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L.’s daughters, the Colonel, addressing Lady D. aside,

time:2023-11-29 12:26:00Classification:lawedit:ios

Sunday, 20th August, Friedrich, with his small Army, hardly above 15,000 I should guess, arrived at Frankfurt-on-Oder: "his Majesty," it seems, "lodged in the Lebus Suburb, in the house of a Clergyman's Widow; and was observed to go often out of doors, and listen to the cannonading, which was going on at Custrin." [Rodenbeck, i. 347.] From Landshut hither, he has come in nine days; the swiftest marching; a fiery spur of indignation being upon all his men and him, for the last two days fierier than ever,-- longing all to have a blow at those incendiary Russian gentlemen. Five days ago, the Russians, attempting blindly on the Garrison of Custrin, had burnt,--nothing of the Garrison at all,--but the poor little Town altogether. Which has filled everybody with lamentation and horror. And, listen yonder, they are still busy on the solitary Garrison of Custrin;--audible enough to Friedrich from his northern or Lebus Suburb, which lies nearest the place, at a distance of some twenty miles.

L.’s daughters, the Colonel, addressing Lady D. aside,

Of Fermor's red-hot savagery on Custrin, it is lamentably necessary we should say something: to say much would he a waste of record; as the thing itself was a waste of powder. A thing hideous to think of; without the least profit to Fermor, but with total ruin to all the inhabitants, and to the many strangers who had sought refuge there. One interior circumstance is memorable and lucky to us. Artillery-Captain Tielcke happened to be with these people; had come in the train of "two Saxon Princes, serving as volunteers;" and, with a singular lucidity, and faithful good sense, not scientific alone, he illuminates these biack Russian matters for such as have to do with them.

L.’s daughters, the Colonel, addressing Lady D. aside,

Tielcke's Book of Contributions to the Art of War [ Beytrage zur Kriege-Kunst und (ZUR) Geschichte des Krieges von 1756 bis 1763 (six thin vols. 4to, with many Plates); cited above.] is still in repute with Soldiers, especially in the Artillery line; and indeed shows a sound geometrical head, and contains bits of excellent Historical reading interspersed among the scientific parts. This Tielcke, it appears, was a common foot-soldier, one of those Pirna 14,000 made Prussian against their will; but Tielcke had a milkmaid for sweetheart in those regions, who, good soul, gave him her generous farewell, a suit of her clothes, perhaps a pair of her pails; and in that guise he walked out of bondage. Clear away; to Warsaw, to favor with the King and others (being of real merit, an excellent, studious, modest little man); and here he now reappears, in a higher capacity; as articulate Eye-witness of the Custrin Business and the Zorndorf, among much other Russian darkness, which shall remain comfortably blank to us.

L.’s daughters, the Colonel, addressing Lady D. aside,

Up to Custrin, the Journal of the Operations of the Russian Army, which I could give from day to day, ["TAGEBUCH BEYDER &c. (Diary of both Armies from the beginning of the Campaign till Zorndorf"), in Tielcke, ii. 1-75; Tempelhof, ii. 136, 216-224; Helden- Geschichte, v.; &c. &c.] is of no interest except to the Nether Powers of this Universe; the Russian Operations hitherto having consisted in slow marches, sluttish cookeries, cantonings, bivouackings, with destruction of a poor innocent Country, and arson, theft and murder done on the great scale by inhuman vagabonds, Cossacks so called, not tempered on this occasion by the mercy of Calmucks. The regular Russian Army, it appears, participates in the common horror of mankind against such a method of making war; but neither Feldmarschall Fermor, nor General Demikof (properly THEMICOUD, a Swiss, deserving little thanks from us, who has taken in hand to command these Missionaries of the Pit), can help the results above described. Which are justly characterized as abominable, to gods and men; and not fit to be recorded in human Annals; execration, and, if it were possible, oblivion, being the human resource with them., The Russian Officers, it seems, despise tbis Cossack rabble incredibly; for their fighting qualities withal are close on zero, though their talent for arson and murder is so considerable. And contrariwise, the Cossacks, for their part, have no objection to plunder, or even, if obstreperous, to kill, any regular Officer they may meet unescorted in a good place. Their talent for arson is great. They do uncountable damage to the Army itself; provoking all the Country people to destroy by fire what could be eaten or used, the foraging, food and equipments of horse and man; so that horse and man have to be fed by victual carted hundreds of miles out of Poland; and the Russian Army sticks, as it were, tethered with a welter of broken porridge-pots and rent meal-bags hung to every foot it has.

East Preussen is quiet from the storms of War; holds its tongue well, and hopes better days: but the Russians themselves are little the better for it, a country so lately burned bare; they are merely flung so many scores of miles forward, farther from home and their real resources, before they can begin work, They have no port on the Baltic: poor blockheads, they are aware how desirable, for instance, Dantzig would be; to help feeding them out of ships; but the Dantzigers won't. Colberg, a poor little place, with only 700 militia people in it, would be of immense service to them as a sea-haven: but even this they have not yet tried to get; and after trying, they will find it a job. "Why not unite with the Swedes and take Stettin (the finest harbor in the Baltic), which would bring Russia, by ships, to your very hand?" This is what Montalembert is urgent upon, year after year, to the point of wearying everybody; but he can get no official soul to pay heed to him,--the difficulties are so considerable. "Swedes, what are they?" say the Russians: "Russians what?" say the Swedes. "Sweden would be so handy for the Artilleries," urges Montalembert; "Russians for the Soldiery, or covering and fighting part."--"Can't be done!" Officiality shakes its head: and Montalembert is obliged to be silent.

The Russians have got into the Neumark of Brandenburg, on those bad terms; and are clearly aware that, without some Fortress as a Place of Arms, they are an overgrown Incompetency and Monstrosity in the field of War; doing much destruction, most of which proves self- destructive before long. But how help it? If the carrying of meal so far be difficult what will the carrying of siege-furniture be? A flat impossibility. Fermor, aware of these facts, remembers what happened at Oczakow,--long ago, in our presence, and Keith's and Munnich's, if the reader have not quite forgot. Munnich, on that occasion, took Oczakow without any siege-furniture whatever, by boldly marching up to it; nothing but audacity and good luck on his side. Fermor determines to try Custrin in the like way,--if peradventure Prussian soldiery be like Turk?--

Fermor rose from Posen August 2d, almost three weeks ago; making daily for the Neumark and those unfortunate Oder Countries; nobody but Dohna to oppose him,--Dohna in the ratio of perhaps one against four. Dohna naturally laid hold of Frankfurt and the Oder Bridge, so that Fermor could not cross there; whereupon Fermor, as the next best thing, struck northward for the Warta (black Polish stream, last big branch of Oder); crossed this, at his ease, by Landsberg Bridge, August 10th [Tempelhof, ii. 216.] and after a day or two of readjustment in Landsberg, made for Custrin Country (his next head-quarter is at Gross Kamin); hoping in some accidental or miraculous way to cross Oder thereabouts, or even get hold of Custrin as a Place of Arms. If peradventure he can take Custrin without proper siege-artillery, in the Oczakow or Anti-Turk way? Fermor has been busy upon Custrin since August 15th;--in what fashion we partly heard, and will now, from authentic sources, see a little for ourselves.

The Castle of Custrin, built by good Johann of Custrin, and "roofed with copper," in the Reformation times,--we know it from of old, and Friedrich has since had some knowledge of it. Custrin itself is a rugged little Town, with some moorland traffic, and is still a place of great military strength, the garrison of those parts. Its rough pavements, its heavy stone battlements and barriers, give it a guarled obstinate aspect,--stern enough place of exile for a Crown-Prince fallen into such disfavor with Papa! A rugged, compact, by no means handsome little Town, at the meeting of the Warta and the Oder; stands naturally among sedges, willows and drained mire, except that human industry is pleasantly busy upon it, and has long been. So that the neighborhood is populous beyond expectation; studded with rough cottages in white-wash; hamlets in a paved condition; and comfortable signs of labor victoriously wrestling with the wilderness. Custrin, an arsenal and garrison, begirt with two rivers, and with awful bulwarks, and bastions cased in stone,--"perhaps too high," say the learned,--is likely to be impregnable to Russian engineering on those terms. Here, with brevity, is the catastrophe of Custrin.

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