that mystery; while at the same time there was most probably

That is Friedrich's wish; but it is by no means Traun's, who sees that hunger and wet weather will of themselves suffice for Friedrich. There ensues accordingly, for three weeks to come, in that confused Country, a series of swift shufflings, checkings and manoeuvrings between these two, which is gratifying and instructive to the strategic mind, but cannot be inflicted upon common readers. Two considerable chess-players, an old and a young; their chess- board a bushy, rocky, marshy parallelogram, running fifty miles straight east from Prag, and twenty or fewer south, of which Prag is the northwest angle, and Beneschau, or the impregnable Konopischt the southwest: the reader must conceive it; and how Traun will not fight Friedrich, yet makes him skip hither and thither, chiefly by threatening his victuals. Friedrich's main magazine is now at Pardubitz, the extreme northeast angle of the parallelogram. Parallelogram has one river in it, with the innumerable rocks and brooks and quagmires, the river Sazawa; and on the north side, where are Kuttenberg, Czaslau, Chotusitz, places again become important in this business, it is bounded by another river, the Elbe. Intricate manoeuvring there is here, for three weeks following: "old Traun an admirable man!" thinks Friedrich, who ever after recognized Traun as his Schoolmaster in the art of War. We mark here and there a date, and leave it to readers.

that mystery; while at the same time there was most probably

"RADICZ, OCTOBER 21st-22d. At Radicz, a march to southwest of us, and on our side of the Moldau, the Saxons, under Weissenfels, 20,000 effective, join Prince Karl; which raises his force to 69,514 men, some 10,000 more than Friedrich is master of. [Orlich, ii. 66.] Prospect of wintering between the Luschnitz and the Sazawa there is now little; unless they will fight us, and be beaten. Friedrich, from his inaccessible Camp of Konopischt, manoeuvres, reconnoitres, in all directions, to produce this result; but to no purpose. An Austrian Detachment did come, to look after Beneschau and the Magazines there; but rapidly drew back again, finding Konopischt on their road, and how matters were. Friedrich will guard the door of this Sazawa-Elbe tract of Country; hope of the Sazawa-Luschnitz tract has, in few days, fallen extinct. Here is news come to Konopischt: our Three poor Garrisons, Budweis, Tabor, Frauenberg, already all lost; guns and men, after defence to the last cartridge,--in Frauenberg their water was cut off, it was eight-and-forty hours of thirst at Frauenberg:--one way or other, they are all Three gone; eight couriers galloping with message, 'Come away,' were all picked up by the Pandours; so they stood, and were lost. 'Three thousand fighting men gone, for the weak chance of saving three hundred who were in hospital!' thinks Friedrich: War is not a school of the weak pities. For the chance of ten, you lose a hundred and the ten too. Sazawa-Elbe tract of country, let us vigilantly keep the door of that!

that mystery; while at the same time there was most probably

"SATURDAY, OCTOBER 24th, Friedrich out reconnoitring from Konopischt discovers of a certainty that the whole Austrian-Saxon force is now advaucing towards Beneschau, and will, this night, encamp at Marschowitz, to southwest, only one march from us! On the instant Friedrich hurries back; gets his Army on march thitherward, though the late October sun is now past noon; off instantly; a stroke yonder will perhaps be the cure of all. Such roads we had, says Friedrich, as never Army travelled before: long after nightfall, we arrive near the Austrian camp, bivouac as we can till daylight return. At the first streak of day, Friedrich and his chief generals are on the heights with their spy-glasses: Austrian Army sure enough; and there they have altered their posture overnight (for Traun too has been awake); they lie now opposite our RIGHT flank; 'on a scarped height, at the foot of which, through swamps and quagmires, runs a muddy stream.' Unattackable on this side: their right flank and foot are safe enough. Creep round and see their left:--Nothing but copses, swampy intricacies! We may shoulder arms again, and go back to Konopischt: no fight here! [ OEuvres de Frederic, iii. 63, 64; Orlich, ii. 69.] Speaking of defensive Campaigns, says Friedrich didactically, years afterwards, 'If such situations are to answer the purpose intended, the front and flanks must be equally strong, but the rear entirely open. Such, for instance, are those heights which have an extensive front, and whose flanks are covered by morasses:--as was Prince Karl's Camp at Marschowitz in the year 1744, with its front covered by a stream, and the wings by deep hollows; or that which we ourselves then occupied at Konopischt,--as you well remember. [ Military Instructions (above cited), p. 44.]

that mystery; while at the same time there was most probably

"OCTOBER 26th-NOVEMBER 1st. The Sazawa-Luschnitz tract of Country is quite lost, then; lost with damages: the question now is, Can we keep the Sazawa-Elbe tract? For about three weeks more, Friedrich struggles for that object; cannot compass that either. Want of horse-provender is very great:--country entirely eaten, say the peasants, and not a truss remaining. October 26th, Friedrich has to cross the Sazawa; we must quit the door of that tract (hunger driving us), and fight for the interior in detail. Traun gets to Beneschau in that cheap way; and now, in behalf of Traun, the peasants find forage enough, being zealous for Queen and creed. Pandours spread themselves all over this Sazawa-Elbe country; endanger our subsistences, make our lives miserable. It is the old story: Friedrich, famine and mud and misery of Pandours compelling, has to retire northward, Elbe-ward, inch by inch; whither the Austrians follow at a safe distance, and, in spite of all manoeuvring, cannot be got to fight.

"Brave General Nassau, who much distinguishes himself in these businesses, has (though Friedrich does not yet know it) dexterously seized Kolin, westward in those Elbe parts,--ground that will be notable in years coming. Important little feat of Nassau's; of which anon. On the other hand, our Magazine at Pardubitz, eastward on the Elbe, is not out of danger: Pandours and regulars 2,000 and odd, 'sixty of the Pandour kind disguised as peasants leading hay- carts,' made an attempt there lately; but were detected by the vigilant Colonel, and blown to pieces, in the nick of time, some of them actually within the gate. [ OEuvres de Frederic, iii. 65.] Nay, a body of Austrian regulars were in full march for Kolin lately, intending to get hold of the Elbe itself at that point (midway between Prag and Pardubitz): but the prompt General Nassau, as we remarked, had struck in before them; and now holds Kolin;--though, for several days, Friedrich could not tell what had become of Nassau, owing to the swarms of Pandours.

"Friedrich, standing with his back to Prag, which is fifty miles from him, and rather in need of his support than able to give him any; and drawing his meal from the uncertain distance, with Pandours hovering round,--is in difficult case. While old Traun is kept luminous as mid-day; the circumambient atmosphere of Pandours is tenebrific to Friedrich, keeps him in perpetual midnight. He has to read his position as with flashes of lightning, for most part. A heavy-laden, sorely exasperated man; and must keep his haggard miseries strictly secret; which I believe he does. Were Valori here, it is very possible he might find the countenance FAROUCHE again; eyes gloomy, on damp November mornings! Schwerin, in a huff, has gone home: Since your Majesty is pleased to prefer his young Durchlaucht of Anhalt's advice, what can an elderly servant (not without rheumatisms) do other?--'Well!' answers Friedrich, not with eyes cheered by the phenomenon. The Elbe-Sazawa tract, even this looks as if it would be hard to keep. A world very dark for Friedrich, enveloped so by the ill chances and the Pandours. But what help?

"From the French Camp far away, there comes, dated 17th October (third week of their Siege of Freyburg), by way of help to Friedrich, magnanimous promise: 'So soon as this Siege is done, which will be speedily, though it is difficult, we propose to send fifty battalions and a hundred squadrons,'"--say only 60,000 horse and foot (not a hoof or toe of which ever got that length, on actually trying it),--"towards Westphalia, to bring the Elector of Koln to reason [poor Kaiser's lanky Brother, who cannot stand the French procedures, and has lately sold himself, that is sold his troops, to England], and keep the King of England and the Dutch in check,"--by way of solacement to your Majesty. Will you indeed, you magnanimous Allies?--This was picked up by the Pandours; and I know not but Friedrich was spared the useless pain of reading it. [Orlich, ii. 73.]

"NOVEMBER 1st-9th: FRIEDRICH LOSES SAZAWA-ELBE COUNTRY TOO. On the first day of November, here is a lightning-flash which reveals strange things to Friedrich. Traun's late manoeuvrings, which have been so enigmatic, to right and to left, upon Prag and other points, issue now in an attempt towards Pardubitz; which reveals to Friedrich the intention Traun has formed, of forcing him to choose one of those two places, and let go the other. Formidable, fatal, thinks Friedrich; and yet admirable on the part of Traun: 'a design beautiful and worthy of admiration.' If we stay near Prag, what becomes of our communication with Silesia; what becomes of Silesia itself? If we go towards Pardubitz, Prag and Bohmen are lost! What to do? 'Despatch reinforcement to Pardubitz; thanks to Nassau, the Kolin-Pardubitz road is ours!' That is done, Pardubitz saved for the moment. Could we now get to Kuttenberg before the old Marshal, his design were overset altogether. Alas, we cannot march at once, have to wait a day for the bread. Forward, nevertheless; and again forward, and again; three heavy marches in November weather: let us make a fourth forced march, start to-morrow before dawn,--Kuttenberg above all things! In vain; to-morrow, 4th November, there is such a fog, dark as London itself, from six in the morning onwards, no starting till noon: and then impossible, with all our efforts, to reach Kuttenberg. We have to halt an eight miles short of it, in front of Kolin; and pitch tents there. On the morrow, 5th November, Traun is found encamped, unattackable, between us and our object; sits there, at his ease in a friendly Country, with Pandour whirlpools flowing out and in; an irreducible case to Friedrich. November 5th, and for three days more, Friedrich, to no purpose, tries his utmost;--finds he will have to give up the Elbe-Sazawa region, like the others. Monday, November 9th, Friedrich gathers himself at Kolin; crosses the Elbe by Kolin Bridge, that day. Point after point of the game going against him."

Original article by {website name}. If reprinted, please indicate the source:

zan ( 881)
next 2023-12-03