OREALD.COM - An Old Electronic Library
eng: a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z

The Reign of George III. - (Continued.) page 7


Pages: 1 2 3 4 5 6 <7> 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16

And all this time the spirit of revolt against Napoleon's domination was growing rapidly in Germany; and, had the Austrians only made the slightest use of their present opportunity, the whole of the country would have been in arms, and the French completely driven out. Though Prussia was still too much depressed to dare to rise and join Austria, there was a fast-growing spirit of indignation amongst its population, which the Tugend-Bund had tended greatly to increase. The brave major Schill, without waiting for any sanction from the king of Prussia, led forth his band of hussars, amounting to about five thousand, and prepared to join, with colonel Dörnberg, an officer of Jerome, the king of "Westphalia's guard, to raise an insurrection in that state, and drive out Jerome and the French. The design was betrayed to Jerome by a traitorous friend of Dörnberg, and he was compelled to fly. Letters found amongst Dörnberg's papers showed the participation of Schill in the scheme. Jerome, of course, complained to the king of Prussia, and the unhappy monarch was obliged to disavow and denounce the conduct of Schill. The brave partisan made his way to Wittenberg and Halberstadt, and was pursued by the forces of Westphalia and Holland northwards to Weimar, and finally to Stralsund, which he prepared to defend. The place was stormed by the Dutch and Westphalians, and Schill was killed fighting in the streets of Stralsund, after having split the head of the Dutch general, Carteret, with his sword. Thus fell the gallant Schill, true to his motto - " Better a terrible end than endless terror." The Dutch cut off his head, and it was preserved in spirits of wine, at Leyden, till 1837, when it was buried, at Brunswick, in the grave of his brave followers. Eleven of his officers who were taken prisoners were shot as brigands, at Wesel, by the orders of Buonaparte - for that greatest of brigands branded all patriots who attempted the defence of their national rights by that name. Fourteen subalterns and soldiers were also shot at Brunswick by the same order; and six hundred of his men taken prisoners were sent to the galleys at Toulon. Such was the common treatment of patriot soldiers by this most arrogant of tyrants, who, notwithstanding, has found admirers in England.

Dörnberg escaped to this country. Katt, another patriot, assembled a number of veterans at Stendal, and advanced as far as Magdeburg, but was compelled to fly to the Brunswickers in Bohemia. Had the archduke Charles marched through Franconia at the opening of the campaign, as he proposed, all these isolated bodies might have been encouraged, and knit into a formidable army. But the most powerful of all these independent leaders, the duke of Brunswick, was too late to join Schill, Katt, and Dörnberg. The son of the duke of Brunswick, who had been eo barbarously treated by Buonaparte, vowed an eternal revenge. But the French were in possession of his sole patrimony, Oels, and he went to Bohemia, where he raised a band of two thousand hussars, which he equipped and maintained by the aid of England, where his sister was - Caroline, the princess of Wales. He clothed his hussars in black, in memory of his father's death, with the lace disposed like the ribs of a skeleton, and their caps and helmets bearing a death's-head in front - whence they were called the Black Brunswickers. He advanced at their head through Saxony, Franconia, Hesse, and Hanover, calling on the populations to rise and assert their liberties. He defeated Junot at Berneck, and the Saxons at Zittau, but it was the middle of May before ho entered Germany, and by that time the enemy had widely separated Schill and the other insurgents. He managed, however, to surprise Leipzic, and thus furnish himself with ammunition and stores. But the Dutch, Saxons, and Westphalians were all bearing down on him. He defeated them at Halberstadt and in Brunswick, but was finally overpowered by numbers of these Dutch and Germans disgracefully fighting against their own country, and he retreated to Elsfleth, and thence sailed for England.

All this time, too, the brave Tyrolese were in open revolt, so that the success of Austria would have instantly produced a universal rising of the country. But for six weeks the Austrians continued to allow Napoleon to keep open his communication with Vienna, whence he procured every material for building, not one bridge, but three; timber, cordage, iron, and forty engines to drive the piles, were procured from its ample magazines. Besides building the bridges, Buonaparte had quickly fortified the island, and placed batteries so as to prevent any successful attack upon him, whilst he was now furnished with the means of issuing from the island almost at pleasure. Since their being cooped up on Lobau, the French had received numerous reinforcements; and though the archduke John was marching to join the archduke Charles, Eugene Beauharnais was close at his heels, continually harassing him and compelling him to fight. On the frontiers of Hungary, the town of Raab ought to have enabled John to resist and retard Beauharnais, and have allowed the archduke Regnier, who was organising another army in Hungary, to come up; but Raab only stood out eight days, and John was obliged to cross the Danube at Presburg, to endeavour to advance and make a junction with the archduke Charles. But Eugene Beauharnais managed to join Buonaparte still earlier, and the emperor did not then allow John to unite with Charles; for, on the night of the 5th of July, he began to fire on the Austrians, on the left bank of the Danube, from gun-boats; and, whilst they were replying to this, he quietly put his forces across the river. At daylight the next morning the archduke Charles was astonished to find the French army on the open land; they had turned his whole position, had taken the villages of Esslingen and Enzersdorf, and were already assailing him in flank and rear. The archduke retired upon Wagram, which was lost and taken several times during the day. Buonaparte attempted to break the centre of the Austrian fine by a concentrated fire of grape-shot, but the Austrians replied vigorously with their artillery. The French were held in check, if not repulsed. The Saxons and other German troops displayed a disposition to break, and go over to the Austrians. Buonaparte spoke sharply to Bernadotte of the conduct of the Saxons, and the marshal replied that they had no longer such soldiers as they brought from the camp of Boulogne. When night closed the French were in confusion, and, in reality, worsted. The next morning, the 6th of July, the archduke renewed the attack on all the French lines, but is said to have left his centre too weak. Buonaparte again endeavoured to break it, but failed. Bernadotte, Massena, and Davoust were all in turn driven from their positions. Buonaparte, in a State of desperation, cried, " The Austrian centre must be battered with artillery like a fortress." He ordered Davoust to make a desperate charge on the left wing, and called on Droust, the general of his artillery, to bring up all the artillery of the guard, and support Davoust. Davoust directed the whole of his force on the left wing, which was broken; and then Buonaparte, forming a dense and deep column of all his best troops, old and new guards, and his celebrated grenadiers ā cheval, under Macdonald and Beauharnais, drove with a fury against the centre that shattered it, and the battle was decided. But at what a price! The Austrians had twenty-six or twenty-seven thousand killed and wounded, and the French upwards of thirty thousand. Buonaparte lost three generals, and had twenty-one wounded. The Austrians had thirteen generals killed or wounded; but they had taken many more prisoners than they had lost. Whilst the battle was raging, the archduke John was approaching from Presburg; but Austrian slow- ness, or, as it is said, conflicting Orders from his brother and the Aulic council, did not permit him to come up in time, or he would assuredly have turned the day.

Still there was no need to despair. The archduke had yet a great force; there were the divisions of the archdukes John, Ferdinand, and Regnier, and the Tyrolese were all in active operation in their mountains. But the emperor, on learning the fate of the battle, lost all heart, and made offers of peace, which were accepted, and an armistice signed by Francis at Znaim, in Moravia. The armistice took place on the 11th of July, but the treaty of peace was not signed till the 14th of October, at the palace of Schönbrunn. The long delay in completing this treaty was occasioned by the exactions which Buonaparte made on Austria of cessions of territory, and the means he took to terrify Francis into submission to his terms. He even addressed a proclamation to the Hungarians, exhorting them to separate from Austria and form an independent kingdom, telling them that they formed the finest part of the Austrian empire, and yet had received nothing from Austria but oppression and misfortunes. By such means, and by constantly exerting himself to sow the germs of discontent through all the Austrian provinces, he at last succeeded in concluding peace on condition of the cession of various territories to his partisans of the con- federacy of the Rhine, and of Trieste, the only Austrian port, to France, thus shutting up Austria, as he hoped, from all communication with England. In all, Austria sacrificed forty - five thousand square miles and nearly four millions of subjects to this shameful peace. Neither were his allies, the king of Saxony and the emperor of Russia, forgotten; each obtained a slice of Austria.

Whilst these affairs were pending, and the public mind greatly excited by Buonaparte's conduct, he nearly fell a victim to this growing hatred. Frederick Stabbs, the son of a preacher of Naumburg, on the Saal, had formed the resolution of destroying Napoleon at Schönbrunn. He seized the opportunity of a military review to draw near to him, and aimed a dagger at his breast. General Rapp saw the blow given, and fortunately averted his aim, while Berthier threw himself betwixt the emperor and the in- tended deathblow. "What evil have I done to you?" asked Napoleon. " To me, personally, none," replied Stabbs; " but you are the oppressor of my country, the tyrant of the world, and to have put you to death would have been the most glorious act that a. man of honour could perform." He was sent to Vienna, and strictly examined by a council of war; but it appeared clear that he had no accomplices, and the next day he was shot. On the way to the place of execution, he still shouted - " Liberty for ever! Germany for ever! Death to the tyrant! "

The news of the treaty of Schönbrunn was a death-blow to the hopes and exertions of the Tyrolese. At this moment they had driven the French out of their mountains, and the beautiful Tyrol was free from end to end. Francis II. had been weak enough to give this brave country over again to Bavaria, at the command of Napoleon, and coldly sent the patriotic Tyrolese word to lay down their arms and submit. To understand the chagrin and despair of the people at this message, we must recollect the strong attachment of the Tyrolese to the house of Austria on all occasions, and their brilliant actions during this war.

Andrew Hofer, the host of the " Sand," at Passeyr (then commonly called the Sandwirth), had gone, on the breaking out of the war, to Vienna, to arrange the plan of the insurrection, and was appointed the head of it. No sooner was this design whispered through the land, than the whole of the peasantry entered into it. On the 9th of April the concerted signal was given, by planks, bearing little red flags, floating down the Inn, and by sawdust thrown on the lesser streams. On the 10th the whole country was in arms. The Bavarians, under colonel. Wrede, proceeded to blow up the bridges in the Pusterthal, to prevent the access of the Austrians; but his sappers, sent for the purpose, found themselves picked off by invisible foes, and took to flight. Wrede then advanced, with a strong force of horse, foot, and artillery, to chastise these audacious insurgents;. but he was quickly sent back again by the concealed men. of Peter Kemnater, the host of Schabs (a youth of only two-and-twenty), and with such loss, that he was glad to retire to Innsbruck, which was garrisoned by the French. Kemnater's riflemen captured all Wrede's artillery, and flu h g it and the artillerymen into the river. But Wrede found the narrow Valley of the Eisach closed against him, and the fine old Roman bridge at Laditsch blown up. In the pass of Brixen the French and Bavarians suffered immense loss from the men of the host of Lechner. It is curious how many of the leaders of the Tyrolese were innkeepers. In this pass the inhabitants had suspended huge trunks of trees and pieces of rock on the faces of the precipices, by cords and ropes of hay and straw. As the French and Bavarians advanced into the pass ten thousand strong, they found tremendous rocks overhanging their heads, and a rapid torrent rushing along below. They heard no sound but of the screaming eagles and the roar of waters; but all at once a man's voice was heard calling across the ravine, " Shall we begin? " " No " was returned in an authoritative tone- The Bavarian battalion halted, and sent to the general for Orders, when suddenly was heard the cry, " In the name of the Holy Trinity, cut all loose! " At the same moment, rocks and trunks of trees came thundering down the precipices on their heads, and the crack of a thousand rifles mingled in the bellowing din. This attack was on the whole line at once; there was no room to avoid the descending death; and two-thirds of the force lay prostrated in the defile. The next instant, thousands of Tyrolese, rushing from covert with all sorts of rustic weapons, fell furiously on the confounded remainder, and dispatched them.

Hofer, meanwhile, had posted himself at the head of the brave peasantry of Passeyr. He was a figure as striking as ever displayed itself in mountain warfare. He was of a Herculean form, and remarkably handsome. He wore a low-crowned, broad-brimmed, black Tyrolean hat, ornamented with green ribands and the feathers of the capercailzie; his broad chest was covered with a red waistcoat, across which green braces, a hand in breadth, upheld black, chamois-leather breeches; his knees were bare, but his well-developed calves were covered with red. stockings; a broad, black, leathern girdle clasped his muscular form; over all was thrown a short, green coat, without buttons. His long, brown beard, which fell in rich curls on his chest, added dignity to his appearance; his full, broad countenance was expressive of good humour and honesty; his small, penetrating eyes sparkled with vivacity. Hofer traded in wine, corn, and horses, and was well known and esteemed as far as the Italian frontier. He had been a member of the diet of Innsbruck, and had fought, as a captain of a rifle corps, against the French. He was, in domestic life, open, honest, pious, and yet rather fond of the hilarity of Company over a glass of wine. He might often be seen during the war with a sword in one hand and a bottle in the other.

<<< Previous page <<< >>> Next page >>>
Pages: 1 2 3 4 5 6 <7> 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16

Pictures for The Reign of George III. - (Continued.) page 7

The Battle of Talavera
The Battle of Talavera >>>>
Lord Collingwood
Lord Collingwood >>>>
Via Mala
Via Mala >>>>
Execution of Andrew Hofer
Execution of Andrew Hofer >>>>
Campo Vaccino
Campo Vaccino >>>>
Pope Pius VIII
Pope Pius VIII >>>>
Burdett riots
Burdett riots >>>>
Sir Francis Burdett
Sir Francis Burdett >>>>
Marriage of Napoleon
Marriage of Napoleon >>>>
The fire at the Austrian ambassadors ball
The fire at the Austrian ambassadors ball >>>>
Scene in the Peninsula
Scene in the Peninsula >>>>
Port of Rotterdam
Port of Rotterdam >>>>

Home | Privacy Policy | Copyright | About