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A History of Germany by Bayard Taylor

Marshal Laudon and the Russian commander


[Sidenote:

1760. CAPTURE OF BERLIN.]

Nevertheless, while Frederick was engaged in following up his victory, the Austrians and Russians came to an understanding, and moved suddenly upon Berlin,--the Russians from the Oder, the Austrians and Saxons combined from Lusatia. The city defended itself for a few days, but surrendered on the 9th of October: a contribution of 1,700,000 thalers was levied by the conquerors, the Saxons ravaged the royal palace at Charlottenburg, but the Russians and Austrians committed few depredations. Four days afterwards, the news that Frederick was hastening to the relief of Berlin compelled the enemy to leave. Without attempting to pursue them, Frederick turned and marched back to Silesia, where, on the 3d of November, he met the Austrians, under Daun, at Torgau. This was one of the bloodiest battles of the Seven Years' War: the Prussian army was divided between Frederick and Zieten, the former undertaking to storm the Austrian position in front, while the latter attacked their flank. But Frederick, either too impetuous or mistaken in the signals, moved too soon: a terrible day's fight followed, and when night came 10,000 of his soldiers, dead or wounded, lay upon the field. He sat all night in the village church, making plans for the morrow; then, in the early dawn, Zieten came and announced that he had been victorious on the Austrian flank, and they were in full retreat. After which, turning to his soldiers, Zieten cried: "Boys,

hurrah for our King!--he has won the battle!" The men answered: "Hurrah for Fritz, our King, and hurrah for Father Zieten, too!" The Prussian loss was 13,000, the Austrian 20,000.

Although Prussia had been defended with such astonishing vigor and courage during the year 1760, the end of the campaign found her greatly weakened. The Austrians held Dresden and Glatz, two important strategic points, Russia and France were far from being exhausted, and every attempt of Frederick to strengthen himself by alliance--even with Turkey and with Cossack and Tartar chieftains--came to nothing. In October, 1760, George II. of England died, there was a change of ministry, and the four, millions of thalers which Prussia had received for three years were cut off. The French, under Marshals Broglie and Soubise, had been bravely met by Prince Ferdinand of Brunswick, but he was not strong enough to prevent them from quartering themselves for the winter in Cassel and Goettingen. Under these discouraging aspects the year 1761 opened.

[Sidenote: 1761.]

The first events were fortunate. Prince Ferdinand moved against the French in February and drove them back nearly to the Rhine; the army of "the German Empire" was expelled from Thuringia by a small detachment of Prussians, and Prince Henry, Frederick's brother, maintained himself in Saxony against the much stronger Austrian army of Marshal Daun. These successes left Frederick free to act with all his remaining forces against the Austrians in Silesia, under Laudon, and their Russian allies who were marching through Poland to unite with them a third time. But their combined force was 140,000 men, his barely 55,000. By the most skilful military tactics, marching rapidly back and forth, threatening first one and then the other, he kept them asunder until the middle of August, when they effected a junction in spite of him. Then he entrenched himself so strongly in a fortified camp near Schweidnitz, that they did not dare to attack him immediately. Marshal Laudon and the Russian commander, Buturlin, quarrelled, in consequence of which a large part of the Russian army left, and marched northwards into Pomerania. Then Frederick would have given battle, but on the 1st of October, Laudon took Schweidnitz by storm and so strengthened his position thereby that it would have been useless to attack him.


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