HISTORY OF FRIEDRICH II. OF PRUSSIA
FREDERICK THE GREAT
By Thomas Carlyle
BOOK XV.—SECOND SILESIAN WAR, IMPORTANT EPISODE IN THE GENERAL EUROPEAN ONE.—15th Aug. 1744-25th Dec. 1745.
Chapter I.—PRELIMINARY: HOW THE MOMENT ARRIVED.
Battle being once seen to be inevitable, it was Friedrich's plan not to wait for it, but to give it. Thanks to Friedrich Wilhelm and himself, there is no Army, nor ever was any, in such continual preparation. Military people say, "Some Countries take six months, some twelve, to get in motion for war: but in three weeks Prussia can be across the marches, and upon the throat of its enemy." Which is an immense advantage to little Prussia among its big neighbors. "Some Countries have a longer sword than Prussia; but none can unsheathe it so soon:"—we hope, too, it is moderately sharp, when wielded by a deft hand.
The French, as was intimated, are in great vigor, this Year; thoroughly provoked; and especially since Friedrich sent his Rothenburg among them, have been doing their very utmost. Their main effort is in the Netherlands, at present;—and indeed, as happened, continues all through this War to be. They by no means intend, or ever did, to neglect Teutschland; yet it turns out, they have pretty much done with their fighting there. And next Year, driven or led by accidents of various kinds, they quit it altogether; and turning their whole strength upon the Netherlands and Italy, chiefly on the Netherlands, leave Friedrich, much to his astonishment, with the German War hanging wholly round HIS neck, and take no charge of it farther! In which, to Friedrich's Biographers, there is this inestimable benefit, if far the reverse to Friedrich's self: That we shall soon have done with the French, then; with them and with so much else; and may, in time coming, for most part, leave their huge Sorcerer's Sabbath of a European War to dance itself out, well in the distance, not encumbering us farther, like a circumambient Bedlam, as it has hitherto done. Courage, reader! Let us give, in a glance or two, some notion of the course things took, and what moment it was when Friedrich struck in;—whom alone, or almost alone, we hope to follow thenceforth; "Dismal Swamp" (so gracious was Heaven to us) lying now mostly to rearward, little as we hoped it!
It was mere accident, a series of bad accidents, that led King Louis and his Ministers into gradually forsaking Friedrich. They were the farthest in the world from intending such a thing. Contrariwise, what brain-beating, diplomatic spider-weaving, practical contriving, now and afterwards, for that object; especially now! Rothenburg, Noailles, Belleisle, Cardinal Tencin, have been busy; not less the mistress Chateauroux, who admires Friedrich, being indeed a high-minded unfortunate female, as they say; and has thrown out Amelot, not for stammering alone. They are able, almost high people, this new Chateauroux Ministry, compared with some; and already show results.
Nay, what is most important of all, France has (unconsciously, or by mere help of Noailles and luck) got a real General to her Armies: Comte de Saxe, now Marechal de Saxe; who will shine very splendent in these Netherland operations,—counter-shone by mere Wades, D'Ahrembergs, Cumberlands,—in this and the Four following Years. Noailles had always recognized Comte de Saxe; had long striven for him, in Official quarters; and here gets the light of him unveiled at last, and set on a high place: loyal Noailles.
This was the Year, this 1744, when Louis XV., urged by his Chateauroux, the high-souled unfortunate female, appeared in person at the head of his troops: "Go, Sire, go, MON CHOU (and I will accompany); show yourself where a King should be, at the head of your troops; be a second Louis-le-Grand!" Which he did, his Chateauroux and he; actually went to the Netherlands, with baggage-train immeasurable, including not cooks only, but play-actors with their thunder-barrels (off from Paris, May 3d), to the admiration of the Universe. [Adelung, iv. 113; Barbier, ii. 391, 394; Dulaure, Hist. de Paris; &c.] Took the command, nominal-command, first days of June; and captured in no-time Menin, Ipres, Furnes, and the Fort of Knock, and as much of the Austrian Netherlands as he liked,—that is to say, saw Noailles and Saxe do it;—walking rapidly forward from Siege to Siege, with a most thundering artillery; old Marshal Wade and consorts dismally eating their victuals, and looking on from the distance, unable to attempt the least stroke in opposition. So that the Dutch Barrier, if anybody now cared for it, did go all flat; and the Balance of Power gets kicked out of its sacred pivot: to such purpose have the Dutch been hoisted! Terrible to think of;—had not there, from the opposite quarter, risen a surprising counterpoise; had not there been a Prince Karl, with his 70,000, pressing victoriously over the Rhine; which stayed the French in these sacrilegious procedures.
PRINCE KARL GETS ACROSS THE RHINE (20 JUNE-2 JULY, 1744).
Prince Karl, some weeks ago, at Heilbronn, joined his Rhine Army, which had gathered thither from the Austrian side, through Baiern, and from the Hither-Austrian or Swabian Winter-quarters; with full intent to be across the Rhine, and home upon Elsass and the Compensation Countries, this Summer, under what difficulties soever. Karl, or, as some whisper, old Marshal Traun, who is nominally second in command, do make a glorious campaign of it, this Year;—and lift the Cause of Liberty, at one time, to the highest pitch it ever reached. Here, in brief terms, is Prince Karl's Operation on the Rhine, much admired by military men:—
"STOCKSTADT, JUNE 20th, 1744. Some thirty and odd miles north of Mannheim, the Rhine, before turning westward at Mainz, makes one other of its many Islands (of which there are hundreds since the leap at Schaffhausen): one other, and I think the biggest of them all; perhaps two miles by five; which the Germans call KUHKOPF (Cowhead), from the shape it has,—a narrow semi-ellipse; River there splitting in two, one split (the western) going straight, the other bending luxuriantly round: so that the HIND-head or straight end of the Island lies towards France, and the round end, or cow-LIPS (so to speak) towards native Teutschland, and the woody Hills of the Berg-Strasse thereabouts. Stockstadt, chief little Town looking over into this Cowhead Island, lies under the CHIN: understand only farther that the German branch carries more than two-thirds of the River; that on the Island itself there is no town, or post of defence; and that Stockstadt is the place for getting over. Coigny and the French, some 40,000, are guarding the River hereabouts, with lines, with batteries, cordons, the best they can; Seckendorf, with 20,000 more ('Imperial' Old Bavarian Troops, revivified, recruited by French pay), is in his garrison of Philipsburg, ready to help when needed:"—not moulting now, at Wembdingen, in that dismal manner; new-feathered now into "Kaiser's Army;" waiting in his Philipsburg to guard the River there. "Coigny's French have ramparts, ditches, not quite unfurnished, on their own shore, opposite this Cowhead Island (ISLE DE HERON, as they call it); looking over to the hind-head, namely: but they have nothing considerable there; and in the Island itself, nothing whatever. 'If now Stockstadt were suddenly snatched by us,' thinks Karl;—'if a few pontoons were nimbly swung in?'
"JUNE 20th,—Coigny's people all shooting FEU-DE-JOIE, for that never enough to be celebrated Capture of Menin and the Dutch Barrier a fortnight ago,—this is managed to be done. The active General Barenklau, active Brigadier Daun under him, pushes rapidly across into Kuhkopf; rapidly throws up intrenchments, ramparts, mounts cannon, digs himself in,—greatly to Coigny's astonishment; whose people hereabouts, and in all their lines and posts, are busy shooting FEU-DE-JOIE for those immortal Dutch victories, at the moment, and never dreaming of such a thing. Fresh force floods in, Prince Karl himself arrives next day, in support of Barenklau; Coigny (head-quarters at Speyer, forty miles south) need not attempt dislodging him; but must stand upon his guard, and prepare for worse. Which he does with diligence; shifting northward into those Stockstadt-Mainz parts; calling Seckendorf across the River, and otherwise doing his best,—for about ten days more, when worse, and almost worst, did verily befall him.
"No attempt was made on Barenklau; nor, beyond the alarming of the Coigny-Seckendorf people, did anything occur in Cowhead Island,—unless it were the finis of an ugly bully and ruffian, who has more than once afflicted us: which may be worth one word. Colonel Mentzel [copper-faced Colonel, originally Play-actor, "Spy in Persia," and I know not what] had been at the seizure of Kuhkopf; a prominent man. Whom, on the fifth day after ('June 25th'), Prince Karl overwhelmed with joy, by handing him a Patent of Generalcy: 'Just received from Court, my Friend, on account of your merits old and late.'—'Aha,' said Barenklau, congratulating warmly: 'Dine with me, then, Herr General Mentzel, this very day. The Prince himself is to be there, Highness of Hessen-Darmstadt, and who not; all are impatient to drink your health!' Mentzel had a glorious dinner; still more glorious drink,—Prince Karl and the others, it is said, egging him into much wild bluster and gasconade, to season their much wine. Eminent swill of drinking, with the loud coarse talk supposable, on the part of Mentzel and consorts did go on, in this manner, all afternoon: in the evening, drunk Mentzel came out for air; went strutting and staggering about; emerging finally on the platform of some rampart, face of him huge and red as that of the foggiest rising Moon;—and stood, looking over into the Lorraine Country; belching out a storm of oaths, as to his taking it, as to his doing this and that; and was even flourishing his sword by way of accompaniment; when, lo, whistling slightly through the summer air, a rifle-ball from some sentry on the French side (writers say, it was a French drummer, grown impatient, and snatching a sentry's piece) took the brain of him, or the belly of him; and he rushed down at once, a totally collapsed monster, and mere heap of dead ruin, never to trouble mankind more." [Guerre de Boheme, iii. 165.] For which my readers and I are rather thankful. Voltaire, and perhaps other memorable persons, sometimes mention this brute (miraculous to the Plebs and Gazetteers); otherwise eternal oblivion were the best we could do with him. Trenck also, readers will be glad to understand, ends in jail and bedlam by and by.
"Prince Karl had not the least intention of crossing by this Cowhead Island. Nevertheless he set about two other Bridges in the neighborhood, nearer Mainz (few miles below that City); kept manoeuvring his Force, in huge half-moon, round that quarter, and mysteriously up and down; alarming Coigny wholly into the Mainz region. For the space of ten days; and then, stealing off to Schrock, a little Rhine Village above Philipsburg, many miles away from Coigny and his vigilantes, he—
"NIGHT OF 30th JUNE-1st JULY, Suddenly shot Pandour Trenck, followed by Nadasti and 6,000, across at Schrock who scattered Seckendorf's poor outposts thereabouts to the winds; 'built a bridge before morning, and next day another.' Next day Prince Karl in person appeared; and on the 3d of July, had his whole Army with its luggages across; and had seized the Lines of Lauterburg and Weissenburg (celebrated northern defence of Elsass),—much to Coigny's amazement; and remained inexpugnable there, with Elsass open to him, and to Coigny shut, for the present! [Adelung, iv. 139-141.] Coigny made bitter wail, accusation, blame of Seckendorf, blame of men and of things; even tried some fighting, Seckendorf too doing feats, to recover those Lines of Weissenburg: but could not do it. And, in fact, blazing to and fro in that excited rather than luminous condition, could not do anything; except retire into the strong posts of the background; and send express on express, swifter than the wind if you can, to a victorious King overturning the Dutch Barrier: 'Help, your Majesty, or we are lost; and France is—what shall I say!'"
"Admirable feat of Strategy! What a General, this Prince Karl!" exclaimed mankind,—Cause-of-Liberty mankind with special enthusiasm; and took to writing LIVES of Prince Karl, [For instance, The Life of his Highness Prince Charles of &c., with &c. &c. (London, 1746); one of the most distracted Blotches ever published under the name of Book;—wakening thoughts of a public dimness very considerable indeed, to which this could offer itself as lamp!] as well as tar-burning and TE-DEUM-ing on an extensive scale. For it had sent the Cause of Liberty bounding up again to the top of things, this of crossing the Rhine, in such fashion. And, in effect, the Cause of Liberty, and Prince Karl himself, had risen hereby to their acme or culminating point in World-History; not to continue long at such height, little as they dreamt of that, among their tar-burnings. The feat itself—contrived by Nadasti, people say, and executed (what was the real difficulty) by Traun—brought Prince Karl very great renown, this Year; and is praised by Friedrich himself, now and afterwards, as masterly, as Julius Caesar's method, and the proper way of crossing rivers (when executable) in face of an enemy. And indeed Prince Karl, owing to Traun or not, is highly respectable in the way of Generalship at present; and did in these Five Months, from June onward, really considerable things. At his very acme of Life, as well as of Generalship; which, alas, soon changed, poor man; never to culminate again. He had got, at the beginning of the Year, the high Maria Theresa's one Sister, Archduchess Maria Anna, to Wife; [Age then twenty-five gone: "born 14th September, 1718; married to Prince Karl 7th January, 1744; died, of childbirth, 16th December same year" (Hormayr, OEsterreichischer Plutarch, iv. erstes Baudchen, 54).] the crown of long mutual attachment; she safe now at Brussels, diligent Co-Regent, and in a promising family-way; he here walking on victorious:—need any man be happier? No man can be supremely happy long; and this General's strategic felicity and his domestic were fatally cut down almost together. The Cause of Liberty, too, now at the top of its orbit, was—But let us stick by our Excerpting:
"DUNKIRK, 19th JULY, 1744 [Princess Ulrique's Wedding, just two days ago]. King Louis, on hearing of the Job's-news from Elsass, instantly suspended his Conquests in Flanders; detached Noailles, detached this one and that, double-quick, Division after Division (leaving Saxe, with 45,000, to his own resources, and the fatuities of Marshal Wade); and, 19th July, himself hastens off from Dunkirk (leaving much of the luggage, but not the Chateauroux behind him), to save his Country, poor soul. But could not, in the least, save it; the reverse rather. August 4th, he got to Metz, Belleisle's strong town, about 100 miles from the actual scene; his detached reinforcements, say 50,000 men or so, hanging out ahead like flame-clouds, but uncertain how to act;—Noailles being always cunctatious in time of crisis, and poor Louis himself nothing of a Cloud-Compeller;—and then,
"METZ, AUGUST 8th, The Most Christian King fell ill; dangerously, dreadfully, just like to die. Which entirely paralyzed Noailles and Company, or reduced them to mere hysterics, and excitement of the unluminous kind. And filled France in general, Paris in particular, with terror, lamentation, prayers of forty hours; and such a paroxysm of hero-worship as was never seen for such an object before." [Espagnac, ii. 12; Adelung, iv. 180; Fastes de Louis XV., ii. 423; &c. &c.]
For the Cause of Liberty here, we consider, was the culminating moment; Elsass, Lorraine and the Three Bishoprics lying in their quasi-moribund condition; Austrian claims of Compensation ceasing to be visions of the heated brain, and gaining some footing on the Earth as facts. Prince Karl is here actually in Elsass, master of the strong passes; elate in heart, he and his; France, again, as if fallen paralytic, into temporary distraction; offering for resistance nothing hitherto but that universal wailing of mankind, Hero-worship of a thrice-lamentable nature, and the Prayers of Forty-Hours! Most Christian Majesty, now IN EXTREMIS, centre of the basest hubbub that ever was, is dismissing Chateauroux. Noailles, Coigny and Company hang well back upon the Hill regions, and strong posts which are not yet menaced; or fly vaguely, more or less distractedly, hither and thither; not in the least like fighting Karl, much less like beating him. Karl has Germany free at his back (nay it is a German population round him here); neither haversack nor cartridge-box like to fail: before him are only a Noailles and consorts, flying vaguely about;—and there is in Karl, or under the same cloak with him at present, a talent of manoeuvring men, which even Friedrich finds masterly. If old Marshal Wade, at the other end of the line, should chance to awaken and press home on Saxe, and his remnant of French, with right vigor? In fact, there was not, that I can see, for centuries past, not even at the Siege of Lille in Marlborough's time, a more imminent peril for France.
FRIEDRICH DECIDES TO INTERVENE.
King Friedrich, on hearing of these Rhenish emergencies and of King Louis's heroic advance to the rescue, perceived that for himself too the moment was come; and hastened to inform heroic Louis, That though the terms of their Bargain were not yet completed, Sweden, Russia and other points being still in a pendent condition, he, Friedrich,—with an eye to success of their Joint Adventure, and to the indispensability of joint action, energy, and the top of one's speed now or never,—would, by the middle of this same August, be on the field with 100,000 men. "An invasion of Bohemia, will not that astonish Prince Karl; and bring him to his Rhine-Bridges again? Over which, if your Most Christian Majesty be active, he will not get, except in a half, or wholly ruined state. Follow him close; send the rest of your force to threaten Hanover; sit well on the skirts of Prince Karl. Him as he hurries homeward, ruined or half-ruined, him, or whatever Austrian will fight, I do my best to beat. We may have Bohemia, and a beaten Austria, this very Autumn: see,—and, in one Campaign, there is Peace ready for us!" This is Friedrich's scheme of action; success certain, thinks he, if only there be energy, activity, on your side, as there shall be on mine;—and has sent Count Schmettau, filled with fiery speed and determination, to keep the French full of the like, and concert mutual operations.
"Magnanimous!" exclaim Noailles and the paralyzed French Gentlemen (King Louis, I think, now past speech, for Schmettau only came August 9th): "Most sublime behavior, on his Prussian Majesty's part!" own they. And truly it is a fine manful indifference (by no means so common as it should be) to all interests, to all considerations, but that of a Joint Enterprise one has engaged in. And truly, furthermore, it was immediate salvation to the paralyzed French Gentlemen, in that alarming crisis; though they did not much recognize it afterwards as such: and indeed were conspicuously forgetful of all parts of it, when their own danger was over.
Maria Theresa's feelings may be conceived; George II's feelings; and what the Cause of Liberty in general felt, and furiously said and complained, when—suddenly as a DEUS EX MACHINA, or Supernal Genie in the Minor Theatres—Friedrich stept in. Precisely in this supreme crisis, 7th August, 1744, Friedrich's Minister, Graf von Dohna, at Vienna, has given notice of the Frankfurt Union, and solemn Engagement entered into: "Obliged in honor and conscience; will and must now step forth to right an injured Kaiser; cannot stand these high procedures against an Imperial Majesty chosen by all the Princes of the Reich, this unheard-of protest that the Kaiser is no Kaiser, as if all Germany were but Austria and the Queen of Hungary's. Prussian Majesty has not the least quarrel of his own with the Queen of Hungary, stands true, and will stand, by the Treaty of Berlin and Breslau;—only, with certain other German Princes, has done what all German Princes and peoples not Austrian are bound to do, on behalf of their down-trodden Kaiser, formed a Union of Frankfurt; and will, with armed hand if indispensable, endeavor to see right done in that matter." [In Adelung, iv. 155, 156, the Declaration itself (Audience, "7th August, 1744." Dohna off homeward "on the second day after").]
This is the astonishing fact for the Cause of Liberty; and no clamor and execration will avail anything. This man is prompt, too; does not linger in getting out his Sword, when he has talked of it. Prince Karl's Operation is likely to be marred amazingly. If this swift King (comparable to the old Serpent for devices) were to burst forth from his Silesian strengths; tread sharply on the TAIL of Prince Karl's Operation, and bring back the formidably fanged head of IT out of Alsace, five hundred miles all at once,—there would be a business!
We will now quit the Rhine Operations, which indeed are not now of moment; Friedrich being suddenly the key of events again. I add only, what readers are vaguely aware of, that King Louis did not die; that he lay at death's door for precisely one week (8th-15th August), symptoms mending on the 15th. In the interim,—Grand-Almoner Fitz-James (Uncle of our Conte di Spinelli) insisting that a certain Cardinal, who had got the Sacraments in hand, should insist; and endless ministerial intrigue being busy,—moribund Louis had, when it came to the Sacramental point, been obliged to dismiss his Chateauroux. Poor Chateauroux; an unfortunate female; yet, one almost thinks, the best man among them: dismissed at Metz here, and like to be mobbed! That was the one issue of King Louis's death-sickness. Sublime sickness; during which all Paris wept aloud, in terror and sorrow, like a child that has lost its mother and sees a mastiff coming; wept sublimely, and did the Prayers of Forty-Hours; and called King Louis Le BIEN-AIME (The Well-beloved):—merely some obstruction in the royal bowels, it turned out;—a good cathartic, and the Prayers of Forty-Hours, quite reinstated matters. Nay reinstated even Chateauroux, some time after,—"the Devil being well again," and, as the Proverb says, quitting his monastic view. Reinstated Chateauroux: but this time, poor creature, she continued only about a day:—"Sudden fever, from excitement," said the Doctors: "Fever? Poison, you mean!" whispered others, and looked for changes in the Ministry. Enough, oh, enough!—
Old Marshal Wade did not awaken, though bawled to by his Ligoniers and others, and much shaken about, poor old gentleman. "No artillery to speak of," murmured he; "want baggage-wagons, too!" and lay still. "Here is artillery!" answered the Official people; "With my own money I will buy you baggage-wagons!" answered the high Maria Anna, in her own name and her Prince Karl's, who are Joint-Governors there. Possibly he would have awakened, had they given him time. But time, in War especially, is the thing that is never given. Once Friedrich HAD struck in, the moment was gone by. Poor old Wade! Of him also enough.
Chapter II.—FRIEDRICH MARCHES UPON PRAG, CAPTURES PRAG.
It was on Saturday, "early in the morning," 15th August, 1744, that Friedrich set out, attended by his two eldest Brothers, Prince of Prussia and Prince Henri, from Potsdam, towards this new Adventure, which proved so famous since. Sudden, swift, to the world's astonishment;—actually on march here, in three Columns (two through Saxony by various routes southeastward, one from Silesia through Glatz southwestward), to invade Bohemia: rumor says 100,000 strong, fact itself says upwards of 80,000, on their various routes, converging towards Prag. [—Helden-Geschichte,—ii. 1165. Orlich (ii. 25, 27) enumerates the various regiments.] His Columns, especially his Saxon Columns, are already on the road; he joins one Column, this night, at Wittenberg; and is bent, through Saxony, towards the frontiers of Bohemia, at the utmost military speed he has.
Through Saxony about 60,000 go: he has got the Kaiser's Order to the Government of Saxony, "Our august Ally, requiring on our Imperial business a transit through you;"—and Winterfeld, an excellent soldier and negotiator, has gone forward to present said Order. A Document which flurries the Dresden Officials beyond measure. Their King is in Warsaw; their King, if here, could do little; and indeed has been inclining to Maria Theresa this long while. And Winterfeld insists on such despatch;—and not even the Duke of Weissenfels is in Town, Dresden Officials "send off five couriers and thirteen estafettes" to the poor old Duke; [Helden-Geschichte, ii. 1163.] get him at last; and—The march is already taking effect; they may as well consent to it: what can they do but consent! In the uttermost flurry, they had set to fortifying Dresden; all hands driving palisades, picking, delving, making COUPURES (trenches, or sunk barricades) in the streets;—fatally aware that it can avail nothing. Is not this the Kaiser's Order? Prussians, to the amount of 60,000, are across our Frontiers, rapidly speeding on.
"Friedrich's Manifesto—under the modest Title, 'ANZEIGE DER URSACHEN (Advertisement of the Causes which have induced his Prussian Majesty to send the Romish Kaiser's Majesty some Auxiliary Troops)'—had appeared in the Berlin Newspapers Thursday, 13th, only two days before. An astonishment to all mankind; which gave rise to endless misconceptions of Friedrich: but which, supporting itself on proofs, on punctually excerpted foot-notes, is intrinsically a modest, quiet Piece; and, what is singular in Manifestoes, has nothing, or almost nothing, in it that is not, so far as it goes, a perfect statement of the fact. 'Auxiliary troops, that is our essential character. No war with her Hungarian Majesty, or with any other, on our own score. But her Hungarian Majesty, how has she treated the Romish Kaiser, her and our and the Reich's Sovereign Head, and to what pass reduced him; refusing him Peace on any terms, except those of self-annihilation; denying that he is a Kaiser at all;'—and enumerates the various Imperial injuries, with proof given, quiet footnotes by way of proof; and concludes in these words: 'For himself his Majesty requires nothing. The question here is not of his Majesty's own interest at all [everything his Majesty required, or requires, is by the Treaty of Berlin solemnly his, if the Reich and its Laws endure]: and he has taken up arms simply and solely in the view of restoring to the Reich its freedom, to the Kaiser his Headship of the Reich, and to all Europe the Peace which is so desirable.' [Given in Seyfarth, Beylage, i. 121-136, with date "August, 1744."]
"'Pretences, subterfuges, lies!' exclaimed the Austrian and Allied Public everywhere, or strove to exclaim; especially the English Public, which had no difficulty in so doing;—a Public comfortably blank as to German facts or non-facts; and finding with amazement only this a very certain fact, That hereby is their own Pragmatic thunder checked in mid-volley in a most surprising manner, and the triumphant Cause of Liberty brought to jeopardy again. 'Perfidious, ambitious, capricious!' exclaimed they: 'a Prince without honor, without truth, without constancy;'—and completed, for themselves, in hot rabid humor, that English Theory of Friedrich which has prevailed ever since. Perhaps the most surprising item of which is this latter, very prominent in those old times, That Friedrich has no 'constancy,' but follows his 'caprices,' and accidental whirls of impulse:—item which has dropped away in our times, though the others stand as stable as ever. A monument of several things! Friedrich's suddenness is an essential part of what fighting talent he has: if the Public, thrown into flurry, cannot judge it well, they must even misjudge it: what help is there?
"That the above were actually Friedrich's reasons for venturing into this Big Game again, is not now disputable. And as to the rumor, which rose afterwards (and was denied, and could only be denied diplomatically to the ear, if even to the ear), That Friedrich by Secret Article was 'to have for himself the Three Bohemian Circles, Konigsgratz, Bunzlau, Leitmeritz, which lie between Schlesien and Sachsen,' [Helden-Geschichte, i. 1081; Scholl, ii. 349.]—there is not a doubt but Friedrich had so bargained, 'Very well, if we can get said Circles!' and would right cheerfully have kept and held them, had the big game gone in all points completely well (game, to reinstate the Kaiser BOTH in Bohemia and Bavaria) by Friedrich's fine playing. Not a doubt of all this:—nor of what an extremely hypothetic outlook it then and always was; greatly too weak for enticing such a man."
Friedrich goes in Three Columns. One, on the south or left shore of the Elbe, coming in various branches under Friedrich himself; this alone will touch on Dresden, pass on the south side of Dresden; gather itself about Pirna (in the Saxon Switzerland so called, a notable locality); thence over the Metal Mountains into Bohmen, by Toplitz, by Lowositz, Leitmeritz, and the Highway called the Pascopol, famous in War. The Second Column, under Leopold the Young Dessauer, goes on the other or north side of the Elbe, at a fair distance; marching through the Lausitz (rendezvous or starting-point was Bautzen in the Lausitz) straight south, to meet the King at Leitmeritz, where the grand Magazine is to be; and thence, still south, straight upon Prag, in conjunction with his Majesty or parallel to him. [Helden-Geschichte, i. 1081.] These are the Two Saxon Columns. The Third Column, under Schwerin, collects itself in the interior of Silesia; is issuing, by Glatz Country, through the Giant Mountains, BOHMISCHE KAMME (Bohemian COMBS as they are called, which Tourists know), by the Pass of Braunau,—disturbing the dreams of Rubezahl, if Rubezahl happen to be there. This, say 20,000, will come down upon Prag from the eastern side; and be first on the ground (31st August),—first by one day. In the home parts of Silesia, well eastward of Glatz, there is left another Force of 20,000, which can go across the Austrian Border there, and hang upon the Hills, threatening Olmutz and the Moravian Countries, should need be.
And so, in its Three Columns, from west, from north, from east, the march, with a steady swiftness, proceeds. Important especially those Two Saxon Columns from west and north: 60,000 of them, "with a frightful (ENTSETZLICH) quantity of big guns coming up the Elbe." Much is coming up the Elbe; indispensable Highway for this Enterprise. Three months' provisions, endless artillery and provender, is on the Elbe; 480 big boats, with immense VORSPANN (of trace-horses, dreadful swearing, too, as I have heard), will pass through the middle of Dresden: not landing by any means. "No, be assured of it, ye Dresdeners, all flurried, palisaded, barricaded; no hair of you shall be harmed." After a day or two, the flurry of Saxony subsided; Prussians, under strict discipline, molest no private person; pay their way; keep well aloof, to south and to north, of Dresden (all but the necessary ammunition-escorts do);—and require of the Official people nothing but what the Law of the Reich authorizes to "Imperial Auxiliaries" in such case. "The Saxons themselves," Friedrich observes, "had some 40,000, but scattered about; King in Warsaw:—dreadful terror; making COUPURES and TETES-DE-PONT;—could have made no defence." Had we diligently spent eight days on them! reflects he afterwards. "To seize Saxony [and hobble it with ropes, so that at any time you could pin it motionless, and even, if need were, milk the substance out of it], would not have detained us eight days." [ OEuvres de Frederic, iii. 53.] Which would have been the true plan, had we known what was getting ready there! Certain it is, Friedrich did no mischief, paid for everything; anxious to keep well with Saxony; hoping always they might join him again, in such a Cause. "Cause dear to every Patriot German Prince," urges Friedrich,—though Bruhl, and the Polish, once "Moravian," Majesty are of a very different opinion:—
"Maria Theresa, her thoughts at hearing of it may be imagined: 'The Evil Genius of my House afoot again! My high projects on Elsass and Lorraine; Husband for Kaiser, Elsass for the Reich and him, Lorraine for myself and him; gone probably to water!' Nevertheless she said (an Official person heard her say), 'My right is known to God; God will protect me, as He has already done.' [ Helden-Geschichte, ii. 1024.] And rose very strong, and magnanimously defiant again; perhaps, at the bottom of her heart, almost glad withal that she would now have a stroke for her dear Silesia again, unhindered by Paladin George and his Treaties and notions. What measures, against this nefarious Prussian outbreak, hateful to gods and men, are possible, she rapidly takes: in Bohemia, in Bavaria and her other Countries, that are threatened or can help. And abates nothing of heart or hope;—praying withal, immensely, she and her People, according to the mode they have. Sending for Prince Karl, we need not say, double-quick, as the very first thing.
"Of Maria Theresa in Hungary,—for she ran to Presburg again with her woes (August 16th, Diet just assembling there),—let us say only that Hungary was again chivalrous; that old Palfy and the general Hungarian Nation answered in the old tone,—VIVAT MARIA; AD ARMA, AD ARMA! with Tolpatches, Pandours, Warasdins;—and, in short, that great and small, in infinite 'Insurrection,' have still a stroke of battle in them PRO REGE NOSTRO. Scarcely above a District or two (as the JASZERS and KAUERS, in their over-cautious way) making the least difficulty. Much enthusiasm and unanimity in all the others; here and there a Hungarian gentleman complaining scornfully that their troops, known as among the best fighters in Nature, are called irregular troops,—irregular, forsooth! In one public consultation [District not important, not very spellable, though doubtless pronounceable by natives to it], a gentleman suggests that 'Winter is near; should not there be some slight provision of tents, of shelter in the frozen sleety Mountains, to our gallant fellows bound thither?' Upon which another starts up, 'When our Ancestors came out of Asia Minor, over the Palus Maeotis bound in winter ice; and, sabre in hand, cut their way into this fine Country which is still ours, what shelter had they? No talk of tents, of barracks or accommodation there; each, wrapt in his sheep skin, found it shelter sufficient. Tents!' [ Helden-Geschichte, ii. 1030.] And the thing was carried by acclamation.
"Wide wail in Bohemia that War is coming back. Nobility all making off, some to Vienna or the intermediate Towns lying thitherward, some to their Country-seats; all out of Prag. Willing mind on the part of the Common People; which the Government strains every nerve to make the most of. Here are fasts, processions, Prayers of Forty-Hours; here, as in Vienna and elsewhere. In Vienna was a Three Days' solemn Fast: the like in Prag, or better; with procession to the shrine of St. Vitus,—little likely to help, I should fear. 'Rise, all fencible men,' exclaims the Government,—'at least we will ballot, and make you rise:'—Militia people enter Prag to the extent of 10,000; like to avail little, one would fear. General Harsch, with reinforcement of real soldiers, is despatched from Vienna; Harsch, one of our ablest soldiers since Khevenhuller died, gets in still in time; and thus increases the Garrison of regulars to 4,000, with a vigorous Captain to guide it. Old Count Ogilvy, the same whom Saxe surprised two years ago in the moonlight, snatching ladders from the gallows,—Ogilvy is again Commandant; but this time nominal mainly, and with better outlooks, Harsch being under him. In relays, 3,000 of the Militia men dig and shovel night and day; repairing, perfecting the ramparts of the place. Then, as to provisions, endless corn is introduced,—farmers forced, the unwilling at the bayonet's point, to deliver in their corn; much of it in sheaf, so that we have to thrash it in the market-place, in the streets that are wide: and thus in Prag is heard the sound of flails, among the Militia-drums and so many other noises. With the great church-organs growling; and the bass and treble MISERERE of the poor superstitious People rising, to St. Vitus and others. In fact, it is a general Dance of St. Vitus,—except that of the flails, and Militia-men working at the ramparts,—mostly not leading any-whither." ["LETTER from a Citizen of Prag," date, 21st Sept. (in Helden-Geschichte, ii. 1168), which gives several curious details.]
Meanwhile Friedrich's march from west, from north, from east, is flowing on; diligent, swift; punctual to its times, its places; and meets no impediment to speak of. At Tetschen on the Saxon-Bohemian Frontier,—a pleasant Schloss perched on its crags, as Tourists know, where the Elbe sweeps into Saxon Switzerland and its long stone labyrinths,—at Tetschen the Austrians had taken post; had tried to block the River, driving piles into it, and tumbling boulders into it, with a view to stop the 480 Prussian Boats. These people needed to be torn out, their piles and they: which was done in two days, the soldier part of it; and occupied the boatmen above a week, before all was clear again. Prosperous, correct to program, all the rest; not needing mention from us;—here are the few sparks from it that dwell in one's memory:—
"AUGUST 15th, 1744, King left Potsdam; joined his First Column that night, at Wittenberg. Through Mieissen, Torgau, Freyberg; is at Peterswalde, eastern slope of the Metal Mountains, August 25th; all the Columns now on Bohemian ground.
"Friedrich had crossed Elbe by the Bridge of Meissen: on the southern shore, politely waiting to receive his Majesty, there stood Feldmarschall the Duke of Weissenfels; to whom the King gave his hand," no doubt in friendly style, "and talked for above half an hour,"—with such success! thinks Friedrich by and by. We have heard of Weissenfels before; the same poor Weissenfels who was Wilhelmina's Wooer in old time, now on the verge of sixty; an extremely polite but weakish old gentleman; accidentally preserved in History. One of those conspicuous "Human Clothes-Horses" (phantasmal all but the digestive part), which abound in that Eighteenth Century and others like it; and distress your Historical studies. Poor old soul; now Feldmarschall and Commander-in-Chief here. Has been in Turk and other Wars; with little profit to himself or others. Used to like his glass, they say; is still very poor, though now Duke in reality as well as title (succeeded two egregious Brothers, some years since, who had been spendthrift): he has still one other beating to get in this world,—from Friedrich next year. Died altogether, two years hence; and Wilhelmina heard no more of him.
"At Meissen Bridge, say some, was this Half-hour's Interview; at Pirna, the Bridge of Pirna, others say; [See Orlich, ii. 25; and Helden-Geschichte, ii. 1166.]—quite indifferent to us which. At Pirna, and hither and thither in Saxon Switzerland, Friedrich certainly was. 'Who ever saw such positions, your Majesty?' For Friedrich is always looking out, were it even from the window of his carriage, and putting military problems to himself in all manner of scenery, 'What would a man do, in that kind of ground, if attacking, if attacked? with that hill, that brook, that bit of bog?' and advises every Officer to be continually doing the like. [MILITARY INSTRUCTIONS? RULES FOR A GOOD COMMANDER OF &c.?—I have, for certain, read this Passage; but the reference is gone again, like a sparrow from the house-top!] That is the value of picturesque or other scenery to Friedrich, and their effect on good Prussian Officers and him.
"... At Tetschen, Colonel Kahlbutz," diligent Prussian Colonel, "plucks out those 100 Austrians from their rock nest there; makes them prisoners of war;—which detained the Leitmeritz branch of us two days. August 28th, junction at Leitmeritz thereupon. Magazine established there. Boats coming on presently. Friedrich himself camped at Lobositz in this part,"—Lobositz, or Lowositz, which he will remember one day.
"AUGUST 29th, March to Budin; that is, southward, across the Eger, arrive within forty miles of Prag. Austrian Bathyani, summoned hastily out of his Bavarian posts, to succor in this pressing emergency, has arrived in these neighborhoods,—some 12,000 regulars under him, preceded by clouds of hussars, whom Ziethen smites a little, by way of handsel;—no other Austrian force to speak of hereabouts; and we are now between Bathyani and Prag.
"SEPTEMBER 1st, To Mickowitz, near Welwarn, twenty miles from Prag. September 2d, Camp on the Weissenberg there." [ Helden-Geschichte, i. 1080.]
And so they are all assembled about Prag, begirdling the poor City,—third Siege it has stood within these three years (since that moonlight November night in 1741);—and are only waiting for their heavy artillery to begin battering. The poor inhabitants, in spite of three sieges; the 10,000 raw militia-men, mostly of Hungarian breed; the 4,000 regulars, and Harsch and old Ogilvy, are all disposed to do their best. Friedrich is naturally in haste to get hold of Prag. But he finds, on taking survey: that the sword-in-hand method is not now, as in 1741, feasible at all; that the place is in good posture of strength; and will need a hot battering to tear it open. Owing to that accident at Tetschen, the siege-cannon are not yet come up: "Build your batteries, your Moldau-bridges, your communications, till the cannon come; and beware of Bathyani meddling with your cannon by the road!"
"Bathyani is within twenty miles of us, at Beraun, a compact little Town to southwest; gathering a Magazine there; and ready for enterprises,—in more force than Friedrich guesses. 'Drive him out, seize that Magazine of his!' orders Friedrich (September 5th); and despatches General Hacke on it, a right man,"—at whose wedding we assisted (wedding to an heiress, long since, in Friedrich Wilhelm's time), if anybody now remembered. "And on the morrow there falls out a pretty little 'Action of Beraun,' about which great noise was made in the Gazettes PRO and CONTRA: which did not dislodge Bathyani by airy means; but which might easily have ruined the impetuous Hacke and his 6,000, getting into masked batteries, Pandour whirlwinds, charges of horses 'from front, from rear, and from both flanks,'—had not he, with masterly promptitude, whirled himself out of it, snatched instantly what best post there was, and defended himself inexpugnably there, for six hours, till relief came." [DIE BEY BERAUN VORGEFALLENE ACTION (in Seyfarth, Beylage, i. 136, 137).] Brilliant little action, well performed on both sides, but leading to nothing; and which shall not concern us farther. Except to say that Bathyani did now, more at his leisure, retire out of harm's way; and begin collecting Magazines at Pilsen far rearward, which may prove useful to Prince Karl, in the route Prince Karl is upon.
Siege-cannon having at last come (September 8th), the batteries are all mounted:—on Wednesday, 9th, late at night, the Artillery, "in enormous quantity," opens its dread throat; poor Prag is startled from its bed by torrents of shot, solid and shell, from three different quarters; and makes haste to stand to its guns. From three different quarters; from Bubenetsch northward; from the Upland of St. Lawrence (famed WEISSENBERG, or White-Hill) westward; and from the Ziscaberg eastward (Hill of Zisca, where iron Zisca posted himself on a grand occasion once),—which latter is a broad long Hill, west end of it falling sheer over Prag; and on another point of it, highest point of all, the Praguers have a strong battery and works. The Prag guns otherwise are not too effectual; planted mostly on low ground. By much the best Prag battery is this of the Ziscaberg. And this, after two days' experience had of it, the Prussians determine to take on the morrow.
SEPTEMBER 12th, Schwerin, who commands on that side, assaults accordingly; with the due steadfastness and stormfulness: throwing shells and balls by way of prelude. Friedrich, with some group of staff-officers and dignitaries, steps out on the Bubenetsch post, to see how this affair of the Ziscaberg will prosper: the Praguers thereabouts, seeing so many dignitaries, turn cannon on them. "Disperse, IHR HERREN; have a care!" cried Friedrich; not himself much minding, so intent upon the Ziscaberg. And could have skipt indifferently over your cannon-balls ploughing the ground,—had not one fateful ball shattered out the life of poor Prince Wilhelm; a good young Cousin of his, shot down here at his hand. Doubtless a sharp moment for the King. Prince Margraf Wilhelm and a poor young page, there they lie dead; indifferent to the Ziscaberg and all coming wars of mankind. Lamentation, naturally, for this young man,—Brother to the one who fell at Mollwitz, youngest Brother of the Margraf Karl, who commands in this Bubenetsch redoubt:—But we must lift our eye-glass again; see how Schwerin is prospering. Schwerin, with due steadfastness and stormfulness, after his prelude of bomb-shells, rushes on double-quick; cannot be withstood; hurls out the Praguers, and seizes their battery; a ruinous loss to them.
Their grand Zisca redoubt is gone, then; and two subsidiary small redoubts behind it withal, which the French had built, and named "the magpie-nests (NIDS A PIE);" these also are ours. And we overhang, from our Zisca Hill, the very roofs, as it were; and there is nothing but a long bare curtain now in this quarter, ready to be battered in breach, and soon holed, if needful. It is not needful,—not quite. In the course of three days more, our Bubenetsch battery, of enormous power, has been so diligent, it has set fire to the Water-mill; burns irretrievably the Water-mill, and still worse, the wooden Sluice of the Moldau; so that the river falls to the everywhere wadable pitch. And Governor Harsch perceives that all this quarter of the Town is open to any comer;—and, in fact, that he will have to get away, the best he can.
White flag accordingly (Tuesday, 15th): "Free withdrawal, to the Wischerad; won't you?" "By no manner of means!" answers Friedrich. Bids Schwerin from his Ziscaberg make a hole or two in that "curtain" opposite him; and gets ready for storm. Upon which Harsch, next morning, has to beat the chamade, and surrender Prisoner of War. And thus, Wednesday, 16th, it is done: a siege of one week, no more,—after all that thrashing of grain, drilling of militia, and other spirited preparation. Harsch could not help it; the Prussian cannonading was so furious. [Orlich, ii. 36-39; Helden-Geschichte, i. 1082, and ii. 1168; OEuvres de Frederic, iii. 56; &c. &c.]
Prag has to swear fealty to the Kaiser; and "pay a ransom of 200,000 pounds." Drilled militia, regulars, Hungarians, about 16,000,—only that many of the Tolpatches contrived to whisk loose,—are marched prisoners to Glatz and other strong places. Prag City, with plenty of provision in it, is ours. A brilliant beginning of a Campaign; the eyes of all Europe turned again, in very various humor, on this young King. If only the French do their duty, and hang well on the skirts of Marshal Traun (or of Prince Karl, the Cloak of Traun), who is hastening hitherward all he can.
Chapter III.—FRIEDRICH, DILIGENT IN HIS BOHEMIAN CONQUESTS, UNEXPECTEDLY COMES UPON PRINCE KARL, WITH NO FRENCH ATTENDING HIM.
This electrically sudden operation on Prag was considered by astonished mankind, whatever else they might think about it, a decidedly brilliant feat of War: falling like a bolt out of the blue,—like three bolts, suddenly coalescing over Prag, and striking it down. Friedrich himself, though there is nothing of boast audible here or anywhere, was evidently very well satisfied; and thought the aspects good. There is Prince Karl whirling instantly back from his Strasburg Prospects; the general St. Vitus Dance of Austrian things rising higher and higher in these home parts:—reasonable hope that "in the course of one Campaign," proud obstinate Austria might feel itself so wrung and screwed as to be glad of Peace with neighbors not wishing War. That was the young King's calculation at this time. And, had France done at all as it promised,—or had the young King himself been considerably wiser than he was,—he had not been disappointed in the way we shall see!
Friedrich admits he did not understand War at this period. His own scheme now was: To move towards the southwest, there to abolish Bathyani and his Tolpatches, who are busy gathering Magazines for Prince Karl's advent; to seize the said Magazines, which will be very useful to us; then advance straight towards the Passes of the Bohemian Mountains. Towns of Furth, Waldmunchen, unfortunate Town of Cham (burnt by Trenck, where masons are now busy); these stand successive in the grand Pass, through which the highway runs; some hundred miles or so from where we are: march, at one's swiftest, thitherward, Bathyani's Magazines to help; and there await Prince Karl? It was Friedrich's own notion; not a bad one, though not the best. The best, he admits, would have been: To stay pretty much where he was; abolish Bathyani's Tolpatch people, seizing their Magazines, and collecting others; in general, well rooting and fencing himself in Prag, and in the Circles that lie thereabouts upon the Elbe,—bounded to southward by the Sazawa (branch of the Moldau), which runs parallel to the Elbe;—but well refusing to stir much farther at such an advanced season of the year.
That second plan would have been the wisest:—then why not, follow it? Too tame a plan for the youthful mind. Besides, we perceive, as indeed is intimated by himself, he dreaded the force of public opinion in France. "Aha, look at your King of Prussia again. Gone to conquer Bohemia; and, except the Three Circles he himself is to have of it, lets Bohemia go to the winds!" This sort of thing, Friedrich admits, he dreaded too much, at that young period; so loud had the criticisms been on him, in the time of the Breslau Treaty: "Out upon your King of Prussia; call you that an honorable Ally!" Undoubtedly a weakness in the young King; inasmuch, says he, as "every General [and every man, add we] should look to the fact, not to the rumor of the fact." Well; but, at least, he will adopt his own other notion; that of making for the Passes of the Bohemian Mountains; to abolish Bathyani at least, and lock the door upon Prince Karl's advent? That was his own plan; and, though second-best, that also would have done well, had there been no third.
But there was, as we hinted, a third plan, ardently favored by Belleisle, whose war-talent Friedrich much respected at this time: plan built on Belleisle's reminiscences of the old Tabor-Budweis businesses, and totally inapplicable now. Belleisle said, "Go southeast, not southwest; right towards the Austrian Frontier itself; that will frighten Austria into a fine tremor. Shut up the roads from Austria: Budweis, Neuhaus; seize those two Highroad Towns, and keep them, if you would hold Bohemia; the want of them was our ruin there." Your ruin, yes: but your enemy was not coming from Alsace and the southwest then. He was coming from Austria; and your own home lay on the southwest: it is all different now! Friedrich might well think himself bewitched not to have gone for Cham and Furth, and the Passes of the Bohmer-Wald, according to his own notion. But so it was; he yielded to the big reputation of Belleisle, and to fear of what the world would say of him in France; a weakness which he will perhaps be taught not to repeat. In fact, he is now about to be taught several things;—and will have to pay his school-wages as he goes.
FRIEDRICH, LEAVING SMALL GARRISON IN PRAG, RUSHES SWIFTLY UP THE MOLDAU VALLEY, UPON THE TABOR-BUDWEIS COUNTRY; TO PLEASE HIS FRENCH FRIENDS.
Friedrich made no delay in Prag; in haste at this late time of year. September 17th, on the very morrow of the Siege, the Prussians get in motion southward; on the 19th, Friedrich, from his post to north of the City, defiles through Prag, on march to Kunraditz,—first stage on that questionable Expedition up the Moldau Valley, right bank; towards Tabor, Budweis, Neuhaus; to threaten Austria, and please Belleisle and the French.
Prag is left under General Einsiedel with a small garrison of 5,000;—Einsiedel, a steady elderly gentleman, favorite of Friedrich Wilhelm's, has brief order, or outline of order to be filled up by his own good sense. Posadowsky follows the march, with as many meal-wagons as possible,—draught-cattle in very ineffectual condition. Our main Magazine is at Leitmeritz (should have been brought on to Prag, thinks Friedrich); Commissariat very ill-managed in comparison to what it ought to be,—to what it shall be, if we ever live to make another Campaign. Heavy artillery is left in Prag (another fault); and from each regiment, one of its baggage-wagons. [ Helden-Geschichte, i. 1083; Orlich, ii. 41 et seqq.; Frederic, iii. 59; &c.] "We rest a day here at Kunraditz: 21st September, get to the Sazawa River;—22d, to Bistritz (rest a day);—26th, to Miltschin; and 27th, to Tabor:"—But the Diary would be tedious.
Friedrich goes in two Columns; one along the great road towards Tabor, under Schwerin this, and Friedrich mainly with him; the other to the right, along the River's bank, under Leopold, Young Dessauer, which has to go by wild country roads, or now and then roads of its own making; and much needs the pioneer (a difficult march in the shortening days). Posadowsky follows with the proviant, drawn by cattle of the horse and ox species, daily falling down starved: great swearing there too, I doubt not! General Nassau is vanguard, and stretches forward successfully at a much lighter pace.
There are two Rivers, considerable branches of the Moldau, coming from eastward; which, and first of them the Sazawa, concern us here. After mounting the southern Uplands from Prag for a day or two, you then begin to drop again, into the hollow of a River called Sazawa, important in Bohemian Wars. It is of winding course, the first considerable branch of the Moldau, rising in Teutschbrod Country, seventy or eighty miles to east of us: in regard to Sazawa, there is, at present, no difficulty about crossing; the Country being all ours. After the Sazawa, mount again, long miles, day after day, through intricate stony desolation, rocks, bogs, untrimmed woods, you will get to Miltschin, thence to Tabor: Miltschin is the crown of that rough moor country; from Prag to Tabor is some sixty miles. After Miltschin the course of those brown mountain-brooks is all towards the Luschnitz, the next considerable branch of the Moldau; branch still longer and more winding than the Sazawa; Tabor towers up near this branch; Budweis, on the Moldau itself, is forty miles farther; and there at last you are out of the stony moors, and in a rich champaign comfortable to man and horse, were you but once there, after plodding through the desolations. But from that Sazawa by the Luschnitz on to Budweis, mounting and falling in such fashion, there must be ninety miles or thereby. Plod along; and keep a sharp eye on the whirling clouds of Pandours, for those too have got across upon us,—added to the other tempests of Autumn.
On the ninth day of their march, the Prussians begin to descry on the horizon ahead the steeples and chimney-tops of Tabor, on its high scarped rock, or "Hill of Zisca,"—for it was Zisca and his Hussites that built themselves this Bit of Inexpugnability, and named it Tabor from their Bibles,—in those waste mountain regions. On the tenth day (27th September), the Prussians without difficulty took Tabor; walls being ruined, garrison small. We lie at Tabor till the 30th, last day of September. Thence, 2d October, part of us to Moldau-Tein rightwards; where cross the Moldau by a Bridge,—"Bridge" one has heard of, in old Broglio times;—cross there, with intent (easily successful) to snatch that "Castle of Frauenberg," darling of Broglio, for which he fought his Pharsalia of a Sahay to no purpose!
Both Columns got united at Tabor; and paused for a day or two, to rest, and gather up their draggled skirts there. The Expedition does not improve in promise, as we advance in it; the march one of the most untowardly; and Posadowsky comes up with only half of his provision-carts,—half of his cattle having fallen down of bad weather, hill-roads and starvation; what could he do? That is an ominous circumstance, not the less.
Three things are against the Prussians on this march; two of them accidental things. FIRST, there is, at this late season too, the intrinsic nature of the Country; which Friedrich with emphasis describes as boggy, stony, precipitous; a waste, hungry and altogether barren Country,—too emphatically so described. But then SECONDLY, what might have been otherwise, the Population, worked upon by Austrian officials, all fly from the sight of us; nothing but fireless deserted hamlets; and the corn, if they ever had any, all thrashed and hidden. No amount of money can purchase any service from them. Poor dark creatures; not loving Austria much, but loving some others even less, it would appear. Of Bigoted Papist Creed, for one thing; that is a great point. We do not meddle with their worship more or less; but we are Heretics, and they hate us as the Night. Which is a dreadful difficulty you always have in Bohemia: nowhere but in the Circle of Konigsgraz, where there are Hussites (far to the rear of us at this time), will you find it otherwise. This is difficulty second.
Then, THIRDLY, what much aggravates it,—we neglected to abolish Bathyani! And here are Bathyani's Pandours come across the Moldau on us. Plenty of Pandours;—to whom "10,000 fresh Hungarians," of a new Insurrection which has been got up there, are daily speeding forward to add themselves:—such a swarm of hornets, as darkens the very daylight for you. Vain to scourge them down, to burn them off by blaze of gunpowder: they fly fast; but are straightway back again. They lurk in these bushy wildernesses, scraggy woods: no foraging possible, unless whole regiments are sent out to do it; you cannot get a letter safely carried for them. They are an unspeakable contemptible grief to the earnest leader of men.—Let us proceed, however; it will serve nothing to complain. Let us hope the French sit well on the skirts of Prince Karl: these sorrowful labors may all turn to good, in that case.
Friedrich pushes on from Tabor; shoots partly (as we have seen) across the Moldau, to the left bank as well; captures romantic Frauenberg on its high rock, where Broglio got into such a fluster once. We could push to Pisek, too, and make a "Bivouac of Pisek," if we lost our wits! Nassau is in Budweis, in Neuhaus; and proper garrisons are gone thither: nothing wanting on our side of the business. But these Pandours, these 10,000 Insurrection Hungarians, with their Trencks spurring them! A continual unblessed swarm of hornets, these; which shut out the very light of day from us. Too literally the light of day: we can get no free messaging from part to part of our own Army even. "As many as six Orderlies have been despatched to an outlying General; and not one of them could get through to him. They have snapt up three Letter-bags destined for the King himself. For four weeks he is absolutely shut out from the rest of Europe;" knows not in the least what the Kaiser, or the Most Christian or any other King, is doing; or whether the French are sitting well on Prince Karl's skirts, or not attempting that at all. This also is a thing to be amended, a thing you had to learn, your Majesty? An Army absolutely shut out from news, from letters, messages to or fro, and groping its way in darkness, owing to these circumambient thunder-clouds of Tolpatches, is not a well-situated Army! And alas, when at last the Letter-bag did get through, and—But let us not anticipate!
At Tabor there arose two opinions; which, in spite of the King's presence, was a new difficulty. South from Tabor a day's march, the Highway splits; direct way for Vienna; left-hand goes to Neuhaus, right-hand, or straightforward rather, goes to Budweis, bearing upon Linz: which of these two? Nassau has already seized Budweis; and it is a habitable champaign country in comparison. Neuhaus, farther from the Moldau and its uses, but more imminent on Austria, would be easy to seize; and would frighten the Enemy more. Leopold the Young Dessauer is for Budweis; rapid Schwerin, a hardy outspoken man, is emphatic for the other place as Head-quarter. So emphatic are both, that the two Generals quarrel there; and Friedrich needs his authority to keep them from outbreaks, from open incompatibility henceforth, which would be destructive to the service. For the rest, Friedrich seizes both places; sends a detachment to Neuhaus as well; but holds by Budweis and the Moldau region with his main Army; which was not quite gratifying to the hardy Schwerin. On the opposite or left bank, holding Frauenberg, the renowned Hill-fortress there, we make inroads at discretion: but the country is woody, favorable to Pandours; and the right bank is our chief scene of action. How we are to maintain ourselves in this country? To winter in these towns between the Sazawa and the Luschnitz? Unless the French sit well on Prince Karl's skirts, it will not be possible.
THE FRENCH ARE LITTLE GRATEFUL FOR THE PLEASURE DONE THEM AT SUCH RUINOUS EXPENSE.
French sitting well on Prince Karl's skirts? They are not molesting Prince Karl in the smallest; never tried such a thing;—are turned away to the Brisgan, to the Upper Rhine Country; gone to besiege Freyburg there, and seize Towns; about the Lake of Constance, as if there were no Friedrich in the game! It must be owned the French do liberally pay off old scores against Friedrich,—if, except in their own imagination, they had old scores against him. No man ever delivered them from a more imminent peril; and they, the rope once cut that was strangling them, magnificently forget who cut it; and celebrate only their own distinguished conduct during and after the operation. To a degree truly wonderful.
It was moonlight, clear as day that night, 23d August, when Prince Karl had to recross the Rhine, close in their neighborhood; [Guerre de Boheme, iii. 196.]—and instead of harassing Prince Karl "to half or to whole ruin," as the bargain was, their distinguished conduct consisted in going quietly to their beds (old Marechal de Noailles even calling back some of his too forward subalterns), and joyfully leaving Prince Karl, then and afterwards, to cross the Rhine, and march for Bohmen, at his own perfect convenience.
"Seckendorf will sit on Karl's skirts," they said: "too late for US, this season; next season, you shall see!" Such was their theory, after Louis got that cathartic, and rose from bed. Schmettau, with his importunities, which at last irritated everybody, could make nothing more of it. "Let the King of France crown his glories by the Siege of Freyburg, the conquest of Brisgau:—for behoof of the poor Kaiser, don't you observe? Hither Austria is the Kaiser's;—and furthermore, were Freyburg gone, there will be no invading of Elsass again" (which is another privately very interesting point)!
And there, at Freyburg, the Most Christian King now is, and his Army up to the knees in mud, conquering Hither Austria; besieging Freyburg, with much difficulty owing to the wet,—besieging there with what energy; a spectacle to the world! And has, for the present, but one wife, no mistress either! With rapturous eyes France looks on; with admiration too big for words. Voltaire, I have heard, made pilgrimage to Freyburg, with rhymed Panegyric in his pocket; saw those miraculous operations of a Most Christian King miraculously awakened; and had the honor to present said Panegyric; and be seen, for the first time, by the royal eyes,—which did not seem to relish him much. [The Panegyric (EPITRE AU ROI DEVANT FRIBOURG) is in OEuvres de Voltaire, xvii. 184.] Since the first days of October, Freyburg had been under constant assault; "amid rains, amid frosts; a siege long and murderous" (to the besieging party);—and was not got till November 5th; not quite entirely, the Citadels of it, till November 25th; Majesty gone home to Paris, to illuminations and triumphal arches, in the interim. [Adelung, iv. 266; Barbier, ii. 414 (13th November, &c.), for the illuminations, grand in the extreme, in spite of wild rains and winds.] It had been a difficult and bloody conquest to him, this of Freyburg and the Brisgau Country; and I never heard that either the Kaiser or he got sensible advantage by it,—though Prince Karl, on the present occasion, might be said to get a great deal.
"Seckendorf will do your Prince Karl," they had cried always: "Seckendorf and his Prussian Majesty! Are not we conquering Hither Austria here, for the Kaiser's behoof?" Seckendorf they did officially appoint to pursue; appoint or allow;—and laid all the blame on Seckendorf; who perhaps deserved his share of it. Very certain it is, Seckendorf did little or nothing to Prince Karl; marched "leisurely behind him through the Ober-Pfalz,"—skirting Baireuth Country, Karl and he, to Wilhelmina's grief; [Her Letters ( OEuvres de Frederic, xxvii. i. 133, &c.).]—"leisurely behind him at a distance of four days," knew better than meddle with Prince Karl. So that Prince Karl, "in twenty-one marches," disturbed only by the elements and bad roads, reached Waldmunchen 26th September, in the Furth-Cham Country; [Ranke, iii. 187.] and was heard to exclaim: "We are let off for the fright, then (NOUS VOILA QUITTES POUR LA PEUR)!"—Seckendorf, finding nothing to live upon in Ober-Pfalz, could not attend Prince Karl farther; but turned leftwards home to Bavaria; made a kind of Second "Reconquest of Bavaria" (on exactly the same terms as the First, Austrian occupants being all called off to assist in Bohmen again);—concerning which, here is an Excerpt:—
"Seckendorf, following at his leisure, and joined by the Hessians and Pfalzers, so as now to exceed 30,000, leaves Prince Karl and the rest of the enterprise to do as it can; and applies himself, for his own share, as the needfulest thing, to getting hold of Bavaria again, that his poor Kaiser may have where to lay his head, and pay old servants their wages. Dreadfully exclaimed against, the old gentleman, especially by the French co-managers: 'Why did not the old traitor stick in the rear of Prince Karl, in the difficult passes, and drive him prone,—while we went besieging Freyburg, and poaching about, trying for a bit of the Brisgau while chance served!' A traitor beyond doubt; probably bought with money down: thinks Valori. But, after all, what could Seckendorf do? He is now of weight for Barenklau and Bavaria, not for much more. He does sweep Barenklau and his Austrians from Bavaria, clear out (in the course of this October), all but Ingolstadt and two or three strong towns,—Passau especially, 'which can be blockaded, and afterwards besieged if needful.' For the rest, he is dreadfully ill-off for provisions, incapable of the least, attempt on Passau (as Friedrich urged, on hearing of him again); and will have to canton himself in home-quarters, and live by his shifts till Spring.
"The noise of French censure rises loud, against not themselves, but against Seckendorf:—Friedrich, before that Tolpatch eclipse of Correspondence [when three of his Letter-bags were seized, and he fell quite dark], had too well foreboded, and contemptuously expressed his astonishment at the blame BOTH were well earning: Passau, said he, cannot you go at least upon Passau; which might alarm the Enemy a little, and drag him homewards? 'Adieu, my dear Seckendorf, your Officer will tell you how we did the Siege of Prag. You and your French are wetted hens (POULES MOUILLEES),'—cowering about like drenched hens in a day of set rain. 'As I hear nothing of either of you, I must try to get out of this business without your help;'"—otherwise it will be ill for me indeed! [Excerpted Fragment of a Letter from Friedrich,—(exact date not given, date of EXCERPT is, Donanworth Country, 23d September, 1744),—which the French Agent in Seckendorf's Army had a reading of (Campagnes de Coigny, iv. 185-187; ib. 216-219: cited in Adelung, iv. 225).] "Which latter expression alarmed the French, and set them upon writing and bustling, but not upon doing anything."
"Prince Karl had crossed the Rhine unmolested, in the clearest moonlight, August 23d-24th; Seckendorf was not wholly got to Heilbronn, September 8th: a pretty way behind Prince Karl! The 6,000 Hessians, formerly in English pay, indignant Landgraf Wilhelm [who never could forgive that Machiavellian conduct of Carteret at Hanau, never till he found out what it really was] has, this year, put into French pay. And they have now joined Seckendorf; [Espagnac, ii. 13; Buchholz, ii. 123.] Prince Friedrich [Britannic Majesty's Son-in-law], not good fat Uncle George, commanding them henceforth:—with extreme lack of profit to Prince Friedrich, to the Hessians, and to the French, as will appear in time. These 6,000, and certain thousands of Pfalzers likewise in French pay, are now with Seckendorf, and have raised him to above 30,000;—it is the one fruit King Friedrich has got by that 'Union of Frankfurt,' and by all his long prospective haggling, and struggling for a 'Union of German Princes in general.' Two pears, after that long shaking of the tree; both pears rotten, or indeed falling into Seckendorf, who is a basket of such quality! 'Seckendorf, increased in this munificent manner, can he still do nothing?' cry the French: 'the old traitor!'—'I have no magazines,' said Seckendorf, 'nothing to live upon, to shoot with; no money!' And it is a mutual crescendo between the 'perfidious Seckendorf' and them; without work done. In the Nurnberg Country, some Hussars of his picked up Lord Holderness, an English Ambassador making for Venice by that bad route. 'Prisoner, are not you?' But they did not use him ill; on consideration, the Heads of Imperial Departments gave him a Pass, and he continued his Venetian Journey (result of it zero) without farther molestation that I heard of. [Adelung, iv. 222.]
"These French-Seckendorf cunctations, recriminations and drenched-hen procedures are an endless sorrow to poor Kaiser Karl; who at length can stand it no longer; but resolves, since at least Bavaria, though moneyless and in ruins, is his, he will in person go thither; confident that there will be victual and equipment discoverable for self and Army were he there. Remonstrances avail not: 'Ask me to die with honor, ask me not to lie rotting here;' [Ib. iv. 241.]—and quits Frankfurt, and the Reich's-Diet and its babble, 17th October, 1744 (small sorrow, were it for the last time),—and enters his Munchen in the course of a week. [17th October, 1744, leaves Frankfurt; arrives in Munchen 23d (Adelung, iv. 241-244).] Munchen is transported with joy to see the Legitimate Sovereign again; and blazes into illuminations,—forgetful who caused its past wretchednesses, hoping only all wretchedness is now ended. Let ruined huts, and Cham and the burnt Towns, rebuild themselves; the wasted hedges make up their gaps again: here is the King come home! Here, sure enough, is an unfortunate Kaiser of the Holy Romish Reich, who can once more hope to pay his milk-scores, being a loved Kurfurst of Bavaria at least. Very dear to the hearts of these poor people;—and to their purses, interests and skins, has not he in another sense been dear? What a price the ambitions and cracked phantasms of that weak brain have cost the seemingly innocent population! Population harried, hungered down, dragged off to perish in Italian Wars; a Country burnt, tribulated, torn to ruin, under the harrow of Fate and ruffian Trenck and Company. Britannic George, rather a dear morsel too, has come much cheaper hitherto. England is not yet burnt; nothing burning there,—except the dull fire of deliriums; Natural Stupidities all set flaming, which (whatever it may BE in the way of loss) is not felt as a loss, but rather as a comfort for the time being;—and in fact there are only, say, a forty or fifty thousand armed Englishmen rotted down, and scarcely a Hundred Millions of money yet spent. Nothing to speak of, in the cause of Human Liberty. Why Populations suffer for their guilty Kings? My friend, it is the Populations too that are guilty in having such Kings. Reverence, sacred Respect for Human Worth, sacred Abhorrence of Human Unworth, have you considered what it means? These poor Populations have it not, or for long generations have had it less and less. Hence, by degrees, this sort of 'Kings' to them, and enormous consequences following!"—
Karl VII. got back to Munchen 23d October, 1744; and the tar-barrels being once burnt, and indispensable sortings effected, he went to the field along with Seckendorf, to encourage his men under Seckendorf, and urge the French by all considerations to come on. And really did what he could, poor man. But the cordage of his life had been so strained and torn, he was not now good for much; alas, it had been but little he was ever good for. A couple of dear Kurfursts, his Father and he; have stood these Bavarian Countries very high, since the Battle of Blenheim and downwards!
Chapter IV.—FRIEDRICH REDUCED TO STRAITS; CANNOT MAINTAIN HIS MOLDAU CONQUESTS AGAINST PRICE KARL.
One may fancy what were Friedrich's reflections when he heard that Prince Karl had, prosperously and unmolested, got across, by those Passes from the Ober-Pfalz, into Bohmen and the Circle of Pilsen, into junction with Bathyani and his magazines; ["At Mirotitz, October 2d" (Ranke, iii. 194); Orlich, ii. 49.] heard, moreover, that the Saxons, 20,000 strong, under Weissenfels, crossing the Metal Mountains, coming on by Eger and Karlsbad regions, were about uniting with him (bound by Treaty to assist the Hungarian Majesty when invaded);—and had finally, what confirms everything, that the said Prince Karl in person (making for Budweis, "just seen his advanced guard," said rumor under mistake) was but few miles off. Few miles off, on the other side of the Moldau;—of unknown strength, hidden in the circumambient clouds of Pandours.
Suppressing all the rages and natural reflections but those needful for the moment, Friedrich (October 4th, by Moldau-Tein) dashes across the Moldau, to seek Prince Karl, at the place indicated, and at once smite him down if possible;—that will be a remedy for all things. Prince Karl is not there, nor was; the indication had been false; Friedrich searches about, for four days, to no purpose. Prince Karl, he then learns for certain, has crossed the Moldau farther down, farther northward, between Prag and us. Means to cut us off from Prag, then, which is our fountain of life in these circumstances? That is his intention:—"Old Traun, who is with him, understands his trade!" thinks Friedrich. Traun, or the Prince, is diligently forming magazines, all the Country carrying to him, in the Town of Beneschau, hither side of the Sazawa, some seventy miles north of us, an important Town where roads meet:—unless we can get hold of Beneschau, it will be ill with us here! Across the River again, at any rate; and let us hasten thither. That is an affair which must be looked to; and speed is necessary!
OCTOBER 8th, After four days' search ending in this manner, Friedrich swiftly crosses towards Tabor again, to Bechin (over on the Luschnitz, one march), there to collect himself for Beneschau and the other intricacies. Towards Tabor again, by his Bridge of Moldau-Tein;—clouds of Pandour people, larger clouds than usual, hanging round; hidden by the woods till Friedrich is gone. Friedrich being gone, there occurs the AFFAIR OF MOLDAU-TEIN, much talked of in Prussian Books. Of which, in extreme condensation, this is the essence:—
"OCTOBER 9th. Friedrich once off to Bechin, the Pandour clouds gather on his rearguard next day at Tein Bridge here, to the number of about 10,000 [rumor counts 14,000]; and with desperate intent, and more regularity than usual, attack the Tein-Bridge Party, which consists of perhaps 2,000 grenadiers and hussars, the whole under Ziethen's charge,—obliged to wait for a cargo of Bread-wagons here. 'Defend your Bridge, with cannon, with case-shot:' that is what the grenadiers do. The Pandour cloud, with horrid lanes cut in it, draws back out of this; then plunges at the River itself, which can be ridden above or below; rides it, furious, by the thousand: 'Off with your infantry; quit the Bridge!' cries Ziethen to his Captain there: 'Retire you, Parthian-like; thrice-steady,' orders Ziethen: 'It is to be hoped our hussars can deal with this mad-doggery!' And they do it; cutting in with iron discipline, with fierceness not undrilled; a wedge of iron hussars, with ditto grenadiers continually wheeling, like so many reapers steady among wind-tossed grain; and gradually give the Pandours enough. Seven hours of it, in all: 'of their sixty cartridges the grenadiers had fired fifty-four,' when it ended, about 7 P.M. The coming Bread-wagons, getting word, had to cast their loaves into the River (sad to think of); and make for Bechin at their swiftest. But the rearguard got off with its guns, in this victorious manner: thanks to Major-General Ziethen, Colonel Reusch and the others concerned. [Feldzuge der Preussen, i. 268; Orlich, ii. 55.]
"Ziethen handsels his Major-Generalcy in this fine way: [Patent given him "3d October, 1744," only a week ago, "and ordered to be dated eight months back" (Rodenbeck, i. 109).] a man who has had promotion, and also has had none, and may again come to have none;—and is able to do either way. Never mind, my excellent tacit friend! Ziethen is five-and-forty gone; has a face which is beautiful to me, though one of the coarsest. Face thrice-honest, intricately ploughed with thoughts which are well kept silent (the thoughts, indeed, being themselves mostly inarticulate; thoughts of a simple-hearted, much-enduring, hot-tempered son of iron and oatmeal);—decidedly rather likable, with its lazily hanging under-lip, and respectable bearskin cylinder atop."
FRIEDRICH TRIES TO HAVE BATTLE FROM PRINCE KARL, IN THE MOLDAU COUNTRIES; CANNOT, OWING TO THE SKILL OF PRINCE KARL OR OF OLD FELDMARSCHALL TRAUN;—HAS TO RETIRE BEHIND THE SAZAWA, AND ULTIMATELY BEHIND THE ELBE, WITH MUCH LABOR IN VAIN.
OCTOBER 14th-18th: RETREAT FROM BECHIN-TABOR COUNTRY TO BENESCHAU. ... "These Pandours give us trouble enough; no Magazine here, no living to be had in this Country beside them. Unfortunate Colonel Jahnus went out from Tabor lately, to look after requisitioned grains: infinite Pandours set upon him [Muhlhausen is the memorable place]; Jahnus was obstinate (too obstinate, thinks Friedrich), and perished on the ground, he and 200 of his. [ OEuvres de Frederic, iii. 61.] Nay, next, a swarm of them came to Tabor itself, Nadasti at their head; to try whether Tabor, with its small garrison, could not be escaladed, and perhaps Prince Henri, who lies sick there, be taken? Tabor taught them another lesson; sent them home with heads broken;—which Friedrich thinks was an extremely suitable thing. But so it stands: Here by the thousand and the ten thousand they hang round us; and Prince Karl—It is of all things necessary we get hold of that Beneschau, and the Magazine he is gathering there!
"Rapidity is indispensable,—and yet how quit Tabor? We have detachments out at Neuhaus, at Budweis, and in Tabor 300 men in hospital, whom there are no means of carrying. To leave them to the Tolpaches? Friedrich confesses he was weak on this occasion; he could not leave these 300 men, as was his clear duty, in this extremity of War. He ordered in his Neuhaus Detachment; not yet any of the others. He despatched Schmerin towards Beneschau with all his speed; Schwerin was lucky enough to take Beneschau and its provender,—a most blessed fortune,—and fences himself there. Hearing which, Friedrich, having now got the Neuhaus Detachment in hand, orders the other Three, the Budweis, the Tabor here, and the Frauenberg across the River, to maintain themselves; and then, leaving those southern regions to their chance, hastens towards Beneschau and Schwerin; encamps (October 18th) near Beneschau,—'Camp of Konopischt,' unattackable Camp, celebrated in the Prussian Books;—and there, for eight days, still on the south side of Sazawa, tries every shift to mend the bad posture of affairs in that Luschnitz-Sazawa Country. His Three Garrisons (3,000 men in them, besides the 300 sick) he now sees will not be able to maintain themselves; and he sends in succession 'eight messengers,' not one messenger of whom could get through, to bid them come away. His own hope now is for a Battle with Prince Karl; which might remedy all things. [OEuvres de Frederic, iii. 62-64.]"
That is Friedrich's wish; but it is by no means Traun's, who sees that hunger and wet weather will of themselves suffice for Friedrich. There ensues accordingly, for three weeks to come, in that confused Country, a series of swift shufflings, checkings and manoeuvrings between these two, which is gratifying and instructive to the strategic mind, but cannot be inflicted upon common readers. Two considerable chess-players, an old and a young; their chess-board a bushy, rocky, marshy parallelogram, running fifty miles straight east from Prag, and twenty or fewer south, of which Prag is the northwest angle, and Beneschau, or the impregnable Konopischt the southwest: the reader must conceive it; and how Traun will not fight Friedrich, yet makes him skip hither and thither, chiefly by threatening his victuals. Friedrich's main magazine is now at Pardubitz, the extreme northeast angle of the parallelogram. Parallelogram has one river in it, with the innumerable rocks and brooks and quagmires, the river Sazawa; and on the north side, where are Kuttenberg, Czaslau, Chotusitz, places again become important in this business, it is bounded by another river, the Elbe. Intricate manoeuvring there is here, for three weeks following: "old Traun an admirable man!" thinks Friedrich, who ever after recognized Traun as his Schoolmaster in the art of War. We mark here and there a date, and leave it to readers.
"RADICZ, OCTOBER 21st-22d. At Radicz, a march to southwest of us, and on our side of the Moldau, the Saxons, under Weissenfels, 20,000 effective, join Prince Karl; which raises his force to 69,514 men, some 10,000 more than Friedrich is master of. [Orlich, ii. 66.] Prospect of wintering between the Luschnitz and the Sazawa there is now little; unless they will fight us, and be beaten. Friedrich, from his inaccessible Camp of Konopischt, manoeuvres, reconnoitres, in all directions, to produce this result; but to no purpose. An Austrian Detachment did come, to look after Beneschau and the Magazines there; but rapidly drew back again, finding Konopischt on their road, and how matters were. Friedrich will guard the door of this Sazawa-Elbe tract of Country; hope of the Sazawa-Luschnitz tract has, in few days, fallen extinct. Here is news come to Konopischt: our Three poor Garrisons, Budweis, Tabor, Frauenberg, already all lost; guns and men, after defence to the last cartridge,—in Frauenberg their water was cut off, it was eight-and-forty hours of thirst at Frauenberg:—one way or other, they are all Three gone; eight couriers galloping with message, 'Come away,' were all picked up by the Pandours; so they stood, and were lost. 'Three thousand fighting men gone, for the weak chance of saving three hundred who were in hospital!' thinks Friedrich: War is not a school of the weak pities. For the chance of ten, you lose a hundred and the ten too. Sazawa-Elbe tract of country, let us vigilantly keep the door of that!
"SATURDAY, OCTOBER 24th, Friedrich out reconnoitring from Konopischt discovers of a certainty that the whole Austrian-Saxon force is now advaucing towards Beneschau, and will, this night, encamp at Marschowitz, to southwest, only one march from us! On the instant Friedrich hurries back; gets his Army on march thitherward, though the late October sun is now past noon; off instantly; a stroke yonder will perhaps be the cure of all. Such roads we had, says Friedrich, as never Army travelled before: long after nightfall, we arrive near the Austrian camp, bivouac as we can till daylight return. At the first streak of day, Friedrich and his chief generals are on the heights with their spy-glasses: Austrian Army sure enough; and there they have altered their posture overnight (for Traun too has been awake); they lie now opposite our RIGHT flank; 'on a scarped height, at the foot of which, through swamps and quagmires, runs a muddy stream.' Unattackable on this side: their right flank and foot are safe enough. Creep round and see their left:—Nothing but copses, swampy intricacies! We may shoulder arms again, and go back to Konopischt: no fight here! [OEuvres de Frederic, iii. 63, 64; Orlich, ii. 69.] Speaking of defensive Campaigns, says Friedrich didactically, years afterwards, 'If such situations are to answer the purpose intended, the front and flanks must be equally strong, but the rear entirely open. Such, for instance, are those heights which have an extensive front, and whose flanks are covered by morasses:—as was Prince Karl's Camp at Marschowitz in the year 1744, with its front covered by a stream, and the wings by deep hollows; or that which we ourselves then occupied at Konopischt,—as you well remember. [Military Instructions (above cited), p. 44.]
"OCTOBER 26th-NOVEMBER 1st. The Sazawa-Luschnitz tract of Country is quite lost, then; lost with damages: the question now is, Can we keep the Sazawa-Elbe tract? For about three weeks more, Friedrich struggles for that object; cannot compass that either. Want of horse-provender is very great:—country entirely eaten, say the peasants, and not a truss remaining. October 26th, Friedrich has to cross the Sazawa; we must quit the door of that tract (hunger driving us), and fight for the interior in detail. Traun gets to Beneschau in that cheap way; and now, in behalf of Traun, the peasants find forage enough, being zealous for Queen and creed. Pandours spread themselves all over this Sazawa-Elbe country; endanger our subsistences, make our lives miserable. It is the old story: Friedrich, famine and mud and misery of Pandours compelling, has to retire northward, Elbe-ward, inch by inch; whither the Austrians follow at a safe distance, and, in spite of all manoeuvring, cannot be got to fight.
"Brave General Nassau, who much distinguishes himself in these businesses, has (though Friedrich does not yet know it) dexterously seized Kolin, westward in those Elbe parts,—ground that will be notable in years coming. Important little feat of Nassau's; of which anon. On the other hand, our Magazine at Pardubitz, eastward on the Elbe, is not out of danger: Pandours and regulars 2,000 and odd, 'sixty of the Pandour kind disguised as peasants leading hay-carts,' made an attempt there lately; but were detected by the vigilant Colonel, and blown to pieces, in the nick of time, some of them actually within the gate. [ OEuvres de Frederic, iii. 65.] Nay, a body of Austrian regulars were in full march for Kolin lately, intending to get hold of the Elbe itself at that point (midway between Prag and Pardubitz): but the prompt General Nassau, as we remarked, had struck in before them; and now holds Kolin;—though, for several days, Friedrich could not tell what had become of Nassau, owing to the swarms of Pandours.
"Friedrich, standing with his back to Prag, which is fifty miles from him, and rather in need of his support than able to give him any; and drawing his meal from the uncertain distance, with Pandours hovering round,—is in difficult case. While old Traun is kept luminous as mid-day; the circumambient atmosphere of Pandours is tenebrific to Friedrich, keeps him in perpetual midnight. He has to read his position as with flashes of lightning, for most part. A heavy-laden, sorely exasperated man; and must keep his haggard miseries strictly secret; which I believe he does. Were Valori here, it is very possible he might find the countenance FAROUCHE again; eyes gloomy, on damp November mornings! Schwerin, in a huff, has gone home: Since your Majesty is pleased to prefer his young Durchlaucht of Anhalt's advice, what can an elderly servant (not without rheumatisms) do other?—'Well!' answers Friedrich, not with eyes cheered by the phenomenon. The Elbe-Sazawa tract, even this looks as if it would be hard to keep. A world very dark for Friedrich, enveloped so by the ill chances and the Pandours. But what help?