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Frederick spent three days with his sister at Baireuth. Wilhelmina was disappointed in his appearance. The brotherly affection she looked for was not found. He was cold, stately, disposed to banter her, and his conversation seemed set on stilts. Leaving Baireuth, the king continued his journey very rapidly toward Strasbourg. When they reached Kehl, on the eastern banks of the Rhine, they were informed that they could not cross the river without passports. One of the gentlemen drew up the necessary document, which the king signed and sealed with his signet-ring. The curiosity of the landlord had been excited, and he watched his guests from a closet. Seeing what was done, he said to Frederstorf, the kings valet, Count Dufour is the King of Prussia, sir; I saw him sign his name. He was bribed to keep the secret.
The stunning news soon reached Frederick that General Fouquet, whom he had left in Silesia with twelve thousand men, had been attacked by a vastly superior force of Austrians. The assault was furious in the extreme. Thirty-one thousand Austrians commenced the assault at two oclock in the morning. By eight oclock the bloody deed was done. Ten thousand of the Prussians strewed the field with their gory corpses. Two thousand only escaped. General Fouquet himself was wounded and taken prisoner. To add to the anguish of the king, this disaster was to be attributed to the king himself. He had angrily ordered General Fouquet to adopt a measure which that general, better acquainted with the position and forces of the foe, saw to be fatal. Heroically he obeyed orders, though he knew that it would prove the destruction of his army.
Oakstead, the estate of Godfrey Bergan, was separated from the lands of the Hall by the small riveror "creek," in local parlancewhich has before been mentioned. The pleasant dwelling of the owner stood not far from a picturesque bend of the stream, commanding a view of its tawny, slumberous current for a considerable distance up and down,a view made up of gentlest curves and softest coloring only, yet with enough of quiet beauty to arrest Bergan's feet, for some moments, on the oak-shadowed lawn.
The battle of Zorndorf was the most bloody of the Seven Years War. It is often considered the most furious battle which was ever fought. While Frederick was engaged in this arduous campaign in the extreme north, driving the Russians from the Prussian territory, an Austrian army, ninety thousand strong, under General Daun, was endeavoring to reconquer Saxony. The Prussian king had left his brother Henry in defense of the province, with a small force garrisoned in the city of Dresden.