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and in open hostility was defying constituted and secure national independence. The proauthority with the intention of calling his clamation produced some effect, but as a country to arms. The news of Eckmühl had whole the Hungarians stood fast in their destroyed his chances of success, and he was allegiance. soon to end his gallant but ill-starred career Four years earlier Napoleon's proclamation in a final stand at Stralsund, whither he had declaring that the Bourbons of Naples had retreated. He was stigmatized by Napoleon ceased to reign was launched from Schönas a «sort of robber who had covered himself brunn. Now another, to which reference has with crimes in the last Prussian campaign.) already been made, equally famous, was dicIn repeated public utterances the Emperor tated within its walls, though dated May of Austria was characterized as cowardly, 17, from the « Imperial Camp at Vienna. It thankless, and perjured, while the Viennese was a document even abler than that adwere addressed as “good people, abandoned dressed to the Hungarians. Citing the abuses and widowed. The last acts of their flying which had from immemorial times resulted rulers had been murder and arson; « like Me- from the confusion of temporal with spiritual dea, they had with their own hands strangled power in the papacy, it revoked the donation their own children.»
of Charles the Great to Hadrian I. (made a This policy of wooing the people while thousand years before!), declared that Pius abusing their rulers had been successfully VII. had ceased to reign, and that, as an undertaken in Italy, and continued with vary- indemnity for the loss of his secular power, ing results from that day. No more effective he was to receive an annual increase of inrevolutionary engine could have been devised come amounting to 2,000,000 francs. In time for Europe in Napoleon's age. The specious of peace this decree would have produced statements of the Emperor were based on throughout Europe a tremendous stir; but in truth, and while the idea they expressed was the interval between the two acts of a great distorted and reiterated until its exaggera- campaign men were much more occupied with tion became falsehood, yet France and the speculations about the decision of arms than Napoleonic soldiers appeared to fight and suf- with a change which was, after all, only anfer enthusiastically for what they still con- other phase of a protracted, tiresome struggle sidered a great cause; and even the dull boors, in which the papacy had long since fallen from whose intelligence had been nearly quenched its pinnacle. It was, however, an element of by centuries of oppression, felt stirrings of terrific demoralization in the house of Ausmanhood as they listened to the Emperor's tria, which thus saw the consolidation of Italy fiery words. The middle classes were not de- under the Napoleon family complete, and ceived, but they had no power to refute such their last hope to regain their European language from such a man; and among the influence by enlargement in that peninsula few truly enlightened men of each nation who extinguished. were aware of their country's abasement un- Such was the scenic diversion provided for der dynastic absolutism, a tremendous impres- the great world in the pause of a few days sion was often created, at least temporarily. after the occupation of Vienna. These mo
This fact had been well illustrated already ments were likewise occupied by the greatest in Poland. Austria had another appanage military activity. Morning, noon, and night whose people cared little for the prestige of secretaries wrote and messengers ran; the their foreign kings and much for their own roads of central Europe fairly rang beneath liberties. The Hungarians were a conser- the feet of tramping infantry and the hoofs of vative, capable race; many of them were horses which were dragging provision-trains ardent Protestants, well educated and well or artillery carriages, and bearing despatches informed, successfully combining in their to distant points. institutions the best elements of both civic The Archduke Charles was a fine strategic and patriarchal life. To them Napoleon issued theorist, in his age second only to Napoleon. a proclamation on May 15 which was a mas- After the fatal division of his army before terpiece of its kind. It set forth that the Landshut, he had wonderfully retrieved his Emperor Leopold II. in his short reign had strength in seizing Ratisbon, crossing the acknowledged their rights and confirmed Danube, and standing at Cham 80,000 strong their liberties; that Francis I. had sworn to after his reinforcement by the divison which maintain their laws and constitution, but he called in from the Bohemian Forest. But had never convoked their estates except to again he became the victim of indecision. demand money for his wars; that in view Calling for peace negotiations, he loitered of such treatment, Hungary should now rise long at Budweis, failed to join Hiller so as
to throw their united force across the French Völkermarkt, on his way down the Drave toadvance to Vienna, and when at last he ward Hungary. Two days before, eight hunbrought up on the slopes of the Bisamberg dred French soldiers had crossed into the he seemed for an instant aimless. Thus can island of Lobau to drive out the Austrian the hope of peace paralyze a great general's scouts; on the 19th Napoleon arrived, and the activity. But when, having offered to open necessary fortifications were constructed; on negotiations with his adversary, he received the 20th the passage began, and Masséna, no answer, when he learned that the Austrian with Lannes's light cavalry, was sent out to ministry also was determined to fight the reconnoiter. struggle out, he was himself again. His plan
NAPOLEON DEFEATED AT ASPERN. was the greatest perhaps ever devised by him: so great, indeed, that four years later Napo- CHARLES, having apparently determined to leon made it his own at Dresden. It was to let his enemy cross unmolested, and to fight free Vienna by threatening the French com- the decisive battle on his own ground, had munications.
advanced meantime to still another line of The idea was old enough; the novelty lay hamlets-Strebersdorf, Gerasdorf, Deutschin the details. Kollowrath was to detach 25,- Wagram. On the morning of the 21st Napo000 men from his own force, and to seize Linz leon's army was partly across the main stream, with its bridge; the Archduke John was to some of his troops being on the Lobau, some join the Army of the Tyrol, which had re- entirely over on the left bank, but a large treated to the head waters of the Enns, and portion being still on the right bank. His cavthen march with 50,000 men to the same alry was again sent to clear the Marchfeld of point. But Masséna was already master of the Austrian light horse, who were coursing the Enns valley, and Bernadotte was sent to from one vantage-point to another; and he assist Vandamme at Linz. The Emperor had himself, in order to survey the country, adalready divined the plan, and had thwarted vanced to the first slight rise beyond the low it by the rapidity with which his orders were meadows which border the river. Near where transmitted and distant divisions summoned. he stood was the comfortable hamlet of AsThe communications were threatened, but not pern, composed like the others round about of broken, and Napoleon gave his whole atten- one-story stone houses and high stone barns, tion to the problem of crossing a great river some of which are of great size, with walls in the face of an enemy. He had done it be- many feet thick. The farmsteads and churchfore, but never under circumstances so pecu- yard are inclosed with ordinary masonry walls. liar as these which confronted him in the size At a short distance to the eastward lay of the Danube and the strength of his foe. Essling, with a few hundred inhabitants like
The mighty stream follows for the most Aspern; and farther still, but easily visipart a single channel until it debouches into ble, the somewhat larger village of Enzersthe plains which face Vienna on the north. dorf. The plain, though not rolling, is yet not There it divides into several arms, inclosing perfectly flat, and small water-courses travnumerous islands. These branches are nearly erse it at frequent intervals, their direction all substantial streams; many of them are marked by the trees growing on their banks. navigable. It was determined to select two The most important of these, the Russbach, such points, one above and the other below was some miles north of where he stood. the town, to build bridges at both, and to Turning to Masséna, after scanning the select whichever one should prove more ground, he said: «I shall refuse on the left, feasible when the task was done. The enter- and advancing on the right, turn in the Ausprise above the town failed entirely through trian front to the left.) That is, he would the vigilance of the Austrians. Masséna had leave his own left on the river, turn the better success at the other end, and succeeded Austrian left, and rolling up their line, inin gathering sufficient material without great close them with their own rear to the Danube. difficulty; his bridges between the two shores His success meant their annihilation, for they by the island of Lobau were ready on May 20. had no means of crossing in retreat. In this interval Charles advanced, and oc- To men of less daring this would have cupied a line farther forward in the great seemed a mad plan. A careful general would, plain, stretching from hamlet to hamlet - from without hesitation, have seized and strongly Korneuburg, Enzersfeld, Gross-Ebersdorf, to garrisoned Aspern, Essling, and Enzersdorf in Strebersdorf. Eugène and Macdonald had order that his own line of retreat might be reached Villach, whence they could march secure, and sufficient room be assured in which direct to Vienna; the Archduke John was at to deploy. Pelet, in his memoirs, declares that
the Emperor's orders were « to cross the river there until midnight. Weakened and inferior and march against the enemy.» Be this as it in numbers though the French were, they máy, there were as yet only three infantry understood better than their foes the dedivisions on the left bank of the Danube, and fense of a place, and when firing ceased they Aspern was but weakly garrisoned. Charles still held half of the long main street. was determined if possible to maintain his By midnight the French bridge was again superiority of numbers, and sent floats laden repaired, and Davout, in response to Napowith stones down the main channel of the leon's urgent orders, began to bring up reriver to crash through Napoleon's bridges. inforcements, especially artillery, and held The attempt met with only slight success, them in readiness for crossing on the south though it weakened the most important one. shore of the main stream. The Austrians had Meantime the Austrians were advancing in made at two in the morning still another effive columns, one by Breitenlee against As- fort to drive out the enemy from Aspern; soon pern, one by Aderklaa against Essling, one afterward they attacked Essling. Masséna direct on Enzersdorf to their left; the two called in Carra Saint-Cyr to Aspern; within others were cavalry, and bore in the general an hour both attacks had been repulsed, and direction of Breitenlee toward Aspern. They the hamlet entirely cleared of the enemy. appeared in full sight about one o'clock, the While the desperate struggle again went on, column destined to attack Napoleon being the Emperor once more surveyed the field; and nearest. Napoleon's over-confidence disap- when at seven in the morning Davout sent peared at once, and while the Austrians de- word that a portion of the reinforcements was ployed for the attack, and occupied Aspern, already on the Lobau, Napoleon determined he sent Molitor's division in to seize and hold to break through the enemy's center, and for the hamlet, Masséna being in command. The that purpose threw forward the troops aldivisions of Legrand and Boudet were in the ready on the ground. But once more the rear, on the right and left respectively. Bes- weakened and patched structure over the sières, with the cavalry of Lasalle and Es- Danube gave way, and the arrival of reinpagne, stood between Aspern and Essling; the forcements was stopped; the available French division of Carra Saint-Cyr arrived later and force was immediately drawn back, and stawas held in reserve. Lannes and Boudet, with tioned to hold the line from Aspern to Essling. a small force, were ordered to hold Essling. The enemy was encouraged, and pressed on Enzersdorf was abandoned, and quickly occu- to the attack with renewed vigor; in the pied by the Austrian left.
former village the scenes of the previous The fighting at Aspern was awful. The day were repeated, first one and then the French pushed in, were driven out, then other contestant holding it for a time. In the turned and seized it again. Once more, and center, where the Austrians almost broke still once more, the same alternating successes through the line, Napoleon quickly brought were repeated, the thickest of the fight being together his recently arrived artillery and at the churchyard in the western end of the Bessières's cavalry; after terrific struggles village. At Essling the fore-post about which they succeeded in holding the Austrians in the battle raged was a great barn with check. On the right Essling, captured and mighty walls and vaulted cellars. Meanwhile recaptured several times by each side, was the Emperor was calling in his troops as fast first taken and long held by the enemy's left, as possible from behind, but at three in the and then retaken only at about three in the afternoon his main bridge over the chief arm afternoon, by a portion of the French reserve, of the Danube gave way before masses of rub- Napoleon's « young guard.» Thereupon, from bish brought down from the hill country by a the sheer exhaustion of both sides, the conflict freshet. The Austrians were from first to last ceased, nothing being heard but desultory superior in numbers on the battle-field; their discharges of artillery. The French were in enfilading batteries were able to sweep the possession of both Aspern and Essling. At French lines for several hours, and the car- seven the Emperor called a council of war; nage was dreadful. At last Bessières suc- the generals advised recrossing the Danube ceeded in dislodging them from Essling, and and a retreat into Vienna. «You must mean it was held by the French until dusk, when to Strasburg,» said their chief; «for if Charles the Austrians drew off to bivouac. But at should follow, he might drive me thither, and Aspern the numbers engaged were greater, if he should march to cut me off at Linz, I must Legrand being sent in toward nightfall. Thé march thither, too, to meet him. In either case, Archduke intended to take and hold the vil- I must abandon the capital, my only source lage if possible, and the fighting continued of supplies. There was no reply, and it was