Open main menu

Page:EB1911 - Volume 24.djvu/751

This page needs to be proofread.

Austrians and Empire Army making for Torgau. Daun, relieved of Frederick's pressure, now also moved to Torgau, leaving London Tuma" in Silesia, and had concentrated over 64,000 men at and around Torgau before Frederick had collected an attacking force of 4 5, oo0. The position held by the Austrians was an entrenched camp fronting in all directions, but it was too cramped for their numbers and difficult to leave for a counter-stroke. Frederick determined to attack it both front and rear, and leaving Zieten to act against the former, he marched off at 6-30 of the 3rd of November to attack it as soon as Zieten should have thoroughly attracted the enemy's attention. But for once Zieten failed; he allowed himself to be drawn ofi' by the Austrian light troops, and Frederick, in ignorance of the real state of affairs, launched his grenadiers against a thoroughly intact enemy, strongly entrenched, with, it is said, 400 guns in position to sweep the approaches. The grenadiers were simply swept away by grape and case-only 600 out of 6000 remained, and Prussian batteries hurrying up to their support were destroyed before they had time to load. The attack was, however, renewed

by fresh brigades as they came to hand, and the Prussian artillery did something to diminish the intensity of the Austrian case fire. The action began at 2 p.m. At 4.30, as the sun was setting, the king's last reserve of horse and foot at last succeeded in breaking the Austrian line and in the darkness there ensued a confused slaughter as at Zorndorf. The result was still in the balance when at length Zieten reached the field and' attacked at once. For an hour or so the struggle still raged, but the Austrians were by now completely spent and withdrew gradually into the fortress and then across the river. Out of 44,000 the Prussians had lost 13,120 men (30%), out of 65,000 the Austrians only 11,260 (I7'3(ff;), but of these over 7000 were prisoners. Both sides, however, were completely paralysed by the struggle, and the year ended without further effort on either side. On the western theatre of war Prince Ferdinand after the victory of Warburg had pressed the French back to the Rhine and besieged Wesel, but was compelled to raise the siege after suffering the defeat of Kloster-Kamp (16th Oct.) and to withdraw to Lippstadt and Warburg.

Campaign of 1761.-Torgau proved to be Frederick's last great battle. All parties were now so completely exhausted that they no longer were able to face the risks of a decision on the field. In the west Prince Ferdinand was first in the field, and in February and March he drove the French southward as far as Fulda, but an attempt to capture Marburg failed and the gradual pressure of French numerical superiority, together with the reduction of the British contingent on the death of George II., compelled him to retreat gradually until by the beginning of October both Brunswick and Wolfenbiittel fell into their hands. In the east the king had barely 100,000 men against 300,000 Austrians and Russians. Leaving Prince Henry to observe Daun in Saxony he marched to join von der Goltz, who with 23,000 stood about Schweidnitz. The Russians (50,000) under Buturlin were approaching from Posen, and London with 72,000 men starting from Glatz manoeuvred to join them. After two months' skirmishing and marching the Allies ehected their junction between Liegnitz and Jauer, having completely severed Frederick's communica tions with Prussia. But Frederick depended for his food and immediate supplies on Southern Silesia, and not caring to risk a battle with odds of three to one against him he withdrew into the entrenched camp of Bunzelwitz, where the Allies did not dare to attack him. Ultimately, as usual, the Russian commissariat broke down, and in September Buturlin withdrew the Way he had come. Relieved of this antagonist, Frederick manoeuvred to draw .London out of his positions and compel him to fight in the open, but London refused the challenge and after an attempt to surprise Schweidnitz, which failed, withdrew into winter quarters. Prince Henry in Saxony held his own against Daun.

England now threatened to Withdraw her subsidies, and as the Prussian armies had dwindled to 60,000 men the end seemed very near. But a turn of fortune was already at hand. On the 5th of January 1762 the tsarina died, and her successor, Peter III., at once offered peace. On the 16th of March an armistice was agreed to, and shortly afterwards the treaty of St Petersburg was signed, by which Pomerania was given back to Prussia and a contingent of 18,000 men placed at F rederick's disposal. The withdrawal of the Russians led in turn to the withdrawal of the Swedes, and thus only France and Austria remained-the former bled white by the strain of her colonial disasters, the latter too weary to make further great exertions. Though the war dragged on for some months, and Prince Henry, assisted by Seydlitz, won the victory of Freiberg over the Empire Army (29th Oct. 1762), no great battle was attempted, and although a revolution at St Petersburg deprived Frederickgof Russian assistance, in the autumn Ferdinand drove the French back over the Rhine, and thereupon an armistice was agreed upon by all. Final terms of peace were adjusted on status quo ante basis at Hubertusburg on the 15th of February 1763. Prussia had maintained all her possessions and made good her claim to rank for all time with the Great Powers. (F. N. M.)

BIBLIOGRAPHY.'*Th6 three principal works on the “ Third Silesian ” part of the war are the Prussian General Stafi, Der siebenjdhrige Krieg (Berlin, 1901-); Austrian Official “ Kriegsarchiv, " Kriege der Kaiserin Marie Theresia (in progress), and Carlyle's Frederick the Great. See also C. B. Brackenbury, Frederick the Great; Bernhardi, Friedrich der Grosse als Feldherr (Berlin, 1881); biographies of Prince Henry, Zieten, Seydlitz, Maurice of Dessau, &c.; von Arneth, Maria Theresia und der Siebenjdhrige Krieg (Vienna, 1875); the older histories of the war by Tempelhoff, Archenholz and Lloyd; Jomini, Traité des grandes operations militaires; Masslowski, Die russische Arrnee im 7jahr. Kriege (Berlin, 1893). The main authorities for Ferdinand's Campaign are Westphalen, Feldzzige des Herzogs Ferdinand von Braunschweig, and ]. W. Fortescue, Hist. British Army, vol. ii.


The naval operations of the Seven Years' War began nearly a. year before the declaration of hostilities. In June 1755 -a British squadron under Boscawen was sent into the Straits of Belle Isle to intercept French ships carrying soldiers and stores to Quebec, in retaliation for aggressions on British possessions in North America. On the fsth of June Boscawen seized two French line-of-battle ships fitted as transports, the “ Alcide ” and the “'Lys.” A general seizure of French merchant ships followed, and thousands of French sailors were in prison in England by the early days of 1756. The government of Louis XV. did not reply by a declaration of war, but prepared to retaliate by a threat of invasion, which created something like a panic in Great Britain. The government, then in the weak hands of

the duke of Newcastle, accumulated warships in the Channel.,