General Finck was stationed at Maxen, with about fifteen thousand men, to cut the communications of Daun with Bohemia. Frederick, in his undue elation, was quite sure of inflicting terrible blows upon Daun. He issued imperative commands to General Finck to fight the allies regardless of their numbers. The Prussian general did not dare to disobey this command and withdraw from his commanding position, even when he saw himself being surrounded with such superior forces as would almost certainly crush him.
Again he wrote, a few months after, to the Duke of Choiseul: “He has been a bad man, this Luc. And now, if one were to bet by the law of probability, it would be three to one that Luc would go to pot [sera perdu], with his rhymings and his banterings, and his injustices and politics, all as bad as himself.”146Having uttered this prayer, he waved his hat to his troops, and shouted, “On, in God’s name!”
At this time the whole disposable force of his Prussian majesty did not exceed eighty thousand men. There were marching against him combined armies of not less, in the aggregate, than four hundred thousand. A part of the Prussian army, about thirty thousand strong, under the king’s eldest brother, Augustus William, Prince of Prussia, was sent north, especially to protect Zittau, a very fine town of about ten thousand inhabitants, where Frederick had gathered his chief magazines. Prince Charles, with seventy thousand Austrians, pursued this division. He outgeneraled the Prince of Prussia, drove him into wild country roads, took many prisoners, captured important fortresses, and, opening a fire of red-hot shot upon Zittau, laid the whole place, with its magazines, in ashes. The Prince of422 Prussia, who witnessed the conflagration which he could not prevent, retreated precipitately toward Lobau, and thence to Bautzen, with his army in a deplorable condition of exhaustion and destitution.
The king, Frederick I., had for some time been in a feeble state of health. The burden of life had proved heavier than he was able to bear. His wife was crazed, his home desolate, his health broken, and many mortifications and disappointments had so crushed his spirits that he had fallen into the deepest state of melancholy. As he was sitting alone and sad in a chill morning of February, 1713, gazing into the fire, absorbed in painful musings, suddenly there was a crash of the glass door of the apartment. His frenzied wife, half-clad, with disheveled hair,23 having escaped from her keepers, came bursting through the shattered panes. Her arms were gashed with glass, and she was in the highest state of maniacal excitement. The shock proved a death-blow to the infirm old king. He was carried to his bed, which he never left, dying in a few days. His grandson Frederick was then fourteen months old.“We were scarcely seated at supper before he began by drinking a number of interesting healths, which there was a necessity of pledging. This first skirmish being over, it was followed by an incessant flow of sallies and repartees. The most contracted countenances became expanded. The gayety was general, even the ladies assisting in promoting our jollity.“Nobody here, great or small, dares make any representation to this young prince against the measures he is pursuing, though all are sensible of the confusion which must follow. A prince who had the least regard to honor, truth, and justice, could not act the part he is going to do. But it is plain his only view is to deceive us all, and conceal for a while his ambitious and mischievous designs.”
“Our anger the said Baron P?llnitz never kindled but once.74326 But as the loveliest countries have their barren spots, the most beautiful forms their imperfections, pictures by the greatest masters their faults, we are willing to cover with the veil of oblivion those of the said baron. We do hereby grant him, with regret, the leave of absence he requires, and abolish his office altogether, that it may be blotted from the memory of man, not judging that any one, after the said baron, can be worthy to fill it.Before the sun went down the Austrian army was every where flying from the field in hopeless confusion. Their rush was in four torrents toward the east, to reach the bridges which crossed the Schweidnitz Water. There were four of them. One was on the main road at Lissa; one a mile north at Stabelwitz; and two on the south, one at Goldschmieden, and the other at Hermannsdorf. The victory of Frederick was one of the most memorable in the annals of war. The Austrians lost in killed and wounded ten thousand men. Twenty-one thousand were taken prisoners. This was a heavier loss in numbers than the whole army of Frederick. The victors also took fifty-one flags, and a hundred and sixteen cannon.
It would be unjust alike to the father and the son to withhold a letter which reflects so much credit upon them both—upon179 the father for his humane measures, and upon the son for his appreciation of their moral beauty.Soon after this, Frederick’s next younger brother, Augustus William, who was heir-presumptive to the throne in default of a son by Frederick, was betrothed to Louisa Amelia of Brunswick, younger sister of Frederick’s bride.
159“To whose continual sluggishness and strange want of concert—to whose incoherency of movements, languor of execution, and other enormous faults, we have owed, with some excuse for our own faults, our escape from destruction hitherto.”
There was nothing left for his Prussian majesty but to abandon Silesia, and retire within his own original borders, defeated and humiliated, the object of the contempt and ridicule of Europe, or to press forward in the conflict, summoning to his aid all the energies of despair.
“And G?rtz senior is off on the instant, careering toward Weimar, where he finds G?rtz junior, and makes known his errand. G?rtz junior stares in the natural astonishment; but, after some intense brief deliberation, becomes affirmative, and in a minimum of time is ready and on the road.It was now half past four o’clock. The sun of the short November day was rapidly sinking. Hasty preparations were made for another charge, aided by a body of Prussian cavalry which had just reached the ground. The gathering twilight was darkening hill and valley as the third assault was made. It was somewhat successful. By this time the two armies were quite intermingled. Marshal Daun was severely wounded, and was taken into Torgau to have his wounds dressed. The hour514 of six had now arrived. It was a damp, cloudy, dark night. The combatants were guided mainly by the flash of the muskets and the guns. “The night was so dark,” says Archenholtz, “that you could not see your hand before you.” Still for two hours the battle raged.详情
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