Here Frederick, with the remainder of the army from Leitmeritz, joined his brother, against whom he was greatly incensed, attributing the disasters he had encountered to his incapacity. At four o’clock of the 30th of July the king met the Prince of Prussia and the other generals of the discomfited army. Both parties approached the designated spot on horseback. The king, who was accompanied by his suite, upon his arrival within about two hundred feet of the place where his brother, with his officers, was awaiting him, without saluting the prince or recognizing him in the slightest degree, dismounted, and threw himself in a reclining posture upon the greensward. General Goltz was then sent with the following message to the prince:
The king paused. A general murmur of applause indicated the united resolve to conquer or to die. Frederick immediately added:On the 30th of August Frederick commenced his march from Dresden. Great caution was requisite, and great military skill, in so bold an adventure. On the 13th of September he reached Erfurt. The Prince of Soubise, aware of the prowess of his antagonist, retired to the hills and intrenched himself, waiting until he could accumulate forces which would render victory certain. Frederick had now with him his second brother, Henry, who seems to have very fully secured his confidence. On the 16th of September the king wrote:
The chagrin of Frederick in view of this adventure may be inferred from the fact that, during the whole remainder of his life, he was never known to make any allusion to it whatever.“Your letter, my dear brother, has made me twenty years younger. Yesterday I was sixty, to-day hardly eighteen. I bless Heaven for preserving your health, and that things have passed so happily. It is a service so important rendered by you to the state that I can not enough express my gratitude, and will wait to do it in person.”
Prince Charles was now forming magazines at Beneschau, just south of the Sazawa River, about seventy miles north of Frederick’s encampment at Budweis. Frederick hastily recrossed the Moldau, and, marching through Bechin, concentrated nearly all his forces at Tabor. He hoped by forced marches to take the335 Austrians by surprise, and capture their magazines at Beneschau. Thousands, rumor said fourteen thousand, of the wild Pandours, riding furiously, hovered around his line of march. They were in his front, on his rear, and upon his flanks. Ever refusing battle, they attacked every exposed point with the utmost ferocity. The Prussian king thus found himself cut off from Prague, with exhausted magazines, and forage impossible. He had three hundred sick in his hospitals. He could not think of abandoning them, and yet he had no means for their transportation.
As we have mentioned, the Russian general had such a dread of Frederick that he did not dare to pursue him. In his report of the victory to the Czarina Charlotte, speaking of his own heavy loss of over eighteen thousand men, he writes, “Your majesty is aware that the King of Prussia sells his victories at a dear rate.” To some who urged him to pursue Frederick, he replied, “Let me gain but another such victory, and I may go to Petersburg with the news of it myself alone, with my staff in my hand.”Thus the employments of every hour were strictly specified for every day in the week. On Wednesday he had a partial36 holiday. After half past nine, having finished his history and “got something by heart to strengthen the memory, Fritz shall rapidly dress himself and come to the king, and the rest of the day belongs to little Fritz.” On Saturday he was to be reviewed in all the studies of the week, “to see whether he has profited. General Finkenstein and Colonel Kalkstein shall be present during this. If Fritz has profited, the afternoon shall be his own. If he has not profited, he shall from two o’clock till six repeat and learn rightly what he has forgotten on the past days. In undressing and dressing, you must accustom him to get out of and into his clothes as fast as is humanly possible. You will also look that he learn to put on and put off his clothes himself, without help from others, and that he be clean, and neat, and not so dirty.”549 Frederick had cultivated a supreme indifference to public opinion. Not believing in any God, in any future retribution, or in any immortality, and regarding men merely as the insects of an hour, like the myriad polyps which, beneath the ocean, rear their stupendous structures and perish, his sense of right and wrong must necessarily have been very different from that which a believer in the Christian faith is accustomed to cherish. In allusion to this subject, he writes:
On the 9th of January, Leopold, having gathered a well-furnished army of 25,000 men, crossed the Neisse to attack Marshal Traun. The marshal did not deem it prudent to hazard a battle. Large bodies of troops were soon to be sent to re-enforce him. He therefore retired by night toward the south, breaking the bridges behind him. Though Silesia was thus delivered from the main body of the Austrian army, the fleet-footed Pandours343 remained, scouring the country on their shaggy horses, plundering and destroying. The energetic, tireless Old Dessauer could seldom get a shot at them. But they harassed his army, keeping the troops constantly on the march amidst the storms and the freezing cold.Thus parted these remarkable men, who were never destined to meet again.
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.Thus was commenced the Seven Years’ War. It proved one of the most bloody and cruel strifes which man has ever waged against his brother man. Through its terrible scenes of conflagration, blood, and despair, Frederick obtained the renown of being one of the ablest generals who ever marshaled armies upon fields of blood.
“The hereditary prince came in while we were talking, and earnestly entreated my brother to get him away from Baireuth. They went to a window and talked a long time together. My brother told me he would write a letter to the margraf, and give him such reasons in favor of the campaign that he doubted not it would turn the scale. He promised to obtain the king’s express leave to stop at Baireuth on his return, after which he went away. It was the last time I saw him on the old footing with me. He has much changed since then. We returned to Baireuth, where I was so ill that for three days they did not think I should get over it.”
425 In these hours of trouble the noble Wilhelmina was as true to her brother as the magnet to the pole. She was appalled by no dangers, and roused all her energies to aid that brother, struggling, with the world arrayed against him. The king appreciated his sister’s love. In a poetic epistle addressed to her, composed in these hours of adversity, he wrote:详情
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