CHAPTER XXVII. THE LEUTHEN CAMPAIGN.As General Daun approached the city, the Prussian general who had been left in command of the small garrison there sent word to him that, should he menace Dresden with his forces, the Prussian commander would be under the necessity of setting fire to the suburbs, as a measure of self-defense. Daun, expostulating vehemently against so cruel an act, regardless of the menace, approached the city on the 9th of November, and at midnight commenced rearing his batteries for the bombardment. In the mean time the Prussian general had filled many of the largest houses with combustibles. As the clock struck three in the morning the torch was applied. The unhappy inhabitants had but three hours notice that their houses were to be surrendered to destruction. Instantly the flames burst forth with terrific fury in all directions. Sir Andrew Mitchel, who witnessed the conflagration, writes:
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The whole of Lower Silesia; the River Neisse for the boundary; the city of Neisse for us, as also Glutz; on the other side of the Oder, the ancient boundary between the Duchies of Brieg and Oppeln. Namslau for us. The affairs of religion in statu quo. No dependence upon Bohemia. Cession eternal. In exchange we will go no farther. We will besiege Neisse for form. The commandant shall surrender and depart. We will quietly go into winter quarters; and they (the Austrians) can take their army where they will. Let all be finished in twelve days.Maria Theresa was developing character which attracted the admiration of Europe. She seriously contemplated taking command of her armies herself. She loved Duke Francis, her husband, treated him very tenderly, and was anxious to confer upon him honor; but by nature vastly his superior, instinctively she assumed the command. She led; he followed. She was a magnificent rider. Her form was the perfection of grace. Her beautiful, pensive, thoughtful face was tanned by the weather. All hearts throbbed as, on a spirited charger, she sometimes swept before the ranks of the army, with her gorgeous retinue, appearing and disappearing like a meteor. She was as devout as she317 was brave, winning the homage of all Catholic hearts. We know not where, in the long list of sovereigns, to point to man or woman of more imperial energies, of more exalted worth.
Still, on the whole, the siege progressed favorably. Large supplies of food and ammunition were indispensable to Frederick. Thirty thousand hungry men were to be fed. A constant bombardment rapidly exhausts even abundant stores of powder, shot, and shell. The French have seized upon Friesland, and are about to pass the Weser. They have instigated the Swedes to declare war against me. The Swedes are sending seventeen thousand men into Pomerania. The Russians are besieging Memel. General Schwald has them on his front and in his rear. The troops of the empire are also about to march. All this will force me to evacuate Bohemia so soon as that crowd of enemies gets into motion.
But, after this avowal, allow me to entreat you to look back at what was the pitiable state of your enemy when you lay before Prague. It is the sudden whirl of fortune for both parties. The like can occur again when one is the least expecting it. C?sar was the slave of pirates, and yet he became master of the world. A great genius like yours finds resources even when all is lost.
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