BRITANNIC MAJESTY FIGHTS HIS BATTLE OF DETTINGEN; AND BECOMES SUPREME JOVE OF GERMANY, IN A MANNER.
Brittanic Majesty with his Yarmouth, and martial Prince of Cumberland, arrived at Hanover May 15th; soon followed by Carteret from the Hague: [
"After some five leisurely weeks in Herrenhausen, George II. (now an old gentleman of sixty), with his martial Fat Boy the Duke of Cumberland, and Lord Carteret his Diplomatist-in-Chief, quitted that pleasant sojourn, rather on a sudden, for the actual Seat of War. By speedy journeys they got to Frankfurt Country; to Hanau, June 19th; whence, still up the Mayn, twenty or thirty miles farther up, to Aschaffenburg,--where the Pragmatic Army, after some dangerous manoeuvring on the opposite or south bank of the River, has lain encamped some days, and is in questionable posture. Whither his Majesty in person has hastened up. And truly, if his Majesty's head contain any good counsel, there is great need of it here just now.
"Captains and men were impatient of that long loitering, hanging idle about Frankfurt all through May; and they have at length started real business,--with more valor than discretion, it is feared. They are some 40 or 44,000 strong: English 16,000; Hanoverians the like number; and of Austrians [by theory 20,000], say, in effect, 12,000 or even 8,000: all paid by England. They have Hanau for Magazine; they have rearguard of 12,000 [the 6,000 Hessians, and 6,000 new Hanoverians], who at last are actually on march thither, near arriving there: 'Forward!' said the Captaincy [said Stair, chiefly, it was thought]: 'Shall the whole summer waste itself to no purpose?'--and are up the River thus far, not on the most considerate terms.
"What this Pragmatic Army means to do? That is, and has been, a great question for all the world; especially for Noailles and the French,--not to say, for the Pragmatic itself! 'Get into Lorraine?' think the French: 'Get into Alsace, and wrest it from us, for behoof of her Hungarian Majesty,'--plundered goods, which indeed belong to the Reich and her, in a sense! ELS-SASS (Alsace, OUTER- seat), with its ROAD-Fortress (STRASburg) plundered from the Holy Romish Reich by Louis XIV., in a way no one can forget; actually plundered, as if by highway robbery, or by highway robbery and attorneyism combined, on the part of that great Sovereign. 'To Strasburg? To Lorraine perhaps? Or to the Three Bishoprics'" (Metz, Toul, Verdun:--readers recollect that Siege of Metz, which broke the great heart of Karl V.? Who raged and fired as man seldom did, with 50,000 men, against Guise and the intrusive French, for six weeks; sound of his cannon heard at Strasburg on winter nights, 300 years ago: to no purpose; for his Captains of the Siege, after trial and second trial, solemnly shook their heads; and the great Kaiser, breaking into tears, had to raise the Siege of Metz; and went his way, never to smile more in this world: and Metz, and Toul, and Verdun, remain with the French ever since):--"To the Three Bishoprics, possibly enough!"
"'Or they may purpose for the Donau Countries, where Broglio is crackling off like trains of gunpowder; and lend hand to Prince Karl, thereby enclosing Broglio fires?' This, according to present aspects, is between two the likeliest. And perhaps, had provenders and arrangements been made beforehand for such a march, this had been the feasiblest: and, to my own notion, it was some wild hope of doing this without provenders or prearrangements that had brought the Pragmatic into its present quarters at Aschaffenburg, which are for the military mind a mystery to this day.
"Early in the Spring, the French Governmeut had equipped Noailles with 70,000 men, to keep watch, and patrol about, in the Rhine-Mayn Countries, and look into those points. Which he has been vigilantly doing,--posted of late on the south or left bank of the Mayn;--and is especially vigilant, since June 14th, when the Pragmatic Army got on march, across the Mayn at Hochst; and took to offering him battle, on his own south side of the River. Noailles--though his Force [still 58,000, after that Broglio Detachment of 12,000] was greatly the stronger--would not fight; preferred cutting off the Enemy's supplies, capturing his river-boats, provision-convoys from Hanau, and settling him by hunger, as the cheaper method. Impetuous Stair was thwarted, by flat protest of his German colleagues, especially by D'Ahremberg, in FORCING battle on those rash terms: 'We Austrians absolutely will not!' said D'Ahremberg at last, and withdrew, or was withdrawing, he for his part, across the River again. So that Stair also was obliged to recross the River, in indignant humor; and now lies at Aschaffenburg, suffering the sad alternative, short diet namely, which will end in famine soon, if these counsels prevail.
"Stair and D'Ahremberg do not well accord in their opinions; nor, it seems, is anybody in particular absolute Chief; there are likewise heats and jealousies between the Hanoverian and the English troops ('Are not we come for all your goods?' 'Yes, damn you, and for all our chattels too!')--and withal it is frightfully uncertain whether a high degree of intellect presides over these 44,000 fighting men, which may lead them to something, or a low degree, which can only lead them to nothing!--The blame is all laid on Stair; 'too rash,' they say. Possibly enough, too rash. And possibly enough withal, even to a sound military judgment, in such unutterable puddle of jarring imbecilities, 'rashness,' headlong courage, offered the one chance there was of success? Who knows, had all the 44,000 been as rash as Stair and his English, but luck, and sheer hard fighting, might have favored him, as skill could not, in those sad circumstances! Stair's plan was, 'Beat Noailles, and you have done everything: provisions, opulent new regions, and all else shall be added to you!' Stair's plan might have answered,--had Stair been the master to execute it; which he was not. D'Ahremberg's also, who protested, 'Wait till your 12,000 join, and you have your provisions,' was the orthodox plan, and might have much to say for itself. But the two plans collapsing into one,--that was the clearly fatal method! Magnanimous Stair never made the least explanation, to an undiscerning Public or Parliament; wrapt himself in strict silence, and accepted in a grand way what had come to him. [His Papers, to voluminous extent, are still in the Family Archives;--not inaccessible, I think, were the right student of them (who would be a rare article among us!) to turn up.] Clear it is, the Pragmatic Army had come across again, at Aschaffenburg, Sunday, June 16th; and was found there by his Majesty on the Wednesday following, with its two internecine plans fallen into mutual death; a Pragmatic Army in truly dangerous circumstances.