About midnight of Saturday-Sunday, there again rose bow-wowing, bellowing of Russian cannon; not from beyond the Zabern ground this time, nor stationary anywhere, but from the south some transient part of it, and not far off;--one ball struck a carriage near the King's tent, and shattered it. Thick mist mantles everything, and it is difficult to know what the Russians have on hand in their sylvan seclusions. After a time, it becomes manifest the Russians are on retreat; winding round, through the southern woods, behind Zorndorf and the charred Villages, to Klein Kamin, Landsberg way. Friedrich, following now on the heel of them, finds all got to Klein Kamin, to breakfast there in their Wagenburg refectory,-- sharply vigilant, many FLECHES (little arrow-shaped redoubts, so named) and much artillery round them. Nothing considerable to be done upon them, now or afterwards, except pick up stragglers, and distress their rear a little. The King himself, in the first movement, was thought to be in alarming peril, such a blaze of case-shot rose upon him, as he went reconnoitring foremost of all. [Tempelhof, ii. 216-238; Tielcke, ii. 79-154; Archenholtz, i. 253-264;
And this was, at last, the end of Zorndorf Battle; on the third day this. Was there ever seen such a fight of Theseus and the Minotaur! Theseus, rapid, dexterous, with Heaven's lightning in his eyes, seizing the Minotaur; lassoing him by the hinder foot, then by the right horn; pouring steel and destruction into him, the very dust darkening all the air. Minotaur refusing to die when killed; tumbling to and fro upon its Theseus; the two lugging and tugging, flinging one another about, and describing figures of 8 round each other for three days before it ended. Minotaur walking off on his own feet, after all. It was the bloodiest battle of the Seven-Years War; one of the most furious ever fought; such rage possessing the individual elements; rage unusual in modern wars. Must have altered Friedrich's notion of the Russians, when he next comes to speak with Keith. It was not till the fourth day hence (August 31st), so unattackably strong was this position at Klein Kamin, that the Russian Minotaur would fairly get to its feet a second time, and slowly stagger off, in real earnest, Landsberg way and Konigsberg way;--Friedrich right glad to leave Dohna in attendance on it; and hasten off (September 2d) towards Saxony and Prince Henri, where his presence is now become very needful.
MAP GOES HERE FACING PAGE 138, BOOK XVIII---------
Fermor, walking off in this manner,--not till the third day, nay not conclusively till the seventh day, after Zorndorf,--strove at first to consider himself victorious. "I passed the night on the field of battle [or NOT far from it, for good reasons, Mutzel being bridgeless]: may not I, in the language of enthusiasm, be considered conqueror? Here are 26 of their cannon, got when I cried 'Arah' prematurely. (Where the 103 pieces of my own are, and my 27 flags, and my Army-chest and sundries? Dropped somewhere; they will probably turn up again!)" thinks Fermor,--or strives to think, and says. So that, at Petersburg, at Paris and Vienna, in the next three weeks, there were TE-DEUMS, Ambrosian chantings, fires-of- joy; and considerable arguing among the Gazetteers on both parts,-- till the dust settled, and facts appeared as they were. To the effect: "TE DEUM non LAUDAMUS; alas no, we must retract; and it was good gunpowder thrown after bad!"
On always homewards, but at its own pace, waited on by Dohna, goes the Russian Monster: violently case-shotting if you prick into its rearward parts. One Palmbach,--under Romanzow, I think, who had not taken part in the Battle, being out Stettin way, and unable to join till now,--Palmbach, with a Detachment of 15,000, which was thought sufficient for the object, did try to make a dash on Colberg,--how happy had we any port on the Baltic, to feed us in this Country! But though Colberg is the paltriest crow's-nest (BICOQUE), according to all engineers, and is defended only by 700 militia (the Colonel of them, one Heyde, a gray old Half-pay, not yet renowned in the soldier world, as he here came to be), Palmbach, with his best diligence, could make nothing of it; but, after battering, bombarding, even scalading, and in all ways blurting and blazing at a mighty rate for four weeks, and wasting a great deal of gunpowder and 2,000 Russian lives, withdrew on those remarkable terms. [In
September 2d, Friedrich, leaving all that, had marched for Saxony; his presence urgently required there. Daun ought to be far on with the conquest of that Country? Might have had it, say judges, if he had been as swift as some.--At Zorndorf, among the Russian Prisoners were certain Generals, Soltikof, Czernichef, Sulkowski the Pole, proud people in their own eyes: no lodging for them but the cellars of Custrin. Russian Generals complained, "Is this a lodging for Field-Officers of rank!" Friedrich was not used to profane swearing, or vituperative outbursts; but he answered to the effect: "Silence, ye incendiary individuals. Is there a choice left of lodgings, and for you above others!" Upon which they lay silent for some days, till better suited; in fact, till exchanged,--and perhaps will soon turn up on us again.
So soon as Friedrich quitted Bohemia and Silesia for his Russian Enterprise, there rose high question at Vienna, "To what shall our Daun now turn himself?" A Daun, a Reichs Army, free for new employment; in Saxony not much to oppose them, in Silesia almost nothing in comparison. "Recapture of Silesia?" Yes truly; that is the steady pole-star at Vienna. But they have no Magazines in Silesia, no Siege-furnitures; and the season is far spent. They decide that there shall be a stroke upon Dresden, and recovery of Saxony, in Friedrich's absence. Nothing there at present but a Prince Henri, weak in numbers, say one to two of the Reichs Army by itself. Let the Reichs Army rise now, and advance through the Metal Mountains from southeast on Prince Henri; let Daun circle round on him, through the Lausitz from northeast: cannot they extinguish Henri between them; snatch Dresden, a weak ill-fortified place, by sudden onslaught, and recapture Saxony? That will be magnanimous to our august Allies;--and that will be an excellent scaffolding for recapture of Silesia next year. And cannot Daun leave a Force in the Silesian vicinities,--Deville with so many thousands, Harsch with so many,--to besiege one of their Frontier Places; Neisse, for example? Siege-furnitures to come from Mahren: Neisse is not farther from Olmutz than Olmutz was from it.
That was the scheme fallen upon; now getting executed while Friedrich is at Zorndorf well away. And that, if readers fix it intelligently in their memory, will suffice to introduce to them the few words more that can be allowed us here upon it. A very few words, compressed to the utmost,--merely as preface to Hochkirch, whither we must hasten; Hochkirch being the one incident which, except to studious soldiers, has now and here any interest, out of the very many incidents which, then and there, were so intensely interesting to all mankind. To readers who are curious, and will take with them any poorest authentic Outline of the Localities concerned, the following condensed Note will not be unintelligible.