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time：2023-12-01 15:04:23 Source: Originally writtenedit：computer
Grim Old Dessauer having reconnoitred, and rapidly considered, decides to try it,--what else?--will range himself on the west side of that Tschonengrund, horse and foot; two lines, wide as Rutowski opposite him; but means to direct his main and prime effort against Kesselsdorf, which is clearly the key of the position, if it can. be taken. For which end the Old Dessauer lengthens himself out to rightward, so as to outflank Kesselsdorf;--neglecting Grune (refusing Grune, as the soldiers say):--"our horse of the right wing reached from the Wood called Lerchenbusoh (LARCH-BUSH) rightward as far as Freyberg road; foot all between that Lerchenbusch and the big Birch-tree on the road to Wilsdruf; horse of the left wing, from there to Roitsch." [Stille (p. 181), who was present. See Plan.] It was about two P.M. before the old man got all his deployments completed; what corps of his, deploying this way or that, came within wind of Kesselsdorf, were saluted with cannon, thirty pieces or more, which are in battery, in three batteries, on the knoll there; but otherwise no fighting as yet. At two, the Old Dessauer is complete; he reverently doffs his hat, as had always been his wont, in prayer to God, before going in. A grim fervor of prayer is in his heart, doubtless; though the words as reported are not very regular or orthodox: "O HERR GOTT, help me yet this once; let me not be disgraced in my old days! Or if thou wilt not help me, don't help those HUNDSVOGTE [damned Scoundrels, so to speak], but leave us to try it ourselves!" That is the Old Scandinavian of a Dessauer's prayer; a kind of GODUR he too, Priest as well as Captain: Prayer mythically true as given; mythically, not otherwise. [Ranke, iii. 334 n.] Which done, he waves his hat once, "On, in God's name!" and the storm is loose. Prussian right wing pushing grandly forward, bent in that manner, to take Kesselsdorf and its fire-throats in flank.
The Prussians tramp on with the usual grim-browed resolution, foot in front, horse in rear; but they have a terrible problem at that Kesselsdorf, with its retrenched batteries, and numerous grenadiers fighting under cover. The very ground is sore against them; uphill, and the trampled snow wearing into a slide, so that you sprawl and stagger sadly. Thirty-one big guns, and about 9,000 small, pouring out mere death on you, from that knoll-head. The Prussians stagger; cannot stand it; bend to rightwards, and get out of shot-range; cannot manage it this bout. Rally, reinforce; try it again. Again, with a will; but again there is not a way. The Prussians are again repulsed; fall back, down this slippery course, in more disorder than the first time. Had the Saxons stood still, steadily handling arms, how, on such terms, could the Prussians ever have managed it?
But at sight of this second repulse, the Saxon grenadiers, and especially one battalion of Austrians who were there (the only Austrians who fought this day), gave a shout "Victory!"--and in the height of their enthusiasm, rushed out, this Austrian battalion first and the Saxons after them, to charge these Prussians, and sweep the world clear of them. It was the ruin of their battle; a fatal hollaing before you are out of the woods. Old Leopold, quick as thought, noticing the thing, hurls cavalry on these victorious down-plunging grenadiers; slashes them asunder, into mere recoiling whirlpools of ruin; so that "few of them got back unwounded;" and the Prussians storming in along with them,--aided by ever new Prussians, from beyond the Tschonengrund even,--the place was at length carried; and the Saxon battle became hopeless.
For, their right being in such hurricane, the Prussians from the centre, as we hint, storm forward withal; will not be held back by the Tschonengrund. They find the Tschonengrund quaggy in the extreme, "brook frozen at the sides, but waist-deep of liquid mud in the centre;" cross it, nevertheless, towards the upper part of it,--young Moritz of Dessau leading the way, to help his old Father in extremity. They climb the opposite side,--quite slippery in places, but "helping one another up;"--no Saxons there till you get fairly atop, which was an oversight on the Saxon part. Fairly atop, Moritz is saluted by the Saxons with diligent musket-volleys; but Moritz also has musket-volleys in him, bayonet-charges in him; eager to help his old Papa at this hard pinch. Old Papa has the Saxons in flank; sends more and ever more other cavalry in on them; and in fact, the right wing altogether storms violently through Kesselsdorf, and sweeps it clean. Whole regiments of the Saxons are made prisoners; Roel's Light Horse we see there, taking standards; cutting violently in to avenge Roel's death, and the affront they had at Meissen lately. Furious Moritz on their front, from across the Tschonengrund; furious Roel (GHOST of Roel) and others in their flank, through Kesselsdorf: no standing for the Saxons longer.
About nightfall,--their horse having made poorish fight, though the foot had stood to it like men,--they roll universally away. The Prussian left wing of horse are summoned through the Tschonengrund to chase: had there remained another hour of daylight, the Saxon Army had been one wide ruin. Hidden in darkness, the Saxon Army ebbed confusedly towards Dresden: with the loss of 6,000 prisoners and 3,000 killed and wounded: a completely beaten Army. It is the last battle the Saxons fought as a Nation,-- or probably will fight. Battle called of Kesselsdorf: Wednesday, 15th December, 1745.
Prince Karl had arrived at Dresden the night before; heard all this volleying and cannonading, from the distance; but did not see good to interfere at all. Too wide apart, some say; quartered at unreasonably distant villages, by some irrefragable ignorant War- clerk of Bruhl's appointing,--fatal Bruhl. Others say, his Highness had himself no mind; and made excuses that his troops were tired, disheartened by the two beatings lately,--what will become of us in case of a third or fourth! It is certain, Prince Karl did nothing. Nor has Grime's corps, the right wing, done anything except meditate:--it stood there unattacked, unattacking; till deep in the dark night, when Rutowski remembered it, and sent it order to come home. One Austrian battalion, that of grenadiers on the knoll at Kesselsdorf, did actually fight;--and did begin that fatal outbreak, and quitting of the post there; "which lost the Battle to us!" say the Saxons.
Had those grenadiers stood in their place, there is no Prussian but admits that it would have been a terrible business to take Kesselsdorf and its batteries. But they did not stand; they rushed out, shouting "Victory;" and lost us the battle. And that is the good we have got of the sublime Austrian Alliance; and that is the pass our grand scheme of Partitioning Prussia has come to? Fatal little Bruhl of the three hundred and sixty-five clothes- suits; Valet fatally become divine in Valet-hood,--are not you costing your Country dear!
Old Dessauer, glorious in the last of his fields, lay on his arms all night in the posts about; three bullets through his roquelaure, no scratch of wound upon the old man. Young Moritz too "had a bullet through his coat-skirt, and three horses shot under him; but no hurt, the Almighty's grace preserving him." [
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