“Never have my troops,” writes Frederick, “done such miracles of valor, cavalry as well as infantry, since I had the honor to command them. By this dead-lift achievement I have seen what they can do.”
Baron Trenck, in his memoir, gives an appalling account of these hardships in the body-guards to which he belonged. In time of peace there was scarcely an hour which he could command. The morning drill commenced at four o’clock. The most complicated and perilous man?uvres were performed. Frederick considered this the best school for cavalry in the world. They were compelled to leap trenches, which were continually widened till many fell in and broke their legs or arms. They were also compelled to leap hedges, and continue to charge at the highest possible speed for miles together. Almost daily some were either killed or wounded. At midday they took fresh horses, and repeated these toilsome and dangerous labors. Frequently they would be called from their beds two or three times in one night, to keep them on the alert. But eight minutes were allowed the guardsman to present himself on horseback, in his place, fully equipped. “In one year of peace,” he says, “the body-guards lost more men and horses than they had in two battles during the war.On the 9th of August he wrote from Grüssau to Wilhelmina herself: “Oh, you, the dearest of my family, you whom I have most at heart of all in this world, for the sake of whatever is most precious to you, preserve yourself, and let me have at least the consolation of shedding my tears in your bosom!”
While Frederick was involved in all these difficulties, he was cheered by the hope that the French would soon come to his rescue. Unutterable was his chagrin when he learned, early in October, that the French had done exactly as he would have done in their circumstances. Appalling, indeed, were the tidings soon brought to him, that Prince Charles, with his army, had marched unmolested into Bohemia; that he had already effected a junction with General Bathyani and his countless swarm of Pandours; and, moreover, that a Saxon army, twenty thousand strong, in alliance with the Queen of Hungary, was on the way to join his already overwhelming foes. It was reported, at the same time, that Prince Charles was advancing upon Budweis, and that his advance-guard had been seen, but a few miles off, on the western side of the Moldau.
THE ASSAULT ON GLOGAU.“I do not love Luc; far from it. I never will pardon him his infamous procedure with my niece,145 nor the face he has to write me flattering things twice a month without having ever repaired his wrongs. I desire much his entire humiliation, the chastisement of the sinner; whether his eternal damnation I do not quite know.”
511 “After having sacrificed my youth to my father, and my maturer age to my country, I think that I have acquired the right to dispose of my old age as I please. I have told you, and I repeat it, my hand shall never sign a disgraceful peace. I shall continue this campaign with the resolution to dare all, and to try the most desperate things, either to succeed or to find a glorious end.“Sire, I own that I am guilty. Will not your majesty grant me a pardon, which God never refuses to the greatest sinner who sincerely confesses his sins? I shall be always ready to shed even the last drop of my blood to show your majesty what grateful sentiments your clemency can raise in me.”
The king’s brother Henry was in command in Saxony, at the head of thirty thousand troops. Frederick wrote to him the characteristic and very judicious advice, “Do as energetically as possible whatever seems wisest to you. But hold no councils of war.”It must be borne in mind that these words were written after Voltaire had quarreled with Frederick, and when it seems to have been his desire to represent all the acts of the king in as unfavorable a light as possible. Frederick himself, about eight years after the settlement of the Herstal difficulty, gave the following as his version of the affair:“At last, my dear sister, I can announce to you a bit of good news. You were doubtless aware that the Coopers with their circles had a mind to take Leipsic. I ran up and drove them beyond Saale. They called themselves 63,000 strong. Yesterday I went to reconnoitre them; could not attack them in the post they held. This rendered them rash. To-day they came out to attack me. It was a battle after one’s own heart. Thanks to God,109 I have not one hundred men killed. My brother Henry and General Seidlitz have slight hurts. We have all the enemy’s cannon. I am in full march to drive them over the Unstrut. You, my dear sister, my good, my divine, my affectionate sister, who deign to interest yourself in the fate of a brother who adores you, deign also to share my joy. The instant I have time I will tell you more. I embrace you with my whole heart. Adieu.
“My lord, I could desire your lordship to summon up, if it were necessary, the spirit of all your lordship’s instructions, and the sense of the king, of the Parliament, and of the whole British nation. It is upon this great moment that depends the fate, not of the house of Austria, not of the empire, but of the house of Brunswick, of Great Britain, of all Europe. I verily believe the King of Prussia himself does not know the extent of the present danger. With whatever motive he may act, there is not one, not that of the wildest resentment, that can blind him to this degree—of himself perishing in the ruin he is bringing upon others. With his concurrence, the French will, in less than six weeks, be masters of the German empire. The weak Elector of Bavaria is but their instrument. Prague and Vienna may, and probably will, be taken in that short time. Will even the King of Prussia himself be reserved to the last?”“It is impossible,” writes Lord Dover, “not to perceive that the real reason of his conduct was his enmity to his son, and that the crime of the poor girl was the having assisted in making the son’s existence more supportable. The intention of Frederick William apparently being that the infliction of so infamous a punishment in so public a manner should prevent the possibility of Frederick’s ever seeing her again.”14
General Seidlitz, with five thousand horsemen, immediately dashed in among them. Almost in an instant the shouts of victory458 sank away in groans of death. It was an awful scene—a maelstrom of chaotic tumult, shrieks, blood, and death. The stolid Russians refused to fly. The Prussians sabred them and trampled them beneath their horses’ feet until their arms were weary. This terrible massacre lasted until one o’clock. The whole of the western portion of the quadrilateral was destroyed. The Russian soldiers at a little distance from the scene of carnage, reckless and under poor discipline, broke open the sutlers’ brandy-casks, and were soon beastly drunk. The officers, endeavoring to restrain them, dashed in many of the casks. The soldiers, throwing themselves upon the ground, lapped the fiery liquid from the puddles. They killed many of their own officers, and became almost unresisting victims of the sabres and bayonets of their assailants. The Prussians, exasperated by the awful acts of cruelty which had been perpetrated by the Russians, showed no mercy. In the midst of the butchery, the word ran along their lines, “No quarter.”France had no fear of Prussia. Even with the addition of Silesia, it would be comparatively a feeble realm. But France did fear the supremacy of Austria over Europe. It was for the apparent interest of the court of Versailles that Austria should be weakened, and, consequently, that the husband of the queen should not be chosen Emperor of Germany. Therefore France was coming into sympathy with Frederick, and was disposed to aid him in his warfare against Austria.详情
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