The poor Reichs Army, though it once flattered itself with intending to dispute Friedrich's passage of the Elbe, and did make some detachings and manoeuvrings that way, on his approach to Wittenberg (October 22d-23d),--took a safer view, on his actual arrival there, on his re-seizure of that ruined place, and dangerous attitude on the right bank below and above. Safer view, on salutary second thoughts;--and fell back Leipzig-way, southward to Duben, 30 or 40 miles. Whence rapidly to Leipzig itself, 30 or 40 more, on his actually putting down his bridges over Elbe. Friedrich's crossing-place was Schanzhaus, in Dessau Country, between Roslau and Klikau, 12 or 15 miles below Wittenberg; about midway between Wittenberg and the inflow of the Mulda into Elbe. He crossed OCTOBER 26th, no enemy within wind at all; Daun at Torgau in his inexpugnable Camp, Reichsfolk at Duben, making towards Leipzig at their best pace. And is now wholly between Elbe and Mulda; nothing but Mulda and the Anhall Countries and the Halle Country now to rear of him.
At Jonitz, next march southward, he finds the Eugen-Hulsen people ready. We said they had not been idle while waiting signal: of which here is one pretty instance. Eugen's Brother, supreme Reigning Duke of Wurtemberg,--whom we parted with at Fulda, last Winter, on sore terms; but who again, zealous creature, heads his own little Army in French-Austrian service, in still more eclipsed circumstances ("No subsidy at all, this Year, say your august Majesties? Well, I must do without: a volunteer; and shall need only what I can make by forced contributions!" which of course he is diligent to levy wherever possible),--has latterly taken Halle Country in hand, very busy raising contributions there: and Eugen hears, not without interest, that certain regiments or detachments of his, pushed out, are lying here, there, superintending that salutary work,--within clutch, perhaps, of Kleist the Hussar! Eugen despatches Kleist upon him; who pounces with his usual fierce felicity upon these people. To such alarm of his poor Serenity and poor Army, that Serenity flies off homeward at once, and out of these Wars altogether; where he never had other than the reverse of business to be, and where he has played such a farce-tragedy for four years back. Eugen has been heard to speak,--theoretically, and in excited moments,--of "running such a fellow through the body, were one near him:: but it is actually Eugen in person that sends him home from these Wars: which may be counted a not unfraternal or unpatriotic procedure; being of indisputable benefit to the poor Sovereign man himself, and to everybody concerned with him.
Hearing that Friedrich was across, Daun came westward that same day (October 26th), and planted himself at Eilenburg; concluding that the Reichsfolk would now be in jeopardy first of all. Which was partly the fact; and indeed this Daun movement rather accelerated the completion of it. Without this the Reichs Army might have lived another day. It had quitted Duben, and gone in all haste for Leipzig, at 1 in the morning (not by Eilenburg, of which or of Daun's arrival there it knows nothing),--"at 1 in the morning of the 27th," or in fact, so soon as news could reach it at the gallop, That Friedrich was across. And now Friedrich, seeing Daun out in this manner, judged that a junction was contemplated; and that one could not be too swift in preventing it. October 29th, with one diligent march, Friedrich posted himself at Duben; there, in a sort now between Daun and the Reichsfolk, detached Hulsen with a considerable force to visit these latter in Leipzig itself; and began with all diligence forming "a small Magazine in Duben," Magdeburg and the current of the Elbe being hitherto his only resource in that kind. By the time of Hulsen's return, this little operation will be well forward, and Daun will have declared himself a little.
Hulsen, evening of October 30th, found Leipzig in considerable emotion, the Reichsfolk taking refuge in it: not the least inclined to stand a push, when Hulsen presented himself. Night of 30th-31st, there was summoning and menacing; Reich endeavoring to answer in firm style; but all the while industriously packing up to go. By 5 in the morning, things had come to extremity;---morning, happily for some of us, was dark mist. But about 5 o'clock, Hulsen (or Hulsen's Second) coming on with menace of fire and sword upon these poor Reichspeople, found the Reichspeople wholly vanished in the mist. Gone bodily; in full march for the spurs of the Metal- Mountain Range again;--concluding, for the fourth time, an extremely contemptible Campaign. Daun, with the King ahead of him, made not the least attempt to help them in their Leipzig difficulty; but retired to his strong Camp at Torgau; feels his work to lie THERE,--as Friedrich perceives of him, with some interest.
Hulsen left a little garrison in Leipzig (friend Quintus a part of it); [Tempelhof, iv. 290.] and returned to the King; whose small Magazine at Duben, and other small affairs there,--Magdeburg with boats, and the King with wagons, having been so diligent in carrying grain thither,--are now about completed. From Daun's returning to Torgau, Friedrich infers that the cautious man has got Order from Court to maintain Torgau at all costs,--to risk a battle rather than go. "Good: he shall have one!" thinks Friedrich. And, NOVEMBER 2d, in four columns, marches towards Torgau; to Schilda, that night, which is some seven miles on the southward side of Torgau. The King, himself in the vanguard as usual, has watched with eager questioning eye the courses of Daun's advanced parties, and by what routes they retreat; discerns for certain that Daun has no views upon Duben or our little Magazine; and that the tug of wrestle for Torgau, which is to crown this Campaign into conquest of Saxony, or shatter it into zero like its foregoers on the Austrian part, and will be of death-or-life nature on the Prussian part, ought to ensue to-morrow. Forward, then!
This Camp of Torgau is not a new place to Daun. It was Prince Henri's Camp last Autumn; where Daun tried all his efforts to no purpose; and though hugely outnumbering the Prince, could make absolutely nothing of it. Nothing, or less; and was flowing back to Dresden and the Bohemian Frontier, uncheered by anything, till that comfortable Maxen Incident turned up. Daun well knows the strength of this position. Torgau and the Block of Hill to West, called Hill of Siptitz:--Hulsen, too, stood here this Summer; not to mention Finck and Wunsch, and their beating the Reichspeople here. A Hill and Post of great strength; not unfamiliar to many Prussians, nor to Friedrich's studious considerations, though his knowledge of it was not personal on all points;--as To-morrow taught him, somewhat to his cost.
"Tourists, from Weimar and the Thuringian Countries," says a Note- book, sometimes useful to us, "have most likely omitted Rossbach in their screaming railway flight eastward; and done little in Leipzig but endeavor to eat dinner, and, still more vainly, to snatch a little sleep in the inhuman dormitories of the Country. Next morning, screaming Dresden-ward, they might, especially if military, pause at Oschatz, a stage or two before Meissen, where again are objects of interest. You can look at Hubertsburg, if given that way,--a Royal Schloss, memorable on several grounds;--at Hubertsburg, and at other features, in the neighborhood of Oschatz. This done, or this left not done, you strike off leftward, that is northward, in some open vehicle, for survey of Torgau and its vicinities and environs. Not above fifteen miles for you; a drive singular and pleasant; time enough to return and be in Dresden for dinner.
"Torgau is a fine solid old Town; Prussian military now abundant in it. In ancient Heathen times, I suppose, it meant the GAU, or District, of THOR; Capital of that Gau,--part of which, now under Christian or quasi-Christian circumstances, you have just been traversing, with Elbe on your right hand. Innocent rural aspects of Humanity, Boor's life, Gentry's life, all the way, not in any holiday equipment; on the contrary, somewhat unkempt and scraggy, but all the more honest and inoffensive. There is sky, earth, air, and freedom for your own reflections: a really agreeable kind of Gau; pleasant, though in part ugly. Large tracts of it are pine- wood, with pleasant Villages and fine arable expanses interspersed. Schilda and many Villages you leave to right and left. Old-fashioned Villages, with their village industries visible around; laboring each in its kind,--not too fast; probably with extinct tobacco-pipe hanging over its chin (KALT-RAUCHEND, 'smoking COLD,' as they phrase it).