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A History of Germany by Bayard Taylor

And a third in the North under Bernadotte


With

the exception of Mecklenburg and Dessau, the States of the Rhine-Bund still held to France: Saxony and Bavaria especially distinguished themselves by their abject fidelity to Napoleon. Austria remained neutral, and whatever influence she exercised was against Prussia. But Sweden, under the Crown Prince Bernadotte (Napoleon's former Marshal) joined the movement, with the condition of obtaining Norway in case of success. The operations were delayed by the slowness of the Russians, and the disagreement, or perhaps jealousy, of the various generals; and Napoleon made good use of the time to prepare himself for the coming struggle. Although France was already exhausted, he enforced a merciless conscription, taking young boys and old men, until, with the German soldiers still at his disposal, he had a force of nearly 500,000 men.

The campaign opened well for Prussia. Hamburg and Luebeck were delivered from the French, and on the 5th of April the Viceroy Eugene was defeated at Moeckern (near Leipzig) with heavy losses. The first great battle was fought at Luetzen, on the 2d of May, on the same field where Gustavus Adolphus fell in 1632. The Russians and Prussians, with 95,000 men, held Napoleon, with 120,000, at bay for a whole day, and then fell back in good order, after a defeat which encouraged instead of dispiriting the people. The greatest loss was the death of Scharnhorst. Shortly afterwards Napoleon occupied Dresden, and it became evident that

Saxony would be the principal theatre of war. A second battle of two days took place on the 20th and 21st of May, in which, although the French outnumbered the Germans and Russians two to one, they barely achieved a victory. The courage and patriotism of the people were now beginning to tell, especially as Napoleon's troops were mostly young, physically weak, and inexperienced. In order to give them rest he offered an armistice on the 4th of June, an act which he afterwards declared to have been the greatest mistake of his life. It was prolonged until the 10th of August, and gave the Germans time both to rest and recruit, and to strengthen themselves by an alliance with Austria.

[Sidenote: 1813. ALLIANCE OF AUSTRIA.]

Francis II. judged that the time had come to recover what he had lost, especially as England formally joined Prussia and Russia on the 14th of June. A fortnight afterwards an agreement was entered into between the two latter powers and Austria, that peace should be offered to Napoleon provided he would give up Northern Germany, the Dalmatian provinces and the Grand-Duchy of Warsaw. He rejected the offer, and so insulted Metternich during an interview in Dresden, that the latter became his bitter enemy thenceforth. The end of all the negotiations was that Austria declared war on the 12th of August, and both sides prepared at once for a final and desperate struggle. The Allies now had 800,000 men, divided into three armies, one under Schwarzenberg confronting the French centre in Saxony, one under Bluecher in Silesia, and a third in the North under Bernadotte. The last of these generals seemed reluctant to act against his former leader, and his participation was of little real service. Napoleon had 550,000 men, less scattered than the Germans, and all under the government of his single will. He was still, therefore, a formidable foe.

[Sidenote: 1813.]

Just sixteen days after the armistice came to an end, the old Bluecher won a victory as splendid as many of Napoleon's. He met Marshal Macdonald on the banks of a stream called the Katzbach, in Silesia, and defeated him with the loss of 12,000 killed and wounded, 18,000 prisoners and 103 cannon. From the circumstance of his having cried out to his men: "Forwards! forwards!" in the crisis of the battle, Bluecher was thenceforth called "Marshal Forwards" by the soldiers. Five days before this the Prussian general Buelow was victorious over Oudinot at Grossbeeren, within ten miles of Berlin; and four days afterwards the French general Vandamme, with 40,000 men, was cut to pieces by the Austrians and Prussians, at Kulm on the southern frontier of Saxony. Thus, within a month, Napoleon lost one-fourth of his whole force, while the fresh hope and enthusiasm of the German people immediately supplied the losses on their side. It is true that Schwarzenberg had been severely repulsed in an attack on Dresden, on the 27th of August, but this had been so speedily followed by Vandamme's defeat, that it produced no discouragement.


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