Friedrich springs to horse; has already an Order speeding forth, "General Schenkendorf and his Battalion, their cannon, to the crown of the Wolfsberg, on our left yonder; swift!" How excellent that every battalion (as by Order that we read) "has its own share of the heavy cannon always at hand!" ejaculate the military critics. Schenkendorf, being nimble, was able to astonish the Enemy with volumes of case-shot from the Wolfsberg, which were very deadly at that close distance. Other arrangements, too minute for recital here, are rapidly done; and our Left Wing is in condition to receive its early visitors,--Loudon or whoever they may be. It is still dubious to the History-Books whether Friedrich was in clear expectation of Loudon here; though of course he would now guess it was Loudon. But there is no doubt Loudon had not the least expectation of Friedrich; and his surprise must have been intense, when, instead of vacant darkness (and some chance of Prussian baggage, which he had heard of), Prussian musketries and case-shot opened on him.
Loudon had, as per order, quitted his Camp at Jeschkendorf, about the time Friedrich did his at Schimmelwitz; and, leaving the lights all burning, had set forward on his errand; which was (also identical with Friedrich's), to seize the Heights of Pfaffendorf, and be ready there when day broke. scouts having informed him that the Prussian Baggage was certainly gone through to Topferberg,-- more his scouts did not know, nor could Loudon guess,--"We will snatch that Baggage!" thought Loudon; and with such view has been speeding all he could; no vanguard ahead, lest he alarm the Baggage escort: Loudon in person, with the Infantry of the Reserve, striding on ahead, to devour any Baggage-escort there may be. Friedrich's reconnoitring Hussar parties had confirmed this belief: "Yes, yes!" thought Loudon. And now suddenly, instead of Baggage to capture, here, out of the vacant darkness, is Friedrich in person, on the brow of the Heights where we intended to form!--
Loudon's behavior, on being hurled back with his Reserve in this manner, everybody says, was magnificent. Judging at once what the business was, and that retreat would be impossible without ruin, he hastened instantly to form himself, on such ground as he had,-- highly unfavorable ground, uphill in part, and room in it only for Five Battalions (5,000) of front;--and came on again, with a great deal of impetuosity and good skill; again and ever again, three times in all. Had partial successes; edged always to the right to get the flank of Friedrich; but could not, Friedrich edging conformably. From his right-hand, or northeast part, Loudon poured in, once and again, very furious charges of Cavalry; on every repulse, drew out new Battalions from his left and centre, and again stormed forward: but found it always impossible. Had his subordinates all been Loudons, it is said, there was once a fine chance for him. By this edging always to the northeastward on his part and Friedrich's, there had at last a considerable gap in Friedrich's Line established itself,--not only Ziethen's Line and Friedrich's Line now fairly fallen asunder, but, at the Village of Panten, in Friedrich's own Line, a gap where anybody might get in. One of the Austrian Columns was just entering Panten when the Fight began: in Panten that Column has stood cogitative ever since; well to left of Loudon and his struggles; but does not, till the eleventh hour, resolve to push through. At the eleventh hour;--and lo, in the nick of time, Mollendorf (our Leuthen-and-Hochkirch friend) got his eye on it; rushed up with infantry and cavalry; set Panten on fire, and blocked out that possibility and the too cogitative Column.
Loudon had no other real chance: his furious horse-charges and attempts were met everywhere by corresponding counter-fury. Bernburg, poor Regiment Bernburg, see what a figure it is making! Left almost alone, at one time, among those horse-charges; spending its blood like water, bayonet-charging, platooning as never before; and on the whole, stemming invincibly that horse- torrent,--not unseen by Majesty, it may be hoped; who is here where the hottest pinch is. On the third repulse, which was worse than any before, Loudon found he had enough; and tried it no farther. Rolled over the Katzbach, better or worse; Prussians catching 6,000 of him, but not following farther: threw up a tine battery at Bienowitz, which sheltered his retreat from horse:--and went his ways, sorely but not dishonorably beaten, after an hour and half of uncommonly stiff fighting, which had been very murderous to Loudon. Loss of 10,000 to him: 4,000 killed and wounded; prisoners 6,000; 82 cannon, 28 flags, and other items; the Prussian loss being 1,800 in whole. [Tempelhof, iv. 159.] By 5 o'clock, the Battle, this Loudon part of it, was quite over; Loudon (35,000) wrecking himself against Friedrich's Left Wing (say half of his Army, some 15,000) in such conclusive manner. Friedrich's Left Wing alone has been engaged hitherto. And now it will be Ziethen's turn, if Daun and Lacy still come on.
By 11 last night, Daun's Pandours, creeping stealthily on, across the Katzbach, about Schimmelwitz, had discerned with amazement that Friedrich's Camp appeared to consist only of watch-fires; and had shot off their speediest rider to Daun, accordingly; but it was one in the morning before Daun, busy marching and marshalling, to be ready at the Katzbach by daylight, heard of this strange news; which probably he could not entirely believe till seen with his own eyes. What a spectacle! One's beautiful Plan exploded into mere imbroglio of distraction; become one knows not what! Daun's watch- fires too had all been left burning; universal stratagem, on both sides, going on; producing--tragically for some of us--a TRAGEDY of Errors, or the Mistakes of a Night! Daun sallied out again, in his collapsed, upset condition, as soon as possible: pushed on, in the track of Friedrich; warning Lacy to push on. Daun, though within five miles all the while, had heard nothing of the furious Fight and cannonade; "southwest wind having risen," so Daun said, and is believed by candid persons,--not by the angry Vienna people, who counted it impossible: "Nonsense; you were not deaf; but you loitered and haggled, in your usual way; perhaps not sorry that, the brilliant Loudon should get a rebuff!"
Emerging out of Liegnitz, Daun did see, to northeastward, a vast pillar or mass of smoke, silently mounting, but could do nothing with it. "Cannon-smoke, no doubt; but fallen entirely silent, and not wending hitherward at all. Poor Loudon, alas, must have got beaten!" Upon which Daun really did try, at least upon Ziethen; but could do nothing. Poured cavalry across the Stone-bridge at the Topferberg: who drove in Ziethen's picket there; but were torn to pieces by Ziethen's cannon. Ziethen across the Schwartzwasser is alert enough. How form in order of battle here, with Ziethen's batteries shearing your columns longitudinally, as they march up? Daun recognizes the impossibility; wends back through Liegnitz to his Camp again, the way he had come. Tide-hour missed again; ebb going uncommonly rapid! Lacy had been about Waldau, to try farther up the Schwartzwasser on Ziethen's right: but the Schwartzwasser proved amazingly boggy; not accessible on any point to heavy people,--"owing to bogs on the bank," with perhaps poor prospect on the other side too!
And, in fact, nothing of Lacy more than of Daun, could manage to get across: nothing except two poor Hussar regiments; who, winding up far to the left, attempted a snatch on the Baggage about Hummeln,--Hummeln, or Kuchel of the Scrubs. And gave a new alarm to Mitchell, the last of several during this horrid night; who has sat painfully blocked in his carriage, with such a Devil's tumult, going on to eastward, and no sight, share or knowledge to be had of it. Repeated hussar attacks there were on the Baggage here, Loudon's hussars also trying: but Mitchell's Captain was miraculously equal to the occasion; and had beaten them all off. Mitchell, by magnanimous choice of his own, has been in many Fights by the side of Friedrich; but this is the last he will ever be in or near;--this miraculous one of Liegnitz, 3 to 4.30 A.M., Friday, August 15th, 1760.
Never did such a luck befall Friedrich before or after. He was clinging on the edge of slippery abysses, his path hardly a foot's- breadth, mere enemies and avalanches hanging round on every side: ruin likelier at no moment, of his life;--and here is precisely the quasi-miracle which was needed to save him. Partly by accident too; the best of management crowned by the luckiest of accidents. [Tempelhof, iv. 151-171; Archenholtz, ubi supra; HO BERICHT VON DER SCHLACHT SO AM 15 AUGUST, 1760, BEY LIEGNITZ, VORGEFALLEN (Seyfarth,