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Title: Prince Eugene, The Noble Knight - Life Stories for Young People
Author: Wurdig, L.
Language: English
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                  [Illustration: _THE HERO OF ZENTA_]

                    _Life Stories for Young People_



                             PRINCE EUGENE
                            THE NOBLE KNIGHT


                     _Translated from the German of
                               L. Würdig_

                                   BY
                            GEORGE P. UPTON

         _Author of “Musical Memories,” “Standard Operas,” etc.
              Translator of “Memories,” “Immensee,” etc._

                        WITH FOUR ILLUSTRATIONS

                  [Illustration: A. C. McCLURG & CO.]

                                CHICAGO
                          A. C. McCLURG & CO.
                                  1910

                               Copyright
                          A. C. McClurg & Co.
                                  1910
                      Published September 24, 1910

                           THE PLIMPTON PRESS
                              [W · D · O]
                       NORWOOD · MASS · U · S · A



                          Translator’s Preface


The story of the brilliant career of Eugene, generally known as Prince
Eugene of Savoy, has its special lesson for youth. He was intended for
the Church, but was ambitious for a military career. Louis the
Fourteenth had marked out for him the profession of an _abbé_; but
monarchs, even the most powerful, do not always dispose. When “the
little Capuchin,” as he was contemptuously called, applied to that
sovereign for a commission in the French army and was refused it, he
shook the French dust from his feet and went to Austria, resolved that
France some day should suffer for that refusal. The story shows how his
resolution was carried out. The Austrian Emperor gladly welcomed him. He
rose from a subordinate position in the army to become one of the
greatest generals of his time. All Europe felt the strength of the
“little Capuchin’s” arm. He was a born soldier and war was the passion
of his life. His career, seems almost like an inspiration. He won
battles, often against largely superior forces, by the rapidity and dash
of his attacks, by a personal courage which never wavered, and by a
magnetic influence which inspired the admiration of his own soldiers and
fear among his enemies. He was in the field more than fifty years. The
ten peaceful years of his life were devoted to literature and the arts;
but the battle-field was the scene of his life’s success. The story
which his life has for youth is the result which may be accomplished,
not merely on battle-fields, but in every department of action, by
determined purpose, resolute will, and tireless industry. The “little
Capuchin” spurned the ease and comfort and luxury of an _abbé_ for the
rough fare of the soldier, and made himself the foremost general of his
time by the exercise of these qualities.

                                                                G. P. U.

Chicago, _July, 1910_.



                                Contents


  CHAPTER                                                           PAGE
    Prologue                                                          xi
  I The Little Capuchin                                               13
  II The Siege of Vienna                                              27
  III Turkish Campaigns                                               37
  IV The Battle of Zenta                                              48
  V War of the Spanish Succession                                     57
  VI Blenheim                                                         79
  VII The Italian Campaign                                            93
  VIII Malplaquet                                                    101
  IX Eugene at Belgrade                                              115
  X Last Days                                                        129
    Appendix                                                         145



                             Illustrations


  The Hero of Zenta                                       _Frontispiece_
  Prince Eugene before King Louis the Fourteenth                      22
  Prince Eugene before the battle of Malplaquet                      112
  Prince Eugene at Belgrade                                          124



                                Prologue


Prince Eugene, the great warrior and statesman, although scion of an
Italian family, and by birth a Frenchman, became a thorough German. He
appeared at a critical time in the relations between Germany and France,
to save his adopted fatherland from destruction, and to illuminate the
darkest period of German history with the glory of a series of the most
splendid and heroic achievements. The historian Von Sybel calls him “the
greatest general and statesman of Austria.” As a statesman he overtops
the greatest of his successors, Kaunitz and Stadion. As a general he
fills a place, chronologically and in rank, just between Gustavus
Adolphus and Frederick the Great. He was a dashing hero and at the same
time possessed a sympathetic nature. He was a genial companion, a
conscientious patriot, a master in politics, and an upright man.
Wherever he appeared he charmed. Although a born Frenchman of Italian
stock, he showed truer German feeling and spirit than most of the
Austrian leaders. He was one of those characters whom any nation might
be proud to possess. He served the Austrian imperial house for
fifty-three years, thereby contributing to the glory of the country.



                    Prince Eugene, The Noble Knight



                               Chapter I
                          The Little Capuchin


Prince Eugene of Savoy-Carignan, the hero of this story, takes foremost
rank among the greatest generals and statesmen of all times. This
strange French-sounding name may seem odd for a German hero; but in this
case it is quite misleading, for no one ever had deeper German
sympathies; no German soldier ever hated the people on the banks of the
Seine more bitterly. He gave them plenty of hard blows, and has been
christened by the German people—and not without reason—“Prince Eugene,
the chivalrous knight.”

Prince Eugene was born in Paris, although his ancestral land was Savoy,
the well-known duchy, formerly part of upper Italy, a barren mountainous
country. He first saw the light in the capital city of that country
which was afterwards to suffer so cruelly by his mailed hand. The ways
of Providence often seem strange, as in this instance, when in the heart
of France the man was born who was to teach France and the Frenchmen
respect for the Germans. France had ever been arrogant toward Germany,
and was particularly so at that time and until, in 1813-14-15 and later
in 1870 and 1871, she was taught a wholesome lesson.

And now I must tell you how Prince Eugene came to be born in Paris. In
the first half of the seventeenth century Prince Thomas Francis of
Savoy, youngest son of the reigning Duke Charles Emanuel the First,
founded the collateral line of the house of Savoy-Carignan. His wife was
Marie of Bourbon, sister and heiress of the last Count of Soissons; his
two sons, Emanuel Philibert and Eugene Maurice. The latter took the
title of Count of Soissons and married Olympia Mancini, a niece of the
notorious French minister, Mazarin. From this marriage sprang three
daughters and five sons, of whom Prince Eugene was the youngest.

History tells us that Prince Eugene’s father was a man of gracious
manners and of a brave and genial disposition. He distinguished himself
in feats of arms, and was therefore a favorite at the court of King
Louis the Fourteenth of France. Eugene’s mother was a beautiful woman
and very fond of the gay life of the time; to her all the homage was
rendered that feminine beauty and wit were wont to receive at the
brilliant court of “His Most Christian Majesty.”[1]

The palace of Count Eugene Maurice of Soissons was situated upon the
site where the great Grain Market of Paris now stands. If one of my
readers should happen to visit that city he may look upon the spot and
meditate upon the instability of all earthly things.[2] This palace had
a long, memorable, and brilliant history. In the fourteenth century it
was the property of King John of Bohemia, of the house of Luxembourg; it
next served as the cloister of a sect of expiatory nuns and later passed
into the hands of the notorious Catherine de Medici, who furnished it in
all the extravagant taste of the time. It stood in the midst of splendid
gardens, embellished with fountains and colonnades; and in the interior
of the park was a chapel of truly royal magnificence. It may be, that in
this sacred spot Catherine de Medici, mother of that monster, Charles
IX, may have conceived the idea, for the advancement and honor of her
church, of the Paris massacre. It was in this palace that Eugene was
born, October 18, 1663, one hundred and fifty years before the great
battle of Leipzig, a victory which broke the power of the first Napoleon
over Germany. This date, which the year 1813 made a memorable one for
Germany, would seem more suitably marked in our calendars by the name of
“Eugene” or “Lebrecht” rather than by that of some saint.

Before we concern ourselves with Eugene or his parents, let us finish
the history of the palace of Soissons. For almost a century it remained
in the hands of the family. Then a dishonest Scot by the name of Law
founded a bank in Paris, which soon became bankrupt, beggaring many
thousands of the well-to-do citizens. At last the city of Paris bought
the ill-fated building in order to erect on the site of so much crime
and sin, wild lust and miserable treachery, a very practical building,
the above-mentioned Grain Market, thereby to wipe out the dark past.

Eugene’s cradle stood in the midst of gay and luxurious surroundings.
The palace of Soissons was the resort of the flower of the French
nobility. Brilliant _fêtes_, in which the King never failed to be among
the guests, followed one another, and the youthful mistress, the
beautiful Italian, Olympia Mancini, was the flower of them all. At last
the magnet lost its power, as it is ever prone to do where court life is
subject to the moods and caprices of a tyrannical ruler. Intrigues were
set on foot against the Count and Countess of Soissons; their powerful
relative, the minister Mazarin, had long been dead, and both of them
were banished from the court by a royal decree dated March 30, 1665, and
ordered to their country estates. One can imagine the feelings of
Olympia particularly, who had been the petted favorite and ornament of
the royal court for years. She shed no vain tears over her fate,
however, but cherished in her heart a thirst for revenge. She now hated
with a deadly hatred the King whom she had loved and honored, and this
sentiment she inculcated in her children. This seed, hatred of the house
of Bourbon and particularly of the King, fell in good soil. Her son
Eugene preserved this heritage from his mother throughout his whole
life.

Eugene was ten years old when his father suddenly died. After this blow,
fortune seemed utterly to forsake the Countess. In order to retrieve it,
she was ready to seize on any means, even the most unworthy. She studied
astrology and fortune telling, and in this way became associated with a
person named Voisin, who was finally prosecuted as a poisoner. Just in
time Olympia, learning that she was to be arrested as an accomplice,
fled to Flanders. But even abroad, in Brussels, she was pursued by the
hatred of her former friends. It was Louis’s minister Louvois
particularly who heaped insults upon her.

For the honor of Eugene’s mother, the Countess of Soissons, it must be
said that the totally unfounded rumors against her were at last
silenced. Not a trace of complicity with the crime of the Voisin woman
has been discovered. The talented Countess soon made many influential
friends in Brussels. Her salon became very popular, and these social
triumphs somewhat compensated for the wrongs suffered in Paris.

At the time of her flight the Countess had left her children with the
mother of her deceased husband, the Princess of Carignan. Their
grandmother sought to give them a good education and to provide for
their future. Four of her grandsons were already in the army, three in
France, and one, Julius, in the German imperial service; but she had
difficulties with Eugene, the fifth and youngest. In short, Eugene was
intended for the priesthood, but was determined to become a soldier
instead. Of princely birth, as a member of the clergy, his future would
have been secure; in time he might have enjoyed fat revenues, and
sometime and somewhere have occupied a bishop’s seat. This goal might
have tempted many of his rank, but it was not so with him. He might also
have entered into service at court and would probably have prospered
outwardly there, but with his nature and talents how unhappy he would
have been if thus misplaced! The mere thought of becoming a courtier and
toady of his French majesty, the “Most Christian King,” who was as
bigoted as he was godless, treacherous, and unjust; who had driven
Eugene’s parents into banishment and had heaped unjust suspicion,
insult, and injury upon his mother, was repugnant to him.

He was firmly resolved to become a soldier. In his earliest youth he had
shown a pronounced, even unconquerable predilection for the profession,
and had concentrated all his dreams and hopes and his whole education
upon it. Mathematics had always been his favorite study. With resolute
purpose he had applied himself to the study of geometry under a friend
of Vauban, the great French master of fortifications, whose excellent
buildings, walls, moats, redoubts, lunettes, and bastions caused German
soldiers trouble enough, even in the last war. His favorite book was the
life of Alexander, the great King of Macedonia, by Curtius; his
principal models were Hannibal and Cæsar. He would pore over every work
on battles and sieges he could find, and his eyes glistened when he
heard the clashing of weapons. Possessing such tastes and talents, there
was but one insuperable obstacle to his becoming a soldier: he was of a
very delicate physique and had been sickly in his early years. Although
he persistently exercised and took every means to harden and toughen
himself, his nature could not be altered, and to his great chagrin he
remained small and delicate even when he had reached maturity.

“I shall be a soldier for all that,” he often said with great
determination to those who good naturedly meant to discourage him, and
then he would add: “but no carpet-knight or soldier on parade, like
those who guard the Louvre day and night that His Majesty may sleep
soundly, and who swagger about in gold and silver braid, conniving at
the adventures of the princes and royal family. No! I wish to be a real
soldier; one who is ready in the face of any hardship to do his sworn
duty to the death.”

Here his good grandmother of the house of Bourbon probably smiled and
shook her finger in warning; and no doubt her grandson answered her: “If
it be God’s will, you shall yet see me a field-marshal at the head of an
army.”

It was useless to gainsay such a spirit as this. Eugene had a head of
his own, as they say, and had quietly made up his mind to let time solve
the problem. There was still another difficulty and a very serious one.
The will of the King had destined the little fatherless boy, whom
circumstances had also deprived of a mother’s guidance, for the Church
instead of the army. It is very likely that he thought that such an
obstinate little princeling of the house of Savoy should not be allowed
to have his own way, but must be taught to obey.

We shall see what came to pass. Of course it was impossible to contend
with a Louis the Fourteenth, for he had plenty of means for compelling
obedience. He had long ago made up his mind to break this youthful
obstinacy and prevent Eugene from entering the French army. At last came
the time when Eugene must decide. Through good friends he had several
times tried to sound the King’s disposition in the matter, and always
with discouraging results. Eugene, whom the King sarcastically called
“the little _abbé_” said to himself: “You must be a man, and if you ever
intend to march at the head of an army and confront an enemy armed to
the teeth, you cannot afford to be afraid of the King of France! So
there!”

One fine day Eugene begged for an audience, which was granted. At last
he stood before His Majesty, King Louis the Fourteenth, whom his
creatures called “The Great.” Eugene and Louis! One cannot imagine two
natures more unlike in every respect, inwardly and outwardly. One
elevated Germany to a position of honor and power; the other would have
been glad to drag it down in order to be worshipped as its ruler.
Standing erect, with clear and honest eyes, in a resolute voice, Eugene
presented to the King his petition for a commission in the army.

When he had finished, the King’s eyes rested upon him for some moments
with an expression of derision. The “little _abbé_” had never before
seemed so repulsive to him. Eugene certainly was far from being a
paragon of beauty. His complexion was dark, he was small in stature, and
his nose was comparatively large. His upper lip was so short that his
mouth remained constantly open, disclosing the front teeth. The
redeeming feature was his eyes which, intelligent and fiery, gazed
intently at the King as though they would read his fate from his lips.

“You are disobedient, _abbé_,” said the King in a cutting voice; “you
oppose my will.”

“Not your will, Your Majesty,” answered Eugene, “but only an office for
which I have no inclination.”

“But you are not fit for a soldier,” said the King, measuring him from
head to foot with an almost disdainful look. “You will never be able to
bear the hardships of the service. As I happen to know, your father had
destined you for the priesthood. Take back your petition.”

“All my ancestors have followed the profession of arms,” answered
Eugene; “it is the most honorable one for a prince, it is——”

“Silence with your arguments,” interrupted the King; “I am in no mood to
listen to them. You know my wish. I will suffer no contradiction. A
prince of Savoy-Carignan should——” Here the King cleared his throat and
could not at once find the right expression for what he wished to say.

                     [Illustration: _PRINCE EUGENE
                   before King Louis the Fourteenth_]

“Should,” Eugene took up the unfinished remark, “should at least have
the liberty of deciding his own future and of choosing his profession.”

“The little _abbé_ is excited,” said the King in a disdainful tone. Then
he continued, “It shall be as I have commanded. Your Reverence must
enter into holy orders very shortly.”

“Your Majesty,” replied Eugene with a firmness of voice and manner far
beyond his years (for he was then only seventeen), “you force me to
declare that I shall embrace the profession of arms in spite of
everything.”

“But not under my flag, not in France,” cried the King forbiddingly.

“Then I am compelled to seek another sovereign and another fatherland.”

“Do so, Prince. You are dismissed.”

Eugene immediately obeyed this command. His future was decided.

“This person’s face is very repulsive to me,” said the King to his
courtiers. “The Soissons were all pig-headed and this fellow has
inherited his mother’s audacious spirit besides. Louvois is right, all
these Soissons must learn to submit.”

So thought the King. But man proposes; God disposes. This Soissons
(Eugene) at least did not feel the power of the King of France; the
reverse was the case, which we shall see as our history proceeds. The
heart of Prince Eugene was light as a feather when he had turned his
back upon the King and his grand palace. Now all was clear between them;
he had spoken his mind and told the King the truth, as he had probably
never heard it spoken before by one of his vassals.

When one considers, it was certainly a very daring procedure. Abruptly
and quickly he had broken all the ties that bound him to the King and
his house. It was certainly not a bad thing to have the powerful King of
France for a cousin. Had Eugene, according to the King’s demand, become
a priest, he would have fared well, might have folded his hands on his
knees and have enjoyed a very comfortable living. But now it was
necessary to stand on his own feet and to act with hands and brain.
Thousands would certainly have decided differently, would have preferred
the certain to the uncertain and have considered that a piece of bread
in the mouth is better than a feather in the cap.

Eugene did not belong to this order of mankind. Fate had early taken him
in hand. His father’s cares and his mother’s tears had sunk deeply into
his heart. He was too good a son to forget easily the wrongs inflicted
by the King. He had also been early introduced to the frivolous life at
court, and had conceived a disgust for it. Thirdly and lastly, he had a
lively faith in God. He believed firmly in an all-wise heavenly control
of the universe, had put his trust in the King of kings, and was at
peace with himself. He would never have been a successful priest, but he
was enthusiastic for the profession of arms.

The next problem for Eugene to solve was, under whom he should seek
service. France was not the world. There were many potentates under
whose banners he could find honor and fame. He hesitated but a short
time; then his intuition came to his aid and he chose the German
Emperor. Strangely enough, although a Frenchman by birth, his heart had
always turned to Germany; from youth German deeds of valor had inspired
him. Added to this, his uncle, the Duke of Savoy, was on the most
friendly terms with the Emperor Leopold the First, and his brother
Julius, who had entered the imperial service shortly before, had already
been assigned to the command of a regiment.

Eugene lost no time. He said farewell to his grandmother and to his
brothers and sisters, and packed his belongings. These, no doubt, were
not numerous, for his pleasure-loving mother had attended to that; and
besides, the parental legacy had been widely distributed. But this
troubled Eugene very little. In eating, in drinking, and in dress he was
accustomed to the greatest simplicity; and in case of need he had a rich
uncle in Savoy, who would have considered it a disgrace, as he had a
great deal of family pride, to let his young relative suffer want.

Accompanied by a single servant, Eugene left Paris and shook the dust of
the proud capital from his feet. It is said that he vowed never to enter
France again except as her enemy, sword in hand, at the head of a German
army. We shall see later how this came to pass. And now let us heartily
wish good luck to our determined young Savoyard.



                               Chapter II
                          The Siege of Vienna


Eugene arrived at last in Vienna, although the journey then consumed
much longer time than it does to-day. This had its advantages, for one
had time to consider one’s plans and to make up one’s mind whether one
were doing the right thing or not. But, as we already know, Eugene was
not the man to vacillate when once he had decided. When he had the goal
before him he made straight for it, looking neither to right nor left;
in fine, he no doubt felt that God was leading him; and this is the best
guide for us all, whether prince or beggar.

At the royal castle in Vienna he was very kindly received. He had not
grown handsomer or statelier on the road from Paris to Vienna; but
Emperor Leopold overlooked these externals and saw something deeper.
Eugene’s firmness of bearing, his directness of speech, and his whole
personality impressed him. There were other considerations also which
influenced the Emperor. Like Eugene, he had been destined in youth for
the Church; he was also pleased to have princes and cousins of the
already powerful Duke of Savoy, flocking to his banner at a time when
the operations of the rapacious and murderous Turk were becoming more
and more of a menace to Vienna. Every German sword that freely offered
itself was welcomed as a real acquisition. So thought the Emperor. To be
sure the Viennese had other ideas, for with all their amiability they
have a sense of humor.

The little Prince of Savoy-Carignan was almost too tiny for them. When
they had heard his story, they scarcely blamed the French King for
having destined this little chap for the priesthood. They insisted that
he was not fit for war. They called him “The little Capuchin”—a name
which fitted him, for he generally wore a long brown cloak which closely
resembled a monk’s habit. Very often people stopped on the streets,
shaking their heads, to gaze after him. Eugene would have had to be very
obtuse not to have noticed this. At present it could not be helped, but
he no doubt thought to himself, “Just wait, and sooner or later the
little Capuchin will show you what he can do.” There was that within him
which neither the edicts of a king of France nor the jokes of the
Viennese could subdue; genius was bound to assert itself. His
opportunity soon came.

The Turks as well as the French were enemies of the empire at that time.
Until quite recent times the German people were accustomed, in their
church prayers, to call on God for protection against both these
enemies. The French were constantly harassing the empire on its western
frontier, and the Turks on the eastern. Here and there great domains
were taken, and it is only to be wondered at that under such desperate
circumstances it did not go quite to pieces. This shows how full of
tenacity and endurance the German people were. The worst of the
situation at that time was that “the Most Christian” King of France
encouraged the Turks and was playing the game with them. He argued that
if the Germans were busy in Vienna with the Turks, the Emperor could not
send an army to the Rhine; and the beautiful country on both sides of
this river had long excited his cupidity. Shortly before this (1681)
Strasburg had fallen into his hands through abominable treachery. Such a
rich morsel had excited Louis the Fourteenth’s appetite anew.

In Hungary, which was the portal of entry into the empire for the Turks,
the ruler was an adventurous spirit and a dare-devil soldier, named
Tökely, who had been bribed by Louis. Indeed, as many historians tell
us, he had a secret understanding with the Turks for the destruction of
Germany. It was very difficult to accomplish this from the French side,
for here a stanch German prince opposed him and defended German rights
against the impious attacks of the French. This German prince was
Frederick William, the great elector of Brandenburg. You see it was even
then one of the Hohenzollerns who entered the lists in Germany’s behalf;
how long they have been misunderstood and accused of base schemes of
conquest!

But let us pass from the Hohenzollerns to the French, Hungarians, and
Turks. The Emperor had concluded a twenty-years’ armistice with the last
of these after the battle of St. Gotthard. This was now nearly at an
end. If the court of Vienna had made good use of it, the Turks never
would have dared to attack this still powerful enemy. As it was, they
had been sitting with folded hands, idle and impassive. The imperial
army was small in numbers and insufficiently fitted out. The fortresses
in Hungary were in a neglected condition, and the country itself was
kept in disorder and insurrection by Tökely and his lawless followers.
Thus it was an easy matter for the Turks to subdue not only Hungary but
other sections of Austria, and to carry the victorious crescent to the
very gates of Vienna.

It was during this period of nervous anxiety that, by imperial command,
Prince Eugene was given a lieutenant’s commission in the dragoon
regiment of his brother, Prince Julius Louis of Savoy-Carignan, in order
that he might win his spurs under the latter’s eye. The commander of the
imperial army was Duke Charles of Lorraine, who had a tale to tell of
the French King’s arrogance, as he also had been spurned in that
country. What must have been Prince Eugene’s feelings when he first
donned the imperial uniform! His entry into the Austrian army gives us
much food for thought. His future had not been foretold from the cradle;
but who knows what would have become of the German fatherland had he
gone to Spain instead of to Austria; had he never striven against the
Turks; if in the Spanish war of succession he had fought against instead
of for Germany; if the French instead of being his enemies had been his
friends?

Instantly the torch of war was ablaze. The Turks and Hungarians,
uniting, pushed forward from the lower Danube. Burning villages and
towns, desolated landscapes, hunger, misery, and all the horrors of war
marked their path. Many thousands of youths and maidens fell into their
hands, to be carried away as hostages or to be sold into slavery. All
was confusion, and no one could suggest a remedy. The whole Austrian
army numbered 35,000 men, and the Turks were 200,000 strong. What a
contrast!

The operations of the Emperor’s troops were mostly unsuccessful. They
were anxious to hinder the enemy’s advance, so that the Viennese might
have time to strengthen their intrenchments. Perceiving this, the Grand
Vizier pushed rapidly forward to the Leitha; and in order not to be cut
off from Vienna, Duke Charles of Lorraine was obliged to change his
position. He was attacked with furious impetuosity at Petronell, July 7,
1683, by the advance-guard of the Turkish army. It was a bloody
engagement, for it was necessary for the Germans to defend themselves at
any cost.

It was there that Eugene met the enemy for the first time and proved
himself a soldier. He fought as bravely as the best, keeping at his
brother’s side, wherever the danger was greatest. The King of France
should have seen the little _abbé_ in this wild cavalry encounter—he
would certainly have changed his mind. Despite their ardor the Turks
were obliged to retire, and this pleased Eugene mightily. But
unfortunately the joy of victory was embittered by a great sorrow. His
beloved brother Julius was a victim of the day’s work and was found,
terribly disfigured, under the horses’ hoofs. Eugene shed some bitter
tears, said a prayer for his brother’s soul, then pressed on after the
enemy.

But it was impossible to stem the tide of their superior numbers;
already they had surrounded Vienna, and a division of Turkish cavalry
had taken possession of one of the suburbs, where they were conducting
themselves in truly barbaric style. That could not be tolerated. The
Margrave, Louis of Baden, who had succeeded Prince Julius Louis of
Soissons as commander of the dragoon regiment, attacked the Turks, sabre
in hand, cut down many of them and put the rest to flight. Eugene took
part in this fight with enthusiasm; as also a few days later at
Presburg, where the Duke of Lorraine defeated the rear-guard of the
enemy. Here also the dragoons of the Margrave Louis of Baden did their
part, and Eugene distinguished himself above all the rest.

In the meantime the main army of the Turks, under command of the Grand
Vizier, Kora Mustapha, had entirely surrounded Vienna. Such peril had
never before befallen a German city. All Germany was in a fever of
excitement. It was plain that, should Vienna fall, the whole German
empire would be open to the marauding and murdering infidels; and God
knows what might come next. But it turned out differently. The mayor of
Vienna, Rudiger von Starhemberg, was a good soldier as well as
administrator. Here he encouraged, there led an attack; and the Viennese
citizens and students fought like heroes under his leadership. Although
the Turks stormed the walls and had even made a breach here and there,
they were obliged to retreat before the defenders, who were fighting for
their dearest and most sacred possessions. The good Viennese, however,
would have been obliged at last to succumb, had not help come from the
Electors of Bavaria and Saxony, the Emperor’s troops under Duke Charles
of Lorraine, and with them, of course, the chief of the dragoon
regiment, Margrave Louis of Baden, with “the little Capuchin,” Prince
Eugene, all led by King John Sobieski of Poland. The Capuchin was
already become a mighty hero; Eugene had smelled powder, and even the
dragoons, who had at first regarded him doubtfully, had quite changed
their minds about him.

The decisive battle took place September 12, 1683, under the walls of
Vienna. The assistance was timely, for the city could scarce have held
out twenty-four hours longer. The Turks had been bombarding it since the
fifteenth of July. It was a wonder that it had resisted so long. The
last day was destined to be the hardest one for the Viennese. The Grand
Vizier had divided his army. Legions attacked the deliverers on the
Kalenberg, and other legions were commanded to take the city. For a long
time the outcome was uncertain. The Turks fought with incomparable
ferocity and recklessness; and it became necessary for the Germans to
exert their strength to the utmost against their attacks. The fury and
confusion were terrible, the slaughter unparalleled. Wild cries to Allah
mingled with the groans and prayers of the Christians. Blood flowed in
streams, and the trenches were filled with the corpses of friend and foe
alike. It was well that the decisive moment was at hand, for the
defenders had expended their last effort. At length the trumpeters
sounded the glad tidings of victory from the Cathedral tower of St.
Stephen, from whence the flight of the Turks could be seen. It was
heroic work, in which every man did his share, and especially Prince
Eugene. With the Duke of Lorraine, he pushed down the steep declivity of
Leopoldsberg toward Nussdorf, then along the banks of the Danube, in
pursuit of the enemy.

Once more the Turks made a sharp and ferocious attack on the walls and
intrenchments of Vienna. Although repulsed on the outside, they were
determined to take the city. The danger increased, but little more
patience and endurance was needed, for help was at hand. Margrave Louis
of Baden detected the greatest danger-point at the Schottenthor (Scotch
Gate). With three battalions of infantry and his dragoon regiment he cut
his way to this point. He wished to outflank the enemy and give the
Viennese a breathing spell. Prince Eugene was at every point where the
danger was greatest. With his dragoons he was the first to enter the
Scotch Gate. What a slashing and butchering there was! It was necessary
to effect a meeting with Starhemberg. The long blades of the dragoons
did terrific execution among the enemy. At the head stormed the “little
Capuchin,” giving orders here and striking a blow there, until he heard
trumpet calls from the other side. It was Starhemberg, and the Turks
were between two fires; there was no longer any escape, they must go
down in this sea of fire and flame.

Vienna was saved. The Turks fled, and the dragoons kept close at their
heels. Order had now to be restored in all directions.

A little defeat which the Polish cavalry had suffered on the seventh of
October at Parkan was revenged two days later by the reunited army.
Margrave Louis of Baden took the city by storm; then Gran surrendered,
and this closed the famous campaign of the year 1683.

Before the year had closed Prince Eugene had received the thanks of the
Emperor for his gallantry. On the twelfth of December, 1683, he was
appointed Commander and Colonel of the Kuefstein regiment of dragoons;
and this fine regiment he retained without a break during his long
career. For a long time it had the honor of being a model for the whole
imperial cavalry. And is it a wonder? Prince Eugene understood his
profession and was a past master in the art of war.



                              Chapter III
                           Turkish Campaigns


Although there were no telegraph stations at that time nor any
railroads, it soon became known in Versailles and Paris that the “little
abbé” had fought very gallantly, and that his bravery had received
recognition from the Emperor. What must Louis have felt when he heard
this news? He was too crafty to betray himself; but Louvois was less
self-contained, and cried in his wrath: “This fellow shall never again
enter France.” It was easy for this presumptuous minister to issue his
commands, but the fulfilment of his purpose was not in his power. Eugene
had now gained an assured position. His commanding officer, the
Field-Marshal General, Margrave Louis of Baden, a man for those times
very well informed and an accomplished soldier, possessed far more
discrimination than the King of France displayed in that memorable
audience at the Louvre; he recommended Eugene to the Emperor with the
words: “In time this young Savoyard will be the equal of all those whom
the world considers great generals.”

The campaign of 1684 was quickly opened, but without particular success.
It is a long distance from Vienna to Stamboul, and there was much to be
done before the enemy could be despatched thither. They still had their
strongholds in Hungary, and such neighbors were dangerous. It was
necessary above all to seize Buda.[3] At first this was unsuccessful;
indeed, the Germans were obliged to go into winter quarters without
having accomplished anything; then they had to put the city in a state
of siege and to resist the advance of the Turkish army of relief.
Starhemberg proposed to take Neuhäusel first, this being the only way to
approach Buda. The good advice of this experienced soldier was
disregarded, and therefore unfortunate consequences had to be endured.
It was not until the next year that the situation improved. Other powers
had gathered their forces under the banners of the Austrian Emperor,
including Bavaria, Saxony, Brandenburg and twenty thousand Hungarians
who were opposed to Tökely and chose to adhere to the Emperor rather
than to this impostor.

Since the siege of Vienna, by the enemies of Christianity, there had
been an awakening among the German princes; the common danger had called
for common defence. Of course Prince Eugene with his regiment was not
wanting. His post was on the left wing of the imperial cavalry commanded
by the Prince Salm. Everything prospered so that Buda was soon as
completely surrounded as Vienna had previously been by the Turks.

Eugene, with his dragoons, held a ravine road on the south side of the
fortress, which led between two mountains into a broad plain. From this
quarter the Turks in Buda were expecting their relief forces; and nearly
every day there were skirmishes, in which, however, the Turks always got
the worst of it. How dangerous these engagements were, is shown by the
fact that once Prince Eugene’s horse was shot under him, and another
time he was wounded by an arrow.

The Turkish supporting army at last arrived, but was completely
vanquished, and the city was then taken by storm. Eugene very nearly
missed this fun, for he was on sentry duty and was commanded to remain
at his post. But when he heard the thunder of the field-pieces, great
and small, the clash of swords and the sound of the trumpets, he could
no longer contain himself. He quickly ordered a part of his dragoons to
mount, battered down a gate with axes, and in a moment was in the thick
of the fray beside his victorious German brothers.

Now began the second rout. Valiant Eugene had the honor of chasing the
enemy over the Danube. Ha! that was merry work! Besides this,
Fünfkirchen was taken by Eugene’s unmounted dragoons. Once started, he
would have done still more, had not a very deplorable misunderstanding
and jealousy among the Emperor’s commanders stopped all important
operations for some time to come. None wished to obey another. Margrave
Louis of Baden dared to tell the Duke of Lorraine to his face, that he
was not obliged, as a German Prince, to take orders from him. The young
Elector of Bavaria, Maximilian Emanuel, also made trouble.

This was a great disadvantage to the Germans, and grieved Eugene deeply.
The situation did not improve until the Turks became more and more
menacing, and this danger brought the malcontents to their senses. At
last, on the twelfth of August, 1687, it was determined to attack the
Turks at Mohacz.

Here, almost on the same spot where, one hundred and sixty years
earlier, King Louis the Second of Hungary had lost empire and life to
Suleyman, he was at last avenged. The battle lasted only a short time,
but the victory was a decisive one. Like a wall of brass the Germans
slowly advanced. There was no break of which their opponents could take
advantage. The attacks of the enemy’s cavalry broke against it, like the
breaking of the sea against the rocks. Again and again the Turks
attacked, and were driven back each time. Added to this, a steady fire
of musketry raked their lines, and the cannon did their duty also. At
last there was no possibility of restraining the soldiers; and the time
had come, too, for Eugene to let loose his dragoons. Like a whirlwind
they threw themselves on the Turks, whole regiments were ridden down and
others taken prisoners. Once more the Turks made a stand behind their
intrenchments; they thought Eugene could not get at them there. But how
mistaken they were! Like lightning his dragoons were off their horses,
drew their sabres, stormed the barricades, and cut down all who did not
save themselves by instant flight.

Thus the battle was decided; the lion’s share of the victory and of the
glory was Eugene’s. This, no doubt, was appreciated by the Duke of
Lorraine; for as a reward for his daring dash at Mohacz, he sent him in
person to bear the news of victory to Vienna. It was certainly a proud
commission for the valiant Prince! Arrived at the castle, he instantly
received audience and was presented by the Emperor with his portrait
richly set in diamonds.

After the battle of Mohacz Eugene’s fame was assured, his name was on
every tongue. The king of Spain bestowed upon him the Order of the
Golden Fleece; and his cousin, the reigning Duke of Savoy, Victor
Amadeus the First, delighted with the brilliant success of his young
relative, supplied him royally with money.

How the gentlemen in Paris and Versailles must have opened their eyes at
all this! Their historical works, as one can well believe, do not tell
of any distinction that Eugene received. King Louis must have been
thoroughly ashamed of his shortsightedness; he had taken the rough
diamond for a common pebble. Prince Eugene became
Lieutenant-Field-Marshal in his twenty-fifth year. This was certainly an
unusual distinction. What is more important, he became
Lieutenant-Field-Marshal not through the favor of the king, but on his
own merits.

It was now most important for the Emperor to regain possession of
Belgrade. The last bulwark of the Germans could not be allowed to remain
in the hands of the Turks. The Emperor commanded; there was no
hesitation. The Elector of Bavaria, the Emperor’s son-in-law, was now
commander of the imperial army after the valiant Duke Charles of
Lorraine had been diplomatically removed.

The affair went splendidly. When the German cannon had shot but two
breaches in the walls, the assault was made. Two columns advanced to the
fortifications, led by the Elector and Eugene. The cry was: “Long live
the Emperor; long live Germany!” They advanced quite a long distance and
thought they had already won the day. But they were mistaken; for a deep
moat protected the real fort and made a dangerous obstacle. There was
little time to consider; it was do—or die! In spite of the continuous
fire of the Turks, young Count Starhemberg, nephew of the heroic Vienna
Mayor, called out: “Follow me, he who loves the Emperor and his
country!” He then sprang into the moat up to his belt, his whole
regiment following him. But this was by no means the end. As they
climbed out of the moat, dripping wet, they had to take the
intrenchments. The Turks defended themselves desperately, for they knew
what it meant to lose Belgrade. But the Elector and Eugene followed hard
upon the heels of the Starhemberg regiment. There was a terrible
hand-to-hand fight, while large and small missiles fell right and left
among the attacking army. The Elector received an arrow-wound in his
face, a janissary gave the Prince of Savoy a sword cut that clove his
helmet. Eugene, turning quickly, plunged his sword deep into the Turk’s
breast. At that instant a musket-ball penetrated his leg just above the
knee, and he dropped, still urging the attacking troops on to victory.
He was removed from the field, and soon the joyful news was brought to
him that Belgrade was taken.

The Prince’s wound was extremely dangerous, for the ball could not be
found for some time; and several months afterwards splinters of bone
were removed from the leg. Everything was done that science could
accomplish; Duke Victor Amadeus the Second sent his own physician to
Vienna. Later a lung trouble developed; and it was not until January of
the year 1689 that the Prince could journey to Turin to thank his cousin
personally for all the kindness and sympathy which had been shown him.

The victories of the Austrian Emperor over the Turks had aroused
tremendous jealousy at the court of Versailles. Louis, “the Most
Christian King,” instead of assisting in the defence, was much cast down
at the defeat of the Turks, for he could not bear to see a powerful
German Emperor as a rival. He now conceived a new plan and suddenly
attacked the Emperor and his strongholds. As both were unprepared, he
was very successful. Philippsburg fell; Mayence opened its gates to him;
and with the connivance of the traitor Fürstenberg, coadjutor of the
Cologne bishopric, Bonn, Kaiserswerth, and other fortified places passed
into the hands of the French. After these great victories over the
Turks, Emperor Leopold should have made peace with them and turned all
his energies against the French, an opinion shared by all the princes of
the empire. Incredible as it may seem, he did not do this, and as a
consequence suddenly found himself between two enemies. Now he had all
he could do to save his skin. It was a desperate situation; the hearts
of German patriots, and there were plenty at this unfortunate time, were
very heavy.

While Louis let loose in the Rhine provinces his marauding bands, which
plundered and burned more than a hundred villages (the empty
window-frames of Heidelberg Castle still testify to the shameful deeds
of the French), he allied himself also with the Duke of Savoy. He
believed it possible to make that country a point of vantage for attacks
on the Germans, although it was a somewhat roundabout route. This was a
very unpleasant surprise to the Duke of Savoy. He would much have
preferred to keep quiet, a neutral observer of the bloody game of war.
But there was no choice. He was obliged to decide and place himself
either on the Austrian side or else to make common cause with the
French. With a heavy heart, as is natural with weak characters, he
decided for the former. Eugene had labored hard with him—had represented
to him all that the family of Carignan had suffered from the French, and
what would befall him should he become a vassal of King Louis.

That decided him. A small German army (5,000 men) under the leadership
of Caprara, Eugene with them, entered Savoy; and as Spanish troops soon
came to their assistance, they confidently hoped to discipline the
arrogant French. But it turned out differently. The Duke of Savoy played
false, was bought by French money, and betrayed all the plans of the
imperial leaders to the French general Catinat. He permitted the
dangerous bandit warfare of the Piedmontese, the notorious
sharp-shooters of modern times, against the Austrians. The soldiers were
given poisoned food, several were murdered, small groups of them were
attacked, and even the life of Eugene, who meanwhile had become a
general of cavalry, was conspired against. A troop of at least one
thousand men attempted to overwhelm his camp, but were bravely routed by
the Taaffe regiment.

It was difficult for Eugene to believe in the perfidy of his uncle, whom
he had truly loved and honored. But the proofs accumulated. At last he
had an understanding with him, reproached him with his treachery, and
begged him urgently to desist and to remain firmly attached to the
Emperor’s cause. The Duke, who wished to aggrandize his domain, and saw
more advantage to himself through alliance with France rather than with
Austria, did not listen to this advice but remained, as before, the
secret ally of the King of France; thus he did more harm to the Austrian
cause than a strongly armed enemy would have done.

The war continued with varying success until the year 1696. But it
brought one real satisfaction to Eugene; he kept his promise to himself
and from the Savoy mountains he entered France sword in hand, at the
head of an army. He had occupied many French towns, when he received
orders to retire to Milanese territory. He obeyed with a light heart,
for an open-hearted, honest man is always at a disadvantage against
cunning, malignity, treachery, and assassination. In Vienna an
exceedingly gracious and brilliant reception awaited him. No one thought
of blaming him for the ill success in Savoy. He had done all that it was
possible to do. He became more and more devoted to the Emperor and to
the German cause; he wished to give loyalty for loyalty.



                               Chapter IV
                          The Battle of Zenta


In the year 1697 we find Prince Eugene a Field-Marshal. How did he
arrive so quickly at such high honors?

Old Count von Starhemberg, at that time president of the Imperial
Council of War, had recommended him to the Emperor with the words: “I
know of no one who possesses more understanding, experience, industry,
and zeal in the Emperor’s service, no one who is more generous and
unselfish, or who possesses the love of the soldiery to a higher degree,
than Prince Eugene of Savoy.” This was a recommendation which carried
great weight, above all from the mouth of so brave, thorough, and
experienced a soldier as old Starhemberg, the valiant defender of
Vienna. It was a time also when such a well recommended man could be
very useful.

All was quiet in Italy, to be sure; the campaign on the Rhine was not
being very actively conducted; but in Hungary the arch-enemy of
Christendom threatened anew, and Eugene was the real scourge of the
Turks. This warlike nation had, in more recent years, gained the
ascendency through the breaking up of the imperial forces. The Elector
of Saxony, Frederick August the Second, as the Emperor’s
commander-in-chief, had not been man enough to hold them back or destroy
them. Fortunately, just at the right time, he was relieved of the
command of the army, by accepting the throne of Poland. In this position
he injured the German cause far less than he might have done as a
soldier. When the Emperor’s troops in Hungary learned that Prince Eugene
was to command them again, there was loud rejoicing. Starhemberg’s words
about the love of the soldiers for him had already proved themselves
true. It was really from this time that Eugene began his victorious
career. He had now to depend solely on himself; upon his own powers, his
own genius, and had no one above or beside him to tie his hands.

It must not be forgotten that Belgrade had again been taken from the
Emperor. The Viennese Council of War did not consider it prudent, just
then, to attempt its recapture, although Eugene would certainly have
accomplished the task. It was far more necessary to furnish the
half-starved army with provisions and clothing, and to improve the very
loose discipline. For this latter task Eugene, with all his mildness,
was well fitted—for the soldiers loved the thirty-two-year-old
Field-Marshal like a father, and love makes obedience easy. Eugene
gathered the scattered army together into camp at Cobila. Here he
learned that the Turkish ruler, Mustapha the Second, was in Belgrade and
had built bridges over the rivers Danube and Save.

It was the universal opinion in the army that the Turks intended to
cross the Save and attack Peterwardein. Eugene was the only one who
understood the situation. He saw that the Turks had quite a different
plan, and intended to push forward by forced marches toward Siebenbürgen
to attack the eight Austrian regiments under General Rabutin, who were
coming up. Leaving a sufficiently strong corps behind to observe the
enemy, Eugene marched with the greater part of his forces along the
Theiss to meet Rabutin.

It turned out splendidly; the meeting took place; and now Eugene
determined to return to Peterwardein to defend this fortress against
possible attacks of the enemy. He arrived there just in time to prevent
the Turks from destroying the bridges over the marshes at St.
Thomas-Syreck. A cheerful and courageous spirit prevailed throughout the
army; the confidence of the leader communicated itself to each
individual soldier. Eugene had good spies and scouts, those necessary
evils of the army even down to our day. From one of them he learned that
the Turks were going to advance on Szegedin, take the city and then
hurry on to Siebenbürgen.

As this had to be prevented under all circumstances, Eugene hurried
forward so quickly by forced marches, that by the twelfth of September
he was within a mile of the enemy. He determined to attack at once. You
should have seen the former little _abbé_ or Capuchin now! The thought
of fighting his first battle independently, without interference from
any one, developed in the highest degree all the latent resources of his
genius. He was equally ready in decision and in execution, and still his
plans were so well considered and to the point that, as an eye witness
declared, “there was no loophole for the goddess of chance to decide the
day against him.”

Scarcely had Eugene completed the placing of his army when a part of the
Turkish cavalry made a descent upon him. To repulse them with great loss
was an easy matter. And now the cannon began to roar from all sides—a
terrible concert. One could see, from the continuous cloud of dust in
the Turkish camp, that the Austrians were hitting the mark. After a
sharp bombardment, the command was given, “Forward! march!” The Turkish
intrenchments had to be taken in spite of a heavy fire from the enemy’s
lines. It was a bloody piece of work in which many a brave soldier bit
the dust. Very likely the columns sometimes hesitated, but a glance at
their brave leaders, their beloved Prince Eugene at the head, urged them
forward. During this advance toward the enemy’s front, Eugene had
ordered the left wing of the army, under Starhemberg, to open a passage
into the enemy’s camp across the sandbars of the Theiss.

In spite of the desperate defence of the janissaries who, attacked from
the rear, fought with the courage of despair, they were forced back step
by step. The Austrian lines reached the intrenchments, which they
carried with a rush and then began to scale the walls. To heighten the
courage of his soldiers still more, Eugene himself led the cavalry
regiment Styrum into the fight. Once more a terrific conflict broke out
at the barricades, once more success seemed doubtful. There was less and
less room for the cavalry to operate; there was nothing left but to
leave the outcome to the already decimated infantry. But this the
cavalry did not wish to do; they wanted to claim a share in the honors
of victory. Like lightning they dismounted, mingling with the rapidly
advancing infantry, and together they threw themselves against the
intrenchments.

The janissaries saw that they were lost, but they resolved to sell their
lives dearly. They threw away their muskets and drew their sabres. A
short but terrible carnage began, man to man, eye to eye. The Emperor’s
troops in the majority, holding the advantage on every side, did
terrible destruction. At last, with cries like wild animals, the
janissaries turned for flight; all was not lost—the outlet over the
bridge was still open. Horrible delusion! The general’s eye had not
failed here. The road to the bridge had long since been cut off—no
outlet in any direction, no help! In wild confusion the Turks swarmed
the rocky banks of the Theiss, where they were pushed, crowded by their
own numbers and driven into the water by the Austrians with loud cries
of victory, and thus most of them perished in the river. Terrible
conflicts such as these took place all over the battle-field. Drunk with
victory, the soldiers seemed to crave blood. With cries of: “This for
Vienna!” “This for Buda!” “This for Belgrade!” they gave no quarter, and
scorned the highest ransoms offered in order to take vengeance on their
ancient enemies.

It was only nightfall which ended this bloody battle. Twenty thousand
Turks lay dead or wounded on the field, ten thousand had found death in
the wild waters of the Theiss. Barely a thousand had fled to the
opposite shore, whence the Sultan watched the destruction of the
faithful; the tragic end of his hopes. In the fear that his retreat
toward Temesvar might be cut off by the Austrian troops, he rode away in
the night on a fleet steed, accompanied by only a small band.

Messengers of victory hurried to Vienna. In his report to the Emperor,
Eugene picturesquely said: “Even the sun would not set, until it had
seen the complete triumph of the imperial arms.” And the great general
added: “Next to God’s help, the victory at Zenta is to be ascribed to
the heroic spirit of the leaders and soldiers.” This modest soldier said
not a word about himself and yet he had been the soul of it all. His
military keenness, the boldness of his decisions, and not least of all,
the energy with which he had carried out his plans on this day—which
will always be a glorious one in Austrian annals—redound to his highest
fame.

Eugene’s fame spread on the wings of the wind over the whole of Germany
and of Europe. He was classed with the greatest generals and even his
enemies said, “This has been a miracle.”

What must King Louis the Fourteenth and Louvois have thought of this?
Perhaps they may have had a presentiment that some day France herself
might be in his power.

The following day Eugene led the victorious army into the deserted camp
of the Sultan. Here they discovered treasures beyond belief. Besides
three million piastres in the war chest, they found an immense quantity
of all kinds of weapons, all the ammunition and baggage, whole herds of
camels, oxen, and sheep, and a great number of flags, horsetails,
standards, and other trophies of war.

Such a victory as this at Zenta had never been won by Christians over
unbelievers, and the heathen had never before suffered such a terrible
defeat. It was now necessary to follow up the victory and to gather the
fruits of it. The way in which Eugene contrived to do this in spite of
many drawbacks and hindrances serves but to add another glorious leaf to
his victor’s wreath. In short, in a single campaign he had reconquered
Siebenbürgen, Hungary as far as Temesvar, also Banat and Slavonia as far
as Belgrade for his Emperor.

At the end of November Eugene returned to Vienna. The Emperor received
him with every mark of favor and gratitude, and presented him with a
sword richly set with precious stones. The populace enthusiastically
greeted the famous conqueror of the Turks. He who had already so often
repulsed the infidels had now exceeded their wildest hopes. Eugene
became the people’s hero and ever remained so.

On the twenty-sixth of January, 1699, peace was declared between the
Emperor and the Porte, after seventy-two days of negotiations at
Carlovitz, a little town near Peterwardein. This consummation, ardently
desired by conquerors and conquered, had been brought about by Eugene.

The time of peace was taken advantage of by the Prince to found a home
for himself in Vienna. This had long been his secret wish so that he
could live quietly and devote himself to scientific study, for which he
was more and more inclined. The house which he bought stood in the
street called “Gate of Heaven,” in the same place where later he built
his new palace Belvedere, at present the seat of the Ministry of
Finance. The Emperor also presented him with important estates in
Hungary, and the Prince bought others for a mere song. There were now
great hopes for an extended period of peace. The sound of arms had died
away in the West as well as in the East, and even the mischief-maker,
King Louis the Fourteenth, was eager to bequeath to his people the
memory of a peace-loving ruler. The world drew a long breath, but
alas—all too soon, to be again plunged into fresh disorders and new
alarms of war.



                               Chapter V
                     War of the Spanish Succession


King Charles the Second of Spain died on the first of November, 1700,
without leaving a natural heir to the throne. He was the last Hapsburg
of the older line, and so they flattered themselves at the castle in
Vienna that they could take this rich inheritance as a natural right. A
sad disappointment awaited them. Charles the Second had, at the last
moment, made a will in favor of France, appointing the grandson of the
King, Duke Philip of Anjou, sole heir. It was very evident how this had
been accomplished. Louis the Fourteenth had schemed and intrigued to get
this rich inheritance for his family, and King Charles the Second of
Spain was a weak character.

When the news reached Vienna it caused the greatest consternation, not
only at court, but among all classes of the population. The people
rioted in the streets of the capital; the ministers demanded that the
Emperor should suppress the disorder; and the Crown Prince, Joseph the
First, an active and passionate young man, went so far as to send for
the French minister, the Marquis de Villars, and to denounce this
proceeding of his master as underhanded and deceitful.

It was not to be wondered at that war soon broke out; the bloody War of
the Spanish Succession, which lasted from 1700 to 1714, humbled, indeed,
the arrogant Louis, and also inflicted great harm upon Germany. It is
remarkable that one hundred and seventy years later the throne of Spain
was again the bone of contention, and that it was again a French
sovereign who was most concerned in the affair. This later ruler was
chastised much more promptly and more thoroughly than his ancestor.

Crafty Louis the Fourteenth understood how to gain allies rapidly. These
were the hypocritical Elector of Cologne, the Duke of Savoy, and
unfortunately also the German Emperor’s own son-in-law, the warlike and
fiery Elector, Max Emanuel of Bavaria, the conqueror of Belgrade. They
were all seduced by the vain promises of the French King that a crumb
from the French inheritance should fall to them, and they lent a hand to
the false ruler on the Seine, to war against the imperial house. The
Emperor, on the other hand, stood quite alone, an almost pathetic figure
in the great drama about to be enacted, but resolved from the bottom of
his heart to risk everything in support of his rights.

The French were more enterprising than the Germans. While the recruiting
drum was still heard in the crown-lands of Austria and warlike bands
were still streaming in from all sides, not forgetting the imperial
troops grown gray in the service and fresh from the Turkish wars, the
French had already entered Italy in order to occupy the Spanish
possessions in the spirit of the old adage, “Possession is nine points
of the law.” Starhemberg mobilized the imperial army in the Tyrol. It
was a matter of course that the Field-Marshal Prince Eugene of Savoy
should command it. Associated with him were two experienced French
soldiers, two brothers-in-arms, the Prince de Commercy and the Prince de
Vaudemont.

With thirty thousand men, “amongst them not one coward,” as Eugene
assured the Austrian Crown-Prince Joseph, Starhemberg and Börner
advanced into Italy. On the twentieth of May, 1701, Eugene joined them
at Roveredo. The French were commanded by Marshal Catinat—Eugene had
once before, as we know, met him face to face in Italy. Catinat had made
good use of his time and occupied all the mountain passes which led out
of the Tyrol into Italy. The republic of Venice then held the eastern
half of upper Italy. Under these circumstances many of the bravest and
best heads in the army were very dubious about attacking the French. But
Eugene was willing to take the responsibility; for such emergencies, he
thought, the Emperor had made him a field-marshal. He was in very good
spirits. Now the time had come to strike a blow at the French and
especially at King Louis.

How different was his present position in Italy compared with that which
he had occupied during his first campaign! He was now completely
independent. The vain and crafty Catinat must be shown what he had
learned, and he must uphold the glory of the German arms for the
discomfiture of Louis. He must enter Italy, that was certain; and he
knew how thoroughly Catinat had intrenched himself. Eugene quickly made
up his mind; he absolutely must attack him; he had not studied the
tactics of the great Carthaginian, Hannibal, for nothing. Like him, he
chose a passage over the Alps. For this enterprise alone, had he fought
no other battles, nor rendered any other service to the Emperor and the
country, Eugene would have gained immortal renown. All the more so, as
at that time many of the facilities were entirely lacking which would
now be at the service of a general.

And how did he accomplish this daring feat? Thousands of soldiers and
inhabitants of the surrounding country were kept busy early and late
making a passageway for the troops over the steep mountain paths. Here a
shoulder of rock was broken away with shovels, pickaxes, and crowbars;
there a steep declivity was graded; at another place a dam was made out
of great logs, or a bridge was built over a gorge. Withal Eugene’s
greatest task was to keep Catinat in ignorance of the road which he was
preparing, although the Frenchman could scarcely dream of the
possibility of such a surprise. He kept General von Guttenstein
constantly before the French army so that Catinat should think that
Eugene’s position was just behind the General’s vanguard.

Early on the morning of May 26 the march began, which was to equal the
most celebrated feats of this kind in ancient as well as modern times,
and indeed to surpass most of them. The army advanced in two sections
and by two different roads. The dragoons who were delegated to accompany
the infantry had to dismount and lead their horses by the bridles. The
cannon were hoisted with ropes, and the wagons were taken apart and
carried. Arrived at the top, the cannon were drawn by oxen, while
soldiers and peasants walked beside them to keep them from sliding off
the paths or to lend a hand where the road was steep. In places where a
cart had never crossed these inaccessible mountains, a whole army now
found passage. In the best of spirits the soldiers moved forward,
delighted with this silent and beautiful world, past dizzy precipices
and yawning depths, through virgin forests and rough moraines.

By the fourth of June, Eugene with the whole Austrian army had achieved
the “surmounted impossibility” as he jokingly called this daring alpine
march, and Catinat was greatly astonished to see him appear before him
with his 30,000 men. He was already half beaten, for with the enemy so
close at hand, he could not make up his mind which plan to choose. He
spread his troops along the river Etsch, fatigued them with constant
marching and countermarching, expected an attack first in this quarter,
then in that, and did not know what to do—quite a contrast to Eugene,
who had long ago made up his mind what course to take.

At last the decisive moment came. In the night, between the eighth and
ninth of July, Eugene crossed the Tartaro with 11,000 men and made a
sharp attack upon the enemy intrenched at Castagnaro. The Austrians
fought like lions. It was not long before the place was taken and the
French expelled. From there, Eugene marched his whole force against the
town of Carpi. He met indeed with great difficulties in this territory,
which was intersected by canals, morasses, ricefields, and brush, but he
managed to overcome them all. The armies were soon to measure their
strength once more. One side fought as bravely as the other. Eugene’s
horse was shot under him, and he received a slight wound, in spite of
which he led his troops on to victory at Carpi. Inspired by his previous
successes, he developed an enterprise, a daring of conception, and a
facility in carrying out his plans, which made this one of his most
brilliant campaigns.

On the twenty-seventh of July he crossed the Mincio, to Catinat’s great
alarm. After this movement Catinat had but one thought, to reach the
Oglio, where, covered by this river, he might prevent the Austrians from
entering Milanese territory. On this retreat the French proved
themselves true barbarians. They laid waste the country wherever they
could, burned and plundered shamelessly, but in revenge many of these
robbers were shot down by the embittered peasantry. The Austrian
soldiers who followed them were greeted as deliverers from the French
yoke.

In Paris there was great consternation over the misfortunes of Marshal
Catinat. Proud King Louis had counted on victory and here was nothing
but Job’s comfort. But what provoked him most was the fact that it was
the little _abbé_ with the disagreeable face who had gained these
victories over his troops. To mend the situation and ensure success for
the future, after recalling Catinat, the King’s former playmate and
intimate friend, Marshal Villeroi, was intrusted with the command of the
army in Italy. He boasted that he would soon drive Eugene back into the
Tyrolese mountains, and promised the Parisians that he would teach three
Princes (Eugene, Commercy, and Vaudemont) to dance to his piping, and
even that he would send them back prisoners to the French capital.

In the beginning he really seemed formidable, for he brought fresh
troops to Italy, so that he outnumbered the Austrians, two to one. His
first move was to reoccupy the left bank of the Oglio. Prince Eugene had
good reasons for not interfering, which Villeroi with truly comic
shortsightedness characterized as “a sign of weakness and fear.” But
Eugene understood very well what he was doing and what remained to be
done. He now took up an excellent position with his troops facing in
three directions, placed his cannon in a masterly manner, and thought to
himself: “If you want anything of me, I am ready for you!”

And they came. It was on the first of September, 1701, at the little
town of Chiari. With the greatest ease the Austrian outposts were
carried and, with the fiery impetuosity which is peculiar to the French
in a first assault, they advanced against Eugene’s intrenchments. To
their great surprise they saw scarcely a man, for Eugene had ordered his
soldiers to lie down behind their redoubts and not to fire until the
enemy were within fifty feet. Many a brave soldier’s fingers, as he
watched the advance of the French, may have itched to pull the trigger
while they were still at a distance. But their beloved General had given
the order and they never moved an eyelash! Suddenly the fire burst forth
from all sides, and whole columns of the French were mowed down. Again
the second and third ranks fired and the cannon fell in line with
volleys of grapeshot. That was indeed a surprise. It was an awful
massacre.

Marshal Villeroi was so disconcerted by this beginning that he did not
know what to do next. He issued no orders and left his army unprotected
under the adversaries’ constant fire. It was his corps-commanders,
Catinat and Duke Victor Amadeus of Savoy, who arranged for the retreat
of the army. Eugene did not remain passive, but drove the enemy out of
every position, replacing them with his own men. At Chiari sixty
thousand Frenchmen were vanquished by twenty-five thousand Germans. The
enemy suffered a loss of over two thousand men, among them two hundred
officers, while the Austrian army counted only thirty-six dead and
eighty-one wounded. This was a cheap victory.

But besides their armed enemy the French had another enemy in the
peasants of Lombardy. The country favored the Germans more each day.
Every night wagon-loads of provisions were voluntarily sent to them,
while the French began to suffer hunger and want. Added to this came
continuous showers of rain, making impassable roads. In a few words
Villeroi described the condition of the army to the King: “To remain
here longer would be to ruin our fine cavalry.” Thus quickly had the
boastful Marshal changed his opinions and forgotten utterly his promise
to teach the three princes to dance.

On the thirteenth of November the French retired once more across the
Oglio. Eugene’s batteries assisted them in a most unwelcome manner. He
then sent out patrolling parties, who continually harassed them, giving
them no time to take breath. He took Caneto from them and drove them out
of the whole Mantuan territory. The city itself was still occupied by
the French, but they could take no comfort in it, for Prince Eugene had
it well blockaded and watched night and day. Eugene showed such tireless
energy that it seemed as though he were just beginning the campaign
instead of having already brought it to a glorious conclusion, thereby
augmenting the power of the imperial house and gaining the affection and
sympathy of the people. Now, one sovereign after another began to
reflect that it might be better for his own interests if the Emperor,
instead of Louis the Fourteenth of France, held the balance of power.

The first to decide in favor of the Emperor was the new King of Prussia,
Frederick the First. He promised the Emperor to furnish an army of ten
thousand men. Then came Denmark contributing six thousand men. Hanover
also did not hold back. Still more important was it that England and
Holland declared for the Emperor, of course in their own interests; for
while France had the ascendancy they feared for their commerce with
Spain and the East and West Indies.

Meanwhile Duke Victor Amadeus earned scant thanks in Turin for the help
he had given. Though he had fought bravely at Chiari and had led his
soldiers into the thick of the fight, yet he was under suspicion in
Paris. All the misfortunes in Italy were attributed to him, and they
would have been glad to put all the burden of failure on his shoulders.
This the faithless Savoy saw full well, but did not consider it the
proper time to draw his threatened head out of the French noose, and he
did not have the courage to declare openly for the Emperor.

Marshal Villeroi spent the winter in Cremona living care-free a life of
pleasure and luxury. The three princes had long since heard of his
promise to make them dance in Paris. They may have thought that it would
be a good idea to make him dance in Vienna. These were amusing thoughts
to while away the dreary hours of camp life, but were at first vague and
without definite purpose. They would have liked best to take the whole
nest, Cremona, with its rare bird. But just now there was no time; and
besides this, all the means for a complete siege were lacking, although
the desire for it grew greater from day to day.

One of the three, Prince Commercy, was a cunning fellow; when he had
made up his mind to a thing it was not easy to dissuade him. He was the
one who had been most annoyed by Villeroi’s promise to the Parisians. He
now concocted a plot, splendid in its way, which I shall describe to
you. Field-Marshal Prince Commercy was already acquainted in Cremona
from earlier times. A priest who lived there had been a companion of his
student days at the University. They exchanged confidential letters, and
one word led to another. Through this priest (Antonio Cosoli was his
name) he learned casually that an old empty canal, which had been
unnoticed by the French forces, intersected the fortifications and was
connected with the cellar of the house owned by Father Cosoli. This fell
in nicely with Commercy’s plan. He immediately communicated the
discovery to Prince Eugene, who took this opportunity of introducing his
soldiers into the town, so that he might perhaps gain possession of it.
He knew that the gates were not well guarded, and that there were even
no sentries on the walls; all of which favored his undertaking.

On a pitch dark January night, whose terrors were augmented by a storm
of wind and rain, the troops which Eugene had selected for this surprise
broke camp. There were grenadiers, cuirassiers, and hussars, altogether
about four thousand men. Another somewhat smaller band was guided along
the Po by Prince Vaudemont, to take the bridge by storm and enter the
town by way of the river. Eugene, Commercy, and Starhemberg rode on
ahead of their troops to a house about two thousand yards from Cremona.
The troops should have arrived there at two o’clock in the morning, but
were delayed until about five o’clock by the heavy rains and muddy
roads. Major Hofman of the Geschwind regiment, led by a trusty guide,
stole with his grenadiers through the long canal scarcely two feet
broad, which had until this time served only as a refuge for the rats.
He had orders to remain concealed in the priest’s house until Colonel
Count Nasary of the Lorraine regiment and Lieutenant-Colonel Count
Knefstein of the Hebenstein regiment could likewise penetrate into the
town by the same means. Hofman was to overcome the guard at the Margaret
Gate as quietly as possible, to open the gate, and then by means of
three columns of fire on the walls, to give the signal for the advance
of the troops outside. Lieutenant-Colonel Count Mercy was commanded then
to enter the city, gallop to the Po Gate, and open it for Vaudemont.

The plan succeeded perfectly. The French guard was overcome and the gate
opened. In full gallop with drawn sabres the German cavalry dashed
through the streets to the appointed places. The infantry took the
important posts, and Eugene with his staff betook himself to the
court-house, to direct the further movements of the troops from there.
There was but one more thing to do: it was necessary to hold themselves
on the defensive until Prince Vaudemont had surprised the bridge, to
throw open the gates for him, and then with united forces to compel the
enemy to surrender or to annihilate them.

Marshal Villeroi had returned in the evening from Milan, where he had
doubtless eaten and drunk well, and he was now sleeping like a dormouse.
It was not until seven o’clock in the morning that a few musket shots
were heard near his quarters. Drunk with sleep, the Frenchman turned
over in bed. A lackey broke into his room with the terrible cry, “The
Germans are in the city!”

You should have seen the Marshal jump up then! He was in great haste! He
quickly threw on some clothes and sprang upon his horse. Too late! At
that moment German soldiers saw him and pulled him down. They squabbled
over him, for they suspected a lucky catch and each wanted to claim him.
Just then an officer, the Irishman MacDonald, threw himself upon the
struggling soldiers and freed Villeroi from his painful predicament. The
Marshal offered him ten thousand pistoles and a regiment in the French
army, if he would allow him to escape. Now for the first time the
Irishman perceived what a rare bird he had in his snare, but the loyal
fellow refused these brilliant offers and led his captive to
headquarters.

Starhemberg recognized Villeroi immediately, received his sword, and
then sent him to Prince Eugene. In spite of the seriousness of the
situation it must have been a merry meeting. The spectacular drama
“three dancing princes” had come to naught, and the Parisians would have
to forego this promised pleasure. Instead Marshal Villeroi was marched
away to Ustiano.

In the meantime the shooting, drumming, and shouting in Cremona had
grown so loud that the French realized what had happened. One of their
officers, who was just about to lead his battalion to the parade ground,
threw himself heroically on the Germans and so gave his countrymen time
to assemble. In spite of this, they would have been conquered if Prince
Vaudemont had arrived from the Po Gate, which Count Mercy had opened for
him. But here a very desperate fight had taken place. Two Irish
regiments in the French service had attacked brave Mercy, taken him
prisoner, and burned the bridge over the Po, thus preventing Vaudemont
from crossing the river.

The French had now retired into the houses and from thence kept up a
well-directed fire on the Austrians. Hour after hour the battle wavered;
the Austrians began to run short of ammunition. Besides this, Eugene was
afraid of being cut off from his line of retreat by General Crequi, who
was probably marching toward Cremona. Therefore at five o’clock in the
afternoon, as twilight began to fall, he gave orders to evacuate the
city. He took with him as prisoners nineteen officers, four hundred
soldiers, seven standards, and five hundred horses. Besides this, the
French lost twelve hundred dead and wounded in the streets of the city,
while the Emperor’s troops lost only six hundred. Marshal de Villeroi
was taken to Graz, where he was held for nine months and well treated,
then exchanged without any ransom for a Count Waldstein, who had been
taken by the French at Carpi. The French proclaimed Eugene’s retreat
from Cremona as a victory for themselves and composed couplets in which
they congratulated themselves on having held Cremona and having lost
Villeroi.

The French King now appointed Duke Louis of Vendôme in Villeroi’s place.
Louis and Eugene had formerly been playmates. Both had had an honorable
career and were now to play at the terrible game of war as opponents.
They appreciated one another’s talents also; at least Eugene frankly
said that Vendôme was a formidable antagonist.

But the game was now quite a different one. Vendôme’s army, through new
accessions, numbered nearly eighty thousand; Eugene had, as before, his
thirty thousand. How was it possible to achieve success, as Vendôme was
constantly on the alert and was determined to make good the mistakes of
his predecessors, Catinat and Villeroi? Besides this, Eugene’s army
began to need money, arms, and clothing. The Council-of-War in Vienna
replied to his urgent demands only with embarrassed shrugs. The old
president of the council, Ehren-Starhemberg, had passed away, and the
other gentlemen were perhaps not so well disposed toward the young
Field-Marshal, who had been promoted so rapidly. Therefore it was all
the more necessary that Eugene should keep cool and take every possible
precaution. But one must have the means to execute as well as the brain
to plan, in order to be successful. And the means were now sadly
lacking, so that Eugene was obliged to keep very quiet and avoid an
engagement for the present, that the enemy might not have an opportunity
of destroying him; for the Frenchman was very anxious to distinguish
himself by a brilliant coup. And now Eugene conceived a clever plan.
Should it succeed, it would be something to capture Vendôme, even if he
could not cripple his army. Through a loyal Piedmontese, Eugene had
learned that Vendôme occupied a house which stood quite alone on the
Lake of Mantua. It should be an easy task to approach by water, to
surprise the Marshal and carry him off in a boat to the opposite shore
into Eugene’s camp. He lost no time in carrying out this enterprise. On
a mild June night twelve boats carrying two hundred picked men under
Marquis Daria were launched. They moved cautiously and silently forward.
On arriving, Daria disembarked with a few soldiers and called out to the
sentry that he had brought some sick Frenchmen from Mantua. Instead of
beating down the sentry, as had been commanded, one of the soldiers with
unpardonable zeal fired upon him, and the comrades who had remained
behind in the boats also began firing. This made such a terrific uproar
that Daria thought it best to retire as quickly as possible.

Thus unfortunately, this attempt, which with a little more caution might
have turned out so well, failed. Eugene was highly indignant, caused a
rigid investigation to be made, and the guilty ones were well punished.
Vendôme was so angry at the attempt to take him prisoner and send him to
Vienna that he shelled the Austrian camp, but could not prevent Eugene
from taking his revenge by surrounding Mantua with redoubts.

Soon after these events Eugene’s army suffered a hard blow, due likewise
to the great carelessness of the higher officers. Austrian cavalry had
driven back the enemy to the Crostolo. At Santa Vittoria they took up a
position which, on reconnoitring, Eugene found to be very insecure. He
turned over the command of the cavalry to the master of ammunition,
Count Auersperg, although he seemed to have a premonition of disaster.
Auersperg conducted the affair with the most unpardonable carelessness,
placed no sentries, and neglected every precaution. Of course disaster
followed. Vendôme took him by surprise, and so sudden and unexpected was
the attack that the men did not even have time to seize their horses and
mount. Now, too late, Auersperg sought to repair his mistakes. He
rallied his soldiers about him and, scorning death, placed himself at
their head and managed to drive the enemy back, and even to take some
standards from them. The French infantry, however, advanced and
commenced a murderous musketry fire, which the cavalry was not long able
to endure. They turned for flight. Many tried to swim the Tassone, but
were carried away by the current or found death on its marshy banks. A
wild charge of the dragoon regiment, Herbeville, then drove back the
enemy and rescued the scattered and fleeing comrades.

At eleven o’clock in the evening, Eugene learned of the unfortunate
occurrence. He immediately took all precautions to prevent the enemy
from making any further advance. Indeed he soon did still more: he
retrieved this disaster by the battle at Luzzara on the Po, on the first
of August, 1702. At that place Vendôme occupied an excellent position
protected by dams, moats, and barricades. The battle did not begin until
nearly five o’clock in the afternoon. Twenty-four thousand Germans were
opposed to fifty-three thousand Frenchmen.

Eugene’s army was divided into two columns, one of them led by
Starhemberg, the other by Field-Marshal Prince de Commercy. The latter
opened the battle. His soldiers threw themselves upon the enemy from a
dam, behind which they had been concealed, and were received with a
terrible hail of shot. On horseback, within sight of all his men,
Commercy remained in the thick of the fight. Suddenly—hit by two balls
at once—the hero fell from his horse, dead. His men hesitated and gave
way. This made a dangerous breach. But Eugene’s keen eye guided the
battle. Two imperial regiments and the Danes hurried up to their
support. Backward and forward surged the battle. Success seemed out of
the question. Then Eugene himself came dashing up. With that bold
disregard of death which was characteristic of the hero, he put himself
at the head of his men and led them forward once more. In a solid column
the battalions advanced. Nothing could restrain their heroic ardor. They
climbed the dike and threw the enemy back on their camp.

On the left wing of the imperial army, commanded by Starhemberg, the
fighting was even more bitter. Opposed to him was the flower of the
French troops under Vendôme’s own leadership. With impetuous courage
Starhemberg pushed forward. Nothing could withstand him. He drove the
enemy before him in a rout. It seemed as though they were becoming
demoralized; the French retreat looked like flight. In the zeal of the
pursuit a wide gap was made in the ranks of the Austrians. As Eugene had
done, Vendôme now recognized the great danger to his right wing. He
formed, from the reserves and several other regiments, a tremendous
storming column, which he hurriedly threw upon the Starhemberg troops,
who were already drunk with victory. He broke through their front ranks
and forced the whole wing into a hurried retreat. Disaster was imminent
and only timely and effective assistance could save the day. At the
decisive moment Prince Vaudemont came rattling up with his heavy
cavalry. This successful attack gave Starhemberg time to re-form his
regiments and to push on to a renewed assault. This took place with
great effect, supported by the well-aimed fire of Börner’s artillery.
Although the French did their best to hold their ground—53,000 against
24,000—it was of no use, they were obliged to retire into their
protected camp. Eugene’s plan was to storm this immediately and drive
out the French. But his regiments were so exhausted that the setting sun
counselled both struggling parties to take a much needed rest.

The day at Luzzara placed a new leaf in Eugene’s victor’s wreath,
although Vendôme and later prejudiced historians would like so well to
dispute this. The French celebrated the day as a victory, fired salutes
and caused the bells to be rung in Cremona and Milan. In his quiet
fashion Eugene comments upon this: “One should allow them to shout a
little, as the innkeeper does his guests when they have settled their
accounts.” This comment of the General passed from mouth to mouth and
described the situation perfectly. The fact was, however, that it was
the Austrians who held possession of the battle-field, and even on the
next day and the following ones Vendôme contented himself with sending a
cannon ball now and then among the Austrians. If he was not badly beaten
at Luzzara, why did he not again attack Eugene and his handful of men?
Why did he not follow up his victory?

For the present no new enterprises were undertaken in Italy. The
Frenchmen lacked courage and the Austrians the money for them. In
Eugene’s own words: the want of everything was much greater than he
could describe or one could believe who had not himself seen it; and in
the war office in Vienna there were words but no funds, which are the
sinews of war.



                               Chapter VI
                                Blenheim


In the year 1703 Prince Eugene was appointed President of the Royal
Council of War in Vienna, a position which placed him at the head of all
military affairs. This was a very happy choice. Eugene was just the man
to bring order into affairs and to act with decision. Things were at
loose ends, as the reader may have noticed. In accepting this high honor
from the Emperor, Eugene had made but one condition; namely, that he
should be strongly supported in all his measures for the good of the
service and the army. A field was now opened to him where his keenness
and insight found their proper activities. The troops rejoiced greatly
at the promotion of their beloved leader. They forgot the trials they
had suffered, and hoped for better days. They believed that, now, at
least they would not be obliged to suffer for necessities.

The Emperor was in dire need of a competent minister of war; of a brain
which could plan for all. Within a short time the condition of European
affairs had changed completely, and though the Emperor’s cause was
greatly helped by the recent acquisition of powerful allies, still there
were so many complicated threads that it would take a very clever hand
to untangle them, to organize the different divisions of the army, and
to guide and hold them ready for prompt and decisive action. That this
would not be an easy task was self-evident. Prince Eugene, like all
mortals, had his enemies and detractors. His energetic methods did not
please everyone, especially those in higher circles, who had heretofore
been indifferent and passive. The situation must have caused him many a
headache. But there was one thing that supported him; namely, devotion
to his Emperor and his righteous cause, to promote which he tirelessly
considered new plans and means which involved many little vexations and
mortifications. “Patience! patience! patience!” he often said to
himself. He generally proposed the opposite of that which he really
intended, knowing beforehand that his suggestion would be rejected and
that the measure which he himself really wanted would be recommended. It
was a remarkable and dangerous game which his colleagues were playing
while the glorious continuation or the shameful downfall of the German
imperial house hung in the balance!

As we already know, England and Holland had taken sides with the
hard-pressed German Emperor and had placed a strong army in the
Netherlands. Their commander was the gifted English General Marlborough,
who had already met the French several times and had shown them that he
knew how to conduct a war and understood the arts of attack and defence
equally well. With a second army Margrave Louis of Baden stood guard
over the Rhine in the neighborhood of his home, and the Prussian allies
were also on hand under the leadership of the daring Prince Leopold of
Dessau. Unfortunately the Elector Max Emanuel of Bavaria was still on
the French side. Guided by petty self-interest, he had deserted and
betrayed his German fatherland.

Besides the French and Bavarians, the Turks and Hungarians were
bestirring themselves once more. This was a prearranged scheme in which
France again had her hand, for she was anxious to attack Austria from
all sides. But the outcome was very different from what the Emperor’s
enemies had expected. We shall see what happened.

The two generals, Marlborough and Eugene, were placed first in command.
For a long time they had been mutual admirers. They were attracted to
one another, for, as the maxim says: like seeks like. Eugene, who was
thoroughly German in feeling, was deeply pained to know that the French
were in Germany—that is, in Bavaria. Had he had the power he would soon
have turned them out. He now devised a plan by means of which, with the
aid of the English, he might accomplish this. It may be admitted that
there had been a great deal of correspondence in regard to the matter,
but when it had been thoroughly considered in all its details it was
remarkable how well the plans of the two generals coincided.

Eugene and Marlborough’s plan in brief was, to unite their forces in
Bavaria, to call also upon Margrave Louis of Baden, and then to strike a
sudden blow. For the present Prince Eugene temporarily resigned his
office of President of the Council of War, donned his modest soldier’s
coat, and girded on his sword. As the direct road was occupied by the
Bavarians and French—the latter under Marshal Marsin—he hurried to the
seat of war by the roundabout way of the Tyrol and Vorarlberg. His
arrival was greeted with loud rejoicings by the army. Those princes who
were allied in opposition to the imperial house felt that his appearance
was the forerunner of important events. For instance, the Elector of
Bavaria wrote to the King of France: “It is not to be doubted that the
Prince of Savoy visits the seat of war in order to carry out great
projects.” It was plain that his opponents feared the noble knight. Had
Margrave Louis of Baden been as resolute as of old, it would certainly
have been an easy task for him to make the Elector of Bavaria, who was
just now separated from Marsin, feel the sharpness of his sword. As it
was, he pursued him but tardily and confronted him at last at Ehingen,
near Ulm, where the Elector was encamped.

It was at this time that Eugene rejoined the army. He could probably not
avoid reproaching the Margrave, though this must have been a very
unpleasant task, for he was much indebted to him; but the service could
not be allowed to suffer through friendship. However, all might yet be
well. Marlborough was on the way to southern Germany with his army,
consisting of picked troops, excellently clothed and armed. He had sent
word to Eugene that he would conquer or die with him.

On the tenth of June, 1704, Eugene and Marlborough met for the first
time at Mundelsheim. They made the most agreeable impression upon one
another. A confidential intercourse developed and a mutual desire to
accommodate one another in all points, which soon showed its happy
effects on the soldiers of both armies.

Three days later they joined the Margrave of Baden at Grossheppach. To
this day, at the inn “Zum Lamm” (“at the sign of the Lamb”), the tree is
shown beneath which the three generals held a council of war. The
resolution was taken to lure the enemy, now in southern Bavaria, across
the Danube in order to destroy him.

The Margrave, as the higher in rank, insisted on taking command of the
imperial troops and coöperating with Marlborough on the Danube. In order
not to disturb the good understanding, Eugene subordinated himself and
took command of the troops on the Rhine. This was a very important post,
for it was necessary to prevent the union of the French marshals,
Tallart and Villeroi, an attempt which Eugene from the first considered
scarcely possible.

In increasing numbers the French pressed forward across the Rhine. They
meant to give Germany her death-blow. Eugene’s plan was to detain
Villeroi on the Rhine, on his way from the Netherlands. In the meantime
Marlborough and Louis of Baden had not been idle; the Bavarian
Field-Marshal Arco, who with eight thousand men had attempted to dispute
their passage of the Danube, had been crushed at the Schottenberg. As a
result of this, the Elector retired to Augsburg. Under cover of its
cannon he felt himself secure. The allies followed at his heels, but
without attempting anything.

Efforts were again made toward peace, and an attempt was made to
reconcile the Elector with his father-in-law, the Emperor.

All was in vain. The Elector, in his boundless ambition, planned first
to tear the German Empire asunder and then to appropriate the lion’s
share. He again had visions of the crown of France, or indeed the German
imperial crown, upon his head; he was, in short, a cheap creature of the
“Most Christian” King of France, and would hear nothing of
reconciliation. He did his utmost to hasten the advance of Marshal
Tallart. War alone should decide his fate.

Tallart appeared, but close after him followed Eugene, whom Villeroi
believed to be still at the Stollhof frontier. On the third of August
the Prince was at Höchstädt, going into camp there and joining
Marlborough a few days later. Margrave Louis of Baden had in the
meantime undertaken the siege of Ingolstadt, so that his indecision
could no longer be a hindrance.

Haste was now necessary; not a moment must be lost. Both great generals
agreed that the decisive battle must be fought on the narrow plain
between Blenheim and Höchstädt. To this end the enemy were allowed to
cross the Danube quietly and establish themselves at Höchstädt. The
Bavarians and French had no real knowledge of the true state of affairs.
They intended to attack Eugene, whom they believed to be separated from
Marlborough, and they expected to overcome him without much difficulty.
Too late they learned their mistake.

From the church tower at Tapfheim Marlborough and Eugene observed the
advance and manœuvres of the enemy. They posted themselves on the
opposite side of the Nebelbach. The right wing rested on Blenheim on the
Danube, where Tallart took up his quarters. The left wing, under Marsin,
was supported by the village of Lutzingen and the slopes of the
Goldberg. The Nebelbach was in front of them. The Elector with his
cavalry was situated at Sonderheim, a short distance from Blenheim. The
allies were behind the Kesselbach. Marlborough, who commanded the left
wing, was at Münster on the Danube; Eugene, with the right, at
Oppertshofen. Thus dawned the twelfth of August of the year 1704, the
day which was to decide the power of German strength over French force
and cunning.

As early as three o’clock in the morning the roll of drums and trumpet
calls awakened the allies to the bloody harvest work of this hot August
day. The moon was setting and threw its last pale light over the
landscape. A thick fog covered the great plain and hid the distance.
Each of the allies’ armies was divided into four columns, of which two
consisted of infantry and two of cavalry. The infantry marched in front,
the cavalry behind, and the artillery was in the middle. A ninth column
was formed to cover the march of the English and Dutch artillery, then
to attack Blenheim and from thence to fall upon the enemy’s right flank.
The Prussian reserve corps, under the young Prince Leopold of Dessau,
was attached to Eugene’s army.

The fog lifted; it was nearly seven o’clock when the enemy became
visible. They were still under the strange delusion that the allies
would not dare to attack them, but would retire toward Nördlingen. But
all at once they were surprised by a sudden onslaught. The Bavarian
outposts were quickly overcome; the battle broke out here and there in
jets of flame. In order to hold Blenheim, Tallart made the mistake of
withdrawing twenty-seven battalions from his centre, where Clerambault
commanded. The narrow strip between the village and the Danube was
protected by a barricade of wagons, behind which stood four regiments of
unmounted dragoons ready to defend it. The French line of battle was
spread out for miles. It surged back and forth like the ebb and flow of
the sea.

At nine o’clock in the morning Tallart’s artillery opened a murderous
fire on the allies, who, of course, answered in kind. Eugene’s
regiments, particularly, suffered under this fierce cannonading. Coming
up from a hollow, their left flank was in line of the firing, but in
spite of this they hastily threw five bridges across the Nebelbach.

Toward noon Marlborough mounted his horse and gave the signal for the
attack. Lord Cutts proceeded with his men, at the signal for a general
advance, toward the mills of Blenheim, and took them. At the same time
the English cavalry crossed the Nebelbach. Immediately they were engaged
in a hand to hand struggle with the French. There were mighty blows of
the sword on helmet and armor; the squadrons plunged wildly upon one
another. Unfortunately the English cavalry was the weaker. Pursued by
the French they fell back on the infantry; but here the French advance
was checked and whole ranks were mowed down by the English musketeers.
New companies came storming up, only to meet the same fate, and all
without any effect on the general result. The decisive struggle took
place at Blenheim; but here at first every attack was in vain. Every
garden wall, every hedgerow and fence, was prepared for defence; and the
churchyard, which lay rather high, was transformed into a small citadel.
Marlborough quickly changed his plan of attack. While he feigned attacks
on Blenheim, his principal blow was struck at the enemy’s centre, which
Tallart had weakened considerably by sending reinforcements to Blenheim.
But even here it was impossible to accomplish anything. The French
fought with the courage of despair, and the English had to give way. At
this decisive moment Marlborough placed himself at the head of the
Danish troops, crossed the Nebelbach, and attacked the French again with
fresh energy. Marsin’s cavalry came dashing up and threw themselves
heavily upon the Danes.

All was wild confusion; already the Danes were seeking a way for
retreat, and all seemed lost. Just then the imperial cuirassiers, led by
Fugger, came dashing up. With irresistible force they threw themselves
upon the enemy, renewed the firing, and soon worsted the foe. The battle
had been raging for hours and was still, on the whole, undecided. Eugene
also had been fighting with the same ill success. With but eleven
battalions of Prussians and seven battalions of Danes, he could scarcely
make any headway. Once more, however, they put forth their utmost
efforts. Such a bloody battle had never been known. The attack was begun
by the Prussians under Leopold. It was a difficult piece of work. From
Lutzingen the enemy’s batteries poured death and destruction incessantly
into their ranks. The brave grenadiers furiously threw themselves upon
them and took them in a wild struggle. But the Bavarians were soon on
the spot and the Prussians were driven back with great loss.

Eugene collected the scattered forces and placed himself at their head.
The attack was unsuccessful. It was impossible for the eighteen
battalions of infantry to wrest the victory from the twenty-five
battalions of the Elector. Eugene now called on Marlborough for
assistance, in expectation of which the Prince went into the ranks,
encouraging the men, with word and example, to stand firm and have
courage. But time pressed, and before Marlborough’s reinforcements
arrived the Prince had made a third attack. His keen soldier’s eye had
noted that the advantage was inclining toward Marlborough’s side. Now
all depended on cutting off the advance of the French right wing. The
cavalry should have undertaken this, but were so disheartened by the
repeated assaults that no great success was to be depended on. Full of
disdain, Eugene turned his back on them and rode to the Prussian
infantry. These did their duty completely. Regardless of danger they
dashed forward under Eugene’s leadership, while the Prince of Dessau
encouraged his men to do the impossible. The grenadiers loaded and fired
as carefully as though they were on the parade ground, and executed
evolutions which made the hearts of old and young warriors laugh within
them—until at last the enemy began to retire through the forest and by
the ravine-road at Lutzingen. Here in the midst of this wild scrimmage
Eugene nearly lost his life. A Bavarian cavalryman, who had probably
recognized him, was taking aim with his carbine, when he was rendered
harmless by an imperial officer who came hurrying up.

And still the battle raged. The Bavarians fought with the courage of
lions and stood as firm as rocks amid the sea. At last news came from
the other wing: Marlborough was gaining the advantage. Marshal Tallart
had been wounded and taken prisoner, and Blenheim was surrounded by the
English. Now the cowardly and treacherous Clerambault yielded his place,
which was the key of the French position, and the English pushed into
Blenheim, where they shot and cut down all who opposed them, and made
nine thousand prisoners.

Marlborough’s trumpet-calls of victory were the signal for Eugene also
to make a quick end of things. With the last strength of his battalions
and squadrons—Prince Leopold, with his Prussians, at the head—he at last
compelled the enemy to retreat. But they gave way only by inches. The
Bavarians still fought with the utmost tenacity, defending every foot of
ground, until at last, completely weakened and shot to pieces, they
succumbed to the fire of the Prussian infantry.

Thus the Germans had gained a great and important, but very bloody
victory. Fifty-two thousand Germans and English had fought against
fifty-six thousand French and Bavarians. Fourteen thousand of the latter
now covered the battle-field, and nearly as many had been taken
prisoners. The trophies consisted of one hundred and forty cannon and a
great number of flags and standards. All Germany and the greater part of
Europe rejoiced over the victory at Blenheim and the thorough
humiliation and chastisement of the French. Marlborough and Eugene were
the heroes of the day. The former was created a prince of the holy Roman
empire by the Emperor, and Eugene’s house in Vienna was made perpetually
free of taxation as a privileged “freehouse” of the nobility.

In Paris, on the other hand, great discouragement reigned. Almost every
important family mourned their dead or feared for a wounded or
imprisoned son. The despondency was general. And again it was the former
little _abbé_ whose face was so distasteful to Louis the Fourteenth that
had brought this misfortune upon him and his country. Had the allies
pursued the French as fast as they fled toward the Rhine, the battle of
Blenheim would have had still more important results. This was part of
Eugene’s plan; but in Vienna there was a group of extremely circumspect
gentlemen who had very different views—“clerks and scribblers,” as
Blücher later named this distasteful guild.



                              Chapter VII
                          The Italian Campaign


The French now wished to make up in Italy what they had lost in Germany.
The prospects for this seemed very good. The Hungarians, under the
daring Count Alexander Karolyi, were gathering in the neighborhood of
Vienna; while in Italy the imperial troops were starving.[4]

The Emperor Leopold the First had grown old and indifferent, and his
characteristic indecision and lack of self-confidence had increased. The
faithful artillery General, von Heister, drove the Hungarians before
him, and Eugene was again sent to Italy to restore order and if possible
clear the way. There was one favorable circumstance. His uncle, Duke
Victor Amadeus, had at last broken his compact with the French and had
come over to the Emperor’s side. He had not received much benefit from
his friendship with the French. “Hands off here, hands off there,” had
been the cry, and there was no regard for ties of relationship.

In Italy the two brothers, the Duke of Vendôme and the Grand Prior, were
in command. Eugene had first to deal with the latter, who was not
particularly brilliant. By means of marches and countermarches he kept
him busy, eluding him cleverly when the Grand Prior thought to have
surely entrapped him. But this could not long continue. Eugene soon
became disgusted with the comedy. In August, 1705, he confronted the
Grand Prior at the town of Cassano on the Adda. The position of the
enemy was excellent, while Eugene, besides the eight thousand Prussians
under Prince Leopold of Dessau, possessed but a small army. Still he
wished to attack the Grand Prior, who had no idea that the enemy was so
close until he was enlightened by messengers from his brother, the Duke.
He was now all the more alert, fearing a severe reprimand. He placed his
troops behind several canals and garrisoned the island in the Adda, as
well as a large stone building which commanded the island and the bridge
leading to it, called the Osteria.

A heavy artillery fire from Eugene’s side opened the battle. Then the
infantry fell in line, taking the Osteria in a quick assault and
endeavoring to close the sluices of the canals. Just as they were
occupied with this difficult and to them puzzling piece of work, the
imperial troops were surprised by a vigorous attack of the French
regiments, by which they were driven back and the Osteria taken from
them. The Austrians again captured the bridge and building, but were
obliged to give them up again and again. At the head of his men Eugene
stormed the position for the third time, drove the enemy’s ranks into
the river, and prepared to take the intrenchments. But he was received
with a heavy grenade fire which swept away whole lines, so that he was
obliged to retire again.

In the meantime the Duke of Vendôme appeared on the battle-field with
fresh troops. It was Prince Leopold who bore the first shock of their
attack. His soldiers had waded through the canals in order to reach the
enemy the sooner, and had attacked them with their bayonets. But they
were met by such a murderous hail of bullets, great and small, that the
Prussians were obliged to withdraw. It was only for a short time,
however, just long enough to take breath; for Dessau was not the man to
be so quickly repulsed. “He is a cowardly dog who deserts his general!”
he cried in a voice of thunder, and was the first to plunge again into
the canal, followed by his grenadiers. Thus they victoriously advanced
and passed through two canals, and were getting nearer and nearer to the
foe, when for the second time they were driven back by the furious fire
of the French cannon and rifles; and late in the afternoon they took
refuge with Eugene’s exhausted troops in a secure camp.

It was at Cassano that the “Dessau March” originated, a piece of music
which was composed in honor of Leopold, and which still enjoys great
popularity.

The day at Cassano was a disastrous one for the Germans, for more than a
fifth of their army lay dead or wounded on the battle-field. For a long
time Eugene was obliged to play at hide and seek with the enemy, being
now too weak to engage in open warfare. But wherever he could injure the
French, we may be sure he did so. Eugene’s bloody partisan warfare is
remembered to this day in Lombardy.

But in Paris they were evidently not quite satisfied with the operations
of the firm “Vendôme brothers.” Both of them were recalled and Duke
Philip of Orleans and Marshal Marsin intrusted with the command of the
army. This spurred Eugene on to measure his strength with these new
representatives. Turin was the last refuge of Duke Victor Amadeus of
Savoy; this time-server had been thus driven to extremity. Starhemberg
held the city with seven thousand men. A French army forty thousand
strong now appeared to besiege it. But Eugene arrived on the ground
before them. He crossed the Po with thirty thousand men, passed around
the French intrenchments, crossed the Dora also, and went into camp
between this river and the Stura.

At daybreak on the seventh of September, 1706, the troops of the allied
armies broke camp. They were divided into eight columns, of which four
formed the first and four the second division. Scarcely had the French
commanders noted Eugene’s plan when they sent large reinforcements to
the threatened spot and began a heavy cannonading. Of course the
imperial batteries did not remain silent. This artillery battle
thundered for more than two hours. Meanwhile, in Turin, Count von Daun
was making ready with twelve battalions, four hundred grenadiers, five
hundred cavalrymen, and six fieldpieces for a timely sortie. The
inhabitants of Turin witnessed the progress of the battle from the walls
and the roofs of the houses and churches, praying devoutly for the
success of the German arms.

The Prussian troops had scarcely come up when they were ordered to
attack. Prince Leopold at their head, they advanced upon the enemy as
though they were on the parade-ground, with erect, firm bearing and
without firing a shot. A terrific fire greeted them; the enemies’
bullets swept them in front and in the flank, and although they answered
with a very rapid battalion fire, the battle was too unequal and they
were obliged to retire. As soon as Eugene noticed this he hurried to the
spot, to the support of the brave Prussian regiments, with the remainder
of the left wing, which was soon followed by the centre and the right
wing. The fighting broke out all along the long line of battle. Both
sides fought recklessly, neither advancing, but on the other hand
neither giving way.

Eugene’s attention was centred on the Prussians; the Prince of Dessau,
his valiant ally of Höchstädt and Cassano, seemed to him the right man
to strike a tremendous blow. It needed but a few words. Leopold, the
“bull-dog,” as Eugene is said to have called him, threw himself with his
already much decimated battalions with terrific fury upon the enemy’s
intrenchments. Nothing intimidated the faithful fellows, nothing could
stop them. They crossed the moat, took the redoubts, and intrenched
themselves therein. Eugene was in the midst of them. His horse was shot
under him and he fell to the ground. The terror of death was upon him.
But no!—immediately he arose and hurried on, at the head of his men.

Simultaneously with this brilliant success, the Prince of Württemberg
penetrated the intrenchments from the opposite side. Eugene’s positive
orders were that the left wing should occupy the intrenchments which had
been taken until the right wing and the centre had also taken the
intrenchments. But alas! in the enthusiasm of victory the left wing
hurried after their advancing brothers, and the fortifications remained
unprotected. But Eugene was watching the progress of the battle.
Starhemberg’s regiment was called upon, occupied the fortifications,
turned the captured French cannon about and shelled the fleeing enemy
with them. The French at the centre fought just as doggedly. There
Philip of Orleans and Marsin were in command. Three times the
intrenchments were taken by the allies; three times they were recaptured
by the French, until, at last, the Duke of Savoy took them for the
fourth time—and held them.

Thus the French were repulsed at all points. In great disorder they
hurried toward the Po and the Dora. It was now the faithful Daun’s turn.
He received them, not with open arms, but with powder and lead instead,
took part of them prisoners and drove the rest into the cold waters of
the river, to cool the heat of their flight.

Thus the rule of the French in Milan was overthrown. Amidst the
boundless rejoicings of the delivered city, Eugene made his entry into
it, as its imperial governor. From this time the plans of Louis the
Fourteenth were frustrated. He must have been sick enough with rage at
the little _abbé_, for the pills he had had to swallow in Italy were
bitter as gall. And still the triumphs of Germany over the French were
not complete. While a small imperial force marched straight to Naples to
harass the French there, Eugene and Victor Amadeus made ready to carry
the war into Southern France. After an extremely arduous march over the
Alps, they reached Valette, which lies about a half-hour’s march from
Toulon, and went into camp there. During the following days Toulon was
shelled by the Austrians. Nothing more was done, however, as the French
were gathering in ever increasing numbers; so Eugene wisely withdrew.
The fall of Toulon was the dearest wish of the English and Hollanders,
but Eugene preferred not to burn his fingers in their interests.
Besides, from the standpoint of the soldier, his retreat through the
enemy’s country was a greater feat than the storming of Toulon would
have been. On the road he casually took Susa; and he arrived again in
Vienna in the Autumn of 1707, where he was greeted at court, as well as
by the people, as the deliverer of Italy. He met with a brilliant and
extremely friendly reception.



                              Chapter VIII
                               Malplaquet


The Duke of Marlborough had fought against France in the Netherlands in
recent years, with more or less success. But latterly fortune had turned
her back upon him; Ghent, Brussels, Bruges, and other fortified towns
had again fallen into the hands of the French; for Marshal Vendôme and
the Duke of Burgundy were very alert generals.

One of Marlborough’s letters to Lord Godolphin shows how deeply he felt
the hopelessness of his situation. He wrote: “As there is a God in
heaven I put my trust in Him, for without Him our prospects are truly
terrible.” Eugene did not wish to desert the brave Duke in this great
extremity. To be sure, money was scarce in Vienna; Hungary and
Siebenbürgen could contribute nothing, the impoverished hereditary lands
were just as unable to furnish sufficient ready money, and loans were to
be had only at exorbitant rates. In addition, there was a split in the
parties at court. They were weary of war, and one interfered with
another’s counsels and plans. It was almost a miracle that it was
possible for Eugene to impose his plans for war upon the Council, and to
organize a well-trained army in the shortest possible time. It was, no
doubt, Marlborough’s messengers of distress, and his own extreme sense
of duty urging him not to desert his faithful brother-in-arms, which
conquered all obstacles.

With indefatigable haste Eugene set out with his army, crossed the
Moselle on the twenty-eighth of June, 1708, and joined the cavalry on
the third of July at Düren. A few days later his army and Marlborough’s
were united. This was help in time of need. The first meeting of the two
generals was touching. Marlborough embraced Eugene and called him his
saviour. The noble Savoyard directed his friend to trust in God. “With
His help,” said he, “even though I pay the penalty with my life, I shall
obtain satisfaction.”

Eugene next hurried to Brussels, which the French had again given up,
into the arms of his mother, whom he had not seen since she was driven
from France. What must have been the feelings of mother and son? Eugene
had taken vengeance on their deadly enemy for her and the whole family
of Soissons, and had punished and humiliated him. He had already twice
entered France at the head of a victorious army, he had been successful
in the Netherlands, and the road to Paris was open to him. Full of
happiness and enthusiasm the mother parted from her heroic son. And soon
new tidings of victory arrived to gladden the lonely widow. The aged
woman passed away on the arrival of the news of the victory of
Malplaquet (1709). She died happy, for her beloved son had avenged her
husband and herself.

Marlborough and Eugene with eighty thousand men came upon the enemy at
Oudenarde. The French leaders disagreed as thoroughly among themselves
as the allies were united. They had forgotten to protect the bridges
over the Scheldt. The allies used five of these and on the eleventh of
July, 1708, crossed the river; as they arrived they placed themselves
according to battalions in battle array.

How easily the French might have prevented this and have attacked the
separated little companies and conquered them! They chose quite
different tactics—they hastily intrenched themselves. It was the English
Colonel Cadogan who first dealt with the enemy. He easily overthrew the
twenty squadrons opposed to him, scattered four battalions of infantry,
and in doing so he frightened three others so thoroughly that they ran
away without firing a shot.

That was a merry introduction, but the real drama was to follow.
Marlborough now advanced with the principal strength of the army. The
French defended themselves with the utmost bravery; and as they were
much more numerous, they forced the English back. But Marlborough was of
a tenacious character. With all his might he again pressed forward, not
only reconquering the lost ground, but continually advancing. Eugene
knew how to gain successes of the same sort. The allies bore down ever
more heavily upon the French. The battle became disorganized and ended
in a series of bloody hand-to-hand skirmishes. But the English and
Germans understood this kind of fighting also, for they had learned it
under the murderous fire at Höchstädt.

Toward evening the Hollanders received orders to march round the French
right wing, a task that they accomplished with remarkable quickness and
precision. The allies then pressed forward in a great half-circle and
overthrew the enemy. Seven of the enemy’s cavalry regiments were cut
down, and Vendôme’s battalions of the guard, led by himself, were
shattered by the iron knights of England. At sunset the day had been
gloriously won; a victory like that of Höchstädt. Vendôme fled to Ghent,
and there remained three days in bed to sleep off his chagrin.

After the battle of Oudenarde the allied armies remained in the
Netherlands. In Eugene’s own words, it was now time “to profit honestly
by the victory.”

In order to accomplish this it was necessary to take a fortified place,
and Lille or Ryssel seemed to Eugene the most appropriate. He was not a
waverer or one who would discard to-morrow the plans of yesterday; and
in this Marlborough was his faithful colleague. Then quickly to work!
The allies shelled the fortress of Lille daily with a hundred and twenty
cannon, eighty mortars, and twenty howitzers. This must certainly have
helped matters. Marshal Vendôme’s fingers were itching to relieve Lille,
which Marlborough with his seventy thousand men prevented, holding the
Marshal at a good distance, so that Eugene could operate with freedom
against the fortifications. At last the Austrians had opened a breach.
Eugene was quickly on the ground. One night he advanced to the breach
with the storming columns, but was very unlucky. The enemy must have
learned of his design; they received the advancing columns with a
murderous fire of grapeshot and also set off two powder-mines with
horrible results. Of course the Austrians were obliged to retreat.

But postponement is not abandonment; and the maxim, “A burnt child shuns
the fire,” did not apply to Eugene. One night he was again before the
breach. All was ready for the onslaught. The roll of the drums and the
calls of horns and trumpets were kindling the Austrians with enthusiasm,
but it was a difficult piece of work. Three times they were beaten back,
but the fourth time they were successful. Several outposts were taken
and occupied. During this attack Eugene was slightly wounded on the
head. He transferred the command to Marlborough, knowing it to be in
good hands.

About this time Eugene received, among other letters, one which on
opening he found to contain a piece of blank paper which had been soaked
in some greasy, sticky stuff. Eugene dropped the paper and said: “It is
not the first of its kind which I have received.” Of course the paper
was poisoned. It was bound about the neck of a dog, and after a few
hours the animal died.

But let us return to the siege of Lille. On the third of October the
grand attack was made. Both sides fought with admirable courage. Eugene,
as well as Bouffleurs, gave his men an example worthy of emulation; both
fought in the front ranks. Eugene was wounded and fell to the ground.
His men raised a shout of horror. “It is nothing!” he cried, covered the
wound with his handkerchief and pressed forward. It was with great
difficulty that his friends could persuade him to leave the battle-field
while the assault was proceeding. A terrible slaughter began. The
Frenchmen defended every inch of ground with heroic courage. The men
fought with bayonets; they strangled one another with their hands; and
all the time the heavy artillery of the besiegers was thundering and was
opening new breaches here and there. Where the moats were not filled
with wounded or dead bodies, they were piled up with bits of sod,
gabions, and bundles of faggots to make them passable. At last
Bouffleurs lost all hope of holding the city. Fighting, he retired into
the citadel, which, after a defence of two months, he at last also
surrendered to the allies.

Without reading the conditions of surrender, Eugene signed the paper
with the words: “Marshal Bouffleurs cannot demand anything which I shall
not be able to grant!” Nobly spoken, valiant Knight!

When they wished to give grand _fêtes_ at The Hague in honor of the
Prince, he begged them rather to give the large sums of money which
would have been expended to the faithful Dutch soldiers who had been
invalided at the defence of Lille. Eugene had the gratifying
consciousness of having also freed Flanders from the French by his
prompt interference. In the following words he shows what importance he
attributed to the campaign of 1708: “He who was not in it has never
experienced anything.”

The peace negotiations at The Hague between the warring powers came to
nothing. After the last great victories Eugene was able to press his
claims in the name of his Emperor (Joseph the First). He demanded the
whole undivided Spanish inheritance, also Alsace and Sundgau, the
bishoprics of Metz, Toul, and Verdun, which had formerly been unjustly
taken from the German empire. After a long period of weakness in state
and international affairs, this was once more a virile German demand.
The Marquis de Lorcy, a suave French courtier, the representative of
Louis the Fourteenth at The Hague, opened his eyes very wide and begged
leave to communicate this demand to the King. As was anticipated, Louis
declined the terms of peace. The storms of war began anew to discharge
their fury upon the frightened nations. The Germans, together with the
English and Dutch, were once more quickly in the field. Every one felt
that the new campaign would be a very sanguinary one. The injured vanity
of the French King demanded atonement, revenge.

Against about one hundred thousand allies, Louis put one hundred and
twenty thousand men in the field. Villars, with whom we became
acquainted during the Italian campaign, made great promises to the
Parisians. The first task was to take the fortress of Tournay from the
French. This was successful. The next was to arrive at Mons before the
French. It was also accomplished. This was Villar’s _début_, and the
King of France was not greatly pleased. He sent the brave Bouffleurs
after him to urge him on, for his confidence in Villars was still
unshaken. Besides, Bouffleurs did not come alone, but brought with him a
valiant troop. The gay Marshal was much elated; and was quite confident
of victory. And with him the whole French army rejoiced, convinced that
they should strike the Germans a deadly blow and then themselves dictate
the terms of peace.

While the French gave themselves up to these undue rejoicings, Eugene
and Marlborough were composedly making all arrangements to wreck the
Marshal’s plan and spoil his fun. They quickly set out with ninety
thousand men and occupied all the highways, in order to prevent the
enemy from reaching Mons.

Mons lies in the province of Hainaut. This region is hilly for the most
part, cut up by gorges and little streams, and covered thickly with
timber. In front of Marlborough’s position lay the forest of Lanière; in
front of Eugene’s, the forest of Taisnière. The corner which juts out
toward the north is called the forest of Sart. Between the
above-mentioned forests lie Aulnoit and the Wolf’s Cave. The first was
occupied by Marlborough, and the last by Eugene; between them was a
series of more or less deep ravines. It was in no respect a
well-selected position; it was taken only because it was necessary to
put themselves quickly on the defensive against a threatened attack of
the enemy.

Villars’s centre stood upon the clearing of Aulnoit, his wings were
covered by the above-mentioned forests. Besides this he had
intrenchments thrown up in haste and barricades constructed. He must
have been somewhat nervous. The allied generals observed the enemy’s
position from the windmill at Sart. Their plan was to engage the
attention of the enemy’s centre by a feigned attack, while they really
were trying to throw the left wing from its position. Between
Marlborough and Eugene, eighteen battalions of imperial infantry were
posted.

In the early hours of a cold, wet, September morning, the ninth, the
allied armies quietly gathered under their standards, while the
Frenchmen, on the other hand, being confident of an easy victory, were
cheering continuously for their King and for Marshal Villars. As usual
the thunder of the cannon opened the battle. Amidst their brazen
clangor, the Saxons under Schulenberg pressed forward on the edge of the
forest of Sart to within pistol-shot of the enemy. But there the valiant
Albergotti opened such a heavy musketry fire on them that the battalions
at the front fell back panic-stricken and were stopped only by those
behind them. United they pushed forward once more, Eugene leading them.
The first redoubt was taken by storm, and soon afterwards the second
also was taken. Eugene’s infantry followed eagerly in the victorious
path of their advancing comrades, but were soon retarded by a thick
growth of bushes and trees. The battalions were separated and at last
became thoroughly disordered. The worst of it was, that they came upon a
fresh barricade of logs. But great as the difficulties were, they were
conquered at last; the forest of Sart was taken, and the French driven
out of it.

While these events were taking place in Eugene’s division, the Prussian
General von Lottum, of Marlborough’s division, with twenty-two
battalions, made a daring attack on the principal front of the French
left wing, where Villars himself commanded. Although whole ranks of the
faithful grenadiers fell before the enemy’s grapeshot and musketry hail,
they worked their way forward with astonishing endurance and had the
pleasure of seeing Villars retreating behind the forest.

While he was busy re-forming his line of battle he was surprised by the
Prince of Orange with thirty battalions. A fierce fight ensued. The
French defended themselves heroically and repulsed their assailants. But
not for long; for Eugene came to the rescue. On horseback he reduced the
wild confusion of the battle, encouraging here, praising there, or
consoling. Once more he was wounded by a musket ball, in the back of his
head. He had no time to have the wound dressed. To his remonstrating
friends he smilingly said: “If I should die, the bandage would do me no
good, and if I live, the surgeon can do his work this evening.” Thus he
plunged again into the fury of the battle. And still there was no
decisive victory although Marlborough’s and Eugene’s troops fought so
bravely. But the heroic Prince’s eye is alert and is watching, in spite
of great loss of blood and intense pain from the wound in his head.

At last the decisive moment came. Hazarding a last tremendous blow, for
his troops were exhausted by the long struggle, Villars sent thirty
battalions with lowered bayonets against Eugene. In order to do this he
had drawn a large part of the infantry from the redoubts on his right,
which Bouffleurs until now had defended so heroically. Eugene
immediately espied the vulnerable point and, gathering his infantry
together, he dashed upon the much weakened left wing of the foe. Here
another terrible struggle took place. But all their bravery and heroic
devotion availed the French nothing. At the head of his men Eugene broke
through their centre. His men were not to be held back any longer.
Starhemberg’s cavalry rode and cut down everything that resisted them;
the platoon fire of several Prussian battalions likewise did terrible
destruction. The French fled.

                     [Illustration: _PRINCE EUGENE
                   before the battle of Malplaquet_]

The other wing of the allies was equally fortunate. Excited by the
victorious shouts of the Germans, the English were not left behind. With
fifteen battalions supported by seventeen squadrons under Bülow, Orkney
took the intrenchments at Bleron. The Prince of Orange, the hero of the
day, again took an important part in the battle; and although an
extremely fierce cavalry skirmish ensued upon the plain of Malplaquet
and the Frenchmen enjoyed a few victorious moments, the imperial cavalry
from the other wing, appearing like a stormcloud on the field of battle,
overwhelmed the enemy with tremendous force. They gave way and fled.
Unfortunately, the allies were too exhausted to pursue them effectually.
Only twelve squadrons of the imperial cavalry harassed them on their
retreat, which was conducted skilfully by Bouffleurs.

The battle of Malplaquet, as the fight over the French intrenchments was
called, was one of the fiercest of the War of the Spanish Succession.
The loss on both sides in dead and wounded was about the same, probably
about thirty-six thousand men. The great battle-field was horrible to
look upon. Where the Dutch battalions of the guard had stood, the
corpses lay in ranks before the intrenchments, most of them stripped of
their clothes and horribly mutilated. The moats were filled to the top
with dead bodies. The allied victors spent the night upon the
battle-field. What a night! as terrible as the day had been!

The battle of Malplaquet was the last in the long and extremely bloody
War of the Spanish Succession, excepting several clever operations
against the French, and minor encounters. For a long time the
discussions over “mine” and “thine” continued. The French were scarcely
able to resign themselves, but at last, after negotiations between the
several States, in February, 1714, peace was made between the Emperor
Charles the Sixth (Joseph the First had died in 1711) and King Louis the
Fourteenth of France at Rastadt. This was for the most part Eugene’s
work; and his opponent at the green table was Marshal Villars. Eugene
raised his voice powerfully in Germany’s interest; Germany was indebted
to him for whatever he succeeded in obtaining under many unfortunate and
unfavorable circumstances. France kept Landau, but resigned the other
territories which she had conquered; Milan, Naples, Sardinia, and the
Spanish Netherlands passed to the Emperor.

Villars and Eugene parted friends at Rastadt. They had learned to
respect one another. At their farewell Villars uttered these parting
words: “Your foes are not in the enemy’s camp, but in Vienna, as mine
are in Versailles.” This was a prophecy which was later to be fulfilled
in a terrible manner.



                               Chapter IX
                           Eugene at Belgrade


After a few years of peace we see Eugene again taking up his sword
against the Turks. The Venetians needed assistance against the Sublime
Porte. At first it was thought that all difficulties could be settled by
the pen, but the gentlemen in Constantinople assumed such an arrogant
tone that it was impossible for Vienna to countenance it. Besides, the
imperial house was much more powerful than in former days, when the
Turks had advanced to the very gates of Vienna. Having vanquished the
French, Austria was confident that she could conquer the Turks also. But
the latter thought otherwise and were determined to regain what they had
lost, at all costs. We shall see what happened.

Appointed imperial Governor-General of the Netherlands—no slight proof
of the boundless confidence of his Emperor and master—Prince Eugene of
Savoy prepared for a valiant defence against the grimmest foe of
Christendom.

Surrounded by a group of heroes, including the daring Heister (called
“the scourge of the Turks”), the excellent cavalry commander Palffy,
Prince Alexander of Württemberg, the faithful Mercy, the expert soldier
Starhemberg, and others, he left Vienna in order to join the army which
was gathering at Peterwardein, in the Summer of 1716.

The Turks meanwhile had not been dilatory. Their army, numbering at
least two hundred thousand men, was, according to Turkish standards,
well fitted out and amply furnished with all requisites. Relying upon
this, the Grand Vizier Ali wrote to the Field-Marshal General, Prince
Eugene, among other things, these words: “The Ottoman Empire expects to
win much glory and many victories in this campaign, whereas your
shameful conduct will bring, not only upon you, but upon your children
and grandchildren, misfortunes and curses and a shameful defeat.” The
Turks put on an air of innocence, but everyone knew just what to expect
from them.

It was not long before the two armies were standing face to face, for
both sides appeared to be in great haste. Field-Marshal Palffy, with a
small body of men, hazarded a bold ride in order to reconnoitre the
enemy’s position. Their expedition led them through ravines and ditches
and demanded a great deal of courage. Suddenly twenty thousand Turkish
horsemen fell upon Palffy’s company of scarcely two thousand men. In
this rough country retreat and advance were equally dangerous; it was a
desperate situation. But their gallant leader did not lose his head. He
and his men defended themselves bravely and the enemy were badly worsted
in spite of their advantage in numbers; and Palffy got safely back to
Eugene. It now seemed as though the Turks were preparing to besiege
Peterwardein. They dug trenches, threw up earthworks, erected redoubts,
and continually shelled Eugene’s position.

He was not the man to put up quietly with these annoyances for any
length of time. His plan was to attack the enemy before they had become
established in their new position or had seized the means for an
energetic defence. With his characteristic rapidity Eugene made all his
arrangements for an attack. The fourth of August was to be the decisive
day. The Turks must have noticed that something was about to happen.
They were stirring very early; and as it grew lighter, one could see
hill and valley covered with the countless ranks of their hosts.

At seven o’clock in the morning, Eugene’s left wing commenced the
attack. Prince Alexander of Württemberg led the first storming column.
Without meeting with any particular resistance he took one of the
enemy’s batteries, while the imperial cavalry, which followed his
infantry, put the Turkish horsemen to flight. The troops were overjoyed
at this; but the hardest work was still to come. Simultaneously with
this attack, the imperial infantry, which was occupying the other
intrenchments, was to advance on the enemy. In the narrow passages of
the earthworks this manœuvre was not executed with the expected
precision. It took longer to form the ranks outside the intrenchments
than had been expected. Taking advantage of this, the Turks threw
themselves on the advancing enemy in overpowering numbers. With fierce
cries they drove them back, pushing forward with them into the first and
second lines of intrenchments, but were quickly driven out again by the
imperial cavalry, which came dashing up.

The infantry re-formed their ranks and again rapidly advanced. There was
another terrific encounter. The imperial cuirassiers held the advantage;
whatever came within reach was cut down by their terrific blows. The
light Turkish cavalry were scattered like spray before the wind.
However, they still fought with iron endurance and were even successful
here and there. One section of the imperial infantry was repulsed again
and again. The Turks, with loud cries of victory, began the pursuit in
the heat of the fight; but in doing so exposed both of their flanks.

This was the moment for Eugene to strike a decisive blow. With the
rapidity of lightning he threw Heister’s cavalry on the left wing of the
enemy. The battalions of the Prince of Württemberg attacked them on the
right and in the centre; the scattered columns were re-forming for a new
and victorious assault. Attacked from three sides at once with great
fury, shelled by the cannon from the walls of Peterwardein, succumbing
in bloody bayonet fights with their antagonists, and overthrown in a
hand-to-hand struggle with the more powerful German soldiers, the Turks
turned for a hurried flight. After them in furious haste stormed the
German cavalry. Whole regiments were cut down and others taken
prisoners. The Germans assaulted the last stronghold of the Turks, their
wagon-barricade: further resistance was useless.

While the imperial commander Prince Eugene, on horseback and exposed to
all the hardships and dangers of the fight, had been directing the
battle, the Grand Vizier Ali had not for a moment left his tent, where
he had been standing immovable beside the sacred banner of the Prophet.
The flight of his troops at last aroused him. With his naked sabre he
went to meet the fleeing men and cut down several of them. He implored,
he commanded, he cursed them. All in vain. The current of flight and
defeat was not to be stemmed. He then placed himself at the head of his
bodyguard, plunged into the tide of battle, and soon fell mortally
wounded. His defeated and disorganized army hastened on to Belgrade.
Temesvar was taken by the Austrians. Eugene had occasion once more to
hold a thanksgiving service on the field of battle.

Eugene’s victory at Peterwardein caused great enthusiasm throughout the
whole of Europe. The Savoyard was the fêted hero of young and old,
aristocrat and humble citizen. While the blessings of the whole German
people were following him on his path of victory, the monarchs of Europe
were vying with one another in offering him tokens of their admiration
and gratitude. The Pope presented him with a consecrated hat and sword,
and Marshal Villars honored the famous hero of Peterwardein with a
personal letter.

Although the defeat of the Turks had been so complete and so terrible,
they could not rest until they tried their luck in a second campaign.
The whole of Europe rejoiced over this news, not doubting that the old
arch-enemy of Christendom would now receive his death-blow. Young nobles
and the chief princes flocked to the imperial standards in order to join
in the fight against the Turks and to study the art of war under
Eugene’s leadership. As usual, he was now prompt and ready. On the ninth
of June, 1717, he set out from Peterwardein; on the fourteenth he was at
Pancsova; and on the fifteenth and sixteenth the imperial army crossed
the Danube. He purposed no less a feat than “to reconquer for the
Emperor” the fortress of Belgrade, which was garrisoned by thirty
thousand picked Turkish troops. This was an extremely hazardous
undertaking, for two hundred thousand Turks under command of the Grand
Vizier Chalis of Adrianople were already on their way to interfere with
his plans. But in spite of this, the Christian army was in good spirits,
and their confidence was absolute in their general, who was bold, as
well as gifted, and seasoned in battle.

This occasion again brought into play all the resources of Eugene’s
genius. He had to prepare for defence in two directions: first, against
a sortie of the garrison; and secondly, against an attack from the
Turkish army of relief. For this purpose he protected his camp by
quickly constructed fort-like walls, deep, wide trenches, earthworks,
and rifle-pits. At the same time he caused exits to be made in the
principal wall here and there, so that in case of danger from the
outside, his men would be able to reach the open field quickly. He
bridged over the morasses, caused the sconce of the Semlin bridge on the
Banat side of the Danube to be garrisoned, the island in the Danube at
Belgrade to be protected by redoubts—in short he did everything that
forethought and care could suggest to hold off and if possible to crush
an enemy possessing three times his strength.

In the midst of these extensive preparations for the battle Eugene was
surprised by a fearful natural catastrophe. A mighty hurricane broke
loose, tearing the heavy iron chains that bound the ships, as though
they had been hempen ropes, destroying the bridges which had been
constructed, and dashing the Austrian and Turkish vessels lying in the
Danube into a confused heap. Taking advantage of this disturbance, ten
thousand Turks crossed the Save to take the Austrian intrenchments. An
unexampled confusion took possession of the Germans; but a Hessian
captain, quickly gathering together his half company, threw himself
against the numerous advancing foes. He had the courage and good fortune
to be able to hold his ground until two grenadier companies hurried to
the scene and drove back the enemy. While this event was taking place,
the janissaries had fixed their attention upon the Austrian
intrenchments. With resounding cries to Allah they were soon inside,
massacring the bewildered Austrian soldiers, but were as quickly
surprised by two hundred and fifty cuirassiers, who came dashing up to
ride them down or drive them into the angry waters of the Danube. At the
same time the imperial batteries opened a murderous fire on Belgrade.
Large sections of the fortifications were levelled to the ground, and
the water-front of the city was laid in ruins. Then the news was brought
to Prince Eugene that Chalis was approaching with reinforcements. At
first, merely a rumor to which little credence was given, it soon turned
out to be a fact. Hussars and Servians began to arrive at the
fortifications, which had already been occupied by their forerunners,
the light Turkish Cavalry skirmishers.

A few days later, Eugene had the foe before and behind him. Shelled from
all sides, Eugene needed great coolness. Thousands would have lost their
heads in such a situation. His resolution was taken. While a very small
part of his army kept guard over Belgrade, with the remaining forty
thousand men he boldly challenged the Grand Vizier Chalis. Eugene’s
situation at Belgrade recalls in many respects that of Werder at
Belfort. The infantry formed the centre, the cavalry was posted on the
wings. No one could deceive himself as to the seriousness of the
situation. There were but two courses open; to conquer, or to die! And
in a council of war Eugene said plainly enough: “Either I shall gain
possession of Belgrade or the Turks will take me.”

The officers were commanded to give their orders coolly and quietly,
without shouting or showing impatience. Neither officer nor soldier was
allowed to leave his appointed place, and no one on pain of death should
seek for spoils or plunder. Lastly, the soldiers were reminded that they
had to do with Turks, Tartars, and enemies of that sort, from whom there
was little to fear if they were met with due coolness and firmness.
Shortly after midnight the regiments moved out of the intrenchments to
place themselves in battle array.

It was a cold, clear night in August, so the Turks could observe the
marching of the troops. It was not until nearly daylight that a fog
covered the landscape, so dense that the nearest objects could not be
distinguished. Enveloped in this gray veil the Austrians advanced on the
Turkish fortifications. The fog was now so thick that in spite of all
precautions Palffy’s cavalry lost their way. As the infantry had orders
to follow the cavalry, they also got too far to the right. In this way
an empty space was left in the centre, which the Turks immediately
filled out with several battalions, so that they were in the midst of
the Austrian position.

Thus the battle began; and soon the whole right wing was involved in a
bitter fight. Palffy’s cavalry were worthy of all honor; every one of
them fought like a hero, but against such overwhelming numbers their
destruction was certain. It was General von Mercy who hurried to the
relief of his brothers-in-arms; the gallant Starhemberg also, with his
infantry, was not behindhand. With irresistible energy the battalions
attacked the enemy at the front, and the cavalry fell upon his flank.
Such an onslaught could not be sustained for any length of time. The
Turks fled, leaving their batteries in the hands of the Austrians.

                     [Illustration: _PRINCE EUGENE
                             at Belgrade_]

During this fighting on the right wing, the battle broke out gradually
along the whole line. The fog had become still denser and more
impenetrable. Both sides fired without being able to see one another. In
slow marching order the Austrian infantry moved forward. Coming upon the
Turkish trenches they took them quickly by storm and crossed over upon
the corpses of their foes.

In other parts of the great battle-field the Turks were gaining the
advantage. A large body of their troops, led astray by the fog, found
itself again between the two separated wings of the Austrians. That
meant some desperate fighting. Toward eight o’clock in the morning a
light breeze at last scattered the mists which, until now, had hidden
the battle-field.

A single glance over the confused panorama showed Eugene the fearful
danger in which he stood. It was such moments as these, however, which
demonstrated his greatness. With him decision and execution were one.
The enemy must not be allowed to make use of their advantage. Prince von
Bevern received orders to throw himself impetuously upon them with the
second division; Eugene at the head of the united cavalry regiments
stormed their flanks. The Turks defended themselves lustily, especially
as they had now discovered, too late, their favorable position. There
was no power to resist the tremendous onslaught of the Austrians, the
Turks wavered, gave way; the battle line was once more established. And
now the drums rolled, the horns pealed forth, and the flags waved
aloft—the signal for a general attack on the Turkish camp all along the
line.

There were many bleeding heads; there was no holding back on either
side; they surged back and forth. Only one Turkish battery upon a hill
was holding its own. From its eighteen cannon it poured forth death and
destruction upon the advancing Austrians. This must be taken and
silenced. Ten companies of grenadiers and four battalions whose wings
were covered by squadrons of cavalry were assigned the task of taking
the battery by storm. With flying banners and bands playing, marching
close together, shoulder to shoulder as compact as a wall, the brave
fellows pressed forward. They were met by a terrific fire, which tore
deep gaps in their ranks. Regardless of their falling comrades, passing
over their wounded and dead bodies, they pressed onward with loud cries
of victory, and reached the top. Without firing a shot, with lowered
bayonets they charged the enemy (mostly janissaries) like a stormcloud,
until all were cut down and the battery was taken.

It was exactly nine o’clock in the morning when the enemy left their
fortified camp in great haste. The gradually decreasing thunder of the
Austrian cannon accompanied them, but the light cavalry pursued the
defeated Turks. It was a great battle and a great victory! The Turks
lost about twenty thousand men, while Eugene’s loss was but fifteen
hundred. The trophies of war included nearly two hundred cannon, one
hundred and fifty flags, and nine horsetails, not forgetting the
captured treasure in the deserted Turkish camp, consisting of bejewelled
weapons and other articles of luxury.

Eugene sent General Count Hamilton at once with news of the victory to
the Emperor, Charles the Sixth. The anxious suspense of all minds had
been so great on account of Eugene’s dangerous situation that the
rejoicings were unbounded. As Count Hamilton, according to the custom of
that time, after having delivered his message to the Emperor,
accompanied by the pealing tones of the six postillions of “the
Favorite” who rode before him, passed through the Kärnthner gate into
the city, across the moat and by way of the Kohlmarkt to the Castle, the
crowds were so great that the carriage could scarcely make its way
through them. A few days later, Colonel Count Rabutin brought the news
that Belgrade also had surrendered. Nearly six hundred cannon, the whole
flotilla on the Danube, and a great deal of ammunition fell into the
hands of the victors.

One year later, after the Turks had been defeated in several more small
skirmishes and battles, Prince Eugene made peace with them, in the name
of the Emperor, at Passarowitz. Banat, Slavonia, a part of Bosnia,
Servia, and Wallachia passed over to Austria, not forgetting Hungary,
which had been conquered before this. The strangest part of the affair
was, that even the Turkish Sultan could not abstain from showing Eugene
how highly he esteemed him. The Turkish ambassador was instructed to
present the Prince with two Arabian horses, a costly sword, and a
turban. At the same time he accompanied the presents with the
explanation: “The sabre is the symbol of your valor; the others are for
your keen wit, your wise counsel, and wiser execution.”



                               Chapter X
                               Last Days


After a peaceful interval of sixteen years, during which Eugene had
devoted himself to the study of the arts and sciences, he was obliged
once more to take up his sword. France was again menacing the peace of
Europe. She was not willing that the Elector of Saxony should become
King of Poland, but presented another candidate and seized this
opportunity of picking a quarrel with Austria and Germany. Eugene
therefore found himself promptly seated in the saddle once more, ready
to show the King of France (now Louis the Fifteenth) that he still
understood his profession. Unfortunately this war was begun and
conducted in a very sleepy fashion, so that Eugene had only twenty
thousand men to oppose the one hundred and twenty thousand Frenchmen,
instead of the imposing army originally promised him by the Emperor; and
even though this small number was gradually doubled by accessions of
Prussians and other troops of the empire, it was not possible to
undertake anything important with them. In spite of this Eugene
manœuvred so cleverly with his little army that in a two-years’ campaign
(1734-1735) France gained no great advantage on the Rhine and took
possession only of Philippsburg.

As things stood—the Emperor without money, the army unpaid and without
bread—it was almost a miracle that France did not gain more advantages.
It was Eugene, the conqueror at Zenta, Höchstädt, Turin, Oudenarde,
Malplaquet, Peterwardein, and Belgrade who prevented it. In this war
against France Eugene made the personal acquaintance of the Crown Prince
of Prussia, later King Frederick the Great. Frederick greeted the noble
Knight with the significant words: “I should like to be allowed to
witness the manner in which a hero collects his laurels.”

Eugene felt a real attachment for the Crown Prince. He regretted that he
had not had the good fortune to become acquainted with him earlier, and
said to him, “My Prince, everything about you convinces me that you will
one day become a great military leader.” Once when Frederick had
cordially saluted the Duke of Württemberg, who was an old friend, Eugene
turned to him with the words, “Will your Majesty not kiss my old cheek
also?” a request with which Frederick immediately complied: a touching
token of the hearty esteem in which the aspiring young hero held the old
retiring one.

In the late Autumn of 1735 peace was made. The Emperor Charles the Sixth
suffered the loss of some territory in Italy, but had the great
satisfaction of seeing France recognize the Pragmatic Sanction (the
right of accession of the female line of the house of Hapsburg). Peace!
For the present only a short earthly peace; but the noble Knight was not
far from the eternal rest. But we must touch upon other things before
bringing this sketch to a close.

We have intentionally described Eugene in the character of a soldier and
hero first, and have thus passed over many events of his life. Let us
now return several years into the past; it will show us how even the
best and greatest of men are subject to enmity and slander. The reader
may remember Marshal Villars’s remark at Rastadt: “Eugene’s enemies are
not in the French camp, but in Vienna.” Probably Eugene did not let
these words trouble him much at the time, for who is without enemies?
The man is still to be born who is able to please everybody. But
Villars’s remark had a significance which Eugene was to understand
better some years later.

In the last two campaigns against the Turks, Eugene had conferred the
greatest glory on the Austrian arms. He was the most admired hero in the
imperial army, and possessed the undisputed love and esteem of his
Emperor and of the whole German people. Although all this gratified the
noble-minded Prince, it did not make him proud or arrogant, as fools in
such a situation are apt to be. On the contrary, he pursued the even
tenor of his way, flattering no one, though flattery is quite customary
and expected at court. War and a long life spent in the camp had lent
his manner a certain bluntness. He never tried to conceal his meaning,
and he spoke as he felt. This did not please many of the courtiers; they
took it for granted that it bespoke a high opinion of his own merits.
The wings of this proud eagle, they thought, who in eagle fashion
aspired to mount to the sun, must be clipped.

As president of the Royal Council of War—the highest dignity in the
state next to the Emperor—Prince Eugene had a great, if not the greatest
influence in all business of state. Whatever he had once decided was
right and good he would carry out, whether he was looked askance at for
it or not. He urged the regulation of the finances, which, as we know,
were in bad condition at that time in Austria. He demanded great economy
in all affairs, and abolished a great many abuses. Among other things he
procured a decree that no one should be allowed to buy his rank as an
officer in the army, but that only those should be chosen who were
really capable and worthy of the position. Next, he turned his attention
to the corrupt practice of favoritism shown to distinguished relatives,
which at that time was much in vogue in Vienna. He provided better care
for the soldiers, but demanded also stricter discipline and
subordination in the army. Of course this was a slap in the face for
many. It was especially uncomfortable for the higher classes, where the
greatest abuses had become habitual.

Now, the best cure was a radical one—to remove the noble Prince Eugene.
But how? It was not very easy to overthrow such a man as this. The
Spanish party at court understood the matter, however, and applied the
lever at the right point; in other words, they began with the Emperor
Charles the Sixth, who guarded his prerogatives anxiously and jealously.
He could not endure that any one should presume to exercise any control
over him even from a distance. So the Spaniards and Frenchmen whispered
in his ear that Eugene was seeking to become a second Wallenstein; that
the army was on his side; that it was most dangerous to give him freedom
to carry out his ambitious plans.

Furthermore, Eugene was accused of expressing himself very openly on
political questions in favor of Hungary, at the house of Countess
Batthiany, a Hungarian. Others declared that he was jealous of the fame
of his subordinates. They said that in order to test Guido Starhemberg’s
intrepidity he had caused bombs to be placed under the table before a
banquet and had them exploded at the moment when Starhemberg was just
about to propose the Emperor’s health; and that Starhemberg was not at
all disconcerted, but had coolly emptied his glass. Not content with
this, they accused Eugene of having needlessly sacrificed a great many
soldiers in the last war, and of having favored the cavalry at the
expense of the infantry. In short, they found abundant matter for
malicious attacks on him for his desperate situation at Belgrade where
he had allowed himself to be surrounded by superior numbers. Of course
they prudently failed to recall his brilliant victory.

All this had its effect; these malicious slanders succeeded in
undermining the Emperor’s confidence, which had appeared to be so
absolute, and in a short time produced such a complete revolution in his
sentiments for the Prince that he suddenly regarded his deeds and
aspirations with changed eyes. Indeed, distrust and entire estrangement
took the place of his former grateful regard. The men who encouraged
this wicked calumny because they wished to ruin Eugene at all costs and
drive him from the court were miserable tools of the Spanish court
party, particularly of a certain Tedeschi, a spendthrift abbot, who
played the clown and fun-maker at court, as well as the Count von
Nimptsch, brother-in-law of the Emperor’s favorite, Althan. Herr Althan
himself and the Marquis von Thomas, the ambassador of Duke Victor
Amadeus of Savoy, were also secretly concerned in this disgraceful
affair. But the truth of the old maxim proved itself in this instance:
“It is a long road which has no turning.”

This treachery came to light through another’s treachery. The valet of
Count von Nimptsch, an enthusiastic admirer of the high-minded Prince
Eugene, discovered the tricks of his master, possessed himself of
written proofs of his treachery, took them to headquarters, and laid
them before Prince Eugene.

What a surprise all this vileness was to the Prince! At first he could
not and would not believe it. He could not imagine that the party had
sunk so low. But there it was, black on white, it was a fact. His
enemies had basely slandered him in order to accomplish his ruin.

Eugene did not hesitate a moment, but went straight to the Emperor, not
in order to justify himself—for with his high character he did not feel
it necessary—but to demand just punishment of the miserable slanderers.
“Your Majesty,” he said, “a pernicious plot has been concocted against
me. Miserable slanderers have conspired against my honor and robbed me
of the precious favor of my beloved Emperor. I demand satisfaction!”
Eugene then revealed what had been done behind his back and named the
dishonorable traitors openly. He could speak in plain terms, for a good
conscience was his best weapon.

The Emperor was seized with the most painful embarrassment; he was
silent with surprise—and shame.

But this did not satisfy Eugene. “I demand full satisfaction,” said he
firmly. “If this should be refused me, I shall be obliged to lay all my
offices and honors at Your Majesty’s feet. But I shall call upon all
Europe to sit in judgment on the terrible injury which has been done me
in case such an insult shall remain unpunished.”

The Emperor tried to soothe the aggrieved hero, embraced him, and
expressed the hope that they might still remain the same good old
friends.

But this did not satisfy Eugene. He repeatedly demanded full
satisfaction. He affirmed that the affair had gone too far for him to be
put off with mere words, and that otherwise he must demand his
dismissal.

The Emperor could not refuse. He gave Eugene his hand and ordered, in
the first place, the arrest of Nimptsch and Tedeschi. A short time
afterwards a special commission was assembled to conduct the
investigation of the affair. It went forward very slowly, for the
commissioners were loath to compromise people in high stations. During
this time Eugene did not engage in any business of state, so that all
public affairs came to a standstill. At last the head of the
investigation commission, Count von Windischgrätz, made an end of the
dilatory proceedings. He boldly informed the Emperor that it would be a
perpetual disgrace to his Government if Prince Eugene, to whom the
Austrian house owed eternal gratitude, should become the victim of a
vile intrigue. He begged the Emperor to bring the guilty ones to justice
and to carry out the sentence of the court without fear or favor. That
was effective. The affair began to move rapidly. On the morning of the
twelfth of December, 1719, the sentence of Tedeschi was read in front of
the Corn Exchange, the Court House of that day, and was immediately
executed. He was obliged to endure two hours in the pillory and received
thirty heavy blows of the rod by the executioner. After this procedure
he was driven in a cart outside the Kärnthner gate to the Tyrol road,
where he was made to take an oath never to return to Austria. Count
Nimptsch was taken in a closed carriage to Grätz, where he had to suffer
two years’ imprisonment, after which he was forever banished from
Vienna. Althan escaped with a black eye, so to speak, and the Savoyan
ambassador, Marquis von Thomas, might consider himself lucky in escaping
the excited populace of Vienna unharmed.

This was the atonement which the Emperor Charles the Sixth made to
Prince Eugene. After these events they became as good friends as they
had formerly been, and the Emperor took every opportunity of showing by
word and deed the warmest devotion to the Prince, as hundreds of
personal letters from the Emperor to his faithful paladin testify.
Eugene’s health was of special concern to the Emperor, to show which a
single document will suffice. A letter from the Emperor, dated November
27, 1729, ended with the very cordial words: “I implore you, my Prince,
to take care of your health. Remember that we are growing older and not
younger. Be careful of yourself, therefore, out of consideration for me,
for I love you and embrace you heartily.”

There remains nothing more to tell except of our hero’s peculiarities of
temperament, his manner of life, his character, and his death.

First of all we must defend Prince Eugene from the suspicion that he
loved war. He regarded it as a necessary evil, but when it was no longer
to be avoided he did not fear it. He did not hate the French and fight
against them because the King had caused him and his family much sorrow
and disgrace in his earliest youth, but because he considered them
Germany’s most bitter enemies, as they were continually seeking at all
costs to injure her. He fought the Turks as the enemies of Christendom.
He had so often seen the horrors of war which these barbarians had
inflicted on the country and its people that it was no wonder he gladly
battled with them and did everything in his power to deliver the
civilized world from them.

Prince Eugene was a religious man, but did not parade his piety, as so
many do. His modesty and humility, his untiring care for his soldiers,
his beneficence and charity, were the outpouring of his religious
nature. Eugene never let fall a word in praise of himself, and was
always just to his subordinates and all his officers. It was also a
trait of his noble character that he never censured deserving men. If,
however, his duty made this necessary, he did it privately or in the
presence of the Emperor, to whom he was accountable. He was a real
father to his soldiers. He cared for them in every possible way,
visiting the sick and wounded, and comforting the dying. It was no
wonder that they were devoted to him.

He exercised an almost magical influence over them, which we must the
more admire, because Prince Eugene was lacking in all the externals
which usually make the deepest impression on people of the lower classes
and on great masses. For, as we already know, he was small and
insignificant-looking; besides, he did not understand the German
language any too well, and was lacking in the eloquence which inflames
the soldier to deeds of valor and inspires him to hasten recklessly into
danger. But his affability and impartiality, his personal courage and
the abandon with which he would place himself at the head of a storming
column, sharing discomfort, want, misery, heat, and cold with his
soldiers, compensated for the lack of external beauty. Under his
leadership the troops felt themselves to be invincible. To use an old
phrase: under him they would have undertaken to drive the devil out of
hell.

At the same time Eugene had extremely clear judgment, not only amid the
wild confusion of battle, where, as we have read, this quality very
often inclined the victory to his side by means of prompt and energetic
action, but also in his many other offices and affairs of state. He was
always wise in the choice of his co-workers, gave them his full
confidence, and scarcely ever was disappointed or deceived by one of
them. As we have said, Eugene did not understand the German language
well, and could scarcely write it at all. He always signed German
reports or ordinances: “Eugenio von Savoy.” This has been explained as
follows: Eugene wished to indicate his extraction by the Italian word
“Eugenio,” his adopted fatherland by the German “von,” and his birthland
by the French “Savoy.” However that may be, it is certain that Eugene
devoted himself heart and soul to Germany and to the imperial house to
the end of his days. He never forgot that, as an unknown and virtually
banished youth, he had found a friendly and hospitable reception on
German soil. Eugene’s life was a perpetual expression of gratitude for
this; and to Austria in particular he rendered imperishable services.

It is historic fact that not only the Emperor Charles the Sixth, but
other competent judges, have acknowledged these services. King Frederick
the Second of Prussia believed that the reign of Charles the Sixth
closed much less brilliantly than it had begun, because of the death of
Prince Eugene. Some years later, when that Prussian ruler declared war
against Austria, and Silesia soon fell into his hands, the imperial
chancellor, von Sinzendorff, who had so often opposed Eugene’s counsels,
is said to have declared, in his anxiety, “If Eugene were only alive we
should know what to do!” Of course, no one can tell whether Eugene would
have had better success if he had been opposed to Frederick, but it is
certain that Austria could not produce a second Eugene from among her
many warriors and statesmen. He remained “the only,” “the great Eugene.”

The last campaigns against the French (1734-1735) had shattered his
already much impaired health. He was troubled with a bad cough, so that
for days together he was not able to speak a word. Then a short period
of relief would come, so that he could attend to public and private
business or spend an hour with some old friend. One of his favorite
recreations was to visit the venerable and gifted Hungarian Countess
Batthiany of an evening for a game of piquet. His closed carriage passed
slowly through the streets, and the horses are said to have known the
house and to have stopped there of their own accord. But very likely no
one would get out, for the master, the coachman, and the servant were
all napping. Each one had then to be aroused separately, which no doubt
caused a great deal of merriment each time. He had become very old and
tired. The hardships of war had greatly weakened him, and the eighteen
wounds which he had received in fourteen great battles and countless
skirmishes also counted against him. He had passed the limit which the
sacred book sets to human life.

On the twentieth of April, 1736, he had had his game of cards as usual
in the society of the Countess Batthiany, but had been exceptionally
quiet. On his arrival at home he complained that breathing was
difficult, but refused to see a doctor and went to bed! About midnight,
when his faithful old servant went in once more to look after his
beloved master, he found him sleeping quietly, and softly withdrew. The
next morning the servant noticed that his master was sleeping unusually
late, also that he had not heard him cough. So he opened the door and
approached the Prince’s bed. He was dead; a congestion of the lungs had
quietly ended his active and useful life.

When the news of the Prince’s demise became known in Vienna, it produced
general dismay and deep mourning. No one was more deeply grieved than
the Emperor. He gave orders for a funeral such as no Austrian subject
had ever had before, to honor the hero. “It shall serve to show,” said
the Emperor, “that the services of the departed shall never be forgotten
by me.”

Almost the whole population of Vienna flocked to see the Prince as he
lay in state. Fourteen Field-Marshals were the pall-bearers, and the
grateful Emperor himself attended the funeral services in the Cathedral
of Saint Stephen. The eloquent Father Peickart preached the sermon on
the text: “And departing, he has left us an example in his death which
should be an inspiration to virtue, for the young as well as the old.”



                               Footnotes


[1]Formerly one of the titles of the King of France.

[2]Since the powerful emperor of united Germany keeps guard upon the
   Rhine, France may no longer forbid any of our countrymen her
   dominions.

[3]Budapest is the official name of Buda and Pest, or Pesth. It is the
   capital of Hungary. Buda is on the west bank of the Danube and Pest
   on the east. The German name of Buda is Ofen.

[4] “The regiments were so destitute of accoutrements that the officers
   were ashamed of commanding them. If a troop was sent three or four
   miles away, at least half of the men were left fainting by the
   roadside. The starved men looked more like shadows than human
   beings.”—Thus wrote Eugene to the Emperor.



                                Appendix


The following is a chronological statement of the principal events in
the life of Prince Eugene:

  1663    Born at Paris.
  1683    Enters Austrian Service against the Turks.
  1688    Major-General at Siege of Belgrade.
  1691    Campaign in Italy.
  1697    Defeats the Turks at Zenta.
  1699    Treaty of Peace with the Turks.
  1701    Campaign in Italy.
  1704    Victory at Blenheim.
  1706    Defeat of the French.
  1707    Received Government of Milanese.
  1708    In Command in Flanders.
  1709    Battle of Malplaquet.
  1712    Invasion of France.
  1714    Treaty of Peace with France.
  1716    Defeat of the Turks.
  1717    Battle of Belgrade.
  1718    Appointed Vicar-General of Italy.
  1728    Campaign in France.
  1735    Peace with France.
  1736    Death of Eugene.



                     LIFE STORIES FOR YOUNG PEOPLE

                    _Translated from the German by_
                            GEORGE P. UPTON

                          28 Volumes Now Ready

                     _Historical and Biographical_

  Barbarossa
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  The Duke of Brittany
  Louise, Queen of Prussia
  The Youth of the Great Elector
  Emperor William First
  Elizabeth, Empress of Austria
  Charlemagne
  Prince Eugene
  Eugénie, Empress of the French
  Queen Maria Sophia of Naples

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                          Transcriber’s Notes


--Copyright notice provided as in the original—this e-text is public
  domain in the country of publication.

--In the text versions, delimited italics text in _underscores_ (the
  HTML version reproduces the font form of the printed book.)

--Silently corrected palpable typos; left non-standard spellings and
  dialect unchanged.





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