Open main menu
This page needs to be proofread.
717
SEVEN YEARS' WAR


he again advanced, but found the enemy so strongly posted at Burkersdorf (south of Bischofswerda) that he relinquished his purpose and retreated on Bernstadt.

Meanwhile his enemies had been gathering around him. France had dispatched 100,000 men under d'Estrées against Hanover, where Cumberland with 54,000 stood to

"
°""k meet him, and another 24,000 men were marching

9 . . . ¢, , through Franconia to unite with the “ Army of the Holy Roman Empire ” under the prince of Saxe-Hildburghausen. Fortunately this latter army was not as formidable as its title, and totalled only some 60,000 most undisciplined and heterogeneous combatants. In the north 100,000 back into the wooded districts of Thuringia and Franconia. Bad news now reached Frederick from Silesia; leaving Ferdinand to observe Hildburghausen, he marched' with all haste to Eckersberg to support Bevern. Arrived here, he found more bad news from Berlin, which had been entered by a body of Austrian raiders under Hadik and plundered. Prince Maurice and Seydlitz were sent by forced marches to its aid, and before them Hadik retired at once (October 18th). Finding the Austrians for the moment quiescent and hearing that Hildburghausen was again advancing, the king now concentrated all available men on Leipzig and marched to support Prince Ferdinand. Hildburghausen took up a position about Meucheln on the 2nd of November, and on the 5th moved off to repeat Frederick's manoeuvre of Prague against its inventor. The battle of Rossbach (q.'v.) followed. In this Seydlitz and the Prussian Rossbach cavalry won imperishable renown. Aided only by the fire of 18 guns and of 7 battalions of infantry, only two of which fired more than five rounds, the Prussian squadrons swept down upon the marching columns of the Allies and in about 40 minutes the whole 64,000 were in full flight. Never was a victory more timely, for the Prussian army was almost worn out and more bad news was even then on the way. Bevern in Silesia, who had been beaten at Moys near Gorlitz (September 7th) and in the battle of Breslau on the 22nd of October, had been compelled to retire behind the Oder, leaving the fortresses of Schweidnitz and Breslau to their fate, and both had capitulated within a few days. Leaving a small reinforcement for Ferdinand, the king now moved by forced marches to Liegnitz. The distance, about 170 m. through difficult country, was covered again in 12 days, but the numbers were small, only 13,000, whichhshcws how tremendous had been Russians under Apraxin were » slowly advancing into East Prussia, where Lehwald with 30,000 was preparing to confront them, and 16,000 Swedes had landed in Pomerania. On the 26th of June Cumberland had been beaten at Hastenbeck by d'Estrées, and the French overran Hanover and Brunswick. The king, leaving Bevern with only 13,600 men in Silesia to watch the Austrians, began to march across Germany to succour Cumberland. Arrived at Leipzig

on the 3rd of September, he heard of Lehwald's defeat at Gross-jagerndorf on the 30th of August and immediately afterwards of Cumberland's convention of Kloster Seven, which gave up Hanover to the French. Fearing that the French army now set free in Hanover might unite with the Army of the Empire under Hildburghausen and with IS0,000 men march direct on Berlin, Frederick, taking with him 23,000, men, marched to join' Prince Ferdinand in the district about Halberstadt, hoping to strike his blow before the enemy's I Junction could be completed. Mobility, therefore, was the first consideration, and arrangements for supply having been made in advance along his road, his troops covered 170 m. in 12 days (September r-13). But Hildburghausen, not having been joined by d'Estrées, refused to fight and fell the drain upon the men of the previous six weeks' exertions. On the night of the 4th of December, having joined the beaten forces of Bevern at Parschwitz, making in all 43,000 men of very unequal fighting value, he decided to attack the 72,000 Austrians who lay across the Breslau road, their centre marked

by the village of Leuthen (q.v.). His position appeared so