THE MARCH INTO SILESIA.
For such a mind and such a body there could be no possible peace or repose in the dying-chamber. Feverish, restless, sleepless, impatient, he knew not what to do with himself. He was incessantly passing from his bed to his wheel-chair and back again, irascibly demanding this and that, complaining of every body and every thing. Sometimes he would declare that he would no longer be sick, but would dress and be well; and scarcely would he get his clothes on ere he would sink in fainting weakness, as though he had not another hour to live. Thus the sad days of sickness wore away as death drew near.a. Advance of Prussians.
Vastly superior as was the Russian army in numbers, General Soltikof did not venture to advance to attack his terrible foe. He had selected a very strong position on a range of eminences about one hundred feet high, running for several miles in an easterly direction from the river. Upon this ridge, which was called “the Heights of Kunersdorf,” the Russian general had intrenched himself with the utmost care. The surrounding country was full of bogs, and sluggish streams, and a scraggy growth of tough and thorny bushes, almost impenetrable.
It will be remembered that Prince Charles was at the head of a strong Austrian army, on the western banks of the Rhine. It numbered over fifty thousand combatants. The King of France had pledged himself to press them closely, so that they could not recross the Rhine and rush into Bohemia to thwart the operations of Frederick; but, unfortunately, Louis XV. was seized with a malignant fever, which brought him near to the grave. Taking advantage of this, Prince Charles, on the night of the 23d of August, crossed the Rhine with his whole army. It was bright moonlight, so that every movement was as visible as if it had been made by day. But the French officers, glad thus to be rid of the Austrian army, preferring much that Frederick334 should encounter it in Bohemia than that they should struggle against it on the Rhine, went quietly to their beds, even forbidding the more zealous subalterns from harassing Prince Charles in his passage of the river. It was then the great object of the French to take Freyburg. The withdrawal of Prince Charles, with his fifty thousand men, was a great relief to them.
The reader would not be interested in the details of the battle which ensued. It lasted for five hours. It was, as is every battle, an indescribable scene of tumult, uproar, and confusion. The result was long doubtful. Defeat to Frederick would have been utter ruin. It is wonderful how one determined man can infuse his spirit into a whole host. Every Prussian seemed to363 have the same desperate valor, and determination to conquer or to die, which animated his king.
“Think of the sounds,” writes Carlyle, “uttered from human windpipes, shrill with rage, some of them, hoarse others with ditto; of the vituperations, execrations, printed and vocal—grating harsh thunder upon Frederick and this new course of his. Huge melody of discords, shrieking, groaning, grinding on that topic through the afflicted universe in general.”
The battle, thus commenced, continued to rage for four long312 hours, with all its demon energies, its blood, its wounds, its oaths, its shrieks, its death; on the right wing, on the left wing, in the centre; till some ten or twelve thousand, some accounts say more, of these poor peasant soldiers lay prostrate upon the plain, crushed by the hoof, torn by the bullet, gashed by the sabre. Many were dead. Many were dying. Many had received wounds which would cripple them until they should totter into their graves. At the close of these four hours of almost superhuman effort, the villages all around in flames, the Austrians slowly, sullenly retired from the contest. Prince Charles, having lost nearly seven thousand men, with his remaining forces breathless, exhausted, bleeding, retired through Czaslau, and vanished over the horizon to the southwest. Frederick, with his forces almost equally breathless, exhausted, and bleeding, and counting five thousand of his soldiers strewn over the plain, in death or wounds, remained master of the field. Such was the famous battle of Chotusitz.“I find no fault with you; the blame is entirely my own in having appointed you to such a post.”On Friday, the 11th of August, Frederick, leaving forty thousand men to guard Silesia, took fifteen thousand troops, and commenced a very rapid march to attack the fifty thousand Russians. Upon the eve of his departure he wrote to his brother Henry:详情
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