Read Chapter XIII. - SMALL-WAR:  FIRST EMERGENCE OF ZIETHEN THE HUSSAR GENERAL INTO NOTICE. of History Of Friedrich II. of Prussia (Vol. XII.) (First Silesian War‚ Awakening a General European One‚ Begins-December‚ 1740-May‚ 1741), free online book, by Thomas Carlyle, on

After Brieg, Friedrich undertook nothing military, except strict vigilance of Neipperg, for a couple of months or more.  Military, especially offensive operations, are not the methods just now.  Rest on your oars; see how this seething Ocean of European Politics, and Peace or War, will settle itself into currents, into set winds; by which of them a man may steer, who happens to have a fixed port in view.  Neipperg, too, is glad to be quiescent; “my Infantry hopelessly inferior,” he writes to head-quarters:  “Could not one hire 10,000 Saxons, think you,”-or do several other chimerical things, for help?  Except with his Pandour people, working what mischief they can, Neipperg does nothing.  But this Hungarian rabble is extensively industrious, scouring the country far and wide; and gives a great deal of trouble both to Friedrich and the peaceable inhabitants.  So that there is plenty of Small War always going on:-not mentionable here, any passage of it, except perhaps one, at a place called Rothschloss; which concerns a remarkable Prussian Hussar Major, their famed Ziethen, and is still remembered by the Prussian public.

We have heard of Captain, now Major Ziethen, how Friedrich Wilhelm sent him to the Rhine Campaign, six years ago, to learn the Hussar Art from the Austrians there.  One Baronay (BARONIAY, or even BARANYAI, as others write him), an excellent hand, taught him the Art;-and how well he has learned, Baronay now sadly experiences.  The affair of Rothschloss (in abridged form) befell as follows:-

“In these Small-War businesses, Baronay, Austrian Major-General of Hussars, had been exceedingly mischievous hitherto.  It was but the other day, a Prussian regular party had to go out upon him, just in time; and to RE-wrench ‘sixty cart-loads of meal,’ wrenched by him from suffering individuals; with which he was making off to Neisse, when the Prussians [from their Camp of Mollwitz, where they still are] came in sight.

“And now again (May 16th) news is, That Baronay, and 1,400 Hussars with him, has another considerable set of meal-carts,-in the Village of Rothschloss, about twenty miles southward, Frankenstein way; and means to march with them Neisse-ward to-morrow.  Two marches or so will bring him home; if Prussian diligence prevent not.  ‘Go instantly,’ orders Friedrich,-appointing Winterfeld to do it:  Winterfeld with 300 dragoons, with Ziethen and Hussars to the amount of 600; which is more than one to two of Austrians.

“Winterfeld and Ziethen march that same day; are in the neighborhood of Rothschloss by nightfall; and take their measures,-block the road to Neisse, and do other necessary things.  And go in upon Baronay next morning, at the due rate, fiery men both of them; sweep poor Baronay away, MINUS the meal; who finds even his road blocked (bridge bursting into cannon-shot upon him, at one point), instead of bridge, a stream, or slow current of quagmire for him,-and is in imminent hazard.  Ziethen’s behavior was superlative (details of it unintelligible off the ground); and Baronay fled totally in wreck;-his own horse shot, and at the moment no other to be had; swam the quagmire, or swashed through it, ‘by help of a tree;’ and had a near miss of capture.  Recovering himself on the other side, Baronay, we can fancy, gave a grin of various expression, as he got into saddle again:  ’The arrow so near killing was feathered from one’s own wing, too!’-And indeed, a day or two after, he wrote Ziethen a handsome Letter to that effect.” [Helden-Geschichte, ; Orlich, . The Life of General de Zieten (English Translation, very ill printed, Berlin, 1803), BY FRAU VON BLUMENTHAL (a vaguish eloquent Lady, but with access to information, being a connection of Z.’s), .]

Ziethen, for minor good feats, had been made Lieutenant-Colonel, the very day he marched; his Commission dates May 16th, 1741; and on the morrow he handsels it in this pretty manner.  He is now forty-two; much held down hitherto; being a man of inarticulate turn, hot and abrupt in his ways,-liable always to multifarious obstruction, and unjust contradiction from his fellow-creatures.  But Winterfeld’s report on this occasion was emphatic; and Ziethen shoots rapidly up henceforth; Colonel within the year, General in 1744; and more and more esteemed by Friedrich during their subsequent long life together.

Though perhaps the two most opposite men in Nature, and standing so far apart, they fully recognized one another in their several spheres.  For Ziethen too had good eyesight, though in abstruse sort:-rugged simple son of the moorlands; nourished, body and soul, on orthodox frugal oatmeal (so to speak), with a large sprinkling of fire and iron thrown in!  A man born poor:  son of some poor Squirelet in the Ruppin Country;-“used to walk five miles into Ruppin on Saturday nights,” in early life, “and have his hair done into club, which had to last him till the week following.” [Militair-Lexikon, i.] A big-headed, thick-lipped, decidedly ugly little man.  And yet so beautiful in his ugliness:  wise, resolute, true, with a dash of high uncomplaining sorrow in him;-not the “bleached nigger” at all, as Print-Collectors sometimes call him!  No; but (on those oatmeal terms) the Socrates-Odysseus, the valiant pious Stoic, and much-enduring man.  One of the best Hussar Captains ever built.  By degrees King Friedrich and he grew to be,-with considerable tiffs now and then, and intervals of gloom and eclipse,-what we might call sworn friends.  On which and on general grounds, Ziethen has become, like Friedrich himself, a kind of mythical person with the soldiery and common people; more of a demi-god than any other of Friedrich’s Captains.

Friedrich is always eagerly in quest of men like Ziethen; specially so at this time.  He has meditated much on the bad figure his Cavalry made at Mollwitz; and is already drilling them anew in multiplex ways, during those leisure days he now has,-with evident success on the next trial, this very Summer.  And, as his wont is, will not rest satisfied there.  But strives incessantly, for a series of summers and years to come, till he bring them to perfection; or to the likeness of his own thought, which probably was not far from that.  Till at length it can be said his success became world-famous; and he had such Seidlitzes and Ziethens as were not seen before or since.