“Friendship,” he proceeded, “all I have ever loved,
"The morning is very misty; but Ferdinand has himself been out examining since the earliest daybreak: his orders last night were, 'Cavalry be saddled at 1 in the morning,'--having a guess that there would be work, as he now finds there will. From 5 A.M. Ferdinand is issuing from his Camp, flowing down eastward, beautifully concentric, closing on Contades; horse NOT in centre, but English Infantry in centre (Six Battalions, or Six REGIMENTS by English reckoning); right opposite those 10,000 Horse of Contades's, the sight of whom seems to be very animating to them. The English CavaIry stand on the right wing, at the Village of Hartum: Lord George Sackville had not been very punctual in saddling at 1 o'clock; but he is there, ranked on the ground, at 8, --in what humor nobody knows; sulky and flabby, I should rather guess. English Tourists, idle otherwise, may take a look at Hartum on the south side, as the spot where a very ugly thing occurred that day.
"Soon after 8 the Fight begins: attack, by certain Hessians, on Hahlen and its batteries; attempt to drive the French out of Hahlen, as the first thing,--which does not succeed at once (indeed took three attacks in all); and perhaps looks rather tedious to those Six English Battalions. Ferdinand's order to them was, 'You shall march up to attack, you Six, on sound of drum;' but, it seems, they read it, 'BY sound of drum;' 'Beating our own drums; yes, of course!'--and, being weary of this Hahlen work, or fancying they had no concern with it, strode on, double-quick, without waiting for Hahlen at all! To the horror of their Hanoverian comrades, who nevertheless determined to follow as second line. 'The Contades cross-fire of artillery, battery of 30 guns on one flank, of 36 on the other, does its best upon this forward-minded Infantry, but they seem to heed it little; walk right forward; and, to the astonishment of those French Horse and of all the world, entirely break and ruin the charge made on them, and tramp forward in chase of the same. The 10,000 Horse feel astonished, insulted; and rush out again, furiously charging; the English halt and serry themselves: 'No fire till they are within forty paces;' and then such pouring torrents of it as no horse or man can endure. Rally after rally there is, on the part of those 10,000; mass after mass of them indignantly plunges on,--again, ever again, about six charges in all;--but do not break the English lines: one of them (regiment Mestrede-Camp, raised to a paroxysm) does once get through, across the first line, but is blown back in dreadful circumstances by the second. After which they give it up, as a thing that cannot be done. And rush rearward, hither, thither, the whole seventy-five squadrons of them; and 'between their two wings of infantry are seen boiling in complete disorder.'
"This has lasted about an hour: this is essentially the soul of the Fight,--though there wanted not other activities, to right of it and to left, on both sides; artilleries going at a mighty rate on both wings; and counter-artilleries (superlative practice 'by Captain Phillips' on OUR right wing); Broglio cannonading Wangenheim very loudly, but with little harm done or suffered, on their right wing. Wangenheim is watchful of that gap between Ferdinand and him, till it close itself sufficiently. Their right- wing Infantry did once make some attempt there; but the Prussian Horse--(always a small body of Prussians serve in this Allied Army)--shot out, and in a brilliant manner swept them home again.
PLAN OF BATTLE HERE--PAGE 239, BOOK X1X---------------
Artillery and that pretty charge of Prussian Horse are all one remembers, except this of the English and Hanover Foot in the centre: 'an unsurpassable thing,' says Tempelhof (though it so easily might have been a fatal!)--which has set Contades's centre boiling, and reduced Contades altogether to water, as it were. Contades said bitterly: 'I have seen what I never thought to be possible,--a single line of infantry break through three lines of cavalry ranked in order of battle, and tumble them to ruin!' [Stenzel, v. 204.]
"This was the feat, this hour's work in the centre, the essential soul of the Fight:--and had Lord George Sackville, General of the Horse, come on when galloped for and bidden, here had been such a ruin, say all judges, as seldom came upon an Army. Lord George--everlasting disgrace and sorrow on the name of him--could not see his way to coming on; delayed, haggled; would not even let Granby, his lieutenant, come; not for a second Adjutant, not for a third; never came on at all; but rode to the Prince, asking, 'How am I to come on?' Who, with a politeness I can never enough admire, did not instantly kill him, but answered, in mild tone, 'Milord, the opportunity is now past!' Whereby Contades escaped ruin, and was only beaten. By about 10 in the morning all was over. When a man's centre is gone to water, no part of him is far from the fluid state. Contades retreated into his rabbit-hole by those nineteen bridges,--well tormented, they say, by Captain Phillips's artillery, till he got beyond the knolls again. Broglio, who had never been in musket-fire at all, but had merely barked on Wangenheim all morning, instead of biting, covered the retreat, and withdrew into Minden. And we are a beaten Army,--thanks to Lord George, not an annihilated one. Our loss being only 7,086 (with heavy guns, colors, cavalry flags and the like); theirs being 2,822,--full half of it falling on those rash Six Battalions. [Mauvillon, ii. 44-60; Tempelhof, iii. 154-179, &c. &c.: and
"And what is this one hears from Gohfeld in the evening? The Hereditary Prince, busy there on us during the very hours of Minden, has blown our rear-guard division to the winds there;--and we must move southward, one and all of us, without a moment's delay! Out of this rabbit-hole the retreat by rearward is through a difficult country, the Westphalian Gates so called; fatal to Varus's Legions long ago. Contades got under way that very night; lost most of his baggage, all his conquests, that shadow-conquest of Hanover, and more than all his glories (Versailles shrieking on him, 'Resign you; let Broglio be chief,);--and, on the whole, jumbled homeward hither and thither, gravitating towards the Rhine, nothing but Wesel to depend on in those parts, as heretofore. Broglio retreated Frankfurt-way, also as usual, though not quite so far; and at Versailles had clearly the victory. Zealous Belleisle could not protect his Contades; it is not known whether he privately blamed Contades or blamed Broglio for loss of Minden. Zealous old man, what a loss to himself withal had Minden been! That shadow-conquest of Hanover is quite vanished: and worse, in Ferdinand's spoil were certain LETTERS from Belleisle to Contades, inculcating strange things;--for example, 'IL FAUT FAIRE UN DESERT DU PAYS [all Hessen, I think, lest Ferdinand advance on you] DEVANT L'ARMEE,' and the like. Which Ferdinand saw good to publish, and which resounded rather hideously through the general mind." [Were taken at Detmold (Tempelhof, iii. 223); Old Newspapers full of Excerpts from them, in the weeks following.]
Ignominious Sackville was tried by Court-martial; cashiered, declared incapable of again serving his Majesty "in any military capacity;"--perhaps a mild way of signifying that he wanted the common courage of a soldier? Zealous Majesty, always particular in soldier matters, proclaimed it officially to be "a sentence worse than death;" and furthermore, with his own royal hand, taking the pen himself, struck out Sackville from the List of Privy- Councillors. Proper surely, and indispensable;--and should have been persisted in, like Fate; which, in a new Reign, it was not! For the rest, there was always, and is, something of enigma in Sackville's palpably bad case. It is difficult to think that a Sackville wanted common courage. This Sackville fought duels with propriety; in private life, he was a surly, domineering kind of fellow, and had no appearance of wanting spirit. It is known, he did not love Duke Ferdinand; far from it! May not he have been of peculiarly sour humor that morning, the luckless fool; sulky against Ferdinand, and his "saddling at one o'clock;" sulky against himself, against the world and mankind; and flabbily disinclined to heroic practices for the moment? And the moment came; and the man was not there, except in that foggy, flabby and forever ruinous condition! Archenholtz, alone of Writers, judges that he expressly wanted to spoil the Battle of Minden and Ferdinand's reputation, and to get appointed Commander in his stead. Wonderful; but may have some vestige of basis, too! True, this Sackville was as fit to lead the courses of the stars as to lead armies. But such a Sackville has ambition, and, what is fatally more peculiar to him, a chance for unfolding it;--any blockhead has an ambition capable, if you encourage it sufficiently, of running to the infinite. Enough of this particular blockhead; and may it be long before we see his like again!--
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