Friedrich stayed hardly one day in Neissen Country; Silesia, in the jaws of destruction, requiring such speed from him. His new Series of Marches thitherward, for the next two weeks especially, with Daun and Lacy, and at last with Loudon too, for escort, are still more singular than the foregoing; a fortnight of Soldier History such as is hardly to be paralleled elsewhere. Of his inward gloom one hears nothing. But the Problem itself approaches to the desperate; needing daily new invention, new audacity, with imminent destruction overhanging it throughout. A March distinguished in Military Annals;--but of which it is not for us to pretend treating. Military readers will find it in TEMPELHOF, and the supplementary Books from time to time cited here. And, for our own share, we can only say, that Friedrich's labors strike us as abundantly Herculean; more Alcides-like than ever,--the rather as hopes of any success have sunk lower than ever. A modern Alcides, appointed to confront Tartarus itself, and be victorious over the Three-headed Dog. Daun, Lacy, Loudon coming on you simultaneously, open-mouthed, are a considerable Tartarean Dog! Soldiers judge that the King's resources of genius were extremely conspicuous on this occasion; and to all men it is in evidence that seldom in the Arena of this Universe, looked on by the idle Populaces and by the eternal Gods and Antigods (called Devils), did a Son of Adam fence better for himself, now and throughout.
This, his Third march to Silesia in 1760, is judged to be the most forlorn and ominous Friedrich ever made thither; real peril, and ruin to Silesia and him, more imminent than even in the old Leuthen days. Difficulties, complicacies very many, Friedrich can foresee: a Daun's Army and a Lacy's for escort to us; and such a Silesia when we do arrive. And there is one complicacy more which he does not yet know of; that of Loudon waiting ahead to welcome him, on crossing the Frontier, and increase his escort thenceforth!--Or rather, let us say, Friedrich, thanks to the despondent Henri and others, has escaped a great Silesian Calamity;--of which he will hear, with mixed emotions, on arriving at Bunzlau on the Silesian Frontier, six days after setting out. Since the loss of Glatz (July 26th), Friedrich has no news of Loudon; supposes him to be trying something upon Neisse, to be adjusting with his slow Russians; and, in short, to be out of the dismal account-current just at present. That is not the fact in regard to Loudon; that is far from the fact.
LOUDON IS TRYING A STROKE-OF-HAND ON BRESLAU, IN THE GLATZ FASHION, IN THE INTERIM (July 30th-August 3d).
Hardly above six hours after taking Glatz, swift Loudon, no Daun now tethering him (Daun standing, or sitting, "in relief of Dresden" far off), was on march for Breslau--Vanguard of him "marched that same evening (July 26th):" in the liveliest hope of capturing Breslau; especially if Soltikof, to whom this of Glatz ought to be a fine symbol and pledge, make speed to co-operate. Soltikof is in no violent enthusiasm about Glatz; anxious rather about his own Magazine at Posen, and how to get it carted out of Henri's way, in case of our advancing towards some Silesian Siege. "If we were not ruined last year, it was n't Daun's fault!" growls he often; and Montalembert has need of all his suasive virtues (which are wonderful to look at, if anybody cared to look at them, all flung into the sea in this manner) for keeping the barbarous man in any approach to harmony. The barbarous man had, after haggle enough, adjusted himself for besieging Glogau; and is surly to hear, on the sudden (order from Petersburg reinforcing Loudon), that it is Breslau instead. "Excellenz, it is not Cunctator Daun this time, it is fiery Loudon." "Well, Breslau, then!" answers Soltikof at last, after much suasion. And marches thither; [Tempelhof, iv. 87-89 ("Rose from Posen, July 26th").] faster than usual, quickened by new temporary hopes, of Montalembert's raising or one's own: "What a place-of-arms, and place of victual, would Breslau be for us, after all!"
And really mends his pace, mends it ever more, as matters grow stringent; and advances upon Breslau at his swiftest: "To rendezvous with Loudon under the walls there,--within the walls very soon, and ourselves chief proprietor!"--as may be hoped. Breslau has a garrison of 4,000, only 1,000 of them stanch; and there are, among other bad items, 9,000 Austrian Prisoners in it. A big City with weak walls: another place to defend than rock- hewn little Glatz,--if there be no better than a D'O for Commandant in it! But perhaps there is.
"WEDNESDAY, 30th JULY, Loudon's Vanguard arrived at Breslau; next day Loudon himself;--and besieged Breslau very violently, according to his means, till the Sunday following. Troops he has plenty, 40,000 odd, which he gives out for 50 or even 60,000; not to speak of Soltikof, 'with 75,000' (read 45,000), striding on in a fierce and dreadful manner to meet him here. 'Better surrender to Christian Austrians, had not you?' Loudon's Artillery is not come up, it is only struggling on from Glatz; Soltikof of his own has no Siege-Artillery; and Loudon judges that heavy-footed Soltikof, waited on by an alert Prince Henri, is a problematic quantity in this enterprise. 'Speedy oneself; speedy and fiery!' thinks Loudon: 'by violence of speed, of bullying and bombardment, perhaps we can still do it!' And Loudon tried all these things to a high stretch; but found in Tauentzien the wrong man.
"THURSDAY, 3lst, Loudon, who has two bridges over Oder, and the Town begirt all round, summons Tauentzien in an awful sounding tone: 'Consider, Sir: no defence possible; a trading Town, you ought not to attempt defence of it: surrender on fair terms, or I shall, which God forbid, be obliged to burn you and it from the face of the world!' 'Pooh, pooh,' answers Tauentzien, in brief polite terms; 'you yourselves had no doubt it was a Garrison, when we besieged you here, on the heel of Leuthen; had you? Go to!'-- Fiery Loudon cannot try storm, the Town having Oder and a wet ditch round it. He gets his bombarding batteries forward, as the one chance he has, aided by bullying. And to-morrow,
"FRIDAY, AUGUST 1st, sends, half officially, half in the friendly way, dreadful messages again: a warning to the Mayor of Breslau (which was not signed by Loudon), 'Death and destruction, Sir, unless'--!--warning to the Mayor; and, by the same private half- official messenger, a new summons to Tauentzien: 'Bombardment infallible; universal massacre by Croats; I will not spare the child in its mother's womb.' 'I am not with child,' said Tauentzien, 'nor are my soldiers! What is the use of such talk?' And about 10 that night, Loudon does accordingly break out into all the fire of bombardment he is master of. Kindles the Town in various places, which were quenched again by Tauentzien's arrangements; kindles especially the King's fine Dwelling-house (Palace they call it), and adjacent streets, not quenchable till Palace and they are much ruined. Will this make no impression? Far too little.