"About 4 in the afternoon, all the Captains and Battalions, with their ladders and furnitures, everybody with Instruction very pointed and complete, are assembled at Kunzendorf: Loudon addresses the Troops in a few fiery words; assures himself of victory by them; promises them 10,060 pounds in lieu of plunder, which he strictly prohibits. Officers had better make themselves acquainted with the Four Routes they are to take in the dark: proper also to set all your watches by the chief General's, that there be no mistake as to time. [In TEMPELHOF (v. 332-349) and ARCHENHOLTZ (ii. 272-280) all these details.] At 9, all being now dark, and the Croat girdle having gathered itself closer round the place since nightfall, the Four Divisions march to their respective starting- places; will wait there, silent; and about 2 in the morning, each at its appointed minute, step forward on their business. With fixed bayonets all of them; no musketry permitted till the works are won. Loudon will wait at the Village of Schonbrunn [not WARKOTSCH'S Schonbrunn, of which by and by, and which also is not far [See ARCHENHOLTZ, ii. 287; and correct his mistake of the two places.]] --at Schonbrunn, within short distance; give Loudon notice when you are within 600 yards;--there shall, if desirable, be reinforcements, farther orders. Loudon knows Schweidnitz like his own bedroom. He was personally there, in Leuthen time, improving the Works. By nocturnal Croat parties, in the latter part of Bunzelwitz time; and since then, by deserters and otherwise,--he knows the condition of the Garrison, of the Commandant, and of every essential point. Has calculated that the Garrison is hardly third part of what it ought to be,--3,800 in whole, and many of them loose deserter fellows; special artillery-men, instead of about 400, only 191;--most important of all, that Commandant Zastrow is no wizard in his trade; and, on the whole, that the Enterprise is likely to succeed.
"Zastrow has been getting married lately; and has many things to think of, besides Schweidnitz. Some accounts say this was his wedding-night,--which is not true, but only that he had meant to give a Ball this last night of September; and perhaps did give it, dancing over BEFORE 2, let us hope! Something of a jolter-head seemingly, though solid and honest. I observe he is a kind of butt, or laughing-stock, of Friedrich's, and has yielded some gleams of momentary fun, he and this marriage of his, between Prince Henri and the King, in the tragic gloom all round. [Schoning, ii. SOEPIUS.] Nothing so surprises me in Friedrich as his habitual inattention to the state of his Garrisons. He has the best of Commandants and also the worst: Tauentzien in Breslau, Heyde in Colberg, unsurpassable in the world; in Glatz a D'O, in Schweidnitz a Zastrow, both of whom cost him dear. Opposition sneers secretly, 'It is as they happen to have come to hand.' Which has not much truth, though some. Tauentzien he chose; D'O was Fouquet's choice, not his; Zastrow he did choose; Heyde he had by accident; of Heyde he had never heard till the defence of Colberg began to be a world's wonder. And in regard to his Garrisons, it is indisputable they were often left palpably defective in quantity and quality; and, more than once, fatally gave way at the wrong moment. We can only say that Friedrich was bitterly in want of men for the field; that 'a Garrison-Regiment' was always reckoned an inferior article; and that Friedrich, in the press of his straits, had often had to say: 'Well, these [plainly Helots, not Spartans], these will have to do!' For which he severely suffered: and perhaps repented,-- who knows?
"Zastrow, in spite of Loudon's precautionary Girdle of Croats, and the cares of a coming Ball, had got sufficient inkling of something being in the wind. And was much on the Walls all day, he and his Officers; scanning with their glasses and their guesses the surrounding phenomena, to little purpose. At night he sent out patrols; kept sputtering with musketry and an occasional cannon into the vacant darkness ('We are alert, you see, Herr Loudon!'). In a word, took what measures he could, poor man;--very stupid measures, thinks Tempelhof, and almost worse than none, especially this of sputtering with musketry;--and hoped always there would be no Attack, or none to speak of. Till, in fine, between 2 and 3 in the morning, his patrols gallop in, 'Austrians on march!' and Zastrow, throwing out a rocket or two, descries in momentary illumination that the Fact is verily here.
"His defence (four of the Five several Forts attacked at once) was of a confused character; but better than could have been expected. Loudon's Columns came on with extraordinary vigor and condensed impetuosity; stormed the Outworks everywhere, and almost at once got into the shelter of the Covered-way: but on the Main Wall, or in the scaling part of their business, were repulsed, in some places twice or thrice; and had a murderous struggle, of very chaotic nature, in the dark element. No picture of it in the least possible or needful here. In one place, a Powder-Magazine blew up with about 400 of them,--blown (said rumor, with no certainty) by an indignant Prussian artillery-man to whom they had refused quarter: in another place, the 800 Russian Grenadiers came unexpectedly upon a chasm or bridgeless interstice between two ramparts; and had to halt suddenly,--till (says rumor again, with still less certainty) their Officers insisting with the rearward part, 'Forward, forward!' enough of front men were tumbled in to make a roadway! This was the story current; [Archenholtz, ii. 275.] greatly exaggerated, I have no doubt. What we know is, That these Russians did scramble through, punctually perform their part of the work;--and furthermore, that, having got upon the Town-Wall, which was finis to everything, they punctually sat down there; and, reflectively leaning on their muskets, witnessed with the gravity and dignity of antique sages, superior to money or money's worth, the general plunder which went on in spite of Loudon's orders.
"For, in fine, between 5 and 6, that is in about three hours and a half, Loudon was everywhere victorious; Zastrow, Schweidnitz Fortress, and all that it held, were Loudon's at discretion; Loudon's one care now was to stop the pillage of the poor Townsfolk, as the most pressing thing. Which was not done without difficulty, nor completely till after hours of exertion by cavalry regiments sent in. The captors had fought valiantly; but it was whispered there had been a preliminary of brandy in them; certainly, except those poor Russians, nobody's behavior was unexceptionable."
The capture of Schweidnitz cost Loudon about 1,400 men; he found in Schweidnitz, besides the Garrison all prisoners or killed, some 240 pieces of artillery,--"211 heavy guns, 135 hand-mortars," say the Austrian Accounts, "with stores and munitions" in such quantities; "89,760 musket-cartridges, 1,300,000 flints," [In
This is what Loudon had done, without any Russians, except Russians to give him eight-and-forty hours colic, and put him on his own shifts. And the way in which the Kriegshofrath, and her Imperial Majesty the Kaiserinn, received it, is perhaps still worth a word. The Kaiser, who had alone known of Loudon's scheme, and for good reason (absolute secrecy being the very soul of it) had whispered nothing of it farther to any mortal, was naturally overjoyed. But the Olympian brow of Maria Theresa, when the Kaiser went radiant to her with this news, did not radiate in response; but gloomed indignantly: "No order from Kriegshofrath, or me!" Indignant Kriegshofrath called it a CROATEN-STREICH (Croat's-trick); and Loudon, like Prince Eugen long since, was with difficulty excused this act of disobedience. Great is Authority;-- and ought to be divinely rigorous, if (as by no means always happens) it is otherwise of divine quality!
Friedrich's treatment of Zastrow was in strong contrast of style. Here is his Letter to that unlucky Gentleman, who is himself clear that he deserves no blame: "My dear Major-General von Zastrow,-- The misfortune that has befallen me is very grievous; but what consoles me in it is, to see by your Letter that you have behaved like a brave Officer, and that neither you nor the Garrison have brought disgrace or reproach on yourselves. I am your well- affectioned King,--FRIEDRICH." And in Autograph this Postscript: "You may, in this occurrence, say what Francis I., after the Battle of Pavia, wrote to his Mother: 'All is lost except honor.' As I do not yet completely understand the affair, I forbear to judge of it; for it is altogether extraordinary.--F." [