"The Oblique Order, SCHRAGE STELLUNG," let the hasty reader pause to understand, "is an old plan practised by Epaminondas, and revived by Friedrich,--who has tried it in almost all his Battles more or less, from Hohenfriedberg forward to Prag, Kolin, Rossbach; but never could, in all points, get it rightly done till now, at Leuthen, in the highest time of need. "It is a particular manoeuvre," says Archenholtz, rather sergeant-wise, "which indeed other troops are now  in the habit of imitating; but which, up to this present time, none but Prussian troops can execute with the precision and velocity indispensable to it. You divide your line into many pieces; you can push these forward stairwise, so that they shall halt close to one another," obliquely, to either hand; and so, on a minimum of ground, bring your mass of men to the required point at the required angle. Friedrich invented this mode of getting into position; by its close ranking, by its depth, and the manner of movement used, it had some resemblance to the "Macedonian Phalanx,"--chiefly in the latter point, I should guess; for when arrived at its place, it is no deeper than common. "Forming itself in this way, a mass of troops takes up in proportion very little ground; and it shows in the distance, by reason of the mixed uniforms and standards, a totally chaotic mass of men heaped on one another," going in rapid mazes this way and that. "But it needs only that the Commander lift his finger; instantly this living coil of knotted intricacies develops itself in perfect order, and with a speed like that of mountain rivers when the ice breaks,"--is upon its Enemy. [Archenholtz, i. 209.]
"Your Enemy is ranked as here, in long line, three or two to one. You march towards him, but keep him uncertain as to how you will attack; then do on a sudden march up, not parallel to him, but oblique, at an angle of 45 degrees,--swift, vehement, in overpowering numbers, on the wing you have chosen. Roll that wing together, ruined, in upon its own line, you may roll the whole five miles of line into disorder and ruin, and always be in overpowering number at the point of dispute. Provided, only, you are swift enough about it, sharp enough! But extraordinary swiftness, sharpness, precision is the indispensable condition;--by no means try it otherwise; none but Prussians, drilled by an Old Dessauer, capable of doing it. This is the SCHRAGE ORDNUNG, about which there has been such commentating and controversying among military people: whether Friedrich invented it, whether Caesar did it, how Epaminondas, how Alexander at Arbela; how"--Which shall not in the least concern us on this occasion.
The four columns rustled themselves into two, and turned southward on the two sides of Borne;--southward henceforth, for about two hours; as if straight towards the Magic Mountain, the Zobtenberg, far off, which is conspicuous over all that region. Their steadiness, their swiftness and exactitude were unsurpassable. "It was a beautiful sight," says Tempelhof, an eye- witness: "The heads of the columns were constantly on the same level, and at the distance necessary for forming; all flowed on exact, as if in a review. And you could read in the eyes of our brave troops the noble temper they were in." [Tempelhof, i. 288, 287.] I know not at what point of their course, or for how long, but it was from the column nearest him, which is to be first line, that the King heard, borne on the winds amid their field-music, as they marched there, the sound of Psalms,--many-voiced melody of a Church Hymn, well known to him; which had broken out, band accompanying, among those otherwise silent men. The fact is very certain, very strange to me: details not very precise, except that here, as specimen, is a verse of their Hymn:--
"Grant that with zeal and skill, this day, I do What me to do behooves, what thou command'st me to; Grant that I do it sharp, at point of moment fit, And when I do it, grant me good success in it."
One has heard the voice of waters, one has paused in the mountains at the voice of far-off Covenanter psalms; but a voice like this, breaking the commanded silences, one has not heard. "Shall we order that to cease, your Majesty?" "By no means," said the King; whose hard heart seems to have been touched by it, as might well be. Indeed there is in him, in those grim days, a tone as of trust in the Eternal, as of real religious piety and faith, scarcely noticeable elsewhere in his History. His religion, and he had in withered forms a good deal of it, if we will look well, beiug almost always in a strictly voiceless state,--nay, ultra-voiceless, or voiced the wrong way, as is too well known. "By no means!" answered he: and a moment after, said to some one, Ziethen probably: "With men like these, don't you think I shall have victory this day!"
The loss of their Saxon Forepost proved more important to the Austrians than it seemed;--not computable in prisoners, or killed and wounded. The Height named Scheuberg,--"Borne Rise" (so we might call it, which has got its Pillar of memorial since, with gilt Victory atop [Not till 1854 (Kutzen, pp. 194, 195).];--where Friedrich now is and where the Austrians are not, is at once a screen and a point of vision to Friedrich. By loss of their Nostitz Forepost, they had lost view of Friedrich, and never could recover view of him; could not for hours learn distinctly what he was about; and when he did come in sight again, it was in a most unexpected place! On the farther side of Borne, edge of the big expanse of open country there, Friedrich has halted; ridden with his adjutants to the top of "the Scheuberg (Shy-HILL)," as the Books call it, though it is more properly a blunt Knoll or "Rise," --the nearest of a Chain of Knolls, or swells in the ground, which runs from north to south on that part.
Except the Zobtenberg, rising blue and massive, on the southern horizon (famous mythologic Mountain, reminding you of an ARTHUR'S SEAT in shape too, only bigger and solitary), this Country, for many miles round, has nothing that could be called a Hill; it is definable as a bare wide-waving champaign, with slight bumps on it, or slow heavings and sinkings. Country mostly under culture, though it is of sandy quality; one or two sluggish brooks in it; and reedy meres or mires, drained in our day. It is dotted with Hamlets of the usual kind; and has patches of scraggy fir. Your horizon, even where bare, is limited, owing to the wavy heavings of the ground; windmills and church-belfries are your only resource, and even these, from about Leuthen and the Austrian position, leave the Borne quarter mostly invisible to you. Leuthen Belfry, the same which may have stood a hundred years before this Battle, ends in a small tile-roof, open only at the gables:--"Leuthen Belfry," says a recent Tourist, "is of small resource for a view. To south you can see some distance, Sagschutz, Lobetintz and other Hamlets, amid scraggy fir-patches, and meadows, once miry pools; but to north you are soon shut in by a swell or slow rise, with two windmills upon it [important to readers at present]; and to eastward [Breslau side and Lissa side], or to westward [Friedrich's side], one has no view, except of the old warped rafters and their old mouldy tiles within few inches; or, if by audacious efforts at each end, to the risk of your neck, you get a transient peep, it is stopt, far short of Borne, by the slow irregular heavings, with or without fir about them." [Tourist's Note, PENES ME.]
In short, Friedrich keeps possession of that Borne ridge of Knolls, escorted by Cavalry in good numbers; twinkling about in an enigmatic way:--"Prussian right wing yonder," think the Austrians-- "whitherward, or what can they mean?"--and keeps his own columns and the Austrian lines in view; himself and his movements invisible, or worse, to the Austrian Generals from any spy-glass or conjecture they can employ.