Readings in Modern European History: A Collection of Extracts from the Sources Chosen With the Purpose of Illustrating Some of the Chief Phases of the Development of Europe During the Last Two Hundred Years, Volume 1: The Eighteenth Century: The French Re

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Author: Frederick II

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SCHILLING, Quellenbuch (as above, No. 29), p. 274. Œuvres de Frédéric le Grand, XXVII, 283. World History

39.

Frederick’s Address to His Generals and Staff Officers December 3, 1757, Before His Victory at Leuthen

You are aware, gentlemen, that Prince Karl of Lorraine has succeeded in taking Schweidnitz, defeating the duke of Bevern and making himself master of Breslau, while I was engaged in checking the advance of the French and imperial forces. A part of Schleswig, my capital, and all the military stores it contained, are lost, and I should feel myself in dire straits indeed if it were not for my unbounded confidence in your courage, your constancy, and your love for the fatherland, which you have proved to me on so many occasions in the past. These services to me and to the fatherland have touched the deepest fibers of my heart. There is hardly one among you who has not distinguished himself by some conspicuous deed of valor, wherefore I flatter myself that in the approaching opportunity also you will not fail in any sacrifice that your country may demand of you.

And this opportunity is close at hand. I should feel that I had accomplished nothing if Austria were left in possession of Schleswig. Let me tell you then that I propose, in defiance of all the rules of the art of war, to attack the army of Prince Karl, three times as large as ours, wherever I find it. It is here no question of the numbers of the enemy nor of the importance of the positions they have occupied; all this I hope to overcome by the devotion of my troops and the careful carrying out of my plans. I must take this step or all will be lost; we must defeat the enemy, else we shall all lie buried under his batteries. So I believe—so I shall act.

Communicate my decision to all the officers of the army; prepare the common soldier for the exertions that are to come, and tell him that I feel justified in expecting unquestioning obedience from him. Remember that you are Prussians and you cannot show yourselves unworthy of that distinction. But if there be one or other among you who fears to share with me any and all danger, he shall at once be given his discharge without reproach from me.

(The solemn silence with which this speech was received and the glow of enthusiasm reflected in the faces of his hearers convinced Frederick that he had produced the effect he desired. With a gentle smile he continued:)

I was convinced that no one of you would wish to leave me; I count then, absolutely, on your faithful help and on certain victory. Should I not return to reward you for your devotion, the fatherland itself must do it. Return now to camp and repeat to your troops what you have heard from me. The regiment of cavalry that does not immediately on the receipt of orders throw itself upon the enemy I will have unmounted immediately after the battle and make it a garrison regiment. The battalion of infantry that even begins to hesitate, no matter what the danger may be, shall lose its flags and its swords and have the gold lace stripped from its uniforms.

And now, gentlemen, farewell; erelong we shall either have defeated the enemy or we shall see each other no more.

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Chicago: Frederick, "Frederick’s Address to His Generals and Staff Officers December 3, 1757, Before His Victory at Leuthen," Readings in Modern European History: A Collection of Extracts from the Sources Chosen With the Purpose of Illustrating Some of the Chief Phases of the Development of Europe During the Last Two Hundred Years, Volume 1: The Eighteenth Century: The French Re in Readings in Modern European History: A Collection of Extracts from the Sources Chosen With the Purpose of Illustrating Some of the Chief Phases of the Development of Europe During the Last Two Hundred Years, Volume 1: The Eighteenth Century: The French Re, ed. James Harvey Robinson (1863-1936) and Charles A. Beard (Boston: Ginn and Company, 1908), 79–81. Original Sources, accessed July 22, 2024, http://originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=RRWPVYYTGP4TCJ7.

MLA: Frederick. "Frederick’s Address to His Generals and Staff Officers December 3, 1757, Before His Victory at Leuthen." Readings in Modern European History: A Collection of Extracts from the Sources Chosen With the Purpose of Illustrating Some of the Chief Phases of the Development of Europe During the Last Two Hundred Years, Volume 1: The Eighteenth Century: The French Re, in Readings in Modern European History: A Collection of Extracts from the Sources Chosen With the Purpose of Illustrating Some of the Chief Phases of the Development of Europe During the Last Two Hundred Years, Volume 1: The Eighteenth Century: The French Re, edited by James Harvey Robinson (1863-1936) and Charles A. Beard, Boston, Ginn and Company, 1908, pp. 79–81. Original Sources. 22 Jul. 2024. http://originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=RRWPVYYTGP4TCJ7.

Harvard: Frederick, 'Frederick’s Address to His Generals and Staff Officers December 3, 1757, Before His Victory at Leuthen' in Readings in Modern European History: A Collection of Extracts from the Sources Chosen With the Purpose of Illustrating Some of the Chief Phases of the Development of Europe During the Last Two Hundred Years, Volume 1: The Eighteenth Century: The French Re. cited in 1908, Readings in Modern European History: A Collection of Extracts from the Sources Chosen With the Purpose of Illustrating Some of the Chief Phases of the Development of Europe During the Last Two Hundred Years, Volume 1: The Eighteenth Century: The French Re, ed. , Ginn and Company, Boston, pp.79–81. Original Sources, retrieved 22 July 2024, from http://originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=RRWPVYYTGP4TCJ7.