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certain degree of concentration would have first to be effected. The best plan, as the Prussian official account says, would have been to throw his whole force upon the Crown Prince; that is, to trust to his 1st corps and the Saxons to cover his communications until he had dealt with the nearest of his opponents. To effect this, he would have had three days; from the 27th, on which date the second army debouched from the passes, until the 29th, the date on which Prince Frederick Charles reached Gitschin. Had he made up his mind on the 25th the defiles might each have been blocked by a corps d'armée on the night of the 26th, the 10th corps moving from Jaromir to Trautenau, the 4th from Opocno to Politz, and the 6th from Solnitz to Nachod. On the night of the 27th, the 3rd corps could have reinforced the 10th, the 8th the 4th, and the 2nd the 6th. On the 28th six Austrian corps might have been opposed to three Prussian. On the 29th, provided the Crown Prince had been decisively defeated, the army might have countermarched to the Elbe, leaving detachments to hold the passes, and Prince Frederick Charles would have found himself heavily outnumbered. But it is necessary to assume that the Crown Prince would have awaited attack, and it is evident that, finding the roads blocked by superior forces, he might have so manoeuvred as to occupy a force equal to his own whilst Prince Frederick Charles was coming up. The official account states that 'the Crown Prince hoped, with good ground, even if unfor'tunate, to hold fast an important part of the enemy's forces, and to keep them away from the First Army, the 'arrival of which must quickly accomplish union.'

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The ground was by no means unfavourable. The mountains are no formidable heights. The mouths of the passes, especially that of Braunau, are ill defined, and large forces would be required to block them. Nor is the Austrian Staff History correct in stating that no lateral communications exist within the hills. From Nachod, which lies well within the defile of that name, a metalled road to Braunau existed before 1850, and country roads were numerous. Had he been defeated in his attempt to debouch on the 27th, the Crown Prince might have concentrated on his centre, and it would have been impossible for Benedek, when he turned upon Prince Frederick Charles, to leave an army of, say, 100,000 men directly in his rear without strongly securing the defiles. Such a detachment would have largely reduced the numbers available for operations on the Elbe.

It is important to notice, moreover, that the loss of a day would have made a most essential difference. Had he made up his mind on the 25th, some such manœuvre as we have indicated might have been possible. But on the 26th it was too late to secure the defiles. The Prussian Guards were nearer the mouth of the Braunau pass than any one of the Austrian corps, and that important débouché could not possibly have been blocked on the 27th. What actually happened on this eventful day was this: the 10th Austrian corps drove the 1st Prussian corps back through the Trautenau defile; the Guard found no opposition, and the 6th Austrian corps was heavily defeated west of Nachod. Sixty thousand Prussians were through the defiles, and what was worse, no Austrian corps could have been brought up in time to support the 10th the next day. The Guard threatened to cut it off from the remainder of the army, and it must in any case have fallen back from Trautenau. The whole of the débouchés were in possession of the Crown Prince on the 28th. On the 29th it would have been possible for Benedek to meet the Prussians with five corps, that is, 140,000 men against 110,000. But concentration would have been difficult, and the Crown Prince might still have manœuvred so as to avoid a decisive action. After that date it was too late, unless he had chosen to abandon his communications, for during the evening Prince Frederick Charles reached Gitschin. So far then from Von Moltke's strategy being too dangerous, or Benedek's opportunity a grand one, we believe that the verdict should be reversed; and we are most decidedly of opinion that the judgement of the Prussian official account is far more accurate than the judgement of the critics:

'To reap the advantages of an inner line of operations it is necessary that one enemy should be attacked while several marches distant from the other. If this distance is seriously diminished, the danger. arises that it may be necessary to deal with both at once. An army attacked in front and flank stands on an inner line of operations, but the strategical advantage is eliminated by the tactical disadvantage. If the Prussians were allowed to advance to the Elbe and the Iser, and if a few of the defiles fell into their hands, it was very doubtful if it were possible to push in between the two armies. The danger arose that while one was attacked the other would at the same time attack the assailant in rear. On the 20th of June the Prussian armies were at Dresden, Gorlitz, and Neisse; to Gitschin they had not a greater distance to traverse than the Austrians from the Moravian frontier. The time within which General Benedek could hope to operate against separated armies was very small.' (Ib. p. 65.)

Von Moltke, then, although his plan was daring, committed but little to fortune, and there were many considerations which rendered it much less in reality than in appearance. On June 22, the date his order was issued, he knew that Benedek had but three roads at his disposal; that his columns were so deep as to make concentration a tedious process; that his army was unwieldy; that his infantry was armed with an inferior rifle, and that its 'shock' tactics were ill adapted to meet the breechloader. He had good reason, moreover, to apprehend that the march of the Crown Prince behind the mountains would hardly become known until his army was already issuing from the defiles; and he might have anticipated with perfect propriety that a forward concentration, to be effected by a flank march across the heads of the Austrian columns, was a measure so bold as to have all the character of a strategic surprise.

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How exactly his expectations were fulfilled the Austrian official account makes manifest. The difficulties as regards supply were considerable. The movements of the different corps were not carried out as ordered, although the troops, making fourteen or fifteen miles a day in a hilly country and on muddy roads, proved their endurance. The needle gun asserted its superiority from the very outset; and lastly, the direction of Prince Frederick Charles' advance, menacing the line of railway, and also the secondary line of supply from Prague to Pardubitz, had its full effect. Shortly before the 'battle of Gitschin (June 29) Benedek had become convinced that the progress of the Second Prussian Army rendered 'offensive operations against the First Army impossible.'* It is apparent, therefore, that only three days, the 27th, 28th, and 29th, were available for operations against the Crown Prince. The march of the Crown Prince did not indeed remain concealed. It is incontestable that Benedek had accurate knowledge of the strength and movements of the hostile corps.'

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But it is equally certain that until his advanced guards had been defeated he did not believe that the Crown Prince was actually invading Bohemia by the Sudetic defiles. Had he realised that 110,000 Prussians were pouring through the mountains he would certainly have sent more than 60,000 men to bar their road, and just as certainly have endeavoured to block the defile of Braunau as well as those of Trautenau and Nachod. But he never seems to have suspected Von

*Les Luttes de l'Autriche, vol. ii. pp. 279–80.

Moltke's design until it was too late. Possibly, like Von Moltke's critics, he considered it over daring. In any case, he was strategically surprised, and the presumption is a fair one that when information came in from his outposts that the enemy was entering the passes he saw in this movement merely a demonstration, a ruse to attract his attention and to cover a march westward, behind the screen of the Giant Mountains, to join Prince Frederick Charles upon the Iser. It is easy to say that the converging march on Gitschin was 'the logical conclusion of a situation imposed by circumstances.' The same might be asserted of Napoleon's movement against the centre of the allied line in 1815. After the event it is easy to decide that this was the course he might naturally have been expected to adopt. But the logic was not apparent to either Wellington or Blücher, nor was the strategic situation in Bohemia so clear to Benedek and his staff, experienced soldiers as they were, as it has since become to Von Moltke's critics. There is no need to bring forward far-fetched apologies for his apparent rashness. It is impossible to eliminate altogether the element of danger from every strategical conception; but the chances in favour of the Prussians were numerous, the risks few, and the line of operations which was adopted promised far more decisive success than any other.

On June 30, the date of their retreat on Königgrätz, the Austrians had lost over 30,000 men and 1,000 officers, and a quantity of material. The whole of the troops, without "exception, were exhausted, and in consequence of successive 'defeats subis coup sur coup in so short a space of time, their 'moral was seriously affected.' Fortune had declared for Prussia. The Hanoverian army had capitulated. Hesse had been occupied. All danger of invasion in the west had passed away, and in the east the result of a decisive action could scarcely be doubtful.

As soon as the armies had come into communication, the King of Prussia, accompanied by Bismarck and Von Moltke, left Berlin, and arrived at Gitschin on July 1. On the night of the 2nd, Prince Frederick Charles had attained the line Horitz-Hoch Weseley, with his outposts only four and a half miles distant from those of the Austrians, who had concentrated on a strong position lying between the Elbe and the Bistritz brook. The Crown Prince held the Upper Elbe, and, acting under instructions from the Chief of the Staff, had made no effort to join his colleague.

It would have been no difficult matter to effect a tactical

concentration; but Von Moltke had deliberately decided that such a measure was inexpedient.

'The armies were only a short day's march apart, and neither ran any risk, for if one were attacked, the other would fall on the enemy's flank. It was considered preferable to remain divided, as this caused no strategic change, and might produce considerable tactical advantage.' *

Nor was this the only advantage that accrued from such a disposition. On the night of June 30 the hostile armies had lost touch of one another, and it was conjectured at the Prussian headquarters that the enemy was in position behind the Elbe, with the fortresses of Josephstadt and Königgrätz on either flank. If this supposition had proved correct, it would have been necessary either to attack the Austrians in this position or to manoeuvre them out of it. The former required an advance of the Second Army against the enemy's right flank,† that is, by the left bank of the Elbe. Controlling the passages across the river, from Arnau to Königinhof, the Crown Prince could manoeuvre on either bank, and his position was tactically secure. The interval of twelve miles that divided his army from that of Prince Frederick Charles was a matter of little consequence. It has proved a trap for the critics, who have indulged in vague surmise as to the manner in which Benedek might have turned it to account. It has been suggested that with the main portion of his army he might have fallen on Prince Frederick Charles, whilst he held the Crown Prince in check with a defensive wing. The Prussian armies, however, were not divided by some impassable obstacle as were the Austrians at Rivoli; nor by a wide river, with a formidable and entrenched position on its bank, as the Federals at Chancellorsville; and they were superior in numbers, armament, and moral. In any case, the ground must afford considerable advantages before a superior enemy separated by a short day's march can be dealt with as above; and Von Moltke's dictum, already quoted, is as sound as any of Napoleon's maxims. It is scarcely necessary to accuse Benedek of lacking inspiration and resource because he knew enough of war to avoid so desperate a situation.

We have not thought it necessary to continue our review of these operations beyond July 2. From the moment the report came in that the Austrians were in position behind the

The Campaign of 1866 in Germany, p. 158.
+ Les Luttes de l'Autriche, vol. iii. p. 163.

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