Weistritz or Schweidnitz Water is a biggish muddy stream in that part; gushing and eddying; not voiceless, vexed by mills and their weirs. Some firing there was from Croats in the lower houses of the Village, and they had a cannon at the farther bridge-end; but they were glad to get away, and vanish in the night; muddy Weistritz singing hoarse adieu to their cannon and them. Prussian grenadiers plunged indignant into the houses; made short work of the musketries there. In few minutes every Croat and Austrian was across, or silenced otherwise too well; Prussian cannon now going in the rear of them, and continuing to go,--such had been the order, "till the powder you have is done." Fire of musketry and occasional cannon lasts all night, from the Lissa or Prussian side of the River,--"lest they burn this Bridge, or attempt some mischief." A thing far from their thoughts, in present circumstances.
The Prussian host at Saara, hearing these noises, took to its arms again; and marched after the King. Thick darkness; silence; tramp, tramp:--a Prussian grenadier broke out, with solemn tenor voice again, into Church-Music; a known Church-Hymn, of the homely TE-DEUM kind; in which five-and-twenty thousand other voices, and all the regimental bands, soon join:--
"Nun dunket alle Gott Mit Herzen, Mund und Handen, Der grosse Dinge thut An uns und allen Enden." [Muller, p. 48.]
"Now thank God, one and all, With heart, with voice, with hands-a, Who wonders great hath done To us and to all lands-a."
And thus they advance; melodious, far-sounding, through the hollow Night, once more in a highly remarkable manner. A pious people, of right Teutsch stuff, tender though stout; and, except perhaps Oliver Cromwell's handful of Ironsides, probably the most perfect soldiers ever seen hitherto. Arriving at the end of Lissa, and finding all safe as it should be there, they make their bivouac, their parallelogram of two lines, miles long across the fields, left wing resting on Lissa, right on Guckerwitz; and--having, I should think, at least tobacco to depend on, with abundant stick- fires, and healthy joyful hearts--pass the night in a thankful, comfortable manner.
Leuthen was the most complete of all Friedrich's victories; two hours more of daylight, as Friedrich himself says, and it would have been the most decisive of this century. [ OEuvres de Frederic, iv. 167.] As it was, the ruin of this big Army, 80,000 against 30,000, ["89,200 was the Austrian strength before the Battle" (deduct the Garrisons of Schweidnitz and Liegnitz): Preuss, ii. 109 (from the STAFF-OFFICERS).] was as good as total; and a world of Austrian hopes suddenly collapsed; and all their Silesian Apparatus, making sure of Silesia beyond an IF, was tumbled into wreck,--by this one stroke it had got, smiting the corner-stone of it as if with unexpected lightning. On the morrow after Leuthen, Friedrich laid siege to Breslau; Karl had left a garrison of 17,000 in it, and a stout Captain, one Sprecher, determined on defence: such interests hung on Breslau, such immensities of stores were in it, had there been nothing else. Friedrich, pushing with all his strength, in spite of bad weather and of Sprecher's industrious defence, got it in twelve days. [7th-19th December: DIARIUM, &c. of it in Helden- Geschichte, iv. 955-961.] Sprecher had posted placards on the gallows and up and down, terrifically proclaiming that any man convicted of mentioning surrender should be instantly hanged: but Friedrich's bombardment was strong, his assaults continual; and the ditches were threatening to freeze. On the seventh day of the siege, a Laboratorium blew up; on the ninth, a Powder-Magazine, carrying a lump of the rampart away with it. Sprecher had to capitulate: Prisoners of War, we 17,000; our cannons, ammunitions (most opulent, including what we took from Bevern lately); these, we and Breslau altogether, alas, it is all yours again. Liegnitz Garrison, seeing no hope, consented to withdraw on leave. [26th December: Helden-Geschichte, iv. 1016.] Schweidnitz cannot be besieged till Spring come: except Schweidnitz, Maria Theresa, the high Kaiserinn, has no foot of ground in Silesia, which she thought to be hers again. Gone utterly, Patents and all; Schweidnitz alone waiting till spring. To the lively joy of Silesia in general; to the thrice- lively sorrow and alarm of certain individuals, leading Catholic Ecclesiastics mainly, who had misread the signs of the times in late months! There is one Schaffgotsch, Archbishop or head-man of them, especially, who is now in a bad way. Never was such royal favor; never such ingratitude, say the Books at wearisome length. Schaffgotsch was a showy man of quality, nephew of the quondam Austrian Governor, whom Friedrich, across a good deal of Papal and other opposition, got pushed into the Catholic Primacy, and took some pains to make comfortable there,--Order of the Black Eagle, guest at Potsdam, and the like;--having a kind of fancy for the airy Schaffgotsch, as well as judging him suitable for this Silesian High-Priesthood, with his moderate ideas and quality ways,--which I have heard were a little dissolute withal. To the whole of which Schaffgotsch proved signally traitorous and ingrate; and had plucked off the Black Eagle (say the Books, nearly breathless over such a sacrilege) on some public occasion, prior to Leuthen, and trampled it under his feet, the unworthy fellow. Schaffgotsch's pathetic Letter to Friedrich, in the new days posterior to Leuthen, and Friedrich's contemptuous inexorable answer, we could give, but do not: why should we? O King, I know your difficulties, and what epoch it is. But, of a truth, your airy dissolute Schaffgotsch, as a grateful "Archbishop and Grand-Vicar," is almost uglier to me than as a Traitor ungrateful for it; and shall go to the Devil in his own way! They would not have him in Austria; he was not well received at Rome; happily died before long. [Preuss, ii. 113, 114; Kutzen, pp. 12, 155-160, for the real particculars.] Friedrich was not cruel to Schaffgotsch or the others, contemptuously mild rather; but he knew henceforth what to expect of them, and slightly changed this and that in his Silesian methods in consequence.
Of Prince Karl let us add a word. On the morrow after Leuthen, Captain Prince de Ligne and old Papa D'Ahremberg could find little or no Army; they stept across to Grabschen, a village on the safe side of the Lohe, and there found Karl and Daun: "rather silent, both; one of them looking, 'Who would have thought it!' the other, 'Did n't I tell you?'"--and knowing nothing, they either, where the Army was. Army was, in fact, as yet nowhere. "Croat fellows, in this Farmstead of ours," says De Ligne, "had fallen to shooting pigeons." The night had been unusually dark; the Austrian Army had squatted into woods, into office-houses, farm-villages, over a wide space of country; and only as the day rose, began to dribble in. By count, they are still 50,000; but heart-broken, beaten as men seldom were. "What sound is that?" men asked yesterday at Brieg, forty miles off; and nobody could say, except that it was some huge Battle, fateful of Silesia and the world. Breslau had it louder; Breslau was still more anxious. "What IS all that?" asked somebody (might be Deblin the Shoemaker, for anything I know) of an Austrian sentry there: "That? That is the Prussians giving us such a beating as we never had." What news for Deblin the Shoemaker, if he is still above ground!--
"Prince Karl, gathering his distracted fragments, put 17,000 into Breslau by way of ample garrison there; and with the rest made off circuitously for Schweidnitz; thence for Landshut, and down the Mountains, home to Konigsgratz,--self and Army in the most wrecked condition. Chased by Ziethen; Ziethen (sticking always to the hocks of them,' as Friedrich eagerly enjoins on him; or sometimes it is, 'sitting on the breeches of them:' for about a fortnight to come. [Eleven Royal Autographs: in Blumenthal, Life of De Ziethen (ii. 94-111), a feeble incorrect Translation of them.] Ziethen took 2,000 prisoners; no end of baggages, of wagons left in the difficult places: wild weather even for Ziethen, still more for Karl, among the Silesian-Bohemian Hill-roads: heavy rains, deep muds, then sudden glass, with cutting snow- blasts: 'An Army not a little dilapidated,' writes Prince Karl, almost with tears in his eyes; (Army without linens, without clothes; in condition truly sad and pitiable; and has always, so close are the enemy, to encamp, though without tents.' [Kutzen, p. 134 ("Prince Karl to the Kaiser, December 14th").]. Did not get to Konigsgratz, and safe shelter, for ten days more. Counted, at Konigsgratz in the Christmas time, 37,000 rank and file,--'22,000 of whom are gone to hospital,' by the Doctor's report.