Coblenz, and then made a detour by a route through the Taunus, on the other side of which, in the valley of the Main, Spinola made an unsuccessful attempt to cut him off. Vere crossed the Main by a ford, near Frankfort, and then, by way of Darmstadt and Bensheim (there resting his troops), proceeded to Worms, where the junction of forces actually took place. Spinola now adopted Fabian tactics in the hope of wearing the enemy out, until the approach of winter compelled the English and their allies to seek quarters. Vere divided his troops among the three most important strongholds of the palatinate. He himself occupied Mannheim, Sir Gerard Herbert he stationed in Heidelberg Castle, while (Sir) John Burroughs [q. v.] undertook to defend Frankenthal. Early in 1621 the evangelical or protestant union was broken up, and the English garrisons had to relinquish all hope of effective relief. During 1621, owing to the expiration of the twelve years' truce and the withdrawal of troops to the lower Rhine, the English governors were not closely pressed. The garrison under Vere at Mannheim received a visit early in 1622 from the dethroned elector, who had promised them a diversion, and who, in conjunction with Mansfelt, had inflicted a momentary check upon the imperialist army under Tilly at Wiesloch (April). A few weeks later, however, Tilly, having been reinforced by Gonzalez de Cordova, inflicted two crushing defeats upon the protestants, and in June the elector had finally to leave Mannheim. The English garrisons were now surrounded and threatened by an overwhelming force of imperialists and Spaniards under Tilly, Cordova, and Verdugo. Vere resolved to hold out, though he knew that the military position was hopeless. On 16 Sept. the town of Heidelberg was taken by storm, and the castle, after a terrible defence for it was entirely commanded by the enemy's cannon on the Konigstuhl and neighbouring heights surrendered three days later. Sir Gerard Herbert had received a mortal wound during the siege. It was next the turn of Mannheim, where Vere, with a garrison of fourteen hundred men, without money or supplies, had to defend very extensive fortification ; reduced to extremities, he retired to the citadel, but no extraneous help being forthcoming, he was forced to capitulate at the close of September, and, having marched out with the honours of war, withdrew to The Hague. Vere's defence is commemorated in George Chapman's 'Pro Vero Autumni Lachrymae . . . inscribed to the Incomparable Souldier, Sir Horatio Vere, Knight, besieged and distrest in Mainhem' (1622), in which the poet urged that aid should be sent to the relief of the distressed garrison. The defence that Burroughs made at Frankenthal, despite the antiquated character of its fortifications, was the most notable of all, for he did not surrender the place to Verdugo until 14 April 1623, and then only in response to direct orders from home. Thus ended the forlorn hope led by Vere in the cause of the 'Queen of Hearts ' and the 'Winter King.'
The resolute courage displayed by Vere against enormous odds for upwards of two years was recognised in England, whither the general returned early in February 1623. It is true that his salary and expenses were never paid up in full by the treasury (5,000l. being due at the time of his death), but on 16 Feb. 1623 he was appointed master-general of the ordnance for life, and he became a member of the council of war on 20 July 1624. Upon the death of his elder brother, John, in the same year he became his residuary legatee, with the reversion of Tilbury and Kirby Hall upon the death of the widow. This same brother's illegitimate son, (Sir) John Vere, had served under the Veres in the Low Countries, became sergeant-major in Sir Horace Vere's regiment, was knighted in 1607, and died in the Netherlands in 1631.
In 1624 Sir Horace Vere repaired once more to The Hague in order to second Prince Maurice in the defence of Breda, the siege of which important fortress was commenced by Spinola in August, in defiance of the opinion of a council of war that the place was impregnable. Maurice died on 23 April 1625, and the chief action in relief of the garrison devolved upon Vere. Spinola had drawn a double line of circumvallation round the city, with strong forts at intervals ; at the same time he drowned the lower lands by cutting the dykes at Terheiden, and made a stockade over the drowned meadows to hinder relief by boats. The only ways to approach the siege works from outside were by the causeways of Gertruydenburg and Sevenburg, neither exceeding about twenty-five feet in width. One of these causeways was palisaded and cut through; the other was also cut and fortified with a redoubt and breastwork. Notwithstanding these obstacles, the new stadtholder, Maurice's brother, Prince Frederic Henry, resolved to attempt the causeways, and Vere was selected to conduct this wellnigh hopeless enterprise. Taking with him some six thousand men, including three hundred pikemen led by his kinsman, the Earl of Oxford, Vere started an hour before the