"Through the night, the Prussians proceed to build batteries, the best they can;--there is no right siege-artillery yet; a few accidental howitzers and 25-pounders, the rest mere field-guns;-- but to-morrow morning, be as it may, business shall begin. Prince von Holstein [nephew of the Holstein Beck, or "Holstein SILVER-PLATE," whom we lost long ago], from beyond the River, encamped at the White Hart yonder, is to play upon the Neustadt simultaneously.
MONDAY 14th, "At 6 A.M., cannonade began; diligent on Holstein's part and ours; but of inconsiderable effect. Maguire has been summoned: 'Will [with such a garrison, in spite of such trepidations from the Court and others] defend himself to the last man.' Free-Corps people [not Quintus's, who is on the other side of the River], [Tempelhof, v. 67.] with regulars to rear, advance on the Pirna Gate; hurl in Maguire's Out-parties; and had near got in along with them,--might have done so, they and their supports, it is thought by some, had storm seemed the recommendable method.
"For four days there is livelier and livelier cannonading; new batteries getting opened in the Moschinska Garden and other points; on the Prussian part, great longing that the Magdeburg artillery were here. The Prussians are making diligently ready for it, in the mean while (refitting the old Trenches, 'old Envelope' dug by Maguire himself in the Anti-Schmettau time; these will do well enough):--the Prussians reinforce Holstein at the Weisse, Hirsch, throw a new bridge across to him; and are busy day and night. Maguire, too, is most industrious, resisting and preparing: Thursday shuts up the Weistritz Brook (a dam being ready this long while back, needing only to be closed), and lays the whole South side of Dresden under water. Many rumors about Daun: coming, not coming;--must for certain come, but will possibly be slowish."
FRIDAY 18th. "Joy to every Prussian soul: here are the heavy guns from Magdeburg. These, at any rate, are come; beds for them all ready; and now the cannonading can begin in right earnest. As it does with a vengeance. To Mitchell, and perhaps others, 'the King of Prussia says He will now be master of the Town in a few days. And the disposition he has made of his troops on the other side of the River is intended not only to attack Dresden on that side [and defend himself from Daun], but also to prevent the Garrison from retiring. ... This morning, Friday, 18th, the Suburb of Pirna, the one street left of it, was set fire to, by Maguire; and burnt out of the way, as the others had been. Many of the wretched inhabitants had fled to our camp: "Let them lodge in Plauen, no fighting there, quiet artificial water expanses there instead." Many think the Town will not be taken; or that, if it should, it will cost very dear,--so determined seems Maguire. [Mitchell, iii. 170, 171.] And, in effect, from this day onwards, the Siege became altogether fierce, and not only so, but fiery as well; and, though lasting in that violent form only four, or at the very utmost seven, days more, had near ruined Dresden from the face of the world."
SATURDAY, 19th, "Maguire, touched to the quick by these new artilleries of the Prussians this morning, found good to mount a gun or two on the leads of the Kreuz-Kirche [Protestant High Church, where, before now, we have noticed Friedrich attending quasi-divine service more than once];--that is to say, on the crown of Dresden; from which there is view into the bottom of Friedrich's trenches and operations. Others say, it was only two or three old Saxon cannon, which stand there, for firing on gala-days; and that they hardly fired on Friedrich more than once. For certain, this is one of the desirablest battery-stations,--if only Friedrich will leave it alone. Which he will not for a moment; but brings terrific howitzers to bear on it; cannon-balls, grenadoes; tears it to destruction, and the poor Kreuz-Kirche along with it. Kirche speedily all in flames, street after street blazing up round it, again and again for eight-and-forty hours coming; hapless Dresden, during two days and nights, a mere volcano henceforth." "By mistake all that, and without order of mine," says Friedrich once;--meaning, I think, all that of the Kreuz-Kirche: and perhaps wishing he could mean the bombardment altogether, [Schoning, ii. 361 "To Prince Henri, at Giessen [Frankfurt Country], 23d July, 1760."]--who nevertheless got, and gets, most of the credit of the thing from a shocked outside world.
"This morning," same Saturday, 19th, "Daun is reported to have arrived; vanguard of him said to be at Schonfeld, over in THIRSTY- SWEETHEART Country yonder which Friedrich, going to reconnoitre, finds tragically indisputable: 'There, for certain; only five miles from Holstein's post at the WHITE HART, and no River between;--as the crow flies, hardly five from our own Camp. Perhaps it will be some days yet before he do anything?' So that Friedrich persists in his bombardment, only the more: 'By fire-torture, then! Let the bombarded Royalties assail Maguire, and Maguire give in;--it is our one chance left; and succeed we will and must!' Cruel, say you?-- Ah, yes, cruel enough, not merciful at all. The soul of Friedrich, I perceive, is not in a bright mood at this time, but in a black and wrathful, worn almost desperate against the slings and arrows of unjust Fate: 'Ahead, I say! If everybody will do miracles, cannot we perhaps still manage it, in spite of Fate?'" Mitchell is very sorry; but will forget and forgive those inexorable passages of war.
"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.
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