FIGHT OF KLOSTER KAMPEN (Night of October 15th-16th); WESEL NOT TO BE HAD BY DUKE FERDINAND.
After WARBURG (July 31st, while Friedrich was on the eve of crossing Elbe on new adventures, Dresden Siege having failed him), Duke Ferdinand made no figure to the Gazetteers; fought no Battle farther; and has had a Campaign, which is honorable only to judges of a higher than the Gazetteer sort.
By Warburg Ferdinand had got the Diemel; on the north bank of which he spread himself out, impassable to Broglio, who lay trying on the opposite bank:--"No Hanover by this road." Broglio thereupon drew back a little; pushed out circuitously from his right wing, which reaches far eastward of Ferdinand, a considerable Brigade,-- circuitously, round by the Weser-Fulda Country, and beyond the embouchure of Diemel,--to try it by that method. Got actually a few miles into Hanoverian territory, by that method; laid hold of Gottingen, also of Munden, which secures a road thither: and at Gottingen there, "ever since August 4th," Broglio has been throwing up works, and shooting out hussar-parties to a good distance; intending, it would seem, to maintain himself, and to be mischievous, in that post. Would, in fact, fain entice Ferdinand across the Weser, to help Gottingen. "Across Weser, yes;--and so leave Broglio free to take Lippstadt from me, as he might after a short siege," thinks Ferdinand always; "which would beautifully shorten Broglio's communication [quite direct then, and without interruption, all the way to Wesel], and make Hanover itself, Hanover and Brunswick, the central Seat of War!" Which Ferdinand, grieved as he is for Gottingen, will by no means consent to.
Ferdinand, strong only as one to two, cannot hinder Broglio, though he tries variously; and is much at a loss, seeing Broglio irrepressibly busy this way, all through August and on into September;--has heard, however, from Wesel, through secret partisans there, that Wesel, considered altogether out of risk, is left in a very weak condition; weak in garrison, weak even in gunners. Reflecting upon which, in his difficulties, Ferdinand asks himself, "A sudden stroke at Wesel, 200 miles away, might it not astonish Broglio, who is so busy on us just here?"--and, September 22d, despatches the Hereditary Prince on that errand. A man likely for it, if there be one in the world:--unable to do it, however, as the issue told. Here is what I find noted.
"SEPTEMBER 22d, the Erbprinz, with a chosen Corps of 15,000, mostly English, left these Diemel regions towards Wesel, at his speediest. September 29th, Erbprinz and vanguard, Corps rapidly following, are got to Dorsten, within 20 miles of Wesel. A most swift Erbprinz; likely for such work. And it is thought by judges, Had he had either siege-artillery or scaling apparatus, he might really have attacked Wesel with good chance upon it. But he has not even a ladder ready, much less a siege-gun. Siege-guns are at Bielefeld [come from Bremen, I suppose, by English boating, up the Weser so far]; but that is six score miles of wheel-carriage; roads bad, and threatening to be worse, as it is equinoctial weather. There is nothing for it but to wait for those guns.
"The Erbprinz, hopefully waiting, does his endeavor in the interim; throws a bridge over the Rhine, pounces upon Cleve garrison (prisoners, with their furnitures), pounces upon this and that; 'spreads terror' on the French thereabouts 'up to Dusseldorf and Koln,--and on Broglio himself, so far off, the due astonishment. 'Wesel to be snatched,--ye Heavens! Our Netherlands road cut off: Dusseldorf, Koln, our Rhine Magazines, all and sundry, fallen to the hawks,--who, the lighter-winged of them, might pay visits in France itself!' Broglio has to suspend his Gottingen operations, and detach Marquis de Castries with (say ultimately, for Castries is to grow and gather by the road) 35,000, to relieve Wesel. Castries marches double-quick; weather very rainy;--arrives in those parts OCTOBER 13th;--hardly a gun from Bielefeld come to hand yet, Erbprinz merely filling men with terror. And so,
"OCTOBER 14th, after two weeks and a day, the Hereditary Prince sees, not guns from Bielefeld, but Castries pushing into Wesel a 7,000 of additional garrison,--and the Enterprise on Wesel grown impossible. Impossible, and probably far more; Castries in a condition to devour us, if he prove sharp. It behooves the Hereditary Prince to be himself sharp;--which he undoubtedly was, in this sharp crisis. Next day, our Erbprinz, taking survey of Castries in his strong ground of Kloster Kampen, decides, like a gallant fellow, to attack HIM;--and straightway does it. Breaks, that same night (October 15th-16th, 1760), stealthily, through woods and with precautions, into Castries's Post;-- intending surprisal, and mere ruin to Castries. And there ensued, not the SURPRISAL as it turned out, but the BATTLE OF KLOSTER KAMPEN; which again proved unsuccessful, or only half-successful, to the Hereditary Prince. A many-winged, intricate Night-Battle; to be read of in Books. This is where the Chevalier d'Assas, he or Somebody, gave the alarm to the Castries people at the expense of his life. 'A MOI, AUVERGNE, Ho, Auvergne!' shouted D'Assas (if it was D'Assas at all), when the stealthy English came upon him; who was at once cut down. [Preuss (ii. 270 n.) asserts it to be proved, in
"During the Fight, the Erbprinz's Rhine-Bridge had burst in two: his ammunition was running short;--and, it would seem, there is no retreat, either! The Erbprinz put a bold face on the matter, stood to Castries in a threatening attitude; mamoeuvred skilfully for two days longer, face still to Castries, till the Bridge was got mended; then, night of October 18th-19th, crossed to his own side; gathered up his goods; and at a deliberate pace marched home, on those terms;--doing some useful fighting by the road." [Mauvillon, ii. 120-129: Tempelhof, ii. 325-332.]