On one occasion, when the king had sent him a manuscript to revise, he sarcastically exclaimed to the royal messenger, “When will his majesty be done with sending me his dirty linen to wash?” This speech was repeated to the king. He did not lose his revenge.“Potsdam, April 1, 1744.”
Fully conscious that the respect which would be paid to him as a European sovereign greatly depended upon the number of men he could bring into the field of battle, Frederick William devoted untiring energies to the creation of an army. By the most severe economy, watching with an eagle eye every expenditure, and bringing his cudgel down mercilessly upon the shoulders26 of every loiterer, he succeeded in raising and maintaining an army of one hundred thousand men; seventy-two thousand being field troops, and thirty thousand in garrison.2 He drilled these troops as troops were never drilled before.410 It became more and more manifest to Frederick that he must encounter a terrible conflict upon the opening of the spring. Early in January he took a short trip to Berlin, but soon returned to Dresden. Though he avoided all appearance of anxiety, and kept up a cheerful air, he was fully conscious of his peril. This is evident from the secret instructions he left with his minister, Count Finck, upon his departure from Berlin. The dispatch was dated January 10th, 1757:
“Well, my children,” said Frederick, “how do you think that it will be with us now? The Austrians are twice as strong as we.”“You speak of my personal safety. You ought to know, as I do, that it is not necessary for me to live. But while I do live I must fight for my country, and save it if it be possible. In many little things I have had luck; I think of taking for my motto, Maximus in minimis, et minimus in maximis.154
Again, on the 8th, Dr. Zimmermann wrote: “The king is extraordinarily ill. On the 4th erysipelas appeared on the leg. This announces bursting and mortification. He has much oppression, and the smell of the wound is very bad.
Sunday morning, the 9th, dawned luridly. The storm raged unabated. The air was so filled with the falling snow that one could not see the distance of twenty paces, and the gale was piling up large drifts on the frozen plains. Neither army could move. Neipperg was in advance of Frederick, and had established his head-quarters at the village of Mollwitz, a few miles northwest of Pogerell. He had therefore got fairly between the Prussians and Ohlau. But Frederick knew not where the Austrian army was. For six-and-thirty hours the wild storm drove both Prussians and Austrians to such shelter as could be obtained in the several hamlets which were scattered over the extended plain.“Yes,” the Crown Prince replied; “and I promise you that she will drive away your demon as well as mine.
The Prussians advanced in their long double line, trampling the deep snow beneath their feet. All their banners were waving. All their bands of music were pealing forth their most martial airs. Their sixty pieces of artillery, well in front, opened a rapid and deadly fire. The thoroughly-drilled Prussian artillerymen discharged their guns with unerring aim, breaking gaps in the Austrian ranks, and with such wonderful rapidity that the unintermitted roar of the cannons drowned the sound of drums and trumpets.Establishment of the Berlin Academy of Sciences.—Religious Toleration.—A Free Press.—Sternness of the young King.—Domestic Habits of the King.—Provision for the Queen-mother.—Absolutism of the King.—Journey to Strasbourg.—First Interview with Voltaire.
Leaving a sufficient force to garrison Glogau, the king ordered247 all the remaining regiments to be distributed among the other important posts; while Prince Leopold, in high favor, joined the king at Schweidnitz, to assist in the siege of Neisse. Frederick rapidly concentrated his forces for the capture of Neisse before the Austrian army should march for its relief. He thought that the Austrians would not be able to take the field before the snow should disappear and the new spring grass should come, affording forage for their horses.
“I have called you together, not to ask your advice, but to inform you that to-morrow I shall attack Marshal Daun. I am aware that he occupies a strong position, but it is one from which he can not escape. If I beat him, all his army must be taken prisoners or drowned in the Elbe. If we are beaten, we must all perish. This war is become tedious. You must all find it so. We will, if we can, finish it to-morrow. General Ziethen, I confide to you the right wing of the army. Your object must be, in marching straight to Torgau, to cut off the retreat of the Austrians when I shall have beaten them, and driven them from the heights of Siptitz.”详情
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