At an early hour on the morning of the 3d Frederick broke up his camp south of the foe, and, by a circuitous route of fourteen513 miles, came down upon the Austrians from the north. General Ziethen marched in almost a straight line for Torgau, to cut off the retreat. It was two o’clock in the afternoon when Frederick, emerging from the forest, ordered his men to charge. The assault was as impetuous and reckless as mortal men could possibly make. Instantly four hundred pieces of artillery opened fire upon them.By order of the king, Fritz, who had also been condemned to die and was awaiting his doom, was brought down into a lower room of the fortress, before whose window the scaffold was erected, that he might be compelled “to see Katte die.” At his entrance the curtains were closed, shutting out the view of the court-yard. Upon the drawing of the curtains, Fritz, to his horror, beheld the scaffold draped in black on a level with the window, and directly before it.Upon the ensuing day, having received the answer from Vienna, he wrote to his brother:
It was well understood that a verdict was to be returned in accordance with the wishes of the king, and also that the king desired that no mercy should be shown to his son.15 After a session of six days the verdict of the court was rendered. The crime of the Crown Prince, in endeavoring to escape from the brutality of his father, was declared to be desertion, and the penalty was death. Lieutenant Keith was also declared to be a deserter, and doomed to die. But as he had escaped, and could not be recaptured, he was sentenced to be hanged in effigy, which effigy was then to be cut in four quarters and nailed to the gallows at Wesel. Lieutenant Katte, who certainly had not deserted, and whose only crime was that he had been a confidant of the Crown Prince in his plan to escape, was condemned to imprisonment in a fortress for two years, some say for life.
“I assure you he is a prince who has talent, but who will be the slave of his passions, and will like nobody but such as encourage him therein. For me, I think all princes are cast in the same mould. There is only a more and a less.”
“On reaching Berlin I went at once to the custom-house, and handed them my royal order. The head man opened the seal. In reading, he changed color—went from pale to red; said nothing, and gave it to the second man to read. The second put on his spectacles, read, and gave it to the third. However, the head man rallied himself at last. I was to come forward and be so good as to write a receipt that I had received for my four hundred thalers, all in batzen, the same sum in Brandenburg coin, ready down, without the least deduction. My cash was at once accurately paid, and thereupon the steward was ordered to go with me to the ‘White Swan,’ and pay what I owed there, whatever my score was. That was what the king had meant when he said ‘you shall have your money back, and interest too.’”
No man of kindly sympathies could have thus wantonly wounded the feelings of a poor old man who had, according to his capacity, served himself, his father, and his grandfather, and who was just dropping into the grave. A generous heart would have forgotten the foibles, and, remembering only the virtues, would have spoken words of cheer to the world-weary heart, seeking a sad refuge in the glooms of the cloister. It must be confessed that Frederick often manifested one of the worst traits in human nature. He took pleasure in inflicting pain upon others.“I should not value the money,” the king added. “If money would content her I would give more.”
“The king did a beautiful thing to Lieutenant Keith the other day—that poor Keith who was nailed to the gallows, in effigy, for him at Wesel, long ago, and got far less than he expected. The other day there had been a grand review, part of it extending into Madame Knyphausen’s grounds, who is Keith’s mother-in-law.The allies represented a population of ninety millions. The realms of Frederick embraced scarcely five millions of inhabitants. The allies decided that they would no longer make an exchange of prisoners. It was manifest that, by merely protracting the war, even without any signal successes on the part of the allies, Frederick would find all his resources of men exhausted. Frederick, who was never very scrupulous with regard to the means which he employed for the promotion of his ends, immediately compelled his prisoners of war, of whatever nationality, to enlist in his service.
Upon reaching the palace, he stood for a moment upon the grand stairway, and, surveying the thronging thousands, took off his hat and saluted them. This gave rise to a burst of applause louder and heartier than Berlin had ever heard before. The king disappeared within the palace. Where the poor neglected queen was at this time we are not informed. There are no indications that he gave her even a thought.“Your majesty,” replied the gunner, “the devil stole them all last night.”
Still the queen-mother, Sophie Dorothee, clung to the double marriage. Her brother, George II., was now King of England. His son Fred, who had been intended for Wilhelmina, was not a favorite of his father’s, and had not yet been permitted to go to England. In May, 1728, he was twenty-one years of age. He was living idly in Hanover, impatient to wed his cousin Wilhelmina, who was then nineteen years of age. He seems to have secretly contemplated, in conference with Wilhelmina’s mother, Sophie Dorothee, a trip incognito to Berlin, where he would marry the princess clandestinely, and then leave it with the royal papas to settle the difficulty the best way they could. The plan was not executed. Wilhelmina manifested coquettish indifference to the whole matter. She, however, writes that Queen Sophie was so confidently expecting him that “she took every ass or mule for his royal highness.General Seidlitz, with five thousand horsemen, immediately dashed in among them. Almost in an instant the shouts of victory458 sank away in groans of death. It was an awful scene—a maelstrom of chaotic tumult, shrieks, blood, and death. The stolid Russians refused to fly. The Prussians sabred them and trampled them beneath their horses’ feet until their arms were weary. This terrible massacre lasted until one o’clock. The whole of the western portion of the quadrilateral was destroyed. The Russian soldiers at a little distance from the scene of carnage, reckless and under poor discipline, broke open the sutlers’ brandy-casks, and were soon beastly drunk. The officers, endeavoring to restrain them, dashed in many of the casks. The soldiers, throwing themselves upon the ground, lapped the fiery liquid from the puddles. They killed many of their own officers, and became almost unresisting victims of the sabres and bayonets of their assailants. The Prussians, exasperated by the awful acts of cruelty which had been perpetrated by the Russians, showed no mercy. In the midst of the butchery, the word ran along their lines, “No quarter.”
“What shall I say to you, my lord, of the Prince Royal, the lover and the favorite of the Muses? Several days, which we passed with him in his castle of Reinsberg, seemed to be but a few hours. He is the most intelligent and the most amiable of men. Though I could notice only his private virtues, I can boldly assure you, my lord, that the world will one day admire his royal qualifications, and that when he shall be upon the throne he will show himself to be the greatest of sovereigns. There is all the reason in the world to believe that he will seek out for great men with as much eagerness as his father does for giants.”
Maria Theresa, anxious to save Prague, sent an army of sixty thousand men under General Daun to its relief. This army, on the rapid march, had reached Kolin, about fifty miles east of415 Prague. Should General Daun, as was his plan, attack Frederick in the rear, while the fifty thousand in Prague should sally out and attack him in front, ruin would be almost inevitable. Frederick, gathering thirty-four thousand men, marched rapidly to Kolin and attacked the foe with the utmost possible fierceness. The Austrians not only nearly twice outnumbered him, but were also in a very commanding position, protected by earthworks. Never did men fight more reckless of life than did the Prussians upon this occasion.Frederick exposed himself like a common soldier. Indeed, it sometimes seems that, in the desperate state of his affairs, he sought the fatal bullet. All his efforts against the Austrians were in vain. The Prussians were repulsed with dreadful slaughter. After losing fourteen thousand men in killed, wounded, and prisoners, forty-five cannon, and twenty-two flags, Frederick was compelled to order a retreat. His magnificent regiment of guards, one thousand in number, picked men, undoubtedly the best body of troops in the world, was almost annihilated. The loss of the Austrians was about nine thousand men. They were so accustomed to be defeated by Frederick that they were equally surprised and delighted by this dearly-earned victory. The following plan will give the military reader an idea of the position of the hostile forces.详情
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