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LOUDON POUNCES UPON SCHWEIDNITZ, ONE NIGHT
(LAST OF SEPTEMBER 1761).
It was September 25th, more properly 26th, when Friedrich quitted Bunzelwitz; we heard on what errand. Early that morning, he marches with all his goods, first to Pilzen (that fine post on the east side of Schweidnitz); and from that, straightway, --south-westward, two marches farther,—to Neisse neighbourhood (GrossNossen, the name of the place); Loudon making little dispute or none. In Neisse are abundant Magazines: living upon these, Friedrich intends to alarm Loudon's rearward country, and draw him towards Bohemia. As must have gradually followed; and would at once, — had Loudon been given to alarms, which he was not. Loudon, very privately, has quite different game afield. Loudon merely detaches this and the other small Corps to look after Friedrich's operations, which probably he believes to be only a feint :—and, before a week passes, Friedrich will have news he little expects!
Friedrich, pausing at Gross-Nossen, and perhaps a little surprised to find no Loudon meddling with him, pushes out, first one party and then another, — Dalwig, Bülow, towards Landshut Hill-Country, to threaten Loudon's Bohemian roads;—who, singular to say, do not hear the least word of Loudon thereabouts. A Loudon strangely indifferent to this new Enterprise of ours.
1 Tempelhof, v. 327.
30th Sept.—1st Oct. 1761. On the third day of Gross-Nossen (Friday, October 2d), Friedrich detaches General Lentulus to rearward, or the
way we came, for news of Loudon. Rearward too, Lentulus sees nothing whatever of Loudon: but, from the rumour of the country, and from two Prussian garrison-soldiers, whom he found wandering about,—he hears, with horror and amazement, That Loudon, by a sudden panther-spring, the night before last, has got hold of Schweidnitz: now his wholly, since 5 A.m. of yesterday; and a strong Austrian garrison in it by this time! That was the news Lentulus brought home to his King; the sorest Job’s-post of all this War.
Truly, a surprising enterprise this of Loudon's; and is allowed by everybody to have been admirably managed. Loudon has had it in his head for some time; ever since that colic of forty-eight hours, I should guess; upon the wrecks of which it might well rise as a new daystar. He kept it strictly in his own head; nobody but Daun and the Kaiser had hint of it, both of whom assented, and agreed to keep silence.
On Friedrich's removal towards Neisse and threatening of Bohemia,' says my Note on this subject, ‘Loudon's time had "come. Friedrich had disappeared to south-westward, Saturday,
September 26th: “Gone to Pilzen," reported Loudon's scouts; “rests there over Sunday. Gone to Sigeroth, 28th; gone to “ Gross-Nossen, Tuesday, September 29th.”? That will do, thinks · Loudon ; who has sat immovable at Kunzendorf all this while; '-and, Wednesday 30th, instantly proceeds to business.
· Draws out, about 10 A.M. of Wednesday, all round Schweidnitz at some miles distance, a ring, or complete girdle of Croat• Cossack people; blocking up every path and road: “Nobody to
pass, this day, towards Schweidnitz, much less into it, on any 'pretext.” That is the duty of the Croat people. To another • active Officer he intrusts the task of collecting from the neigh
? Tempelhof, v. 330.
30th Sept.—1st Oct. 1761. 'bouring Villages (outside the Croat girdle) as many ladders,
planks, and the like, as will be requisite; which also is punc'tually done. For the Attack itself, which is to be Fourfold, four 'picked Officers are củosen, with the 20 best Battalions in the Army: Czernichef is apprised; who warmly assents, and offers every help:—“800 of your Grenadiers," answers Loudon ; “no more needed.” Loudon's arrangements for management of the ladders, for punctuality about the routes, the times, the simul'taneity, are those of a perfect artist; no Friedrich could have 6 done better.
• About 4 in the afternoon, all the Captains and Battalions, with their ladders and furnitures, everybody with Instruction very pointed and complete, are assembled at Kunzendorf: · Loudon addresses the Troops in a few fiery words; assures himself of victory by them; promises them 10,0001. in lieu • of plunder, which he strictly prohibits. Officers had better
make themselves acquainted with the Four Routes they are to "take in the dark: proper also to set all your watches by the
chief General's, that there be no mistake as to time. At 9, • all being now dark, and the Croat girdle having gathered it
self closer round the place since nightfall, the Four Divisions • march to their respective starting-places; will wait there, silent; and about 2 in the morning, each at its appointed
minute, step forward on their Business. With fixed bayonets all of them; no musketry permitted till the works are won. ' Loudon will wait at the Village of Schönbrunn (not Warkotsch's Schönbrunn, of which by and by, and which also is not far“),
at Schönbrunn, within short distance; give Loudon notice wh 'you are within 600 yards ;—there shall, if desirable, be rein'forcements, farther orders. Loudon knows Schweidnitz like ' his own bedroom. He was personally there, in Leuthen time, improving the Works. By nocturnal Croat parties, in the latter part of Bunzelwitz time; and since then, by deserters and otherwise,—he knows the condition of the Garrison, of the Commandant, and of every essential point. Has calculated that
3 In Tempelhof (v. 332-349) and Archenholtz (ii. 272-280) all these details.
* See Archenholtz, ii. 287; and correct his mistake of the two places.
30th Sept.-1st Oct. 1761. * the Garrison is hardly third part of what it ought to be,—3,800 ' in whole, and many of them loose deserter fellows; special ar
tillery-men, instead of about 400, only 191;-most important • of all, that Commandant Zastrow is no wizard in his trade; • and, on the whole, that the Enterprise is likely to succeed.
• Zastrow has been getting married lately; and has many things to think of, besides Schweidnitz. Some accounts say this was his wedding night,-which is not true, but only that he had meant to give a Ball this last night of September;
and perhaps did give it, dancing over before 2, let us hope ! Something of a jolter-head, seemingly, though solid and honest. • I observe he is a kind of butt, or laughing-stock, of Friedrich's, 6 and has yielded some gleams of momentary fun, he and this marriage of his, between Prince Henri and the King, in the tragic gloom all round. Nothing so surprises me in Friedrich as his habitual inattention to the state of his Garrisons. He has the best of Commandants and also the worst : Tauentzien • in Breslau, Heyde in Colberg, unsurpassable in the world; in
Glatz a D'O; in Schweidnitz a Zastrow, both of whom cost “him dear. Opposition sneers secretly, “It is as they happen 6 to have come to hand.” Which has not much truth, though
some. Tauentzien he chose; D'O was Fouquet's choice, not his; Zastrow he did choose; Heyde he had by accident; of
Heyde he had never heard till the defence of Colberg began to • be a world's wonder. And in regard to his Garrisons, it is indisputable they were often left palpably defective in quantity and quality; and, more than once, fatally gave way at the wrong • moment. We can only say that Friedrich was bitterly in want
of men for the field; that “a Garrison-Regiment” was always 6 reckoned an inferior article; and that Friedrich, in the press of his straits, had often had to say: “Well, these” (plainly Helots, not Spartans), “ these will have to do!” For which he severely suffered : and perhaps repented,—who knows?
“Zastrow, in spite of Loudon's precautionary Girdle of Croats, • and the cares of a coming Ball, had got sufficient inkling of something being in the wind. And was much on the Walls * all day, he and his Officers; scanning with their glasses and
s Schöning, ii. (sæpius).
30th Sept.-1st Oct. 1761. their guesses the surrounding phenomena, to little purpose. At night he sent out patrols; kept sputtering with musketry and an occasional cannon into the vacant darkness (“We are alert, you see, Herr Loudon !"). In a word, took what measures ' he could, poor man ;—very stupid measures, thinks Tempelhof, 6 and almost worse than none, especially this of sputtering with
musketry ;—and hoped always there would be no Attack, or 6 none to speak of. Till, in fine, between 2 and 3 in the morning, his patrols gallop in, “ Austrians on march !" and Zastrow, throwing out a rocket or two, descries in momentary illumination that the Fact is verily here.
His defence (four of the Five several Forts attacked at once) was of a confused character; but better than could have been expected. Loudon's Columns came on with extraordinary vigour and condensed impetuosity; stormed the Outworks everywhere, and almost at once got into the shelter of • the Covered-way: but on the Main Wall, or in the scaling
part of their business, were repulsed, in some places twice or “ thrice; and had a murderous struggle, of very chaotic nature, ' in the dark element. No picture of it in the least possible or
needful here. In one place, a Powder-Magazine blew up with 6 about 400 of them,—blown (said rumour, with no certainty)
by an indignant Prussian artillery-man to whom they had re'fused quarter: in another place, the 800 Russian Grenadiers
came unexpectedly upon a chasm or bridgeless interstice between two ramparts; and had to halt suddenly,—till (says rumour again, with still less certainty) their Officers insisting with the rearward part, “Forward, forward !” enough of 'front men were tumbled in to make a roadway! This was
the story current ;6 greatly exaggerated, I have no doubt. • What we know is, That these Russians did scramble through, punctually perform their part of the work;—and furthermore that, having got upon the Town-Wall, which was finis to everything, they punctually sat down there; and, reflectively leaning on their muskets, witnessed with the gravity and dignity of ' antique sages, superior to money or money's worth, the general ' plunder which went on in spite of Loudon's orders.