« IndietroContinua »
" Why, then," asked she, “should tween two fires, and have had only to the journey be undertaken at all ? choose to which of the French generals Can you not remain where you are ? it would lay down its arms. Carlo, Carlo,”she added, with increas. But the temptation of menacing the ing tenderness, “ I have abandoned hereditary states, and perhaps of the world. From the night when mastering Vienna itself, glittered too chance, or perhaps destiny, brought strongly before the Frenchman's eye, us together in this forest, I felt that to suffer him to see that every step of with no other human being could I be the pursuit only led him further from happy -- from that moment I felt a victory. Though the ablest tactician distaste for the world. The fêtes of of France, and one of the most sucVienna had no longer charms for me. cessful officers of a nation whose triI thirsted for solitude. My mind had umphs seemed almost supernatural, undergone a total change in that Moreau thus found himself in exactly night; and I saw, as if a new spirit the same peril in which he might had given me new powers of under- have placed his adversary. The supe. standing, the emptiness, monotony, rior maneuvres of the Archduke had and weariness of all that courts and placed the French army between two cities call pleasure and distinction. fires. That great and heroic comIf I could have put on the wings of a mander saw where the true battle was dove, I would have sought peace in to be fought, and answered the remonsome quiet valley of these mountains, strances of the terrified court of Austria and, with you for my protector and and her doubting generals, in lanmy guide, have forgotten that there guage worthy of one of the old Roman were such frivolities as pomp and rank deciders of the fates of nations. in existence."
care not,” said he, “ where Moreau « But dishonour, dishonour!" sigh- may go. Let him advance to the ed Sebastiani. “I must vindicate gates of Vienna, if he will. It is no your injured relative: I must next matter, provided I beat Jourdan in try if there is justice for myself. the meantime." My heart is worn down with shame. He beat Jourdan in the meantime; I owe my life to you; for, but for your wheeled round from the Rhine to the presence here, I should have been in Danube, and astonished Moreau, when my grave. Generous and high-hearted two hundred miles within the depths being, you shall come with me. I of Germany, with the discovery that can refuse you nothing. I feel your his was now the only remaining army very presence a security for success. of France, that the Archduke was Yes, we shall vindicate ourselves- thundering upon his rear, and that we shall clear the stain from names nothing but the most rapid retreat, till now unknown to reproach ; and and the most desperate fighting, could then, leaving the tumults and troubles bring a remnant of his troops back to of the world behind, we shall return, their own country again. and be vine-dressers on the banks of Moreau was at last awake to his father Rhine.” Carolina fell on his perils, and then the genius of the neck in silence; but her sil
an broke out. He instanteloquence--it spoke delight, confi. ly commenced that memorable movedence, and love.
ment, which is celebrated to this day
as the Retreat of the Black Forest. The war had raged from the On the first movement to the rear, the Danube to the German frontier. whole of the detached corps of AusJourdan's army had been partially tria, animated by the victories of the repulsed; but the more powerful and Archduke and the sight of a retiring more ably conducted force under enemy, pursued headlong, and in. Moreau, had rushed, with scarcely creasing in numbers and daring hour an obstruction, to the heart of the by hour, inflicted dreadful havoc. empire. At one period all seemed Still the French marched on, sending lost; and if Moreau, instead of pur- their baggage and heavy artillery besuing the feeble corps of Latour, fore them. But, in a war of this kind, which constantly fled before him, had when an enemy retreating in a com merely turned on his steps, and fallen pact. body, is pursued by detached on the rear of the army of the Arch corps, nothing is more hazardous than duke, it must have been placed be- the slightest failure in combination.
The corps of Nauendorf, moving to new faculty of speech, and he over, the flank, and Latour following full flowed with recollections. on the rear of the French, at length “ Carlo," said he, as he lay cooling became separated. Latour found him. his feverish lips with a draught of self instantly attacked by the whole Hockeimer, turned into nectar by the French army.
The Austrian gen- skill of the lady, “ I little thought that eral, isolated with a force of less than when I fought your battles in the 30,000 men, in front of one of nearly regiment, I should have to thank you three times their number, bad no re and your friends for this night's sersource but to take up a position, fight vice.--I must confess that I felt till he was reinforced by some of the you had taken rather a liberty with detached corps, and retreat, if this hope my troop, in carrying off yourself, failed. But, after a desperate strug. your horse, and three of my best gle, numbers carried the day, the - But I hate calumny ; I suffer heights of Biberach were stormed on no talkers under me; and to the last, both flanks; and the Austrians were though I fully believed that you had driven down, with the loss of cannon, taken leave of your senses in leaving some thousand prisoners, and the dis- the regiment, I was sure that you persion of their army.
would turn up yet—a genius, if not a During this stubbornly contested ac field-marshal. Do you guess at last tion, Carlo and his two companions had who was your enemy?” come inadvertently into the very scene The little circle gathered round the of peril. The road to Vienna lay be- bed, and were all ear. Carlo declared tween the two Austrian corps, and that he was not conscious of ever havthey soon found the impossibility of ing made one. pursuing their journey in that direc « Ay, that shows your folly, my tion. They had procured one of the brave boy,” said the captain. - You rude stuhl-wagens of the province, but did two or three dashing things, which the second day of their progress found were enough to have made every slugthem without horses. The French gard in the army your enemy for life. first, and the Austrians after, had But, do you remember the little corstripped the country ; and the travel- poral—the fellow who brought the regi. lers, at the end of a day of anxiety, ment into that desperate scrape on the were glad to find a roof in one of the Rhine. Think of my astonishment, half-depopulated villages, where they when,on going to look for you at head. could rest their heads for the night. quarters, the very man who gave me my They had heard the cannonade heavily answer was the corporal ! but no longrolling round the horizon since noon, er the little, meagre, frisking knave and knew that some great battle was
that he was with us, but a pompous fought, from the continual roar of ar gentleman on the Archduke's staff, tillery. But they soon had ocular covered with embroidery, and his demonstration of its consequences. visage as much disguised as his coat. Night had scarcely fallen, when the But I knew him through his double village was crowded with troops of all allowance of whisker ; and told him so. arms, seeking shelter and relief for There I showed my folly too, for his their wounded. The dispersion of rage was tremendous : he denied every Latour's corps had filled the woods thing ; and nothing but a French with Austrian fugitives, and the first attack that very night, which gave man who was brought to the door of them something else to do than shootthe cottage was Carlo's old captain in ing captains with too long memories, the Hulans. He had received a lance. I verily believe, saved your humble wound through the sabre arm, which servant, Captain Gustoff Nadermann, disqualified him from playing the part from the bullets of a platoon in the of Roland, and sending heads flying regular style. from their shoulders at a blow, a feat " But by what contrivance could he of which he once boasted, like a Mussul. possibly have got into such a situaman. Sebastiani bound up the wound, tion?” asked Carlo, doubtingly. and the care of Carolina--that care 66 Was he not a Frenchman?" rewhich a woman alone knows how to plied the captain ; " and is not that offer--marvellously restored his spirits, enough any where round the world ? and he almost forgot his wound in his Of course, he brought some plausible sense of relief. His gratitude lent him a information, or some forged letter, or
some huge bribe along with him. At bivouac a few paces off. He suddenly all events, I have no more doubt than heard his name called, and saw a party of my lying on this spot, that he was, of his old regiment driven in before a is, and will be, a spy of Moreau. But sharp discharge of tirailleurs. The he is now a great man—a Major Hol- sight awoke all his slumbering recolzappel, or Holstetten, or I know not lections. He sprang into the midst of what; and, as his natural chance of the disheartened squadron-was re. being hanged must have been turned ceived with a hurrah-and was a sol. into a certainty in case of your remain- dier again. ing at headquarters, I am not much “ Where is the colonel—the major ? surprised that he preferred risking What is become of your officers ?” your neck to tying the string round were his rapid questions. his own.”
“ We know nothing of them; they “ And can this traitor be still in have either fallen or been taken," was the Archduke's camp?” asked Ca- the universal answer. rolina, with an expressive look at her • Then, comrades, follow me," he lover.
exclaimed; and, vaulting on a charger, “ In the camp!” exclaimed the put himself at their head. In another captain ; "ay, and in its highest con moment he had brought their ranks fidence.' I am told that the Archduke into some kind of order; and, after a employs him to carry on the corres few words, directing the troops in the pondence with the Aulic Council, and street to stand to their arms, and barthat he is as powerful at Vienna as at ricade the village, he galloped to the headquarters. I think that we owe front to observe the enemy. He had him already some ill luck. This last scarcely emerged at the head of his unfortunate affair could not have hap- little band of gallant hearts and bold pened, if the French had not received hands, when he fell in with a strong information of the order for detaching column of French infantry pushing for twenty thousand of the troops to the the village, with the haste of certain Tyrol ; to fight, I suppose, against the capture. He instantly charged them ; chamois. This encouraged Moreau and the unexpected shock as instantly to turn back upon Latour, and break up broke them in all directions. A stand his brave army into fragments as you of colours, a couple of field-pieces, see ; but I shall have the honour of and, most welcome of all, an ammuni. performing an act of justice on him tion waggon, handsomely stored with yet, clever as he is."
bread and brandy, were the prizes of A clamour outside interrupted the this brief exploit. He now returned captain's newly acquired fluency. All to the village, divided the capture was tumult. Carlo hurried out to ascer. among the famishing soldiery, and tain what new calamity had occurred. only claimed, as his share of the troA new rush of fugitives had come phies, the use of the waggon to carry pouring into the street, with the intel. off his companions. But, on his enligence that the enemy were in pur. tering the house, he found the old suit, and in great force. All was now general with a sword by his side, and tenfold confusion ; for the army had a musket in his hand. been so thoroughly dispersed, that the “ Sebastiani, my young friend," soldiers were left almost wholly desti- said he, “ you ought to escape if you tute of officers. Thesound of firing in the I give you Carolina-you are outskirts of the village, and the flight worthy of each other. of the peasantry from the farm-houses, with her this writing, wbich secures gave sufficient proof of the French to you both whatever I am worth in advance; and the usual ravage of the the world; but, from this spot I am enemy, flushed with success and eager determined not to stir a step further. for plunder, filled Carlo with appre- Say no more. Remonstrance is in hension for his invaluable charge. He vain. Here I finish my career as a returned speedily to the cottage ; and, soldier ought to do_here I shall show directing that all preparations should that Von Sharlheim, if he knew not be made for flight, remained en vidette how to be a match for treachery, yet at the door, to give the first intelligence knew how to die for his country. of the enemy's skirmishers. It was Carolina wept on his neck; but the now midnight, and the darkness was general continued to load his mus. broken only by the fire of a small ket.
I give you
« Then we will die together !” ex or other, we have got into the midst claimed Carlo, in despair.
of the French army. Rely on it, they • By no means, until we can do no have not employed so much fire on us thing better,” said the general, with for nothing ; and I shall undertake to a sudden return to his former style. say that our keeping this position will • You shall see what a soldier who be felt in more quarters than one. served under Daun can do, even against They will attack us again. Therethese wonder-working heroes of the fore now fall to ; fortify every spot new school. There are plainly troops where a man can stand ; and remember, enough in the village for three things; that Germany is looking on you this to be beaten, to be starved, and to be day!" taken prisoners. I shall try a fourth, His words were amply verified; for, and see whether we cannot teach them about noon, the adjoining woods were to beat the Frenchmen."
observed to be filled with the enemy's He sallied forth, followed by Sebas- light troops, and an entrance was attiani. A few words announced that tempted by powerful columns at both • Major-General von Sharlheim was extremities of the village. But the come to take the command of the di- stubbornness of the defence was even
The name was well known, superior to the obstinacy of the attack. and the soldiers quickly gathered from The houses happened to be chiefly the cottages and fields. In half an strong-built dwellings; and the thatch, hour they amounted to a considerable usually adopted in that part of Gerforce ; the entrance to the village was many, had been so often stripped by soon covered with a trench; the trench the successive belligerents, that it had was covered by a palisade of trees; been lately replaced with tiles. On and the two field-pieces were masked, such trifles may depend great things to sweep the flank. Their preparations in war; and on this depended the dewere scarcely made, before the French fence of this accidental position, and drums were heard advancing. They with it the fate of the campaign. For had clearly given up the idea of a sur on that day Moreau had been marchprise, and were determined on carry- ing to strike a blow at the detached ing the place by main strength. The corps of Zeckendorf, as he had struck major-general was now once more in it at the corps of Latour, and the rehis element, and even Carlo was sur sult of his success must have been prised at the combined activity and either the retreat or the overthrow of sagacity which he displayed. He the Archduke. The check in the vil. ordered universal silence, and that not lage first warned the Austrian advana shot should be fired until he gave the cing corps of the approach of its wily word. The enemy made the attack and powerful antagonist; and next ens in their usual rushing manner. They abled Zeckendorf to move his whole were suffered to advance to the trench, force unmolested—join the Archduke and even to jump down into it in con in the valley of the Rhine-and thus siderable numbers, before the signal turn the Frenchman's victorious march was given. But, when the command into a retreat once more. to fire produced its effect, nothing could The tidings of this junction reached be more deadly. Every bullet told Moreau's headquarters, and there was among the crowded ranks of the ene now no hope, even of escape, but in my's column; and the fire of the field- maneuvring on the Black Forest. pieces, loaded to the muzzle with grape, The Archduke boldly poured his bata split it asunder as if it had been divid. talions towards Waldkirch, and found ed by a thunder-bolt. In a few mi. the French, strongly posted on the nutes five hundred men lay killed or heights, debouching on the western wounded on the ground. The attack border. An immediate assault was was now abandoned with still more ordered, and one of the most desperate haste than it had been made, and in this and memorable battles of the war bemanner night passed. But the troops, gan. animated by their victory, and directed Von Sharlheim's predictions were by the general, had spent the time till now about to receive their accomplishmorning, to the fullest advantage. ment. He had no sooner observed the
“ My lads," said he, “ this business suddenness and completeness of the has turned out well, and may yet turn enemy's 'retreat, than he ordered the out better. I see that, by some means abandonment of the village. They
are gone to try their fortune some to escape. But the hours passed, and where else," said he, “and we must the French still continued firm. follow them." Marching all night, At length, Von Sharlheim, who had and gathering all the scattered troops long continued gazing on the field on his way, the brave old man reached with an anxious eye, pointed out to the summit of the hills above Wald. Carlo a strong column of the enemy kirch by daybreak. Carlo rode at his which, detaching itself from the main side, and the view from the heights was body, was descending a defile in the one of the loveliest mixture of natu rear, followed by a long train of ral beauties, with the stern prepara- guns. tions of war. The French, still scarce “ Look there," said he ; « Moreau ly less than seventy thousand men, evidently knows what he is about. (for their losses had been filled up by That column will be in rear of the frequent reinforcements,) were formed Archduke's left within an hour, and in order of battle, with their centre at the fate of Germany will be decided." Emmendingen, and their rear resting " What is to be done?” asked his on the pine groves of Newburg. For impatient hearer ; “ I see that their some hours all was tranquil. The dif movement must be prevented. Can we ferent positions of the guns, and salient not throw ourselves on them, as they points of the rising grounds, were un debouche from the defile, and at least dergoing that slight formation of field give time to prepare ? Give the word works which marked an expected at at once. tack: but all else was calm; and the “ Spoken like a general, but a young rich sounds of the French military one," was the reply.
« If we were bands, as they rose up the mountain, to advance now, we certainly might more resembled those of a holiday make an impression, but we should as than of an army anticipating battle. certainly put the French on their
But, about noon, the Austrian co. guard. No; we must wait until the lumns were seen advancing ; and the column is within sight of the Archengagement commenced by an attempt duke, and then try what can be done. to turn the left flank of the French, We must not lose our blow.” and get possession of a height com " Ha! we shall be too late!” exmanding Waldkirch, and forming the claimed Carlo. “Look there; they are key of the enemy's position. The already sending their tirailleurs into the whole front of the French line was in. thicket.” A cloud of dust suddenly stantly covered with the fire of their rolled along the wide valley at their powerful and well-served artillery. feet. “ See, too, what a force of cavalFrom the point where Carlo stood, the ry are galloping round the foot of the entire scene was visible far below, and mountain : if they fall on the Austrian nothing could be a more stimulating or left, exposed to the sudden shock of splendid spectacle to the eye of one the infantry, all is lost." formed to be a soldier.
“ Right, Carlo!" said the general; Republicanism, which had changed “ I see that you were born for your every thing
else, had changed the art profession." He ranged the field again of war.
The multitudes which it with his telescope, and wrote a few forced to the field had made life value- lines. “ Mount your horse, and take less in the computations of the French this note to the general commanding generals; and where the guillotine was
the division on the left; it may save the certain reward of defeat, the only the army. Farewell.” thing to be considered was victory. - The veteran clasped his hand. “ Yet Thus every maneuvre was made in stay a moment, my brave young immense masses, and the losses were friend," said he, in a voice of unusual tremendous. The German tactics, of emotion ; “if we should meet again, course, underwent a similar change, all will be well; if we should not, let and battles now consisted of a succes me thank you, for the last time, for the sion of furious attempts to throw a services which you have done me and sudden weight of men and fire, at all mine. Your bravely venturing to risks, on the opposing battalions. The look for me among the dead and dying Austrians fought with the gallantry in the fortress, was, as I then thought, of men fighting under the eyes of the mere prolonging of an existence their most distinguished general, and that I longed to lay down. But it has pursuing an enemy which sought only given me an opportunity, worth a thou