As we have mentioned, the agents of the King of Prussia were45 eager to kidnap tall men, in whatever country they could find them. This greatly exasperated the rulers of the various realms of all sizes and conditions which surrounded the Prussian territory. Frederick William was always ready to apologize, and to aver that each individual act was done without his orders or knowledge. Still, there was no abatement of this nuisance. Several seizures had been made in Hanover, which was the hereditary domain of George I., King of England. George was very angry. He was increasingly obstinate in withholding his assent to the double marriage, and even, by way of reprisal, seized several of the subjects of Frederick William, whom he caught in Hanover.
Frederick wished to enlarge his Liliputian realms, and become one of the powers of Europe. This he could only do by taking advantage of the apparent momentary weakness of Austria, and seizing a portion of the territory of the young queen. In order to accomplish this, it was for his interest to oppose the election of Maria Theresa’s husband, the Grand-duke Francis, as emperor. The imperial crown placed upon the brow of Francis would invest Austria with almost resistless power. Still, Frederick was ready to promise his earnest concurrence in this arrangement if Maria Theresa would surrender to him Silesia. He had even moderated his terms, as we have mentioned, to a portion of the province.The next day, the 11th, Frederick wrote from Neustadt to the Countess of Camas, who at Berlin was the grand mistress of the queen’s household. The trifling tone of this letter, which was penned in the midst of a struggle so awful, is quite characteristic of the writer:
The city took fire in many places; magazines were consumed; the ducal palace was wrapped in flames. Nearly fifteen thousand cannon-balls, and over two thousand bombs, were hurled crashing through the thronged dwellings. Many of the Austrian guns were silenced. General Piccolomini, who was intrusted with the defense of the place, could stand it no longer. On the 4th of May he raised above the walls the white flag of surrender. The gallant general was treated magnanimously. He was invited to dine with Frederick, and, with the garrison, was permitted to retire to Neisse, pledged not to serve against the Prussians for two years. The town had been nearly demolished by the war-tempest which had beat so fiercely upon it. Frederick immediately commenced repairing the ruins and strengthening the fortifications.In the mean time, on the 24th of January, Charles Albert, King of Bavaria, through the intrigues of the French minister and the diplomacy of Frederick, was chosen Emperor of Germany. This election Frederick regarded as a great triumph on his part. It was the signal defeat of Austria. Very few of the sons of Adam have passed a more joyless and dreary earthly pilgrimage than was the fortune of Charles Albert. At the time of his election he was forty-five years of age, of moderate stature, polished manners, and merely ordinary abilities. He was suffering from a complication of the most painful disorders. His previous life had been but a series of misfortunes, and during all the rest of his days he was assailed by the storms of adversity. In death alone he found refuge from a life almost without a joy.
471 When the Austrian general conducting the siege at Neisse heard of the rapid approach of Frederick, he, in consternation, blew up many of his works, abandoned several guns, and, on the 6th of November, fled with his army over the hills to the south, to take shelter in Austria. Frederick triumphantly entered Neisse, and, having driven the Austrians from every outpost, commenced, with a recruited army, his return march to Dresden. The more slow-footed Daun did not reach Dresden till the 8th of the month. The city, outside of the walls, was crowded with the dwellings of the more respectable citizens, and the beautiful mansions of the wealthy. The King of Poland was Elector of Saxony, and was in alliance with Austria. For the Austrian commander to pursue any measure which should lead to the destruction, in whole or in part, of this beautiful capital, would inflict a terrible blow upon the subjects of the ally of Austria.“When all my lands were invaded, and I knew not where in the world to be brought to bed in, I relied on my good right and the help of God. But in this thing, where not only public law cries to Heaven against us, but also all natural justice and sound reason, I must confess never in my life to have been in such trouble, and I am ashamed to show my face. Let the prince (Kaunitz) consider what an example we are giving to all the world, if, for a miserable piece of Poland, or of Moldavia, or Wallachia, we throw our honor and reputation to the winds. I see well that I am alone, and no more in vigor. Therefore I must, though to my very great sorrow, let things take their course.”186THE YOUNG LORDS OF SAXONY ON A WINTER CAMPAIGN.
Frederick, returning to Berlin from his six weeks’ campaign in Silesia, remained at home but three weeks. He had recklessly let loose the dogs of war, and must already have begun to be appalled in view of the possible results. His embassadors at the various courts had utterly failed to secure for him any alliance. England and some of the other powers were manifestly unfriendly to him. Like Frederick himself, they were all disposed to consult merely their own individual interests. Thus influenced, they looked calmly on to see how Frederick, who had thrown into the face of the young Queen of Austria the gage of battle, would meet the forces which she, with great energy, was marshaling in defense of her realms. Frederick was manifestly and outrageously in the wrong.
FREDERICK ON THE FIELD OF BAUMGARTEN.
Early on Monday morning the Prussians advanced from Neumarkt, eight miles, to Borne. Here they met the advance-guard of the Austrian cavalry. It was a dark, foggy morning. Frederick, as usual, was with his vanguard. Almost before the Austrians were conscious of the presence of the foe, they were assailed, with the utmost impetuosity, in front and on both their flanks. Instantly they were thrown into utter confusion. The ground was covered with their dead. Their general, Nostitz, was fatally wounded, and died the next day. Five hundred and forty were taken prisoners. The bleeding, breathless remnant fled pell-mell back to the main body, a few miles in the rear.Frederick now entered upon a period of ten years of peace.
“We had just arrived there when it began to rain heavily, and the night became exceedingly dark. About nine o’clock one of the Austrian generals approached us with his light troops, and set fire to the houses close to which we were posted. By the blaze of the conflagration he soon discovered us, and began firing at us from the windows. The town was so full that it was impossible for us to find a place in it. Besides, the gate was barricaded, and from the top they were firing at us with our small field-pieces, which they had captured.
There was a famine in Poland, and the famine was followed by pestilence. A general state of tumult and discord ensued. Maria Theresa had gathered a large army on the frontiers of Hungary to watch the designs of Russia upon Turkey. Availing herself of this disturbed state of Poland, Maria Theresa marched her troops into one of its provinces called Zips, which had once belonged to Hungary, and quietly extended her boundaries around the acquisition. Catharine was much exasperated by the measure.Early in the spring of 1759 the Prussian king had gathered the main body of his troops in fortresses and strong positions in the vicinity of Landshut, on the southwestern frontier of Silesia. The enemy, under General Daun, faced him, in longer and denser lines, equally well intrenched. At the same time, powerful bands of the allies were in various parts of Europe, menacing the domains of Frederick at every vulnerable point. The allies dreaded477 the prowess of their foe. Frederick was compelled to caution by the exhaustless numbers of his opponents. Thus for many weeks neither party entered upon any decisive action. There was, however, an almost incessant series of fierce and bloody skirmishes.
a a. Prussian Camp, left with fires burning. b b b. Prussian Main Army. c c. Ziethen’s Division. d d. Loudon’s Camp, also left with fires burning. e e e. Loudon’s Army attacked by the Prussians. f f f. Approach of Daun. g g. Lacy’s Cavalry.详情
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