« AnkstesnisTęsti »
nigsberg the warlike temper of Prussia was so manifest that he thought Frederick William, for a time at least, should be removed from its influence. Accordingly he pressed the King to pay a visit to St. Petersburg. The invitation was accepted, and the Czar's efforts were so successful that when his visitor left for home his feeling was as unwarlike as it had ever been. He informed Austria that his interests were those of Russia, that there should be no offensive warfare, and that any conflict must be confined to repelling an attack. To an inquiry from Vienna, the Czar himself replied, on March 2, that if Austria should declare war he would fulfil his obligations to Napoleon; but six weeks later, seeing how determined was the war sentiment of Francis, and how complete were his preparations, it seemed best to throw an anchor to windward, and he so far modified his attitude as to explain that in the event of war he would not put his strength into any blow he should aim at Austria.
The cabinet of Vienna was perfectly aware that neither Alexander nor Frederick William represented the national feeling of their respective peoples; that Austria's opportunity to lead a great revolt against Napoleon might be found in the support of the powerful conservatives of Russia, in the enthusiasm of all Prussia, where Arndt was already crying, « Freedom and Austria!» and in the passionate loyalty of her own peoples, not excepting the sturdy Tyrolese, who, chafing under Napoleon's yoke, were not only restless, but even turbulent and ready for insurrection. On March 18, 1809, the French minister at Vienna wrote to Paris that in 1805 the government, but neither army nor nation, had desired war; that now the government, the army, and the people all desired it. In requesting a subsidy from England the Austrian plenipotentiary was ordered to state that in the event of victory his government hoped to secure such internal vigor as Austria had enjoyed before the treaty of Presburg. As to the neighboring states, she desired some minor rectifications of her own frontier, with an indemnification to the younger branches of her dynasty for their lost states. These might be found either in Germany or in Italy, and if she should succeed in destroying Napoleon's system of tributary states she meant to restore all those territories to their rightful owners, not excepting those of the German princes who had been hostile.
The credulity of Napoleon's critics often overleaps that of his eulogists. To suppose, as many do, that no inkling of all these stu
pendous schemes reached him in Spain is preposterous. Bavaria was his faithful subordinate, and Poland still hoped everything from his successes. Both were in the heart of Germany, and through a carefully organized and well-administered system of spies he regularly received information of the most reliable nature. The same historians who assert that after Marengo Bonaparte left Italy for Paris to cloak his defeat, and that he fled to Malmaison to conceal his direct connection with Enghien's death, expect us to believe that Napoleon fled from Spain merely to throw the responsibility of failure on Joseph. Most men in any crisis act from mixed motives. Such a charge displays skill in combining facts, but Marengo, whether a defeat or a victory, secured France to the general; the retreat to Malmaison did not induce the Consul to deny his responsibility for the execution at Vincennes; and it would be simply an intervention of the supernatural if Napoleon, for purely subjective reasons, should have left Spain to return to Paris just at the very instant when his presence was absolutely essential there in order to check those who, although ostensibly his supporters, were in reality his deadly foes, and for the warlike preparations to meet the storm which was about to burst. His secretary has asserted that the letters which reached him at Astorga contained all this disquieting news, and there is absolutely no proof that they did not. The probability is all on the side of the account which was universally accepted until attacked by the group of over-credulous French historians whose zeal for the Revolution is such that they feel bound to attack every statement of the equally biased school of Napoleonic advocates.
It was from Spain that the Emperor warned the princes composing the Confederation of the Rhine to have their contingents ready. His language is guarded-whether the cabinet of Vienna had drunk from the waters of Lethe or from those of the Danube, he would be ready. But his actions could have but one meaning. The moment he reached Paris, significant looks and conduct warned Talleyrand to beware. «Is Joseph,» the Emperor said, in an interview with Roederer, «to talk like an Englishman or behave like Talleyrand? I have covered this man with honors, riches, and diamonds; he has used them all against me. At the first opportunity he had, he has betrayed me as much as he could. He has declared during my absence that he kneeled in supplication to prevent my enterprise in Spain: for two years he tormented me to un
dertake it. . . . It was the same with regard to Enghien. I did not even know him; it was Talleyrand who brought him to my notice. I did not know where he was; it was Talleyrand who told me the spot, and after having advised his death he has groaned over it with every acquaintance.»>
At the same time the columns of the «Moniteur » were filled with half-true accounts of the Emperor's success in Spain. As after Marengo, the French people knew everything that was favorable; but there was a complete suppression of all the rest. As Austria desired war to secure her subsidies from England, so France was again in need of funds which her own resources could not provide. Because of the failure to paralyze Spain by a single blow, Napoleon had, for the first time in his history, returned after a "successful >>
campaign without an enormous war indemnity. As before, after temporary patching French finances were again in disorder, and there was urgent need to repair them. The people needed peace for their enterprises, but the Continental blockade so hampered commerce that any peace which did not include a pacification of the seas would avail them little. It was a customary formality of Napoleon's to put the entire responsibility of war on the enemy, and it was announced in February that negotiations with Austria had failed. This was in a large sense true, although the particular effort referred to was perfunctory, and was intended technically to secure the help of Russia, who was to fight only in case Austria should be the aggressor.
Gradually, therefore, the war spirit revived
in France. No one remonstrated when once more recourse was had to the fatal policy of anticipating the annual conscription. Not only were the conscripts for 1810 called out, but the number was stretched to the utmost, and those who from immaturity or other causes had been unavailable in 1806, 1807, 1808, and 1809, were now collected. The total of the youths thus swept together was not less than 160,000. To render available their slender efficiency, they were divided among the various regiments already in the field, in each of which these raw and boyish recruits constituted a fifth battalion.
Since the Archduke Charles had been again at the helm of military affairs in Austria, not only had a transformation been wrought in the army as a fighting instrument, but the general staff had likewise been completely reorganized. For two years, therefore, Austria's occupation was not only forging a sword, but learning, as well, how to wield it. The lessons taught her by previous experience in Napoleonic warfare were thoroughly learned. It was consequently a very different strategic problem which the Emperor of the French had to solve in this campaign. For two years the Archduke had been studying his task, and that in the light of his ample experience. The conclusion he reached was that he would attack and overpower Davout in Saxony; then, by an appeal to their German patriotism, raise and use the peoples of northern and central Germany for an overwhelming assault on Napoleon.
But as the time for action drew near, the moral influence of those terrific annihilating blows which the French armies had struck once and again began to assert itself and to create hesitancy. Count Stadion, the minister of state, knew that diplomacy had reached the limit of its powers and could gain at most only a few weeks. These he felt sure the enemy would use to better advantage in strengthening himself than Austria in her poverty could do. He was therefore urgent for prompt action. Charles, on the other hand, hesitated to face the miraculous resources of Napoleon without a finishing touch to some preparations still incomplete. He therefore began in January to procrastinate, and consequently it was not until February that Francis ordered the attack. In this interval the whole plan of campaign was changed. The main army, under Charles, was to be collected in Bohemia, ready for action in any direction, so as to thwart whatever course Napoleon might adopt. Hiller was to guard the line of the Inn, Ferdinand was to march
against Warsaw, while John was to enter the Tyrol from Italy and excite the people to revolt. On April 9 the Archduke Charles declared war; all these movements were well under way, and Hiller had reached the Inn.
Ostensibly this war was to be unlike any other so far waged. The secret instructions given to the imperial Austrian envoy in London clearly indicate that the Hapsburgs hoped by victory to restore their influence both in Italy and Germany; for that was the meaning of «restitution to rightful owners » and the «slight rectification of their frontiers,» or, in other words, the restoration of European conditions to what they had been before Napoleon's advent. This was the dynastic side; the national side was also to be used for its purposes. «The liberties of Europe have taken refuge under your banner,» ran Charles's proclamation to the army; «your victories will break their bonds, and your German brethren still in the enemy's ranks await their redemption.» To the German world he said, «Austria fights not only for her own autonomy, but takes the sword for the independence and national honor of Germany.» Another manifesto, written by Gentz, the ablest statesman in Vienna, declared that the war was to be waged not against France, but against the system of persistent extension which had produced such universal disorder in Europe.
The tone and language of these papers have an audible Napoleonic echo in them: if an upstart house, represented by a single life and without direct descendants, could win success by appeals to the people, and gain the support of their enthusiasm by identifying its interests with theirs, why might not an ancient dynasty, with vigorous stock and numerous shoots, do likewise? Moreover, Napoleon no longer respected the limits of natural, physical boundaries, or the restrictions of birth, speech, religion, and custom, which inclosed a nation: his empire was to disdain such influences, to found itself on the universal brotherhood of man, and to secure the regeneration of mankind by liberal ideas of universal validity. Austria would offset this alluring summons by a trumpet-call to the brotherhood of Germans, to the strong forces of national feeling, to the respect for tradition and history which would animate her soldiers and justify her course.
If she needed a concrete illustration she could point to the Tyrolese. Since the treaty of Presburg their chains had chafed their limbs to the raw; at this very moment they were again in open rebellion. The adminis
trative reforms introduced by Maximilian had two divisions distributed in Hamburg, of Bavaria were in reality most salutary; Bremen, and Lübeck; Oudinot had one in his determined stand against priestly domination over the Tyrolese people proved in the end their salvation. But the evils of feudalism were always least among mountaineers, and relations of patriarchal tenderness existed between the aristocracy and the peasantry. The devotion of both classes to their institutions, their habits, their clothes, their customs, their local names, was intense. They had no mind to see the name of their country disappear forever, to lose their pleasant, easyfitting institutions, or to submit to the conscription and join in the great leveling movement which compelled them to serve in the ranks as ordinary soldiers. With their local assemblies they meant to keep their military exclusiveness as scouts, skirmishers, and sharp-shooters, in all of which lines they excelled.
The more enlightened citizens of the towns were well pleased with Bavarian rule, but the impulsive, ignorant, and superstitious peasantry were the glad instruments of Austrian emissaries. When they learned that war was inevitable and would soon be formally declared, they at once rose, seized Innsbruck and held it against the Bavarian troops. When an Austrian garrison marched in, their reception was enthusiastic. This was in the middle of April; simultaneously the Archduke John defeated Prince Eugène in Italy and drove him back upon the Adige, while Ferdinand overpowered all resistance in Poland, and on the 20th occupied Warsaw. Such successes were intoxicating; the great general had, it seemed, been caught napping at last, and the advantage of a successful opening appeared to be with his enemy.
THE FIFTH WAR WITH AUSTRIA-ECKMÜHL. It was Napoleon's pride that in his campaigns no enemy should lay down the law to him. He did not ask, How will my foe behave? What must I do to thwart him?-that was defensive warfare. For his purposes he must ask, Whence can I best strike? This question he now answered by selecting the valley of the Danube as his line of approach, and Ratisbon as his headquarters. He had before him the most difficult task he had so far undertaken. The concentration and sustenance of his troops must be made along the line of very least resistance. Davout had four divisions-one each in Magdeburg, Hanover, Stettin, and Bayreuth; he was also in command of the Poles and Saxons. Bernadotte
Hanau; the soldiers of the Rhine Confederation were scattered in all its towns. Two other divisions were just starting for Spain. In the beginning of March the faithful Berthier was again appointed chief of staff, and the Emperor's orders were issued. They were as clear, concise, and adequate as any of his best; he was once more on familiar ground, under ordinary conditions, facing a well-known foe, whose strength was greater than ever before, but whose identity was still the same. Davout was to collect his troops at Bamberg, the Poles were to remain in Warsaw, the Saxons in Dresden. To the latter capital Bernadotte should lead his army and then assume command. Oudinot was ordered to Augsburg, where he was to be reinforced. The departing divisions were brought to a halt and sent back to Ulm for Masséna's command, while two fresh ones were gathered in France and sent to Strasburg. The Rhine princes were to have their contingents ready and await orders.
A glance at the map will show that, as Napoleon said, he could then in an emergency reach Munich like lightning. But he expected no move from his enemy before the middle of April. By that time he hoped to have his German army gathered, equipped, and ready; in the interval the forces already on the ground could hold Charles in check; by the end of March there would be 100,000 French in Bamberg, Ulm, and Augsburg, with 30,000 Bavarians under Lefebvre about Munich; before the outbreak of hostilities he hoped to have a total of 200,000 available fighting troops. «Should the Austrians attack before April 10,» were the orders given on March 28, the army shall be collected behind the Lech, the right occupying Augsburg, the left resting on the right bank of the Danube at Donauwörth.» Then followed the most minute instructions to Berthier, explaining every move, and setting forth the reasons why he had chosen Ratisbon as his headquarters. This would give command of the Danube, assure a line of communication, and enable him so to control space and time that he could open the campaign much as he chose.
These dispositions had already compelled a second change of plan by the Austrians. They had expected a repetition of Moreau's advance by Munich; instead, they were called on to defend their capital a second time. Two divisions were left to watch the Bohemian Forest; the rest of the army, with Charles