Neipperg is to be in two lines, as the Prussians are, with horse on each wing, which is orthodox military order. His length of front, I should guess, must have been something better than two English miles: a sluggish Brook, called of Laugwitz, from the Village of that name which lies some way across, is on his right hand; sluggish, boggy; stagnating towards the Oder in those parts:-- improved farming has, in our time, mostly dried the strip of bog, and made it into coarse meadow, which is rather a relief amid the dry sandy element. Neipperg's right is covered by that. His left rests on the Hamlet of Gruningen, a mile-and-half northeast of Mollwitz;--meant to have rested on Hermsdorf nearly east, but the Prussians have already taken that up. The sun coming more and more round to west of south (for it is now past noon) shines right in Neipperg's face, and is against him: how the wind is, nobody mentions,--probably there was no wind. His regular Cavalry, 8,600, outnumbers twice or more that of the Prussians, not to mention their quality; and he has fewer Infantry, somewhat in proportion;-- the entire force on each side is scarcely above 20,000, the Prussians slightly in majority by count. In field-pieces Neipperg is greatly outnumbered; the Prussians having about threescore, he only eighteen. [Kausler,
The Prussians, though so ready for deploying, have had their own difficulties and delays. Between the boggy Brook of Laugwitz on their left, and the Village of Hermsdorf, two miles distant, on which their right wing is to lean, there proves not to be room enough; [
All these movements and arrangements are effected above a mile from Mollwitz, no enemy yet visible. Once effected, we advance again with music sounding, sixty pieces of artillery well in front,-- steady, steady!--across the floor of snow which is soon beaten smooth enough, the stage, this day, of a great adventure. And now there is the Enemy's left wing, Romer and his Horse; their right wing wider away, and not yet, by a good space, within cannon-range of us. It is towards Two of the afternoon; Schulenburg now on his ground, laments that he will not reach to Hermsdorf;--but it may be dangerous now to attempt repairing that error? At Two of the clock, being now fairly within distance, we salute Romer and the Austrian left, with all our sixty cannon; and the sound of drums and clarinets is drowned in universal artillery thunder. Incessant, for they take (by order) to "swift-shooting," which is almost of the swiftness of musketry in our Prussian practice; and from sixty cannon, going at that rate, we may fancy some effect. The Austrian Horse of the left wing do not like it; all the less as the Austrians, rather short of artillery, have nothing yet to reply with.
No Cavalry can stand long there, getting shivered in that way; in such a noise, were there nothing more. "Are we to stand here like milestones, then, and be all shot without a stroke struck?" "Steady!" answers Romer. But nothing can keep them steady: "To be shot like dogs (WIE HUNDE)! For God's sake (URN GOTTES WILLEN), lead us forward, then, to have a stroke at them!"--in tones ever more plangent, plaintively indignant; growing ungovernable. And Romer can get no orders; Neipperg is on the extreme right, many things still to settle there; and here is the cannon-thunder going, and soon their very musketry will open. And--and there is Schulenburg, for one thing, stretching himself out eastwards (rightwards) to get hold of Hermsdorf; thinking this an opportunity for the manoeuvre. "Forward!" cries Romer; and his thirty Squadrons, like bottled whirlwind now at last let loose, dash upon Schulenburg's poor ten (five of them of Schulenburg's own regiment,--who are turned sideways too, trotting towards Hermsdorf, at the wrong moment,--and dash them into wild ruin. That must have been a charge! That was the beginning of hours of chaos, seemingly irretrievable, in that Prussian right wing.
For the Prussian Horse fly wildly; and it is in vain to rally. The King is among them; has come in hot haste, conjuring and commanding: poor Schulenburg addresses his own regiment, "Oh, shame, shame! shall it be told, then?" rallies his own regiment, and some others; charges fiercely in with them again; gets a sabre- slash across the face,--does not mind the sabre-slash, small bandaging will do;--gets a bullet through the head (or through the heart, it is not said which); [
The intolerable fire repels Romer, when he trenches on the Infantry: however, he captures nine of the Prussian sixty guns; has scattered their Horse to the winds; and charges again and again, hoping to break the Infantry too,--till a bullet kills him, the gallant Romer; and some other has to charge and try. It was thought, had Goldlein with his Austrian Infantry advanced to support Romer at this juncture, the Battle had been gained. Five times, before Romer fell and after, the Austrians charged here; tried the Second Line too; tried once to take Prince Leopold in rear there. But Prince Leopold faced round, gave intolerable fire; on one face as on the other, he, or the Prussian Infantry anywhere, is not to be broken. "Prince Friedrich", one of the Margraves of Schwedt, King's Cousin, whom we did not know before, fell in these wild rallyings and wrestlings; "by a cannon-ball, at the King's hand," not said otherwise where. He had come as Volunteer, few weeks ago, out of Holland, where he was a rising General: he has met his fate here,--and Margraf Karl, his Brother, who also gets wounded, will be a mournful man to-night.
The Prussian Horse, this right wing of it, is a ruined body; boiling in wild disorder, flooding rapidly away to rearward,-- which is the safest direction to retreat upon. They "sweep away the King's person with them," say some cautious people; others say, what is the fact, that Schwerin entreated, and as it were commanded, the King to go; the Battle being, to all appearance, irretrievable. Go he did, with small escort, and on a long ride,-- to Oppeln, a Prussian post, thirty-five miles rearward, where there is a Bridge over the Oder and a safe country beyond. So much is indubitable; and that he despatched an Aide-de-camp to gallop into Brandenburg, and tell the Old Dessauer, "Bestir yourself! Here all seems lost!"-- and vanished from the Field, doubtless in very desperate humor. Upon which the extraneous world has babbled a good deal, "Cowardice! Wanted courage: Haha!" in its usual foolish way; not worth answer from him or from us. Friedrich's demeanor, in that disaster of his right wing, was furious despair rather; and neither Schulenburg nor Margraf Friedrich, nor any of the captains, killed or left living, was supposed to have sinned by "cowardice" in a visible degree!--
Indisputable it is, though there is deep mystery upon it, the King vanishes from Mollwitz Field at this point for sixteen hours, into the regions of Myth, "into Fairyland," as would once have been said; but reappears unharmed in to-morrow's daylight: at which time, not sooner, readers shall hear what little is to be said of this obscure and much-disfigured small affair. For the present we hasten back to Mollwitz,--where the murderous thunder rages unabated all this while; the very noise of it alarming mankind for thirty miles round. At Breslau, which is thirty good miles off, horrible dull grumble was heard from the southern quarter ("still better, if you put a staff in the ground, and set your ear to it"); and from the steeple-tops, there was dim cloudland of powder-smoke discernible in the horizon there. "At Liegnitz," which is twice the distance, "the earth sensibly shook," [