Слике страница


ensued in the streets; which ended, after it had continued eighteen hours, in the expulsion of the few Russians who remained unslaughtered. *

The war at this period was rendered more interesting by the arrival of the Prussian monarch with an army in Poland. He had deserted the confederacy against France, in which he had engaged with so much zeal and had invited other states to unite with him; preferring the advantage arising from the plunder of this unhappy kingdom to the honour of a strict observance of public faith.—The Poles, being destitute of allies, had accepted pecuniary aid from the revolutionary chiefs in France : and this, enabling Frederic William to throw on them the reproach of democratic principles, furnished him with a pretext for war with them; for a confederacy with that tyrannizing power against which he had promised them his protection, for the purpose of despoiling them of their remaining dominions.

Kosciusko, mean-while, was arrived at Warsaw: and, by one of those extraordinary revolutions which distinguish this period of history, that chieftain was effectually invested with the supreme authority, acting through the medium of a national council established under his auspices; whilst the benevolent Stanislaus remained a pageant in the hands of the patriots, and gave his sanction to acts of state in the passing of which he had no influence.

As a sort of homage to public opinion, each contending party vindicated its motives of action: the confederate powers endeavoured to impress the world with a persuasion that the Poles professed the same pestilential principles, and had the same subversive views with the French revolutionary leaders, and that all established governments were interested in opposing them; the Polish patriots, on the contrary, vindicated themselves bv

solemnly • We cannot use a more effectual mcans to relieve the humane and generous from the pangs which these horrid actions will excite in their breasts than by contrasting with them the behaviour of Kosciusko; who, amidst the curbulent scenes of civil war, when the passions of men are apt to hurry them away from the dictates of reason, steadily adhered to the rules of justice.--Segur, after speaking of a defeat sustained by the Poles at the opening of the campaign, says, the news of this defeat transported the people of Warsaw with fury; some agitators exciting the populace, who every where assembled; they erected on the twenty-eighth of june gibbets in the streets, forced open the prisons, and massacred some of the prisoners accused of conniving with the enemies of the state. The constituted authorities put an immediate stop to these excesses; but Kosciusko, not imitating the culpable weakness of the French government towards the septemberizers, expressed in an energetic proclamation the indignation with which he was inspired by these atrocities, imprisoned the authors of the plot, and nude them expiate their crime on the scaffold. Segur. 3. 16%, YO... 111.



solemnly declaring that they had no object in view but the recovery of their dismembered provinces, and the establishment of the constitution of 1791, by which monarchy, far from being destroyed in this country, would be placed on a firm foundation.

After some trivial successes, Frederic William advanced, with an army of 40,000 men towards Warsaw; and encountering Kosciusko, who marched against him with only 12,000 men, ill-provided with arms, he defeated him, after a severe engagement, and obliged him to retire within an intrenched camp which covered Warsaw.

The Prussians, having, by this victory, checked the ardour of the new-raised patriot army, gained possession of Cracow :| and, returning to Warsaw, they united with the Russians in investing that city,

Every artifice was now practised to seduce the Poles from the glorious cause in which they were engaged. Frederic William offered the citizens his protection, if they would merit it by submission: but they declared that they would share the fate of the army. He held out the lure of rank in his army to the Polish officers: but they rejected his offers with disdain; declaring that they would live or die with Kosciusko.

The Polish camp intervening between Warsaw and the Prussian army, as the only mean to take the city, a furious assault was made on their intrenchments, whilst a heavy bombardment was carried on.f The assailants were repulsed with prodigious slaughter; and the prince royal of Prussia was in imminent danger. Yet the Prussians came again to the attack, and gained several of the Polish redoubts, when an alarming insurrection in south Prussia made a diversion in favour of the patriots, and answered every purpose that their warmest friends could desire. Frederic William, who wanted firmness and perseverance in warlike enterprises, fearing that this might be fatal to his interests in his newly acquired and much valued dominion, instantly raised the siege and marched to the relief of his forces in that quarter. In fact he had reason to entertain such apprehensions: for Madelinski had already captured Bomberg; and threatened, by his activity, to regain all the dismembered territories of the republic, This event, assisted by the popularity which the patriots derived from the

emancipation : June 15.

+ August 2, i Hist. of Poland. 479, 80.

| Idem. 485






emancipation of those peasants who had been in a state of villanage, would probably have proved decisive in their favour, had not the war been supported by a more vigorous enemy than the Prussian monarch.

We may form an idea of the critical circumstances of the patriots, and their prospect of sụccess, by observing the comparative force of the contending parties.- In the south, general Zayontchik, with 8000 men, watc the movements of the Austrians, who were daily expected to take part with the Russians.—Syrakowsky, with only 8000 men, was opposed to Suworow, who was advancing with a strong army towards the centre of the kingdom.

—And Jasinsky had only 6000 men to guard Lithuania against an army under Fersen, which Suworow had detached to gain possession of that duchy -Kosciusko, fearing that Jasinsky would be overpowered by Fersen, and knowing that inevitable destruction awaited him should that general be joined by Suworow, left Dombrowski with 4000 men to defend Great Poland against the Prussians, and marched, with 18,000 men, into Lithuania.

These movements brought the war to an issue.-_When Kosciusko was marching against Fersen, before he should have formed a junction with Suworow, that general anticipated his design, and advanced to give him battle. I But enthusiastic valour was here robbed of its reward by treachery. General Poninsky, who was posted with a body of troops to guard the passage of the Vistula, suffered the enemy to pass, and disobeyed his general's orders to rejoin the army. Kosciusko's troops, however, fought with signal. bravery, and repulsed the Russians in two attacks.The advantage was evidently on the side of the Poles. But, to render their victory complete, they abandoned their strong position, which alone could enable them to support themselves against a far superior force, and attacked the Russians, The battle then was renewed with redoubled fury. At length, the Russians succeeded in throwing their enemy into confusion: general disorder ensued: the desperate valour of the Polish troops was in vain opposed to the superior strength and discipline of the Russians: The route became complete. Kosciusko, who had been in the thickest of the battle, had three horses killed under him, and had been severely wounded with a

lance, | October 10.

s Segur. 3. 157.


lance, was, at last, brought to the ground by the stroke of a sabre.-In
vain did this brave man implore the death which a Cossack was about to
inflict on him, as preferable to captivity, embittered by a knowledge of his
country's disgrace: he was carried prisoner to Petersburg, and committed
to a dungeon from which he was not liberated till the accession of the
emperor Paul."
- Though distressed by these disasters, the Poles adhered to the counsels of
their captive chief, by persevering in the glorious cause for which they had
erected their standard, under the auspices of the national council; which, by
a fresh proclamation, reminded them of their motto, Liberty or death, and
exhorted them to a firm adherence to this alternative. And Stanislaus
himself, with a resoluteness which was not always seen to be blended with
the mild virtues that marked his character, treated with merited disdain an
insolent application from general Fersen, and declared that even their late
defeat and the loss of their valuable general would not shake their resolution
to maintain the cause of liberty to the last extremity.

Notwithstanding the patriots did honour to themselves by this resolute behaviour during their declining fortunes, yet they were continually weakened by defeat, and the contest now hastened to a conclusion.-Suworow, who had obtained a complete victory over a division of the patriot army at Brzesc, in Great Poland, a few days before Kosciusko's defeat, ' being freed from any force which merited his regard on the side of Lithuania, advanced with the grand army to the neighbourhood of Warsaw, and was there joined by the armies which had acted separately under generals Fersen, Durnfeld, and Denisow.

Their forces being assembled, it was determined to attack the suburb of Prague, where the chief army of the patriots was in garrison. This suburb, which is separated from Warsaw by a bridge over the Vistula, was guarded by a double intrenchment; the garrison amounted to above 10,000 men, and their forts and batteries were mounted with above 100 pieces of artillery.—The Russians, formed into seven columns, stormed the Polish intrenchments by night, t sabre in hand; and, climbing the enemy's lines, they made their assaults in the different quarters so unexpectedly, and with

such | September 19.

+ November 4. Segur. 158. History of Poland. 486.

1 Life of Suworow. 2. 234.



such impetuosity, that the garrison were driven from their redoubts behind their inner intrenchments.—The Poles fought with the furiousness which rage inspired, till absolutely borne down by numbers. Attempting a retreat by the bridge, they were there intercepted. The general's orders being, to give no quarter, a carnage ensued, which was not interrupted till 5000 men were slain or drowned in the Vistula, and the remainder of the garrison were taken prisoners.—Let the reader image to himself the mournful consternation which prevailed in the city of Warsaw, when returning day presented to the citizens these dreadful scenes of bloodshed. And then let him, if possible, stretch his imagination still further, and conceive what their feelings must have been when, after an intermission for the sake of pillage, the work of slaughter was resumed: when the suburbs were fired; and their ears were pierced with the dying shrieks of men, women, and children, several thousands of whom fell victims to the serocious barbarity of the Russians, sharpened by the remembrance of the sufferings of their fellow-soldiers at Warsaw in the beginning of the campaign. It is painful to relate actions which reflect disgrace on human nature: but truth demands that they be not repressed: and may the God of mercy grant that the abhorrence excited towards the inhuman perpetrators, and the odium which they brought on the arch-murderer, by whose orders they were sanctioned, and those who were accessory to his guilt, mạy serve as a lesson to future ages, and deter men from the repetition of such detestable crimes.*


* Among these accessories we may reckon those who heaped on him honours and emoluments as the reward of his actions in this campaign. "The unexampled promptitude of this expedition," says the writer of his Memoirs," was appreciated, as it deserved, at Petersburg. The empress 56 wrote herself to Suworow, to announce to him his well-earned advancement to the rank of field. 66 marshal. But he, ever faithful to his religious principles, did not receive his new dignity till " he had demanded the benediction of the church.'.

« On the eve of this ceremony an extraordinary messenger arrived from Berlin, who brought 66 him, as a testimony of the particular esteem of his Prussian majesty, the order of the red " and black eagle.

6 In a short time after, the emperor sent him his portrait enriched with diamonds, which were “ estimated at fifty thousand crowns; and the jewels that ornamented his batoon of field-marshal, " were considered as of equal value.

66 The empress also presented him with an estate of seven thousand peasants of both sexes, in " the district of Kobin, the scene of the first battle he gained in the course of this campaign." Suworow's Campaigns. 2. 360.

Segur, 3. 161. Hist, of Poland. 492.

« ПретходнаНастави »