“From day to day I grow more weary of dwelling in a body worn out and condemned to suffer. I am writing to you in the first moment of my grief. Astonishment, sorrow, indignation, and scorn, all blended together, lacerate my soul. Let us get to the end, then, of this execrable campaign. I will then write to you what is to become of me, and we will arrange the rest. Pity me, and make no noise about me. Bad news goes fast enough of itself. Adieu, dear marquis.”
Knocking against the rocks,
In the cold of the winter morning the Old Dessauer carefully reconnoitred the position of his foes. Their batteries seemed innumerable, protected by earth-works, and frowning along a cliff which could only be reached by plunging into a gully and wading through a half-frozen bog. There was, however, no alternative but to advance or retreat. He decided to advance.PRINCE LEOPOLD INSPECTING THE ARMY IN HIS “CART.”
THE MARCH INTO SILESIA.But there was another picture which met the eye of the king very different in its aspect. We know not whether it at all touched his heart. It was that of the poor peasants, with their mothers, their wives, their children, hurrying from their hamlets in all directions, in the utmost dismay. Grandmothers tottered beneath the burden of infant children. Fathers and mothers struggled on with the household goods they were striving to rescue from impending ruin. The cry of maidens and children reached the ear as they fled from the tramp of the war-horse and the approaching carnage of the death-dealing artillery.It is not known that Frederick paid any attention to this appeal. Impoverished as his realms were, large sums of money were absolutely necessary for the conduct of a new campaign. The king levied a contribution upon Leipsic of nearly a million of dollars. The leading citizens said that in their extreme destitution it was impossible to raise that sum. The king threatened to burn down the city over their heads. The combustibles were gathered. The soldiers stood with the torches in their hands to kindle the conflagration. But then the king, apparently reflecting that from the smouldering ashes of the city he could glean no gold, ordered the city to be saved, but arrested a hundred of the chief merchants and threw them into prison.
“Had all our fatalities been limited to stoppages of speed on the journey, we should have taken patience. But after frightful roads we found lodgings still more frightful.”
“I can well say,” he writes, “that I never in my life saw any thing more beautiful. They marched with the greatest steadiness, arrow straight and their front like a line, as if they had been upon parade. The glitter of their clear arms shone strangely in the setting sun, and the fire from them went on no otherwise than a continued peal of thunder. The spirits of our army sank altogether, the foot plainly giving way, the horse refusing to come forward—all things wavering toward dissolution.”“I am unfortunate and old, dear marquis. That is why they persecute me. God knows what my future is to be this year. I grieve to resemble Cassandra with my prophecies. But how augur well of the desperate situation we are in, and which goes on growing worse? I am so gloomy to-day I will cut short.CHAPTER XXIV. THE QUARREL.
General Neipperg had advanced as far as Baumgarten when283 he heard of this entire circumvention of his plans. Exasperated by the discomfiture, he pushed boldly forward to seize Schweidnitz, where Frederick had a large magazine, which was supposed not to be very strongly protected. But the vigilant Frederick here again thwarted the Austrian general. Either anticipating the movement, or receiving immediate information of it, he had thrown out some strong columns to Reichenbach, where they so effectually intrenched themselves as to bar, beyond all hope of passage, the road to Schweidnitz. General Neipperg had advanced but half a day’s march from Baumgarten when he heard of this. He ordered a halt, and retraced his steps as far as Frankenstein, where he had a very strongly intrenched camp.Affairs were now assuming throughout Europe a very threatening aspect. The two French armies, of forty thousand each, had already crossed the Rhine to join their German allies in the war against Austria. One of these armies, to be commanded by Belleisle, had crossed the river about thirty miles below Strasbourg to unite with the Elector of Bavaria’s troops and march upon Vienna. The other army, under Maillebois, had crossed the Lower Rhine a few miles below Düsseldorf. Its mission was, as we have mentioned, to encamp upon the frontiers of Hanover, prepared to invade that province, in co-operation with the Prussian troops in the camp at G?ttin, should the King of England venture to raise a hand in behalf of Austria. It was also in position to attack and overwhelm Holland, England’s only ally, should that power manifest the slightest opposition to the designs of Prussia and France. At the same time, Sweden, on the 4th of August, had declared war against Russia, so that no help could come to Austria from that quarter. Great diplomatic ability had been displayed in guarding every point in these complicated measures. The French minister, Belleisle, was probably the prominent agent in these wide-spread combinations.60CHAPTER V. IMPRISONMENT OF FRITZ AND WILHELMINA.
After this address to the assembled generals Frederick rode out to the camp, and addressed each regiment in the most familiar and fatherly, yet by no means exultant terms. It was night. The glare of torches shed a lurid light upon the scene. The first regiment the king approached was composed of the cuirassiers of the Life Guard.
Knobelsdorf was the bearer of a second letter from the Crown Prince. The first had not reached her. Frederick, having taken an hour or two of sleep at Hof, rose much refreshed, and, continuing his journey about fifteen miles farther, wrote this second letter as follows to his sister:
Results of the Battle of Rossbach.—The Attack upon Breslau.—Extraordinary Address of the King to his Troops.—Confidence of the Prussians in their Commander.—Magnificent Array of the Austrians at Leuthen.—Tactics of Frederick.—The Battle Hymn.—The Battle and the Victory.—Scenes after the Battle.—Recapture of Breslau by Frederick.The prospects of Frederick were now gloomy. The bright morning of the campaign had darkened into a stormy day. The barren region around afforded no supplies. The inhabitants were all Catholics; they hated the heretics. Inspired by their priests, they fled from their dwellings, taking with them or destroying every thing which could aid the Prussian army. But most annoying of all, the bold, sagacious chieftain, General Bathyani, with hordes of Pandours which could not be counted—horsemen who seemed to have the vitality and endurance of centaurs—was making deadly assaults upon every exposed point.详情
Copyright © 2020