coldly, “but I felt that such an explanation was due.
Wednesday, August 8th, Russian and Austrian Generals, a cheerful party of them, had rendezvoused at FISCHERS MUHLE; a Mill not yet burnt, and a pleasant Tavern as well; in one of the prettiest valleys in the Western Environs;--intending to dine there, and have a pleasant day. But the Miller's Boy runs in upon them, wide-eyed, "HIMMEL UND ERDE, Prussian Hussars!" It was in verity Prussian Hussars; the King of Prussia with them in person. He is come out reconnoitring,--the day after his arrival in those parts. The pleasuring Generals, Russian and Austrian, sprang to horseback at their swiftest,--hope of dinner gone futile, except to the intervening Prussian Hussars;--and would have all been captured, but for that Miller's Boy; whose Mill too was burnt before long. This gallop home of the undined Generals into Frankfurt was the first news we poor Frankfurters had of the King's arrival.
The King has been punctual to his reckoning: he picked up Wedell at Mullrose,--not too cordial to Wedell's people: "None of you speak to those beaten wretches," ordered he; "till perhaps they wipe off their Zullichau stain!" On the 7th, Friedrich advanced to Frankfurt neighborhood; took Camp between Wulkow and Lebus;--and has just been out reconnoitring. And has raised, fancy what emotion in poor Frankfurt lying under its nightmare! "Next day, August 9th, from Wulkow-Lebus hand, we" of Frankfurt, "heard a great firing; cannon-salvos, musket-volleys: 'Nothing of fight,' the Russian Officers told us; 'it is the King of Prussia doing joy-fire for Minden,' of which we till now knew nothing."
Friedrich, on survey of this Russian-Austrian Army, some 90,000 in number, with such posts, artilleries, advantages, judges that he, counting only 40,000, is not strong enough. And, indeed, had so anticipated, and already judged; and, accordingly, has Finck on march hitherward again,--Berlin must take its risk, Saxony must shift for itself in the interim. Finck is due in two days,--not here at Lebus precisely, but at another place appointed; Finck will raise him to 50,000; and then business can begin! Contrary to Russian expectation, Friedrich does not attack Frankfurt; seems quite quiet in his cantonments;--he is quietly (if one knew it) making preparations farther down the River. About Reitwein, between this and Custrin, there arrangements are proceeding, by no means of a showy sort.
The Russian-Austrian Army quits Frankfurt, leaving only some hundreds of garrison: Loudon moves across, Soltikof across; to the Oder-Dam and farther; and lie, powerfully intrenched, on those Kunersdorf Heights, and sandy Moorlands, which go eastward at right-angles to Oder-Dam. One of the strongest Camps imaginable. All round there, to beyond Kunersdorf and back again, near three miles each way, they have a ring of redoubts, and artillery without end. And lie there, in order of battle, or nearly so; ready for Friedrich, when he shall attack, through Frankfurt or otherwise. They face to the North (Reitwein way, as it happens); to their rear, and indeed to their front, only not so close, are woods and intricate wilds. Loudon has the left flank; that is to say, Loudon's left hand is towards the Oder-Dam and Frankfurt; he lies at the ROTHE VORWERK ("Red Grange," a Farmstead much mentioned just now); rather to northwestward of the Jew Hill and Jew Churchyard (JUDENBERG and JUDENKIRCHHOF, likewise much mentioned); and in advance of the general Mass. Soltikof's head-quarter, I rather understand, is on the right wing; probably in Kunersdorf itself, or beyond that Village; there, at least, our highly important Russian right wing is; there, elaborately fortified; and, half a mile farther, ends,--on the edge of steep dells; the Russian brink of which is strongly fringed with cannon, while beyond, on the farther brink, they have built an abatis; so making assurance doubly sure. Looking to the northward all these 90,000; their left rather southward of Frankfurt Bridge, over which Friedrich will probably arrive. Leftward, somewhat to rearward, they have bridges of their own; should anything sinister befall; three bridges which lead into that Oder Island, and the Russian Wagenburg there.
August 10th, Finck, punctual to time, arrives in the neighborhood of Reitwein (which is some ten miles down stream from Lebus, from Frankfurt perhaps fifteen); Friedrich, the same day, is there before him; eager to complete the Bridges, and get to business. One Bridge is of pontoons; one of "Oder-boats floated up from Custrin." Bridges are not begun till nightfall, lest eyes be abroad; are ready in the minimum of time. And so, during the same night of the 10th, all the Infantry, with their artilleries and battle-furnitures, pour over in two columns; the Cavalry, at the due point of time, riding by a ford short way to the right. And at four, in the gray of the August morning (Saturday, 11th August, 1759), all persons and things find themselves correctly across; ranked there, in those barren, much-indented "Pasture-grounds of Goritz" or of OEtscher; intending towards Kunersdorf; ready for unfolding into order of battle there. They leave their heavy baggage at Goritz, Wunsch to guard the Bridges and it; and, in succinct condition, are all under way. At one in the afternoon we are got to Leissow and Bischofsee; scrubby hamlets (as the rest all are), not above two miles from Kunersdorf. The August day is windless, shiny, sultry; man and horse are weary with the labors, and with the want of sleep: we decide to bivouac here, and rest on the scrubby surface, heather or whatever it is, till to-morrow.
Finck is Vanguard, ahead short way, and with his left on a bit of lake or bog; the Army is in two lines, with its right on Leissow, and has Cavalry in the kind of wood which there is to rear. Friedrich, having settled the positions, rides out reconnoitring; hither, thither, over the Heights of Trettin. "The day being still hot, he suffers considerably from thirst [it is our one Anecdote] in that arid tract: at last a Peasant does bring him, direct from the fountain, a jug of pure cold water; whom, lucky man, the King rewarded with a thaler; and not only so, but, the man being intelligent of the localities, took with him to answer questions." Readers too may desire to gain some knowledge of the important ground now under survey.
"Frankfurt, a very ancient Town, not a very beautiful," says my Note, "stands on an alluvium which has been ground down from certain clay Hills on the left bank of Oder. It counted about 12,000 inhabitants in Friedrich's time; has now perhaps about 20,000; not half the bulk of its namesake on the Mayn; but with Three great Fairs annually, and much trade of the rough kind. On this left or west bank of Oder the country is arable, moderately grassy and umbrageous, the prospect round you not unpleasant; but eastward, over the River, nothing can be more in contrast. Oder is of swift current, of turbid color, as it rolls under Frankfurt Bridge,--Wooden Bridge, with Dam Suburb at the end;--a River treeless, desolate, as you look up and down; which has, evidently, often changed its course, since grinding down that alluvium as site for Frankfurt; and which, though now holding mainly to northward, is still given to be erratic, and destructive on the eastern low grounds,--had not the Frankfurters built an 'Oder-Dam' on that side; a broad strong Earth-mound, running for many miles, and confining its floods. Beyond the Dam there are traces of an 'Old Oder (ALTE ODER);' and, in fact, Oder, in primeval and in recent time, has gone along, many-streamed; indenting, quarrying, leaving lakelets, quagmires, miscellaneous sandy tumult, at a great rate, on that eastern shore. Making of it one of the unloveliest scenes of chaotic desolation anywhere to be met with;--fallen unlovelier than ever in our own more recent times.
"What we call the Heights of Kunersdorf is a broad Chain of Knolls; coming out, at right-angles, or as a kind of spur, from the eastern high grounds; direct towards Oder and Frankfurt. Mill-Hill (MUHLBERG) is the root or easternmost part of this spur. From the Muhlberg, over Kunersdorf, to Oder-Dam, which is the whole length of the spur, or Chain of Knolls, will be little short of four miles; the breadth of the Chain is nowhere one mile,--which is its grand defect as a Camp: 'too narrow for manoeuvring in.' Here, atop and on the three sides of this Block of Knolls, was fought the furious Battle of Kunersdorf [to be fought to-morrow], one of the most furious ever known. A Block of Knolls memorable ever since.
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