It was an outrage to which Frederick was not disposed to submit. He entered his remonstrances. The question was referred to the British Court of Admiralty. Month after month the decision was delayed. Frederick lost all patience. English capitalists held Silesian bonds to the amount of about one million two hundred and fifty thousand dollars.
“‘Sir,’ said he, ‘allow me to remark, on my side, that you understand as little of it as I.’
On the 18th of September, when the rejoicing Austrians at K?niggr?tz were firing salutes, drinking wine, and feasting in honor of the election of the grand-duke to the imperial dignity, Frederick, availing himself of the carousal in the camp of his foes, crossed the Elbe with his whole army, a few miles above K?niggr?tz, and commenced his retreat to Silesia. His path led through a wild, sparsely inhabited country, of precipitous rocks, hills, mountain torrents, and quagmires. One vast forest spread along the banks of the Elbe, covering with its gloom an extent of sixty square miles. A few miserable hamlets were scattered over this desolate region. The poor inhabitants lived mainly upon the rye which they raised and the swine which ranged the forest.
General Daun, with the utmost caution, followed the retreating army. Though his numbers were estimated at seventy-five thousand, he did not dare to encounter Frederick with his thirty thousand Prussians on the field of battle. With skill which has elicited the applause of all military critics, Frederick, early in August, continued his retreat till he reached, on the 8th of the month, Grüssau, on his own side of the mountains in Silesia. On this march he wrote to his brother Henry from Skalitz:
“‘My dogs destroy my chairs; but how can I help it? And if I were to have them mended to-day, they would be torn again to-morrow. So I suppose I must bear with the inconvenience. After all, a Marquise De Pompadour would cost me a great deal more, and would neither be as attached nor as faithful.’”
409 Frederick was much embarrassed in deciding what to do with his captives. They numbered about fourteen thousand. To guard and feed them was too troublesome and expensive. They could not be exchanged, as the King of Poland had no Prussian prisoners. To set them at liberty would speedily place them in the Austrian ranks to fight against him. Under these circumstances, Frederick compelled them all to enlist as Prussian soldiers. He compelled them to do this voluntarily, for they had their choice either to enlist under his banners or to starve. The King of Poland was permitted to return to Warsaw. The electorate of Saxony, nearly as large as the State of Massachusetts, and containing a population of one and a half millions, was annexed to Prussia. The captured soldiers, prisoners of war, were dressed in Prussian uniform, commanded by Prussian officers, and either placed in garrison or in the ranks of the army in the field. The public voice of Europe condemned Frederick very severely for so unprecedented an act.
“His majesty commands me to inform your royal highness that he has cause to be greatly discontented with you; that you deserve to have a court-martial held over you, which would sentence you and all your generals to death; but that his majesty will not carry the matter so far, being unable to forget that in the chief general he has a brother.”Quatre bons jours en pénitenceThis train filled the road for a distance of twenty miles. To traverse the route of ninety miles required six days. The road453 led through forests and mountain defiles. A bold and vigorous foe, well equipped and well mounted, watched the movement. To protect such a train from assault is one of the most difficult achievements of war. The enemy, suddenly emerging from mountain fastnesses or gloomy forests, can select his point of attack, and then sweep in either direction along the line, burning and destroying.详情
Copyright © 2020