FREDERICK THE GREAT, ?T. 59.FREDERICK AND HIS DOGS.
CHAPTER VI. THE MARRIAGE OF WILHELMINA.After half an hour of rapid and terrific fire, the Prussian troops were ordered to advance and storm the works of the foe on the Mühlberg Hill. Like wolves in the chase, these men of iron nerves rushed forward through torrents of grape-shot and musket-shot, which covered their path with the dead. In ten minutes they were in possession of the hill-top, with all its batteries. The left wing of the Russian army was thrown into a maelstrom whirl of disorder and destruction. One hundred and eighty of the artillery pieces of the enemy fell into the hands of the victors.
The Queen of Hungary had purchased the co-operation of the Polish king by offering to surrender to him a generous portion of Silesia after the province should have been reconquered. Indeed, there was a great cause of apprehension that the allied army would make a rush upon Berlin itself. The aspect of his Prussian majesty’s affairs was now gloomy in the extreme.“The old serene highness himself, face the color of gunpowder, and bluer in the winter frost, went rushing far and wide in an open vehicle which he called his ‘cart,’ pushing out his detachments; supervising every thing; wheeling hither and thither as needful; sweeping out the Pandour world, and keeping it out; not much fighting needed, but ‘a great deal of marching,’ murmurs Frederick, ‘which in winter is as bad, and wears down the force of battalions.’”79
“I have begun to settle the figure of Prussia. The outline will be altogether regular; for the whole of Silesia is taken in except one miserable hamlet, which perhaps I shall have to keep blockaded until next spring. Up to this time the whole conquest has cost me only twenty men and two officers.
The Prussians had a detached post at Smirzitz. The little garrison there was much harassed by lurking bands of Austrians, who shot their sentries, cut off their supplies, and rendered it almost certain death to any one who ventured to emerge from the ramparts. Some inventive genius among the Prussians constructed a straw man, very like life, representing a sentinel with his shouldered musket. By a series of ropes this effigy was made to move from right to left, as if walking his beat. A well-armed band of Prussians then hid in a thicket near by.
MAP OF SILESIA.MOLLWITZ,From the church the prince was conducted, not back to his prison in the fortress, but to a town mansion, which was assigned as his residence. His sword was restored to him. But he was still not fully liberated. Officials, appointed by his father, surrounded him, who watched and reported all his movements. The first act of the young prince, upon reaching his apartment after this partial liberation, was to write as follows to his father. We give the letter as translated by Carlyle:
THE KING AND HIS SERVANT.
“You never can believe, my adorable sister, how concerned I am about your happiness. All my wishes centre there, and every moment of my life I form such wishes. You may see by this that I preserve still that sincere friendship which has united our hearts from our tenderest years. Recognize at least, my dear sister, that you did me a sensible wrong when you suspected me of fickleness toward you, and believed false reports of my listening to tale-bearers—me, who love only you, and whom neither absence nor lying rumors could change in respect of you. At least, don’t again believe such things on my score, and never mistrust me till you have had clear proof, or till God has forsaken me, or I have lost my wits.
Ere long a company of Austrian scouts approached. From a distance they eyed the sentinel, moving to and fro as he guarded his post. A sharp-shooter crept near, and, taking deliberate aim at his supposed victim, fired. A twitch upon the rope caused the image to fall flat. The whole band of Austrians, with a shout, rushed to the spot. The Prussians, from their ambuscade, opened upon them a deadly fire of bullets. Then, as the ground was covered with the mutilated and the dead, the Prussians, causing the welkin to ring with their peals of laughter, rushed with fixed bayonets upon their entrapped foes. Not a single Austrian had escaped being struck by a bullet. Those who were not killed outright were wounded, and were taken captive. This is one of the “slight pleasantries” of war.Gradually the secret treaty which allied France, Bavaria, and Prussia, and it was not known how many other minor powers, against Austria, came to light. Two French armies of fifty thousand men each were on the march to act in co-operation with Frederick. England, trembling from fear of the loss of Hanover, dared not move. The Aulic Council at Vienna, in a panic, “fell back into their chairs like dead men.” The ruin of Maria Theresa and the fatal dismemberment of Austria seemed inevitable.Archenholtz, who was an eye-witness of the miseries which he describes, gives the following account of the state of Germany at the close of the conflict:详情
Copyright © 2020