Wending always south, on their western or invisible side of those Knolls, Friedrich's people have got to about the level, or LATITUDE as we might call it, of Nadasti's left. To Radaxdorf, namely, to Lobetintz, or still farther south, and perhaps a mile to west of Nadasti. Friedrich has mounted to Lobetintz Windmill; and judges that the time is come. Daun and Cavalry once got to support their right wing, and our south latitude being now sufficient, Friedrich, swift as Prussian manoeuvring can do it, falls with all his strength upon their left wing. Forms in oblique order,--horse, foot, artillery, all perfect in their paces; and comes streaming over the Knolls at Sagschutz, suddenly like a fire-deluge on Nadasti, who had charge there, and was expecting no such adventure! How Friedrich did the forming in oblique order was at that time a mystery known only to Friedrich and his Prussians: but soldiers of all countries, gathering the secret from him, now understand it, and can learnedly explain it to such as are curious. Will readers take a touch more of the DRILL-SERGEANT?
"You go stairwise (EN ECHELON)," says he: "first battalion starts, second stands immovable till the first have done fifty steps; at the fifty-first, second battalion also steps along; third waiting for ITS fifty-first step. First battalion [rightmost battalion or leftmost, as the case may be; rightmost in this Leuthen case] doing fifty steps before the next stirs, and each battalion in succession punctually doing the same:" march along on these terms,--or halt at either end, while you advance at the other,--it is evident you will swing yourself out of the parallel position into any degree of obliquity. And furthermore, merely by halting and facing half round at the due intervals, you shove yourself to right or to left as required (always to right in this Leuthen case): and so--provided you CAN march as a pair of compasses would--you will, in the given number of minutes, impinge upon your Enemy's extremity at the required angle, and overlap him to the required length: whereupon, At him, in flank, in front, and rear, and see if he can stand it! "A beautiful manoeuvre" says Captain Archenholtz; "devised by Friedrich," by Friedrich inheriting Epaminondas and the Old Dessauer; "and which perhaps only Friedrich's men, to this day, could do with the requisite perfection."
Nadasti, a skilful War-Captain, especially with Horse, was beautifully posted about Sagschutz; his extreme left folded up EN POTENCE there (elbow of it at Sagschutz, forearm of it running to Gohlau eastward); POTENCE ending in firwood Knolls with Croat musketeers, in ditches, ponds, difficult ground, especially towards Gohlau. He has a strong battery, 14 pieces, on the Height to rear of him, at the angle or elbow of his POTENCE; strong abatis, well manned in front to rightwards: upon this, and upon the Croats in the firwood, the Prussians intend their attack. General Wedell is there, Prince Moritz as chief, with six battalions, and their batteries, battery of 10 Brummers and another; Ziethen also and Horse: coming on, in swift fire-flood, and at an angle of forty- five degrees. Most unexpected, strange to behold! From southwest yonder; about one o'clock of the day.
Nadasti, though astonished at the Prussian fire-deluge, stands to his arms; makes, in front, vigorous defence; and even takes, in some sort, the initiative,--that is, dashes out his Cavalry on Ziethen, before Ziethen has charged. Ziethen's Horse, who are rightmost of the Prussians: and are bare to the right,--ground offering no bush, no brook there (though Ziethen, foreseeing such defect, has a clump of infantry near by to mend it),--reel back under this first shock, coming downhill upon them; and would have fared badly, had not the clump of infantry instantly opened fire on the Nadasti visitors, and poured it in such floods upon them, that they, in their turn, had to reel back. Back they, well out of range;--and leave Ziethen free for a counter-attack shortly, on easier terms, which was successful to him. For, during that first tussle of his, the Prussian Infantry, to left of Ziethen, has attacked the Sagschutz Firwood; clears that of Croats; attacks Nadasti's line, breaks it, their Brummer battery potently assisting, and the rage of Wedell and everybody being extreme. So that, in spite of the fine ground, Nadasti is in a bad way, on the extreme left or outmost point of his POTENCE, or tactical KNEE. Round the knee-pan or angle of his POTENCE, where is the abatis, he fares still worse. Abatis, beswept by those ten Brummers and other Batteries, till bullet and bayonet can act on it, speedily gives way. "They were mere Wurtembergers, these; and could not stand!" cried the Austrians apologetically, at a great rate, afterwards; as if anybody could well have stood.
Indisputably the Wurtembergers and the abatis are gone; and the Brandenburgers, storming after them, storm Nadasti's interior battery of 14 pieces; and Nadasti's affairs are rapidly getting desperate in this quarter. Figure Prince Karl's scouts, galloping madly to recall that Daun Cavalry! Austrian Battalions, plenty of them, rush down to help Nadasti; but they are met by the crowding fugitives, the chasing Prussians; are themselves thrown into disorder, and can do no good whatever. They arrive on the ground flurried, blown; have not the least time to take breath and order: the fewest of them ever got fairly ranked, none of them ever stood above one push: all goes rolling wildly back upon the centre about Leuthen. Chaos come on us;--and all for mere lack of time: could Nadasti but once stretch out one minute into twenty! But he cannot. Nadasti does not himself lose head; skilfully covers the retreat, trying to rally once and again. Not for the first few furlongs, till the ditches, till the firwood, quagmires are all done, could Ziethen, now on the open ground, fairly hew in; "take whole battalions prisoners;" drive the crowd in an altogether stormy manner; and wholly confound the matter in this part.
Prince Karl, his messengers flying madly, has struggled as man seldom did to put himself in some posture about Leuthen, to get up some defences there. Leuthen itself, the churchyard of it especially, is on the defensive. Men are bringing cannon to the windmills, to the swelling ground on the north side of Leuthen; they dig ditches, build batteries,--could they but make Time halt, and Friedrich with him, for one quarter of an hour. But they cannot. By the extreme of diligence, the Austrians have in some measure swung themselves into a new position, or imperfect Line round Leuthen as a centre,--Lucchesi, voluntarily or by order, swinging southwards on the one hand; Nadasti swinging northwards by compulsion;--new Line at an angle say of 75 degrees to the old one. And here, for an hour more, there was stiff fighting, the stiffest of the day;--of which, take one direct glimpse, from the Austrian side, furnished by a Young Gentleman famous afterwards:--
Leuthen, let us premise, is a long Hamlet of the usual littery sort; with two rows, in some parts three, of farm-houses, barns, cattle-stalls; with Church, or even with two Churches, a Protestant and a Catholic; goes from east to west above a mile in length. With the wrecks of Nadasti tumbling into it pell-mell from the southeast, and Lucchesi desperately endeavoring to swing round from the northwest, not quite incoherently, and the Prussian fire-storm for accompaniment, Leuthen is probably the most chaotic place in the Planet Earth during that hour or so (from half-past two to half-past three) while the agony lasted. At one o'clock Nadasti was attacked; at two he is tumbling in mid-career towards Leuthen: I guess the date of this Excerpt, or testimony by a Notable Eye- witness, may be half-past two; crisis of the agony just about to begin: and before four it was all finished again. Eye-witness is the young Prince de Ligne, now Captain in an Austrian Regiment of Foot; and standing here in this perilous posture, having been called in as part of the Reserve. He says:--
"Cry had risen for the Reserve," in which was my regiment, "and that it must come on as fast as possible,"--to Leuthen, west of us yonder. "We ran what we could run. Our Lieutenant-Colonel fell killed almost at the first; beyond this we lost our Major, and indeed all the Officers but three,--three only, and about eleven or twelve of the Voluuteer or Cadet kind. We had crossed two successive ditches, which lay in an orchard to left of the first houses in Leuthen; and were beginning to form in front of the Village. But there was no standing of it. Besides a general cannonade such as can hardly be imagined, there was a rain of case- shot upon this Battalion, of which I, as there was no Colonel left, had to take command; and a third Battalion of the Royal Prussian Foot-guards, which had already made several of our regiments pass that kind of muster, gave, at a distance of eighty paces, the liveliest fire on us. It stood as if on the parade-ground, that third Battalion, and waited for us, without stirring.