came out of the fight unscathed. But during the night the crew ran the vessel on the Swedish shore, whence Tordenskjold himself reached Denmark in an open boat which he had to keep bailing all night, for the boat was shot full of holes, and though he and his companions stuffed their spare clothing into them it leaked badly. The enemy got the smack, after all, and the bear, which, being a Norwegian, proved so untractable on Swedish soil that, sad to relate, in the end they cut him up and ate him.

King Charles, himself a knightly soul and an admirer of a gallant enemy, gave orders to have all Tordenskjold’s belongings sent back to him, but he did not live to see the order carried out. He was found dead in the rifle-pits before Frederiksteen on December 11, 1718, shot through the head. It was Tordenskjold himself who brought the all-important news to King Frederik in the night of December 28,—they were not the days of telegraphs and fast steamers,—and when the King, who had been roused out of bed to receive him, could not trust his ears, he said with characteristic audacity, “I wish it were as true that your Majesty had made me a schoutbynacht,”—the rank next below admiral. And so he took the step next to the last on the ladder of his ambition.

Within seven months he took Marstrand. It is part of the record of that astonishing performance that when the unhappy Commandant hesitated as the hour of evacuation came, not sure that he had done right in capitulating, Tordenskjold walked up to the fort with a hundred men, half his force, banged on the gate, went in alone and up to the Commandant’s window, thundering out:

“What are you waiting for? Don’t you know time is up?”

In terror and haste, Colonel Dankwardt moved his Hessians out, and Tordenskjold marched his handful of men in. When he brought the King the keys of Marstrand, Frederik made him an admiral.

It was while blockading the port of Göteborg in the last year of the war that he met and made a friend of Lord Carteret, the English Ambassador to Denmark, and fell in love with the picture of a young Englishwoman, Miss Norris, a lady of great beauty and wealth, who, Lord Carteret told him, was an ardent admirer of his. It was this love which indirectly sent him to his death. Lord Carteret had given him a picture of her, and as soon as peace was made he started for England; but he never reached that country. The remnant of the Swedish fleet lay in the roadstead at Göteborg, under the guns of the two forts, New and Old Elfsborg. While Tordenskjold was away at Marstrand, the enemy sallied forth and snapped up seven of the smaller vessels of his blockading fleet. The news made him furious. He sent in, demanding them back at once, “or I will come after them.” He had already made one ineffectual attempt to take New Elfsborg that cost him dear. In Göteborg they knew the strength of his fleet and laughed at his threat. But it was never safe to laugh at Tordenskjold. The first dark night he stole in with ten armed boats, seized the shore batteries of the old fort, and spiked their guns before a shot was fired. The rising moon saw his men in possession of the ships lying at anchor. With their blue-lined coats turned inside out so that they might pass for Swedish uniforms, they surprised the watch in the guard-house and made them all prisoners. Now that there was no longer reason for caution, they raised a racket that woke the sleeping town up in a fright. The commander of the other fort sent out a boat to ascertain the cause. It met the Admiral’s and challenged it, “Who goes there?”

“Tordenskjold,” was the reply, “come to teach you to keep awake.”

It proved impossible to warp the ships out. Only one of the seven lost ones was recovered; all the rest were set on fire. By the light of the mighty bonfire Tordenskjold rowed out with his men, hauling the recovered ship right under the guns of the forts, the Danish flag flying at the bow of his boat. He had not lost a single man. A cannon-ball swept away all the oars on one side of his boat, but no one was hurt.

At Marstrand they had been up all night listening to the cannonading and the crash upon crash as the big ships blew up. They knew that Tordenskjold was abroad with his men. In the morning, when they were all in church, he walked in and sat down by his chief, the old Admiral Judicher, who was a slow-going, cautious man. He whispered anxiously, “What news?” but Tordenskjold only shrugged his shoulders with unmoved face. It is not likely that either the old Admiral or the congregation heard much of that sermon, if indeed they heard any of it. But when it was over, they saw from the walls of the town the Danish ships at anchor and heard the story of the last of Tordenskjold’s exploits. It fitly capped the climax of his life. Sweden’s entire force on the North Sea, with the exception of five small galleys, had either been captured, sunk, or burned by him.

The King would not let Tordenskjold go when peace was made, but he had his way in the end. To his undoing he consented to take with him abroad a young scalawag, the son of his landlord, who had more money than brains. In Hamburg the young man fell in with a gambler, a Swedish colonel by name of Stahl, who fleeced him of all he had and much more besides. When Tordenskjold heard of it and met the Colonel in another man’s house, he caned him soundly and threw him out in the street. For this he was challenged, but refused to fight a gambler.

“Friends,” particularly one Colonel Münnichhausen, who volunteered to be his second, talked him over, and also persuaded him to give up the pistol, with which he was an expert. The duel was fought at the Village of Gledinge, over the line from Hanover, on the morning of November 12, 1720. Tordenskjold was roused from sleep at five, and, after saying his prayers, a duty he never on any account omitted, he started for the place appointed. His old body-servant vainly pleaded with his master to take his stout blade instead of the flimsy parade sword the Admiral carried. Münnichhausen advised against it; it would be too heavy, he said. Stahl’s weapon was a long fighting rapier, and to this the treacherous second made no objection. Almost at the first thrust he ran the Admiral through. The seconds held his servant while Stahl jumped on his horse and galloped away. Tordenskjold breathed out his dauntless soul in the arms of his faithful servant and friend.

His body lies in a black marble sarcophagus in the “Navy Church” at Copenhagen. The Danish and Norwegian peoples have never ceased to mourn their idol. He was a sailor with a sailor’s faults. But he loved truth, honor, and courage in foe and friend alike. Like many seafaring men, he was deeply religious, with the unquestioning faith of a child. There is a letter in existence written by him to his father when the latter was on his death-bed that bears witness to this. He thanks him with filial affection for all his care, and says naïvely that he would rather have his prayers than fall heir to twenty thousand daler. His pictures show a stocky, broad-shouldered youth with frank blue eyes, full lips, and an eagle nose. His deep, sonorous voice used to be heard, in his midshipman days, above the whole congregation in the Navy Church. In after years it called louder still to Denmark’s foes. When things were at their worst in storm or battle, he was wont to shout to his men, “Hi, now we are having a fine time!” and his battle-cry has passed into the language. By it, in desperate straits demanding stout hearts, one may know the Dane after his own heart, the real Dane, the world over. Among his own Tordenskjold is still and always will be “the Admiral of Norway’s fleet.”

[1] He was not mortally wounded, and Tordenskjold took him prisoner later at the capture of Marstrand.

Raised in a home filled with books on Western civilization, P.G. Mantel became a lover of history at an early age. An amateur writer of verse, he makes himself useful as an editor for Men of the West.

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