Supplementary Appendix: Johanna Frommann’s experiences in Jena, October 1806

Johanna Frommann’s experiences in Jena, October 1806 [*]



— — Goethe was in Jena. Whenever he came to visit us during the evening, we were as calm and easy around him as possible. The entire day and at the table of the prince (Hohenlohe) he had heard nothing but politics — so he was glad to talk about something else — and everyone’s nerves were thereby calmed a bit.

On one evening I will never forget, we began with drawing and funny stories, also talking about Mainz, where he had accompanied the the duke on his campaign, [1] then we passed to other topics — ending with the probable course of Ceres. [2] Wolf was also there, and these two men’s ideas illuminated the company like lightning.

Whenever Goethe came, he always found near him the drawing he had begun and all necessary utensils, for during this period he liked to draw while conversing. These days strengthened everyone for those that were to follow. When a week before the battle he drove by the house, he saw me and Minchen standing at the window; he stopped and sent someone up to say farewell; we felt as if our guardian angel were escaping — yet he did remain with us. Those who lived in his proximity, those who understood him, will never cease being heartened by the salutary impression he made. I will never forget the premonition of imminent fate that came over me on one of these beautiful evenings — followed by firm resolution. To remain in one’s place and to do what was right as far as possible now seemed to us to be the thing to do.

But now the rumors were flying. The French were located twelve miles from us. Prince Louis merely yawned when one saw him. [3] On Tuesday, a week before the battle [7 October 1806], he departed. Prince Hohenlohe hesitated, and an ominous feeling came over us — each day was filled with hope, fear, stories of an enormous massing of enemy troops, which no one could quite believe because no one had any concept of how rapidly they could move.

We hid the real state of affairs from Mine and the children. Why disturb their carefree happiness? Although we did believe something was imminent, we were not expecting what genuinely did happen to us. On Saturday morning [11 October] we received the news about the death of Prince Louis [4] — people were saying that Saalfeld was in flames — 6 miles from here [5] — and now we ourselves could expect the French at any hour.

An enormous wave of anxiety came over the citizens, over the messengers, all one could do was hearten, encourage, console. Weeping old women came with gruesome rumors, putting everyone on alert. Even the children began talking about war — Fritz had already long been playing with his 270 lead soldiers and nothing else, and little Allwina with flowers and dolls. At Saturday midday [11 October] we went to the Paradies and found that the Prussian field bakery was gone, where just a few days before things were fun and chaotic, just as in Wallenstein’s camp; [6] but now everything was dead, the extinguished campfires were all that was left. The crowds of gawking and busy people, the lines of beautiful horses led to drink in the Saale River, the many nests with street urchins who had deftly woven themselves into the willows — they were all gone.

In the meantime, we heard about families that had fled to Jena. Still others now wanted to leave town. Everyone was moved and disturbed as if by an earthquake. After dinner I went with the children to speak with my brother again — a man came rushing down the street and cried out, “Go home, the French are coming!” — So we went back inside. — Soon thereafter the entire headquarters rushed by our windows, then after a half hour they came back, in separate groups and rather unwillingly — it was a false alarm. Toward evening all the Prussians left, and we were alone, essentially like a village, with no better protection.

Sunday [12 October] approached ominously and slowly. One report after the other arrived concerning the approach of the French. We heard shooting, they were already fighting on the beautiful hills at Winzerla, where otherwise there was only music and dance and joy, there in the heavenly valley where everything seems suitable only for fun! — Nothing perturbed the children, and we spoke only alone of what might happen; that afternoon we picked all the vegetables still left in the garden; the shooting was coming quite near now, that evening I read the children a piece by Holberg, and although they heard what I read, I myself hardly did. All the reports about burning, decimated villages nearby pursued me, though the children knew nothing about any of it.

The most important thing now was to remain steadfast. Jena’s good fortune was that refugees and those being pursued continued on between and over the hills a quarter hour to the southwest of Jena, otherwise we would perhaps have been lost! And how near was the shooting now! It lasted throughout the night. The several regiments of Prussians positioned on the chaussée [7] in front of the Löbder Gate [Jena’s south gate] did not depart until toward morning. [8]




No one but the children slept. On Sunday [12 October] the town was dead quiet; everyone was listening, afraid, most stayed quietly in their houses. Jena was already surrounded by Prussians and the French, there could no longer be any thought of getting through. Fear drove some families out of their homes carrying bundles, beds, and other property, many just wandered aimlessly around — a horrible sight — but nothing could help them.

The first French entered the town on Monday morning, 13 October, Marshal Lannes led the first regular troops inside. A half hour earlier, the town had been overrun by a crowd of chasseurs and voltigeurs in white frocks. [9] Several immediately accosted a professor who was trying to get to the marshal with a delegation; they demanded his money and watch and were about to take his hat as well, but let him keep it when he protested we would be needing it just now. At 10:00 all our neighbors had already been looted. Some fled through our garden and into our house, others into town.

One horrible report after another arrived, we heard of nothing but looting and atrocities. [10] The children stayed in my room, we hid as much from them as possible. — Our gate in the courtyard was locked, the windows facing the street in the secondary building facing the street were shuttered, and in every room the roulleaux drawn almost all the way down. [11] We usually stood in my room a bit back from the window, watched the troops pass by on horse and by foot, they looked at what from the outside was a rather uncomely house, and at the high, ugly gate — and continued on their way.

Thus did we stand in anxious expectation for several hours when someone knocked on the door. “Open up,” it was the pitiful voice of our house manager, who had brought us the secretary and four horses of the ordonnanteur en chef of the Lannes corps, Buot, for billeting. [12] The poor house manager had already been looted, and was equally happy and astonished to see that we had not been, since he had large stores and hardwares at our house. Now we at least did have some protection, though not much; the diminutive secretary did have an extremely large saber, and in the case of upright billeting, that did help protect the inhabitants at times. Heaven protected us from more significant accosting.

That afternoon at 4:00 Buot arrived, who did not particularly like being in town, even with his people outside. We view it as an extremely fortunate occurrence that he was the first at our home during this sad period; we will never forget his kind, cordial behavior and his active protection. Gradually the members of his office joined him, and I estimate there were 30 persons who were either part of his entourage or almost always with him there. That afternoon at 3:00 my brother arrived with his wife and child. It had been a terrible time outside! He had been looted three times and now stood before us in slippers, since the troops had taken his last boots right off his feet. [13]


I was on the verge of despair! — And even more so when I saw his entire household, approximately 18 people, standing out in front of our gate, all of whom had left their residences. But now it was necessary to keep oneself going. Our back garden gate had been broken open, and in front the pickets on the garden wall breached, so that whole hordes of peeople easily rushed into our courtyard, wanting to get into the house to loot. Buot had to go down probably twenty times, the saber under his arm, to ward them off.

Our loyal Braun, the university co-rector, had remained in my brother’s house; at 4:30 he rushed over to tell them all to return home because they had just received a general for billeting. Now they, too, were safe from further looting, and a heavy weight removed from our own hearts, since their entire printing business had been utterly unprotected. My brother left his child with us.

Now it was extremely urgent to have provisions of all sorts ready in the house itself. The intruding French had taken eight large loaves of my bread from the baker that morning, otherwise I had everything. My determined cook and her brother risked their own lives fetching 33 loaves of bread from his master’s — a baker’s — house, but returned safely. That morning, while fetching water, they had shot at her, a bayonet had grazed her arm, and they had taken her money. She knew that her small personal belongings in the way of beds and other things that were not yet at our house had already been almost all looted, she wept, lamented — but stayed active and helpful — without her, I would have been unable to keep up with all the work and exertion, since of the five other domestics, only a couple worked along with us, and even then did only what I told them.

From now on, the large washing kettles with meat and vegetables never left the hearth, and in addition everything for a general’s table of 16 place settings and for our own table. At 6:00 we received yet another note saying that two generals, Oudinot and [François Amable] Ruffin, along with 8 officers and 50 horses and their people would be billeted with us. Now our house was completely filled, like an inn. From the 13th [October], Monday evening, on, there were never much fewer than 70 to 80 French living with us, and with all the Germans who had fled to us, altogether 130 people until after dinner on Thursday [16 October], when the generals departed for Naumburg.

There was tremendous confusion and noise in town, most of the residents had left their houses. No baker was baking, no merchant selling, they even spent the night in mortal danger, hidden in other houses or in the fields and gardens amid constant shooting. A constant stream of new soldiers passed by, martial music, shouting and noise alternated; it was no small feat to keep people and animals satisfied at our house. Frommann or I was constantly being summoned, but because we acted the part of host as well as possible, the French acted like guests and also behaved politely.

Oudinot stayed with the emperor in bivouac, and at 2:00 in the morning I was prompted by his adjutant again to send him a roast, tongues, hard-cooked eggs, bread, schnaps, etc., which had pleased him and the others so well that the morning before the battle he had me repeat it. I am still puzzled by where everything came from, since for four days one could get nothing, and we even had to have water fetched from the Saale with an escort, no fountains were working, the heavy processions of artillery had broken all the pipes. A large quantity of full water barrels I had set aside for washing served that night to satisfy both people and horses.

We suspected nothing in the way of personal danger from a retreating army. Amid the unprecedented disorganization and exertion, maintaining a sense of order despite this reversal of all things completely occupied us. The abominable rumor was making the rounds in town that the town itself was to be set afire, and some believed the children were to be murdered — though none of this news reached us. With confidence in their [the French] humanity, I walked about among the bayonets without fear, not a single one of them spoke a malicious word to me, though they were quite pleased that Madame spoke French, conversing with me then in the kitchen to the point that I was at the point of just wanting to run away, so much work did I have to do. Because lack of understanding is the beginning of quarrels and war, such was the case here as well, and now it was certainly of value to me to be able to speak fluent French.

When at midnight [13 October] we had finally taken care of everyone, and Frommann had gone once more to check for fire and light in the courtyards and stalls, where so much straw and hay was piled up, Buot lay down on the sofa in my room, the unsheathed saber on the table in front of him, and said that now I could safely go to bed. We lay down in bed fully clothed, just as we had done the night from Sunday to Monday [12–13 October], and immediately fell asleep; but how dreadful did we awaken at 3:00 a.m. on the 14th [October, a Tuesday]! The dull pealing of bells, shooting, and shouting rolled in and out of one another — a red glow was over the town in the southwest — it seemed to be close to us and behind the houses diagonally across from us. God gave us composure; we dressed the children warmly and spoke as calmly to them as we could manage.

Mine and I each packed a large bundle with the most necessary items for a child, so that we at least could keep them as safe as possible. Mine was quite brave, and it was indescribably comforting for me when we looked at each other and first realized that it was indeed now possible that we should have to run out into the fields with the little ones, and she fell into my arms and cried out, “When danger is greatest, help is often closest!” Frommann had gone out to the courtyard gate, and there came the Seebecks, fleeing the fire, with their eight children, she carrying the smallest, 9 months old, in her fur coat. Seebeck shouts out to Frommann: “This all we could save!” — Frommann, who stayed so strong, was terribly shaken by this sight, but after counting the family he answered (according to a tradition of the Seebeck family itself): “Thank God, none is missing.” But my God, what a sight it was, seeing all those sweet children, huddling close together, trembling, sitting at the table in our parlor. The fire had already reached the houses diagonally across from the Seebecks. [14]


But now everyone ran forth, Buot, his people, all the officers of Oudinot who were here, Seebeck, Hegel (who was also staying with us with the other six residents from his building) to save what they could from Seebeck’s house. For a moment I was almost apprehensive at having to stay there alone with so many children, soldiers, and horses, but the sight of the dear children repeatedly strengthened me. Madam Seebeck, I, and the maidservants packed suitcases that we might quickly take them out into the garden should the fire reach our house. In the meantime, the men along with several other people who had joined them were dragging things without stopping out of Seebeck’s house, the adjutants carrying the frames of children’s beds and often bundles I would have thought too heavy for a human being.

After an hour we were assured there was no danger the first would reach us. An officer with whom Hegel had spoken stood with Marshal Augereau on one of the nearby hills and said, “Just look at the poor town! Do we not want to send it some help?” Now 80 sapeurs were immediately ordered in. [15] At 5:00 the house across from Seebeck’s had almost collapsed, but that probably saved the city, since the first stopped there. Twenty-two houses had already burned down. Despite all the effort of the men, the dispersed and cowering citizens refused to come help extinguish the fire, since nothing could help them in any case — in their opinion, the town should be burned down, and indeed, there were shouts of “Fire!” at several places, but it was always extinguished. The burning street [Johannisgasse] was apparently a dreadful sight at the beginning. [16]


People had freed the brook, which then flowed away in front of the houses. — The encamped soldiers watched the fire indifferently, the citizens dully, and it was not until toward morning that they became more courageous. Toward evening, my husband assigned fire watches, and even used his own people at the beginning, and yet the underlying embers were still so hot that they blazed up again several times.

We gave our children rolls and a bit of coffee, and, thus fortified a bit, they cheered up again, and it was not yet 5:30 before the little group was already playing and had filled my entire room with houses, dolls, and hosts of lead soldiers. I blessed them; the sight of them was an enormous comfort to me.

There was a thick fog, that morning we had broken off the first icicles [14 October]. General conditions in the town had been horrible. Many families were out on the highway, dispersed in gardens where they had walls and such around them, or had hidden in the swamp and in the thickets along the Saale River, often with small children! [17]


The Schelvers told me that on the chaussée leading to Zwätzen, not quite an hour from here, they had to crawl into a ditch seven times with their companions to avoid the soldiers! [18] The disorganization during this night was indescribable! Very few people stayed in their houses — everyone was confused and addled — the soldiers filled the houses from the attics to the cellars, but did not have it much better. There were sometimes 50 in a single small house. After they left, things were broken, remnants of slaughtered animals and blood were everywhere, and everything of use had been carried off. In the inn Zum Bären, which had been turned into a hospital, one room had already been assigned tailors, who altered the broad coats of the Jena ladies, and turned especially the peasant women’s broad blue capes into leggings. [19] — —

In our own house, there were a lot of people, a lot of work, and a lot of unrest. The dreadful shooting both close by and farther off never ceased for even a moment. At 2:30 I was standing at the window with one of Oudinot’s adjutants when part of Augereau’s handsome cavalry returned. He now considered everything to have turned utterly to the advantage of the French, which was indeed the case, and said: “Vous ne pouvez pas souhaiter le succès des Prussiens —vous seriez abimé ce soir.” [20] Back. I will never forget these words, though at the time it did not make the impression it did later in memory, when the danger had passed. Surrounded by a thousand dangers, my soul acquired a hitherto unimagined composure.

Walking around in the midst of all the bayonets, one could think: “All of you, and your Ultimate Leader, are ruled by a yet Higher One!!” But thanks be to the latter that, though our house did indeed experience a great deal of anxiety and work, and for several hours they could have looted it, which would not have cost us what our beneficent giving did, — that despite all this no mischief was perpetrated in our house. (Footnote from Johannes Friedrich Frommann: “Even though during this entire time all our silver spoons were constantly in use, when after calm had been restored and my mother had collected them all together again, only a single teaspoon was missing — and it was found two years later in the dung in the courtyard.”]

The sweet children at play were my refreshment. When I was on the verge of being vexed at having to play Martha with such exertion, [21] and could so rarely even cast a glance at them, I did feel that precisely by so doing I was, as it were, purchasing their peace and quiet. No soldier ever came into the children’s room or into the bedroom, where several suitcases placed before the fire were still standing. The only calm place where Frommann and I could speak together privately was sitting on these suitcases. And there we promised each other ever anew to maintain our courage and composure. Even on the day of the battle, toward evening, I felt exhausted, having covered many a mile in the house that day — but the ever new calls for Madame, never ceasing, kept me going. Toward evening the soldiers streamed into town from the battlefield. The wounded, prisoners, and returning Frenchmen. The emperor spent this night in Jena. [22]

Groups and individuals, the wounded and the healthy now moved into our house — though the former probably were not part of Oudinot’s corps and quickly departed. — Those who asked for something to eat, received whatever was at hand. I will never forget one soldier who came into my kitchen. They had barely managed to bind his lacerated face back together, he had blood all over him and yet was so modest that he only asked for bread and water. He was very grateful for the wine.

Now the fine, sophisticated general Oudinot himself arrived, was extremely polite, and when we told him about the conditions in town with all the urgency to which the distress of our fellow citizens had prompted us, instead of being annoyed by such importunacy as one might expect, he listened calmly and composed, then sent officers out to control the trouble somewhat. Good Buot also helped with his urging.

[Footnote from Johannes Friedrich Frommann: “Here one can add what at the time my mother did not risk entrusting either to her account for her family in Lübeck or to the postal service, namely, that at the grand evening meal for the generals and officers at which my parents also ate, Buot vented his anger to Oudinot concerning the looting, and when Oudinot calmly responded that he had heard enough about the looting, Buot did not cease, pointing out how it was impossible for him to fulfill his duties as a supply official amid such conditions, then concluded “nous sommes tous des brigands et Lui est le plus grand” (“we are, all of us, brigands, and he is the greatest of all).”]

One must say that, to their credit, most of the officers opposed the looting, often at the risk of their own lives, even though many behaved in a fashion that would prompt their own mothers to deny them. In my brother’s house, a young officer, unsolicited, rushed up the stairs and chased the looters all the way downstairs with his sword such that they fled and stumbled out before him. Yet another was wounded in the hand in an acquaintance’s house by the soldiers who assaulted him. After unspeakable exertion, this day finally ended. [23]


Countless people were snoring on beds and on straw in our house — Many still stood watch, one heard only scattered gunfire now — a dull muttering of prisoners who were camped in cramped quarters all around the town could also still be heard. It was 2:00. We lay down in bed in our clothes. — Sometime after 4:00 we were awakened by the fire alarm and bells. The first quarter hour, I was unable to walk upright and thus had to be supported. We left the children in their beds, everyone else immediately got up. Frommann went out, the embers from yesterday’s fire had ignited again; it was soon extinguished, but here and there in the town smaller fires were started by careless soldiers. Frommann had enough to do looking out for fires all around us. With good General Oudinot he drove the Saxons in a neighboring inn, who were occupying every room from the attic to the cellar, into the lower story, the only place they were now allowed to have fires.

We started to run short of bread in the house. Buot had a sack full of commissary bread brought to me, but the children could not tolerate it. One soldier still had two loaves of bread, and when he heard that I had none, he immediately gave me one. Ruffin’s older chamber servant, who was as kind as he was ugly, brought me a small loaf of white bread pour vos petits enfans [24] — I gave it to Madam Seebeck for her smallest children; neither was there any milk to be had. We gave the children a bit of coffee with eggs mixed in.

Afterward they brought me more bread for the generals, from which I managed to save a bit for my children, who, thank God, did not lack for anything. But on Wednesday morning [15 October], when it started to get low and the French did not know whether they could secure me any bread, the notion that my children might go hungry brought me to tears — the first I had shed. My little boy, who had also not yet cried, saw me crying, then went away and struggled with his own sorrow, the only tears he wept, otherwise he played with his soldiers amid the nearby cannon thunder, or with all the little girls, who were quite content. When on the fourth day the fire smoldered up yet again, and the bells rang out yet again, he clung to me and said, “Mother, I am always so cold when it burns!”

Alwina knew even less about what was going on in the world. How magnificent it was to watch how the children lived so serenely in their innocent world! Even the soldiers were refreshed by the sight of them!

At midday on Wednesday Buot left with his entire crowd. We bless him for all the demonstrations of goodwill he showed in our house! May heaven guide him safely back to Lille to his wife and his dear little girls!

Our generals remained until Thursday afternoon [16 October], then departed for Naumburg. The emperor had already departed for Weimar on Wednesday afternoon [15 October]. We did, however, have additional billeting, this time a French war commissar, his manservant, and a dragoon as factionaire. [25] We also had a voltigeur who had been left as sauvegarde, [26] since the looting continued day and night until Friday [17 October], and two sentinels had to stand guard in our courtyards day and night, either to stop or divert any troops that came. —

I forgot to mention that when on the morning of the battle itself [14 October] I climbed up to our attic to get a view of the nearby hills, all of which were covered with soldiers, I found more than twenty persons there ensconced with beds and pipes and beer steins — old persons and children, men and women. They had fled the fire and looting. I was taken aback for a moment, but then forgot to look out at the hills.

A friend was quite gratified to get a bag full of rice I was able to give him, since for three days he and his wife had had practically nothing to eat but apples and wine. At our own house, there was always wine standing on the table; the men, who often had business in town, and Frommann, who kept an eye on everything in our own section of town, often had the need for a drink of wine to avoid exhaustion. We women, too, sometimes had a little Bishop, [27] which proved to be a real blessing for both us and the children and helped us keep from getting ill.

On the fourth day [Friday, 17 October?], I could finally risk going to see a friend for a few moments who lived close by. What joy it was to fall into each others’ arms, knowing that we as well as our children had been saved! One could hardly walk in the streets for all the hay and straw, though the dead and wounded had already been taken away.

And thus did Saturday come [18 October]. The army was now many miles removed from us, and the horrible noise was now followed by a stillness as if of the grave, interrupted only by the arrival of prisoners of war or the wounded. There were no carriages or wagons, and all the horses were gone — only a few were still there for carrying away the dead. People hid in their houses or in those of others, quietly, fearfully, since hardly anyone could be persuaded to return to work, though the men did try to convince them.

And still nothing was certain yet. Just what the vanguard and rear guard of such a grand army really amounts to, only those can say who have genuinely become acquainted with them. God protected us; the little voltigeur and the dragoon soon tired of standing guard and began to take it easy as best they could, but did comport themselves well.

Although the misfortune of Jena, which an acquaintance from the Rhine River referred to as “choleric fever,” was over, what followed was complete exhaustion. We, who admittedly had fared better than the next thousand people, warded it off as best we could, and our own health had not really suffered. Those in the house gradually pulled themselves together, and a couple of nights of calm now set aright what the four nights we had passed in fear and virtually without sleep had thrown into chaos. — —

Over the course of three days in our house, nearly 300 bottles of wine had been drunk, 9 geese and a large number of ducks and chickens along with a large inventory of salted meat devoured along with 40 dozen eggs and everything we had stored, though I was still able to bring up canned vegetables and such for the sick. The French themselves gave me some rice. There was flour in the cellar, and two days before the battle [12 October], we had tried to bake bread downstairs in the oven, and it had indeed turned out to be edible. But if those four days had instead become fourteen of being cast to and fro, or even of skirmishes in the town — what would have become of us!


[*] Source: F. J. Frommann, Das Frommannsche Haus und seine Freunde (Jena 1870); in the rev. 2nd ed. (1872), “Die Schlacht bei Jena,” 77–89; rev. ed. Freundliches Begegnen: Goethe, Minchen Herzlieb und das Frommannsche Haus. Auf Grund von Fr. Frommann “Das Frommannsche Haus u. seine Freunde“, ed. Günther H. Wahnes (Stuttgart and Jena 1927), 28–41.

Johanna Frommann, née Wesselhöft, one of Caroline’s close acquaintances in Jena, composed for her friends and relatives the following account of events in Jena before, during, and after the battles of Jena and Auerstedt. Judging from Caroline’s own references to post-battle conditions in Jena in her letter to Luise Wiedemann on 30 November 1806 (letter 419), this same account seems to have been included in a letter she had received from Johanna Frommann’s brother, Johann Karl Wesselhöft, which as Caroline remarks, provided “a fairly accurate and detailed account of the days during which all this devastation descended so suddenly on this peaceful area.”

For similar accounts from the perspective of the residents, see also Johann Traugott Leberecht Danz, Ansicht der Stadt Jena in den Octobertagen 1806 (Jena 1809), and the account, from which excerpts are included below, by Louise Seidler, Erinnerungen und Leben der Malerin Louise Seidler (geboren zu Jena 1786, gestorben zu Weimar 1866), ed. Hermann Uhde (Berlin 1874; 2nd ed. 1875), 29–36.

Photograph of the Frommann house in 1970, reproduced by permission: Stadtmuseum Jena. The house is still standing today on the Fürstengraben just across from the former northern town walls. Map: Plan der Residenz- und Universitätsstadt Jena (1884); Thüringen, Städtische Museen Jena: Stadtmuseum und Kunstsammlung DE-Mb112/lido/obj/12070842; Städtische Museen Jena; ISIL:DE-MUS-873714. Caroline’s previous Jena residences were at Leutragasse 5 (here: center) and in the Asverus house next door to the inn Zum [schwarzen] Bären (here top right). Back.

[1] Goethe had visited Georg Forster in Mainz during that campaign and had also met Caroline there. See Wilhelm Schlegel’s letter to Schiller on 28 June 1796 < (letter 163i), note 6. Back.

[2] Concerning Ceres, see Schelling’s letter to Carl Joseph Windischmann on 7 December 1804 (letter 388b). Back.

[3] Prince Louis Ferdinand had arrived on 2 October 1806. Back.

[4] See section 8 in the supplementary appendix on the battles of Jena and Auersted. Back.

[5] I.e., six German miles, approx. 45 km. Back.

[6] The first part of Schiller’s play portrays Wallenstein’s soldiers in a bawdy, raucous, boisterous camp; the set directions for the first scene already shape the atmosphere of the camp (Dramatic Works of Friedrich Schiller: Wallenstein and Wilhelm Tell, trans. James Churchill [London 1908], 3; illustration from Schiller’s Works, ed. J. G. Fischer, vol. 2 [Philadelphia 1883], 115):

Scene I.

Sutlers’ tents — in front, a Slop-shop. – Soldiers of all colours and uniforms thronging about. — Tables all filled. — Croats and Hulans cooking at a fire. — Sutler-woman serving out wine. — Soldier-boys throwing dice on a drum-head — Singing heard from the tent.



[7] Fr., “causeway, paved roadway,” in eighteenth-century Germany generally a stone carriageway of some sort that was considerably better and faster than dirt roads. See esp. Caroline’s letter to Luise Gotter on 16 April 1795 (letter 149), note 4. Back.

[8] Map of the Frommann ensemble on the Fürstengraben (top) and the Löbder Gate (bottom) from F. L. Güssefeld, Topographische Charte der umliegenden Gegend von Jena (Weimar 1800), Stadtmuseum Jena (also visible and so indicated on map at top of article). Illustrations of Löbder Gate from (interior) Carl Schreiber, Jena von seinem Ursprunge bis zur neuesten Zeit, nach Adrian Beier, Wiedeburg, Spangenberg, Faselius, Zenker u. A. von Carl Schreiber u. Alexander Färber (Jena 1850), plate following p. 52; and (exterior) Goethe’s rendering from 1810 as reproduced on a postcard reprinted in Jena in alten Ansichtskarten, ed. Wolfgang Gresky (Frankfurt am Main 1979), 55. Back.

[9] Fr., “light infantrymen and foot soldiers.” Back.

[10] Louise Seidler recounts much the same course of events as does Johanna Frommann, but also adds some details about such atrocities and other privations (Erinnerungen und Leben der Malerin Louise Seidler (geboren zu Jena 1786, gestorben zu Weimar 1866), ed. Hermann Uhde [Berlin 1874]; 2nd ed. [1875], 29–):

The the next morning, a Monday [13 October 1806], we peered out into the fog and saw that the guards of town soldiers were moving up, and everything was as usual. Suddenly, however, French sharpshooters bounded forward; a deputation of university professors whose speaker wanted to address the soldiers at the gate were accosted; with drawn weapons, the French imperiously demanded they turn over their watches and money, and out of sheer arrogance and willfulness these raging soldiers shot at the gatekeeper, who stumbled away bleeding. . . .

These troops were the harbingers of countless regimental soldiers and columns that now incessantly, by day and by night, moved through the town toward the Mühlthal. The defile leading up to Apolda through which they had to pass to access the plateau wehre the grand battle developed the following morning was so narrow that the horses could not pull the cannons; hence the horses were unhitched, and soldiers now towed the weaponry.

[etching by Jacob Roux, Die Gegenden um Jena, no. 1 (Jena, Weimar 1806), plate 14:]


Before my very eyes, a merchant’s shop was torn open and its owner, an elderly man with a balding head, was dragged out onto the cobblestones in the street; a heard of oxen that just happened to be coming that way, one that had just been requisitioned by the army, trampled him to death utterly unhindered. . . .

After the battle of Jena, there was no well water in the entire town, since the heavy weaponry being rolled through town had convulsed the ground such that the water pipes had burst. So we had to draw water from the Saale River, in which dead horses, human remains, bloody clothing, and that sort of thing were usually to be seen floating around. Back.

[11] Fr., rouleaux, “roller shutters.” Back.

[12] Fr., here: “supply officer.” Back.

[13] The Frommanns’ house was technically outside the town walls across the Fürstengraben on the north side of town (hence one could speak of Buot not particularly liking “being in town”), as was also that of her brother, who in 1804 had purchased the residence and printing space of the former editor of the Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung, Christian Gottfried Schütz, at Engelplatz 8, just outside the Löbder Gate on the south side of town (Frommanns’ house at top right, Caroline’s former residence at center, Wesselhöft house at bottom left; map: Plan der Residenz- und Universitätsstadt Jena [1884]; Thüringen, Städtische Museen Jena: Stadtmuseum und Kunstsammlung DE-Mb112/lido/obj/12070842; Städtische Museen Jena; ISIL:DE-MUS-873714). Back.

[14] The Seebecks lived at Johannisgasse 20; map: Stadtplan von Jena [1909], with later street numbers; Thüringen Städtische Museen Jena: Stadtmuseum und Kunstsammlung; the Frommann’s residence is at top right, Caroline’s earlier residence at Leutragasse 5 at bottom. See below for an illustration of the fire on Johannesgasse. Back.

[15] Fr., sapeurs-pompier, “military firemen.” Back.

[16] Illustration from Das alte Jena und seine Universität: eine Jubiläumsgabe zur Universitätsfeier (Jena 1908), 227. The Seebecks’ house is the third on the right past the corner house; the corner house belongs to the intersecting side street, not Johannisgasse (map: Stadtplan von Jena [1909], with later street numbers; Thüringen Städtische Museen Jena: Stadtmuseum und Kunstsammlung; location of Leutragasse 5 — Caroline’s former residence — indicated at bottom right):


One notices on this and the previous town map of Jena that across from the Seebeck house to the left (west) one finds the Eichplatz, Oak Square, a square not indicated on earlier town maps. The houses that burned during the night of 13–14 October 1806 were razed, and at a “peace celebration” on 30 January 1816 an oak planted, giving the square the name it still bears today. Back.

[17] The same scene took place in the garden at the back of the summer house of Johann Jakob Griesbach at the edge of the botanical garden at the northern edge of Jena (and just behind the Frommanns) during the morning hours of 14 October 1806 [the house still stands today; etching by Jacob Roux, Die Gegenden um Jena, no. 1 [Jena, Weimar 1806], plate 12). Map: excerpt from F. L. Güssefeld, Topographische Charte der umliegenden Gegend von Jena (Weimar 1800), Stadtmuseum Jena. Back.

[18] Concerning the fate of the Schelver family, see Goethe’s letter to Schelling on 31 October (letter 417h), note 3. Back.

[19] It may be recalled that Caroline’s final residence in Jena was next door to this inn. See her letter to Wilhelm Schlegel on 10 December 1801 (letter 335), note 24. Back.

[20] “You cannot wish for the success of the Prussians — you would be ruined this evening.” Back.

[21] Luke 10:40 (NRSV): “But Martha was distracted by her many tasks; so she came to him and asked, ‘Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her then to help me.’” Back.

[22] Luise Seidler’s memoirs pick up at this point (Erinnerungen und Leben der Malerin Louise Seidler (geboren zu Jena 1786, gestorben zu Weimar 1866), ed. Hermann Uhde [Berlin 1874]; 2nd ed. [1875], 34–35; included in Freundliches Begegnen, 36–37):

Napoleon, who had already passed fleetingly through the castle courtyard days before and then bivouacked among his troops on the Landgrafenberg during the night of 14 to 15 October, arrived in town on Wednesday morning with his adjutant, [Armand de] Coulaincourt; he occupied the main wing of the castle. Through a window in our front room I could observe him standing and reflecting for long while at the window across the way, holding his watch in his hand, whose chain he slid slowly through his fingers.

Later he paced back and forth in the chamber, probably dictating a bulletin to his secretary, who diligently wrote. Things became quite animated in the castle; high-ranking officers were quartered in all the rooms, and also in our house and in the residence of the city commandant Hendrich, even though the latter’s housekeeper, who completely lost her head and fainted time and time again, had from sheer fright had all the furniture taken away, all of which now had to be retrieved at the command of the French.

It was a damp, cold day. The officers of a captured Saxon regiment stood in the courtyard, among them General Niesemeuschel, whose snow-white, hatless head was bound by a bloody bandage. They were awaiting orders to swear the oath no longer to fight against France during the campaign. After this ceremony had ended, Napoleon, wearing the gray overcoat that has gone down in history, climbed into a small, open carriage and departed [for Weimar]. . . .

The castle was now turned into an field hospital. Each morning at 9:00, the wagon carrying the dead arrive with gruesome punctuality, quickly passing through the gate with its grisly freight — which was only lightly covered with straw from which heads, arms, and legs often emerged — after which the gate clattered shut again. Plates of pitch and tar were lit to cleans the air of the vapors emitted by the wounded and dead and thus to prevent epidemics. Even several days after the battle, severely wounded soldiers were still being brought in in horrific condition who had survived on nothing but dew and grass. But as quickly as they reached medical care, just as quickly did most of them die. Back.

[23] The town church on the market square afer 7:00 p.m. on the evening of 14 October 1806 (Jacob Roux, Die Gegenden um Jena, no. 1 (Jena, Weimar 1806), plate 15). Concerning that first night after the battle, the evening of 14 October 1806, see Adolf Stier, Jena, Die deutschen Hochschulen Illustrierte Monographien 2, ed. Theodor Kappstein (Berlin 1908), 41:

[On the evening of the battle:] The town itself offered a scene of devastation. Every street was full of the debris and detritus of battered doors, windows, and household utensils. The fire at the Johannis Gate also ignited twice more, though this time it could be contained and kept from spreading.

Gradually the consequences of the deadly day became visible. The town and university churches, the town hall, hospital, mental asylum, castle, fencing house, and individual inns had all been turned into field hospitals and were occupied by more than seven thousand wounded soldiers. Back.

[24] Fr., “for your little children.” Back.

[25] Fr., “sentry.” Back.

[26] Fr., “safeguard”; military term referring to protection that a commander of an army or fortress provides to residents of hostile territory to ensure the safety of their person and property from hostile acts, either by supplying a cover letter and/or posting one or more soldiers charged with that responsibility. Back.

[27] A hot drink made of port wine, oranges, cloves, and other ingredients. Back.

Translation © 2018 Doug Stott