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10th July 1760. For the third time! “ Three is lucky,” Friedrich may have thought: and there has no precaution, of drummusic, 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,—Dürre Fuchs (Thirsty Fox), Dürre Bühle (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 further 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
FRIEDRICH BESIEGES DRESDEN.
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.
But the Epic of Reality cares nothing for such considerations; and the time allowable for capture of Dresden is very brier. Had Daun, on getting warning, been as prompt to return as he was to go, frankly fronting at once the chances of the road, he might have been at Dresden again perhaps within a week, -no Siege possible for Friedrich, hardly the big guns got up from Magdeburg. But Friedrich calculated there would be very considerable fettling and haggling on Daun's part; say a good Fortnight of Siege allowed;—and that, by 10th-29th July 1760. dead-lift effort of all hands, the thing was feasible within that limit. On Friedrich's part, as we can fancy, there was no want of effort; nor on his people's part,-in spite of his complainings, say Retzow and the Opposition party; who insinuate their own private belief of impossibility from the first. Which is not confirmed by impartial judgments, — that of Archenholtz, and others better. The truth is, Friedrich was within an inch of taking Dresden by the first assault,—they say he actually could have taken it by storm, the first day; but shuddered at the thought of exposing poor Dresden to sack and plunder; and hoped to get it by capitulation.
One of the rapidest and most furious Sieges anywhere on record. Filled Europe with astonishment, expectancy, admiration, horror:--must be very briefly recited here. The main chronological epochs, salient points of crisis, and successive phases of occurrence, will sufficiently indicate it to the reader's fancy.
'It was Thursday Evening, 10th July, when Lacy got to his * Reichsfolk, and took breath behind Plauen Chasm. Maguire is Governor of Dresden. The consternation of garrison and
population was extreme. To Lacy himself it did not seem conceivable that Friedrich could mean a Siege of Dresden. · Friedrich, that night, is beyond the River, in Daun's old im
pregnability of Reichenberg: “He has no siege-artillery,” thinks Lacy; "no means, no time.”
Nevertheless, Saturday, next day after tomorrow,—behold, there is Hülsen, come from Schlettau to our neighbourhood, on our Austrian side of the River. And at Kaditz yonder, a mile • below Dresden, are not the King's people building their Pontoons; in march since 2 in the morning, evidently coming across, if not to besiege Dresden, then to attack us; which is perhaps worse! We outnumber them,—but as to trying fight in any form ? Zweibrück leaves Maguire an additional 10,000;
14th July 1760. '--every help and encouragement to Maguire; whose garrison is ' now 14,000: “Be of courage, Excellenz Maguire! Nobody is better skilled in siege-matters. Feldmarschall and relief will 'be here with despatch !”—and withdraws, Lacy and he, to the edge of the Pirna Country, there to be well out of harm's way. * Lacy and he, it is thought, would perhaps have got beaten, trying to save Dresden from its misery. Lacy's orders were, Not on any terms to get into fighting with Friedrich, but only to cover Dresden. Dresden, without fighting, has proved impossible to cover, and Lacy leaves it bare.”
“At Kaditz,” says Mitchell, “where the second bridge of “ boats took a great deal of time, I was standing by his Majesty, 6 when news to the above effect came across from General Hül
The King was highly pleased; and, turning to me, said: « Just what I wished! They have saved me a very long “ march' (round by Dippoldiswalde or so, in upon the rear of " them) by going of will. And immediately the King got on " horseback; ordering the Army to follow as fast as it could."? * Through Preisnitz, Plauen-ward, goes the Army; circling round the Western and the Southern side of Dresden' (a dread spectacle from the walls); across Weistritz Brook and the * Plauen Chasm' (comfortably left vacant); and encamps on the South-eastern side of Dresden, at Gruna, behind the Great • Garden ; ready to begin business on the morrow. Gruna, about a mile to south-east of Dresden Walls, is headquarter during this Siege.
* Through the night, the Prussians proceed to build batteries, the best they can ;—there is no right siege-artillery yet; a few accidental howitzers and 25-pounders, the rest mere field-guns; •-but tomorrow morning, be as it may, business shall begin. ‘Prince von Holstein' (nephew of the Holstein Beck, or “Holstein Silver-Plate," whom we lost long ago), 'from beyond the
River, encamped at the White Hart yonder, is to play upon the * Neustadt simultaneously.
Sunday 14th, 'At 6 A.M., cannonade began; diligent on Holstein's part and ours; but of inconsiderable effect. Maguire 'has been summoned: “Will” (with such a garrison, in spite of Tempelhof, iv. 65.
? Mitchell, ii. 168.
18th July 1760. such trepidations from the Court and others) “defend himself “ to the last man.” Free-Corps people (not Quintus's, who is on the other side of the River), 3 • with regulars to rear, advance on the Pirna Gate; hurl in Maguire's Out-parties; and had ' near got in along with them,—might have done so, they and their supports, it is thought by some, had storm seemed the recommendable method.
For four days, there is livelier and livelier cannonading; new batteries getting opened in the Moschinska Garden, and other points; on the Prussian part, great longing that the
Magdeburg artillery were here. The Prussians are making * diligently ready for it, in the mean while (refitting the old • Trenches, “old Envelope” dug by Maguire himself in the • Anti-Schmettau time; these will do well enough) :—the Prussians reinforce Holstein at the Weisse Hirsch, throw a new 'bridge across to him; and are busy day and night. Maguire,
too, is most industrious, resisting and preparing: Thursday shuts up the Weistritz Brook (a dam being ready this long while back, needing only to be closed), and lays the whole • South side of Dresden under water. Many rumours about ' Daun : coming, not coming ;-must for certain come, but will ' possibly be slowish.
Thursday 18th. "Joy to every Prussian soul: here are the heavy guns from Magdeburg. These, at any rate, are come; - beds for them all ready; and now the cannonading can begin ' in right earnest. As it does with a vengeance.
As it does with a vengeance. To Mitchell, • and perhaps others, “the King of Prussia says He will now be “master of the Town in a few days. And the disposition he “ has made of his troops on the other side of the River is in“ tended not only to attack Dresden on that side” (and defend
himself from Daun), “but also to prevent the Garrison from “ retiring."
“This morning, Thursday 18th, the Suburb of “ Pirna, the one street left of it, was set fire to, by Maguire; and “ burnt out of the way, as the others had been. Many of the 66 wretched inhabitants had fled to our camp: ‘Let them lodge “ in Plauen, no fighting there, quiet artificial water-expanses
3 Tempelhof, iv. 67.