“It is in such moments that I have felt how small are those advantages of birth, those vapors of grandeur, with which vanity would solace us. They amount to little, properly to nothing. Ah! would glory but make use of me to crown your successes!Others, however, urged that this was ignoble and cowardly; that it would expose them to the derision of the world if they, with their overwhelming numbers, were to take shelter behind their ramparts, fearing to attack so feeble a band. Prince Charles, anxious to regain lost reputation, and elated by the reconquest of Silesia, adopted the more heroic resolve, and marched out to meet the foe.
307 Elsewhere, Frederick, speaking of these two winter campaigns, says: “Winter campaigns are bad, and should always be avoided, except in cases of necessity. The best army in the world is liable to be ruined by them. I myself have made more winter campaigns than any general of this age. But there were reasons. In 1740 there were hardly above two Austrian regiments in Silesia, at the death of the Emperor Charles VI. Being determined to assert my right to that duchy, I had to try it at once, in winter, and carry the war, if possible, to the banks of the Neisse. Had I waited till spring, we must have begun the war between Crossen and Glogau. What was now to be gained by one march would then have cost us three or four campaigns. A sufficient reason, this, for campaigning in winter. If I did not succeed in the winter campaigns of 1742, a campaign which I made to deliver Moravia, then overrun by Austrians, it was because the French acted like fools, and the Saxons like traitors.”64“I added that my niece had burned his ode from fear that it should be imputed to me. He believed me and thanked me; not, however, without some reproaches for having burned the best verses he had ever made.”128Frederick retreated down the banks of the Elbe, and sent couriers to the camp at Prague, ordering the siege immediately to be raised, and the troops to retire down the Moldau to join him at Leitmeritz. The news was received at the camp at two o’clock on Sunday morning, June 19, creating amazement and consternation. As Frederick was on his retreat with his broken battalions from the field of battle, parched with thirst, burning with heat, and smothered with dust, it is recorded that an old dragoon brought to the king, in his steel cap, some water which he had drawn from a well, saying to his sovereign, consolingly,
One of Frederick’s dogs, Biche, has attained almost historic celebrity. We can not vouch for the authenticity of the anecdote, but it is stated that the king took Biche with him on the campaign of 1745. One day the king, advancing on a reconnoissance, was surprised and pursued by a large number of Austrians. He took refuge under a bridge, and, wrapping Biche in his cloak, held him close to his breast. The sagacious animal seemed fully conscious of the peril of his master. Though of a very nervous temperament, and generally noisy and disposed to bark at the slightest disturbance, he remained perfectly quiet until the Austrians had passed.MAP OF THE LEUTHEN CAMPAIGN.
It will generally be admitted by military men that Frederick did not display much ability of generalship in this campaign. He was fearless, indomitable in energy, and tireless in the endurance of fatigue, but in generalship he was entirely eclipsed by his formidable rival. Indeed, Frederick could not be blind to this, and he had sufficient candor to confess it. Subsequently, giving an account of these transactions in his “Works,” he writes:
Louis XV. felt insulted by this message, and responded in a similar strain of irritation. Thus the two monarchs were alienated from each other. Indeed, Frederick had almost as much cause to be dissatisfied with the French as they had to be dissatisfied with him. Each of the monarchs was ready to sacrifice the other if any thing was to be gained thereby.
“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.”“Well, my children,” said Frederick, “how do you think that it will be with us now? The Austrians are twice as strong as we.”
The companions of the king were well-bred men, of engaging manners, commanding intelligence, and accustomed to authority. The entertainment was superb, with an abundance of the richest wines. The conversation took a wide range, and was interesting and exciting to a high degree. The French officers were quite bewildered by the scene. The count was perfect master of the French language, was very brilliant in his sallies, and seemed perfectly familiar with all military affairs. He was treated with remarkable deference by his companions, some of whom were far his superiors in years.
This 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.
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Sir Thomas Robinson added, “Sire, I am not talking of what this power or that means to do, but of what will come of itself.279 To prophesy is not to threaten, sire. It is my zeal for the public good which brought me here, and—”I shall not attempt to describe the battle which ensued—so bloody, so disastrous to the Prussians. It was, like all other desperate battles, a scene of inconceivable confusion, tumult, and horror. At eight o’clock in the morning, General Finck (who was in command of the right wing of the Prussians) was in position to move upon the extreme northern point of attack. It was not until half past eleven that Frederick, in command of the main body of the army, was ready to make a co-operative assault from the east. At the point of attack the Russians had seventy-483two cannons in battery. The Prussians opened upon them with sixty guns. Templeton describes the cannonade as the loudest which he had yet ever heard.
On the 13th of September the German Diet met at Frankfort for the election of emperor. Frederick had determined that the Grand-duke Francis, husband of the Hungarian queen, should not be elected. Maria Theresa had outgeneraled him. Francis was elected. He had seven out of nine of the electoral votes. Frederick, thus baffled, could only protest. Maria Theresa was conscious of her triumph. Though the imperial crown was placed upon the brow of Francis, all Europe knew that the sceptre was in the hands of his far more able and efficient wife. Maria Theresa was at Frankfort at the time of the election. She could not conceal her exultation. She seemed very willing to have it understood that her amiable husband was but the instrument of her will. She took the title of empress queen, and assumed a very lofty carriage toward the princes of the empire. Alluding to Frederick, she said, in a very imperial tone, for she deemed him now virtually vanquished,During the winter Russia and France interposed in behalf of peace. The belligerents agreed to submit the question to their decision. Austria was permitted to take a small slice of Bavaria, and for a time the horrors of war were averted.详情
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