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A History of Germany by Bayard Taylor

Frederick William himself marched to Warsaw


The

chief cause of Prussia's change of policy seems to have been her fear that Russia would absorb the whole of Poland. This was probably the intention of Catharine II., for she had vigorously encouraged the war between Germany and France, while declining to take part in it. The Poles themselves, now more divided than ever, soon furnished her with a pretext for interference. They had adopted an hereditary instead of an elective monarchy, together with a Constitution similar to that of France; but a portion of the nobility rose in arms against these changes, and were supported by Russia. Then Frederick William II. insisted on being admitted as a partner in the business of interference, and Catharine II. reluctantly consented. In January, 1793, the two powers agreed to divide a large portion of Polish territory between them, Austria taking no active part in the matter. Prussia received the cities of Thorn and Dantzig, the provinces of Posen, Gnesen and Kalisch, and other territory, amounting to more than 20,000 square miles, with 1,000,000 inhabitants. The only resistance made to the entrance of the Russian army into Poland, was headed by Kosciusko, one of the heroes of the American war of Independence. Although defeated at Dubienka, where he fought with 4,000 men against 16,000, the hopes of the Polish patriots centred upon him, and when they rose in 1794 to prevent the approaching destruction of their country, they made him Dictator. Russia was engaged in a war with Turkey, and had
not troops enough to quell the insurrection, so Prussia was called upon to furnish her share. In June, 1794, Frederick William himself marched to Warsaw, where a Russian army arrived about the same time: the city was besieged, but not attacked, owing to quarrels and differences of opinion among the commanders. At the end of three months, the king got tired and went back to Berlin; several small battles were fought, in which the Poles had the greater advantage, but nothing decisive happened until the end of October, when the Russian General Suwarrow arrived, after a forced march, from the seat of war on the Danube.

[Sidenote: 1795.]

He first defeated Kosciusko, who was taken prisoner, and then marched upon Warsaw. On the 4th of November the suburb of Praga was taken by storm, with terrible slaughter, and three days afterwards Warsaw fell. This was the end of Poland, as an independent nation. Although Austria had taken no part in the war, she now negotiated for a share in the Third (and last) Partition, which had been decided upon by Russia and Prussia, even before the Polish revolt furnished a pretext for it. Catharine II. favored the Austrian claims, and even concluded a secret agreement with Francis II. without consulting Prussia. When this had been made known, in August, 1795, Prussia protested violently against it, but without effect: Russia took more than half the remaining territory, Austria nearly one-quarter, and Prussia received about 20,000 square miles more, including the city of Warsaw.

After the Treaty of Basel, which secured peace to the northern half of Germany, Catharine II., victorious over Turkey and having nothing more to do in Poland, united with England and Austria against France. It was agreed that Russia should send both an army and a fleet, Austria raise 200,000 men, and England contribute 4,000,000 pounds sterling annually towards the expenses of the war. During the summer of 1795, however, little was done. The French still held everything west of the Rhine, and the Austrians watched them from the opposite bank: the strength of both was nearly equal. Suddenly, in September, the French crossed the river, took Duesseldorf and Mannheim, with immense quantities of military stores, and completely laid waste the country in the neighborhood of these two cities, treating the people with the most inhuman barbarity. Then the Austrians rallied, repulsed the French, in their turn, and before winter recovered possession of nearly all the western bank.


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