Letter 130

• 130. Caroline to Friedrich Wilhelm Gotter in Gotha: Kronberg, 30 June 1793

[Kronberg] 30 June [17]93

|299| Unfortunately I received your letter so late that I can only jot down a few lines in haste and dispatch them to Frankfurt with a special messenger to ask that you send along the two letters to me immediately. You can do so with complete security in care of Franz Wenner’s address. More anon.

Although I have not yet left the room here, |300| I did manage to find a physician where I did not expect to. Upon hearing the news of my unfortunate situation, my youngest brother hastened here from Italy to assist me. He is being extremely active in Frankfurt. [1]

One more piece of good news — the luggage has been found; it was in Prussian hands — and is now en dêpot with the Mainz government. [2]

Tonight I saw the reflection of the flames from Mainz — I have no peace now — the sound of the artillery shakes the windows here even though Mainz is 3 full miles away. [3] Oh, such unspeakable misery!


[1] Concerning Philipp Michaelis’s efforts on Caroline’s behalf, see see Luise Wiedemann’s account in her biography of Caroline in her Erinnerungen, pp. 81–82. Back.

[2] Concerning the luggage, see Luise Wiedemann’s account in her biography of Caroline in her Erinnerungen, p. 81. Back.

[3] Approx. 23 km. (1 German mile = approx. 7.5 km; Ignaz Heymann , PostKarte von Deutschland und den angrenzenden Laendern, 2nd ed. [Triest 1806]; Bibliothèque nationale de France, département Cartes et plans):


The Prussians and Austrians had begun shelling Mainz on 17 June 1793. Samuel Thomas von Sömmerring wrote from Frankfurt to Christian Gottlob Heyne in Göttingen on the previous day, namely, 29 June (Forster’s Briefwechsel mit Sömmerring 629):

However, according to the reports of eyewitnesses, a large portion of Mainz is already in ashes, the Church of Our Lady [St. Maria ad gradus], St. Ignatius, the entire [St. Martin’s] cathedral, St. Emmeran, and all the streets in-between. The fire blazing up into the sky could clearly be seen from here. But still it has not prompted any thoughts of surrender. Mainz is to receive the rest [of the bombardment] tonight.

Here a typical siege of a town closely resembling Mainz at the time with its town walls and ramparts (Daniel Nikolaus Chodowiecki, Kupfersammlung zu J[ohann] B[ernhard] Basedows Elementarwerke für die Jugend und ihre Freunde: Erste Lieferung in 53 Tafeln. Zweyte Lieferung in 47 Tafeln von L bis XCVI [Leipzig, Dessau, Berlin 1774], plate lxviii):


Here the heavy bombardment of Mainz itself from the heights across the river (Heiner Stauder, Die Belagerung der Festung Mainz 1793) and in a painting by J.G. Schütz:



Sömmerring adds at the end of the letter: “Madam Böhmer has not yet been released.” After the fall of Mainz on 23 July 1793, Sömmerring returned to his own residence there and wrote to Heyne on 27 July (ibid., 634): “Except for the horrific uncleanliness in my residence — about which Madam Böhmer was so delighted — I found nothing removed, indeed, even my sparse inventory of foodstuffs was untouched.” Back.

Translation © 2011 Doug Stott