"Friedrich was too impatient in this provoking little haggle, arresting him here. He had ordered on the suitable Battalion with cannon; but hardly considers that the Battalion itself is six miles off,--not to speak of the Order, which is galloping on horseback, not going by electricity:--the impatient Friedrich had slashed in at once upon Godau, taken above 100 prisoners; but is astonished to see the slashed people return, with Saxon-Dragoon regiments, all manner of regiments, reinforcing them. And has some really dangerous fencing there;--issuing in dangerous and curious pause of both parties; who stand drawn up, scarcely beyond pistol-shot, and gazing into one another, for I know not how many minutes; neither of them daring to move off, lest, on the instant of turning, it be charged and overwhelmed. As the impatient Friedrich, at last, almost was,--had not his Infantry just then got in, and given their cannon-salvo. He lost about 200, the Lacy people hardly so many; and is now out of a considerable personal jeopardy, which is still celebrated in the Anecdote-Books, perhaps to a mythical extent. 'Two Uhlans [Saxon-Polish Light-Horse], with their truculent pikes, are just plunging in,' say the Anecdote-Books: Friedrich's Page, who had got unhorsed, sprang to his feet, bellowed in Polish to them: 'What are you doing here, fellows?' 'Excellenz [for the Page is not in Prussian uniform, or in uniform at all, only well-dressed], Excellenz, our horses ran away with us,' answer the poor fellows; and whirl back rapidly." The story, says Retzow, is true. [Retzow, ii. 215.]
This is the one event of July 7th,--and of July 8th withal; which day also, on news of Daun that come, Friedrich rests. Up to July 8th, it is clear Friedrich is shooting with what we called the first string of his bow,--intent, namely, on Silesia. Nor, on hearing that Daun is forward again, now hopelessly ahead, does he quit that enterprise; but, on the contrasy, to-morrow morning, July 9th, tries it by a new method, as we shall see: method cunningly devised to suit the second string as well. "How lucky that we have a second string, in case of failure!"--
TUESDAY, 8th JULY. "News that Daun reached Gorlitz yesternight; and is due to-night at Lauban, fifty miles ahead of us:--no hope now of reaching Daun. Perhaps a sudden clutch at Lacy, in the opposite direction, might be the method of recalling Daun, and reaching him? That is the method fallen upon.
"Sun being set, the drums in Bautzen sound TATTOO,--audible to listening Croats in the Environs;--beat TATTOO, and, later in the night, other passages of drum-music, also for Croat behoof (GENERAL-MARCH I think it is); indicating That we have started again, in pursuit of Daun. And in short, every precaution being taken to soothe the mind of Lacy and the Croats, Friedrich silently issues, with his best speed, in Three columns, by Three roads, towards Lacy's quarters, which go from that village of Godau westward, in a loose way, several miles. In three columns, by three routes, all to converge, with punctuality, on Lacy. Of the columns, two are of Infantry, the leftmost and the rightmost, on each hand, hidden as much as possible; one is of Cavalry in the middle. Coming on in this manner--like a pair of triple-pincers, which are to grip simultaneously on Lacy, and astonish him, if he keep quiet. But Lacy is vigilant, and is cautious almost in excess. Learning by his Pandours that the King seems to be coming this way, Lacy gathers himself on the instant; quits Godau, by one in the morning; and retreats bodily, at his fastest step, to Bischofswerda again; nor by any means stops there." [Tempelhof, iv. 61-63.]
For the third time! "Three is lucky," Friedrich may have thought: and there has no precaution, of drum-music, of secrecy or persuasive finesse, been neglected on Lacy. But Lacy has ears that hear the grass grow: our elaborately accurate triple-pincers, closing simultaneously on Bischofswerda, after eighteen miles of sweep, find Lacy flown again; nothing to be caught of him but some 80 hussars. All this day and all next night Lacy is scouring through the western parts at an extraordinary rate; halting for a camp, twice over, at different places,--Durre Fuchs (THIRSTY FOX), Durre Buhle (THIRSTY SWEETHEART), or wherever it was; then again taking wing, on sound of Prussian parties to rear; in short, hurrying towards Dresden and the Reichsfolk, as if for life.
Lacy's retreat, I hear, was ingeniously done, with a minimum of disorder in the circumstances: but certainly it was with a velocity as if his head had been on fire; and, indeed, they say he escaped annihilation by being off in time. He put up finally, not at Thirsty Sweetheart, still less at Thirsty Fox, successive Hamlets and Public Houses in the sandy Wilderness which lies to north of Elbe, and is called DRESDEN HEATH; but farther on, in the same Tract, at Weisse Hirsch (WHITE HART); which looks close over upon Dresden, within two miles or so; and is a kind of Height, and military post of advantage. Next morning, July 10th, he crosses Dresden Bridge, comes streaming through the City; and takes shelter with the Reichsfolk near there:--towards Plauen Chasm; the strongest ground in the world; hardly strong enough, it appears, in the present emergency.
Friedrich's first string, therefore, has snapt in two; but, on the instant, he has a second fitted on:--may that prove luckier!
From and after the Evening of Wednesday, July 9th, it is upon a Siege of Dresden that Friedrich goes;--turning the whole war- theatre topsy-turvy; throwing Daun, Loudon, Lacy, everybody OUT, in this strange and sudden manner. One of the finest military feats ever done, thinks Tempelhof. Undoubtedly a notable result so far, and notably done; as the impartial reader (if Tempelhof be a little inconsistent) sees for himself. These truly are a wonderful series of marches, opulent in continual promptitudes, audacities, contrivances;--done with shining talent, certainly; and also with result shining, for the moment. And in a Fabulous Epic I think Dresden would certainly have fallen to Friedrich, and his crowd of enemies been left in a tumbled condition.