certainly, sentimental people are, after all, sometimes,
At Posen, as on the road thither, they find Sulkowski's and the other burnt provenders abundantly replaced: it is evident they intend, in concert with Daun, to enclose Friedrich between two fires, and do something considerable. Whether on Brandenburg or Silesia, is not yet known to Friedrich. Friedrich, since the time they crossed Weichsel, has given them his best attention; and more than once has had schemes on their Magazines and them,--once a new and bigger Scheme actually afoot, under Wobersnow again, our Anti- Sulkowski friend; but was obliged to turn the force elsewhither, on alarms that rose. He himself cannot quit the centre of the work; his task being to watch Daun, and especially, should Daun attempt nothing else, to prevent junction of Soltikof and him.
Daun still lies torpid, or merely hitching about; but now when the Russians are approaching Posen, and the case becomes pressing, Friedrich, as is usual to him, draws upon the Anti-Swedish resource, upon the Force he has in Pommern. That is to say, orders General Dohna, who has the Swedes well driven in at present, to quit Stralsund Country, to leave the ineffectual Swedes with some very small attendance; and to march--with certain reinforcements that are arriving (Wobersnow already, Hulsen with 10,000 out of Saxony in few days)--direct against the Russians; and at once go in upon them. Try to burn their Magazines again; or, equally good, to fall vigorously on some of their separate Divisions, and cut them off in the vagrant state;--above all, to be vigorous, be rapid, sharp, and do something effectual in that quarter. These were Dohna's Instructions. Dohna has 18,000; Hulsen, with his 10,000, is industriously striding forward, from the farther side of Saxony; Wobersnow, with at least his own fine head, is already there. Friedrich, watching in the Anti-Junction position, ready for the least chance that may turn up.
Dohna marched accordingly; but was nothing like rapid enough: an old man, often in ill health too; and no doubt plenty of impediments about him. He consumed some time rallying at Stargard; twelve days more at Landsberg, on the Warta, settling his provision matters: in fine, did not get to Posen neighborhood till June 23d, three weeks after the Russian Vanguard of 10,000 had fixed itself there, and other Russian parties were daily dropping in. Dohna was 15,000, a Wobersnow with him: had he gone at once on Posen, as Wobersnow urged, it is thought he might perhaps have ruined this Vanguard and the Russian Magazine; which would have been of signal service for the remaining Campaign. But he preferred waiting for Hulsen and the 10,000, who did not arrive for seven or eight days more; by which time Soltikof and most of the Russian Divisions had got in;--and the work was become as good as hopeless, on those languid terms. Dohna did try upon the Magazine, said to be ill guarded in some Suburb of Posen; crossed the Warta with that view, found no Magazine; recrossed the Warta; and went manoeuvring about, unable to do the least good on Soltikof or his Magazines or operations. Friedrich was still in Landshut region, just about quitting it,--just starting on that little Trautenau Expedition, with his Four Pieces of Horse-Artillery (June 29th), when the first ill news of Dohna came in; which greatly disappointed Friedrich, and were followed by worse, instead of better.
The end was, Soltikof, being now all ready, winded himself out of Posen one day, veiled by Cossacks; and, to Dohna's horror, had got, or was in the act of getting, between Dohna and Brandenburg; which necessitated new difficult manoeuvres from Dohna. Soltikof too can manoeuvre a little: Soltikof edges steadily forward; making for Crossen-on-Oder, where he expects to find Austrians (Haddick and Loudon, if Friedrich could yet guess it), with 30,000 odd, especially with provision, which is wearing scarce with him. Twice or so there was still a pretty opportunity for Dohna on him; but Dohna never could resolve about it in time. Back and ever back goes Dohna; facing Soltikof; but always hitching back; latterly in Brandenburg ground, the Russians and he;--having no provision, he either. In fine, July 17th (one week after Friedrich had got to Schmottseifen), Dohna finds himself at the little Town of Zullichau (barely in time to snatch it before Soltikof could), within thirty miles of Crossen; and nothing but futility behind and before. [Tempelhof, iii, 78-88;
We can imagine Friedrich's daily survey of all this; his gloomy calculations what it will soon amount to if it last. He has now no Winterfeld, Schwerin, no Keith, Retzow, Moritz:--whom has he? His noblest Captains are all gone; he must put up with the less noble. One Wedell, Lieutenant-General, had lately recommended himself to the royal mind by actions of a prompt daring. The royal mind, disgusted with these Dohna hagglings, and in absolute necessity of finding somebody that had resolution, and at least ordinary Prussian skill, hoped Wedell was the man. And determined, the crisis being so urgent, to send Wedell in the character of ALTER-EGO, or "with the powers of a Roman Dictator," as the Order expressed it. [Given in Preuss, ii. 207, 208; in Stenzel, v. 212, other particulars.] Dictator Wedell is to supersede Dohna; shall go, at his own swift pace, fettered by nobody;--and, at all hazards, shall attack Soltikof straightway, and try to beat him. "You are grown too old for that intricate hard work; go home a little, and recover your health," the King writes to Dohna. And to the Dohna Army, "Obey this man, all and sundry of you, as you would myself;" the man's private Order being, "Go in upon Soltikof; attack him straightway; let us have done with this wriggling and haggling." Date of this Order is "Camp at Schmottseifen, 20th July, 1759." The purpose of such high-flown Title, and solemnity of nomination, was mainly, it appears, to hush down any hesitation or surprise among the Dohna Generals, which, as Wedell was "the youngest Lieutenant-General of the Army," might otherwise have been possible.
Wedell, furnished with some small escort and these Documents, arrives in Camp Sunday Evening, 22d July:--poor Dohna has not the least word or look of criticism; and every General, suppressing whatever thoughts there may be, prepares to yield loyal obedience to Dictator Wedell. "Wobersnow was the far better soldier of the two!" murmured the Opposition party, then and long afterwards, [Retzow, &c.]--all the more, as Wobersnow's behavior under it was beautiful, and his end tragical, as will be seen. Wobersnow I perceive to have been a valiant sharp-striking man, with multifarious resources in his head; who had faithfully helped in these operations, and I believe been urgent to quicken them. But what I remember best of him is his hasty admirable contrivance for field-bakery in pressing circumstances,--the substance of which shall not be hidden from a mechanical age:--
"You construct six slight square iron frames, each hinged to the other; each, say, two feet square, or the breadth of two common tiles, and shaped on the edges so as to take in tiles;--tiles are to be found on every human cottage. This iron frame, when you hook it together, becomes the ghost of a cubic box, and by the help of twelve tiles becomes a compact field-oven; and you can bake with it, if you have flour and water, and a few sticks. The succinctest oven ever heard of; for your operation done, and your tiles flung out again, it is capable of all folding flat like a book." [Retzow, ii. 82 n.] Never till now had Wobersnow's oven been at fault: but in these Polish Villages, all of mere thatched hovels, there was not a tile to be found; and the Bakery, with astonishment, saw itself unable to proceed.
Wedell arrived Sunday evening, 22d July; had crossed Oder at Tschischerzig,--some say by Crossen Bridge; no matter which. Dohna's Camp is some thirty miles west of Crossen; in and near the small Town called Zullichau, where his head-quarter is. In those dull peaty Countries, on the right, which is thereabouts the NORTHERN (not eastern), bank of Oder; between the Oder and the Warta; some seventy miles south-by-east of Landsberg, and perhaps as far southwest of Posen: thither has Dohna now got with his futile manoeuvrings. Soltikof, drawn up amid scrubby woods and sluggish intricate brooks, is about a mile to east of him.
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