Of the retreat there could be much said, instructive to military men who were studious; extremely fine retreat, say all judges;--of which my readers crave only the outlines, the results. Daun, it was thought, should have ruined Friedrich in this retreat; but he did nothing of harm to him. In fact, for a week he could not comprehend the phenomenon at all, and did not stir from his place,--which was on the other, or wrong, side of the River. Daun had never doubted but the retreat would be to Silesia; and he had made his detachments, and laid himself out for doing something upon it, in that direction: but, lo, what roads are these, what motions whitherward? In about a week it becomes manifest that the retreat, which goes on various roads, sometimes three at once, has converged on Leutomischl; straight for Bohemia instead of Silesia; and that Daun is fallen seven days behind it; incapable now to do anything. Not even the Magazine at Leutomischl could be got away, nor could even the whole of it be burnt.
Keith and the baggage once safe in Leutomischl (July 8th), all goes in deliberate long column; Friedrich ahead to open the passages. July 14th, after five more marches, Friedrioh bursts up Konigsgratz; scattering any opposition there is; and sits down there, in a position considered, he knows well how inexpugnable; to live on the Country, and survey events. The 4,000 baggage-wagons came in about entire. Fouquet had the first division of them, and a secondary charge of the whole; an extremely strict, almost pedantic man, and of very fiery temper: "HE, D'OU VENEZ-VOUS?" asked he sharply of Retzow senior, who had broken through his order, one day, to avert great mischief: "How come you here, MON GENERAL?" "By the Highway, your Excellency!" answered Retzow in a grave stiff tone. [Retzow, i. 302.]
Keith himself takes the rear-guard, the most ticklish post of all, and manages it well, and with success, as his wont is. Under sickness at the time, but with his usual vigilance, prudence, energy; qualities apt to be successful in War. Some brushes of Croat fighting he had from Loudon; but they did not amount to anything. It was at Holitz, within a march of Konigsgratz, that Loudon made his chief attempt; a vehement, well-intended thing; which looked well at one time. But Keith heard the cannonading ahead; hurried up with new cavalry, new sagacity and fire of energy; dashed out horse-charges, seized hill-tops, of a vital nature; and quickly ended the affair. A man fiery enough, and prompt with his stroke when wanted, though commonly so quiet. "Tell Monsieur,"--some General who seemed too stupid or too languid on this occasion,--"Tell Monsieur from me," said Keith to his Aide- de-camp, "he may be a very pretty thing, but he is not a man (QU'IL PEUT ETRE UNE BONNE CHOSE, MAIS QU'IL N'EST PAS UN HOMME)!" [Varnhagen,
Daun, picking his steps and positions, latterly with threefold precaution, got into Konigsgratz neighborhood, a week after Friedrich; and looked down with enigmatic wonder upon Friedrich's new settlement there. Forage abundant all round, and the corn- harvest growing white;--here, strange to say, has Friedrich got planted in the inside of those innumerable Daun redoubts, and "woods of abatis;" and might make a very pretty "Bohemian Campaign" of it, after all, were Daun the only adversary he had! Judges are of opinion, that Daun, with all his superiority of number, could not have disrooted Friedrich this season. [Tempelhof, ii. 170-176, 185;--who, unluckily, in soldier fashion, here as too often elsewhere, does not give us the Arithmetical Numbers of each, but counts by "Battalions" and " Squadrons," which, except in time of Peace, are a totally uncertain quantity:--guess vaguely, 75,000 against 30,000.] Daun did try him by the Pandour methods, "1,000 Croats stealing in upon Konigsgratz at one in the morning," and the like; but these availed nothing. By the one effectual method, that of beating him in battle, Daun never would have tried. What did disroot Friedrich, then?--Take the following dates, and small hints of phenomena in other parts of the big Theatre of War. "Konitz" is a little Polish Town, midway between Dantzig and Friedrich's Dominions:--
"KONITZ, 16th JUNE, 1758. This day Feldmarschall Fermor arrives in his principal Camp here. For many weeks past he has been dribbling across the Weichsel hitherward, into various small camps, with Cossack Parties flying about, under check of General Platen. But now, being all across, and reunited, Fermor shoots out Cossack Parties of quite other weight and atrocity; and is ready to begin business,--still a little uncertain how. His Cossacks, under their Demikows, Romanzows; capable of no good fighting, but of endless incendiary mischief in the neighborhood;--shoot far ahead into Prussian territory: Platen, Hordt with his Free-Corps, are beautifully sharp upon them; but many beatings avail little. 'They burn the town of Driesen [Hordt having been hard upon them there]; town of Ratzebuhr, and nineteen villages around;'--burn poor old women and men, one poor old clergyman especially, wind him well in straw-roping, then set fire, and leave him;--and are worse than fiends or hyenas. Not to be checked by Platen's best diligence; not, in the end, by Platen and Dohna together. Dohna (18th June) has risen from Stralsund in check of them,--leaving the unfortunate Swedes to come out [shrunk to about 7,000, so unsalutary their stockfish diet there],--these hyena-Cossacks being the far more pressing thing. Dohna is diligent, gives them many slaps and checks; Dohna cannot cut the tap-root of them in two; that is to say, fight Fermor and beat him: other effectual check there can be none. [
"TSCHOPAU (in Saxony), 21st JUNE. Prince Henri has quitted Bamberg Country; and is home again, carefully posted, at Tschopau and up and down, on the southern side of Saxony; with his eye well on the Passes of the Metal Mountains,--where now, in the turn things at Olmutz have taken, his clear fate is to be invaded, NOT to invade. The Reichs Army, fairly afoot in the Circle of Saatz, counts itself 35,000; add 15,000 Austrians of a solid quality, there is a Reichs Army of 50,000 in all, this Year. And will certainly invade Saxony,--though it is in no hurry; does not stir till August come, and will find Prince Henri elaborately on his guard, and little to be made of him, though he is as one to two.
"CREFELD (Rhine Country), 23d JUNE. Duke Ferdinand, after skilful shoving and advancing, some forty or fifty miles, on his new or French side of the Rhine, finds the French drawn up at Crefeld (June 23d); 47,000 of them VERSUS 33,000: in altogether intricate ground; canal-ditches, osier-thickets, farm-villages, peat-bogs. Ground defensible against the world, had the 47,000 had a Captain; but reasonably safe to attack, with nothing but a Clermont acting that character. Ferdinand, I can perceive, knew his Clermont; and took liberties with him. Divided himself into three attacks: one in front; one on Clermont's right flank, both of which cannonaded, as if in earnest, but did not prevent Clermont going to dinner. One attack on front, one on right flank; then there was a third, seemingly on left flank, but which winded itself round (perilously imprudent, had there been a Captain, instead of a Clermont deepish in wine by this time), and burst in upon Clermont's rear; jingling his wine-glasses and decanters, think at what a rate;--scattering his 47,000 and him to the road again, with a loss of men, which was counted to 4,000 (4,000 against 1,700), and of honor--whatever was still to lose!" [Mauvillon, i. 297-309; Westphalen, i. 588-604; Tempelhof; &c. &c.]
Ferdinand, it was hoped, would now be able to maintain himself, and push forward, on this French side of the Rhine: and had Wesel been his (as some of us know it is not!), perhaps. he might. At any rate, veteran Belleisle took his measures:--dismissal of Clermont Prince of the Blood, and appointment of Contades, a man of some skill; recall of Soubise and his 24,000 from their Austrian intentions; these and other strenuous measures,--and prevented such consummation. A gallant young Comte de Gisors, only son of Belleisle, perished in that disgraceful Crefeld:--unfortunate old man, what a business that of "cutting Germany in four" has been to you, first and last!