"I cannot think of the bombardment of Dresden without horror," says he; "nor of many other things I have seen. Misfortunes naturally sour men's temper [even royal men's]; and long continued, without interval, at last extinguish humanity." "We are now in a most critical and dangerous situation, which cannot long last: one lucky event, approaching to a miracle, may still save all: but the extreme caution and circumspection of Marshal Daun--!" [Mitchell, ii. 184, 185.]
If Daun could be swift, and end the miseries of Dresden, surely Dresden would be much obliged to him. It was ten days yet, after that of the Kreuz-Kirche, before Dresden quite got rid of its Siege: Daun never was a sudden man. By a kind of accident, he got Holstein hustled across the River that first night (July 19th),-- not annihilated, as was very feasible, but pushed home, out of his way. Whereby the North side of Dresden is now open; and Daun has free communication with Maguire.
Maguire rose thereupon to a fine pitch of spirits; tried several things, and wished Daun to try; but with next to no result. For two days after Holstein's departure, Daun sat still, on his safe Northern shore; stirring nothing but his own cunctations and investigations, leaving the bombardment, or cannonade, to take its own course. One attempt he did make in concert with Maguire (night of Monday 21st), and one attempt only, of a serious nature; which, like the rest, was unsuccessful. And would not be worth mentioning,--except for the poor Regiment BERNBURG'S sake; Bernburg having got into strange case in consequence of it.
"This Attempt [night of 21st-22d July] was a combined sally and assault--Sally by Maguire's people, a General Nugent heading them, from the South or Plauen side of Dresden, and Assault by 4,000 of Daun's from the North side--upon Friedrich's Trenches. Which are to be burst in upon in this double way, and swept well clear, as may be expected. Friedrich, however, was aware of the symptoms, and had people ready waiting,--especially, had Regiment BERNBURG, Battalions 1st and 2d; a Regiment hitherto without stain.
"Bernburg accordingly, on General Nugent's entering their trenches from the south side, falls altogether heartily on General Nugent; tumbles him back, takes 200 prisoners, Nudent himself one of them [who is considered to have been the eye of the enterprise, worth many hundreds this night] all this Bernburg, in its usually creditable manner, does, as expected of it. But after, or during all this, when the Dann people from the north come streaming in, say four to one, both south and north, Bernburg looked round for support; and seeing none, had, after more or less of struggle, to retire as a defeated Bernburg,--Austrians taking the battery, and ruling supreme there for some time. Till Wedell, or somebody with fresh Battalions, came up; and, rallying Bernburg to him, retook their Battery, and drove out the Austrians, with a heavy loss of prisoners. [Tempelhof, iv. 79.]
"I did not hear that Bernburg's conduct was liable to the least fair censure. But Friedrich's soul is severe at this time; demanding miracles from everybody: 'You runaway Bernburg, shame on you!'--and actually takes the swords from them, and cuts off their Hat-tresses: 'There!' Which excited such an astonishment in the Prussian Army as was seldom seen before. And affected Bernburg to the length almost of despair, and breaking of heart,--in a way that is not ridiculous to me at all, but beautiful and pathetic. Of which there is much talk, now and long afterwards, in military circles. 'The sorrows of these poor Bernburgers, their desperate efforts to wash out this stigma, their actual washing of it out, not many weeks hence, and their magnificent joy on the occasion,-- these are the one distinguishing point in Daun's relief of Dresden, which was otherwise quite a cunctatory, sedentary matter."
Daun built three Bridges,--he had a broad stone one already,--but did little or nothing with them; and never himself came across at all. Merely shot out nocturnal Pandour Parties, and ordered up Lacy and the Reichsfolk to do the like, and break the night's rest of his Enemy. He made minatory movements, one at least, down the River, by his own shore, on Friedrich's Ammunition-Boats from Torgau, and actually intercepted certain of them, which was something; but, except this, and vague flourishings of the Pandour kind, left Friedrich to his own course.
Friedrich bombarded for a day or two farther; cannonaded, out of more or fewer batteries, for eight, or I think ten days more. Attacks from Daun there were to be, now on this side, now on that; many rumors of attack, but, except once only (midnight Pandours attempting the King's lodging, "a Farm-house near Gruna," but to their astonishment rousing the whole Prussian Army "in the course of three minutes" [Archenholtz, ii. 81 (who is very vivid, but does not date); Rodenbeck, ii. 24 (quotes similar account by another Eye-witness, and guesses it to be "night of July 22d-23d").]), rumor was mainly all. For guarding his siege-lines, Friedrich has to alter his position; to shift slightly, now fronting this way, now the other way; is "called always at midnight" (against these nocturnal disturbances), and "never has his clothes off." Nevertheless, continues his bombardment, and then his cannonading, till his own good time, which I think is till the 26th. His "ricochet-battery," which is good against Maguire's people, innocent to Dresden, he continued for three days more;--while gathering his furnitures about Plauen Country, making his arrangements at Meissen;--did not march till the night of June 29th. Altogether calmly; no Daun or Austrian molesting him in the least; his very sentries walking their rounds in the trenches till daylight; after which they also marched, unmolested, Meissen-ward.