HISTORY OF FRIEDRICH II. OF PRUSSIA
FREDERICK THE GREAT
By Thomas Carlyle
BOOK XIX.—FRIEDRICH LIKE TO BE OVERWHELMED IN THE SEVEN-YEARS WAR.—1759-1760.
Chapter I.—PRELIMINARIES TO A FOURTH CAMPAIGN.
The posting of the Five Armies this Winter—Five of them in Germany, not counting the Russians, who have vanished to Cimmeria over the horizon, for their months of rest—is something wonderful, and strikes the picturesque imagination. Such a Chain of Posts, for length, if for nothing else! From the centre of Bohemia eastward, Daun's Austrians are spread all round the western Silesian Border and the southeastern Saxon; waited on by Prussians, in more or less proximity. Next are the Reichsfolk; scattered over Thuringen and the Franconian Countries; fronting partly into Hessen and Duke Ferdinand's outskirts:—the main body of Duke Ferdinand is far to westward, in Munster Country, vigilant upon Contades, with the Rhine between. Contades and Soubise,—adjoining on the Reichsfolk are these Two French Armies: Soubise's, some 25,000, in Frankfurt-Ems Country, between the Mayn and the Lahn, with its back to the Rhine; then Contades, onward to Maes River and the Dutch Borders, with his face to the Rhine,—and Duke Ferdinand observant of him on the other side. That is the "CORDON of Posts" or winter-quarters this Year. "From the Giant Mountains and the Metal Mountains, to the Ocean;—to the mouth of Rhine," may we not say; "and back again to the Swiss Alps or springs of Rhine, that Upper-Rhine Country being all either French or Austrian, and a basis for Soubise?" [Archenholtz, i. 306.] Not to speak of Ocean itself, and its winged War-Fleets, lonesomely hovering and patrolling; or of the Americas and Indies beyond!
"This is such a Chain of mutually vigilant Winter-quarters," says Archenholtz, "as was never drawn in Germany, or in Europe, before." Chain of about 300,000 fighting men, poured out in that lengthy manner. Taking their winter siesta there, asleep with one eye open, till reinforced for new business of death and destruction against Spring. Pathetic surely, as well as picturesque. "Three Campaigns there have already been," sighs the peaceable observer: "Three Campaigns, surely furious enough; Eleven Battles in them," [Stenzel, v. 185. This, I suppose, would be his enumeration: LOBOSITZ (1756); PRAG, KOLIN, Hastenbeck, Gross-Jagersdorf, ROSSBACH, Breslau, LEUTHEN, (1757); Crefeld, ZORNDORF, HOCHKIRCH (1758): "eleven hitherto in all."] a Prag, a Kolin, Leuthen, Rossbach;—must there still be others, then, to the misery of poor mankind?" thus sigh many peaceful persons. Not considering what are, and have been, the rages, the iniquities, the loud and silent deliriums, the mad blindnesses and sins of mankind; and what amount, of CALCINING these may reasonably take. Not calcinable in three Campaigns at all, it would appear! Four more Campaigns are needed: then there will be innocuous ashes in quantity; and a result unexpected, and worth marking in World-History.
It is notably one of Friedrich's fond hopes,—of which he keeps up several, as bright cloud-hangings in the haggard inner world he now has,—that Peace is just at hand; one right struggle more, and Peace must come! And on the part of Britannic George and him, repeated attempts were made,—one in the end of this Year 1759;—but one and all of them proved futile, and, unless for accidental reasons, need not be mentioned here. Many men, in all nations, long for Peace; but there are Three Women at the top of the world who do not; their wrath, various in quality, is great in quantity, and disasters do the reverse of appeasing it.
The French people, as is natural, are weary of a War which yields them mere losses and disgraces; "War carried on for Austrian whims, which likewise seem to be impracticable!" think they. And their Bernis himself, Minister of Foreign Affairs, who began this sad French-Austrian Adventure, has already been remonstrating with Kaunitz, and grumbling anxiously, "Could not the Swedes, or somebody, be got to mediate? Such a War is too ruinous!" Hearing which, the Pompadour is shocked at the favorite creature of her hands; hastens to dismiss him ("Be Cardinal then, you ingrate of a Bernis; disappear under that Red Hat!")—and appoints, in his stead, one Choiseul (known hitherto as STAINVILLE, Comte de Stainville, French Excellency at Vienna, but now made Duke on this promotion), Duc de Choiseul; [Minister of Foreign Affairs, "11th November, 1758" (Barbier, iv. 294).] who is a Lorrainer, or Semi-Austrian, by very birth; and probably much fitter for the place. A swift, impetuous kind of man, this Choiseul, who is still rather young than otherwise; plenty of proud spirit in him, of shifts, talent of the reckless sort; who proved very notable in France for the next twenty years.
French trade being ruined withal, money is running dreadfully low: but they appoint a new Controller-General; a M. de Silhouette, who is thought to have an extraordinary creative genius in Finance. Had he but a Fortunatus-Purse, how lucky were it! With Fortunatus Silhouette as purse-holder, with a fiery young Choiseul on this hand, and a fiery old Belleisle on that, Pompadour meditates great things this Year,—Invasions of England; stronger German Armies; better German Plans, and slashings home upon Hanover itself, or the vital point;—and flatters herself, and her poor Louis, that there is on the anvil, for 1759, such a French Campaign as will perhaps astonish Pitt and another insolent King. Very fixed, fell and feminine is the Pompadour's humor in this matter. Nor is the Czarina's less so; but more, if possible; unappeasable except by death. Imperial Maria Theresa has masculine reasons withal; great hopes, too, of late. Of the War's ending till flat impossibility stop it, there is no likelihood.
To Pitt this Campaign 1759, in spite of bad omens at the outset, proved altogether splendid: but greatly the reverse on Friedrich's side; to whom it was the most disastrous and unfortunate he had yet made, or did ever make. Pitt at his zenith in public reputation; Friedrich never so low before, nothing seemingly but extinction near ahead, when this Year ended. The truth is, apart from his specific pieces of ill-luck, there had now begun for Friedrich a new rule of procedure, which much altered his appearance in the world. Thrice over had he tried by the aggressive or invasive method; thrice over made a plunge at the enemy's heart, hoping so to disarm or lame him: but that, with resources spent to such a degree, is what he cannot do a fourth time: he is too weak henceforth to think of that.
Prussia has always its King, and his unrivalled talent; but that is pretty much the only fixed item: Prussia VERSUS France, Austria, Russia, Sweden and the German Reich, what is it as a field of supplies for war! Except its King, these are failing, year by year; and at a rate fatally SWIFT in comparison. Friedrich cannot now do Leuthens, Rossbachs; far-shining feats of victory, which astonish all the world. His fine Prussian veterans have mostly perished; and have been replaced by new levies and recruits; who are inferior both in discipline and native quality;—though they have still, people say, a noteworthy taste of the old Prussian sort in them; and do, in fact, fight well to the last. But "it is observable," says Retzow somewhere, and indeed it follows from the nature of the case, "that while the Prussian Army presents always its best kind of soldiers at the beginning of a war, Austria, such are its resources in population, always improves in that particular, and its best troops appear in the last campaigns." In a word, Friedrich stands on the defensive henceforth; disputing his ground inch by inch: and is reduced, more and more, to battle obscurely with a hydra-coil of enemies and impediments; and to do heroisms which make no noise in the Gazettes. And, alas, which cannot figure in History either,—what is more a sorrow to me here!
Friedrich, say all judges of soldiership and human character who have studied Friedrich sufficiently, "is greater than ever," in these four Years now coming. [Berenhorst, in Kriegskunst; Retzow; &c.] And this, I have found more and more to be a true thing; verifiable and demonstrable in time and place,—though, unluckily for us, hardly in this time or this place at all! A thing which cannot, by any method, be made manifest to the general reader; who delights in shining summary feats, and is impatient of tedious preliminaries and investigations,—especially of MAPS, which are the indispensablest requisite of all. A thing, in short, that belongs peculiarly to soldier-students; who can undergo the dull preliminaries, most dull but most inexorably needed; and can follow out, with watchful intelligence, and with a patience not to be wearied, the multifarious topographies, details of movements and manoeuvrings, year after year, on such a Theatre of War. What is to be done with it here! If we could, by significant strokes, indicate, under features true so far as they went, the great wide fire-flood that was raging round the world; if we could, carefully omitting very many things, omit of the things intelligible and decipherable that concern Friedrich himself, nothing that had meaning: IF indeed—! But it is idle preluding. Forward again, brave reader, under such conditions as there are!
Friedrich's Winter in Breslau was of secluded, silent, sombre character, this time; nothing of stir in it but from work only: in marked contrast with the last, and its kindly visitors and gayeties. A Friedrich given up to his manifold businesses, to his silent sorrows. "I have passed my winter like a Carthusian monk," he writes to D'Argens: "I dine alone; I spend my life in reading and writing; and I do not sup. When one is sad, it becomes at last too burdensome to hide one's grief continually; and it is better to give way to it by oneself, than to carry one's gloom into society. Nothing solaces me but the vigorous application required in steady and continuous labor. This distraction does force one to put away painful ideas, while it lasts: but, alas, no sooner is the work done, than these fatal companions present themselves again, as if livelier than ever. Maupertuis was right: the sum of evil does certainly surpass that of good:—but to me it is all one; I have almost nothing more to lose; and my few remaining days, what matters it much of what complexion they be?" ["Breslau, 1st March, 1759," To D'Argens (OEuvres de Frederic, xix. 56).]
The loss of his Wilhelmina, had there been no other grief, has darkened all his life to Friedrich. Readers are not prepared for the details of grief we could give, and the settled gloom of mind they indicate. A loss irreparable and immeasurable; the light of life, the one loved heart that loved him, gone. His passionate appeals to Voltaire to celebrate for him in verse his lost treasure, and at least make her virtues immortal, are perhaps known to readers: [ODE SUR LA MORT DE S. A. S. MADAME LA PRINCESSE DE BAREITH (in OEuvres de Voltaire, xviii. 79-86): see Friedrich's Letter to him (6th November, 1758); with Voltaire's VERSES in Answer (next month); Friedrich's new Letter (Breslau, 23d January 1759), demanding something more,—followed by the ODE just cited (Ib. lxxii. 402; lxxviii. 82, 92; or OEuvres de Frederic, xxiii. 20-24: &c.) alas, this is a very feeble kind of immortality, and Friedrich too well feels it such. All Winter he dwells internally on the sad matter, though soon falling silent on it to others.
The War is ever more dark and dismal to him; a wearing, harassing, nearly disgusting task; on which, however, depends life or death. This Year, he "expects to have 300,000 enemies upon him;" and "is, with his utmost effort, getting up 150,000 to set against them." Of business, in its many kinds, there can be no lack! In the intervals he also wrote considerably: one of his Pieces is a SERMON ON THE LAST JUDGMENT; handed to Reader De Catt, one evening:—to De Catt's surprise, and to ours; the Voiceless in a dark Friedrich trying to give itself some voice in this way! [OEuvres de Frederic, xv. 1-10 (see Preuss's PREFACE there; Formey, SOUVENIRS, i. 37; &c. &c.)] Another Piece, altogether practical, and done with excellent insight, brevity, modesty, is ON TACTICS; [REFLEXIONS SUR LA TACTIQUE: in OEuvres de Frederic, xxviii. 153-166.]—properly it might be called, "Serious very Private Thoughts," thrown on paper, and communicated only to two or three, "On the new kind of Tactics necessary with those Austrians and their Allies," who are in such overwhelming strength. "To whose continual sluggishness, and strange want of concert, to whose incoherency of movements, languor of execution, and other enormous faults, we have owed, with some excuse for our own faults, our escaping of destruction hitherto,"—but had better NOT trust that way any longer! Fouquet is one of the highly select, to whom he communicates this Piece; adding along with it, in Fouquet's case, an affectionate little Note, and, in spite of poverty, some New-year's Gift, as usual,—the "Widow's Mite [300 pounds, we find]; receive it with the same heart with which it was set apart for you: a small help, which you may well have need of, in these calamitous times." ["Breslau, 23d December, 1758;" with Fouquet's Answer, 2d January, 1759: in OEuvres de Frederic, xx. 114-117.] Fouquet much admires the new Tactical Suggestions;—seems to think, however, that the certainly practicable one is, in particular, the last, That of "improving our Artillery to some equality with theirs." For which, as may appear, the King has already been taking thought, in more ways than one.
Finance is naturally a heavy part of Friedrich's Problem; the part which looks especially impossible, from our point of vision! In Friedrich's Country, the War Budget does not differ from the Peace one. Neither is any borrowing possible; that sublime Art, of rolling over on you know not whom the expenditure, needful or needless, of your heavy-laden self, had not yet—though England is busy at it—been invented among Nations. Once, or perhaps twice, from the STANDE of some willing Province, Friedrich negotiated some small Loan; which was punctually repaid when Peace came, and was always gratefully remembered. But these are as nothing, in face of such expenses; and the thought how he did contrive on the Finance side, is and was not a little wonderful. An ingenious Predecessor, whom I sometimes quote, has expressed himself in these words:—
"Such modicum of Subsidy [he is speaking of the English Subsidy in 1758], how useful will it prove in a Country bred everywhere to Spartan thrift, accustomed to regard waste as sin, and which will lay out no penny except to purpose! I guess the Prussian Exchequer is, by this time, much on the ebb; idle precious metals tending everywhere towards the melting-pot. At what precise date the Friedrich-Wilhelm balustrades, and enormous silver furnitures, were first gone into, Dryasdust has not informed me: but we know they all went; as they well might. To me nothing is so wonderful as Friedrich's Budget during this War. One day it will be carefully investigated, elucidated and made conceivable and certain to mankind: but that as yet is far from being the case. We walk about in it with astonishment; almost, were it possible, with incredulity. Expenditure on this side, work done on that: human nature, especially British human nature, refuses to conceive it. Never in this world, before or since, was the like. The Friedrich miracles in War are great; but those in Finance are almost greater. Let Dryasdust bethink him; and gird his flabby loins to this Enterprise; which is very behooveful in these Californian times!"—
The general Secret of Prussian Thrift, I do fear, is lost from the world. And how an Army of about 200,000, in field and garrison, could be kept on foot, and in some ability to front combined Europe, on about Three Million Sterling annually ("25 million THALERS"=3,150,000 pounds, that is the steady War-Budget of those years), remains to us inconceivable enough;—mournfully miraculous, as it were; and growing ever more so in the Nugget-generations that now run. Meanwhile, here are what hints I could find, on the Origins of that modest Sum, which also are a wonder: [Preuss, ii. 388-392; Stenzel, v. 137-141.]—
"The hoarded Prussian Moneys, or 'TREASURES' [two of them, KLEINE SCHATZ, GROSSE SCHATZ, which are rigidly saved in Peace years, for incidence of War], being nearly run out, there had come the English Subsidy: this, with Saxony, and the Home revenues and remnants of SCHATZ had sufficed for 1758; but will no longer suffice. Next to Saxony, the English Subsidy (670,000 pounds due the second time this year) was always Friedrich's principal resource: and in the latter years of the War, I observe, it was nearly twice the amount of what all his Prussian Countries together, in their ravaged and worn-out state, could yield him. In and after 1759, besides Home Income, which is gradually diminishing, and English Subsidy, which is a steady quantity, Friedrich's sources of revenue are mainly Two:—
"FIRST, there is that of wringing money from your Enemies, from those that have deserved ill of you,—such of them as you can come at. Enemies, open or secret, even Ill-wishers, we are not particular, provided only they lie within arm's-length. Under this head fall principally three Countries (and their three poor Populations, in lieu of their Governments): Saxony, Mecklenburg (or the main part of it, Mecklenburg-SCHWERIN), and Anhalt; from these three there is a continual forced supply of money and furnishings. Their demerits to Friedrich differ much in intensity; nor is his wringing of them—which in the cases of Mecklenburg and Saxony increases year by year to the nearly intolerable pitch—quite in the simple ratio of their demerits; but in a compound ratio of that and of his indignation and of his wants.
"Saxony, as Prime Author of this War, was from the first laid hold of, collared tightly: 'Pay the shot, then, what you can' (in the end it was almost what you cannot)! As to Mecklenburg-Schwerin, the grudge against Prussia was of very old standing, some generations now; and the present Duke, not a very wise Sovereign more than his Ancestors, had always been ill with Friedrich; willing to spite and hurt him when possible: in Reichs Diet he, of all German Princes, was the first that voted for Friedrich's being put to Ban of the Reich,—he; and his poor People know since whether that was a wise step! The little Anhalt Princes, too, all the Anhalts, Dessau, Bernburg, Cothen, Zerbst [perhaps the latter partially excepted, for a certain Russian Lady's sake], had voted, or at least had ambiguously half-voted, in favor of the Ban, and done other unfriendly things; and had now to pay dear for their bits of enmities. Poor souls, they had but One Vote among them all Four;—and they only half gave it, tremulously pulling it back again. I should guess it was their terrors mainly, and over-readiness to reckon Friedrich a sinking ship; and to leap from the deck of him,—with a spurn which he took for insolent! The Anhalt-Dessauers particularly, who were once of his very Army, half Prussians for generations back, he reckoned to have used him scandalously ill.
"This Year the requisition on the Four Anhalts—which they submit to patiently, as people who have leapt into the wrong ship—is, in precise tale: of money, 330,000 thalers (about 50,000 pounds); recruits, 2,200; horses, 1,800. In Saxony, besides the fixed Taxes, strict confiscation of Meissen Potteries and every Royalty, there were exacted heavy 'Contributions,' more and more heavy, from the few opulent Towns, chiefly from Leipzig; which were wrung out, latterly, under great severities,—'chief merchants of Leipzig all clapt in prison, kept on bread-and-water till they yielded,'—AS great severities as would suffice, but NOT greater; which also was noted. Unfortunate chief merchants of Leipzig,—with Bruhl and Polish Majesty little likely to indemnify them! Unfortunate Country altogether. An intelligent Saxon, who is vouched for as impartial, bears witness as follows: 'And this I know, that the oppressions and plunderings of the Austrians and Reichsfolk, in Saxony, turned all hearts away from them; and it was publicly said, We had rather bear the steady burden of the Prussians than such help as these our pretended Deliverers bring.' [Stenzel (citing from KRIEGSKANZLEI, which I have not), v. 137 n.] Whereby, on the whole, the poor Country got its back broken, and could never look up in the world since. Resource FIRST was abundantly severe.
"Resource SECOND is strangest of all;—and has given rise to criticism enough! It is no other than that of issuing base money; mixing your gold and silver coin with copper,—this, one grieves to say, is the Second and extreme resource. A rude method—would we had a better—of suspending Cash-payments, and paying by bank-notes instead!' thinks Friedrich, I suppose. From his Prussian Mints, from his Saxon [which are his for the present], and from the little Anhalt-Bernburg Mint [of which he expressly purchased the sad privilege,—for we are not a Coiner, we are a King reduced to suspend Cash-payments, for the time being], Friedrich poured out over all Germany, in all manner of kinds, huge quantities of bad Coin. This, so long as it would last, is more and more a copious fountain of supply. This, for the first time, has had to appear as an item in War-Budget 1759: and it fails in no following, but expands more and more. It was done through Ephraim, the not lovely Berlin Jew, whom we used to hear of in Voltaire's time;—through Ephraim and two others, Ephraim as President: in return for a net Sum, these shall have privilege to coin such and such amounts, so and so alloyed; shall pay to General Tauentzien, Army Treasurer, at fixed terms, the Sums specified: 'Go, and do it; our Mint-Officers sharply watching you; Mint-Officers, and General Tauentzien [with a young Herr Lessing, as his Chief Clerk, of whom the King knows nothing]; Go, ye unlovely!' And Ephraim and Company are making a great deal of money by the unlovely job. Ephraim is the pair of tongs, the hand, and the unlovely job, are a royal man's. Alas, yes. And none of us knows better than King Friedrich, perhaps few of us as well, how little lovely a job it was; how shockingly UNkingly it was,—though a practice not unknown to German Kings and Kinglets before his time, and since down almost to ours. [In STENZEL (v. 141) enumeration of eight or nine unhappy Potentates, who were busy with it in those same years.] In fact, these are all unkingly practices;—and the English Subsidy itself is distasteful to a proud Friedrich: but what, in those circumstances, can any Friedrich do?
"The first coinages of Ephraim had, it seems, in them about 3-7ths of copper; something less than the half, and more than the third,"—your gold sovereign grown to be worth 28s. 6d. "But yearly it grew worse; and in 1762 [English Subsidy having failed] matters had got inverted; and there was three times as much copper as silver. Commerce, as was natural, went rocking and tossing, as on a sea under earthquakes; but there was always ready money among Friedrich's soldiers, as among no other: nor did the common people, or retail purchasers, suffer by it. 'Hah, an Ephraimite!' they would say, grinning not ill-humoredly, at sight of one of these pieces; some of which they had more specifically named 'BLUE-GOWNS' [owing to a tint of blue perceivable, in spite of the industrious plating in real silver, or at least "boiling in some solution" of it]; these they would salute with this rhyme, then current:—
"Von aussen schon, van innen schlimm; Von aussen Friedrich, von innen Ephraim. Outside noble, inside slim: Outside Friedrich, inside Ephraim.
"By this time, whatever of money, from any source, can be scraped together in Friedrich's world, flows wholly into the Army-Chest, as the real citadel of life. In these latter years of the War, beginning, I could guess, from 1759, all Civil expenditures, and wages of Officials, cease to be paid in money; nobody of that kind sees the color even of bad coin; but is paid only in 'Paper Assignments,' in Promises to Pay 'after the Peace.' These Paper Documents made no pretence to the rank of Currency: such holders of them as had money, or friends, and could wait, got punctual payment when the term did arrive; but those that could not, suffered greatly; having to negotiate their debentures on ruinous terms,—sometimes at an expense of three-fourths.—I will add Friedrich's practical Schedule of Amounts from all these various Sources; and what Friedrich's own view of the Sources was, when he could survey them from the safe distance.
"SCHEDULE OF AMOUNTS [say for 1761]. To make up the Twenty-five Million thalers, necessary for the Army, there are:—
"From our Prussian Countries, ruined, harried as THALERS they have been,.......... 4 millions only. From Saxony and the other Wringings, ..... 7 millions. English Subsidy (4 of good gold; becoppered into double),........... 8 " From Ephraim and his Farm of the Mint (MUNZ-PATENT), .......... 7 "
In sum Twenty-six Millions; leaving you one Million of margin,—and always a plenty of cash in hand for incidental sundries. [Preuss, ii. 388.]
"Friedrich's own view of these sad matters, as he closes his History of the Seven-Years War [at "Berlin, 17th December, 1763"], is in these words: 'May Heaven grant,—if Heaven deign to look down on the paltry concerns of men,—that the unalterable and flourishing destiny of this Country preserve the Sovereigns who shall govern it from the scourges and calamities which Prussia has suffered in these times of trouble and subversion; that they may never again be forced to recur to the violent and fatal remedies which we (L'ON) have been obliged to employ in maintenance of the State against the ambitious hatred of the Sovereigns of Europe, who wished to annihilate the House of Brandenburg, and exterminate from the world whatever bore the Prussian name!'" [OEuvres de Frederic, v. 234.]
OF THE SMALL-WAR IN SPRING, 1759. THERE ARE FIVE DISRUPTIONS OF THAT GRAND CORDON (February-April); AND FERDINAND OF BRUNSWICK FIGHTS HIS BATTLE OF BERGEN (April 13th).
Friedrich, being denied an aggressive course this Year, by no means sits idly expectant and defensive in the interim; but, all the more vigorously, as is observable, from February onwards, strikes out from him on every side: endeavoring to spoil the Enemy's Magazines, and cripple his operations in that way. So that there was, all winter through, a good deal of Small-War (some of it not Small), of more importance than usual,—chiefly of Friedrich's originating, with the above view, or of Ferdinand his Ally's, on a still more pressing score. And, on the whole, that immense Austrian-French Cordon, which goes from the Carpathians to the Ocean, had by no means a quiet time; but was broken into, and violently hurled back, in different parts: some four, or even five, attacks upon it in all; three of them by Prince Henri,—in two of which Duke Ferdinand's people co-operated; the business being for mutual behoof. These latter Three were famous in the world, that Winter; and indeed are still recognizable as brilliant procedures of their kind; though, except dates and results, we can afford almost nothing of them here. These Three, intended chiefly against Reichs people and their Posts and Magazines, fell out on the western and middle part of the Cordon. Another attack was in the extreme eastward, and was for Friedrich's own behoof; under Fouquet's management;—intended against the Austrian-Moravian Magazines and Preparations, but had little success. Still another assault, or invasive outroad, northward against the Russian Magazines, there also was; of which by and by. Besides all which, and more memorable than all, Duke Ferdinand, for vital reasons of his own, fought a Battle this Spring, considerable Battle, and did NOT gain it; which made great noise in the world.
It is not necessary the reader should load his memory with details of all these preliminary things; on the contrary, it is necessary that he keep his memory clear for the far more important things that lie ahead of these, and entertain these in a summary way, as a kind of foreground to what is coming. Perhaps the following Fractions of Note, which put matters in something of Chronological or Synoptical form, will suffice him, or more than suffice. He is to understand that the grand tug of War, this Year, gradually turns out not to be hereabouts, nor with Daun and his adjacencies at all, but with the Russians, who arrive from the opposite Northern quarter; and that all else will prove to be merely prefatory and nugatory in comparison.
JANUARY 2d, 1759: FRANKFURT-ON-MAYN, THOUGH IT IS A REICHSTADT, FINDS ITSELF SUDDENLY BECOME FRENCH. "Prince de Soubise lies between Mayn and Lahn, with his 25,000; beautifully safe and convenient,—though ill off for a place-of-arms in those parts. Opulent Frankfurt, on his right; how handy would that be, were not Reichs Law so express! Marburg, Giessen are outposts of his; on which side one of Ferdinand's people, Prince von Ysenburg, watches him with an 8 or 10,000, capable of mischief in that quarter.
"On the Eve of New-year's day, or on the auspicious Day itself, Soubise requests, of the Frankfurt Authorities, permission for a regiment of his to march through that Imperial City. To which, by law and theory, the Imperial City can say Yes or No; but practically cannot, without grave inconvenience, say other than Yes, though most Frankfurters wish it could. 'Yes,' answer the Frankfurt Magnates; Yes surely, under the known conditions. Tuesday, January 2d, about 5 in the morning, while all is still dark in Frankfurt, regiment Nassau appears, accordingly, at the Sachsenhausen Gate, Town-guard people all ready to receive it and escort it through; and is admitted as usual. Quite as usual: but instead of being escorted through, it orders, in calm peremptory voice, the Town-guard, To ground arms; with calm rapidity proceeds to admit ten other regiments or battalions, six of them German; seizes the artillery on the Walls, seizes all the other Gates:—and poor Frankfurt finds itself tied hand and foot, almost before it is out of bed! Done with great exactitude, with the minimum of confusion, and without a hurt skin to anybody. The Inhabitants stood silent, gazing; the Town-guard laid down their arms, and went home. Totally against Law; but cleverly done; perhaps Soubise's chief exploit in the world; certainly the one real success the French have yet had.
"Soubise made haste to summon the Magistrates: 'Law of Necessity alone, most honored Sirs! Reichs Law is clear against me. But all the more shall private liberties, religions, properties, in this Imperial Free-Town, be sacred to us. Defence against any aggression: and the strictest discipline observed. Depend on me, I bid you!'—And kept his word to an honorable degree, they say; or in absence, made it be kept, during the Four Years that follow. Most Frankfurters are, at heart, Anti-French: but Soubise's affability was perfect; and he gave evening parties of a sublime character; the Magistrates all appearing there, in their square perukes and long gowns, with a mournful joy." [Tempelhof, iii. 7-8; Stenzel, v. 198-200.]
Soubise soon went home, to assist in important businesses,—Invasion of England, no less; let England look to itself this Summer!—and Broglio succeeded him, as Army-Captain in the Frankfurt parts; with laurels accruing, more or less. Soubise, like Broglio, began with Rossbach; Soubise ends with Frankfurt, for the present; where Broglio also gains his chief laurels, as will shortly be seen. Frankfurt is a great gain to France, though an illicit one. It puts a bar on Duke Ferdinand in that quarter; secures a starting-point for attacks on Hessen, Hanover; for co-operation with Contades and the Lower Rhine. It is the one success France has yet had in this War, or pretty much that it ever had in it. Due to Prince de Soubise, in that illegal fashion.—A highly remarkable little Boy, now in his tenth year, Johann Wolfgang Goethe, has his wondering eyes on these things: and, short while hence, meets daily, on the stairs and lobbies at home, a pleasant French Official Gentlemen who is quartered there; between whom and Papa occur rubs,—as readers may remember, and shall hear in April coming.
GRAND CORDON DISRUPTED: ERFURT COUNTRY, 16th FEBRUARY-2d MARCH. "About six weeks after this Frankfurt achievement, certain Reichsfolk and Austrian Auxiliaries are observed to be cutting down endless timber, '18,800 palisades, 6,000 trees of 60 feet,' and other huge furnishings, from the poor Duke of Gotha's woods; evidently meaning to fortify themselves in Erfurt. Upon which Prince Henri detaches a General Knobloch thitherward, Duke Ferdinand contributing 4,000 to meet him there; which combined expedition, after some sharp knocking and shoving, entirely disrooted the Austrians and Reichsfolk, and sent them packing. Had them quite torn out by the end of the month; and had planned to 'attack them on two sides at once' (March 2d), with a view of swallowing them whole,—when they (these Reichs Volscians, in such a state of flutter) privately hastened off, one and all of them, the day before." [Narrative, in Helden-Geschichte, v. 1022 et seq.]
This was BREAKAGE FIRST of the Grand Cordon; an explosive hurling of it back out of those Erfurt parts. Done by Prince Henri's people, in concert with Duke Ferdinand's,—who were mutually interested in the thing.
BREAKAGE SECOND: ERFURT-FULDA COUNTRY, 31st MARCH-8th APRIL. "About the end of March, these intrusive Austrian Reichsfolk made some attempt to come back into those Countries; but again got nothing but hard knocks; and gave up the Erfurt project. For, close following on this FIRST, there was a SECOND still deeper and rougher Breakage, in those same regions; the Hereditary Prince of Brunswick dashing through, on a special Errand of Ferdinand's own [of which presently], with an 8 or 10,000, in his usual fiery manner; home into the very bowels of the Reich (April 3d, and for a week onward); and returning with 'above 2,000 prisoners' in hand; especially with a Reich well frightened behind him;—still in time for Duke Ferdinand's Adventure [in fact, for his Battle of Bergen, of which we are to hear]. Had been well assisted by Prince Henri, who 'made dangerous demonstrations in the distance,' and was extremely diligent—though the interest was chiefly Ferdinand's this time." [Tempelhof, iii. 19-22.]—Contemporary with that FIRST Erfurt Business, there went on, 300 miles away from it, in the quite opposite direction, another of the same;—too curious to be omitted.
ACROSS THE POLISH FRONTIER: FEBRUARY, 24th-MARCH 4th. "In the end of February, General Wobersnow, an active man, was detached from Glogau, over into Poland, Posen way, To overturn the Russian provision operations thereabouts; in particular, to look into a certain high-flying Polack, a Prince Sulkowski of those parts; who with all diligence is gathering food, in expectation of the Russian advent; and indeed has formally 'declared War against the King of Prussia;' having the right, he says, as a Polish Magnate, subject only to his own high thought in such affairs. The Russians and their wars are dear to Sulkowski. He fell prisoner in their cause, at Zorndorf, last Autumn; was stuck, like all the others, Soltikoff himself among them, into the vaulted parts of Custrin Garrison: 'I am sorry I have no Siberia for you,' said Friedrich, looking, not in a benign way, on the captive Dignitaries, that hot afternoon; 'go to Custrin, and see what you have provided for yourselves!' Which they had to do; nothing, for certain days, but cellarage to lodge in; King inexorable, deaf to remonstrance. Which possibly may have contributed to kindle Sulkowski into these extremely high proceedings.
"At any rate, Wobersnow punctually looks in upon him: seizes his considerable stock of Russian proviants; his belligerent force, his high person itself; and in one luckless hour snuffs him out from the list of potentates. His belligerent force, about 1,000 Polacks, were all compelled, 'by the cudgel, say my authorities, to take Prussian service [in garrison regiments, and well scattered about, I suppose]; his own high person found itself sitting locked in Glogau, left to its reflections. Sat thus 'till the War ended,' say some; certainly till the Sulkowski War had been sufficiently exploded by the laughter of mankind." Here are, succinctly, the dates of this small memorability:—
"End of February, Wobersnow gathers, at Glogau, a force of about 8,000 horse and foot. Marches, 24th FEBRUARY, over Oder Bridge, straight into Poland; that same night, to the neighborhood of Lissa and Reisen (Sulkowski's dominion), about thirty miles northeast of Glogau. Sulkowski done next day;—part of the capture is 'fifteen small guns.' Wobersnow goes, next, for Posen; arrives, 28th FEBRUARY; destroys Russian Magazine, ransoms Jews. Shoots out other detachments on the Magazine Enterprise;—detaches Platen along the Warta, where are picked up various items, among others 'eighty tuns of brandy,'—but himself proceeds no farther than Posen. MARCH 4th, sets out again from Posen, homewards." [NACHRICHT VON DER UNTERNEHMUNG DES GENERAL-MAJORS VON WOBERSNOW IN POLEN, IM FEB. UND MARZ. 1759: in Seyfarth, Beylagen, ii. 526-529. Helden-Geschichte, v. 829.] We shall hear again of Wobersnow, in a much more important way, before long.
To the Polish Republic so called, Friedrich explained politely, not apologetically: "Since you allow the Russians to march through you in attack of me, it is evident to your just minds that the attacked party must have similar privilege." "Truly!" answered they, in their just minds, generally; and I made no complaint about Sulkowski (though Polish Majesty and Primate endeavored to be loud about "Invasion" and the like):—and indeed Polish Republic was lying, for a long while past, as if broken-backed, on the public highway, a Nation anarchic every fibre of it, and under the feet and hoofs of travelling Neighbors, especially of Russian Neighbors; and is not now capable of saying much for itself in such cases, or of doing anything at all.
FRANKFURT COUNTRY, APRIL 13th: DUKE FERDINAND'S BATTLE OF BERGEN. "Duke Ferdinand, fully aware what a stroke that seizure of Frankfurt was to him, resolved to risk a long march at this bad season, and attempt to drive the French out. Contades was absent in Paris,—no fear of an attack from Contades's Army; Broglio's in Frankfurt, grown now to about 35,000, can perhaps be beaten if vigorously attacked. Ferdinand appoints a rendezvous at Fulda, of various Corps, Prince Ysenburg's and others, that lie nearest, Hessians many of them, Hanoverians others; proceeds, himself, to Fulda, with a few attendants [a drive of about 200 miles];—having left Lord George Sackville [mark the sad name of him!]—Sackville, head of the English, and General Sporken, a Hanoverian,—to take charge in Munster Country, during his absence. It was from Fulda that he shot out the Hereditary Prince on that important Errand we lately spoke of, under the head of 'BREAKAGE SECOND,'—namely, to clear his right flank, and scare the Reich well off him, while he should be marching on Frankfurt. All which, Henri assisting from the distance, the Hereditary Prince performed to perfection,—and was back (APRIL 8th) in excellent time for the Battle.
"Ferdinand stayed hardly a day in Fulda, ranking himself and getting on the road. Did his long march of above 100 miles without accident or loss of time;—of course, scaring home the Broglio Outposts in haste enough, and awakening Broglio's attention in a high degree;—and arrives, Thursday, April 12th, at Windecken, a Village about fifteen miles northeast of Frankfurt; where he passes the night under arms; intending Battle on the morrow. Broglio is all assembled, 35,000 strong; his Assailant, with the Hereditary Prince come in, counts rather under 30,000. Broglio is posted in, and on both sides of, Bergen, a high-lying Village, directly on Ferdinand's road to Frankfurt. Windecken is about fifteen miles from Frankfurt; Bergen about six:—idle Tourists of our time, on their return from Homburg to that City, leave Bergen a little on their left. The ground is mere hills, woody dales, marshy brooks; Broglio's position, with its Village, and Hill, and ravines and advantages, is the choicest of the region; and Broglio's methods, procedures and arrangements in it are applauded by all judges.
"FRIDAY, 13th APRIL, 1759, Ferdinand is astir by daybreak; comes on, along one of those woody balleys, pickeering, reconnoitring;—in the end, directly up the Hill of Bergen; straight upon the key-point. It is about 10 A.M., when the batteries and musketries awaken there; very loud indeed, for perhaps two hours or more. Prince von Ysenburg is leader of Ferdinand's attacking party. Their attack is hot and fierce, and they stick to it steadily; though garden-hedges, orchards and impediments are many, and Broglio, with, much cannon helping, makes vigorous defence. These Ysenburgers fought till their cartridges were nearly spent, and Ysenburg himself lay killed; but could not take Bergen. Nor could the Hereditary Prince; who, in aid of them, tried it in flank, with his own usual impetuosity rekindling theirs, and at first with some success; but was himself taken in flank by Broglio's Reserve, and obliged to desist. No getting of Bergen by that method.
"Military critics say coolly, 'You should have smashed it well with cannon, first [which Ferdinand had not in stock here]; and especially have flung grenadoes into it, till it was well in flame: impossible otherwise!' [Mauvillon, ii. 19.] The Ysenburgers and Hereditary Prince withdraw. No pursuit of them; or almost less than none; for the one or two French regiments that tried it (against order), nearly got cut up. Broglio, like a very Daun at Kolin, had strictly forbidden all such attempts: 'On no temptation quit your ground!'
"The Battle, after this, lay quiet all afternoon; Ferdinand still in sight; motioning much, to tempt French valor into chasing of him. But all in vain: Broglio, though his subalterns kept urging, remonstrating, was peremptory not to stir. Whereupon, towards evening, across certain woody Heights, perhaps still with some hope of drawing him out, Ferdinand made some languid attempt on Broglio's wing, or wings;—and this also failing, had to give up the affair. He continued cannonading till deep in the night; withdrew to Windecken: and about two next morning, marched for home,—still with little or no pursuit: but without hope of Frankfurt henceforth. And, in fact, has a painful Summer ahead.
"Ferdinand had lost 5 cannon, and of killed and wounded 2,500; the French counted their loss at about 1,900. [Mauvillon, ii. 10-19; Tempelhof, iii. 26-31.] The joy of France over this immense victory was extraordinary. Broglio was made Prince of the Reich, Marechal de France; would have been raised to the stars, had one been able,—for the time being. 'And your immense victory,' so sneered the by-standers, 'consists in not being beaten, under those excellent conditions;—perhaps victory is a rarity just now!'"
This is the Battle which our Boy-Friend Johann Wolfgang watched with such interest, from his garret-window, hour after hour; all Frankfurt simmering round him, in such a whirlpool of self-contradictory emotions; till towards evening, when, in long rows of carts, poor wounded Hessians and Hanoverians came jolting in, and melted every heart into pity, into wailing sorrow, and eagerness to help. A little later, Papa Goethe, stepping downstairs, came across the Official French Gentleman; who said radiantly: "Doubtless you congratulate yourself and us on this victory to his Majesty's arms." "Not a whit (KEINESWEGS)," answers Papa Goethe, a stiff kind of man, nowise in the mood of congratulating: "on the contrary, I wish they had chased you to the Devil, though I had had to go too!" Which was a great relief to his feelings, though a dangerous one in the circumstances. [Goethe's WERKE (Stuttgart und Tubingen, 1829), xxiv. (DICHTUNG UND WAHRHEIT, i.), 153-157.]
BREAKAGE THIRD: OVER THE METAL MOUNTAINS INTO BOHMEN (APRIL 14th-20th). "Ferdinand's Battle was hardly ending, when Prince Henri poured across the Mountains,—in two columns, Hulsen leading the inferior or rightmost one,—into Leitmeritz-Eger Country; and made a most successful business of the Austrian Magazines he found there. Magazines all filled; Enemy all galloping for Prag:—Daun himself, who is sitting vigilant, far in the interior, at Jaromirtz this month past, was thrown into huge flurry, for some days! Speedy Henri (almost on the one condition of BEING speedy) had his own will of the Magazines: burnt, Hulsen and he, 'about 600,000 pounds worth' of Austrian provender in those parts, 'what would have kept 50,000 men five months in bread' (not to mention hay at all); gave the Enemy sore slaps (caught about 3,000 of him, NOT yet got on gallop for Prag); burnt his 200 boats on the Elbe:—forced him to begin anew at the beginning; and did, in effect, considerably lame and retard certain of his operations through the Summer. Speedy Henri marched for home April 20th; and was all across the Mountains April 23d: a profitable swift nine days." [Tempelhof iii. 47-53; Helden-Geschichte, v. 963-966.]—And on the sixth day hence he will have something similar, and still more important, on foot. A swift man, when he must!
BREAKAGE FOURTH: INTO MAHREN (APRIL 16th-21st). "This is Fouquet's attempt, alluded to above; of which—as every reader must be satisfied with Small-War—we will give only the dates. Fouquet, ranking at Leobschutz, in Neisse Country, did break through into Mahren, pushing the Austrians before him; but found the Magazines either emptied, or too inaccessible for any worth they had;—could do nothing on the Magazines; and returned without result; home at Leobschutz again on the fifth day." [ Helden-Geschichte, v. 958-963; Tempelhof, iii. 44-47.] This, however, had a sequel for Fouquet; which, as it brought the King himself into those neighborhoods, we shall have to mention, farther on.
BREAKAGE FIFTH: INTO FRANKEN (MAY 5th-JUNE 1st). "This was Prince Henri's Invasion of the Bamberg-Nurnberg Countries; a much sharper thing than in any former Year. Much the most famous, and," luckily for us, "the last of the Small-War affairs for the present. Started,—from Tschopau region, Bamberg way,—April 29th-May 5th. In Three Columns: Finck leftmost, and foremost (Finck had marched April 29th, pretending to mean for Bohemia); after whom Knobloch; and (May 5th) the Prince himself. Who has an eye to the Reichs Magazines and Preparations, as usual;—nay, an eye to their Camp of Rendezvous, and to a fight with their miscellaneous Selves and Auxiliaries, if they will stand fight. 'You will have to leave Saxony, and help us with the Russians, soon: beat those Reichs people first!' urged the King; 'well beaten, they will not trouble Saxony for a while.' If they will stand fight? But they would not at all. They struck their tents everywhere; burnt their own Magazines, in some cases; and only went mazing hither and thither,—gravitating all upon Nurnberg, and an impregnable Camp which they have in that neighborhood. Supreme Zweibruck was himself with them; many Croats, Austrians, led by Maguire and others; all marching, whirling at a mighty rate; with a countenance sometimes of vigor, but always with Nurnberg Camp in rear. There was swift marching, really beautiful manoeuvring here and there; sharp bits of fighting, too, almost in the battle-form:—Maguire tried, or was for trying, a stroke with Finck; but made off hastily, glad to get away. [Templehof, iii. 64.] May 11th, at Himmelskron in Baireuth, one Riedesel of theirs had fairly to ground arms, self and 2,500, and become prisoners of war." Much of this manoeuvring and scuffling was in Baireuth Territory. Twice, or even thrice, Prince Henri was in Baireuth Town: "marched through Baireuth," say the careless Old Books. Through Baireuth:—No Wilhelmina now there, with her tremulous melodies of welcome! Wilhelminn's loves, and terrors for her loved, are now all still. Perhaps her poor Daughter of Wurtemberg, wandering unjustly disgraced, is there; Papa, the Widower Margraf, is for marrying again: [Married 20th September, 1759 (a Brunswick Princess, Sister's-daughter of his late Wife); died within four years.]—march on, Prince Henri!
"In Bamberg," says a Note from Archenholtz, "the Reichs troops burnt their Magazine; and made for Nurnberg, as usual; but left some thousand or two of Croats, who would not yet. Knobloch and his Prussians appeared shortly after; summoned Bamberg, which agreed to receive them; and were for taking possession; but found the Croats determined otherwise. Fight ensued; fight in the streets; which, in hideousness of noises, if in nothing else, was beyond parallel. The inhabitants sat all quaking in their cellars; not an inhabitant was to be seen: a City dead,—and given up to the demons, in this manner. Not for some hours were the Croats got entirely trampled out. Bamberg, as usual, became a Prussian place-of-arms; was charged to pay ransom of 40,000 pounds;—'cannot possibly!'—did pay some 14,000 pounds, and gave bills for the remainder." [Archenholtz. i. 371-373.] Which bills, let us mark withal, the Kaiser in Reichs Diet decreed to be invalid: "Don't pay them!" A thing not forgotten by Friedrich;—though it is understood the Bambergers, lest worse might happen, privately paid their bills. "The Expedition lasted, in whole, not quite four weeks: June 1st, Prince Henri was at the Saxon frontier again; the German world all ringing loud,—in jubilation, counter-jubilation and a great variety of tones,—with the noise of what he had done. A sharp swift man; and, sure enough, has fluttered the Reichs Volscians in their Corioli to an unexpected degree." [Seyfarth, Beylagen, ii. 537-563; BERICHT VON DER UNTERNEHMUNG DES PRINZEN HEINRICH IN FRANKEN, IM JAHR, 1759; Helden-Geschichte, v. 1033-1039; Tempelhof,????, et seq.]—-[COPY ILLEGIBLE PAGE 203,]
A Colonel Wunsch (Lieutenant-Colonel of the Free Corps WUNSCH) distinguished himself in this Expedition; The beginning of notably great things to him in the few following months. Wunsch is a Wurtemberger by birth; has been in many services, always in subaltern posts, and, this year, will testify strangely how worthy he was of the higher. What a Year, this of 1759, to stout old Wunsch! In the Spring, here has he just seen his poor son, Lieutenant Wunsch, perish in one of these scuffles; in Autumn, he will see himself a General, shining suddenly bright, to his King and to all the world; before Winter, he will be Prisoner to Austria, and eclipsed for the rest of this war!—Kleist, of the GREEN HUSSARS, also made a figure here; and onwards rapidly ever higher; to the top of renown in his business:—fallen heir to Mayer's place, as it were. A Note says: "Poor Mayer of the Free Corps does not ride with the Prince on this occasion. Mayer, dangerously worn down with the hard services of last Year, and himself a man of too sleepless temper, caught a fever in the New-year time; and died within few days: burnt away before his time; much regretted by his Brethren of the Army, and some few others. Gone in this way; with a high career just opening on him at the long last! Mayer was of Austrian, of half Spanish birth; a musical, really melodious, affectionate, but indignant, wildly stormful mortal; and had had adventures without end. Something of pathos, of tragedy, in the wild Life of him. [Still worth reading: in Pauli (our old watery BRANDENBURG-HISTORY Friend). Leben grosser Helden (Halle, 1759-1764, 9 vols.), iii. 142-188;—much the best Piece in that still rather watery (or windy) Collection, which, however, is authentic, and has some tolerable Portraits.] A man of considerable genius, military and other:—genius in the sleepless kind, which is not the best kind; sometimes a very bad kind. The fame of Friedrich invites such people from all sides of the world; and this was no doubt a sensible help to him."—But enough of all this.
Here, surely, is abundance of preliminary Small-War, on the part of a Friedrich reduced to the defensive!—Fouquet's Sequel, hinted at above, was to this effect. On Fouquet's failing to get hold of the Moravian Magazines, and returning to his Post at Leobschutz, a certain rash General Deville, who is Austrian chief in those parts, hastily rushed through the Jagerndorf Hills, and invaded Fouquet. Only for a few days; and had very bad success, in that bit of retaliation. The King, who is in Landshut, in the middle of his main cantonments, hastened over to Leobschutz with reinforcement to Fouquet; in the thought that a finishing-stroke might be done on this Deville;—and would have done it, had not the rash man plunged off again (May 1st, or the night before); homewards, at full speed. So that Friedrich, likewise at full speed, could catch nothing of him; but merely cannonade him in the Passes of Zuckmantel, and cut off his rear-guard of Croats. Poor forlorn of Croats, whom he had left in some bushy Chasm; to gain him a little time, and then to perish if THEY must! as Tempelhof remarks. [Tempelhof, iii. 56.] Upon which Friedrich returned to Landshut; and Fouquet had peace again.
It was from this Landshut region, where his main cantonments are, that Friedrich had witnessed all these Inroads, or all except the very earliest of them; the first Erfurt one, and the Wobersnow-Sulkowski. He had quitted Breslau in the end of March, and gone to his cantonments; quickened thither, probably, by a stroke that had befallen him at Griefenberg, on his Silesian side of the Cordon. At Griefenberg stood the Battalion Duringshofen, with its Colonel of the same name,—grenadier people of good quality, perhaps near 1,000 in whole. Which Battalion, General Beck, after long preliminary study of it, from his Bohemian side,—marching stealthily on it, one night (March 25-26th), by two or more roads, with 8,000 men, and much preliminary Croat-work,—contrived to envelop wholly, and carry off with him, before help could come up. This, I suppose, had quickened Friedrich's arrival. He has been in that region ever since,—in Landshut for the last week or two; and returns thither after the Deville affair.
And at Landshut,—which is the main Pass into Bohemia or from it, and is the grand observatory-point at present,—he will have to remain till the first days of July; almost three months. Watching, and waiting on the tedious Daun, who has the lifting of the curtain this Year! Daun had come to Jaromirtz, to his cantonments, "March 24th" (almost simultaneously with Friedrich to his); expecting Friedrich's Invasion, as usual. Long days sat Daun, expecting the King in Bohemia:—"There goes he, at last!" thought Daun, on Prince Henri's late flamy appearance there (BREAKAGE THIRD we labelled it);—and Daun had hastily pushed a Division thitherward, double-quick, to secure Prag; but found it was only the Magazines. "Above four millions worth [600,000 pounds, counting the THALERS into sterling], above four millions worth of bread and forage gone to ashes, and the very boats burnt? Well; the poor Reichsfolk, or our poor Auxiliaries to them, will have empty haversacks:—but it is not Prag!" thinks Daun.
At what exact point of time Daun came to see that Friedrich was not intending Invasion, and would, on the contrary, require to be invaded, I do not know. But it must have been an interesting discovery to Daun, if he foreshadowed to himself what results it would have on him: "Taking the defensive, then? And what is to become of one's Cunctatorship in that case!" Yes, truly. Cunctatorship is not now the trade needed; there is nothing to be made of playing Fabius-Cunctator:—and Daun's fame henceforth is a diminishing quantity. The Books say he "wasted above five weeks in corresponding with the Russian Generals." In fact, he had now weeks enough on hand; being articulately resolved (and even commanded by Kriegshofrath) to do nothing till the Russians came up;—and also (INarticulately and by command of Nature) to do as little as possible after! This Year, and indeed all years following, the Russians are to be Daun's best card.
Waiting for three months here till the curtain rose, it was Friedrich that had to play Cunctator. A wearisome task to him, we need not doubt. But he did it with anxious vigilance; ever thinking Daun would try something, either on Prince Henri or on him, and that the Play would begin. But the Play did not. There was endless scuffling and bickering of Outposts; much hitching and counter-hitching, along that Bohemian-Silesian Frontier,—Daun gradually hitching up, leftwards, northwards, to be nearer his Russians; Friedrich counter-hitching, and, in the end, detaching against the Russians, as they approached in actuality. The details of all which would break the toughest patience. Not till July came, had both parties got into the Lausitz; Daun into an impregnable Camp near Mark-Lissa (in Gorlitz Country); Friedrich, opposite and eastward of him, into another at Schmottseifen:—still after which, as the Russians still were not come, the hitching (if we could concern ourselves with it), the maze of strategic shuffling and counter-dancing, as the Russians get nearer, will become more intricate than ever.
Except that of General Beck on Battalion Duringshofen,—if that was meant as retaliatory, and was not rather an originality of Beck's, who is expert at such strokes,—Daun, in return for all these injurious Assaults and Breakages, tried little or no retaliation; and got absolutely none. Deville attempted once, as we saw; Loudon once, as perhaps we shall see: but both proved futile. For the present absolutely none. Next Year indeed, Loudon, on Fouquet at Landshut—But let us not anticipate! Just before quitting Landshut for Schmottseifen, Friedrich himself rode into Bohemia, to look more narrowly; and held Trautenau, at the bottom of the Pass, for a day or two—But the reader has had enough of Small-War! Of the present Loudon attempt, Friedrich, writing to Brother Henri, who is just home from his Franconian Invasion (BREAKAGE FIFTH), has a casual word, which we will quote. "Reich-Hennersdorf" is below Landshut, farther down the Pass; "Liebau" still farther down,—and its "Gallows," doubtless, is on some knoll in the environs!
REICH-HENNERSDORF, 9th JUNE. "My congratulations on the excellent success you have had [out in Frankenland yonder]! Your prisoners, we hear, are 3,000; the desertion and confusion in the Reichs Army are affirmed to be enormous:—I give those Reichs fellows two good months [scarcely took so long] to be in a condition to show face again. As for ourselves, I can send you nothing but contemptibilities. We have never yet had the beatific vision of Him with the Hat and Consecrated Sword [Papal Daun, that is]; they amuse us with the Sieur Loudon instead;—who, three days ago [7th July, two days] did us the honor of a visit, at the Gallows of Liebau. He was conducted out again, with all the politeness imaginable, on to near Schatzlar," well over the Bohemian Border; "where we flung a score of cannon volleys into the"—into the "DERRIERE of him, and everybody returned home." [In SCHONING, ii. 65: "9th June, 1759."]
Perhaps the only points now noticeable in this tedious Landshut interim, are Two, hardly noticed then at all by an expectant world. The first is: That in the King's little inroad down to Trautenau, just mentioned, four cannon drawn by horses were part of the King's fighting gear,—the first appearance of Horse Artillery in the world. "A very great invention," says the military mind: "guns and carriages are light, and made of the best material for strength; the gunners all mounted as postilions to them. Can scour along, over hill and dale, wherever horse can; and burst out, on the sudden, where nobody was expecting artillery. Devised in 1758; ready this Year, four light six-pounders; tried first in the King's raid down to Trautenau [June 29th-30th]. Only four pieces as yet. But these did so well, there were yearly more. Imitated by the Austrians, and gradually by all the world." [Seyfarth, ii. 543.]
The second fact is: That Herr Guichard (Author of that fine Book on the War-methods of the Greeks and Romans) is still about Friedrich, as he has been for above a year past, if readers remember; and, during those tedious weeks, is admitted to a great deal of conversation with the King. Readers will consent to this Note on Guichard; and this shall be our ultimatum on the wearisome Three Months at Landshut.
MAJOR QUINTUS ICILIUS. "Guichard is by birth a Magdeburger, age now thirty-four; a solid staid man, with a good deal of hard faculty in him, and of culture unusual for a soldier. A handy, sagacious, learned and intelligent man; whom Friedrich, in the course of a year's experience, has grown to see willingly about him. There is something of positive in Guichard, of stiff and, as it were, GRITTY, which might have offended a weaker taste; but Friedrich likes the rugged sense of the man; his real knowledge on certain interesting heads; and the precision with which the known and the not rightly known are divided from one another, in Guichard.
"Guichard's business about the King has been miscellaneous, not worth mention hitherto; but to appearance was well done. Of talk they are beginning to have more and more; especially at Landshut here, in these days of waiting; a great deal of talk on the Wars of the Ancients, Guichard's Book naturally leading to that subject. One night, datable accidentally about the end of May, the topic happened to be Pharsalia, and the excellent conduct of a certain Centurion of the Tenth Legion, who, seeing Pompey's people about to take him in flank, suddenly flung himself into oblique order [SCHRAGE STELLUNG, as we did at Leutheu], thereby outflanking Pompey's people, and ruining their manoeuvre and them. 'A dexterous man, that Quintus Icilius the Centurion!' observed Friedrich. 'Ah, yes: but excuse me, your Majesty, his name was Quintus Caecilius,' said Guichard. 'No, it was Icilius,' said the King, positive to his opinion on that small point; which Guichard had not the art to let drop; though, except assertion and counter-assertion, what could be made of it there? Or of what use was it anywhere?
"Next day, Guichard came with the book [what "Book" nobody would ever yet tell me], and putting his finger on the passage, 'See, your Majesty: Quintus CAEcilius!' extinguished his royal opponent. 'Hm,' answered Friedrich: 'so?—Well, you shall be Quintus Icilius, at any rate!' And straightway had him entered on the Army Books 'as Major Quintus Icilius;' his Majorship is to be dated '10th April, 1758' (to give him seniority); and from and after this '26th May, 1759,' he is to command the late Du Verger's Free-Battalion. All which was done:—the War-Offices somewhat astonished at such advent of an antique Roman among them; but writing as bidden, the hand being plain, and the man an undeniable article. Onward from which time there is always a 'Battalion Quintus' on their Books, instead of Battalion Du Verger; by degrees two Batallions Quintus, and at length three, and Quintus become a Colonel:—at which point the War ended; and the three Free-Battalions Quintus, like all others of the same type, were discharged." This is the authentic origin of the new name Quintus, which Guichard got, to extinction of the old; substantially this, as derived from Quintus himself,—though in the precise details of it there are obscurities, never yet solved by the learned. Nicolai, for example, though he had the story from Quintus in person, who was his familiar acquaintance, and often came to see him at Berlin, does not, with his usual punctuality, say, nor even confess that he has forgotten, what Book it was that Quintus brought with him to confute the King on their Icilius-Caecilius controversy; Nicolai only says, that he, for his part, in the fields of Roman Literature and History, knows only three Quintus-Iciliuses, not one of whom is of the least likelihood; and in fact, in the above summary, I have had to INVERT my Nicolai on one point, to make the story stick together. [Nicolai, Anekdoten, vi. 129-145.]
"Quintus had been bred for the clerical profession; carefully, at various Universities, Leyden last of all; and had even preached, as candidate for license,—I hope with moderate orthodoxy;—though he soon renounced that career. Exchanged it for learned and vigorous general study, with an eye to some College Professorship instead. He was still hardly twenty-three, when, in 1747, the new Stadtholder," Prince of Orange, whom we used to know, "who had his eye upon him as a youth of merit, graciously undertook to get him placed at Utrecht, in a vacancy which had just occurred there,—whither the Prince was just bound, on some ceremonial visit of a high nature. The glad Quintus, at that time Guichard and little thinking of such an alias, hastened to set off in the Prince's train; but could get no conveyance, such was the press of people all for Utrecht. And did not arrive till next day,—and found quarter, with difficulty, in the garret of some overflowing Inn.
"In the lower stories of his Inn, solitary Guichard, when night fell, heard a specific GAUDEAMUS going on; and inquired what it was. 'A company of Professors, handselling a newly appointed Professor;'—appointed, as the next question taught, to the very Chair poor Quintus had come for! Serene Highness could not help himself; the Utrechters were so bent on the thing. Quintus lay awake, all night, in his truckle-bed; and gloomily resolved to have done with Professorships, and become a soldier. 'If your Serene Highness do still favor me,' said Quintus next day, 'I solicit, as the one help for me, an ensign's commission!'—And persisted rigorously, in spite of all counsellings, promises and outlooks on the professorial side of things. So that Serene Highness had to grant him his commission; and Quintus was a soldier thenceforth. Fought, more or less, in the sad remainder of that Cumberland-Saxe War; and after the Peace of 1748 continued in the Dutch service. Where, loath to be idle, he got his learned Books out again, and took to studying thoroughly the Ancient Art of War. After years of this, it had grown so hopeful that he proceeded to a Book upon it; and, by degrees, determined that he must get to certain Libraries in England, before finishing. In 1754, on furlough, graciously allowed and continued, he came to London accordingly; finished his manuscript there (printed at the Hague 1757 [Memoires Militaires sur les &c. (a La Haye, 1757: 2 vols. 4to);—was in the 5th edition when I last heard of it.]): and new War having now begun, went over (probably with English introductions) as volunteer to Duke Ferdinand. By Duke Ferdinand he was recommended to Friedrich, the goal of all his efforts, as of every vagrant soldier's in those times:—and here at last, as Quintus Icilius, he has found permanent billet, a Battalion and gradually three Battalions, and will not need to roam any farther.
"They say, what is very credible, that Quintus proved an active, stout and effectual soldier, in his kind; and perhaps we may hear of some of his small-war adventures by and by: that he was a studious, hard-headed, well-informed man, and had written an excellent Book on his subject, is still abundantly clear. Readers may look in the famous Gibbon's Autobiography, or still better in the Guichard Book itself, if they want evidence. The famous Gibbon was drilling and wheeling, very peaceably indeed, in the Hampshire Militia, in those wild years of European War. Hampshire Militia served as key, or glossary in a sort, to this new Book of Guichard's, which Gibbon eagerly bought and studied; and it, was Guichard, ALIAS Quintus Icilius, who taught Gibbon all he ever knew of Ancient War, at least all the teaching he ever had of it, for his renowned DECLINE AND FALL." [See Gibbon's Works (4to, London, 1796: Memoirs of my Life and Writings], i. 97; and (Extraits de mes Lectures), ii. 52-54, of dates May 14th-26th, 1762,—during which days Gibbon is engaged in actual reading of the Memoires Militaires; and already knows the Author by his ALIAS of Quintus Icilius, "a man of eminent sagacity and insight, who was in the Dutch, and is now, I believe, in the Prussian service."
It was in the last days of June that Daun, after many litchings, got into more decisive general movement northward; and slowly but steadily planted himself at Mark-Lissa in the Lausitz: upon which, after some survey of the phenomenon, Friedrich got to Schmottseifen, opposite him, July 10th. Friedrich, on noticing such stir, had ridden down to Trautenau (June 29th-30th), new Horse-Artillery attending, to look closer into Daun's affairs; and, seeing what they were, had thereupon followed. Above a month before this, Friedrich had detached a considerable force against the Russians,—General Dohna, of whom in next Chapter:—and both Daun and he again sit waiting, till they see farther. Rapid Friedrich is obliged to wait; watching Daun and the Dohna-Russian adventure: slow Daun will continue to wait and watch there, long weeks and months, after that is settled, that and much else, fully to his mind! Each is in his impregnable Camp; and each, Daun especially, has his Divisions and Detachments hovering round him, near or far, on different strategic errands; each Main-Camp like a planet with various moons—Mark-Lissa especially, a kind of sun with planets and comets and planetary moons:—of whose intricate motions and counter-motions, mostly unimportant to us, we promised to take no notice, in face of such a crisis just at hand.
By the 6th of July, slow Daun had got hitched into his Camp of Mark-Lissa; and four days after, Friedrich attending him, was in Schmottseifen: where again was pause; and there passed nothing mentionable, even on Friedrich's score; and till July was just ending, the curtain did not fairly rise. Panse of above two weeks on Friedrich's part, and of almost three months on Daun's. Mark-Lissa, an impregnable Camp, is on the Lausitz Border; with Saxony, Silesia, Bohemia all converging hereabouts, and Brandenburg itself in the vicinity,—there is not a better place for waiting on events. Here, accordingly, till well on in September, Daun sat immovable; not even hitching now,—only shooting out Detachments, planetary, cometary, at a great rate, chiefly on his various Russian errands.
Daun, as we said, had been uncomfortably surprised to find, by degrees, that Invasion was not Friedrich's plan this Year; that the dramatic parts are redistributed, and that the playing of Fabius-Cunctator will not now serve one's turn. Daun, who may well be loath to believe such a thing, clings to his old part, and seems very lazy to rise and try another. In fact, he does not rise, properly speaking, or take up his new part at all. This Year, and all the following, he waits carefully till the Russian Lion come; will then endeavor to assist,—or even do jackal, which will be safer still. The Russians he intends shall act lion; he himself modestly playing the subaltern but much safer part! Diligent to flatter the lion; will provide him guidances, and fractional sustenances, in view of the coming hunt; will eat the lion's leavings, once the prey is slaughtered. This really was, in some sort, Daun's yearly game, so long as it would last!—
July ending, and the curtain fairly risen, we shall have to look at Friedrich with our best eyesight. Preparatory to which, there is, on Friedrich's part, ever since the middle of June, this Anti-Russian Dohna adventure going on:—of which, at first, and till about the time of getting to Schmottseifen, he had great hopes; great, though of late rapidly sinking again:—into which we must first throw a glance, as properly the opening scene.
Fouquet has been left at Landshut, should the Daun remnants still in Bohemia think of invading. Fouquet is about rooting himself rather firmly into that important Post; fortifying various select Hills round Landshut, with redoubts, curtains, communications; so as to keep ward there, inexpugnable to a much stronger force. There for about a year, with occasional short sallies, on errands that arise, Fouquet sat successfully vigilant; resisting the Devilles, Becks, Harsches; protecting Glatz and the Passes of Silesia: in about a year we shall hear of his fortunes worsening, and of a great catastrophe to him in that Landshut Post.
Friedrich allowed the Reichsfolk "two good months," after all that flurrying and havoc done on them, "before they could show face in Saxony." They did take about that time; and would have taken more, had not Prince Henri been called away by other pressing occasions in Friedrich's own neighborhood; and Saxony, for a good while (end of June to beginning of September), been left almost bare of Prussian troops. Which encourages the Reichs Army to hurry afield in very unprepared condition,—still rather within the two months. End of July, Light people of them push across to Halberstadt or Halle Country; and are raising Contributions, and plundering diligently, if nothing else. Of which we can take no notice farther: if the reader can recollect it, well; if not, also well. The poor Reichs Army nominally makes a figure this Year, but nominally only; the effective part of it, now and henceforth, being Austrian Auxiliaries, and the Reichs part as flaccid and insignificant as ever.
Prince Henri's call to quit Saxony was this. Daun, among the numerous Detachments he was making, of which we can take no notice, had shot out Two (rather of COMETARY type, to use our old figure),—which every reader must try to keep in mind. Two Detachments, very considerable: Haddick (who grew at last to 20,000), and Loudon (16,000); who are hovering about mysteriously over the Lausitz;—intending what? Their intention, Friedrich thinks, especially Haddick's intention, may be towards Brandenburg, and even Berlin: wherefore he has summoned Henri to look after it. Henri, resting in cantonments about Tschopau and Dresden, after the late fatigues, and idle for the moment, hastens to obey; and is in Bautzen neighborhood, from about the end of June and onward. Sufficiently attentive to Haddick and Loudon: who make no attempt on Brandenburg; having indeed, as Friedrich gradually sees, and as all of us shall soon see, a very different object in view!—
Chapter II.—GENERAL DOHNA; DICTATOR WEDELL: BATTLE OF ZULLICHAU.
The Russian Lion, urged by Vienna and Versailles, made his entry, this Year, earlier than usual,—coming now within wind of Mark-Lissa, as we see;—and has stirred Daun into motion, Daun and everybody. From the beginning of April, the Russians, hibernating in the interior parts of Poland, were awake, and getting slowly under way. April 24th, the Vanguard of 10,000 quitted Thorn; June 1st, Vanguard is in Posen; followed by a First Division and a Second, each of 30,000. They called it "Soltikof crossing the Weichsel with 100,000 men;" but, exclusive of the Cossack swarms, there were not above 76,000 regulars: nor was Soltikof their Captain just at first; our old friend Fermor was, and continued to be till Soltikof, in a private capacity, reached Posen (June 29th), and produced his new commission. At Fermor's own request, as Fermor pretended,—who was skilled in Petersburg politics, and with a cheerful face served thenceforth as Soltikof's second.
At Posen, as on the road thither, they find Sulkowski's and the other burnt provenders abundantly replaced: it is evident they intend, in concert with Daun, to enclose Friedrich between two fires, and do something considerable. Whether on Brandenburg or Silesia, is not yet known to Friedrich. Friedrich, since the time they crossed Weichsel, has given them his best attention; and more than once has had schemes on their Magazines and them,—once a new and bigger Scheme actually afoot, under Wobersnow again, our Anti-Sulkowski friend; but was obliged to turn the force elsewhither, on alarms that rose. He himself cannot quit the centre of the work; his task being to watch Daun, and especially, should Daun attempt nothing else, to prevent junction of Soltikof and him.
Daun still lies torpid, or merely hitching about; but now when the Russians are approaching Posen, and the case becomes pressing, Friedrich, as is usual to him, draws upon the Anti-Swedish resource, upon the Force he has in Pommern. That is to say, orders General Dohna, who has the Swedes well driven in at present, to quit Stralsund Country, to leave the ineffectual Swedes with some very small attendance; and to march—with certain reinforcements that are arriving (Wobersnow already, Hulsen with 10,000 out of Saxony in few days)—direct against the Russians; and at once go in upon them. Try to burn their Magazines again; or, equally good, to fall vigorously on some of their separate Divisions, and cut them off in the vagrant state;—above all, to be vigorous, be rapid, sharp, and do something effectual in that quarter. These were Dohna's Instructions. Dohna has 18,000; Hulsen, with his 10,000, is industriously striding forward, from the farther side of Saxony; Wobersnow, with at least his own fine head, is already there. Friedrich, watching in the Anti-Junction position, ready for the least chance that may turn up.
Dohna marched accordingly; but was nothing like rapid enough: an old man, often in ill health too; and no doubt plenty of impediments about him. He consumed some time rallying at Stargard; twelve days more at Landsberg, on the Warta, settling his provision matters: in fine, did not get to Posen neighborhood till June 23d, three weeks after the Russian Vanguard of 10,000 had fixed itself there, and other Russian parties were daily dropping in. Dohna was 15,000, a Wobersnow with him: had he gone at once on Posen, as Wobersnow urged, it is thought he might perhaps have ruined this Vanguard and the Russian Magazine; which would have been of signal service for the remaining Campaign. But he preferred waiting for Hulsen and the 10,000, who did not arrive for seven or eight days more; by which time Soltikof and most of the Russian Divisions had got in;—and the work was become as good as hopeless, on those languid terms. Dohna did try upon the Magazine, said to be ill guarded in some Suburb of Posen; crossed the Warta with that view, found no Magazine; recrossed the Warta; and went manoeuvring about, unable to do the least good on Soltikof or his Magazines or operations. Friedrich was still in Landshut region, just about quitting it,—just starting on that little Trautenau Expedition, with his Four Pieces of Horse-Artillery (June 29th), when the first ill news of Dohna came in; which greatly disappointed Friedrich, and were followed by worse, instead of better.
The end was, Soltikof, being now all ready, winded himself out of Posen one day, veiled by Cossacks; and, to Dohna's horror, had got, or was in the act of getting, between Dohna and Brandenburg; which necessitated new difficult manoeuvres from Dohna. Soltikof too can manoeuvre a little: Soltikof edges steadily forward; making for Crossen-on-Oder, where he expects to find Austrians (Haddick and Loudon, if Friedrich could yet guess it), with 30,000 odd, especially with provision, which is wearing scarce with him. Twice or so there was still a pretty opportunity for Dohna on him; but Dohna never could resolve about it in time. Back and ever back goes Dohna; facing Soltikof; but always hitching back; latterly in Brandenburg ground, the Russians and he;—having no provision, he either. In fine, July 17th (one week after Friedrich had got to Schmottseifen), Dohna finds himself at the little Town of Zullichau (barely in time to snatch it before Soltikof could), within thirty miles of Crossen; and nothing but futility behind and before. [Tempelhof, iii, 78-88; Helden-Geschichte, v. 835-847.]
We can imagine Friedrich's daily survey of all this; his gloomy calculations what it will soon amount to if it last. He has now no Winterfeld, Schwerin, no Keith, Retzow, Moritz:—whom has he? His noblest Captains are all gone; he must put up with the less noble. One Wedell, Lieutenant-General, had lately recommended himself to the royal mind by actions of a prompt daring. The royal mind, disgusted with these Dohna hagglings, and in absolute necessity of finding somebody that had resolution, and at least ordinary Prussian skill, hoped Wedell was the man. And determined, the crisis being so urgent, to send Wedell in the character of ALTER-EGO, or "with the powers of a Roman Dictator," as the Order expressed it. [Given in Preuss, ii. 207, 208; in Stenzel, v. 212, other particulars.] Dictator Wedell is to supersede Dohna; shall go, at his own swift pace, fettered by nobody;—and, at all hazards, shall attack Soltikof straightway, and try to beat him. "You are grown too old for that intricate hard work; go home a little, and recover your health," the King writes to Dohna. And to the Dohna Army, "Obey this man, all and sundry of you, as you would myself;" the man's private Order being, "Go in upon Soltikof; attack him straightway; let us have done with this wriggling and haggling." Date of this Order is "Camp at Schmottseifen, 20th July, 1759." The purpose of such high-flown Title, and solemnity of nomination, was mainly, it appears, to hush down any hesitation or surprise among the Dohna Generals, which, as Wedell was "the youngest Lieutenant-General of the Army," might otherwise have been possible.
Wedell, furnished with some small escort and these Documents, arrives in Camp Sunday Evening, 22d July:—poor Dohna has not the least word or look of criticism; and every General, suppressing whatever thoughts there may be, prepares to yield loyal obedience to Dictator Wedell. "Wobersnow was the far better soldier of the two!" murmured the Opposition party, then and long afterwards, [Retzow, &c.]—all the more, as Wobersnow's behavior under it was beautiful, and his end tragical, as will be seen. Wobersnow I perceive to have been a valiant sharp-striking man, with multifarious resources in his head; who had faithfully helped in these operations, and I believe been urgent to quicken them. But what I remember best of him is his hasty admirable contrivance for field-bakery in pressing circumstances,—the substance of which shall not be hidden from a mechanical age:—
"You construct six slight square iron frames, each hinged to the other; each, say, two feet square, or the breadth of two common tiles, and shaped on the edges so as to take in tiles;—tiles are to be found on every human cottage. This iron frame, when you hook it together, becomes the ghost of a cubic box, and by the help of twelve tiles becomes a compact field-oven; and you can bake with it, if you have flour and water, and a few sticks. The succinctest oven ever heard of; for your operation done, and your tiles flung out again, it is capable of all folding flat like a book." [Retzow, ii. 82 n.] Never till now had Wobersnow's oven been at fault: but in these Polish Villages, all of mere thatched hovels, there was not a tile to be found; and the Bakery, with astonishment, saw itself unable to proceed.
Wedell arrived Sunday evening, 22d July; had crossed Oder at Tschischerzig,—some say by Crossen Bridge; no matter which. Dohna's Camp is some thirty miles west of Crossen; in and near the small Town called Zullichau, where his head-quarter is. In those dull peaty Countries, on the right, which is thereabouts the NORTHERN (not eastern), bank of Oder; between the Oder and the Warta; some seventy miles south-by-east of Landsberg, and perhaps as far southwest of Posen: thither has Dohna now got with his futile manoeuvrings. Soltikof, drawn up amid scrubby woods and sluggish intricate brooks, is about a mile to east of him.
Poor Dohna demits at once; and, I could conjecture, vanishes that very night; glad to be out of such a thing. Painfully has Dohna manoeuvred for weeks past; falling back daily; only anxious latterly that Soltikof, who daily tries it, do not get to westward of him on the Frankfurt road, and so end this sad shuffle. Soltikof as yet has not managed that ultimate fatality; Dohna, by shuffling back, does at least contrive to keep between Frankfurt and him;—will not try attacking him, much as Wobersnow urges it. Has agreed twice or oftener, on Wobersnow's urgency: "Yes, yes; we have a chance," Dohna would answer; "only let us rest till to-morrow, and be fresh!" by which time the opportunity was always gone again.
Wedell had arrived with a grenadier battalion and some horse for escort; had picked up 150 Russian prisoners by the way. Retzow has understood he came in with a kind of state; and seemed more or less inflated; conscious of representing the King's person, and being a Roman Dictator,—though it is a perilously difficult office too, and requires more than a Letter of Instructions to qualify you for it! This is not Leonidas Wedell, whom readers once knew; poor Leonidas is dead long since, fell in the Battle of Sohr, soon after the heroic feat of Ziethen's and his at Elbe-Teinitz (Defence of Elbe against an Army); this is Leonidas's elder Brother. Friedrich had observed his fiery ways on the day of Leuthen: "Hah, a new Winterfeld perhaps?" thought Friedrich, "All the Winterfeld I now have!"—which proved a fond hope. Wedell's Dictatorship began this Sunday towards sunset; and lasted—in practical fact, it lasted one day.
DICTATOR WEDELL FIGHTS HIS BATTLE (Monday, 23d July, 1759), WITHOUT SUCCESS.
Monday morning early, Wedell is on the heights, reconnoitring Soltikof; cannot see much of him, the ground being so woody; does see what he takes to be Soltikof's left wing; and judges that Soltikof will lie quiet for this day. Which was far from a right reading of Soltikof; the fact being that Soltikof, in long columns and divisions, beginning with his right wing, was all on march since daybreak; what Wedell took for Soltikof's "left wing" being Soltikof's rear-guard and baggage, waiting till the roads cleared. Wedell, having settled everything on the above footing, returns to Zullichau about 10 o'clock; and about 11, Soltikof, miles long, disengaged from the bushy hollows, makes his appearance on the open grounds of Palzig: he, sure enough (though Wedell can hardly believe it),—five or six miles to northeast yonder; tramping diligently along, making for Crossen and the Oder Bridge;—and is actually got ahead of us, at last!
This is what Wedell cannot suffer, cost what it may. Wedell's orders were, in such case, Attack the Russians. Wedell instantly took his measures; not unskilfully, say judges,—though the result proved disappointing; and Wobersnow himself earnestly dissuaded: "Too questionable, I should doubt! Soltikof is 70,000, and has no end of Artillery; we are 26,000, and know not if we can bring a single gun to where Soltikof is!" [Tempelhof, iii. 132-134.]
Wedell's people have already, of their own accord, got to arms again; stand waiting his orders on this new emergency. No delay in Wedell or in them. "May not it be another Rossbach (if we are lucky)?" thinks Wedell: "Cannot we burst in on their flank, as they march yonder, those awkward fellows; and tumble them into heaps?" The differences were several-fold: First, that Friedrich and Seidlitz are not here. Many brave men we have, and skilful; but not a master and man like these Two. Secondly, that there is no Janus Hill to screen our intentions; but that the Russians have us in full view while we make ready. Thirdly, and still more important, that we do not know the ground, and what hidden inaccessibilities lie ahead. This last is judged to have been the killing circumstance. Between the Russians and us there is a paltry little Brook, or line of quagmire; scarcely noticeable here, but passable nowhere except at the Village-Mill of Kay, by one poor Bridge there. And then, farther inwards, as shelter of the Russians, there is another quaggy Brook, branch of the above, which is without bridge altogether. Hours will be required to get 26,000 people marched up there, not to speak of heavy guns at all.
The 26,000 march with their usual mathematical despatch: Manteuffel and the Vanguard strike in with their sharpest edge, foot and horse, direct on the Head of the Russian Column, Manteuffel leading on, so soon as his few battalions and squadrons are across. Head means BRAIN (or life) to this Russian Column; and these Manteuffel people go at it with extraordinary energy. The Russian Head gives way; infantry and cavalry:—their cavalry was driven quite to rear, and never came in sight again after this of Manteuffel. But the Russians have abundance of Reserves; also of room to manoeuvre in,—no lack of ground open, and ground defensible (Palzig Village and Churchyard, for example);—above all, they have abundance of heavy guns.
Well in recoil from Manteuffel and his furies, the beaten Russians succeed in forming "a long Line behind Palzig Village," with that Second, slighter or Branch Quagmire between them and us; they get the Village beset, and have the Churchyard of it lined with batteries,—say seventy guns. Manteuffel, unsupported, has to fall back;—unwillingly, and not chased or in disorder,—towards Kay-Mill again; where many are by this time across. Hulsen, with the Centre, attacks now, as the Vanguard had done; with a will, he too: Wobersnow, all manner of people attack; time after time, for about four hours coming: and it proves all in vain, on that Churchyard and new Line. Without cannon, we are repulsed, torn away by those Russian volcano-batteries; never enough of us at once!
Hulsen, Wobersnow, everybody in detail is repulsed, or finds his success unavailing. Poor Wobersnow did wonders; but he fell, killed. Gone he; and has left so few of his like: a man that could ill be spared at present!—Day is sinking; we find we have lost, in killed, wounded and prisoners, some 6,000 men. "About sunset,"—flaming July sun going down among the moorlands on such a scene,—Wedell gives it up; retires slowly towards Kay Bridge. Slowly; not chased, or molested; Soltikof too glad to be rid of him. Soltikof's one aim is, and was, towards Crossen; towards Austrian Junction, and something to live upon. Soltikof's loss of men is reckoned to be heavier even than Wedell's: but he could far better afford it. He has gained his point; and the price is small in comparison. Next day he enters Crossen on triumphant terms.
Poor Wedell had returned over Kay-Mill Bridge, in the night-time after his Defeat. On the morrow (Tuesday, 24th, day of Soltikof's glad entry), Wedell crosses Oder; at Tschischerzig, the old place of Sunday evening last,—in how different a humor, this time!—and in a day more, posts himself opposite to Crossen Bridge, five or six miles south; and again sits watchful of Soltikof there. At Crossen, triumphant Soltikof has found no Austrian Junction, nor anything additional to live upon. A very disappointing circumstance to Soltikof; "Austrian Junction still a problem, then; a thing in the air? And perhaps the King of Prussia taking charge of it now!" Soltikof, more and more impatient, after waiting some days, decided Not to cross Oder by that Bridge;—"shy of crossing anywhere [think the French Gentlemen, Montazet, Montalembert], to the King of Prussia's side!" [Stenzel, iv. 215 (indistinct, and giving a WRONG citation of "Montalembert, ii. 87").] Which is not unlikely, though the King is above 100 miles off him, and has Daun on his hands. Certain enough, keeping the River between him and any operations of the King, Soltikof set out for Frankfurt, forty or fifty miles farther down. In the hope probably of finding something of human provender withal? July 30th, one week after his Battle, the vanguard of him is there.
Thus, in two days, or even in one, has Wedell's Dictatorship ended. Easy to say scoffingly, "Would it had never begun!" Friedrich knows that, and Wedell knows it;—AFTER the event everybody knows it! Friedrich said nothing of reproachful; the reverse rather,—"I dreaded something of the kind; it is not your fault;" [TO WEDELL, FROM THE KING, "Schmottseifen, July 24th. 1759" (in Schoning, ii. 118).]—ordered Wedell to watch diligently at Crossen Bridge, and be ready on farther signal. The Wedell Problem, in such ruined condition, has now fallen to Friedrich himself.
This is the BATTLE OF ZULLICHAU (afternoon of 23d July, 1759); the beginning of immense disasters in this Campaign. Battle called also of KAY and of PALZIG, those also being main localities in it. It was lost, not by fault of Wedell's people, who spent themselves nobly upon it, nor perhaps by fault of Wedell himself, but principally, if not solely, by those two paltry Brooks, or threads of Quagmire, one of which turns Kay-Mill; memorable Brooks in this Campaign, 1759. [Tempelhof, iii. 125-131.]
Close in the same neighborhood, there is another equally contemptible Brook, making towards Oder, and turning the so-called Krebsmuhle, which became still more famous to the whole European Public twenty years hence. KREBS-MUHLE (Crab-Mill), as yet quite undistinguished among Mills; belonging to a dusty individual called Miller Arnold, with a dusty Son of his own for Miller's Lad: was it at work this day? Or had the terrible sound from Palzig quenched its clacking?—
Some three weeks ago (4th-6th JULY), there occurred a sudden sharp thing at Havre-de-Grace on the French Coast, worth a word from us in this place. The Montazets, Montalemberts, watching, messaging about, in the Austrian-Russian Courts and Camps, assiduously keeping their Soltikofs in tune, we can observe how busy they are. Soubise with his Invasion of England, all the French are very busy; they have conquered Hessen from Duke Ferdinand, and promise themselves a glorious Campaign, after that Seizure of Frankfurt. Soubise, intent on his new Enterprise, is really making ardent preparations: at Vanues in the Morbihan, such rendezvousing and equipping;—especially at Havre, no end of flat-bottomed boats getting built; and much bluster and agitation among the weaker sorts in both Nations. Whereupon,—
"JULY 1st [just in the days while Friedrich was first trying Horse Artillery], Rear-Admiral Rodney sails from Portsmouth with a few Frigates, and Six Bomb-ketches [FIREDRAKE, BASILISK, BLAST, and such nomenclatures [List of him, in Beatson, Naval and Military Memoirs (London, 1804), ii. 241; his Despatch excellently brief, ib. ii. 323]]; and in the afternoon of Tuesday, 3d, arrives in the frith or bay of Havre. Steers himself properly into 'the Channel of Honfleur' before dark; and therefrom, with his Firedrake, Basilisk and Company, begins such a bombardment of Havre and the flat-bottomed manufactories as was quite surprising. Fifty-two incessant hours of it, before he thought poor Havre had enough. Poor Havre had been on fire six times; the flat manufactory (unquenchable) I know not how many; all the inhabitants off in despair; and the Garrison building this battery to no purpose, then that; no salvation for them but in Rodney's 'mortars getting too hot.' He had fired of shells 1,900, of carcasses, 1,150: from Wednesday about sunrise till Friday about 8 A.M.,—about time now for breakfast; which I hope everybody had, after such a stretch of work. 'No damage to speak of,' said the French Gazetteers; 'we will soon refit everything!' But they never did; and nothing came of Havre henceforth. Vannes was always, and is now still more, to be the main place; only that Hawke—most unexpectedly, for one fancied all their ships employed in distant parts—rides there with a Channel Fleet of formidable nature; and the previous question always is: 'Cannot we beat Hawke? Can we! Or will not he perhaps go, of himself, when the rough weather comes?'"
Chapter III.—FRIEDRICH IN PERSON ATTEMPTS THE RUSSIAN PROBLEM; NOT WITH SUCCESS.
Before Wedell's catastrophe, the Affair of those Haddick-Loudon Detachments had become a little plainer to Friedrich. The intention, he begins to suspect, is not for Berlin at all; but for junction with Soltikof,—at Crossen, or wherever it may be. This is in fact their real purpose; and this, beyond almost Berlin itself, it is in the highest degree important to prevent! Important; and now as if become impossible!
Prince Henri had come to Bautzen with his Army, specially to look after Loudon and Haddick; and he has, all this while, had Finck with some 10,000 diligently patrolling to westward of them, guarding Berlin; he himself watching from the southern side,—where, as on the western, there was no danger from them. Some time before Wedell's affair, Friedrich had pushed out Eugen of Wurtemberg to watch these people on the eastern side;—suspicious that thitherward lay their real errand. Eugen had but 6,000; and, except in conjunction with Finck and Henri, could do nothing,—nor can, now when Friedrich's suspicion turns out to be fatally true. Friedrich had always the angry feeling that Finck and Prince Henri were the blameworthy parties in what now ensued; that they, who were near, ought to have divined these people's secret, and spoiled it in time; not have left it to him who was far off, and so busy otherwise. To the last, that was his fixed private opinion; by no means useful to utter,—especially at present, while attempting the now very doubtful enterprise himself, and needing all about him to be swift and zealous. This is one of Friedrich's famous labors, this of the Haddick-Loudon junction with Soltikof; strenuous short spasm of effort, of about a week's continuance; full of fiery insight, velocity, energy; still admired by judges, though it was unsuccessful, or only had half success. Difficult to bring home, in any measure, to the mind of modern readers, so remote from it.