Copyright
L. Mühlbach.

Andreas Hofer online

. (page 27 of 43)
Online LibraryL. MühlbachAndreas Hofer → online text (page 27 of 43)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


the King of Prussia longs, we shall take good care not to invite
Prussia to our victorious repast. It would be just in us even to
compel her to give us the sweet morsel of Silesia for our dessert.
Well, we shall see what time will bring about. Our first blow
against France was successful. - Archduke, go and help us to succeed
in dealing her another; and, after defeating France single-handed,
we shall also be masters of Germany."


CHAPTER XXVII.

THE BATTLE OF WAGRAM.


"At length!" exclaimed the Archduke John, joyously, holding up the
letter which a courier of the generalissimo had just brought him
from the headquarters of Wagram. "At length a decisive blow is to be
struck. - Count Nugent, General Frimont, come in here! A courier from
the generalissimo!"

So saying, the archduke had opened the door of his cabinet, and
called the gentlemen who were in the anteroom.

"A courier from the generalissimo," he repeated once more, when the
two generals came in.

"Your highness's wish is fulfilled now, is it not?" asked Nugent.
"The generalissimo accepts the assistance which you offered to him.
He permits you to leave this position with your troops and those of
the Archduke Palatine and re-enforce his own army?"

"No, he does not reply to my offer. It seems the generalissimo
thinks that he does not need us to beat the French. But he writes to
me that he is about to advance with his whole army, and that a
decisive battle may be looked for. He says the enemy is still on the
island of Lobau, busily engaged in erecting a TETE-DE-PONT, and
building a bridge across the Danube."

"And our troops do not try to prevent this by all means!" cried
General Frimont, vehemently. "They allow the enemy to build bridges?
They look on quietly while the enemy is preparing to leave the
island, and do not prevent him from so doing?"

"My friend," said the archduke, gently, "let us never forget that it
does not behoove us to criticise the actions of the generalissimo,
and that our sole duty is to obey. Do as I do; let us be silent and
submit. But let us rejoice that something will be done at length.
Just bear in mind how long this inactivity and suspense have lasted
already. The battle of Aspern was fought on the 22d of May, to-day
is the 3d of July; and in the mean time nothing has been done. The
enemy remained quietly on the island of Lobau, nursing his wounded,
reorganizing his troops, erecting TETES-DE-PONT, and building
bridges; and the generalissimo stood with his whole army on the bank
of the Danube, and took great pains to watch in idleness the busy
enemy. Let us thank God, therefore, that at last the enemy is tired
of this situation, that he at length takes the initiative again, and
brings about a decision. The generalissimo informs me that the
enemy's artillery dislodged our outposts yesterday, and that some
French infantry crossed over to the Muhlau. The generalissimo, as I
told you before, advanced with his troops, and hopes for a decisive
battle within a few days."

"And yet the generalissimo does not accept the assistance which your
imperial highness offered to him?" asked Count Nugent, shaking his
head.

"No, he does not. The generalissimo orders me, on the contrary, to
stay here at Presburg and operate in such a manner against the corps
stationed here, that it may not be able to join Napoleon's main
army. Well, then, gentlemen, let us comply with this order, and
perform at least our humble part of the generalissimo's grand plan.
Let us help him to gain a victory, for the victory will be useful to
the fatherland. We will, therefore, form a pontoon-bridge to-day,
and make a sortie from the TETE-DE-PONT. You, General Frimont, will
order up the batteries from Comorn. You, General Nugent, will inform
the Archduke Palatine of the generalissimo's orders. Write him also
that it is positive that the enemy is moving all his troops to
Vienna, and that all his columns are already on the march thither.
Tell him that it is all-important for us to detain him, and that I,
therefore, have resolved to make a sortie from the TETE-DE-PONT, and
request the Archduke Palatine to co-operate with me on the right
bank of the Danube. Let us go to work, gentlemen, to work! We have
no time to lose. The order is to keep the enemy here by all means;
let us strive to do it!"

And they went to work with joyous zeal and untiring energy; all
necessary dispositions were made for forming a pontoon-bridge, and
preventing the enemy from joining Napoleon's main army. The Archduke
John superintended every thing in person; he was present wherever
difficulties were to be surmounted, or obstacles to be removed. In
his ardent zeal, he did not hesitate to take part in the toils of
his men, and the soldiers cheered enthusiastically on seeing him
work so hard in the midst of their ranks.

Early in the morning of the 5th of July the bridge was completed,
the TETE-DE-PONT was fully armed, and every thing was in readiness
for the sortie. The Archduke, who had not slept all the night long,
was just returning from an inspection of the preparations, when a
courier galloped up to him in the middle of the bridge. On beholding
the archduke, he jumped from his horse, and handed him, panting and
in trembling haste, a letter from the generalissimo.

"You have ridden very rapidly? You were instructed then to make
great haste?" asked John.

"I rode hither from Wagram in ten hours, your imperial highness,"
said the courier, breathlessly; "I was instructed to ride as rapidly
as possible."

"You have done your duty faithfully. Go and rest."

He nodded kindly to the courier, and repaired to his head-quarters
to read the letter he had just received from his brother.

This letter revoked all orders which had been sent to him up to this
time. The archduke had vainly offered his cooperation and that of
the Archduke Palatine four days ago. At that time not even a reply
had been made to his offer; now, at the last moment, the
generalissimo called impetuously upon his brother to hasten to his
assistance. He demanded that the Archduke John should set out at
once, leave only troops enough to hold the TET-DE-PONT, and hasten
up with the remainder of his forces to the scene of action.

When the archduke real this order, a bitter smile played round his
lips. "See," he said, mournfully, to General Frimont, "now I am
needed all at once, and it seems as if the battle cannot be gained
without us. It is all-important for us to arrive in time at the
point to which we are called so late, perhaps too late. Ah, what is
that? What do you bring to me, Nugent?"

"Another courier from the generalissimo has arrived; he brought this
letter."

"You see, much deference is paid to us all of a sudden; we are
treated as highly important assistants," sighed the archduke. He
then unfolded the paper quickly and read it.

"The generalissimo," he said, "informs me now that he has changed
his plan, and will not give battle on the bank of the Danube, but
take position in the rear of Wagram. He instructs me to make a
forced march to Marchegg, advance, after resting there for three
hours, to Siebenbrunn, and take position there. Very well,
gentlemen, let us carry the generalissimo's orders into effect. At
one o'clock to-night, all must be in readiness for setting out. We
need the time between now and then to concentrate the extended lines
of our troops. If we are ready at all earlier hour, we shall set out
at once. Make haste; Let that be the password to-night!"

Thanks to this password, all the troops had been concentrated by
midnight, and the march was just about to begin when another courier
arrived from the generalissimo, and informed the archduke that the
enemy was advancing, and that it was now the generalissimo's
intention to attack him and force him to give battle. The Archduke
John was ordered to march as rapidly as possible to Siebenbrunn,
whither a strong corps of the enemy had set out.

The Archduke John now advanced with his ten thousand men with the
utmost rapidity toward Marchegg. The troops were exhausted by the
toils and fatigues of the last days; they had not eaten any thing
for twenty-four hours; but the archduke and his generals and staff-
officers always knew how to stir them up and induce them to continue
their march with unflagging energy. Thus they at length reached
Marchegg, where they were to rest for three hours.

But no sooner had they arrived there than Count Reuss, the
generalissimo's aide-de-camp, galloped up on a charger covered all
over with foam. The count had ridden in seven hours from Wagram to
Marchegg for it was all-important that the archduke should
accelerate his march. The battle was raging already with great fury.
The generalissimo was in urgent need of the archduke's assistance.
Hence, the latter was not to rest with his troops at Marchegg, but
continue his march and advance with the utmost speed by Siebenbrunn
to Loibersdorf. At Siebenbrunn he would find Field-Marshal
Rosenberg; he should then, jointly with him, attack the enemy.

"Let us set out, then, for Loibersdorf," said John, sighing; "we
will do all we can, and thus avoid being charged with tardiness. Up,
up, my braves! The fatherland calls us; we must obey it!"

But the soldiers obeyed this order only with low murmurs, and many
remained at Marchegg, exhausted to death.

The troops continued their march with restless speed, and mute
resignation. The archduke's face was pale, his flashing eyes were
constantly prying into the distance, his breast was panting, his
heart was filled with indescribable anxiety, and he exhorted his
troops incessantly to accelerate their steps. Now they heard the
dull roar of artillery at a distance; and the farther they advanced,
the louder and more terrific resounded the cannon. The battle,
therefore, was going on, and the utmost rapidity was necessary on
their part. Forward, therefore, forward! At five o'clock in the
afternoon they at last reached Siebenbrunn. But where was Field-
Marshal Rosenberg? What did it mean that the roar of artillery had
almost entirely died away? And what dreadful signs surrounded the
horizon on all sides? Tremendous clouds of smoke, burning villages
everywhere, and added to them now the stillness of death, which was
even more horrible after the booming of artillery which had shaken
the earth up to this time. Where was Field-Marshal Rosenberg?

An officer galloped up at full speed. It was a messenger from Field-
Marshal Rosenberg, who informed the archduke that he had been
repulsed, that all was over, and that the day was irretrievably
lost.

"I have been ordered to march to Loibersdorf," said the archduke,
resolutely; "I must comply with my instructions."

And he continued his march toward Loibersdorf. Patrols were sent out
and approached Wagram. The fields were covered with the dead and
wounded, and the latter stated amid moans and lamentations that a
dreadful battle had been fought, and that the Austrians had been
defeated.

The archduke listened to these reports with a pale face and
quivering lips. But he was still in hopes that he would receive a
message from the generalissimo; hence, he remained at Loibersdorf
and waited for news from his brother. Night came; profound stillness
reigned all around, broken only now and then by dull reports of
cannon and musketry fired at a distance, and there was no news yet
from the generalissimo!

One of the patrols now brought in a French officer who had got
separated from his men, and whom the Austrians had taken prisoner.
The archduke sent for him, and asked him for information regarding
the important events of the day.

The officer gave him the required information with sparkling eyes
and in a jubilant voice. A great battle had been fought during the
previous two days. The French army had left the Island of Lobau on
four bridges, which Napoleon had caused to be built in a single
night by two hundred carpenters, and had given battle to the
Archduke Charles at Wagram. A furious combat had raged on the 5th
and 6th of July. Both armies had fought with equal boldness,
bravery, and exasperation; but finally the Archduke Charles had been
compelled to evacuate the field of battle and retreat. The Emperor
Napoleon had remained in possession of the field; he had gained the
battle of Wagram.

Large drops of sweat stood on the archduke's forehead while he was
listening to this report; his eyes filled with tears of indignation
and anger; his lips quivered, and he lifted his eyes reproachfully
to heaven. Then he turned slowly to General Frimont, who was halting
by his side, and behind whom were to be seen the gloomy, mournful
faces of the other officers.

"The generalissimo has lost a battle," he said, with a sigh. "This
is a twofold calamity for us. You know that we could not come
sooner. We arrived even at an earlier hour than I had promised. You
will see that the whole blame for the loss of the battle will be
laid at our door, and we shall be charged with undue tardiness. This
pretended tardiness will be welcome to many a one. A scapegoat is
needed, and I shall have to be this scapegoat!" [Footnote: The
archduke's own words. - See Hormayr's work on "The Campaign of 1809,"
p. 286.]

The Archduke John was not mistaken; he had predicted his fate. He
was really to be the scapegoat for the loss of the battle. In the
proclamation which the Archduke Charles issued to his army a few
days afterward at Znaym, and in which he informed it that he had
concluded an armistice with the Emperor Napoleon, he deplored that,
owing to the too late arrival of the Archduke John, the battle had
not been won, despite the admirable bravery which the troops had
displayed at Wagram, and that the generalissimo had been compelled
thereby to retreat.

The Archduke John did not defend himself. He lifted his tearful eyes
to heaven and sighed: "Another battle lost, and this battle decides
the fate of Austria! Now Prussia will not ally herself with us, for
we did not strike the second blow which the king demanded, and she
will look on quietly while Austria is being humiliated! O God, God,
protect Austria! Protect Germany! save us from utter ruin!"


CHAPTER XXVIII

THE ARMISTICE OF ZNAYM


The guests of Anthony Steeger, the innkeeper of Lienz, had been
greatly excited to-day; they had talked, debated, lamented, and
sworn a great deal. In accordance with the request of Andreas Hofer,
the most influential leaders of the Tyrolese had met there and drawn
up, as Hofer proposed, a petition to the Emperor Francis, who was
now in Hungary at one of the palaces belonging to the Prince of
Lichtenstein. The disastrous tidings of the battle of Wagram had
been followed a few days afterward by news fully as disheartening.
The Archduke Charles had concluded an armistice with the Emperor
Napoleon at Znaym, on the 12th of July, 1809. By this armistice
hostilities were to be suspended till the 20th of August; but in the
mean time the Austrians were to evacuate the Tyrol, Styria, and
Carinthia entirely, and restore to the Bavarians and French the
fortified cities which they had occupied.

These calamitous terms of the armistice had induced Andreas Hofer to
summon some of his friends to Lienz, and draw up with them a
petition to the emperor, in which they implored him with touching
humility to have mercy upon them in their distress, and not to
forsake his faithful Tyrol. They stated that they had been told that
the Austrian troops, in accordance with the stipulations of the
armistice, were to evacuate the Tyrol, but this did not confer upon
the French and Bavarians the right of occupying the Tyrol. They
besought the emperor to prevent this, and not to permit the enemy to
occupy the country.

Such were the contents of the petition which Andreas Hofer and the
other leaders of the Tyrolese had signed to-day at the inn of
Anthony Steeger, at Lienz, and which Jacob Sieberer was to convey as
the last cry of the despairing Tyrol to the headquarters of the
emperor at Totis, while Eisenstecken was to deliver a copy of the
petition to General Buol, commander-in-chief of the Austrian troops.

Night had now come; the friends and comrades had long since left
Anthony Steeger's house, and Andreas Hofer alone remained with him
to talk with his faithful friend about the disastrous change in
their affairs, and the gloomy prospects of the future.

"I cannot believe that all is as they say," said Andreas Hofer, with
a sigh. "The emperor promised us solemnly never to give up or
forsake again his faithful Tyrol, and it would be high-treason to
suppose that the emperor will not honestly redeem his pledges. No,
no; I tell you, Anthony, the emperor and our dear Archduke John
certainly do not intend to abandon us; only the Austrian generals
are opposed to the continuance of the war, and long to get away from
our mountains, because they are afraid of Bonaparte, and think he
would punish them if they should stay here any longer and refuse to
deliver the province to his tender mercies."

"I am likewise loth to believe that the Emperor Francis would
forsake us," said Anthony Steeger, nodding his head approvingly.
"For the emperor loves us, and will not allow us to fall into the
hands of the infidel Bonaparte, who has just committed another
outrage by arresting the Holy Father in Rome and dragging him away
from his capital."

"Well, the Holy Father excommunicated him for this outrage," cried
Andreas Hofer, with flashing eyes; "he called down the wrath of God
and man on the head of the Anti-christ, and rendered it incumbent on
every pious Christian to wage war against the criminal who laid his
ruthless hands even upon the holy Church, and trampled under foot
him whom the Almighty has anointed. Anthony Steeger, let me tell
you, I will not allow the French to return to our country, and never
will I permit the Austrians to evacuate the Tyrol."

"And how will you prevent them from so doing?" asked Anthony
Steeger, shrugging his shoulders.

"I said to-day how I and all of us are going to prevent it. We shall
not suffer the Austrians to depart; we shall keep them here by
prayers, stratagems, or force. I have given instructions to all the
commanders to do so; I have given them written orders which they are
to communicate to our other friends, and in which I command them not
to permit the departure of the Austrians. I believe I am commander-
in-chief as yet, and they will obey my bidding."

"If they can do it, Andy, they certainly will; but what if they
cannot? What if the Austrians cannot be kept here by prayers or
stratagem?"

"In that case we must resort to force," cried Hofer impetuously. "We
must compel them to stay here; the whole Tyrol must rise as one man
and with its strong arms keep the Austrians in the country. Yes,
yes, Anthony, we must do it; it will be best for us all. It must
look as though we detain the Austrians by force, and this will be
most agreeable to the Emperor Francis; for what fault of his is it
that the Tyrolese prevent him from carrying out what he promised to
Bonaparte in the armistice? It is not his fault, then, if the
Austrians stay here, and if we prevent them from leaving our
mountains. We must detain them, we must. And I will write
immediately to old Red-beard, Father Haspinger, Joseph Speckbacher,
and Anthony Wallner. I will summon them to a conference with me, and
we will concert measures for a renewed rising of the Tyrol. Give me
pen and ink, Tony; I will write in the first place to old Red-beard,
and your Joe shall take the letter this very night to his convent."

Anthony Steeger hastened to bring him what he wanted, and while
Hofer scrawled the letter, his friend stood behind him, and followed
with attentive eyes every word which Andreas finished with
considerable difficulty.

Both were so much absorbed in the letter that they did not perceive
that the door opened behind them, and that Baron von Hormayr, in a
dusty travelling-dress, entered the room. For a moment he stood
still at the door and cast a searching glance on the two men; he
then advanced quickly toward Andreas Hofer, and, laying his hand on
his shoulder, he said: "Well, Andy, what are you writing there?"

Andreas looked up, but the unexpected arrival of the baron did not
seem to excite his surprise. "I am writing to old Red-beard," he
said; "I am writing to him that he is to come to me immediately. And
after finishing the letter to old Red-beard, I will write the same
thing to Speckbacher and Anthony Wallner, Mr. Intendant of the
Tyrol."

"Do not apply that title to me any longer, Andy," said Hormayr, with
a slight frown. "I am no longer intendant of the Tyrol, for you know
that we must leave the Tyrol and restore it to the French and
Bavarians."

"I for one do not know it, Mr. Intendant of the Tyrol," cried
Andreas, with an angry glance. "I know only that the Archduke John
appointed you military intendant of the Tyrol, and that you took a
solemn oath to aid us in becoming once more, and remaining,
Austrians."

"I think, Andy, I have honestly redeemed my pledges," said Hormayr.
"I assisted you everywhere to the best of my power, was always in
your midst, encouraging, organizing, fighting, and mediating; and I
think you will admit that I had likewise my little share in the
deliverance of the Tyrol, and proved myself one of its good and
faithful sons."

"Well, yes, it is true," murmured Hofer; "you did a great deal of
good, and, above all things, you gained over to our side the
Austrian generals, who would not have anything to do with us
peasants, and refused to make common cause with us; for you possess
a very eloquent tongue, and what can be accomplished by means of the
tongue you do accomplish. But now, sir, the tongue will no longer
suffice, and we must fight also with the sword."

"God forbid, Andy!" exclaimed Hormayr; "you know that the emperor
has concluded an armistice with Bonaparte, and while it lasts we are
not allowed to fight with the sword."

"The emperor has concluded an armistice? Well, then, let there be an
armistice. But you will not confine yourself to an armistice - you
intend to evacuate the Tyrol. That seems to me no fair armistice,
and therefore I shall summon old Red-beard, and my other faithful
friends, and concert with them measures to prevent you from
concluding such an unfair armistice, and forsaking us."

"And Andy is right in doing so!" exclaimed Anthony Steeger. "We must
not permit the Austrians to leave the province, and we are firmly
resolved that we will not."

"You are fools, both of you," said Hormayr, shrugging his shoulders.
"The Emperor Francis agreed positively that the Austrian troops
should evacuate the Tyrol during the armistice; hence, the troops
must leave, lest the emperor should break his word."

"But if they do, the emperor breaks the word he pledged to us,"
cried Anthony Steeger, vehemently.

"Anthony Steeger," said Hormayr, sternly, "I have come hither to
have an interview with Andreas Hofer, to whom I wish to communicate
something of great importance. Therefore, be so kind as to withdraw,
and leave me alone with him."

"I believe Andy does not want to keep any thing secret from me, and
I might, therefore, just as well stay here. Say, Andy, is it not
so?"

"It is. Speak, Mr. Intendant; Tony may hear it all."

"No, Andy, I shall not speak unless I am alone with you; and what I
have to say to you is highly important to the Tyrol. But no one but
yourself must hear it."

"If that is the case, go out and leave me alone with the intendant,"
said Hofer, shaking hands with his friend.

Anthony Steeger cast an angry glance on Hormayr, and left the room.
"I know very well why he wanted to get rid of me," he growled, as
soon as he was out in the hall. "He intends to persuade Andreas
Hofer to leave with the Austrians and abandon the Tyrol. He thinks
when he is alone with Hofer, he will yield sooner because he is a
weak and good-hearted man, who would like to comply with every one's
wishes. He thinks if I were present I should tell Andy the truth,
and not permit him to desert our cause, and set a bad example to the
others. Well, I will keep a sharp lookout, and if the intendant
really tries to take him away with him, I will endeavor to detain
him forcibly."

When the door had closed after Anthony Steeger, Hormayr nodded
kindly to Andreas Hofer and shook hands with him.

"Now we are alone, Andy," he said, "and will speak confidentially a
word which no one is to hear save us two."

"But you should always bear in mind that God Almighty is present,



Online LibraryL. MühlbachAndreas Hofer → online text (page 27 of 43)