CHAPTER XV. THE WAR IN SILESIA.534 On the 24th of November the belligerents entered into an armistice until the 1st of March. All were exhausted. It was manifest that peace would soon be declared. Commissioners to arrange the terms of peace met at the castle of Hubertsburg, near Dresden. On the 15th of February, 1763, peace was concluded. Frederick retained Silesia. That was the result of the war.DORIS RITTER’S PUNISHMENT.
CHAPTER XIV. THE DEFEAT AND FLIGHT OF FREDERICK.On the 8th of September Fritz returned to Potsdam from this his first military expedition, with his regiment of giants. He was then seventeen years of age. His soldierly bearing had quite rejoiced the king, and he began to think that, after all, possibly something might be made of Fritz.The King of Prussia had an army of two hundred thousand men under perfect discipline. The Old Dessauer was dead, but many veteran generals were in command. It was manifest that war would soon burst forth. In addition to the personal pique of the Duchess of Pompadour, who really ruled France, Louis XV. was greatly exasperated by the secret alliance into which Frederick had entered with England. The brother of the Prussian king, Augustus William, the heir-apparent to the throne, disapproved of this alliance. He said to the French minister, Valori, “I would give a finger from my hand had it never been concluded.”
Frederick.”He could not but respect his wife. Her character was beyond all possible reproach. She never uttered a complaint, was cheerful and faithful in every duty. She had rooms assigned her on the second floor of the Berlin palace, where she was comfortably390 lodged and fed, and had modest receptions every Thursday, which were always closed at nine o’clock. A gentleman writes from Berlin at this time:
“It seems that in Poland the Austrians have only to stoop and pick up what they like. If the court of Vienna has the intention to dismember that kingdom, its neighbors will have the right to take their share.”185“You, as a follower of Epicurus, put a value upon life. As for me, I regard death from the Stoic point of view. Never shall I see the moment which will oblige me to make a disadvantageous peace. No persuasion, no eloquence, shall ever induce me to sign my own dishonor. Either I will bury myself under the ruins of my country, or, if that consolation appears too great to the Destiny which persecutes me, I shall know how to put an end to my misfortunes when it is no longer possible to bear them. I have acted, and continue to act, in pursuance of this conviction, and according to the dictates of honor, which have always directed my steps. My conduct shall continue, at all times, to be conformable to these principles.
Before the sun went down the Austrian army was every where flying from the field in hopeless confusion. Their rush was in four torrents toward the east, to reach the bridges which crossed the Schweidnitz Water. There were four of them. One was on the main road at Lissa; one a mile north at Stabelwitz; and two on the south, one at Goldschmieden, and the other at Hermannsdorf. The victory of Frederick was one of the most memorable in the annals of war. The Austrians lost in killed and wounded ten thousand men. Twenty-one thousand were taken prisoners. This was a heavier loss in numbers than the whole army of Frederick. The victors also took fifty-one flags, and a hundred and sixteen cannon.
The Russians, triumphantly advancing, entered Silesia, and reached Crossen, on the Oder, within a hundred miles of Frederick’s encampment.But the ever-vigilant Frederick had smuggled a “false sister” into the society of the Catholic ladies, who kept him informed of every measure that was proposed. At the very hour when Frederick was dining with the two English ministers, and making282 himself so merry with jests and banter, he was aware that General Neipperg, with the whole Austrian army, was crossing the River Neisse, on the march, by a route thirty miles west of his encampment, to take Breslau by surprise. But he had already adopted effectual measures to thwart their plans.
General Fermor availed himself of the darkness in withdrawing his troops, now numbering but 28,000, a mile west from the battle-field to a dense forest of firs, called Drewitz Heath. Frederick arranged his little remaining band of but eighteen thousand men in two lines, facing the foe. The next morning, Saturday, the 26th, General Fermor sent a request for a truce of three days to bury the dead. The reply was, “Your proposal is entirely inadmissible. The victor will bury the slain.” There was no serious resumption of the conflict on that day. Both parties were alike exhausted, and had alike expended nearly all their ammunition. Frederick’s hussars had, however, found out the position of the Russian baggage train, and had effectually plundered a large portion of it.The stunning news soon reached Frederick that General Fouquet, whom he had left in Silesia with twelve thousand men, had been attacked by a vastly superior force of Austrians. The assault was furious in the extreme. Thirty-one thousand Austrians commenced the assault at two o’clock in the morning. By eight o’clock the bloody deed was done. Ten thousand of the Prussians strewed the field with their gory corpses. Two thousand only escaped. General Fouquet himself was wounded and taken prisoner. To add to the anguish of the king, this disaster was to be attributed to the king himself. He had angrily ordered General Fouquet to adopt a measure which that general, better acquainted with the position and forces of the foe, saw to be fatal. Heroically he obeyed orders, though he knew that it would prove the destruction of his army.
The king, in still very calm and measured words, rejoined, “You would be right if I did not intend this desperate method for a good object. Listen to me. Great lords don’t feel it in their scalp when their subjects are torn by the hair. One has to grip their own locks as the only way to give them pain.”
“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.”
The French, who, through their shrewd embassador, kept themselves informed of all that was transpiring, were quite alarmed in view of the approaching accommodation between Prussia and Austria. It is said that Frederick, on the 6th of June, in reply to the earnest remonstrances of the French minister, Marshal Belleisle, against his withdrawal from the alliance, frankly said to him,The air agitated by loud thunder.339 “No general has committed more faults than did the king in this campaign. The conduct of Marshal Traun is a model of perfection, which every soldier who loves his business ought to study, and try to imitate if he have the talent. The king has admitted that he himself regarded this campaign as his school in the art of war, and Marshal Traun as his teacher.”详情
Copyright © 2020