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“Certainly not, madam!” replied the proud explainer

time:2023-11-29 12:35:19Classification:meatedit:rna

We left Friedrich in the Lebus Suburb of Frankfurt, Sunday, August 20th, listening to the distant cannonade. Next morning, he is here himself; at Dohna's Camp of Gorgast, taking survey of affairs; came early, under rapid small escort, leaving his Army to follow; scorn and contemptuous indignation the humor of him, they say; resolution to be swiftly home upon that surprising Russian armament, and teach it new manners. The black skeleton of Custrin stares hideously across the River; "Custrin Siege" so called still going on;--had better make despatch now, and take itself away! He greatly despises Russian soldiership: "Pooh, pooh," he would answer, if Keith from experience said, "Your Majesty does not do it justice;"--and Keith has been known to hint, "If the trial ever come, your Majesty will alter that opinion." A day or two hence, amid these hideous Russian fire-traceries, the Hussars bring him a dozen of Cossacks they have made prisoners: Friedrich looks at the dirty green vagabonds; says to one of his Staff: "And this is the kind of Doggery I have to bother with!"--The sight of the poor country-people, and their tears of joy and of sorrow on his reappearance among them, much affected him. Taking inspection of Dohna, he finds Dohna wonderfully clean, pipe-clayed, complete: "You are very fine indeed, you;--I bring you a set of fellows, rough as GRASTEUFELN ["grass-devils," I never know whether insects or birds]; but they can bite,"--hope you can!

“Certainly not, madam!” replied the proud explainer

Tuesday, August 32d, at five in the morning our Army has all arrived, the Frankfurt people just come in; 30,000 of us now in Camp at Gorgast. Friedrich orders straightway that a certain Russian Redoubt on the other side of the River, at Schaumburg, a mile or two down stream, be well cannonaded into ruin,--as if he took it for some incipiency of a Russian Bridge, or were himself minded to cross here, under cover of Custrin. Friedrich's intention very certainly is to cross,--here or not just here;--and that same night, after some hours of rest to the Frankfurt people,--night of Tuesday-Wednesday, Friedrich, having persuaded the Russians that his crossing-place will be their Redoubt at Schaumburg, marches ten or twelve miles down the River, silently his 30,000 and he, till opposite the Village of Gustebiese; rapidly makes his Bridges there, unmolested: Fermor, with his eye on the cannonaded Redoubt only, has expected no such matter; and is much astonished when he hears of it, twenty hours after. Friedrich, across with the vanguard, at an early hour of Wednesday, gets upon the knoll at Gustebiese for a view; and all Gustebiese, hearing of him, hurries out, with low-voiced tremulous blessings, irrepressible tears: "God reward your Majesty, that have come to us!"--and there is a hustling and a struggling, among the women especially, to kiss the skirts of his coat. Poor souls: one could have stood tremendous cheers; but this is a thing I forgive Friedrich for being visibly affected with.

“Certainly not, madam!” replied the proud explainer

Friedrich leaves his baggage on the other side of the Oder, and the Bridge guarded; our friend Hordt, with his Free-Corps, doing it, Friedrich marches forward some ten miles that night; eastward, straight for Gross Kamin, as if to take the Russians in rear; encamps at a place called Klossow, spreading himself obliquely towards the Mutzel (black sluggish tributary of the Oder in those parts), meaning to reach Neu Damm on the Mutzel to-morrow, there almost within wind of the Russians, and be ready for crossing on them. It was at Klossow (23d August, evening), that the Hussars brought in their dozen or two of Cossacks, and he had his first sight of Russian soldiery; by no means a favorable one, "Ugh, only look!"--As we are now approaching Zorndorf, and the monstrous tug of Battle which fell out there, readers will be glad of the following:--

“Certainly not, madam!” replied the proud explainer

"From Damm on the Mutzel, where Friedrich intends crossing it to-morrow night, south to Gross Kamin, not far from the Warta, where Fermor's head-quarter lately was, may be about five miles. From Custrin, Kamin lies northeast about eight or ten miles: Zorndorf, the most considerable Village in this tract, lies--little dreaming of the sad glory coming to it--pretty much in the centre between big Warta and smaller Mutzel. The Country is by nature a peat wilderness, far and wide; but it has been tamed extensively; grows crops, green pastures; is elsewhere covered with wood (Scotch fir, scraggy in size, but evidently under forest management); perhaps half the country is in Fir tracts, what they call HEIDEN (Heaths); the cultivated spaces lying like light-green islands with black-green channels and expanses of circumambient Fir. The Drewitz Heath, the Massin or Zither Heath, and others about Zorndorf, will become notable to us. The Country is now much drier than in Friedrich's time; the human spade doing its duty everywhere: so that much of the Battle-ground has become irrecognizable, when compared with the old marshy descriptions given of it. Zorndorf, a rough substantial Hamlet, has nothing of boggy now visible near by; lies east to west, a firm broad highway leading through: a sea of forest before it, to south; to north, good dry barley-grounds or rye-grounds, sensibly rising for half a mile, then waving about in various slow slight changes of level towards Quartschen, Zicher, &c.: forming an irregular cleared 'island,' altogether of perhaps four miles by three, with unlimited circumambiencies of wood. It was here, on this island as we call it, that the Battle, which has made Zorndorf famous, was fought.

"Zorndorf (or even the open ground half a mile to north of it, which will be more important to us) is probably not 50 feet above the level of the Mutzel, nor 100 above Warta and Oder, six miles off; but it is the crown of the Country;--the ground dropping therefrom every way, in lazy dull waves or swells; towards Tamsel and Gross Kamin on southeast; towards Birken-Busch, Quartschen, Darmutzel [DAR of the Mutzel, whatever "DAR" may be.] on northwest; as well as towards Damm and its Bridge northeast, where Friedrich will soon be, and towards Custrin southwest, where he lately was, each a five or six miles from Zorndorf.

"Such is the poor moorland tract of Country; Zorndorf the centre of it,--where the battle is likely to be:--Zorndorf and environs a bare quasi-island among these woods; extensive bald crown of the landscape, girt with a frizzle of firwoods all round. Boggy pools there are, especially on the western side (all drained in our time). Mutzel, or north side, is of course the lowest in level: and accordingly," what is much to be marked by readers here, "from the south, or Zorndorf side, at wide intervals, there saunter along, in a slow obscure manner, Three miserable continuous Leakages, or oozy Threads of Water, all making for Quartschen, to north or northwest, there to disembogue into the Mutzel. Each of these has its little Hollow; of which the westernmost, called Zabern Hollow (ZABERNGRUND), is the most considerable, and the most important to us here: GALGENGRUND (Gallows-Hollow) is also worth naming in this Battle; the third Leakage, though without importance, invites us to name it, HOSEBRUCH, quasi STOCKING- quagmire,--because you can use no stockings there, except with manifest disadvantage."--Take this other concluding trait:--

... "Inexpressible fringe of marsh, two or three miles broad, mostly bottomless, woven with sluggish creeks and stagnant pools, borders the Warta for many miles towards Landsberg; Custrin-Landsberg Causeway the alone sure footing in it; after which, the country rises insensibly, but most beneficially, and is mainly drier till you get to the Mutzel again, and find the same fringe of mud lace-work again, Zorndorf we called the crown of it. Tamsel, Wilkersdorf, Klein Kamin, Gross Kamin, and other places known to us, lie on the dry turf-fuel country, but looking over close upon the hem of that marsh-fringe, and no doubt getting peats, wild ducks, pike-fishes, eels, and snatches of summer pasture and cow-hay out of it."

Thursday, August 24th, Friedrich is again speeding on; occupying Darmutzel and other crossing-places of the Mutzel; [Mitchell to Holderness, "DErmItzel, 24th August, 1758" (MEMOIRS AND PAPERS, i. 425; Ib. ii. 40-47, Mitchell's Private Journal).]-- by no means himself crossing there; on the contrary, carefully breaking all the Bridges before he go ("No retreat for those Russian vagabonds, only death or surrender for them!")--himself not intending to cross till he be up at Damm, Neu Damm, well eastward of his Russians, and have got them all pinfolded between Mutzel and Oder in that way. In the evening, he reaches Damm and the Mill of Damm, some three or four miles higher up the Mutzel;--and there pushes partly across at once. That is to say, his vanguard at once, and takes a defensive position; his Artillery and other Divisions by degrees, in the silent night hours; and, before daybreak to-morrow, every soul will be across, and the Bridge broken again; --and Fermor had better have his accounts settled.

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