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circles of the officers' corps, there was heard hardly so much
as a laugh at the inspired speeches of the strange enthusiast ; here
there was still dominant the stiff obscurity of the Frederician times,
and in addition a spirit of carping criticism, which exercised
its wit upon every command issued by those in authority. No one
as yet fully understood how severely the army had been affected
by the profound slumber of the last decade. The king himself,
perhaps, had the clearest vision. His insight recognised the dis-


History of Germany

order, the self-sufficiency, the dullness which everywhere prevailed;
but how would it have been possible for this retiring individual
to make his own views felt in opposition to those of the world-
renowned old Brunswicker ? The common soldier did his duties
mechanically. The masses of the people remained cold and
indifferent. Only the older ones who still remembered the great
king trusted firmly in the sharp talons of the Prussian eagle and
spoke boastfully of the march on Paris.

Thus began the only utterly disastrous campaign of the
fortunate history of Prussian warfare. Unexampled as had been
the rise of this state, equally unexampled was now to be its defeat,
as ever memorable to all subsequent generations as a personally
experienced sorrow, a warning to all towards watchfulness, humility,
and loyalty. Napoleon was animated by a savage and malicious
joy when he saw the most distinguished of the ancient powers
helpless beneath his claws. Insults poured from his lips ; never
before had he been so passionate, so full of hatred and cruelty.
He felt that the last hope of Germany rested upon Prussia ; with
the insight of the mean-minded man he recognised that these
Hohenzollerns were made of other metal than the Emperor Francis
and the satraps of the Confederation of the Rhine. In his addresses
to the army it was the noble queen, above all, against whom he
uttered the most malicious abuse. She, who had taken absolutely
no part in the decisive negotiations of August, was to bear the blame
for " the burghers' war " which had overtaken guileless France
so unexpectedly ; she thirsted for blood, and like another Armida
was madly setting her own castle in flames. Even before the
swords were crossed, it was already decided that it was impossible
for an honourable peace ever to be arranged between Napoleon
and the Hohenzollerns. The Imperator scornfully concluded his
war-manifesto with the words : " May Prussia learn, that while
it is easy to gain territory and people by the friendship of France,
her enmity is more terrible than the storms of the ocean ! "

Just as by the abuses of power of the previous winter Haugwitz
had brought his state into its desperate diplomatic situation, so
now he was responsible for the mistaken beginnings of the
campaign. Notwithstanding its enormously heavy baggage, the
Prussian army had completed the invasion of Thuringia earlier than
the enemy ; but the intended invasion of France was not carried
out, because Haugwitz wished first to await the issue of his ultimatum.
A few invaluable days were lost in purposeless idling to the north
of the Thuringian forest. Then came the news that the enemy were


Revolution and Foreign Dominion

hurrying along the Nuremburg-Lcipzig road to eastern Thuringia,
threatening the Prussian left flank. The Duke of Brunswick
feared for his line of communications, and ordered a withdrawal to
the Elbe. While thus engaged, the army was simultaneously
attacked from the south and from the east. The Imperator himself
advanced northwards through the valley of the Saal. The advance
guard of the Prussians was defeated at Saalfield ; the death of the
high-minded Prince Louis Ferdinand profoundly disturbed the
morale of the troops, being regarded by them as an evil omen ; and
with disgust the officers heard the cry arise from the dispersed
bodies of the Prussian army, the cry never heard in that army before,
" We are cut off ! " Prince Hohenlohe, ill-advised by the empty
talker Massenbach, now forfeited in a single day the fame he
had formerly acquired in knightly fashion on the Rhine. With
his Prusso-Saxon corps, he withdrew past Jena to the table-land
on the left bank of the Saal, and since he had received orders not
to undertake any serious fighting, not only did he fail to cross the
river, but failed also to occupy the valley and the heights over-
looking the table-land. Napoleon immediately took advantage
of the blunder, at once himself occupied the heights, torch in hand
led the artillery up the steep slopes, and when the grey morning
of October I4th broke, the Imperator was already secure of victory.
How could this fraction of the Prussian army hold the position of
Vierzehnheiligen against the French main body, which now began
to attack from the commanding heights with an overwhelming
preponderance of force ? The German soldier fought bravely in
a manner worthy of his ancient fame, now as always the Prussian
cavalry showed itself superior to the French ; it was only in
dispersed fighting that the heavy infantry was unable to contend
with the nimble tirailleurs of Napoleon. The French were inspired
by the warlike ardour of young leaders accustomed to victory,
whilst the allies were paralysed by the caution of their helpless
old staff-officers. " Voyez done le pauvre papa saxon ! " cried the
French soldier with mocking wonder to an old grey-headed colonel
who had been taken prisoner. It would still have been possible
for General Riichel with his fresh troops to secure an orderly retreat
for the beaten army, but he led his regiments in isolation to useless
struggles. Thus it happened that the reserve was involved in the
defeat, and when now in the early autumn night the retreat to
Weimar was undertaken, the last moral bands which still held the
army together were ruptured. Deaf to the exhortations of unloved
leaders, the soldier thought only of himself. In formless masses


History of Germany

the vestiges of the battalions and the batteries, interspersed with
portions of the unending baggage-train, hastened across the table-
land. Every bugle-call of the pursuing enemy increased the panic
and confusion. " This was a horrible experience," writes
Gneisenau referring to this dreadful night. " It would be a thousand
times better to die than to live through it again ! " In vain did
he collect a few troops of the fugitives at the edge of the woods
of Webicht, just in front of Weimar, in order to cover the retreat
of the corps. He was to learn how great is the elemental might of
terror over a stricken army ; a last random attack of the French
cavalry, carried out in the obscurity of the night, once more led
to a dispersal in wild confusion. Inextinguishably there remained
in the spirit of the hero this picture of horror, an inheritance for the
days of reprisal.

Simultaneously, a few miles lower down the river, Davoust
gained an incomparably more difficult victory over the Prussian
main body. He marched westward along the road from Naumberg
in order to cut off the Prussians from the way to the Elbe. When
on the morning of the I4th his columns emerged from the narrow
pass of Kosen upon the undulating table-land which rises steeply-
above the left bank of the Saal, between Hessenhausen and
Auerstedt, the two armies suddenly encountered one another in
the thick fog, both of them on the march, neither of them expecting
this battle, and the Prussians in this case greatly outnumbering the
enemy. During the first hours of the battle the Duke of Brunswick
was fatally wounded ; in the decisive moment the Prussian army
was without a leader, for the king did not venture to take over
the supreme command himself and had not yet nominated a
commander-in-chief. Scharnhorst, indeed, pressed forward vic-
toriously with the left wing, and believed that he had already saved
the honour of the day ; but the cavalry of the right wing was
unskilfully employed, and the second division under Kalckreuth
took no part in the fight, for in this peace army no general dared
to act on his own initiative. Thus the enemy succeeded, by using
its ultimate reserves, in defeating the right wing of the Prussians,
and now Scharnhorst, too, had to give way. The army retreated
in tolerable order intending to turn northward at a point further to
the west, near Buttstedt, and to take the road past Sangerhausen
to Magdeburg. Hohenlohe had taken the same line of retreat from
Weimar, and when, in the darkness of the night, the two beaten
armies now encountered one another, the alarm became general,
and the main army was involved in the disorder of the force of


Revolution and Foreign Dominion

Hohenlohe. The men were dull and unaffected in the face of the
destruction of Old Prussia ; numbers of them lost their flags ; some
even, who had been taken prisoner by the enemy and who were then
rescued by a spirited troop of cavalry, refused to take up arms
again. When the army drew nearer home, many of the soldiers
deserted, those of long service saying to themselves that they had
carried the musket long enough, that the king had plenty of young
fellows, and that they might fight it out. The magic of the Frederi-
cian invulnerability had been destroyed, and a warlike fame beyond
compare had been lost.

On October I5th Napoleon imposed upon all the Prussian
provinces on the hither side of the Vistula a tax of 159,000,000
francs, on the ground that the battle of the day before had signified
the conquest of the whole of this region. Never had the favourite
of fortune boasted more audaciously, and yet, through a remarkable
fatality, the most criminal of lies was to become a literal truth.
Immediately after the defeat the Court of Dresden carried out its
long-planned desertion, and went over to Napoleon. A week later,
the Prussian domains on the left bank of the Elbe, as well as the
possessions of the House of Orange and the House of Hesse,
were temporarily annexed to the French empire. The system of
ambiguous neutrality, which, with Napoleon's consent, had been
adopted by the elector of Hesse, was now punished ; the conqueror
would no longer tolerate a secret enemy at his back. In Miinster,
the devotees of the ancient liberty of the estates rejoiced in the
throwing off of the Prussian yoke ; the black-and-white turnpikes
were torn down, the French and Miinsterland flags waved to cele-
brate the entry of the Napoleonic troops. In Hanover, too, the
black eagles were hastily removed, and the dismissal of the Prussian
officials was greeted with unconcealed delight.

Whilst the new provinces were thus lost, the reserve army
at Halle underwent a defeat ; and since it withdrew to Magdeburg
instead of guarding the capital, Napoleon was able to continue
unhindered his victorious march to Berlin along the chord of the
wide arc which the beaten forces occupied. Terribly now had to
be avenged the self-satisfied arrogance of the times of peace None
of the fortresses were properly armed, for no one had regarded as
conceivable the entrance of an enemy into the heart of the mon-
archy ; and the unwieldy fiscal system which, after the method of
a good domestic economist, measured the expenditure in accordance
with the income, provided absolutely no means for extraordinary
expenses. Many of the commanders of the fortresses had been


History of Germany

valiant officers, but their sense of duty did not spring from love
for the fatherland, being due simply to pride of caste. To them
the army was everything, and in their invincible arrogance they
calmly awaited the inevitable victory of the Frederician regiments.
When the alarming intelligence of the defeat spread through the
country, when the miserable remnants of this invincible army
reached Magdeburg, filling the whole town with alarm and confusion,
it seemed to these old officers as if the world were coming to an end ;
all resistance was useless ; everything on which their life had
depended for support had crumbled to pieces. After the fall of
Erfurt, which capitulated disgracefully immediately after the battle,
the principal fortresses of the old state, Magdeburg, Kiistrin, Stettin,
and a number of smaller places, opened their gates.

With a sound good sense the loyal people visited most of its
wrath upon the generals, for just as the loss of the double battle
was mainly due to bad leadership, so also was this last disgrace
attributable to the generals. Everywhere the conduct of the garri-
sons showed that they were worthy of a better fate. Young officers
broke their swords in despair, common soldiers placed the muzzles
of their muskets against their breasts and fired, not wishing to
survive the shame of the capitulation ; in Kiistrin several
battalions rose in mutiny against their dishonoured commanders.
But so ineffective had now become the power of public censure,
that subsequently not one of these old men who had thus forgotten
their duty had the courage when overtaken by disgraceful punish-
ment to atone for the stain on their honour by voluntary death.
Prince Hohenlohe, even, ended in dishonour. With unspeakable
privations, he had led the vestiges of his corps by a wide detour
to the Uckermark, and then the French overtook him at Prenzlau,
in the marshes by the Ucker See. Exhausted in body and mind,
profoundly disturbed by the reports of misfortune which reached
him from all sides, he allowed himself to be discouraged by the
suggestions of Massenbach, and to be grossly deceived by Murat's
falsehoods as to the strength of the enemy ; in the true style of
the adventurer of the empire, the brother-in-law of Napoleon
pledged his word of honour to a deliberate lie. A last despairing
attack by Prince August failed, and the army of Hohenlohe capitu-
lated in the open field. Such was the end of that knightly prince who
had once been an ornament of the Prussian army, who amid
the disorder of the days of the Confederation of the Rhine had alone
among the princes of the South maintained honourable courage
and German loyalty.


Revolution and Foreign Dominion

The army was annihilated. After the fall of Stettin and
Kiistrin, the line of the Oder had also become untenable, and it
seemed hopeless to attempt to offer a last resistance with the aid
of the East Prussian regiments on the further side of the Vistula.
Napoleon wrote in a satisfied mood to the Sultan, " Prussia has
vanished." Even Gentz considered that " it would be ridiculous
to dream any longer of the revival of Prussia ! " How many
storms had passed over this State since its rulers had shown it the
steep path that leads to great things ; often before had the capital
seen the enemies of the country within its walls ; but now for
the first time in Prussia's history was disgrace associated with
misfortune. Shame and rue raged in every heart, and the coarse
joy of the conqueror made him refrain from nothing which might
increase these painful sensations. Designedly he displayed his
contempt for everything Prussian ; in the royal castle of the
Hohenzollerns he penned new and filthy libels against Queen
Louise. While sending the coat and sword of Frederick the Great
to the Invalides, he poured his scorn out oil this people that left
the grave of its greatest man so unadorned ; the Imperial Guard
destroyed the obelisk on the battle-field of Rossbach ; the figure
of Victory was torn down from the Brandenburg Gate, to disappear
in a shed on the Seine. What a spectacle it was when the brilliant
regiment of the Gensdarmes, disarmed, ragged, and almost starving,
was driven up and down Unter den Linden like a drove of beasts.
To the sound of drums and trumpets, in a ceremonial procession,
there were carried through the streets the old banners with their
aspiring eagles and whole baskets full of silver kettledrums and
trumpets, witnesses of old glory and new shame. Of all the troops
that had been in the field, the Garde du Corps was the only regiment
that had saved all its distinctions of honour. It was soon for-
bidden that any Prussian uniform should be worn in Berlin ; even
the pensioned officers were to lay aside the blue coat. In addition
there were intolerable taxes, there were arrogance, debauchery,
and the oppression of billeting. On November 2ist Napoleon
issued from Berlin that incredible decree which forbade all trade
with England, and condemned all English goods to confiscation ;
the Continental System was founded, and for years to come the
well-being of Germany was forcibly repressed.

There were not lacking traits of dishonourable servitude.
The baseness that is not absent from any nation appeared here
more hateful than anywhere else, for German uncouthness lacks
understanding of the dubious art which characterises the more


History of Germany

refined culture of the Romans, whereby an outward respectability
is preserved even amid baseness. Many a man of mean spirit
crawled to offer his services to the conqueror. Lange, Buchholz,
and other leaders of Berlin enlightenment, glorified the victory
of reason over the prejudices of the nobles. The hatred of the
people for the arrogance of the officers manifested itself in various
outbreaks of rude mockery. Moreover, the cumbrous pedantry and
the stupid punctiliousness of the officialdom, paralysed the powers
of resistance of the state ; in this time of disorder all the authorities
continued quietly to carry on their daily work, so that the
conquering invader found everywhere an ordered apparatus and
administration ready to his hand, and many a well-meaning old
War Office clerk became, without knowing it, a tool in the
hands of the enemy. Among the instances of open treachery, none
appear so shameful as the desertion of Johannes Miiller. The
triumphs of the Imperator induced in this enthusiastic admirer
of Old German and of Swiss freedom, a mood of servile admiration ;
with a complete change of front, he glorified in swelling periods
Napoleon and Frederick as the heroes of the modern world. His
old comrade Gentz thereupon broke off their friendship in a rage,
and wished for him one punishment only, that he might see the
usurper overthrown and Germany free once again ! Less unworthy
but no less morbid was the scientific indifference with which Hegel
regarded the destruction of his fatherland. When Napoleon
burst over the field of Jena, it seemed to Hegel as if the world's
soul had been displayed in bodily form, and from the fall of Prussia
he deduced the sagacious doctrine that spirit always gains the victory
over spiritless reasoning and sophistry. Generally speaking, in Thur-
ingia, the first overwhelming impression of misfortune was speedily
dissipated, and it was only under the pitiless oppression of the
following years that the people of Mid-Germany came to learn
how firmly intertwined was its own life with the destiny of the
Prussian State.

In the old provinces of Prussia, the change of mood began
sooner, immediately after the first defeats. Napoleon's unbridled
and ever-growing hatred for Prussia was nourished upon the secret
suspicion that in this state, notwithstanding all the shame and the
folly of recent weeks, there still slumbered an untamable force of
will, such as the Imperator had never before encountered upon the
Continent. What the Prussian soldier was capable of under power-
ful leadership was shown by the retreat of Blucher's army. In
these battles several young heroes, who were subsequently to help


Revolution and Foreign Dominion

in leading the state towards brighter days, first became known to
friend and foe. With the remnants of the reserve army and some
other troops, Blucher crossed the Elbe, near Magdeburg, in order
to effect a junction with the forces under Hohenlohe ; and while
the river was being crossed, Colonel York with his yagers held
off the pursuing army for several hours in the brilliant battle of
Altenzaun. When the proposed junction with Hohenlohe was
rendered impossible by the news of the capitulation of Prenzlau,
Scharnhorst conceived the audacious plan of turning against the
flank and the rear of the French, in order to divert a portion of the
hostile army from the Mark. The small force hastened towards
Mecklenburg, and actually succeeded in luring three French army
corps in pursuit. Even amid all the troubles and distresses of this
difficult retreat, in the free spirit of Scharnhorst there began to
waken the creative ideas of military reform of which he had given
the first indications in the spring, in his memorial upon the militia.
With convincing clearness, in a conversation with Muffling held
in Gadebusch, he showed that in the defeats of the last weeks the
severest and ultimate source of all the misfortunes had been the
failure of the common soldier to participate in the action, and that
what was above all needed was to transform the army in such a
way that it should come to feel itself at one with the fatherland. x

Subsequently the army fought with desperate courage at the
gates and in the streets of Liibeck against a superior force of the
enemy, and it was only when all provisions and all munitions of
war had been lost, and when further resistance was utterly
impossible, that Blucher laid down his arms in Rattkau. This
was a struggle full of heroic rage, such as the miserable campaign
of 1805 had never seen ; and altogether different from the thought-
less curiosity of the Viennese now appeared the worthy conduct of
the great majority of the people of Berlin, in face of Napoleon's
entry. Never before had anyone spoken so frankly to the
Imperator as the preacher Erman, who at the greeting at the gate
said plainly that a servant of the Gospel could not lie, and that it
was therefore impossible for him to pretend that he rejoiced at
the entrance of the enemy.

The pitiless reality of the war destroyed the phrases of
enlightened vanity, destroyed that dream-world of the reason, in
which the over-culture of the great town was accustomed to lose
its way, and it forced the slack spirits once more to hate and to

1 Recorded by Muffling in a memorial upon the Landwehr, which he transmitted to
Hardenberg on July 12, 1821.


History of Germany

love cordially. With the well-being of intellectual sociability
there disappeared also the world of literary make-believe. Now
that misery dwelt in every home, even the pride of culture recog-
nised the forcible hand of the living God ; the man of learning came
to understand just as much as the man of simple mind, what this
perplexing life of ours becomes without faith, and what a miserable
creature is man without his nation. The longer the billeting lasted,
the more serious, the more collected, the more Prussian, became
the general mood, and soon the town of frivolous criticism was
hardly to be recognised. All waited in breathless suspense to hear
the news from the East Prussian theatre of war. The maimed
veterans played upon their hurdy-gurdys the song of lament for
Prince Louis Ferdinand, the one folk-song which had come into
existence in the dull misery of the present war ; and on the birthday
of the beloved queen, behind all the curtained windows of Berlin,
lights were burned in defiance of the prohibition of the French
governor. In the provinces too, there began an awakening from
the slumber of the times of peace ; many a weatherproof old peasant
looked with grim hope towards the picture of the great king hanging
on the wall.

Thus amid distress and shame did Barthold Niebuhr first
learn to know the Prussian people and cleave to it with all the
passion of his great heart, recognising that noble natures appear
greater in evil fortune than in good. Immediately before the
battle of Jena, he had left Denmark to enter the service of the
Prussian state, and when on the retreat to Konigsberg he was asso-
ciating with the Pomeranians and the Old Prussians, he wrote
confidently : "I never expected to find in association so much
energy, seriousness, loyalty, and good humour ; if they had been
properly led, these people would have been unconquerable by
the whole world ! " But the crowd must always feel before they can
hear. As far as the masses were concerned, it was only the endur-
ing need of the coming year that was to win them fully for the
ideas of liberation ; and it was among the warlike nobles and among
the men of learning that anger for the fatherland was aroused far
sooner and far more easily. The military pride of ancient Prussia
and the bold idealism of the new German literature suddenly
encountered one another in a single idea. Amid the destruction

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