when thousand of miles apart—perhaps—I should have—I
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.
"To all appearance: it was once some big Island or chain of Islands in the Oder deluges: it is still cut with sudden hollows,--KUHGRUND (Cow-Hollow), TIEFE WEG (Deep Way), and westernmost of all, and most important for us here, HOHLE GRUND (Big Hollow, let us call it; 'LOUDON'S Hollow' people subsequently called it);--and is everywhere strangely tumbled up into knolls blunt or sharp, the work of primeval Oder in his rages. In its highest knolls,--of which let readers note specially the Spitzberg, the Muhlberg, the Judenberg,--it rises nowhere to 150 feet; perhaps the general height of it may be about 100. On each side of it, especially on the north, the Country is of most intricate character: bushy, scraggy, with brooklets or muddy oozings wandering about, especially with a thing called the HUNERFLIESS (Hen-Floss), which springs in the eastern woods, and has inconceivable difficulty to get into Oder,--if it get at all! This was a sore Floss to Friedrich to-morrow. Hen-Floss struggles, painfully meandering and oozing, along the northern side (sometimes close, sometimes not) of our Chain of Knolls: along the south side of it (in our time, through the middle of it) goes the Highway to Reppen ["From that Highway will his attack come!" thought the Russians, always till to-day]: on the north, to Leissow, to Trettin," where Friedrich is now on survey, "go various wheel-tracks, but no firm road. A most intricate unlovely Country. Withered bent-grasses, heath, perhaps gorse, and on both sides a great deal of straggling Forest-wood, reaching eastward, and especially southward, for many miles.
"For the rest," to our ill-luck in this place, "the Battlefield of Kunersdorf has had a peculiar fate in the world; that of being blown away by the winds! The then scene of things exists no longer; the descriptions in the Old Books are gone hopelessly irrecognizable. In our time, there is not anywhere a tract more purely of tumbled sand, than all this between Kunersdorf and Dam Vorstadt; and you judge, without aid of record or tradition, that it is greatly altered for the worse since Friedrich's time,--some rabbit-colony, or other the like insignificancy, eating out the roots, till all vegetation died, and the wind got hold and set it dancing;--and that, in 1759, when Russian human beings took it for a Camp, it must have been at least coherent, more or less; covered, held together by some film of scrubby vegetation; not blowing about in every wind as now! Kunersdorf stands with its northern end pushed into that KUHGRUND (Cow-Hollow); which must then have been a grassy place. Eastward of Kunersdorf the ground has still some skin of peat, and sticks together: but westward, all that three miles, it is a mere tumult of sand-hills, tumbled about in every direction (so diligent have the conies been, and then the winds); no gullet, or definite cut or hollow, now traceable anywhere, but only an endless imbroglio of twisted sand-heaps and sand-hollows, which continually alter in the wind-storms. Sand wholly, and--except the strong paved Highway that now runs through it (to Reppen, Meseritz and the Polish Frontier, and is strongly paved till it get through Kunersdorf)--chaotic wholly; a scene of heaped barrenness and horror, not to be matched but in Sahara; the features of the Battle quite blown away, and indecipherable in our time.
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