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A History of Germany by Bayard Taylor

Regained possession of Hannover


Frederick

tried to negotiate for peace, but in vain. The strength of his army was gone; his victories had been dearly bought with the loss of all his best regiments. Austria and Russia reinforced their armies and planned, this time, to unite in Silesia, while the French, who defeated the Duke of Brunswick in April, 1759, regained possession of Hannover. Frederick was obliged to divide his troops and send an army under General Wedel against the Russians, while he, with a very reduced force, attempted to check the Austrians in Silesia. Wedel was defeated, and the junction of his two enemies could no longer be prevented; they marched against him, 70,000 strong, and took up a position at Kunnersdorf, opposite Frankfort-on-Oder. Frederick had but 48,000 men, after calling together almost the entire military strength of his kingdom, and many of these were raw recruits who had never smelt powder.

On the 12th of August, 1759, after the good news arrived that Ferdinand of Brunswick had defeated the French at Minden, Frederick gave battle. At the end of six hours the Russian left wing gave way; then Frederick, against the advice of Seidlitz, ordered a charge upon the right wing, which occupied a very strong position and was supported by the Austrian army. Seidlitz twice refused to make the charge; and then when he yielded, was struck down, severely wounded, after his cavalry had been cut to pieces. Frederick himself led the troops to fresh slaughter, but all in

vain: they fell in whole battalions before the terrible artillery fire, until 20,000 lay upon the field. The enemy charged in turn, and the Prussian army was scattered in all directions, only about 3,000 accompanying the king in his retreat. For some days after this Frederick was in a state of complete despair, listless, helpless, unable to decide or command in anything.

[Sidenote: 1759.]

Prussia was only saved by a difference of opinion between Marshal Daun and the Russian general, Soltikoff. The latter refused to advance on Berlin, but fell back upon Silesia to rest his troops: Daun marched into Saxony, took Dresden, which the Prussians had held up to that time, and made 12,000 prisoners. Thus ended this unfortunate year. Prussia was in such an exhausted condition that it seemed impossible to raise more men or more money, to carry on the war. Frederick tried every means to break the alliance of his enemies, or to acquire new allies for himself, even appealing to Spain and Turkey, but without effect. In the spring of 1760, the armies of Austria, "the German Empire," Russia and Sweden amounted to 280,000, to meet which he was barely able, by making every sacrifice, to raise 90,000. In Hannover Ferdinand of Brunswick had 75,000, opposed by a French army of 115,000.

Silesia was still the bone of contention, and it was planned that the Austrian and Russian armies should unite there, as before, while Frederick was equally determined to prevent their junction, and to hold the province for himself. But he first sent Prince Henry and General Fouque to Silesia, while he undertook to regain possession of Saxony. He bombarded Dresden furiously, without success, and was then called away by the news that Fouque with 7,000 men had been defeated and taken prisoners near Landshut. All Silesia was overrun by the Austrians, except Breslau, which was heroically defended by a small force. Marshal Laudon was in command, and as the Russians had not yet arrived, he effected a junction with Daun, who had followed Frederick from Saxony. On the 15th of August, 1760, they attacked him at Liegnitz with a combined force of 95,000 men. Although he had but 35,000, he won such a splendid victory that the Russian army turned back on hearing of it, and in a short time Silesia, except the fortress of Glatz, was restored to Prussia.


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