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All at once a powerful voice above shouted out: "Now, Hisel, in the
name of the Holy Trinity, cut the ropes!" Thereupon they heard the
strokes of two hatchets.

The soldiers, who were rushing forward in serried ranks, looked up
again, and indescribable horror seized them. The black mass of rock
and rubbish which had hitherto hung over them, commenced moving and
rolling down with a terrible crash. A cloud of dust rose and filled
the gloomy defile as with the smoke of powder. At the same time a
heavy fire burst forth on all sides, and from amid the leafy screen
the deadly bullets of the sharpshooters brought death with every
discharge into the allied ranks. A death-like silence then ensued
for a moment, for out of the depths rose the wails and lamentations
of the hundreds of soldiers who had been crushed and mutilated by
the "avalanche." The Tyrolese, filled with curiosity and compassion,
looked down into the defile. The smoke and dust had disappeared, and
they could distinctly survey the scene of horror, devastation, and
death, in the gorge.

Happy those whom the falling "avalanche" had hurled from the narrow
footpath into the foaming torrent! It is true, death had been in
store for them there, but it had quickly put an end to their
sufferings. But what was the agony of those who lay buried under the
fragments of the rocks, their limbs fearfully mutilated! What were
the sufferings of the hundreds of soldiers lying on the road, on
this narrow, gory path, upon which the "avalanche" had thundered

It was a horrible sight; even the Tyrolese trembled on beholding
this rubbish, these fragments, whence large numbers of bloody
corpses protruded, and amidst which torn, mutilated limbs were
moving, while here and there soldiers, covered all over with dust,
and bleeding from fearful wounds, tried painfully to raise
themselves from the ground.

Those of the Saxons who had not been struck by the terrible
avalanche, fell back shuddering. When the Tyrolese saw this, their
compassion at the cruel fate of the dead gave way, and with
deafening shouts they burst forth from their concealment, and,
mingling with the enemy, a frightful slaughter took place.

The Saxons rallied, however; courageous discipline presided over
unskilled valor, and the column advanced slowly and painfully in the
direction of the bridge, through a murderous fire, and surmounting
the ruins which obstructed the road and covered the bodies of their

All at once exultant shouts and cheers resounded at the entrance of
the defile, and the clarion-notes of martial music joined in these
stirring acclamations. Fresh troops, re-enforcements of the Saxons,
were coming up from the rear. The Bavarians had arrived with their
artillery, which they had placed in a very favorable position; they
had already taken the two farm-houses at the entrance of the gorge
where the Tyrolese had taken position, and were now rushing into the
defile. The Tyrolese, dismayed at this impetuous advance, retreated
into the mountains.

For two days the struggle was continued in these gorges near
Mittewald. For two days Saxons and Tyrolese opposed each other in
this fratricidal contest, in which Germans fought against Germans in
obedience to the behests of the tyrant who had subjugated all
Germany, and to whom only the undaunted Tyrol still offered a
stubborn resistance.

The victory was long undecided. Once the forces of the Duke of
Dantsic succeeded at one extremity of the defile in driving back the
sharpshooters under Joachim Haspinger, the Capuchin, and clearing a
passage for the Saxons struggling in the gorge. But the Capuchin had
retreated only to bring up fresh forces, dispatch messengers to
Speckbacher, Peter Mayer, Andreas Hofer, and Anthony Wallner, sound
the tocsin, and concentrate more armed peasants. And Speckbacher
came up with his brave sharpshooters in the rear of the Saxons:
Anthony Wallner and his men made their appearance like-wise; Peter
Mayer brought up fresh forces; and Andreas Hofer sent word that he
would be on hand speedily. But the Saxons were likewise re-enforced,
both by the French, who moved up from Brixen, and the Bavarians, who
approached from Sterzing.

The contest was continued with unabated violence, and both sides
struggled obstinately for the victory. But the Tyrolese fought for
their rights, their liberty, their German country; the Saxons and
Bavarians fought for tyranny, for the foreign oppressor, and the
subjugation of their countrymen. God granted victory to the
Tyrolese, and in the defile of Mittewald upward of a thousand Saxons
had to atone by their death for having fought at the bidding of the
French conqueror on German soil against their German countrymen.

The Tyrolese fought for their rights, their liberty, their German
country; and the Duke of Dantsic, the proud marshal of France, was
defeated by the despised peasants; he had to flee from their wrath,
and arrived without his cloak and hat, trembling and deathly pale,
on his foaming horse at Sterzing, which he had left a few hours
previously with the firm conviction that he would inflict a crushing
defeat upon the "haughty peasant-rabble." Now this "haughty peasant-
rabble" had defeated him.

God is with those who fight for the rights and liberty of Germany.
God is with those who rise boldly against French tyranny and French



God is with those who fight for the rights and liberty of Germany.
He had granted another victory to the Tyrolese.

Animated by their brilliant successes, the patriots no longer stood
on the defensive, but, flocking from all quarters to the standard of
Hofer, assembled in great multitudes on Mount Isel, the scene of
their former triumphs, and destined to be immortalized by a still
more extraordinary victory. Lefebvre had collected his whole force,
consisting of twenty-six thousand men, of whom two thousand were
horse, with forty pieces of cannon, on the little plain which lies
between Innspruck and the foot of the mountains on the southern side
of the Inn. They were far from being animated, however, by their
wonted spirit; the repeated defeats they had experienced had
inspired them with that mysterious dread of the mountaineers with
which regular troops are so often seized, when, contrary to
expectation, they have been worsted by undisciplined bodies of men;
and a secret feeling of the injustice of their cause, and the
heroism with which they had been resisted, paralyzed many an arm
which had never trembled before a regular army.

The Tyrolese consisted of eighteen thousand men, three hundred of
whom were Austrian soldiers who had refused to follow their
officers, and remained to share the fate of the inhabitants. They
were tolerably supplied with ammunition, but had little provisions,
in consequence of which several hundred peasants had already gone
back to their homes.

Joseph Speckbacher commanded the right wing, whose line extended
from the heights of Passberg to the bridges of Hall and Volders;
Hofer was with the centre, and had his headquarters at the inn of
Spade, on the Schoenberg; Haspinger directed the left, and advanced
by Mutters.

At four in the morning, the brave Capuchin roused Hofer from sleep,
and, having first united with him in fervent prayer, hurried out to
communicate his orders to the outposts.

The battle commenced at six, and continued without intermission till
midnight, the Bavarians constantly endeavoring to drive the Tyrolese
from their position on Mount Isel, and they, in their turn, to force
the enemy back into the town of Innspruck.

For a long time the contest was undecided, the superior discipline
and admirable artillery of the enemy prevailing over the impetuous
but disorderly assaults and deadly aim of the mountaineers; but
toward nightfall the bridge of the Sill was carried after a
desperate struggle, and their left flank being thus turned, the
French and Bavarians gave way on all sides, and were pursued with
great slaughter into the city. They lost six thousand men, of whom
seventeen hundred wounded fell into the hands of the Tyrolese, while
on the side of the latter not more than nine hundred had fallen.
Lefebvre had to retreat hastily toward Salzburg, where his whole
army was collected on the 20th.

This great victory was immediately followed by the liberation of the
whole Tyrol; and when, on the morning of the 15th of August, the sun
rose over Innspruck, Andreas Hofer and his victorious host stood on
Mount Isel, gazing with profound emotion on the reeking, gory
battle-field, on which, two days ago, war had raged with all its
horrors, and on the city of Innspruck, whose smoking and burning
houses betokened the last outburst of the rage of the fugitive
French marshal. [Footnote: "Gallery of Heroes: Andreas Hofer," p.

"See how much blood it has cost, and how many wrongs had to be
committed, that we might obtain our rights!" sighed Andreas Hofer,
pointing to the battle-field. "My heart overflows with pity on
seeing these horrors, and I implore you all to be merciful with the
wounded and to treat the prisoners leniently. Among these prisoners
are about one thousand Bavarians and Saxons. See, they are standing
down yonder in dense groups, and our men surround them, mocking and
abusing them. Go down to them, dear Secretary Doeninger; tell them
to be merciful and compassionate, and to bear always in mind that
the prisoners are no longer their enemies, but their German
brethren; that they are Saxons and Bavarians, speak one and the same
language with us, and are our countrymen. Repeat this to our men,
Doeninger, and say to them in my name, 'Do not injure the prisoners;
they are Saxons and Bavarians, and good and brave men!'" [Footnote:
Andreas Hofer's own words. - Ibid., p. 125.]

"They are not exactly good men," said Speckbacher, who was standing
on the right side of Andreas Hofer; "no, they are not exactly good
men, Andy; otherwise they would not have fought against us, who are
assuredly good men and have done nothing but defend our dear

Instead of replying to him, Andreas Hofer turned smilingly to the
Capuchin, who was standing on his left side. "Brother Joachim," he
said gently, "you ought to exhort our Joseph here a little, that he
may comply with the Redeemer's precept and forgive his enemies. He
is a very good, but very stubborn fellow; a brave and excellent
soldier, but it would do him no harm if he were a better Christian."

"If we had been good Christians latterly we should never have
defeated the enemy," growled the Capuchin, shaking his head. "If we
were good Christians, we should have to love our enemies, do good to
them that hate us, and pray for those who despitefully use us and
persecute us. So long as we are soldiers, Andy, we cannot be good
Christians; and I thank God for it that we fought like downright
brave heathens. But after the enemy has been expelled from the
country, and peace prevails again everywhere, and I have returned to
my tedious convent at Seeben, I will become again a pious Capuchin,
and exhort our dear brave Joseph Speckbacher to become as good a
Christian as our Andreas Hofer."

"No, no, brother Joachim, we will not wait until then to show to the
world that we are good Christians," exclaimed Andreas. "God stood by
us in the battle of Mount Isel and made us victorious over our
enemies. Let us thank Him, therefore, for His surpassing goodness
and mercy; let us pray Him to bless our victory and grant a glorious
resurrection to those who had to sacrifice their lives for it."

He drew his large rosary from his bosom, and, lifting his eyes
devoutly to heaven, sank down on his knees.

"Yes, let us pray God to bless our victory," said Father Haspinger,
bending his knees like Andreas Hofer; and Joseph Speckbacher
followed his example.

And the pious Tyrolese, seeing their leaders kneeling on the height
above, were filled with devout emotion; they knelt likewise; their
cheers and Jodlers, their shouts and laughter died away; only
prayers were heard from their lips, and, as an accompaniment to
them, the melodious peals of the bells, with which the people of
Innspruck were celebrating the departure of the French marshals, and
the approach of the defenders of the country.

At this moment the sun burst forth from the clouds, and shed a
radiant lustre on this whole sublime scene - the three kneeling
heroes on the height above, and all around the Tyrolese, clad in
their picturesque national costume, kneeling and thanking God, with
tears in their eyes, for the victory He had vouchsafed to them.

The Bavarian and Saxon prisoners, carried away by this spectacle,
knelt down like the Tyrolese, and prayed to God, like their enemies-
-not thanking Him, as the latter did, for the victory, but for
having made them prisoners, of good and pious victors. [Footnote:
Mayer's "Joseph Speckbacher," p. 196.]

All at once this pious scene was interrupted by loud cheers, shouts,
and Jodlers, and a long, imposing procession of singing, jubilant
men ascended the mountain. The new-comers were the students of
Innspruck, who came to congratulate Andreas Hofer on his brilliant
victory, and accompany him on his triumphal entry into the city.
Many persons followed them, and all shouted exultingly, "Where is
Andreas Hofer, the savior of the country? Where is Andreas Hofer,
the liberator?"

The band heading the procession of the students, struck up a ringing
flourish on beholding Andrews, who had risen from his knees at their
approach. But he raised his arm imperatively; the band ceased
playing immediately, and the cheers died away on the lips of the
students, who bowed respectfully to the tall, imposing form of the

"Hush, hush," said Andreas, gravely; "pray! No cheers, no music!
Neither I nor any of us did it; all the glory is due to Him above!"
[Footnote: Andreas Hofer's own words, Ibid., p. 197.]

"But you helped the good God a little," said the speaker of the
students, "and therefore you must submit to accept the thanks of the
whole Tyrol, and to being called the savior and liberator of the
country. We come to you as messengers of the capital of the Tyrol,
and are instructed to request you to tarry no longer, but make your
triumphal entry into the city."

"Yes, I will come," exclaimed Andreas, joyfully; "what I implored of
the Lord as the highest boon has been realized now: we shall make
our triumphal entry into the city, where the mean enemy behaved so
shamefully. Return to Innspruck, my friends, and say to the
inhabitants that we shall be in the city in the course of an hour -
old Red-beard, Speckbacher, and I - and that we shall be glad to meet
all our excellent friends there again."

And an hour afterward Andreas Hofer and his friends made their entry
into Innspruck. He sat in a gorgeous carriage, drawn by four
splendid white horses, which he himself had taken from a French
colonel during his flight across the Brenner. By the side of the
Sandwirth sat Joachim Haspinger, the Capuchin, and beside the
carriage rode Joseph Speckbacher, with a radiant face, and his dark,
fiery eyes beaming with triumphant joy, he was mounted on the proud
magnificently-caparisoned charger that had borne the haughty Duke of
Dantsic two days ago.

The carriage was preceded by a crowd of rejoicing peasants, and a
band of fifers and fiddlers; carpets and banners hung from all the
windows and balconies; ladies in beautiful attire greeted the
conquering hero with waving handkerchiefs; and the people in the
streets, the ladies on the balconies, and the boys on the roofs and
in the trees, shouted enthusiastically, "Long live Andreas Hofer!
Long live the commander-in-chief of the Tyrol!" And the bells
pealed, the cannon posted on the market-place thundered, and the
fifers and fiddlers made as much noise as possible.

"Listen, brother Haspinger," said Andreas Hofer, turning to the
Capuchin, while the carriage was moving on slowly, "I should really
dislike to enter the city always amid such fuss and noise; and I
believe it is heavy work for princes always to look well pleased and
cheerful when they are so much molested by the enthusiasm of the
people. I looked forward with a great deal of joy to the day when we
should make our entry into the city, and I thought it would be much
more beautiful; but now I am greatly tired of the whole thing; I
should be glad if they would cease fiddling, and clear a passage for
the carriage to move on more rapidly. I am hungry, and I would I
were already at the tavern of my dear friend Niederkircher."

"Well, you must learn to put on a pleasant face when the people
cheer you," said Haspinger, laughing. "You have now become a prince
too, and I think your people will love you dearly."

"What nonsense is that, brother?" asked Hofer, angrily.

"It is no nonsense at all, Andy; on the contrary, it is quite true.
Just listen to their acclamations."

"Long live Andreas Hofer!" shouted the crowd, which was dancing and
singing around the carriage. "Long live the commander-in-chief of
the Tyrol!"

"They call me commander-in-chief of the Tyrol," said Andreas,
musingly. "Tell me, Joachim, is it necessary for me to assume that

"Yes, it is. There must be a head of the state, a man to whom the
people may look up as its star, and to whom it may apply as its
comfort, support, and judge. And as the people have confidence in
you and love you, you must be the man to hold the whole together,
lest it should fall asunder. You shall be the head, and we others
will be your hands and thoughts, and will work and fight, and think
for you and the Tyrol. We must have a leader, a commander-in-chief
of the Tyrol, and you are the man, Andy."

"If you say so, it must be so," said Andreas, nodding his head
gently. "Well, then, I shall be commander-in-chief of the Tyrol
until order and peace are restored, and until the enemy has been
expelled from the country for evermore. But see, we have arrived in
front of Niederkircher's tavern, and there is Niederkircher himself
with his dear round face. God bless you, Niederkircher, why do you
look at me so solemnly, and why have you dressed up so nicely? Why,
you wear your holiday clothes, and yet I think this is neither
Sunday nor a holiday."

"It is a great holiday," exclaimed Niederkircher, "the commander-in-
chief of the Tyrol, the great Andreas Hofer, is making his triumphal
entry into the city. That is why I have put on my Sunday clothes and
look so solemn; for it would not be becoming for me to embrace the
distinguished commander-in-chief of the Tyrol, as I should like to
do under other circumstances."

"You are a fool, old fellow!" said Andreas, encircling his friend's
neck with his arm; "if I am commander-in-chief before the world, I
am, before my friends, always Andreas Hofer, the Sandwirth and
humble peasant. Let us go into the house, my dear friend; and you
Joachim, come with us. There! Take me to the small back room which I
always occupy during my stay in the city."

"God forbid!" exclaimed the innkeeper; "you never must occupy the
back room again; that would not be becoming for the commander-in-
chief of the Tyrol. You must take my best room with the balcony
opening on the street; besides, all is there in readiness for your

"Must I take it, Joachim?" said Andreas to the Capuchin, almost

"Yes, Andy, you must," replied the friar. "You must do honor to your
new dignity, and to us all."

"It is a pity that I must do so," sighed Andreas. "I was so glad
that I should soon be in the old back room, where it is so cozy and
quiet, and where you do not hear any thing of the noise and shouting
outside. But, if it cannot be helped, let us go to the best room;
but pray, if it is possible, give us something to eat there. Some
sound dumplings and a glass of native wine, friend Niederkircher."

"No, no, Andreas Hofer, that will not do today," replied the
innkeeper; "I have had all my servants at work in the kitchen ever
since sunrise, and you will have a dinner suitable for the
commander-in-chief of the Tyrol."

"I should have preferred dumplings and native wine in the small back
room," said Andreas Hofer, dolefully, while he ascended with the
innkeeper and the Capuchin to the best room on the first floor.

This was a very fine room indeed, and even though it was not as cozy
as the back room for which Hofer bad longed, it was at all events
very agreeable to him to be once more under a hospitable roof, and
enjoy a little rest and tranquillity. In the middle of the room
stood a table handsomely festooned with flowers, and covered with
bottles of wine, cake, and all sorts of fruit.

"Now, my distinguished friends, make yourselves as comfortable as
possible," said Niederkircher, cheerfully; "lie down awhile on the
silken divan and repose. Meanwhile I will go to the kitchen and
order dinner to be served to the commander-in-chief and his two
generals, Haspinger and Speckbacher."

"I shall comply with your request," growled the Capuchin, "and make
myself as comfortable as possible."

He burled his heavy, dusty leathern shoes quickly from his feet into
a corner of the room; he then lay down on the carpet in front of the
divan, and stretching his limbs, exclaimed, "Forsooth, I have not
been able for a long while to make myself as comfortable as to-day!"

"But you, commander-in-chief," said Niederkircher, beseechingly, "I
hope, will not disdain my divan? Rest there a little, Andy, until
the waiters bring you your dinner."

"God forbid! I must first attend to my horses," exclaimed Andreas.
"I suppose, Niederkircher, you saw my four splendid white horses?
They are honest war-spoils; I will keep them forever and never sell
them, although I could get a round sum for them, for they are fine
animals; only the first horse on the right-hand side, I believe, is
a little weak in the chest, and ought not to be overworked. Before
going to dinner and making myself comfortable, I must go and feed
the horses and see if they are comfortable. You know, Niederkircher,
I have always fed my horses myself, and will do so to-day also."

And he hastened toward the door; but Niederkircher ran after him and
kept him back.

"For God's sake. Hofer," he cried in dismay, "what are you going to
do? Why, you are not a horse-trader nor the Sandwirth to-day, but
commander-in-chief of the Tyrol."

"It is true, I forgot it," sighed Andreas. "Go, then, dear friend,
get us our dinner, and have a large bundle of hay put into the
manger of the horses. - But, great God! what dreadful noise is that
in the street? Why, those men are shouting so loudly that the walls
are shaking and the windows rattling! What do they want? Why do they
always repeat my name? Look out, Niederkircher, and see what is the

Niederkircher hastened to the window and drew the curtain aside in
order to look out into the street. A dense crowd was assembled in
front of the tavern; it was incessantly cheering and shouting:
"Andreas Hofer! Come out! Long live the commander-in-chief of the
Tyrol, the liberator! We want to see him, we must thank him for
delivering us from the enemy. Andreas Hofer! Andreas Hofer!"

"You cannot get around it, Andy; you must step out on the balcony,"
said Niederkircher, stepping back from the window. "The people are
perfectly beside themselves with love and enthusiasm, and will not
keep quiet until you come out and make a speech to them. Do, my
friend, step out on the balcony!"

"Must I do it?" asked Andreas, dolefully, turning to the Capuchin,
who was stretching himself comfortably on the carpet.

"You must, brother," said Haspinger, gravely. "The people wish to
see their beloved leader, and it would be ungrateful not to accept
their love."

Andreas Hofer sighed, but he yielded and approached the balcony, the
doors of which were thrown open by the innkeeper.

No sooner had the thousands assembled in front of the house beheld
the tall form of their favorite leader, than thundering cheers rent
the air; all waved their hats and shouted, "Long live Andreas Hofer!
Long live the commander-in-chief of the Tyrol!"

And now a feeling of profound emotion overcame the tender, grateful
heart of Andreas Hofer; joy and ecstasy filled his soul in the face
of so much love and enthusiasm, and tears of the most unalloyed
bliss glistened in his eyes, which greeted the jubilant people with
tender, loving glances. He was anxious to thank these kind people
and give utterance to his love; and he lifted up his arm, asking

Online LibraryL. MühlbachAndreas Hofer → online text (page 31 of 43)