assumed a kneeling posture, and drew her other hand from
Friedrich's wearied battalions here on the Heights, while the Spitzberg to left goes so ill, fight desperately; but cannot prevail farther; and in spite of Friedrich's vehement rallyings and urgings, gradually lose ground,--back at last to Kunersdorf and the Kuhgrund again. The Loudon grenadiers, and exclaimed masses of fresh Russians, are not to be broken, but advance and advance. Fancy the panting death-labors, and spasmodic toilings and bafflings, of those poor Prussians and their King! Nothing now succeeding; the death-agony now come; all hearts growing hopeless; only one heart still seeing hope. The Spitzberg is impossible; tried how often I know not. Finck, from the Alder Waste, with his Infantry, attacks, and again attacks; without success: "Let the Cavalry go round, then, and try there. Seidlitz we have not; you Eugen of Wurtemberg lead them!" Eugen leads them (cuirassiers, or we will forget what); round by the eastern end of the Muhlberg; then westward, along the Alder Waste; finally southward, against the Russian flank, himself foremost, and at the gallop for charging:--Eugen, "looking round, finds his men all gone," and has to gallop the other way, gets wounded to boot. Puttkammer, with Hussars, then tried it; Puttkammer was shot dead, and his Hussars too could do nothing.
Back, slowly back, go the Prussians generally, nothing now succeeds with them. Back to the Kuhgrund again; fairly over the steep brow there; the Russians serrying their ranks atop, rearranging their many guns. There, once more, rose frightful struggle; desperate attempt by the fordone Prussians to retake that Height. "Lasted fifteen minutes, line to line not fifty yards asunder;" such musketry,--our last cartridges withal. Ardent Prussian parties trying to storm up; few ever getting to the top, none ever standing there alive one minute. This was the death-agony of the Battle. Loudon, waiting behind the Spitzberg, dashes forward now, towards the Kuhgrund and our Left Flank. At sight of which a universal feeling shivers through the Prussian heart, "Hope ended, then!"-- and their solid ranks rustle everywhere; and melt into one wild deluge, ebbing from the place as fast as it can.
It is towards six o'clock; the sweltering Sun is now fallen low and veiled; gray evening sinking over those wastes. "N'Y A-T-IL DONC PAS UN BOUGRE DE BOULET QUI PUISSE M'ATTEINDREE (Is there no one b-- of a ball that can reach me, then)?" exclaimed Friedrich in despair. Such a day he had never thought to see. The pillar of the State, the Prussian Army itself, gone to chaos in this manner. Friedrich still passionately struggles, exhorts, commands, entreats even with tears, "Children, don't forsake me, in this pinch (KINDER, VERLASSET HEUTE MICH, EUREN KONIG, EUREN VATER, NICHT)!" [Kriele, p. 169.]--but all ears are deaf. On the Muhlberg one regiment still stood by their guns, covering the retreat. But the retreat is more and more a flight; "no Prussian Army was ever seen in such a state." At the Bridges of that Hen-Floss, there was such a crowding, all our guns got jammed; and had to be left, 165 of them of various calibre, and the whole of the Russian 180 that were once in our hands. Had the chase been vigorous, this Prussian Army had been heard of no more. But beyond the Muhlberg, there was little or no pursuit; through the wood the Army, all in chaos, but without molestation otherwise, made for its Oder Bridges by the way it had come. [Tempelhof, iii. 179-200; Retzow, ii. 80-115: in Seyfarth,
Friedrich was among the last to quit the ground. He seemed stupefied by the excess of his emotions; in no haste to go; uncertain whether he would go at all. His adjutants were about him, and a small party of Ziethen Hussars under Captain Prittwitz. Wild swarms of Cossacks approached the place. "PRITTWITZ, ICH BIN VERLOREN (Prittwitz, I am lost)!" remarked he. "NEIN, IHRO MAJESTAT!" answered Prittwitz with enthusiasm; charged fiercely, he and his few, into the swarms of Cossacks; cut them about, held them at bay, or sent them else-whither, while the Adjutants seized Friedrich's bridle, and galloped off with him. At OEtscher and the Bridges, Friedrich found of his late Army not quite 3,000 men. Even Wunsch is not there till next morning. Wunsch with his Party had, early in the afternoon, laid hold of Frankfurt, as ordered; made the garrison prisoners, blocked the Oder Bridge; poor Frankfurt tremulously thanking Heaven for him, and for such an omen. In spite of their Wagenburg and these Pontoon-Bridges, it appears, there would have been no retreat for the Russians except into Wunsch's cannon: Wagenburg way, latish in the afternoon, there was such a scramble of runaways and retreating baggage, all was jammed into impassability; scarcely could a single man get through. In case of defeat, the Russian Army would have had no chance but surrender or extermination. [Tempelhof, iii. 194: in Retzow (ii. 110) is some dubious traditionary stuff on the matter.] At dark, however, Wunsch had summons, so truculent in style, he knew what it meant; and answering in words peremptorily, "No" with a like emphasis, privately got ready again, and at midnight disappeared. Got to Reitwein without accident.
Friedrich found at OEtscher nothing but huts full of poor wounded men, and their miseries and surgeries;--he took shelter, himself, in a hut "which had been plundered by Cossacks" (in the past days), but which had fewer wounded than others, and could be furnished with some bundles of dry straw. Kriele has a pretty Anecdote, with names and particulars, of two poor Lieutenants, who were lying on the floor, as he entered this hut. They had lain there for many hours; the Surgeons thinking them desperate; which Friedrich did not. "ACH KINDER, Alas, children, you are badly wounded, then?" "JA, your Majesty: but how goes the Battle?" (Answer, evasive on this point): "Are you bandaged, though? Have you been let blood?" "NEIN, EUER MAJESTAT, KEIN TEUFEL WILL UNS VERBINDEN (Not a devil of them would bandage us)!" Upon which there is a Surgeon instantly brought; reprimanded for neglect: "Desperate, say you? These are young fellows; feel that hand, and that; no fever there: Nature in such cases does wonders!" Upon which the leech had to perform his function; and the poor young fellows were saved,--and did new fighting, and got new wounds, and had Pensions when the War ended. [Kriele, pp. 169, 170; and in all the Anecdote-Books.] This appears to have been Friedrich's first work in that hut at OEtscher. Here next is a Third Autograph to Finkenstein, written in that hut, probably the first of several Official things there:--
THE KING TO GRAF VAN FINKENSTEIN (at Berlin): Third Note.
"I attacked the Enemy this morning about eleven; we beat him back to the JUDENKIRCHHOF (Jew Churchyard,"--a mistake, but now of no moment), "near Frankfurt. All my troops came into action, and have done wonders. I reassembled them three times; at length, I was myself nearly taken prisoner; and we had to quit the Field. My coat is riddled with bullets, two horses were killed under me;--my misfortune is, that I am still alive. Our loss is very considerable. Of an Army of 48,000 men, I have, at this moment while I write, not more than 3,000 together; and am no longer master of my forces. In Berlin you will do well to think of your safety. It is a great calamity; and I will not survive it: the consequences of this Battle will be worse than the Battle itself. I have no resources more; and, to confess the truth, I hold all for lost. I will not survive the destruction of my Country. Farewell forever (ADIEU POUR JAMAIS).--F." [In orig. "CE 12," no other date (
Another thing, of the same tragic character, is that of handing over this Army to Finck's charge. Order there is to Finck of that tenor: and along with it the following notable Autograph,--a Friedrich taking leave both of Kingship and of life. The Autograph exists; but has no date,--date of the Order would probably be still OETSCHER, 12th AUGUST; date of the Autograph, REITWEIN (across the River), next day.
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