A truce was Kutuzov's sole chance of gaining time, giving Bagration's exhausted troops some rest, and letting the transport and heavy convoys (whose movements were concealed from the French) advance if but one stage nearer Znaim.
In the past the mobile columns, of which there were over sixty in the field, had always been bound to the railway for supply; now convoys could be pushed out to them along whatever blockhouse line they touched.
Tromp was also most intent on collecting the homecoming Dutch convoys, and seeing them safe into port.
De Ruyter was sent into the Channel to convoy the outward-bound convoys, and meet the home-coming trade.
On the 18th of February 1653 the Dutch admiral, who had now collected the homeward-bound convoys, was off Plymouth on his way back to Holland, and was attacked by the English fleet.
The convoys or flotas sailed in October first to Cartagena in South America, and from thence to Nombre de Dios or, in later times, Porto Bello.
From Nombre de Dios or Porto Bello the convoys went to La Vera Cruz for the trade of New Spain, and returned home in July by the Florida straits.
The railway communications were constantly damaged, isolated posts and convoys captured, and the raiders always seemed able to avoid contact with the columns sent in pursuit.
Subsequent inquiries have, however, proved that the treachery towards the British was not on the part of Mehrab Khan, but on that of his vizier, Mahommed Hussein, and certain chiefs with whom he was in league, and at whose instigation the British convoys were plundered in their passage through Kach Gandava and in the Bolan Pass.
On the 24th and 26th convoys proceeding in square to Tofrik were attacked, the enemy being repulsed without difficulty.