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The Reign of George III. - (Continued.) page 4

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F Buonaparte could have heard, too, what was really going on in France, what were the growing feelings there, he would have been startled by a most ominous condition of things. But he had thoroughly shut out from himself the voice of public opinion, by his treatment of the press and of liberty, and he now was to suffer for it. No language could so completely describe his conduct during the armistice as that of Augereau. England, on the 14th of June, had concluded an alliance with Russia and Prussia, and promised to send ample materials of assistance, even an army to the north of Prussia; and many English officers of the highest rank repaired to the head-quarters of the allies. When England was asked to take part in this negotiation, she refused, declaring it useless, as Napoleon would not grant the only demands which the allies ought to make.

Austria professed great friendliness to Napoleon, and he thought that she would not like to break with him on account of the empress. But Austria, on the 27th of June, signed an engagement with Russia and Prussia, at Reichenbach, in Silesia, binding herself to break with Napoleon if he did not concede the terms which they demanded. These were to restore Illyria, the whole of Austrian Italy; to reinstate the pope; to leave Poland to the three powers who had formerly possessed themselves of it, and to renounce Spain, Holland Switzerland, and the confederation of the Rhine. Buonaparte treated these demands as sheer madness; but he was nearly mad himself when Talleyrand and Fouché, and still more, his best military counsellors, advised him at least to fall back to the left bank of the Rhine, and make that the boundary of France. He offered to annihilate the grand duchy of Warsaw, giving up the whole of Poland to Russia - such was his gratitude to the Poles! - to restore Illyria to Austria, but to cut down Prussia still more by pushing the Rhenish confederation to the Oder.

His terms were rejected with disdain. Yet he had a last interview with Metternich, in which he hoped to terrify him by a dread of the future preponderance of Russia; but, seeing that it made no impression, he became incensed, and adopted a very insolent tone towards the Austrian minister. " Well, Metternich," he demanded, "how much has England given you to induce you to play this part towards me?" Metternich received the insult in a haughty silence. Buonaparte, to try how far the diplomatist still would preserve his deference towards him, let his hat fall: Metternich let it lie. This was a sign that the Austrian had taken his part; it was, in fact, the signal of war. Yet, at the last moment, Napoleon suddenly assumed a tone of conciliation, and offered very large concessions. He had heard the news of the defeat of Vittoria. But it was too late. The congress terminated on the 10th of August, and the allies refused to re-open it. On the 12th of August, two days after the termination of the armistice, Austria declared herself on the side of the allies, and brought two hundred thousand men to swell their ranks. She was put also at the head of the allied army by her general, prince von Schwartzenberg.

Immediately after the termination of the armistice, the Russians and Prussians joined the great army of the Austrians, which had been concentrated at Prague. Their plan was to advance through the Riesen Gebirge, and fall upon Buonaparte's rear. Full of activity, that unresting man had been busy, during the whole armistice, in defending his head-quarters at Dresden by fortifications. He had cut down ail the trees which adorned the public gardens and walks, and used them in a chain of redoubts and field-works, secured by fosses and palisades. He was in possession of the strong mountain fortresses of the vicinity, as well as Torgau, Wittenberg, Magdeburg, and others, so that the valley of the Elbe was in his hands; and he had a bridge of boats at Königstein, extending his communications to Stolpe: thus guarding against an attack on the side of Bohemia. In the beginning of August he assembled two hundred and fifty thousand men in Saxony and Silesia. Of these sixty thousand lay at Leipsic under Oudinot, and one hundred thousand in différent towns on the borders of Silesia, under Macdonald; he himself lay at Dresden with his imperial guard. Eugene Beauharnais he had dispatched to Italy, where he had forty thousand men. Besides these, he had a reserve of Bavarians, under general Wrede, of twenty-five thousand men.

Besides the grand army of the allies, of two hundred thousand, marching from Bohemia, one hundred and twenty thousand Austrians, and eighty thousand Russians and Prussians, Blucher lay on the road to Breslau with eighty thousand; the crown prince of Sweden, near Berlin, with thirty thousand Swedes, and sixty thousand Prussians and Russians; Walmoden lay at Schwerin, in Mecklenburg, with thirty thousand allies; and Hiller, with forty thousand Austrians, watched the army of Italy.

Whilst these gigantic armies were drawing towards each other, in the early part of August, for what was afterwards called "the grand battle of the peoples," the weather seemed as though it would renew its Russian miseries on the French. They had to march in constantly deluging rains, up to the knees in mud, and to risk their lives by crossing flooded rivers. Amid these buffetings of the elements the conflict began, on the 21st of August, between Walmoden and Davoust, at Vellahn. A few days afterwards, in a skirmish with Walmoden's outposts at Gadebusch, Körner, the youthful Tyrtaeus of Germany, fell.

The plan of the campaign is said to have been laid down by Bernadotte, and adopted, after some slight revision, by general Moreau. That general, whom the jealousy of Buonaparte had expelled from France, and who retired to America, now returned in the hope of seeing the fall of Buonaparte accomplished, and peace and a liberal constitution given to his country. He came not to fight against France, but against Buonaparte. The plan showed that they who devised it knew Napoleon's art of war. It was to prevent him attacking and beating them in detail. Whichever party was first assailed was to retire and draw him after them, till the other divisions could close round him, and assail him on all sides. Blucher was the first to advance against Macdonald and Ney. As had been foreseen, Buonaparte hastened to support those generals with the imperial guard and a numerous cavalry, under Latour- Maubourg. But Blucher then retired, and, crossing the Ivatzbach, sate down near Jauer, so as to cover Breslau. The purpose was served, for Schwartzenberg, accompanied by the sovereigns of Russia and Prussia, as well as by Moreau, had rushed forward on Dresden, driving St. Cyr and twenty thousand men before them, who took refuge in Dresden. The allies were at his heels, and on the 25th of August began to attack the city. They hoped to win it before Buonaparte could return, in which case they would cut off his line of communication with France - stopping the advance of both his supplies and reinforcements. But the very next day, whilst they were in vigorous operation against the city, and had already carried two redoubts, Buonaparte was seen advancing in hot haste over the bridges into Dresden. Warned of its danger, he had left Macdonald to defend himself, and now led his troops across the city and out at two different gates upon the enemies. The battle continued that day, and was resumed the next, by Buonaparte pushing forward immense bodies of troops from different gates, and concentrating them on the allies. The attempt to take the city in Buonaparte's absence had failed, and now they saw themselves in danger of being inclosed by Murat - who had again been induced to join the emperor - on the Freiberg road, and by Vandamme on the road to Pirna, by the Elbe. They were, therefore, compelled to fall back, and the withdrawal soon proved a flight. Napoleon pursued them hotly amid torrents of wind and rain, and made great slaughter, especially of the Austrians, who were seized with a panic of the enemy who had so often beaten them. Seven or eight thousand French were killed and wounded; but of the allies, chiefly Austrians, more than twenty thousand were killed or disabled. During the engagement, Moreau had both his legs shot away by a cannon ball, and died in a few days.

Buonaparte continued the pursuit of the allies as far as Pirna, whence, owing to indisposition, he returned to Dresden; but Vandamme, Murat, Marmont, and St. Cyr pushed forward by different ways to cut off the route of the fugitives into the mountains of Bohemia. Vandamme, however, having passed Peterswald, beyond which he had orders not to proceed, was tempted to reach Töplitz, where the allied sovereigns lay, and take it. In doing this he was inclosed, in a deep valley near Culm, by Ostermann and other bodies of the allies, completely routed, and taken prisoner, with generals Haxo and Guyot, the loss of two eagles, and seven thousand prisoners. This was on the 29th of August.

On the 26th Blucher had nearly annihilated the division of Macdonald. No sooner did he learn the return of Buonaparte to Dresden than he wheeled round upon Macdonald, taking him by surprise, and driving his troops into the rivers Katzbach and Neisse, swollen by the rains. The battle raged the most fiercely near Wahlstadt, and, on the subsidence of the floods, hundreds of corpses were seen sticking in the mud. A part of the French fled for a couple of days in terrible disorder along the right bank of the Neisse, and were captured, with their general, by the Russian commander, Langeron.

The same fate befell the troops of Ney, who had been sent to dislodge Bernadotte and Bulow before Berlin. He was beaten at Dennewitz on the 6th of September, with a loss of eighteen thousand men, and eighty guns. Macdonald had lost on the Katzbach many thousands slain or dispersed, eighteen thousand prisoners, and a hundred and three guns. His army was nearly annihilated. Between this period and the end of September the French generals were defeated in every quarter: Davoust by Walmoden; another body of French by Platoff, on the 29th; Jerome by Czernicheff, on the 30th; and Lefebvre by Thielemann and Platoff, at Altenburg.

These defeats, which were gradually hemming Napoleon round by his enemies in Dresden, were the direct result of the active aid of England to the allies. Sir Charles Stewart, the brother of Lord Castlereagh, had been dispatched to the head-quarters of the allies. By means of the abundant supplies of arms and money, the population of Hanover was raised; Bernadotte was kept firm to his support of the coalition; and, by Sir Charles, he was also urged to march on Leipsic, and be present at the final conflict. Brigadier-general Lyon was sent to head the troops in Hanover; and the duke of Cambridge to conduct the civil government of the country. Money was supplied in abundance, in addition to military stores. Two millions were advanced to the crown prince of Sweden for his army, two millions more to the Russians and Prussians, and another half million to Russia to equip its fleet in the Baltic. Without these vast supplies the combined armies could not have kept their ground.

From the 24th of September till the commencement of October Buonaparte continued to maintain himself at Dresden, though the allies were fast gathering round him. Oceasionally he made a rush from the city, and, on one occasion, pursued Blücher as far as Nollendorf, beyond Culm; but these expeditions only served to exhaust his troops, without producing any effect on the enemy. As he chased one body on one side, others were closing up on other sides. Seeing that he could not long remain at Dresden, and that Bernadotte and Bülow had quitted the neighbour- hood of Berlin, he suddenly conceived the design of marching rapidly on that city, and taking up his head-quarters there; but this scheme met with universal disapprobation from his officers, and he was compelled to abandon it. He then continued for days, and even weeks, in a state of listless apathy, for hours together mechanically making large letters on sheets of paper, or Consulting on some new schemes with his generals; but the only scheme to which they would listen was that of retreating to the left bank of the Rhine. In fact, they and the army were completely worn out and dispirited.

Meantime, a fresh reinforcement of sixty thousand Russians appeared, under the command of Benningsen - wild figures, wandering Baskirs and Tartars, clad in sheep-skins, and some of them armed with bows and arrows - men gathered from the very extremities of Asia and the wall of China.

The allies now determined to close in on all sides, and compel the French to a surrender. But Buonaparte, after some manœuvres to bring Blücher to action - that general and the crown prince of Sweden having crossed to the left bank of the Elbe - found it at length necessary to retreat to Leipsic. He reached that city on the 15th of October, and learned, to his great satisfaction, that, whilst his whole force would be under its walls within twenty-four hours, the Austrians were advancing considerably a-head of the Prussians; and he flattered himself that he should be able to beat the Austrians before the other allies could reach them.

Leipsic is nearly surrounded by rivers and marshy lands, and only, therefore, accessible by a number of bridges. The Pleisse and the Elster on the west, in various divisions, Stretch under its walls; on the east winds far round the Partha; on the south only rise some higher lands. On the 16th of October, at break of day, the Austrians attacked the southern or more accessible side with great fury, headed by generals Kleist and Mehrfeldt, and were opposed by Poniatowski and Victor. Buonaparte was soon obliged to Bend up Souham to support these generals. Lauriston also was attacked by Klenau at the village of Liebertwolkwitz. After much hard fighting, Buonaparte ordered up Macdonald, who broke through the Austrian line at the village of Gossa, followed by Murat; Latour-Maubourg and Kellermann galloped through with all their cavalry. Napoleon considered this as decisive, and sent word to the king of Saxony that the battle was won, and that poor dupe of an unpatriotic king set the church bells ringing for joy. But a desperate charge of Cossacks reversed all this, and drove back the French to the very walls of the town. In the meantime, Blücher had attacked and driven in Marmont, taking the village of Machern, with twenty pieces of cannon and two thousand prisoners. On the side of the Pleisse Schwartzenberg pushed across a body of horse, under general Mehrfeldt, who fell into the hands of the French; but another division, under general Guilay, secured the left bank of the Pleisse and its bridges, and, had he blown them up, would have cut off the only avenue of retreat for the French towards the Rhine. Night fell on the tierce contest, in which two hundred and thirty thousand allies were hemming in one hundred and thirty-six thousand French; for the allies this time had adopted Buonaparte's great rule of conquering by united numbers.

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Pictures for The Reign of George III. - (Continued.) page 4

French forces near Kaya
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Lord Castlereagh
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Napoleon at Fontainebleau
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Oak of Heney IV
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Marshal Bulow
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Banquet given to the Emperor of Russia
Banquet given to the Emperor of Russia >>>>

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