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A History of Germany by Bayard Taylor

In the second Auerstaedt Marshal Davoust


Prussia,

by this time, had agreed with Napoleon to give up Anspach and Bayreuth to Bavaria, and receive Hannover instead. This provoked the enmity of England, the only remaining nation which was friendly to Prussia. The French armies were still quartered in Southern Germany, violating at will not only the laws of the land, but the laws of nations. A bookseller named Palm, in Nuremberg, who had in his possession some pamphlets opposing Napoleon's schemes, was seized by order of the latter, tried by court-martial and shot. This brutal and despotic act was not resented by the German princes, but it aroused the slumbering spirit of the people. The Prussians, especially, began to grow very impatient of their pusillanimous government; but Frederick William III. did nothing, until in August, 1806, he discovered that Napoleon was trying to purchase peace with England and Russia by offering Hannover to the former and Prussian Poland to the latter. Then he decided for war, at the very time when he was compelled to meet the victorious power of France alone!

Napoleon, as usual, was on the march before his enemy was even properly organized. He was already in Franconia, and in a few days stood at the head of an army of 200,000 men, part of whom were furnished by the Rhine-Bund. Prussia, assisted only by Saxony and Weimar, had 150,000, commanded by Prince Hohenlohe and the Duke of Brunswick, who hardly reached the bases of the Thuringian Mountains when they were met

by the French and hurled back. On the table-land near Jena and Auerstaedt a double battle was fought on the 14th of October, 1806. In the first (Jena) Napoleon simply crushed and scattered to the winds the army of Prince Hohenlohe; in the second (Auerstaedt) Marshal Davoust, after some heavy fighting, defeated the Duke of Brunswick, who was mortally wounded. Then followed a season of panic and cowardice which now seems incredible: the French overwhelmed Prussia, and almost every defence fell without resistance as they approached. The strong fortress of Erfurt, with 10,000 men, surrendered the day after the battle of Jena; the still stronger fortress-city of Magdeburg, with 24,000 men, opened its gates before a gun was fired! Spandau capitulated as soon as asked, on the 24th of October, and Davoust entered Berlin the same day. Only General Bluecher, more than sixty years old, cut his way through the French with 10,000 men, and for a time gallantly held them at bay in Luebeck; and the young officers, Gneisenau and Schill, kept the fortress of Colberg, on the Baltic, where they were steadily besieged until the war was over.

[Sidenote: 1806.]

When Napoleon entered Berlin in triumph, on the 27th of November, he found nearly the whole population completely cowed, and ready to acknowledge his authority; seven Ministers of the Prussian Government took the oath of allegiance to him, and agreed, at once, to give up all of the kingdom west of the Elbe for the sake of peace! Frederick William III., who had fled to Koenigsberg, refused to confirm their action, and entered into an alliance with Alexander I. of Russia, to continue the war. Napoleon, meanwhile, had made peace with Saxony, which, after paying heavy contributions and joining the Rhine-Bund, was raised by him to the rank of a kingdom. At the same time he encouraged a revolt in Prussian Poland, got possession of Silesia, and kept Austria neutral by skilful diplomacy. England had the power, by prompt and energetic action, of changing the face of affairs, but her government did nothing.


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