History of Friedrich II of Prussia— Volume 18

Author: Thomas Carlyle

Chapter I. The Campaign Opens.

Seldom was there seen such a combination against any man as this against Friedrich, after his Saxon performances in 1756. The extent of his sin, which is now ascertained to have been what we saw, was at that time considered to transcend all computation, and to mark him out for partition, for suppression and enchainment, as the general enemy of mankind. "Partition him, cut him down," said the Great Powers to one another; and are busy, as never before, in raising forces, inciting new alliances and calling out the general POSSE COMITATUS of mankind, for that salutary object. What tempestuous fulminations in the Reichstag, and over all Europe, England alone excepted, against this man!

Latterly the Swedes, who at first had compunctions on the score of Protestantism, have agreed to join in the Partitioning adventure: "It brings us his Pommern, all Pommern ours!" cry the Swedish Parliamentary Eloquences (with French gold in their pocket): "At any rate," whisper they, "it spites the Queen his Sister!"—and drag the poor Swedish Nation into a series of disgraces and disastrous platitudes it was little anticipating. This precious French-Swedish Bargain ("Swedes to invade with 25,000; France to give fair subsidy," and bribe largely) was consummated in March; ["21st March, 1757" (Stenzel, v. 38; &c.).] but did not become known to Friedrich for some months later; nor was it of the importance he then thought it, in the first moment of surprise and provocation. Not indeed of importance to anybody, except, in the reverse way, to poor Sweden itself, and to the French, who had spent a great deal of pains and money on it, and continued to spend, with as good as no result at all. For there never was such a War, before or since, not even by Sweden in the Captainless state! And the one profit the copartners reaped from it, was some discountenance it gave to the rumor which had risen, more extensively than we should now think, and even some nucleus of fact in it as appears, That Austria, France and the Catholic part of the Reich were combining to put down Protestantism. To which they could now answer, "See, Protestant Sweden is with us!"—and so weaken a little what was pretty much Friedrich’s last hold on the public sympathies at this time.

As to France itself,—to France, Austria, Russia,—bound by such earthly Treaties, and the call of very Heaven, shall they not, in united puissance and indignation, rise to the rescue? France, touched to the heart by such treatment of a Saxon Kurfurst, and bound by Treaty of Westphalia to protect all members of the Reich (which it has sometimes, to our own knowledge, so carefully done), is almost more ardent than Austria itself. France, Austria, Russia; to these add Polish Majesty himself; and latterly the very Swedes, by French bribery at Stockholm: these are the Partitioning Powers;—and their shares (let us spare one line for their shares) are as follows.

The Swedes are to have Pommern in whole; Polish-Saxon Majesty gets Magdeburg, Halle, and opulent slices thereabouts; Austria’s share, we need not say, is that jewel of a Silesia. Czarish Majesty, on the extreme East, takes Preussen, Konigsberg-Memel Country in whole; adds Preussen to her as yet too narrow Territories. Wesel-Cleve Country, from the other or Western extremity, France will take that clipping, and make much of it. These are quite serious business-engagements, engrossed on careful parchment, that Spring, 1757, and I suppose not yet boiled down into glue, but still to be found in dusty corners, with the tape much faded. The high heads, making preparation on the due scale, think them not only executable, but indubitable, and almost as good as done. Push home upon him, as united Posse Comitatus of Mankind; in a sacred cause of Polish Majesty and Public Justice, how can one malefactor resist? "AH, MA TRES-CHERE" and "Oh, my dearest Princess and Cousin," what a chance has turned up!

It is computed that there are arrayed against this one King, under their respective Kings, Empress-Queens, Swedish Senates, Catins and Pompadours, populations to the amount of above 100 millions,—in after stages, I remember to have seen "150 millions" loosely given as the exaggerated cipher. Of armed soldiers actually in the field against him (against Hanover and him), in 1757, there are, by strict count, 430,000. Friedrich’s own Dominions at this time contain about Five Millions of Population; of Revenue somewhat less than Two Millions sterling. New taxes he cannot legally, and will not, lay on his People. His SCHATZ (ready-money Treasure, or Hoard yearly accumulating for such end) is, I doubt not, well filled,— express amount not mentioned. Of drilled men he has, this Year, 150,000 for the field; portioned out thriftily,—as well beseems, against Four Invasions coming on him from different points. In the field, 150,000 soldiers, probably the best that ever were; and in garrison, up and down (his Country being, by nature, the least defensible of all Countries), near 40,000, which he reckons of inferior quality. So stands the account. [Stenzel, iv. 308, 306, v. 39; Ranke, iii. 415; Preuss, ii, 389, 43, 124; &c. &c.;— substantially true, I doubt not; but little or nothing of it so definite and conclusively distinct as it ought, in all items, to have been by this time,—had poor Dryasdust known what he was doing.] These are, arithmetically precise, his resources,—PLUS only what may lie in his own head and heart, or funded in the other heads and hearts, especially in those 150,000, which he and his Fathers have been diligently disciplining, to good perfection, for four centuries come the time.

France, urged by Pompadour and the enthusiasms, was first in the field. The French Army, in superb equipment, though privately in poorish state of discipline, took the road early in March; "March 26th and 27th," it crossed the German Border, Cleve Country and Koln Country; had been rumored of since January and February last, as terrifically grand; and here it now actually is, above 100,000 strong,—110,405, as the Army-Lists, flaming through all the Newspapers, teach mankind. [<italic> Helden-Geschichte, <end italic> iv. 391; iii. 1073.] Bent mainly upon Prussia, it would seem; such the will of Pompadour. Mainly upon Prussia; Marechal d’Estrees, crossing at Koln, made offers even to his Britannic Majesty to be forgiven in comparison; "Yield us a road through your Hanover, merely a road to those Halberstadt-Magdeburg parts, your Hanover shall have neutrality!" "Neutrality to Hanover?" sighed Britannic Majesty: "Alas, am not I pledged by Treaty? And, alas, withal, how is it possible, with that America hanging over us?" and stood true. Nor is this all, on the part of magnanimous France: there is a Soubise getting under way withal, Soubise and 30,000, who will reinforce the Reich’s Armament, were it on foot, and be heard of by and by! So high runs French enthusiasm at present. A new sting of provocation to Most Christian Majesty, it seems, has been Friedrich’s conduct in that Damiens matter (miserable attempt, by a poor mad creature, to assassinate; or at least draw blood upon the Most Christian Majesty ["Evening of 5th January, 1757" (exuberantly plentiful details of it, and of the horrible Lawprocedures which followed on it: In Adelung, viii. 197-220; Barbier, &c. &c.).]); about which Friedrich, busy and oblivious, had never, in common politeness, been at the pains to condole, compliment, or take any notice whatever. And will now take the consequences, as due!—

The Wesel-Cleve Countries these French find abandoned: Friedrich’s garrisons have had orders to bring off the artillery and stores, blow up what of the works are suitable for blowing up; and join the "Britannic Army of Observation" which is getting itself together in those regions. Considerable Army, Britannic wholly in the money part: new Hanoverians so many, Brunswickers, Buckeburgers, Sachsen- Gothaers so many; add those precious Hanoverian-Hessian 20,000, whom we have had in England guarding our liberties so long,—who are now shipped over in a lot; fair wind and full sea to them. Army of 60,000 on paper; of effective more than 50,000; Head-quarters now at Bielefeld on the Weser;—where, "April 16th," or a few days later, Royal Highness of Cumberland comes to take command; likely to make a fine figure against Marechal d’Estrees and his 100,000 French! But there was no helping it. Friedrich, through Winter, has had Schmettau earnestly flagitating the Hanoverian Officialities: "The Weser is wadable in many places, you cannot defend the Weser!" and counselling and pleading to all lengths,—without the least effect. "Wants to save his own Halberstadt lands, at our expense!" Which was the idea in London, too: "Don’t we, by Apocalyptic Newswriters and eyesight of our own, understand the man?" Pitt is by this time in Office, who perhaps might have judged a little otherwise. But Pitt’s seat is altogether temporary, insecure; the ruling deities Newcastle and Royal Highness, who withal are in standing quarrel. So that Friedrich, Schmettau, Mitchell pleaded to the deaf. Nothing but "Defend the Weser," and ignorant Fatuity ready for the Impossible, is to be made out there. "Cannot help it, then," thinks Friedrich, often enough, in bad moments; "Army of Observation will have its fate. Happily there are only 5,000 Prussians in it, Wesel and the other garrisons given up!"

Only 5,000 Prussians: by original Engagement, there should have been 25,000; and Friedrich’s intention is even 45,000 if he prosper otherwise. For in January, 1757 (Anniversary, or nearly so, of that NEUTRALITY CONVENTION last year), there had been—encouraged by Pitt, as I could surmise, who always likes Friedrich—a definite, much closer TREATY OF ALLIANCE, with "Subsidy of a million sterling," Anti-Russian "Squadron of Observation in the Baltic," "25,000 Prussians," and other items, which I forget. Forget the more readily, as, owing to the strange state of England (near suffocating in its Constitutional bedclothes), the Treaty could not be kept at all, or serve as rule to poor England’s exertions for Friedrich this Year; exertions which were of the willing-minded but futile kind, going forward pell-mell, not by plan, and could reach Friedrich only in the lump,—had there been any "lump" of them to sum together. But Pitt had gone out;—we shall see what, in Pitt’s absence, there was! So that this Treaty 1757 fell quite into the waste-basket (not to say, far deeper, by way of "pavement" we know where!),—and is not mentioned in any English Book; nor was known to exist, till some Collector of such things printed it, in comparatively recent times. ["M. Koch in 1802," not very perfectly (Scholl, iii. 30 n.; who copies what Koch has given).] A Treaty 1757, which, except as emblem of the then quasi-enchanted condition of England, and as Foreshadow of Pitt’s new Treaty in January, 1758, and of three others that followed and were kept to the letter, is not of moment farther.


The thunderous fulminations in the Reich’s-Diet—an injured Saxony complaining, an insulted Kaiser, after vain DEHORTATORIUMS, reporting and denouncing "Horrors such as these: What say you, O Reich?"—have been going on since September last; and amount to boundless masses of the liveliest Parliamentary Eloquence, now fallen extinct to all creatures. [Given, to great lengths, in <italic> Helden-Geschichte, <end italic> iii. iv. (and other easily avoidable Books).] The Kaiser, otherwise a solid pacific gentleman, intent on commercial operations (furnishes a good deal of our meal, says Friedrich), is Officially extremely violent in behalf of injured Saxony,—that is to say, in fact, of injured Austria, which is one’s own. Kur-Mainz, Chairman of the Diet (we remember how he was got, and a Battle of Dettingen fought in consequence, long since); Kur-Mainz is admitted to have the most decided Austrian leanings: Britannic George, Austria being now in the opposite scale, finds him an unhandy Kur-Mainz, and what profit it was to introduce false weights into the Reich’s balance that time! Not for long generations before, had the poor old semi-imaginary Reich’s- Diet risen into such paroxysms; nor did it ever again after. Never again, in its terrestrial History, was there such agonistic parliamentary struggle, and terrific noise of parliamentary palaver, witnessed in the poor Reich’s-Diet. Noise and struggle rising ever higher, peal after peal, from September, 1756, when it started, till August, 1757, when it had reached its acme (as perhaps we shall see), though it was far from ending then, or for years to come.

Contemporary by-standers remark, on the Austrian part, extraordinary rage and hatred against Prussia; which is now the one point memorable. Austria is used to speak loud in the Diet, as we have ourselves seen: and it is again (if you dive into those old AEolus’-Caves, at your peril) unpleasantly notable to what pitch of fixed rage, and hot sullen hatred Austria has now gone; and how the tone has in it a potency of world-wide squealing and droning, such as you nowhere heard before. Omnipotence of droning, edged with shrieky squealing, which fills the Universe, not at all in a melodious way. From the depths of the gamut to the shrieky top again,—a droning that has something of porcine or wild-boar character. Figure assembled the wild boars of the world, all or mostly all got together, and each with a knife just stuck into its side, by a felonious individual too well known,—you will have some notion of the sound of these things. Friedrich sometimes remonstrates: "Cannot you spare such phraseology, unseemly to Kings? The quarrels of Kings have to be decided by the sword; what profit in unseemly language, Madam?"—but, for the first year and more, there was no abatement on the Austrian part.

Friedrich’s own Delegate at Regensburg, a Baron von Plotho, come of old Brandenburg kindred, is a resolute, ready-tongued, very undaunted gentleman; learned in Diplomacies and Reich’s Law; carries his head high, and always has his story at hand. Argument, grounded on Reich’s Law and the nature of the case, Plotho never lacks, on spur of the hour: and is indeed a very commendable parliamentary mastiff; and honorable and melodious in the bark of him, compared with those infuriated porcine specimens. He has Kur-Hanover for ally on common occasions, and generally from most Protestant members individually, or from the CORPUS EVANGELICORUM in mass, some feeble whimper of support. Finds difficulty in getting his Reich’s Pleadings printed;— dangerous, everywhere in those Southern Parts, to print anything whatever that is not Austrian: so that Plotho, at length, gets printers to himself, and sets up a Printing-Press in his own house at Regensburg. He did a great deal of sonorous pleading for Friedrich; proud, deep-voiced, ruggedly logical; fairly beyond the Austrian quality in many cases,—and always far briefer, which is another high merit. October coming, we purpose to look in upon Plotho for one minute; "October 14th, 1757;" which may be reckoned essentially the acme or tuming-point of these unpleasant thunderings. [<italic> Helden-Geschichte, <end italic> iv. 745-749.]

What good he did to Friedrich, or could have done with the tongue of angels in such an audience, we do not accurately know. Some good he would do even in the Reich’s-Diet there; and out of doors, over a German public, still more; and is worth his frugal wages,—say 1,000 pounds a year, printing and all other expense included! This is a mere guess of mine, Dryasdust having been incurious: but, to English readers it is incredible for what sums Friedrich got his work done, no work ever better. Which is itself an appreciable advantage, computable in pounds sterling; and is the parent of innumerable others which no Arithmetic or Book-keeping by Double Entry will take hold of, and which are indeed priceless for Nations and for persons. But this poor old bedridden Reich, starting in agonistic spasm at such rate: is it not touching, in a Corpus moribund for so many Centuries past! The Reich is something; though it is not much, nothing like so much as even Kaiser Franz supposes it. Much or not so much, Kaiser Franz wishes to secure it for himself; Friedrich to hinder him,—and it must be a poor something, if not worth Plotho’s wages on Friedrich’s part.

It would insult the patience of every reader to go into these spasmodic tossings of the poor paralytic Reich; or to mention the least item of them beyond what had some result, or fraction of result, on the world’s real affairs. We shall say only, therefore, that after tempests not a few of porcine squealing, answered always by counter-latration on the vigilant Plotho’s part;—squealing, chiefly, from the Reich’s-Hofrath at Vienna, the Head Tribunal of Imperial Majesty, which sits judging and denouncing there, touched to the soul, as if by a knife driven into its side, by those unheard-of treatments of Saxony and disregard to our DEHORTATORIUMS, and which bursts out, peal after peal, filling the Universe, Plotho not unvigilant;—the poor old Reich’s-Diet did at last get into an acting posture, and determine, by clear majority of 99 against 60, that there should be a "Reich’s Execution Army" got on foot. Reich’s Execution Army to coerce, by force of arms, this nefarious King of Prussia into making instant restitution to Saxony, with ample damages on the nail; that right be done to Kurfursts of this Reich. To such height of vigor has the Reich’s- Diet gone;—and was voting it at Regensburg January 10th, 1757; [<italic> Helden-Geschichte, <end italic> iv. 252, 302, 330; Stenzel, v. 32.] that very day when nefarious Friedrich at Berlin, case-hardened in iniquity to such a pitch, sat writing his INSTRUCTION TO COUNT FINCK, which we read not long since. Simultaneous movements, unknown to one another, in this big wrestle.

Reich’s-Diet perfected its Vote; had it quite through, and sanctioned by the Kaiser’s Majesty, January 29th: "Arming to be a TRIPLUM" (triple contingent required of you this time); with Romish-months (ROMERMONATE) of cash contributions from all and sundry (rigorously gathered, I should hope, where Austria has power), so many as will cover the expense. Army to be got on actual foot hastily, instantly if possible: an "EILENDE REICHS-EXECUTIONS ARMEE;" so it ran, but the word EILENDE (speedy) had a mischance in printing, and was struck off into ELENDE (contemptibly wretched): so that on all Market-Squares and Public Places of poor Teutschland, you read flaming Placards summoning out, not a speedy or immediate, but "a MISERABLE Reich’s Execution Army!" A word which, we need not say, was laughed at by the unfeeling part of the public; and was often called to mind by the Reich’s Execution Army’s performances, when said SPEEDY Army did at last take the field.

For the Reich performed its Vote; actually had a Reich’s Execution Army; the last it ever had in this world, not by any means the worst it ever had, for they used generally to be bad. Commanders, managers are named, Romermonate are gathered in, or the sure prospect of them; and, through May-June, 1757, there is busy stir, of drumming, preparing and enlisting, all over the Reich. End of July, we shall see the Reich’s Army in Camp; end of August, actually in the field; and later on, a touch of its fighting withal. Many other things the Reich tried against unfortunate Friedrich,—gradual advance, in fact, to Ban of the Reich (or total anathema and cutting-off from fire and water): but in none of these, in Ban as little as any, did it come to practical result at all, or acquire the least title to be remembered at this day. Finis of Ban, some eight months hence, has something of attractive as futility, the curious Death of a Futility. Finis of Ban (October 14th, already indicated) we may for one moment look in upon, if there be one moment to spare; the rest—readers may fancy it; and read only of the actuality and fighting part, which will itself be enough for them on such a matter.


Four Invasions, from their respective points of the compass, northeast, northwest, southeast and southwest: here is a formidable outlook for the one man against whom they are all advancing openmouthed. The one man—with nothing but a Duke of Cumberland and his Observation Army for backing in such duel—had need to look to himself! Which, we well know, he does; wrapt in profoundly silent vigilance, with his plans all laid. Of the Four Invasions, three, the Russian, French, Austrian, are very large; and the two latter, especially the last, are abundantly formidable. The Swedish, of which there is rumoring, he hopes may come to little, or not come at all. Nor is Russia, though talking big, and actually getting ready above 100,000 men, so immediately alarming. Friedrich always hopes the English, with their guineas and their managements, will do something for him in that quarter; and he knows, at worst, that the Russian Hundred Thousand will be a very slow-moving entity. The Swedish Invasion Friedrich, for the present, leaves to chance: and against Russia, he has sent old Marshal Lehwald into those Baltic parts; far eastward, towards the utmost Memel Frontier, to put the Country upon its own defence, and make what he can of it with 30,000 men,—West-Prussian militias a good few of them. This is all he can spare on the Swedish-Russian side: Austria and France are the perilous pair of entities; not to be managed except by intense concentration of stroke; and by going on them in succession, if one have luck!—

Friedrich’s motions and procedures in canton-quarters, through Winter and in late months, have led to the belief that he means to stand on the defensive; that the scene of the Campaign will probably be Saxony; and that Austria, for recovering injured Saxony, for recovering dear Silesia, will have to take an invasive attitude. And Austria is busy everywhere preparing with that view. Has Tolpatcheries, and advanced Brigades, still harassing about in the Lausitz. A great Army assembling at Prag,—Browne forward towards the Metal Mountains securing posts, gathering magazines, for the crossing into Saxony there. There, it is thought, the tug of war will probably be. Furious, and strenuous, it is not doubted, on this Friedrich’s part: but against such odds, what can he do? With Austrians in front, with Russians to left, with French to right and arear, not to mention Swedes and appendages: surely here, if ever, is a lost King!—

It is by no means Friedrich’s intention that Saxony itself shall need to be invaded. Friedrich’s habit is, as his enemies might by this time be beginning to learn, not that of standing on the defensive, but that of GOING on it, as the preferable method wherever possible. March 24th, Friedrich had quitted Dresden City; and for a month after (head-quarters Lockwitz, edge of the Pirna Country), he had been shifting, redistributing, his cantoned Army, —privately into the due Divisions, due readiness for march. Which done, on fixed days, about the end of April, the whole Army, he himself from Lockwitz, April 20th,—to the surprise of Austria and the world, Friedrich in three grand Columns, Bevern out of the Lausitz, King himself over the Metal Mountains, Schwerin out of Schlesien, is marching with extraordinary rapidity direct for Prag; in the notion that a right plunge into the heart of Bohemia will be the best defence for Saxony and the other places under menace.

This is a most unexpected movement; which greatly astonishes the world-theatre, pit, boxes and gallery alike (as Friedrich’s sudden movements often do); and which is, above all, interesting on the stage itself, where the actors had been counting on a quite opposite set of entries and activities! Feldmarschall Browne and General Konigseck (not our old friend Konigseck, who used to drynurse in the Netherlands, but his nephew and heir) may cease gathering Magazines, in those Lausitz and Metal-Mountain parts: happy could they give wings to those already gathered! Magazines, for Austrian service, are clearly not the things wanted there. One does not burn one’s Magazines till the last extremity; but wings they have none; and such is the enigmatic velocity of those Prussian movements, one seldom has time even to burn them, in the last crisis of catastrophe! Considerable portions of that provender fell into the Prussian throat; as much as "three months’ provision for the whole Army," count they,—adding to those Frontier sundries the really important Magazine which they seized at Jung-Bunzlau farther in. [<italic> Helden-Geschichte, iv. 6-13; &c.] It is one among their many greater advantages from this surprisal of the enemy, and sudden topsy-turvying of his plans. Browne and Konigseck have to retire on Prag at their swiftest; looking to more important results than Magazines.

It is Friedrich’s old plan. Long since, in 1744, we saw a march of this kind, Three Columns rushing with simultaneous rapidity on Prag; and need not repeat the particulars on this occasion. Here are some Notes on the subject, which will sufficiently bring it home to readers:—

"The Three Columns were, for a part of the way, Four; the King’s being, at first, in two branches, till they united again, on the other side of the Hills. For the King," what is to be noted, "had shot out, three weeks before, a small preliminary branch, under Moritz of Dessau; who marched, well westward, by Eger (starting from Chemnitz in Saxony); and had some tussling with our poor old friend Duke d’Ahremberg, Browne’s subordinate in those parts. D’Ahremberg, having 20,000 under him, would not quit Eger for Moritz; but pushed out Croats upon him, and sat still. This, it was afterwards surmised, had been a feint on Friedrich’s part; to give the Austrians pleasant thoughts: ’Invading us, is he? Would fain invade us, but cannot!’ Moritz fell back from Eger; and was ready to join the King’s march, (at Linay, April 23d’ (third day from Lockwitz, on the King’s part). Onwards from which point the Columns are specifically Three; in strength, and on routes, somewhat as follows:—

1. "The FIRST Column, or King’s,—which is 60,000 after this junction, 45,000 foot, 15,000 horse,—quitted Lockwitz (headquarter for a month past), WEDNESDAY, APRIL 20TH. They go by the Pascopol and other roads; through Pirna, for one place: through Karbitz, Aussig, are at Linay on the 23d; where Moritz joins: 24th, in the united state, forward again (leave Lobositz two miles to left); to Trebnitz, 25th, and rest there one day.

"At Aussig an unfortunate thing befell. Zastrow, respectable old General Zastrow, was to drive the Austrians out of Aussig: Zastrow does it, April 22d-23d, drives them well over the heights; April 25th, however, marching forward towards Lobositz, Zastrow is shot through both temples (Pandour hid among the bushes and cliffs, OTHER side of Elbe), and falls dead on the spot. Buried in GOTTLEUBE Kirk, 1st May."

In these Aussig affairs, especially in recapturing the Castle of Tetschen near by, Colonel Mayer, father of the new "Free-Corps," did shining service;—and was approved of, he and they. And, a day or two after, was detached with a Fifteen Hundred of that kind, on more important business: First, to pick up one or two Bohemian Magazines lying handy; after which, to pay a visit to the Reich and its bluster about Execution-Army, and teach certain persons who it is they are thundering against in that awkwardly truculent manner! Errand shiningly done by Mayer, as perhaps we may hear,—and certainly as all the Newspapers loudly heard,—in the course of the next two months.

At crossing of the Eger, Friedrich’s Column had some chasing of poor D’Ahremberg; attempting to cut him off from his Bridges, Bridge of Koschlitz, Bridge of Budin; but he made good despatch, Browne and he; and, except a few prisoners of Ziethen’s gathering, and most of his Magazines unburnt, they did him no damage. The chase was close enough; more than once, the Austrian headquarter of to-night was that of the Prussians to-morrow. Monday, May 2d, Friedrich’s Column was on the Weissenberg of Prag; Browne, D’Ahremberg, and Prince Karl, who is now come up to take command, having hastily filed through the City, leaving a fit garrison, the day before. Except his Magazines, nothing the least essential went wrong with Browne; but Konigseck, who had not a Friedrich on his heels,—Konigseck, trying more, as his opportunities were more,—was not quite so lucky.

2. "Column SECOND, to the King’s left, comes from the Lausitz under Brunswick-Bevern,—18,000 foot, 5,000 horse. This is the Bevern who so distinguished himself at Lobositz last year; and he is now to culminate into a still brighter exploit,—the last of his very bright ones, as it proved. Bevern set out from about Zittau (from Grottau, few miles south of Zittau), the same day with Friedrich, that is April 20th;—and had not well started till he came upon formidable obstacles. Came upon General Konigseck, namely: a Konigseck manoeuvring ahead, in superior force; a Maguire, Irish subordinate of Konigseck’s, coming from the right to cut off our baggage (against whom Bevern has to detach); a Lacy, coming from the left;—or indeed, Konigseck and Lacy in concert, intending to offer battle. Battle of Reichenberg, which accordingly ensued, April 21st,"—of which, though it was very famous for so small a Battle, there can be no account given here.

The short truth is, Konigseck falling back, Parthian-like, with a force of 30,000 or more, has in front of him nothing but Bevern; who, as he issues from the Lausitz, and till he can unite with Schwerin farther southward, is but some 20,000 odd: cannot Konigseck call halt, and bid Bevern return, or do worse? Konigseck, a diligent enough soldier, determines to try; chooses an excellent position,—at or round Reichenberg, which is the first Bohemian Town, one march from Zittau in the Lausitz, and then one from Liebenau, which latter would be Bevern’s SECOND Bohemian stage on the Prag road, if he continued prosperous. Reichenberg, standing nestled among hills in the Neisse Valley (one of those Four Neisses known to us, the Neisse where Prince Karl got exploded, in that signal manner, Winter, 1745, by a certain King), offers fine capabilities; which Konigseck has laid hold of. There is especially one excellent Hollow (on the left or western bank of Neisse River, that is, ACROSS from Reichenberg), backed by woody hills, nothing but hills, brooks, woods all round; Hollow scooped out as if for the purpose; and altogether of inviting character to Konigseck. There, "Wednesday, April 20th," Konigseck posts himself, plants batteries, fells abatis; plenty of cannon, of horse and foot, and, say all soldiers, one of the best positions possible.

So that Bevern, approaching Reichenberg at evening, evening of his first march, Wednesday, April 20th, finds his way barred; and that the difficulties may be considerable. "Nothing to be made of it to-night," thinks Bevern; "but we must try to-morrow!" and has to take camp, "with a marshy brook in front of him," some way on the hither side of Reichenberg; and study overnight what method of unbarring there may be. Thursday morning early, Bevern, having well reconnoitred and studied, was at work unbarring. Bevern crossed his own marshy brook; courageously assaulted Konigseck’s position, left wing of Konigseck; stormed the abatis, the batteries, plunged in upon Konigseck, man to man, horse to horse, and after some fierce enough but brief dispute, tumbled Konigseck out of the ground. Konigseck made some attempt to rally; attempted twice, but in vain; had fairly to roll away, and at length to run, leaving 1,000 dead upon the field, about 500 prisoners; one or two guns, and I forget how many standards, or whether any kettle-drums. This was thought to be a decidedly bright feat on Bevern’s part (rather mismanaged latterly on Konigseck’s); [Tempelhof, i. 100; <italic> Helden- Geschichte, <end italic> iii. 1077 (Friedrich’s own Account, "Linay in Bohmen, 24th April, 1757"); &c. &c. There is, in Busching’s italic> Magazin <end italic> (xvi. 139 et seq.), an intelligible sketch of this Action of Reichenherg, with satirical criticisms, which have some basis, on Lacy, Maguire and others, by an Anonymous Military Cynic,—who gives many such in BUSCHING (that of Fontenoy, for example), not without force of judgment, and signs of wide study and experience in his trade.]—much approved by Friedrich, as he hears of it, at Linay, on his own prosperous march Prag-ward. A comfortable omen, were there nothing more.

Konigseck and Company, torn out of Reichenberg, and set running, could not fairly halt again and face about till at Liebenau, twenty miles off, where they found some defile or difficult bit of ground fit for them; and this too proved capable of yielding pause for a few hours only. For Schwerin, with his Silesian Column, was coming up from the northeast, threatening Konigseck on flank and rear: Konigseck could only tighten his straps a little at this Liebenau, and again get under way; and making vain attempts to hinder the junction of Schwerin and Bevern, to defend the Jung-Bunzlau Magazine, or do any good in those parts, except to detain the Schwerin-Bevern people certain hours (I think, one day in all), had nothing for it but to gird himself together, and retreat on Prag and the Ziscaberg, where his friends now were.

The Austrian force at Reichenberg was 20,000; would have been 30 and odd thousands, had Maguire come up (as he might have done, had not the appearances alarmed him too much); Bevern, minus the Detachment sent against Maguire, was but 15,000 in fight; and he has quite burst the Austrians away, who had plugged his road for him in such force: is it not a comfortable little victory, glorious in its sort; and a good omen for the bigger things that are coming? Bevern marched composedly on, after this inspiriting tussle, through Liebenau and what defiles there were; April 24th, at Turnau, he falls into the Schwerin Column; incorporates himself therewith, and, as subordinate constituent part, accompanies Schwerin thenceforth.

3. "Column THIRD was Schwerin’s, out of Schlesien; counted to be 32,000 foot, 12,000 horse. Schwerin, gathering himself, from Glatz and the northerly country, at Landshut,—very careless, he, of the pleasant Hills, and fine scattered peaks of the Giant Mountains thereabouts,—was completely gathered foremost of all the Columns, having farthest to go. And on Monday, 18th April, started from Landshut, Winterfeld leading one division. In our days, it is the finest of roads; high level Pass, of good width, across the Giant Range; pleasant painted hamlets sprinkling it, fine mountain ridges and distant peaks looking on; Schneekoppe (SNOWfell, its head bright-white till July come) attends you, far to the right, all the way:—probably Sprite Rubezahl inhabits there; and no doubt River Elbe begins his long journey there, trickling down in little threads over yonder, intending to float navies by and by: considerations infinitely indifferent to Schwerin. ’The road,’ says my Tourist, (is not Alpine; it reminds you of Derbyshire-Peak country; more like the road from Castletown to Sheffield than any I could name;’—we have been in it before, my reader and I, about Schatzlar and other places. Trautenau, well down the Hills, with swift streams, more like torrents, bound Elbe-wards, watering it, is a considerable Austrian Town, and the Bohemian end of the Pass, —Sohr only a few miles from it: heartily indifferent to Schwerin at this moment; who was home from the Army, in a kind of disfavor, or mutual pet, at the time Sohr was done. Schwerin’s March we shall not give; his junction with Bevern (at Turnau, on the Iser, April 24th), then their capture of Jung-Bunzlau Magazine, and crossing of the Elbe at Melnick, these were the important points; and, in spite of Konigseck’s tusslings, these all went well, and nothing was lost except one day of time."

The Austrians, some days ago, as we observed, filed THROUGH Prag,— Sunday, May 1st, not a pleasant holiday-spectacle to the populations;—and are all encamped on the Ziscaberg high ground, on the other side of the City. Had they been alert, now was the time to attack Friedrich, who is weaker than they, while nobody has yet joined him. They did not think of it, under Prince Karl; and Browne and the Prince are said to be in bad agreement.


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Chicago: Thomas Carlyle, "Chapter I. The Campaign Opens.," History of Friedrich II of Prussia— Volume 18 in History of Friedrich II of Prussia—Volume 18 Original Sources, accessed June 16, 2024, http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=4BNNRGK11EDJPI7.

MLA: Carlyle, Thomas. "Chapter I. The Campaign Opens." History of Friedrich II of Prussia— Volume 18, in History of Friedrich II of Prussia—Volume 18, Original Sources. 16 Jun. 2024. http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=4BNNRGK11EDJPI7.

Harvard: Carlyle, T, 'Chapter I. The Campaign Opens.' in History of Friedrich II of Prussia— Volume 18. cited in , History of Friedrich II of Prussia—Volume 18. Original Sources, retrieved 16 June 2024, from http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=4BNNRGK11EDJPI7.