Leopold, overloaded with such intricacies and anxieties, sends off three messengers, Officers of mark (Schmettau Junior one of them), to apprise the King: the Officers return, unable to get across to his Majesty; Leopold sends proper detachment of horse with them,-- uncertain still whether they will get through. And night is falling; we shall evidently be too late for getting Czaslau: well if we can occupy Chotusitz and the environs; a small clay Hamlet, three miles nearer us. It was 11 at night before the rear- guard got into Chotusitz: Czaslau, three miles south of us, we cannot attend to till to-morrow morning. [Orlich, pp. 236-239.] And the three messengers, despatched with escort, send back no word. Have they ever got to his Majesty? Leopold sends off a fourth. This fourth one does get through; reports to his Majesty, That, by all appearance, there will be Battle on the morrow early; that not Czaslau, but only Chotusitz is ours; and that Instructions are wanted. Deep in the night, this fourth messenger returns; a welcome awakening for Prince Leopold; who studies his Majesty's Instructions, and will make his dispositions accordingly.
It is 2 or 3 in the morning, [Ib. p. 238.] in Leopold's Camp,-- Bivouac rather, with its face to the south, and Chotusitz ahead. Thursday, 17th May, 1742; a furiously important Day about to dawn. High Problem of the 23th February last; Britannic Majesty and his Hyndfords and Robinsons vainly protesting:--it had to be tried; Hungarian Majesty having got, from Britannic, the sinews for trying it: and this is to be the Day.
Kuttenberg, Czaslau, Chotusitz and all these other places lie in what is called the Valley of the Elbe, but what to the eye has not the least appearance of a hollow, but of an extensive plain rather, dimpled here and there; and, if anything, rather sloping FROM the Elbe,--were it not that dull bushless brooks, one or two, sauntering to NORTHward, not southward, warn you of the contrary. Conceive a flat tract of this kind, some three or four miles square, with Czaslau on its southern border, Chotusitz on its northern; flanked, on the west, by a straggle of Lakelets, ponds and quagmires (which in our time are drained away, all but a tenth part or so of remainder); flanked, on the east, by a considerable puddle of a Stream called the Dobrowa; and cut in the middle by a nameless poor Brook ("BRTLINKA" some write it, if anybody could pronounce), running parallel and independent,--which latter, of more concernment to us here, springs beyond Czaslau, and is got to be of some size, and more intricate than usual, with "islands" and the like, as it passes Chotusitz (a little to east of Chotusitz);-- this is our Field of Battle. Sixty or more miles to eastward of Prag, eight miles or more to southward of Elbe River and the Ford of Elbe-Teinitz (which we shall hear of, in years coming). A scene worth visiting by the curious, though it is by no means of picturesque character.
Uncomfortably bare, like most German plains; mean little hamlets, which are full of litter when you enter them, lie sprinkled about; little church-spires (like suffragans to Chotusitz spire, which is near you); a ragged untrimmed country: beyond the Brook, towards the Dobrowa, two or more miles from Chotusitz, is still noticeable: something like a Deer-park, with umbrageous features, bushy clumps, and shadowy vestiges of a Mansion, the one regular edifice within your horizon. Schuschitz is the name of this Mansion and Deer-park; farther on lies Sbislau, where Leopold happily found his Bridge unbroken yesterday.
The general landscape is scrubby, littery; ill-tilled, scratched rather than ploughed; physiognomic of Czech Populations, who are seldom trim at elbows: any beauty it has is on the farther side of the Dobrowa, which does not concern Prince Leopold, Prince Karl, or us at present. Prince Leopold's camp lies east and west, short way to north of Chotusitz. Schuschitz Hamlet (a good mile northward of Sbislau) covers his left, the chain of Lakelets covers his right: and Chotusitz, one of his outposts, lies centrally in front. Prince Karl is coming on, in four columns, from the Hills and intricacies south of Czaslau,--has been on march all night, intending a night-attack or camisado if he could; but could not in the least, owing to the intricate roadways, and the discrepancies of pace between his four columns. The sun was up before anything of him appeared:--drawing out, visibly yonder, by the east side of Czaslau; 30,000 strong, they say. Friedrich's united force, were Friedrich himself on the ground, will be about 28,000.
Friedrich's Orders, which Leopold is studying, were: "Hold by Chotusitz for Centre; your left wing, see you lean it on something, towards Dobrowa side,--on that intricate Brook (Brtlinka) or Park- wall of Schuschitz, [SBISLAU, Friedrich hastily calls it (
Leopold was not there in person, arranging that left wing; Leopold is looking after centre and right. He perceives, the right wing will be his best chance; knows that, in general, cavalry must be on both wings. On a little eminence in front of his right, he sees how the Enemy comes on; Czaslau, lately on their left, is now getting to rear of them:--"And you, stout old General Buddenbrock, spread yourself out to right a little, hidden behind this rising ground; I think we may outflank their left wing by a few squadrons, which will be an advantage."
Buddenbrock spreads himself out, as bidden: had Buddenbrock been reinforced by most of the horse that could do no good on our LEFT wing, it is thought the Battle had gone better. Buddenbrock in this way, secretly, outflanks the Austrians; to HIS right all forward, he has that string of marshy pools (Lakes of Czirkwitz so called, outflowings from the Brook of Neuhof), and cannot be taken in flank by any means. Brook of Neuhof, which his Majesty crossed yesterday, farther north;--and ought to have recrossed by this time?--said Brook, hereabouts a mere fringe of quagmires and marshy pools, is our extreme boundary on the west or right; Brook of Brtlinka (unluckily NOT wall of the Deer-park) bounds us eastward, or on our left, Prince Karl, drawn up by this time, is in two lines, cavalry on right and left, but rather in bent order; bent towards us at both ends (being dainty of his ground, I suppose); and comes on in hollow-crescent form;--which is not reckoned orthodox by military men. What all these Villages, human individuals and terrified deer, are thinking, I never can conjecture! Thick-soled peasants, terrified nursing-mothers: Better to run and hide, I should say; mount your garron plough-horses, hide your butter-pots, meal- barrels; run at least ten miles or so!--